Whew! This has been an interesting school year thus far. Just when things seem to be in place, something else uproots those ideas and brings forth new...challenges.
My driving question has certainly had some changes. I realize now that I did not leave one change as it stood and accidently began reworking it. The newest version is currently my driving question and I do not have the previous question. I created a Need To Know page to sort through questions I need answering while researching. Meeting 1:2 with my teachers was by far the most helpful! With their help, I narrowed down my question. It also gave me hope for future endeavors with my question.
My conern with my research is that I won't do it correctly. Of course, that's the anxiety in my brain that I've lived with my whole life. And because I know myself, I know I'll be fine and it will all be fine. Beyond that, I'm concerned that some of my coworkers may not take my research as seriously as I do. I worry that the "buy in" will feel forced, or that my data will get messed up by an error on my part.
I know this research is not meant to be something that would drive my career down a path of research and publishing, but I do take my career and my schooling seriously. Having had a (seemingly) major mental setback recently, I can say that I am feeling better. I know that I am not the only one this school year, or 2020 in general, has spit upon. And this, as crappy as it sounds, helps.
Our school adopted the 7 Habits. And there are times when I don't take my own advice of Habit 7, "Sharpen The Saw." If I don't do Habit 7, I'm certainly not able to do Habit 3 "Put First Things First" and get my schoolwork done in a timely manner.
What does it take to be in the 21st century and have obtained skills ready for it? As a teacher, I'm constantly asking myself that. As a coach, I'm wondering what skills I can share with my colleagues to help them too.
This week, I watched three videos of examples of 21st century skills. One was from six years ago, and although slightly dated (because like technology, teaching practices are always evolving) it is still relevent to today's teaching. In this particular video, kindergarten students demonstrate 21st Century skills for self-direction. Students are able to express their learning goals, make choices about their learning, articulate their plans for learning, and demonstrate the ability to self-direct during independent work time. All these things are neccessary to being a self-driven, responsible student and life-long learner.
The second video I watched was how an elementary school was using videography and voice & choice to teach content curriculum to upper grade students. The students were sharing "Scar Stories" through personal narrative writing strategies. Students created their own videos using a green screen, graphics, and even voiceover work. The teacher guided them through the use of the technology, and then turned them loose to create. The teacher also was there to act as a mentor to answer questions and help push students to write in detail.
The final video was from a high school. In the video, students learned U.S. economics, current events, and math during a "Shark Tank" project. In this project, students design and create a mock business. They create a business plan, track spending and income, and even pitch their company idea to members of the community who pretend to be investors from the show "Shark Tank." The teacher even wears a cute shark hat! This lesson allows the students to take charge of their own learning and relate it to real-world problems. It also introduces students to skills they may need after high school, such as tracking spending and earnings.
Overall, the three videos were fantastic. Knowing that from Kinder through high school, 21st century learning is happening, gives me hope for the future.
When I think about my driving question, I feel small. I feel insignifcant. I feel as if I'm standing at the edge of the world, looking at the expanses of the universe and all the stars and planets are merely unanswered questions. And I don't know where to begin.
I've never done official research before starting from complete scratch. This is a new experience. And with new experiences, there is often a feeling of incompetencey. One can "push back" a new idea/concept and have big feelings about the new experience. Almost as soon as I felt comfortable with my driving question for my master's degree, I soon fell into having those before mentioned big feelings.
We are in a pandemic. I am in the middle of fire country. I have family members and friends who have lost their homes. My 97 year old grandmother, who I have seen nearly every day of my life, is now on hospice. I fell today walking from my living room to my office for work, and my knee took the brunt of it. I feel like a hot mess. And my internet is unstable, kicking me out of the one place I can feel normal--teaching.
My big feelings feel HUGE.
My driving question has changed. It's...evolving? It seems suddenly so insignificant amongst the chaos around me. And yet, it isn't. My driving question was originally about equity and how I can provide social-emotional activities to promote equity in my classroom. But...this year is a little different. I am teaching 5th grade part time. And the other half of my time, I am a magnet coach for art and design. So...I'm thinking that my efforts might go into creating a driving question that includes other teachers and may benefit more students than my own.
My current driving question, "Can mentoring (coaching) teachers at a Title 1 school improve student equity?"
I'm sure this is merely a stepping stone in the long journey ahead into the vast universe of questions. But I need to remember to take it one step at a time.
Sarah Magallano teaches 5th grade. She also coaches teachers on integrating art & engineering into their lesson plans.