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Sunday, April 24, 2016

30 Demo Lessons in 30 Days: Prepping for the challenge

Last week I decided to send an email out to all of the TK- 2nd grade teachers in my district asking if anyone was open to me taking their class for an hour or so to demo some digital math lessons/activities. I'm a new TOSA (teacher on special assignment) this year and one of the hardest parts of the gig is not having a class of your own to try new things with when you find them. My goal initially was to find 4 or 5 classrooms where I could test out some new lessons that I'd been working on-- things I'd read about, or learned about at CUE, or talked about with my PLN, or had been brainstorming on my own for a while. I had also decided that it would be nice to bone up on my lower elementary teaching skills (I most recently taught 5th grade and a little practice never hurts) and to have an opportunity to model some "worksheet ditching" activities in lower grade math. I didn't expect more than a few responses and figured that what I'd end up doing was really having to sell myself and push the "it's a chance for an extra prep" angle just to get a foot in the door.

What I actually ended up with... 30 lessons to teach in 30 days!

Of course, I was stoked at the response and pleasantly overwhelmed with the influx of emails and appointments popping up on my calendar that same day. But then, I realized that I'd pretty much left my calendar completely open to whatever available day and time the teachers wanted me to come to one of the nine sites that I support... and I panicked.

  • What would I do if I ended up with three or four different sites scheduled in one day?? 
  • Had I blocked off any drive time on my Google appointments calendar? Nope! 
  • Was I prepared to start teaching on Monday, not knowing what devices students had access to in each room, and what apps may or may not be loaded on those devices? Not so much.
So as the appointments were coming in, I hurriedly jumped into my appointments calendar and starting switching up the time blocks to account for breaks between classroom visits and needed drive time to potentially get from one side of the district to the other and back again in the same day. I lucked out, and was able to move things around quick enough, only having to contact one teacher to reschedule her time slot due to location... and she ended up needed to cancel anyway. Whew!

And now? Well, now I have to actually flesh out those 30 lessons that really have just been ideas I'd been tossing up until last Friday... 

So, in an effort to calm my nerves and determine my plan of action, I decided to organize my thoughts into two categories (positives and potential challenges) and to document the ups, the downs, and all of my learnings in between over the course of the next 30 days of demo lessons.

Wish me luck!

  1. I get to teach students!
  2. I get to teach students (yes, this deserves two positives because it is most definitely the thing that I miss most being out of the classroom)!
  3. A number of students will be exposed to technology at school for something other than benchmark testing.
  4. I have a chance to try out all those new teaching strategies that I've been thinking about for the last couple of months.
  5. I might, just might, develop some street cred with the TK-2 teachers who tend to prefer PD be catered specifically to their grade level.
  6. I get to model risk-taking for our teachers!
  7. I have an chance to get acquainted with a lot more teachers across our district! As a year 1 TOSA, meeting people and developing relationships is still my number 1 goal.
  8. All of these demo lessons are happening in TK-2 rooms and most of the classes are at about the same place in their math instruction. I can use a few grade level lessons multiple times, adjusting and improving as I go.
Potential Challenges:
  1.  Lesson planning for students I don't know well. It's tough to differentiate for special needs when you don't know what they are.
  2. Travelling between sites. Most of our schools are located pretty close to each other, but I'm still not sure whether I scheduled enough drive time between appointments, which means I'll be cutting it pretty close on a couple of days.
  3. Getting lessons written and prepped between all the meetings, PDs, etc., etc. is going to be tricky.
  4. Guest teaching in a classroom where I don't know regular routines, procedures, etc. (Flashing back to my years as a daily sub before I got my first steady teaching gig!)
  5. Figuring out what classrooms have what devices and how many, what apps are loaded, and how to get certain programs loaded if they're not already.
Good news... looks like the positives outweigh the potential challenges :) 

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