Are You a Teaching Champion?

front row logo and title

Roughly two years ago I began using an amazing website, www.frontrowed.com.  It is a website that will help you meet the diverse math and ELA needs of your students.  In upcoming posts I will be guiding you through the website and all of the amazing features.  However, the focus of this post is on the Teaching Champions section of the website.  I wish I had known about this feature earlier. I found it by poking around the site.  I’m glad I did.  It is a way the creators reward you for using their site.  Oh, and did I mention, I have recently become a Front Row Ambassador?  Through this program I will help spread the word about a resource I believe in and to share what I have learned about the program by using it with my own students and the new features that are constantly being added.

Front Row Teaching Champion

As I said, this is the section of the website where they reward you for using the program and sharing your successes as well.  Click here to view a video that I made to walk you through how to access the Teaching Champion section, what you will find there, and how to use it for your benefit.
Once you sign up for, and log-in to the website, you will find the Teaching Champions tab on the upper left side.  Click on it and you will find a variety of ways to earn points that will move you through the bronze, silver, and gold levels.  Each level brings benefits for you.

I look forward to posting more about this wonderful resource.  Future posts will focus on explaining the different parts or sections of www.frontrowed.com and how I am using them with my students.

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Co-Teaching Is a Marriage?

This year my school is diving into co-teaching. We’ve been flirting with it for awhile now, but are now ready to make a commitment. Everything we’ve been told and have read about compare the relationship between co-teachers to a marriage. If you think about it, it really does make sense. Stay with me as I take you through the stages of my relationship with my co-teaching partner.

Stage One…The Flirtation
This last year one of our fifth grade teachers moved into a Title 1 Math Coach position. This isn’t a totally new position, but rather a reboot of one. However, she’s made it her own and is an incredible resource and teacher. Throughout these posts I’ll often refer to her as Rachel. That’s because well…her name is Rachel. Anyway, she was so excited and wanted to really be involved in the classroom and in small groups. Who could ignore such enthusiasm and excitement of a new adventure? Not I. When the opportunity presented itself, we started brainstorming how to best use her in the classroom. We were flirting with the possibilities of what could be.

Stage Two…The Courtship
We began by having Rachel come in as a more supportive role during whole group instruction. She was great at identifying kids who needed extra support during this time and then we compared notes on who was going to need more time and practice. After this we began guided math for the day. I took a group to further work on or extend the day’s lesson, Rachel took a group to work on problem solving and writing to explain their answers. Groups not meeting with us were involved in other math activities. This was working great. The kids loved having both of us and getting to work with another teacher on problem solving. Rachel and I were working on what we needed to do to support our kids and what direction we wanted to go in order to make co-teaching and math work. And then it happened…

Stage Three…We’re on a Break
Yes, you Friends fans out there, you remember that phrase. Everything was beginning to gel. We found time to talk about what we needed, we were sharing resources, and making plans. Then, she got pulled in another direction and I lost her. Temporarily that is. We still continued to talk, bounce ideas off each other, and seek help when needed. After all, the kids come first and she needed to see our school’s neediest kids in a smaller setting. We were still working together, just not as closely.

Stage Four…Getting Back Together
After what felt like being torn apart, we began looking for a way to get back together. Our principal began talking about getting teachers together to really work on the co-teaching model. We were ecstatic! This is was it. It was our chance to get back together. So, we did what any good team does…we hatched a plot. My principal knows about this blog, so he won’t read anything here he doesn’t already know about. After all, we were painfully obvious about the fact we wanted to teach together. We each talked to him separately and contemplated going together. I think we made a pretty good case for why we should be paired up. Now, both of us would have been just fine being paired up with the other possible teachers. We have awesome grade level and support staff teachers. It’s just that I really want to work on my math teaching and knew Rachel would be a good fit for me to accomplish this goal. It almost didn’t happen that we would be paired up, but thankfully it worked out.

So, that’s where we are at right now. I’m looping up to fifth grade with my entire class and looking forward to continuing my work with them and with Rachel. As the year progresses I plan to post about our experience in co-teaching. We’re going into this with all the excitement and hopes of newlyweds. We’ve already discussed that divorce is not an option and are prepared to work and support each other through the hard times, and enjoy the good times together as well. I’ll share resources that we are using to help us make this experience work for our students, as well as ourselves. I know there are some great blogs and books out there to help us. I’ll even be asking my PLN on Twitter for any suggestions they may have for us. For now here are a few resources I plan on exploring.  I’ve also included two math books that we use as a resource.  I’ll be reviewing Math Sense by Christine Moynihan in later posts.

http://www.edweek.org/tsb/articles/2011/10/13/01coteach.h05.html

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Co-Teach-Training-Presentation-827011
http://www.ctserc.org/initiatives/teachandlearn/coteach.shtml
http://www.middleweb.com/3905/4-critical-co-teacher-conversations/