Managing up Jessica Billeci
I am going to take this opportunity to answer some questions that have been sent my way. Some colleagues have asked if I have started cross content collaboration. I have and I am absolutely loving it. I took this habit into consideration when starting to lesson plan. I was starting to plan a cross content and cross grade level lesson combining the students' English class with their Health class. In addition to this, we also included a professional development focus of taping into student voice. When Ms. North, our health teacher, and I sat down to plan this, we first had to think about what middle school team was hoping to get out of this lesson. After reviewing our team focus and desired outcome, we then took turns explaining what each of us wanted to incorporate from our content. By truly listening to one another, we were able to find texts and activities that covered it all! What was wonderful about this is the engagement and excitement that came not only from us teachers, but from the students as well. It is all about the students, but they can tell if we are excited and they will feed off of that. What we found is that we were able to cover more content in one day by combining our classes. Something that would have taken two days and may not have been as exciting and memorable took one day and allowed for amazing collaboration and wonderful student feedback on how we can make it better for them.The phrase that comes to mind is "work smarter not harder". I am now talking with the other content teachers and looking to do this again!
I can make some connections to this habit and share how I am trying to teach this habit in my English class. This is a habit that takes much time to put into effect. Sadly enough, there are too many adults who do not think about this concept of active and engaged listening. I use the example of "waiting for your turn to talk" as a non-example in my classroom. We have a social purpose for every lesson and many times, this purpose mentions demonstrating the behaviors of an active and engaged listen. I review with my students every day to discuss what this looks like as well as what this sounds like. We talk about truly hearing the student and either agreeing and adding on, or respectfully disagreeing and explaining yourself. We have language frames around the room and on their desks to help remind them of these.
Sharpen the saw
I can't help but want to share my conversation with my middle schoolers today regarding this very topic. While trying to be more open to student voice, the health teacher and I decided to collaborate and combine our classes and lessons into a gallery walk activity. We loved every minute of it. The students raved about how they wanted to do it again to us and to other teachers. Well, we appreciated hearing this, but knew that it could have gone even better. So, today in English, we had a class conversation (where of course I sneak in the lesson/purpose of public speaking and listening skills) discussing the idea that we are excited to have found something that they are so engaged in yet want to hear their voice even more. I asked them to share their ideas on what they think went well, what they really want to see again, but also what they did not appreciate as much or suggestions to make certain areas better. I realized that our school practices this often when they replied so respectfully to this by saying, "Although I appreciate...., I feel that ..... could have been better if....." One of the first things that I mentioned is how we, as a school, should never settle what we think was "good", but how we can move to "great".
Personally and professionally, I have found that this is how I choose to live my life. I do my best to never settle, but reasonably push myself to be better in all that I do. This can be seen with training my three 95 lb dogs, my communication skills with my husband, and how I continue to find a new conference to attend, or some reason to go back to school. I have gone from my. Here is a summary of my educational path.
BA Liberal Studies> Multiple Subject Credential> MA in Education> Reading Specialist Credential> Leading Edge Certification> English Credential> MA in Leadership with an Emphasis in Technology> ?????