Sunday, June 12, 2011

Reflections of This School Year

There were lots of things I did this school year that I LOVED!

Then, there were other things...

And it's important to reflect on what went well and what didn't go so well to be able to become better. A better teacher.  A better learner.  A better me.

First, I'll start by showing you this- My 2010-2011 School Year Goals. Yes, it's true, I sort of wrote an "IEP" for myself.  

I set goals for myself and hoped to accomplish them by the end of the school year.  I found myself opening this document, reading it, and closing it, opening, reading, and closing, etc., etc., etc. 

I found myself changing priorities over the school year. 

I found that, the only person who was accountable for this list, was me.  IS me.  

And the only person who can make me any better, or any worse, is me.

So, how did I do?

  1. Increase parent/family/community communication and engagement
Well, let's see.  I did update our classroom blog page weekly and you can see it at  This was good, but way too easy.  I did not manage to print the Weekly Newsletter for the one family who does not have a computer.  Honestly, I did not believe they would be interested in the newsletter, and that was probably just irresponsible of me. 

I did manage to get a Swim Party together at my house and 10 of my current and former students along with their parents and siblings attended.  This was a great move and really helped parents to get to know each other.  It was also something that the kids remembered all year long and asked about for this summer.  

I also sent group emails to parents and maintained "Friday Folders" that went home weekly with all of the papers, handouts, and extras from the classroom.  This is the best way for us to do this with all of the other folders and books that go home every day from the other classrooms.

I did not manage to plan monthly outings and I did not have a monthly door decorator.  I also did not schedule any "mystery readers" nor did we manage to have third grade e-portfolios ready for "student-led parent teacher conferences."

On the this goal, I would this "Not Yet Mastered."

    2.  Integrate more technology.

Thankfully, we have the resources here, and I have the passion for this goal to be possible.  But did we do it? 

My first objective was to check into to set up some e-portfolios for my 3 third grade students.  Done!  We set them up, chose our backgrounds, learned how to manage text, paragraphs, photos, icons, and took our spelling tests here weekly.  We added some of our best work and lots of photos.  And we'll pass these on to our fourth grade teachers to see our work!

These 3 e-portfolios were going so well that we added our second graders as well.  I set up 2 more sites on for my 2 second grade students.  We will get to continue working on them next school year.

I set up our BoardMaker activity pads and got good use out of them for the 2 quarters of school... until we discovered, wrote a grant for, and received our iPads... 

We learned and relearned all of the computer vocabulary that we had worked on last year and know the parts of a computer and now, an iPad.

We were also able to integrate web sites for literacy such as Wordle, Glogster, and VoiceThread this year with all of our students, K-3, in Room 5.

We used the Flip Camera all year and the end of the year video was a success!

Goal 2 was definitely successful!

    3.  Integrate more functional skills.

This is a tricky one.  I always find it difficult to balance academic work, behavioral and social skills work, and functional skills (like hand washing, setting the table, pouring milk, becoming independent with daily tasks).  

There are only so many hours in the day.  And I STRONGLY believe that our kids with moderate/intensive special needs (or whatever you may call them), should be learning things that are "standards-based" just like all the other kids in the school.  They need to learn to read because they CAN read.  And what about addition, subtraction, telling time, counting coins, graphing, multiplication, etc.  But then, identifying feelings in yourself and others, sharing, turn-taking, self-calming, learning intrinsic motivation, making friends, sustaining play, playing cooperatively, etc., etc., etc. are all important too.  And then when do I teach setting the table, washing your hands, folding towels, sorting laundry by color, sorting silverware in the silverware tray, reading food labels, identifying safety signs, and all the other important stuff?

So, this year, I tried to find a better balance with some collaboration and help from the Speech and Language Pathologist too.  

Some of the functional skills that various students, or all 7 students, worked on were folding towels, setting the table, using calculators, telling time, using a computer, keyboarding, counting coins, passing food during holiday celebrations, taking turns, playing board games, playing outside games, frosting cupcakes, following recipes, identifying feelings in self and others, self-calming strategies, learning phone number and address, identifying emergencies, calling 911, and talking to police officers, firefighters, and paramedics.

I think we did well here, but would like to improve even more next year.  We are going to make our "Police Officers, Firefighters, Paramedics, and Emergencies" Unit even bigger and practice using a special phone from the Broadview Heights Fire Dept. to practice calling 911 in the event of an emergency.  This is a concern as our students get older and we want to begin helping to bridge the gap between emergency service personnel and kids with special needs.

    4.  Improve classroom structure and organization.

I only had a few objectives here and need to change them again for the next school year.  Our classroom has to change each year based on the needs of our students and changes year after year.  In an ideal world, we would get a bigger classroom.  We'd have various one to one teacher stations, independent stations, a play/leisure area, a gross motor area, a place for the OT, a place for the SLP to come in for therapy, a space for our computers, and more!  But, we work with what we have, so we'll need to make changes again.  This year, our room will have a "pirate ship" as a self-calming space for one of our incoming students.

    5.  Establish a better PLN to collaborate, contribute, LISTEN

Wow. What a year it has been for the "PLN" and "PLC" movement.  I didn't have to do much here other than read my twitter page, read blogs, write in my own blog, and listen to my own school district.  We are building PLCs for next year in our own district and thus, collaboration!  
Plus, #edchat and #spedchat whenever I can participate.

Plus, the Reform Symposium from last summer and the one coming up at the end of July.

Plus, my twitter friends, my blog readers, my favorite blog posters, those who comment and RT... 

This one was easy.  Mastered and Continuing.

So, in terms of "my own IEP," I think I did well.  

Another successful year.

Did you set goals for yourself this year?  Did you accomplish them?  Did you forget about them?  Did you have time to work on them?


Joan Young (aka Mancini) said...

I love your transparency in your reflections. What a great idea to write in the form of your own IEP or evaluation?! It was fun to read and helped me begin to reflect on my own rollercoaster year in a new grade and new school.
Thanks so much for sharing!

Busy Bee Andrea said...

Love this idea! Thank you for sharing your reflections and IEP

Angie said...

What a great idea! I must remember to do that to keep myself focused throughout the year.

EdTechSandyK said...

Your desire to intentionally grow as a professional is commendable. Thank you for sharing your plan and reflections. As educators we should all follow your example and strive toward goals that will challenge and stretch us and as a result improve the educational experiences of the children we serve.

Mrs. Blanton said...

This is also like RTI interventions for teachers :)