The Benefits of a Break.

Teacher friends, we’ve done it: we’ve made it to another winter break. The days were long and the kids were crazy, but we did it!

I enjoy winter break for many reasons. It’s nice staying up late at night watching movies or binge watching the TV you missed all semester because you were busy grading papers or attending student basketball games. I love not having to set my alarm for 5:45am (does anyone actually truly enjoy that?). Spending time with people I care about is probably at the top of my priority list of things to do when I’m not in school (sleep is a close second), and I really like having the time flexibility to do anything whenever I want.

There have been multiple people in my life who tell me I can’t turn off work. I admit that I have my workaholic tendencies (like that time I went to a Mipso show and brought letters to write to my kids), and I promise that I can engage in a conversation that is about something other than education and its current policies or “my kids.” The catch for me is this: why would I want to turn something off that I love so much?

I’m a firm believer that teaching is a calling and so much more than simply a career. A huge benefit of break for me is that I have the time to really process things. For me, break is a time of reflection and a time where I can finally develop myself professionally by reading books (my favorite books right now are about smart kids and teacher brains and young educator encouragement) and articles (hopefully those articles are still wildly innovative after being on my “Read Later” Google list for months) so I can harvest new ideas to test in my classroom; because of this, I’ve compiled a little list of things that we can look forward to in 2015 from Room 40:

  • Blended Learning: In one of my reading classes (I teach two sections), I am going to engage in a blended learning project. I’m collaborating with the literacy coach, media specialist, technology specialist, AIG teacher, and my ESL co-teacher on this one and I couldn’t be more thrilled to get the ball rolling with this at the end of January to kick off third quarter! We’re looking at thematic book clubs for every child, constant small group instruction, and lots of informational reading practice in both English and Spanish. We’re taking the traditional Reading Workshop and putting it on its head!
  • Genius Hour: This thrills me to no end. If you don’t know about Genius Hour, I encourage you to find some resources and be prepared to be blown away (why don’t you start here?)! I haven’t quite worked out all my logistics, but I’m trying it in my PBL blocks. We already have a social studies Wax Museum/Biography project set up for when we get back from break, but our Plants unit after that shows great Genius Hour potential!
  • Flipped Classroom Elements: I plan on flipping a bit in my aforementioned blended learning project. Since I’ll be pushing out a lot of assignments using Google Classroom and I’ll be 1:1 with ChromeBooks in my class, it makes sense to give this a shot. Ideally, I’d love to look at my literacy data from state-mandated benchmarks and do some videos on how to write about what we read. It’s small, but it’s a start!

What are your ideas and goals for your classroom in 2015?!

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