Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men- Planning and Snow Days

Ok so we had a weird week.  We had no school on Monday because of MLK day.  We went to school on Tuesday and Wednesday.  We had a teacher work day on Thursday.  It snowed Thursday night so we had our Friday teacher workday at home.  We had a long snowy weekend and then we get the call "Due to road conditions...".  No school for students tomorrow and optional teacher work day for teachers.

Update: No school on Tuesday as well.  When I got the text I yelled and startled my children.  Then I said "I'm going to pull my hair out."  My 7 year old said "Don't do that 'cause then you'll be bald"

I should be jumping for joy, but I feel sad and frustrated.  Why?  Because I PLANNED for Monday to go a certain way and now my whole week is going to be messed up.

  Now, that probably isn't true.  It will be fine I guess.  I just hate for plans to be messed up.

Planning takes a lot of work.  It is the most time consuming and most important part of a teachers life.  We spend hours and hours analyzing data, creating groups, writing questions, pre-reading text, finding the right video or making the right video, looking for ideas to make the lesson more engaging...  The list goes on and on.

Planning is critically important, don't get me wrong but we need to remember that our children are not computers to be programmed.  Acts of God, and things not in our control, will inevitably mess up our plans.  How we react to messed up planning is really important.  We need to realize that the students need us.  They don't need our plans.  The students need us to model flexibility, resourcefulness and problem-solving.

They also need us to be well rested, calm and re-energized.

So, chill out Cissel.  It's a snow day.  Relax and enjoy it.

Just in case you would like them, here are a few ideas I had on this snowy weekend.  Maybe it will save you some valuable planning time.  It's nothing fabulous.  Just decent ideas.

Retake Tickets- We use a program called Compass Learning.  It's basically a virtual tutor for students.  It is differentiated to meet students needs.  Sometimes the students don't do too well and need to retake a certain activity.  I will copy and laminate this ticket and use a wipe off marker to give them their retake code.  You could use this for retakes of any kind.  I like that it encourages students to keep trying until you master the skill.

AR Chapter Book Challenge-  No matter how many times I tell my students that a chapter book will give them more points (and more reading stamina) they never believe me.  I made this simple form to challenge students to read more chapter books.  It is based on the idea of "badges".  The more chapter books they read the higher they "level up".  It is a simple idea and a simple document but you are more than welcome to steal if it seems like it would work for you.

Complete Work Ticket and "Friday Coding Bonanza"-   This year my class is having a VERY hard time completing work in a given period of time.  I do all of the right things, model first, set a timer, have the kids write "to do" lists.  Stuff still isn't completed.  So here is my plan.  When the timer goes off, all kids put their hands on their heads, and I start giving out tickets.  I like this idea because I make everyone stop at the same time so time runs smoothly.  Students I know are not going to complete, I give them their own personal "stopping point" (answer the first three questions).  Easy to differentiate and easy to reward.  Once the students get their tickets (they get two, they are raffle tickets) they put their name on one and save the other.  If they can collect 20 tickets by the end of the week then they can participate in the "Friday Coding Bonanza".  My students love but we don't always have time for it because they don't finish daily tasks in time.  The tickets they put their names on go in the pot and I pull one or two names daily and give them prizes from the prize box.  Hey don't judge me, its the middle of the year and the kids need some extra motivation.

Thanks for reading.  Enjoy your next snow day.

 “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry

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