Four Things I Learned This Year

As the year winds down, I’m continuing a Teaching Channel tradition and taking a moment to reflect on four things I learned this year.

1. Change as an opportunity for growth

This year was split in half for me. On June 1st, my family and I moved from Chicago to a tiny western Massachusetts hill-town of 1,800 people. We moved away from the friends and family we’d surrounded ourselves with for years, to an environment where, at least for a time, it felt like it was us against the world. The transition was tough at first, but we eventually found our stride. Though the field of education hardly ever feels like it’s slowing down, the idea that change can be an opportunity for growth is a powerful one, as we start the new year.

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A Message From Our CEO: 2014 in Review

As many will do at this time of year, we’ve been reflecting. Thanks to you, it was a terrific year for Teaching Channel. First, our audience continued to grow, and today we have over 645,000 registered educators in our community. This is incredibly important because it signals that teachers find what we are producing valuable. Your registration influences foundations and corporations who are sponsoring new video series and tools for us. In addition, it matters to school districts, the Department of Education, and to many of our partners who care about making sure educators are getting the support they need.

In 2012, we launched Teaching Channel Teams, an interactive, collaboration platform that we license to districts, schools, and PD organizations to foster educator collaboration around video. We think video is important in two critical ways:

  1. It helps all of us see ways to teach that we may not be familiar with, and
  2. It helps us see what we’re actually doing in the classroom when we examine our own teaching practice.

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Best of 2014: Teaching Channel’s Top 20

It’s time for Teaching Channel’s year in review, and what a year it’s been! We have some fun numbers to share with you. This year, Teaching Channel released 258 videos, including our series on Deeper Learning, the Getty Arts Integration videos, and a series for teachers of English Language Learners. Teachers around the world hit “play” over 5 million times on Teaching Channel, and we served you over 330,000 hours of video. Now, let’s get into some specifics:

Most Watched Videos of 2014

New Teacher Survival Guide: Classroom Management

Improving Participation with Talk Moves

Making Math Fun with Place Value Games

Reasoning About Division

Socratic Seminars: Patience and Practice

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Wrapping Up the School Year: Ending the Year on a High Note

Editor’s Note: Read more end of year activities from Teaching Channel blogger Lily Jones.

As much as I love the summer, the end of the school year has always been tough for me. The classroom can become a family of sorts — complete with all the good times and challenging times that come with being a family. Although I always look forward to getting to know a new group of learners, it’s important to me to honor our classroom community and all the memories we’ve made at the end of the school year. Here are some of my favorite ideas:

1. Photo Slide Show:

Each year, I take lots of photographs of students. I make sure to keep my camera close during student work times, field trips, recess, performances, and report card conferences. Then, I compile the photos into a slide show with songs about endings (“Never Can Say Goodbye” by the Jackson Five was always in there). I typically showed the slide show during one of our final days of school and gave each student two to three pictures of themselves from the slide show. Students, no matter how old, love seeing themselves on the screen!

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Wrapping Up the School Year: 5 Reflective End-of-Year Activities

Editor’s Note: Read more end-of-year ideas from one of our favorite bloggers, Carrie Kamm.

The last days of the school year are ticking by. As more and more milestones get crossed off your list, you may be left wondering how to wrap up the school year. Last year I wrote about how teachers can reflect on their “shining moments” at the end of the school year. This year I’ve asked several teachers to share their favorite end-of-year activities in hopes that you’ll find one that feels just right to use in your classroom.

1. Advice for Future Students

Make a list of advice for future students by asking current students to reflect on the year and share tips for success. High school math teacher Lauren Collins says this activity usually yields a good mix of funny and serious advice, which she prints out and gives to the next year’s class on the first day of school.

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Reflection Fest: Goals for 2014

Goal for the year

Reflection Fest Day 5: Goals for 2014

Happy New Year! On the last day of Reflection Fest, let’s think about the coming year. What goal(s) do you have for your teaching or for your students this year?

I hope to further my coaching practice by videotaping more of my coaching sessions. I did this once so far this year and found it was an invaluable way to learn about my development. Even looking at my own body language as I talked to another teacher told me a lot!

Reading the lists of goals from our Tch community is inspiring:

  • “My goal is that every student I came in contact with is excited to write. Writing is power, and kids need to see that.” — Katie Novak, K-12 Reading Coordinator, Chelmsford, MA
  • “Refine best practice and move students to greater independence on all standards.” — Esther Wu, High School English Teacher, Mountain View, CA
  • “I want to see more students address texts in scientific contexts with the skills needed for note taking and identifying information relative to the purpose of the text.” — Shelia Banks, School Support Specialist, Marrero, LA

Share your goals for 2014 in the comments section below… and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

2014 Open You Door

Lily Jones taught K/1 for seven years in Northern California. She has experience as a curriculum developer, instructional coach, teacher trainer, and is also a contributing writer for Teaching Channel.

Reflection Fest: Favorite New Thing you Tried in 2013

Favorite new thing you tried

Reflection Fest Day 4: Favorite New Thing You’ve Tried

One of my favorite things is sharing resources with teachers. Today, let’s share the favorite new things that we’ve tried this year.

I still feeling like I’m learning so much about coaching. One of the things I’ve been doing this year is bring new teachers to observe veteran teachers.
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Reflection Fest: Funniest Moment

Funniest moment

Reflection Fest Day 2: Funniest Classroom Moment

Today’s reflection is a fun one: Think about your funniest classroom moment this year.

Humor is an essential part of classroom life. I used to spend all my days around kindergartners and first graders, laughing my head off at their amazing way of approaching the world. Luckily, through my coaching work, I still go into kindergarten classes every so often — and my funniest moment this year happened when I was observing a kindergarten math lesson. As I sat in the back of the class, a teensy little boy walked up to me. Looking me straight in the eyes, he started stroking the sides of my face while whispering, “You are safe. You are safe.” It was so bizarre… and hilarious!
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Reflection Fest: Most Inspiring Moment of 2013

Teachers get to celebrate two new years: one at the beginning of the academic year, and one in January. With 2013 coming to a close, it’s a perfect time to reflect on what’s come of the 2013-14 school year so far, and use our reflections to set meaningful goals for the rest of the school year.

Reflection can be a tricky necessity. Sometimes it leads to celebration as you see how particular approaches have really worked. Other times, close examination can mean confronting hard-to-swallow truths. When I was a new teacher, I remember trying desperately to get my students to work productively in groups during math. From playing endless cooperative games to giving my students roles to play in groups, I spent a lot of time trying to help my students collaborate. But when I reflected on this process, I realized that my students hadn’t been learning enough math. I had spent so much time trying to facilitate productive group work that I hadn’t spent enough time teaching content. Oops.
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