Sunday, December 7, 2014

Time is flying!

This past month has brought much joy and excitement to my position as Arts and Community Engagement Coordinator.  The success of this position truly lies in the attitude that I bring to each task as well as the mindset I use to reflect.

Over and over I am amazed at how fast time is flying in this position.  I no more than blink and we have finished another week.  I truly cannot believe that I have been in this position for 6 months now.  I stated early on that no two days had been the same.   That is still true.  As I reflect on the past month I am reminded of the value of this position.

In early November, after sitting in several MS Exploratory review meetings with other Program Coordinators, MS Principals and LEAD team, we began the process of developing Middle School Exploratory classes which will be driven by student choice.  While a daunting task, it has proven to be a task in which I have grown as a professional in many ways.  After learning about the benefits of Project Based Learning we set out to formulate new classes based on the PBL model/framework.  Once tasked with writing the framework of the classes, we set out to look at redesign of the classsrooms and input from the educators on the frontline.  After many discussions, the guiding questions and course descriptions were written.  The conversations have been rich and fierce for the benefit of our kids.  Our educators are excited to begin the process of learning about PBL and student choice.  I was also fortunate enough to be able to develop and submit my first budget this year, based on the review of these middle school exploratory classes.  I cannot wait to begin PBL training and continue course refinement with our educators.

Mid-November, I was able to head to Ames, Iowa to support our educators as they had several students involved in the annual All-State Festival.  The opportunity to meet and connect with several educators inside and outside of Iowa was incredibly rewarding.  Discussions revolved around "unwrapping our new national standards", authentic student assessment, assessment in the instrumental and vocal ensemble through authentic individual/group recording during rehearsal and embedding "common core" language in our curriculum process.  The information gained will be very beneficial for me to bring back to the teams as we continue to unwrap and work on writing formative and summative assessments this year.

This past week, I facilitated two days of professional development.  On Wednesday, our Middle School Art educators came together to work.  We spent a couple of hours looking at and discussing the benefits of Project Based Learning and Teaching for Artistic Behavior- TAB.  We watched a few video clips and discussed and read a few articles regarding TAB - Choice Art.  We also worked together as a PLC to look at first quarter data and discuss the needs shown through that process.  On Friday, I saw our elementary PE educators as a group for the first time.  While they have been standards based assessing for a few years, we looked at first quarter data and decided something needed to be done.  With that, our PE educators began unwrapping the 2013 SHAPE standards.  Much discussion and reflection happened throughout the day.  It was exciting to hear the educators share out their reflections at the end of the day.  Many shared that we need to unwrap the standards and decided how we can more accurately reflect to our students and parents what we are truly doing in the classroom.

I have for many years looked at all of my work through the lens of  "what is best for kids".  The more discussions I have, the more people I meet, the more I am reminded that it is always our attitude that shapes our decisions.  We must bring forth the attitude that our kids are #1 and keep them at the forefront of every discussion we have.  It really is about the attitude you bring to life!

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