I've been tagged! My colleague, Lucy Gray, has invited my to participate in this thoughtful meme about daily habits for being successful. I suppose it's about how you define success and if you narrow that definition to work, home, or include it all. Since I focus here on my teaching, I will include the things I do to be successful in my professional life (although we all know our lives as teachers do not end when class is dismissed!).
Things I do almost everyday to be successful as a teacher:
1. Communicate with parents. On a daily basis, this sounds incredibly time-consuming (and it is), but it's made such a difference in my relationship with parents. I am fortunate that all of my families use email regularly. I email quick reminders or questions. A few messages are more involved and describe something that was of particular challenge (academically or socially) for a child during the school day. This may require a phone call instead. When I see parents at school, I try to share a positive comment about their child's progress or participation during the day. I also write a weekly newsletter and update the class webpage.
2. Touch base with my support team (assistant teacher, counselor, learning consultant, principal, reading specialist) to discuss concerns about students and get advice.
3. Plan and develop curriculum with my assistant teacher. One of the most important relationships in the Lower School is that of head teacher and assistant. I am fortunate to have a wonderful assistant, Pam Maxey. We have a
similar approach to teaching and classroom management and most importantly, we have fun together. I'm not the most organized person and, yes, my teacher's table is
often stacked with piles of paper, mail and books. Open House, Parent
Conferences, and special classroom events occur often enough that I'm
forced to do some "house cleaning" every few weeks. I've never been
successul at keeping a lesson plan book and often plan from week to
week with some lose ideas for the months ahead. The wonderful thing
about my school is that I have the flexibility to let curriculum
emerge. If something comes up or a lesson doesn't go as planned, I can
make changes. Pam is very
organized and remembers all the things I seem to lose track of. She
even keeps a lesson plan book for me! I truly consider her my
co-teacher and the students see it that way too. I value Pam's insight and knowledge and we plan much of the curriculum together. I rely on her when I'm facing difficult issues with children or parents and her daily support is a big part of my success.
4. Reflect on my own teaching. I am critical of my teaching (and sometimes too hard on myself) and I am constantly working to improve. I buy more books on teaching than I have time to read, and attend 2-3 conferences each year. I have more ideas than time to implement them. This blog has provided a wonderful way for me to reflect on my teaching. My goal is to post daily, but again, it's difficult to find the time. I put a great deal of thought into each entry as I consider what's really important to me, what's been successful in my classroom or with my students, and how other teachers might benefit from this information.
5. Read and respond to several blogs about teaching, technology, and children's literature every day. I've connected to some wonderful people and discovered great resources that I can use in the classroom. It's hard to keep up with the trends in education and there are so many smart and talented people sharing their ideas and opinions. Making these connections really informs my own teaching.
6. Read children's literature. I read several new books each week (in addition to the bedtime stories I read to my own kids). Children's literature (fiction, non-fiction, and poetry) is such a vital part of my curriuclum and I learn as much from it as my students do.
7. Get enough sleep. While this isn't always a possibility with two young children at home, nothing's worse than a sleepy, grumpy teacher!
Here's the original post with all the details of how you can participate. I'm never very good at doing the last (and most important) step in keeping a meme going - tagging someone else. I tag Susan Thomsen of Chicken Spaghetti.