Friday, January 3, 2014

Lessons Learned

Rather then making resolutions I thought I'd reflect on what I have learned in 2013.
Hopefully I am a bit wiser, I know I'm older.
1 ~ Dream Big Dreams, Make Specific Plans, but be Prepared to Take Baby Steps. This has been the biggest lesson I learned this year. I had/have a vision for a very specific curriculum. I wrote my plan, got it approved, and then began preparing, preparing, preparing. I thought all would be up and running the first day of school. Well it wasn't and this frustrated me to no end. It is coming together, we are learning so much about animals and their habitats, but every day I make notes of how to improve for next year. Lesson learned: Realize the first year is a learning and growing year.
2 ~ Search out funding sources and grants. They are there, but you have to search. Local businesses like to help their local schools! Look locally. Don't expect to receive everything you need right away. Funding takes time to make it to the district, then the principal needs to approve each purchase order, then it gets sent to the district, and finally to the company. I just today received a box of nonfiction books that would have been really helpful in September. Lesson learned: Supplies take time.
3 ~ Local nonprofit organizations and government agencies are just waiting for you to ask. Seek out partnerships, guest speakers and printed material. Lesson learned: Others want to be involved - ask!
4 ~ Taking  field trips with first graders during the first weeks of school is tricky business. Would I do it again - yes, BUT I would take extra help along. Some surprising behaviors may pop up, and extra hands sure would have been great. Our two September field trips to the forest set the stage for our animal/habitat curriculum. They were wonderful learning experiences that the children talk about often. For both trips the adults from the places we were visiting came to our classroom the day before the trip. This proved to be a very wise move. They talked about what the children would see and do, and what the guidelines were for their behaviors. Lesson learned: take extra help on early trips.
5 ~ Don't make plans based on last years' students. Every group is different, what works for one group may not work for the next. I was all set to begin Daily 5 and CAFE the first week of school. I had read the books, read every blog post I could find, made the posters ... but this group was not ready in September. I tried and tried, followed the books, no success. I had to do what was best for this group. We are doing a modified version of Daily 5 now and it is going quite smoothly. Lesson learned: do what is best for the students you currently have.
6 ~ Watch your immune system especially if you are training for a long distance event. My husband and I enjoyed a fabulous year of running. All summer my husband trained for a marathon, he did every work out, didn't get injured and was set to PR. Two weeks prior to the marathon he was feeling a bit extra tired, but attributed this to all his training. Less than one week before the marathon he was SICK. Fever on marathon day - no running. Six weeks out of work and still tired. Doctor said it could be six months before he returns to normal. Lesson learned: sickness can stop you in your tracks.
7 ~ Parents get old. I've never before thought of my parents as old until this Fall. My Dad spent a month in the hospital. It got quite dicey a few times, but he is finally home and on his way to recovery. This illness took a big toll on both of my parents.
8 ~ Grandchildren are the gifts you receive for letting your own children leave the nest!   
... The great horned owl pictured above visited our classroom. He was huge - a six foot wing span! The children got to see him turn his head, and a close up look at talons. Its amazing how live animals can make learning come alive.
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  1. I love that beautiful owl! How lucky to have a visit with him.
    I enjoyed reading your lessons learned. It's good to reflect and I definitely need to do it more often.
    I hope your husband makes a speedy recovery. That's a long time to go without running!

    Grade ONEderful
    Ruby Slippers Blog Designs

    1. The owl was a wonderful visitor. We can't wait to see who visits next!

  2. What great lessons learned. I especially love 5 and 8! It always amazes me the teachers that use the same lesson plans year after year, they never change...but the kids always do. Grandkids are a way down the road for me (I hope) but I am already thinking about how fun it will be, I love the way you said they were the gift for letting your own kids leave the nest...because that can be very hard! Happiest of New Year's!

    1. Leaving your children leave the nest will be one of the hardest things you ever do in life, but you a right the grandchildren are amazing!

  3. What a nice way to wrap up the year.

  4. I love the idea of reflections as opposed to resolutions! Lots of great advice.


  5. Great way to wrap up a year! Thanks for checking out my blog. Love your design:)

    The Math Maniac

    1. I enjoyed your blog, I'll be back to read more. Thanks for the comment on my design!

  6. Hi Maria! Thanks for visiting my blog during the hop!
    I love your design...very whimsical!
    Hope your parents are doing well!
    Elyse :)
    Proud to be Primary

  7. Thank you Elyse. My parents are doing much better.

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