I really CAN’T DO IT! (yes.. you can!)

okay.. we’ve touched on it a bit.

The kid who just CANNOT do it. The one who totally has a melt down/freak out when something isn’t perfect. The one who’s afraid their phonetic spelling isn’t what we want to see. The one who has SUCH good ideas in their head, but just can’t quite express it.

I want to foster that safe space in my class so that students don’t feel that crazy pressure to get it right every single time.

I really believe I see potential in my class, and the way that my sponsor teacher asks the students to “use inventive spelling” is really cool. They still are wary of it, but once they bring their work to me or the teacher and get recognition for it- they feel more confident.

Now, in my last post I did touch on false growth mindset, which essentially is encouraging the wrong spelling often and not facilitating correction at some point. Here’s what my class has that I think is super helpful. We do Words Their Way and one whole wall in the room is dedicated to be a word wall. Every letter of the alphabet is up there, some had sight words under them, too. It’s really cool to be able to say to students ‘have a look around the room for words that have 5 letters in it, or words that start with the letter B…’. They have a table group game they play where the groups to find the word clues given get points (they all get points… just so you know!). My class loves this because they’re super energetic and the movement around the rooms is so great for them. It also facilitates them actively seeking words out and spelling them in their note pads.

My supervisor noticed that while I was giving my lesson, I dropped a few words the kids might not know. I think ‘obscure’ was one of them. Anyways, he suggested that i adopt a practise to write those words on the board for students to see/know how to spell. Perhaps make a collection of new words on the board and every day spend time going over them at the end of the day. I thought it was a fun idea because then they get used to seeing new words, and maybe even adopt them into their own oral language (or even written!).

One of my students came up to me during my lesson on Favourite Place and showed me his inventive spelling. He definitely used inventive spelling for the word (I think it was ‘hiking in the mountains’), and I asked what he wrote. Once he told me, I notcied how accurate his inventive spelling was- and i commended him on it.

Here’s my question: when or how can we switch from inventive spelling to getting it right?

Back to the I CAN’T. Another student was having trouble with a spelling assessment. I said the word out loud, he was to write it down. He second guessed himself every time. every time! I noticed that he often got the sound-letter right the first time, then said it outloud himself, asked me, and scribbled it out when he second guessed himself. Then he would say ‘no, it was an E’ and change it yet again. He was getting to the freak out stage soon.

I think it was a sign that growth mindset it lacking in my class. and it doesn’t seem like it will be an easy fix, for sure.

I wanted to share this video with you all, and I intend to share it with my class and have a conversation one day with them about how we can move past I CANT to I CAN TRY!

As you can tell, it’s a total work in progress. I appreciate you who’ve given some feedback on ideas and really- if anyone has any other Growth Mindset tools they’ve seen and know work please let me know! I am all ears 🙂

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Growth Mindset… an introduction

our favourite term from 4th year, no?

obviously! and you know… I kind of groaned when I figured out that term applied to my kids. We had it drilled into our pre-service teacher brains last year, and now it comes full circle for me!

That aha moment took me by surprise, and even moreso when Growth Mindset came into the picture (thank you to Mary-Lynn who said the term in the hallway the other week!). I’m really excited though. My kids I can already tell will benefit from positive implementation of growth mindset work.

Here’s a video you may or may not have seen, it’s by Carole Dweck on TEDtalk. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiiEeMN7vbQ. I encourage you to watch it, its about 9 minutes long.

Building that safe classroom environment is pretty key in helping students feel that they are good to express their ideas. But sometimes, I think knowing your students and what they can do/like to do is also important. This will help us see how they can best express themselves.

My class is boisterous, loud, energetic and very funny. I know I have my hands full. I really want to work on bringing them out of their shells and finding the things that help them express themselves. I want them to see that there are more to lessons than worksheets, that no- not everything needs to be perfect, and that yes- that was SUCH a great idea- let’s explore it more! I think honestly sometimes it takes being a positive influence/leader in their lives for them to hear they can totally do something, when they felt before they could not.

You know, fostering growth mindset is not easy. in fact, it still confuses me a bit. I want to bring in this article we were given last year in Paige’s class. https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/12/how-praise-became-a-consolation-prize/510845/ 

What are some tools you’ve used to foster Growth Mindset in the classroom? What are some that you’ve seen been used effectively? Please do share them!

Next up: I really CAN’T DO IT! (yes.. you can!)

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Building Safe Classroom Communities

Thank you to Kathleen, who gave me the great prompt to write more about building safe classrooms for our students… and with our students!

I hope I can explore that more, and please feel free to send some thoughts about ways you see it working well in your classes!

firstly, I feel like this is a really important thing to establish in the first months of school. We may have had experience seeing how teachers did this in our fourth year, so do share any experiences you had, although since we haven’t been in our classes since september this year- it could prove tricky.

Here’s some thoughts I had on this:

  1. be a team leader with your sponsor teacher (and EA if any in the room!). Make sure you are always asking if it’s okay to try new things for your classroom… new ways to arrange the desks… different routines… creating that classroom rule list with the kids. Having a good relationship with the other teacher mentors in the room will help you establish a safe place for you to grow as a teacher. We are guests in their classroom, and if you’re lucky enough- by the end of our time in May we could be considered co-teaching with them!
  2. build relationships with your students. one thing that stuck with me from my supervisor from last year was to spend 2 minutes with students who seem to have behaviour challenges per day. doesn’t mean it should be 2 minutes full on, it could be split up during the day. I took that in to account, and have practised it even this year with kids at my childcare job. Any child would love this. Ask them what they’re having for snack/lunch. Spend time shoulder to shoulder during work time and make conversation with them about their work- ask questions, get to know them as a learner. These connections we make with our students will go so far in having them understand you care about them in many different ways, not just how they’ve done on their work. Another thing I saw my sponsor teacher do with my grade 2/3’s is write a totally misspelled/grammatically wrong sentence on the board. She pretended like she was done, and the students told her NO! There’s a mistake! And she had them ‘help’ her figure out the mistakes and what to put instead. It was hilarious, the kids completely ate it up and everyone was laughing and having such a good time. it was so special to see her connecting with her kids in such a silly way, that really had them all interested in helping fix the mistakes! (remember how i said they had such bright ideas in my last post? they truly are bright students!)
  3. allow students to work together on different tasks. my current supervisor gave me some great tips on how to get students to work on different lessons. Does it have to be worksheet after worksheet? no. and it really should be minimal worksheets (that’s another topic altogether..) Here is one thing he said would be great to intertwine a PBL lesson while outside. You pose a question to students, or have them reflect about something- and they would walk through the forest/playground/wherever you were in pairs, having walking shoulder to shoulder conferences. Students can help eachother gather ideas and express them in the partners they are comfortable with. Utilize the friend groups they already have. Encourage them to expand that network and pair them with people they may not go with, too.

Now, we can talk about how to facilitate a safe learning space to branch off of those ideas above.

Something i’m passionate about is Indigenous Inclusion, and ways to implement that into our teaching life. Have you spent much time looking at the First People’s Principles of Learning? I’m going to link it herehttp://www.fnesc.ca/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/PUB-LFP-POSTER-Principles-of-Learning-First-Peoples-poster-11×17.pdf. I really believe there’s a lot to learn here. Take some time to see how it can link to building a classroom community with holistic values.

Another resource is the Six Cedars. though it is not written by an indigenous author, it is still ok to use for many purposes in the classroom. I used it for a self reflection piece with my K’s last year. It can absolutely be used to build classroom rules/guidelines for learning.

Next up: growth mindset and inspiring students

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Inspiring students in the classroom

Hey everyone,

my topic for my posts is based on Growth Mindset, and fostering a positive atmosphere in classrooms.

I have a grade 2/3 class, and from day 1 my sponsor teacher noted that the students may be below grade level learners.

As the first week of practicum went by, I noticed something. The students in my classroom had really low confidence. 

This really was an ‘aha’ moment for me, because I saw their bright ideas and the sparkle in their eyes when I talked with them, they just were stuck when it came to expressing them.

My focus is going to be on different techniques we’ve learned in our time at VIU, and hopefully some things that are new to some of you 🙂

We all remember the great video, The Power of Yet right? Well, that could be something you share with your kids!

But let me backtrack a bit. I fullheartedly believe that the FIRST thing we need to do as teachers is building a safe classroom community. Students who may feel nervous to share their ideas could be telling us that the classroom community isn’t as safe as it could be.

How can we build safe classroom communities? It may be tricky to do this in a practicum classroom, but know that you are backed up by your supervisors, and the professors at VIU who embody this in our learning.

Remember the set of classroom rules we came up with for Paige’s class last year? That is something you could introduce into a classroom. Ask your sponsor teacher if you might be able to try something like that in the class. Getting students to co-create the list will give the best resource for kids to refer back to. Talking about what the kids want to see in a safe classroom will help build the classroom designed by them (with our guidance, of course).

Something to take in mind is the school goal for the year. At Salmo Elementary, the school goal is literacy, but also self regulation. This will be a cool basis for me to go off of, because in building a safe classroom, my sponsor teacher, myself and the students will be able to talk about and work through challenges together.

Stay tuned-more posts coming up! next up, dissecting Growth Mindset!

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Miss Newbery is here!

Hello everyone!

Welcome to my blog via VIUBlogs. This is my personalized space to share different things with you that I have learned in education.

Please comment and get in touch with me anytime!

-Miss. Newbery (aka Emily)

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