Reminder of Growth

In my spare time I coach swimming and have for longer than I’ve been teaching.  I was a swimmer through college and I loved every minute of it.  Coaching is a way to continue to do something I enjoy and to fill some of those many hours of spare time us teachers have laying around. 🙂

Today we had our first meet, I missed yesterday because of the math conference, but wanted to see my swimmers swim today.  After the first few swims, I saw some droopy faces…as I inquired, swimmers stated they were upset they weren’t getting all best times. Ahhh…yes, they wanted to reach that mastery level, beating their previous best time with a new one.  However, they were forgetting a few important details:

*Their previous best times came from their rested Championship meet in February/March.

*They had only been in the water 3 weeks for a total of 14 practices.  We had a pipe burst and it cancelled 3 practices.

*In the fall, our first meet happens after 5 weeks of practice simply because it’s a longer season, but it allows for more preparation and practice.

What I found interesting was the swimmers were forgetting that they weren’t adequately prepared for the meet and were holding on to the same expectations they have on themselves at the end of the season.  I kept having to remind them of the above and that this wasn’t a meet for a best time (mastery), this was a meet to practice racing, putting into a race what we have been practicing and to get feedback to improve for our first long course meet in 2 more weeks.

You see, I noticed that FEEDBACK was MY ultimate desire here.  I wanted them to know this meet was about feedback so they have a focus for practice the next two weeks, yet many of them wanted to achieve that best time right off the bat without all the practice behind them.

In the future I need to prep them better for the expectations of this meet.  We talked about it and I sent an email to parents, but I think it’s too easy to be excited about the meet and to forget what the focus is.  This is no different than my math classroom…I need to make sure at the beginning of the year, that I am clear about their formative assessments and that the feedback they get is more important, which is why it won’t have a grade on it.  Connecting back to swimming, it would be like swimming a meet but not having the clock visible to see their final time, but to focus on the aspects of racing, their technique and the feedback they receive.

I look forward to working with my swimmers to focus on a growth mindset the same way that I am working with my students on it and I want them to focus on feedback and not just the time they receive.


Take A Day to Reflect

After I attend a conference or a class or present, I like to take time to take a step back and reflect.  I wrote down book titles, links to websites and curricular materials…I needed to go through it and hone in on what is important and what I wanted to do with it all.  I also wanted some time to reflect on both of my presentations, take in the feedback given (Wisconsin Math Conference had 2-ply reflection forms so I was able to walk away with the feedback right there!) and make changes so I didn’t forget about them for the future.

Note: Insert feedback from presentations here when I am home with them in front of me!

After my morning of reflecting, I ran some errands and stopped at a few garage sales. Didn’t find anything of terrible significance, but a few fun items for upcoming birthdays and graduations.

One of the things I have learned that is important to me is to make sure I build in my personal reflection time when I need it.  Sometimes it looks different, but that doesn’t matter because it is time for ME to reflect how I need to reflect…it could be on a week’s worth of lessons or an activity and how to improve it or a presentation and how I can make it more meaningful for teachers.   Or it could be on interactions with students, parents, co-workers or admin….regardless of the reason for the reflection, it is important to me that I do it.  Sometimes I blog about it here, sometimes I reflect personally, but either way it helps me grow and continue to learn about myself and the world around me.

Do it…take time for you, reflect on something that happened this week…don’t harp on it, but reflect honestly and consider what you learned and how you can apply it to the future.


Conference presentation

Day 2 of the Wisconsin Math Conference started out with my Cooperative Groups presentation.  I had a great group of attendees and learned a few things from them (my favorite part of presenting!!) Apparently CPM, College Preparatory Math, has strong emphasis/basis in cooperative grouping…I plan to check it out more.  I do wish the conference center had good wifi, so when I was talking about Kahoot I could have shared the site with them.  I had put together a fun intro game to kick off my presentation, but was unable to use it for that reason.  I hope in the future the wifi improves so teachers can share and interact with each other.  I’m thinking #Edcamp style, where there is a google doc that all can take notes on during the presentation and have access to at any time afterwards.

I also attended a few presentations, one on Standards Based Grading and picked up a few new ideas. And another on Interventions.  I took good notes for both and will share when I actually have them in front of me. 🙂

I ended the day with the last possible time slot, 2:30-4:00 and my Interactive Notebook presentation.  I had a dozen or so people there, I was surprised, especially since there were already two presentations on them from other people on Thursday.  We had a good time, I walked away with a few new ideas as well.

It was nice to meet a few teachers from Chicago on Friday, though there weren’t many from out of state.  All in all it was a great conference, on a beautiful site right on the lake with all locations convenient and easy to get to.  I look forward to presenting and attending in the future!