Bond with James: The Mint Bag...

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Mint Bag...

Skip to the bottom if you're only here for the Mint Bag ;)
I co-facilitated another science instructional leadership seminar today. The seminar is made up of the science instructional coaches and department chairs from our high school campuses. I haven't had the chance to blog about instructional rounds; however, this was the second one of the year.

I'm sure you've had a group of suits in your classroom, poking around, asking questions, providing cold stares, not providing feedback etc. during an observation. I did not want this to be that. I know that observations can be frightening for many teachers.However, I think a paradigm shift is needed if we truly want to develop our pedagogical skills, increase student performance and close the achievement gap. From what I've seen and experienced, teaching is an isolated profession. Yes, we have PLCs but I can easily say one thing in a PLC and then go about my business behind a closed classroom door.  

To make a long explanation short, my teaching program encouraged the observation of other teachers. As a full-time teacher I always wanted to observe my peers, but for one reason or another I never had/made time to do so.  My current position has provided hundreds of teacher observation hours and I feel I have grown tremendously as a result. I now am working with other instructional leaders/current teachers to:
(1) develop our capacity as science leaders
(2) visit and assist host campuses with self-identified challenge areas, and 
(3) bring ideas and/or new learning back to the home campus to share with colleagues

I wanted to make sure that our leaders were providing appropriate / descriptive feedback to teachers at their home campus.  For example, instead of saying that the students were engaged, I might say 17 out of 20 students could be seen looking at the teacher and writing notes as s/he talked. The first description is judgmental in nature. I don't know if the students are engaged - perhaps they're just compliant for whatever reason. The second description is specific and, for the most part, objective data a teacher can use to gauge his or her instruction. A teacher and I can interpret the second statement in many ways; however, the point is to provide the teacher with as much data as possible in order to help improve his/her instruction over time.

Okay, I'm getting off track. The main reason for the blog was to talk about the Mint Bags. :)  
I wish I could say this awesome idea was mine but it's not. I saw a picture similar to this on Pinterest when I first joined a few months ago. Actually, the mints were tied in pretty ribbon and wrapping paper. Unfortunately, these teachers were getting the $0.99 Ziploc baggie bargain deal. It's the thought that counts, right? I created Mint Bags as a way to say thank you to the host teachers for allowing the science leaders to observe their classrooms today. I personally delivered each one. I even heard one teacher (who had his blue tooth microphone on) reading it to his class - I chuckled as I walked by. 

Looking back, this time of year was hard for me as a novice teacher. I found strength and renewed commit-"mint" to press forward through the encourage-"mint" of students and colleagues. :)

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