Saturday, July 18, 2015

Summer Collaboration

Ahhh....summer! Filled with family time and recharging! This summer, Kate and I have had lots of opportunities to meet with our new 4th Grade Team, as well! Lynn hosted us at her beautiful home (and fed us an exorbitant amount of delicious food) and we were able to spend 12 glorious hours together, "talking shop" and finding our "groove" as a new collaborative team!
(Kate is taking this picture:)
We had a two page list that we have been working through. We still have a few more hours left from our summer work proposal to meet, but we certainly have accomplished a lot thus far!

One of the things we felt strongly about as a new teaching team was to establish a united front for our classroom families. While Kate and I have been teaching in a personalized learning environment for the last two years, our team mates are just starting their personalized learning journeys! Kate and I will still be team teaching, and the rest of the team is eager to dive in and provide the best possible environments for their students! We all will be 1-to-1 with Google Chromebooks (and a few iPads each), and we really want to share, collaborate, and work together on all that we can.

However, due to the nature of our team-teaching environment, some things may just look a little differently in my and Kate's space! One thing we DO NOT want is a feeling of "us vs. them." We do not want our students or families to perceive our new team as a "have and have not" scenario. We want to make sure we start the year off on a united front, which means COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION! One of the first things we did is create a "Team 4" logo. 
We will, again, be taking on the T.E.A.M. acronym (Together Everyone Achieves More). Each classroom took on a letter of the acronym. Kate and I will, again, be "Team Togetherness" (as we have been for the last 2 years :) So our new team we will now have

  • Team Togetherness
  • Team Exploration
  • Team Aspiration
  • Team Momentum
We will use this logo for all 4th grade team communications! Each homeroom also has their own log for their personal communications and use. We want all students and families to see themselves as a piece of a larger team. We want to send the message that we work together and are part of one larger entity.

We are also going to be sending out a Team 4 Postcard to all of our incoming students this August! This will highlight all of the amazing things that will be happening across the entire 4th grade!
Click HERE to see full size!
Now that Kate and I are into "year three" of this personalized learning journey, our school families are more familiar with the teaming environment option at the different grade levels. When we first started way back in year one, we sent out an additional letter explaining the concept to parents, in addition to the kid postcard. Even with that, plus "principal chats" from our amazing leader, we STILL had lots of parent questions! So, no matter where you are on your own journeys, be prepared for that! Things to help ease parents' minds that you can communicate early (in your intro letters or at "meet and greet") could be:

  • How you will regularly communicate with them! Kate and I offer weekly newsletters, Remind, daily Facebook posts, and a classroom website. We are in the process of exploring CANVAS, which is a learning management system that would help to consolidate some of those items! Stay tuned for a future post on this, as we are still learning/building!
  • Offer a PIN night ("Parent Information Night") where you can go over aspects of the curriculum and answer more questions. Any time you can get more face to face time with your families will help them feel more comfortable
  • Invitations to observe! Our first year, Kate and I opened up our classroom for 3 full weeks and allowed parents to sign up to spend time in our space. This was CRITICAL in many of our parents really getting a full understanding of what we were about!
  • Or more! With so many tools out there, it is easier than ever to communicate with families!

Stay tuned, as we are planning on updating on how we are using CANVAS, as well as how we are going to set up our new 4th Grade Learning Lab! Exciting stuff ahead!

~Angela

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