The Lesson That Failed

Tuesday, March 14, 2017 4 comments

So this little post is about the lesson that failed. It is also a little bit about building rapport with students.

Recently, we have been learning about scientific method. My lessons are pretty streamlined- notes, activity, notes, activity, and so on.  I knew I was going to be out, so I whipped up an activity that the students could do on their on- collect data on each other, then graph it. I was super excited- easy for a sub, the students were still learning- I was patting myself on the back.

Well, they didn't end up getting the lesson on the day I was out (there was a mix-up in the office), so I planned to do it the day I came back.

In the middle of introducing the activity to them, it dawns on me.

This lesson will not work. AT ALL.

I will have to completely change this lesson.

Crap.

This is where the rapport part comes in.

I have a tendency to be very open and honest with my students. I am really transparent with them. I let them know why things are happening in the school when changes are made (so, all the time). I tell them how, why and when I grade papers. I tell them how, and why, they got their grades. I am all in favor of students having access to information so that they understand what is going on around them.

I do this not just because I think everyone should be as informed as possible, but also because it builds a sense of trust. They know that I will tell the truth, that I will explain things to them.

It also means that they will behave better. My class almost never has problems. Every time admin walks through, students are doing what they need to do- getting work done, participating, discussing.

I am upfront about my lessons, that the students are guinea pigs, and that sometimes the lesson that I give at the end of the day is completely different based upon what happens in each class. They are equal partners in this-my students are helping me be a better teacher by helping me build better lessons.

So yeah. Right in the middle of introducing the activity (which they are excited about), I stop talking. Just stare at the paper.

**thinking furiously**

Ok, guys. Change of plan. This will not work they way  I wrote it.
Proceeded to change a small group activity into a whole class activity.
And it worked. They laughed. They rolled with it. Enjoyed it even.

We collected data. We graphed data. We made conclusions.

They day was saved, I was able to adapt the lesson for the rest of the day. (Pssst-Do you want the fixed version? Find it here!)

You should never be afraid of failure. I have known teachers who thought that they had to be on stage the entire time- performing a flawless routine. These teachers never showed a crack, never had a mistake, even to the point of being completely in the wrong-still pushing that the teacher is right no matter what.

I have never agreed with that. I have always found that being honest with them has been the best policy (*see previous paragraph about behavior!).

So, anyway.. *climbs off soapbox*

This is my story about the lesson that failed. 

Have you ever had a lesson that went spectacularly wrong *right* in the middle of teaching it? Share it so we all feel better!

Finding My Voice and Starting Over

Wednesday, February 22, 2017 3 comments
In January, I made a decision to invest myself in my little business of helping fellow teacher-moms adjust to teaching+science+life.

I read all kinds of articles about blogging and reaching your audience.

I read articles about marketing products and blogs on Pinterest.

I read about social media schedulers and editorial content calendars.

I participated in writing and pinning challenges.

I wrote everyday for 21 days, and put out a blog post a week for 4 weeks straight.

But something was off. Not quite right.

I felt scattered. So I stopped.

I took some time to really focus on who I was trying to reach. Who is my reader?

What does she need? What can I give her that is valuable? That is worth taking up her oh-so-few free moments?

I have spent the last few weeks pondering those questions, and I have finally come up with an answer. I have found my perfect reader. I have found my voice.

My new blog posts might not appeal to everyone. My voice can be a little... rough around the edges. I can sometimes be a little too honest for some people's taste. But you know what? I am okay with that.

Because the people that stick around? The people that get it? They are my people. My "tribe" if you will.

And I am so ready to start!

I am so ready to help guide that first year science teacher-that girl, who is staring at a closet full of random, left behind science stuff. Who is excited and terrified, all at the same time. Who can't wait to have a science fair, but has no idea how to write a lesson plan, or even plan a lesson.

I am so ready to help that teacher-mom who wants to do fun stuff with her toddlers, but who is more of a "big kid" teacher. Who has no idea how to spend 8 hours alone with toddlers (and I am ready to support her with a big middle finger to those snow days we used to love!) I am ready to help her find fun activities to engage and bond with her little people.

I am so ready to give that frazzled teacher-mom, with 50 million things racing in her head, a quick and ready recipe for dinner tonight. For that special birthday coming up. Delicious, make ahead meals that can be cooked fresh in less than an hour, so she can feel more accomplished, that she can handle it all.

I am ready. Are you?