Friday, July 17, 2015

A Letter to Teachers from the Instructional Partner

The beginning of the school year is fast approaching and with it comes the whirlwind of classroom organization, lesson planning, first day preparation, and in-service meetings. As an instructional partner I don't have a regular classroom to prepare, but I'm caught up in my own whirlwind centered around the question: How can I best support teachers? There are so many things I'd love to tell them as we begin our  year together that we simply don't have the time to discuss. So I'll write it. Teachers, this is for you:

  1. I think you are amazing. I've been in your shoes and I haven't forgotten what it's like to be responsible for 37 things at once. You spend hours planning lessons, looking for just the right resource for your students. You grade papers, meet with parents, attend professional development, study student data, and above all build strong relationships with your students. You give until you are drained, and then give more.
  2. I have a heart for teachers. I love students and I miss my own class terribly, but I gave it up because I love teachers and this role allows me more access to you. I care about your burdens and successes. I want to support you and celebrate with you.
  3. I'm still learning. I don't have all the answers, and I'm definitely still learning how to be an instructional partner. I won't always get it right. I will make mistakes and maybe even hurt your feelings or upset you unintentionally. Please know that I mean well and never intend to slip up.
  4. I'm not critiquing you. (See #1) When I visit your classroom, I really am looking at student learning and engagement. I am not critiquing your teaching moves or thinking that I would do things differently. Every one of us teaches differently because we are unique individuals. You know your students better than I do, and you have reasons I may not know about for choosing the techniques you're using. 
  5. I know it's uncomfortable. I get it. Having another adult in the room may make people feel uneasy. (Please reread #1-4) I've also felt uncomfortable at times while I'm visiting or teaching in rooms. Most of my discomfort comes from worrying that I will offend you in some way that damages our partnership or that I'll make some mistake that you're there to witness.
  6. I am your partner. We are in this together! I don't have my own class, but I consider all your students to be mine as well. I can't know them like you do, but I care about them and want them to succeed. 
Teachers, thank you for the work you do for students. You are valued and appreciated.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Shades of Orange Editable Binder

I've never been able to draw. In fact my students once asked me what I had drawn on the board because they couldn't tell. It was---wait for it----a snake! Who can't draw a snake? This girl. Even though I can't draw, I'm still creative which can cause a bit of frustration. That's why I love to create digital products. Finally, my vision can come alive thanks to the scaffolded support of technology, which is why I've been busily creating my newest organizational binder. I finally hit paydirt last year when I stumbled upon exactly the right framework to keep me organized. After trying many different versions, I created my ultimate binder, used it all year and LOVED it.

This year I decided to try the same thing but using a warmer color scheme. I absolutely love oranges, reds, and yellows and of course quatrefoil patterns. As a result, my Shades of Orange Editable Binder was born:

I created most of the pages as blank slates, with a few empty text boxes and charts. There are over 270 pages in this product, so there's lots of room for creativity and customization. I can't wait to start printing and compiling my book for next year. Snag one for yourself here!


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