Teacher Excited

Teacher Excited

Definition: The excitement of developing and/or attempting a new learning experience that you believe has the potential to engage and challenge students.

giphy

Recently I got “teacher excited” about an idea I had come across on my favourite professional learning network, Twitter.  The idea involved using OneNote to create an Escape Room Math experience for students.  I read about this on the OneNote Education blog and instantly thought my Year 3 math enrichment students would love this!

I am always looking for new ways to engage the young mathematicians while also consolidating their learning  and challenging them in new ways.  The Escape Room seemed like the perfect tool to achieve these aims.

Rather than escape from actual rooms students were required to work their way through a number of sections on a OneNote Notebook.  Each section was password protected.  To unlock the section, students needed to solve a math problem and use the correct answer as the password for the next room or section.

escape room

During the semester, we had been learning a range of problem solving strategies and the Escape Room provided a great way for students to put this understanding to the test.  I intentionally selected a range of questions that required different strategies and progressively got more difficult as they worked their way through the rooms.

Now back to my “teacher excitement”.  I wanted to take the Escape Room to the next level so I included a video introduction and a special video in the final room of the challenge.  I stayed up past my bedtime creating the Notebook, choosing the math problems and making the video segments.  I emailed the finished product to one of my colleagues to triple check the layout, video and passwords worked.

The next morning I raced into her office and asked if she got my email?  She said she had and then went on to say how cool it was and she wanted to make one for her Year 5 students.  I said that would have to wait a minute because I needed to share the Escape Room with my Year 3 group.

I sent out the Notebook link and then literally raced to the Year 3 classrooms…

giphy

“Check your email, check your email I have sent you something really cool!”

Students weren’t 100% sure what I was on about when I started rambling about escape room, math, passwords…then students checked their emails and they were in!

escape room 2.jpg

The challenge of unlocking the rooms had students instantly hooked.  I had students outside school hours (remember they are in Year 3) emailing me about the questions and strategies they needed to employ to solve the questions and get the next password.  I was impressed with the confidence and persistence the learning experience generated.  The collaboration between the students took me by surprise as I had set the task as an enrichment activity and had foreseen them completing it individually.  However, before school and at breaks they were discussing questions and how they had worked out answers.

On completion of the challenge, students shared that they really enjoyed having to solve the problem to unlock the next room and wanted to know when I was creating the next Escape Room.  It was great to see my excitement for the task matched by the students.

“Teacher excitement” is one of the best things about our profession.  The opportunity to be lifelong learners, accept challenges and light a spark in a young person’s life are aspects of teaching that set it apart from other vocations.

“I love my job.” #teacherexcited

What we have in common…

Inspired by a tweet from 2016 Alabama Secondary Principal of the Year, Danny Steele

danny steele tweet

I decided I wanted to know what my team thought were the 3 things highly effective teachers have in common.  I changed the descriptor, “best”, to highly effective because “best” can imply that teaching is a competition.  I wanted our team to focus on the qualities highly effective teachers share in common.

At our staff meeting I asked teachers to reflect on:

  • Their own practice – to self reflect on their own pedagogical practice and consider what elements they would describe as highly effective.
  • When they have watched others work.  All the teachers participate in WOW (Watch Others Work) time.
  • Professional learning – readings, courses, professional development and conversations.  What does research indicate as key practices and beliefs of highly effective teachers?

Teachers then shared their reflections with their learning partner.  Following this sharing session, partners needed to narrow their list to three things.  A common question during this activity was “Can we have more than three?”.

Once they had narrowed their list to three, teachers shared it on the collaboration page in our OneNote Staff Notebook.  It became apparent from the lists shared that there were common themes and we could summarise our responses into three main things that highly effective teachers have in common:

new-piktochart_21908956_675125cc44d9e8e9eff5137e6c2ec90bfa536b42

It was both inspiring and empowering to know our team puts students at the centre of our planning and decision making, demonstrates a passion for teaching and learning, and reflect on their practice with the aim of continuous improvement.