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Making Appointments- a collaboration strategy

Autonomy and collaboration are two buzz words you hear often right now in the realms of education chatter. And for those days when collaboration means within our own classroom, it seems like this is the day autonomy needs to be focused on the most. I can take the same two students and match them up to work as partners, who would have normally joined up anyway- but there is something about the teacher doing the matching that often times sets things on a bad foot right away. I noticed this when school first started. I would watch the groups and partners gather in clusters when I simply said for them to partner up- versus watching their reactions when I actually called them out, putting them in very similar groupings. There is something to be said for students feeling like they have a say in who they work with. I guess we are no different as adults.

I saw a strategy at a workshop last year called "Making Appointments" that I envisioned as a complete train wreck, but one day last…

True Confessions of Your Teacher

QUESTION:

If you were any animal, what would it be? 

While I would love to say a cheetah for its stealthy ability to run and its sleek body movement in the wild, the fact that I am a wood duck proved more accurately after a recent field trip to a Botanical Garden and boat ride on the bayou.
While I've gone with classes in the past on this same field trip, ridden this same boat through the bayou, and heard about the wood duck nesting boxes erected along the side of the bayou- I guess I had never really given much thought to the special nature of the baby wood duck and the mother duck who calls her babies to literally fall out of the wooden boxes since they are unable to fly.
I think the mother wood duck must feel like a teacher most days of her motherly life in her little nesting box. Why?
Because as a teacher I worry and fret about what I'm doing in the classroom to help my students be successful. Sometimes as a teacher you feel like your kids have automatic hearing they can turn o…

Change and the Top 5 Things I Learned This Year

.... and there is was. I loved my classroom. I loved my kids. I loved those things and they were great... But I wanted something even more than that. I wanted to be able to focus on reading with small groups of students at a time in order to understand their individual needs; to try to get a glimpse into why they struggled year after year, to be a source of encouragement, and ultimately to help them be a little better at reading and comprehending than before they'd ever met me. So... to do this- to go after what I wanted but had never had, I had to do some things I had never done. I had to leave my intimately cozy school where I truly considered each person there a part of an extended family unit. I had to load up 8 years worth of materials and teacher junk and haul it to a new school; and not just any school... to a MIDDLE school! The horror! I had always sworn I would never... COULD never teach in a junior high/middle school setting, and here I was scrambling over boxes and giv…