Cultivate Collaboration

cultivated communication (1)

Collaboration: discussing ideas to further create something. Every day, educators create lessons and prepare materials for students. Having the opportunity to see new ideas and implement them in your classroom and area takes trust and, sometimes, a leap of faith. Sharing is caring in the education world.

This past weekend, I attended Edcamp Cyfair. Edcamp has upcoming events on their website. It’s a fabulous event that is not a sit and get event. It’s topics that are relevant to the attendees, what we really are wanting to share and learn more about, and a schedule is created based on participant interest. Edcamps, by far, have been my favorite professional development. Not only do you learn about topics of interest, you get peer-to-peer support by talking out issues or difficulties and can take new ideas to your classroom the next week.

Something that really speaks to me as an educator and as an Edcamp participant is the fact that we learn together. We give suggestions, we offer new ideas, and we support one another with suggestions. Something that really hits home for me is the ability to relate to other educators and to, ultimately, support students in the process. Our students BENEFIT from Edcamps due to the ideas flowing and suggestions brought forward.

Most Edcamps offer notes online to share and refer back to often. Edcamp Cyfair was no different and I love being able to refer back to the notes as there is so much goodness shared in a short amount of time. Here are the notes from Edcamp Cyfair and the ideas shared. Something I’ve noticed in education since graduating as an educator is the power of collaboration and the GOOD it does for educators. Not only do you gain valuable insight, you find new ways to serve your students.

Just this weekend, I found out new ideas to support my students in writing such as using comics from make belief comics and a brain dump (with templates) to support students’ ideas and allow them to be hooked in writing. I also learned about a confetti high five tool that shoots confetti when someone high fives you. I ordered it on amazon Saturday and it came in today. I plan to use this on Friday and can’t wait!

confetti high five

Edcamps, professional development, and PLCs aren’t just about learning about new ideas. It’s about cultivating collaboration as a person & educator and to use later. Think of it as a file of goodness. Cultivate the information, share with others, and collaborate to make your students’ hanging on the edge of their seats waiting for more.

5 ways to ease back to school

5 ways to ease your students back into the structure of school.png

The New Year is over and students are heading back to school across the United States and beyond this week. The anxiety will be high students who have had their entire routine and structure deviated for the past two weeks. Re-entry into the structured, school setting is fabulous for so many but not without push back from some. Teachers ready to dive back into school as they know it and students ready to reorient to the school setting. For some, school is a safe place where they know they are loved and seen. As educators, we must be mindful that we can’t just dive back into the land of school without some review and refreshers. Coming back from any break means review and refresh for expectations, guidelines, and rules.

5 ways to ease your students back to school

Let students talk..
Some of our students have been at home or without multiple activities over the break. They’re ready to have their friends back and you too. Allow for students to discuss their break. Perhaps ask “who did you spend your break with?” instead of “what did you do over break?” to guide students if needed. Give them a chance to connect again as well as observe the body language and students’ reactions over the regroup time. Some students have been entertained from start to finish while others aren’t. Be mindful and enjoy their stories.

Review expectations and procedures
We have all slept over the past few weeks and have had excitement and stress in our lives. Review expectations with students, make a new anchor chart, and get student input into what makes your classroom work well. From preschool to high school, students like having input and teaching others. Why not step aside and have students review expectations and procedures? Provide feedback as needed.

Practice expectations, procedures & practice again
It’s been a while. After reviewing expectations and procedures, have students practice how they are supposed to be in the classrooms and around the school. Take time to refine your procedures as you are laying the foundation for the second semester or winter term. It may take five tries and that is a-okay. However, reentry and review supports students having a routine they follow and that is vital for so many of our students. Set the foundation and allow students to feel success after a break.

Provide positive feedback & excitement for students
I will admit, I missed my students over the holiday break. Their sayings, appreciation, and just them. However, it was a much needed break. To welcome students back into the classroom, be excited to see them, celebrate who they are, and provide positive feedback. I can bet students missed you or, at least, their structure/schedule over the break. Be intentional about providing specific feedback to students as the day/week progresses. Sometimes we see our students more than they see their parents throughout the work week. Take the initiative and celebrate the students in your class who create the tone and culture of your classroom.

Be visible & upbeat
So many times, our students don’t have positive interactions on the way to school. Something may have happened at home, on the bus, or their basic needs haven’t been met well over the break. Be visible in the morning with your students. I LOVE morning duty to see the first pulse of my students. Offer a greeting, high five/hug/fist bump, and give them attention. The first interaction can make or break a student’s day. Invest time and awareness to students and be upbeat about students coming back to school. Your presence is huge for so many students.

Ease back into school knowing your schedule may flux a little, there may be an occasional frustration or two, and some may be so exhausted the first day. However, know YOU MATTER to your students every day. Sometimes, YOU are their constant and they depend on you as much as they etch their story into your heart. After a long break can be challenging. However, keep the expectations consistent, review & practice expectations, keep the structure present, and the bar high for your students.

Have a wonderful winter/second semester term!