Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Teacher Tired

*My marigold Theresa Carrillo wrote this post last year and it really resonated with me. It was transparent. It was honest. And most importantly, it was positive. I've always wanted to take her post and make it my own. When I was asked to do an "End of Semester" reflection for my new district, it seemed like the perfect time to buckle up and go for it. So T, SURPRISE! I hope I make you proud.

I’m exhausted. I am

It is the day before winter break and boy, is this teacher tired.

You see, the thing is I could sit here and tell you about how difficult it was to move my (newly re-designed) classroom to a new school district.
I could tell you about the struggles of switching grade levels.
I could tell you about having to learn an entirely new curriculum.
I could tell you about finding, printing, laminating, and cutting differentiated centers...every. single. week.
I could tell you about managing a classroom with 27 seven year olds. And their 27 iPads.
I could tell you about attending weekly PLCs, tech team, and tech pilot meetings.
I could tell you about how I fall asleep every night before 7pm.
I could. But it’s not why I’m exhausted.

Instead, I’ll tell you that I was given a beautiful classroom with an entire wall of windows. I was able to completely transform our space with a flexible seating, student-centered classroom design.  My 4 walled-home away from home is surrounded by the absolute best teacher neighbors I could have asked for. Supportive. Comical. Collaborative. Innovative. Risk-takers. My kind of people.

I’ll tell you that I’ve structured an Intervention block with the first 25 minutes dedicated to a strict conferring schedule and the next 25 minutes giving itself to Moby Math (digital individualized math program), small groups based off of formative assessment data, and a new math buddies program with a 4th grade classroom to extend 6 of my above-level kiddos’ mathematical thinking and understanding.

I’ll tell you that for the first time in 3 years, I’ve consistently planned for (snaps for Jan Richardson!) and implemented (snaps for Miss Burdett!) six differentiated guided reading groups. Only took me 3 years to FIO!

Ss going to the text to capture evidence to support their response.

I’ve learned how to do a "traditional" close read, and will continue to preach that close reading is not a formulaic read, but rather reading and re-reading with specific lenses in mind. I’ve refined my text-dependent response 1-column rubric with high-expectations in mind. Hold them to it, and those 7 year olds will far surpass your expectations.

I’ll tell you how I’ve built relationships with the readers in my classroom. I’ve curated a library specific for D-P readers. I’ve given my students choice, and lots and lots of book time. I continue to read, and support my wild at the primary level.

I’ll tell you how I’ve started generating a choice menu of “Vegetables” (must-dos) and “Desserts” (may-dos) for the students to choose from during Reading Workshop. By no means is it perfect, and by no means am I done. But I am trying something new, and I am not afraid to make mistakes along the way. As my good ol’ D100 friends preach...FAIL FORWARD.

I’ll tell you how I’ve tightened up my reading share time. Make a Change Monday. Tell Me Something Good Tuesday. We Love To Read Wednesday. Tootling Thursday. Fri-Yay! Share Some Reading Joy. 


I’ve continued to create exit slips specific to the day’s math learning target, and have taught 2nd graders how to self-assess and think about their level of understanding. I’ve been consistent about sorting daily, and using that formative assessment data to adjust my instruction and form small groups based on learner need. I’ll tell you that with learning, not everything that counts can be counted. Data-driven is not as important as student-driven.

Daily exit slip to use as formative assessment data. Check out that student thinking about her understanding!

Student manipulative kits readily available for use.
I’ll tell you that I’ve taken my knowledge of the mathematical practice standards and have deeply integrated them into my daily math workshop routine. This was a HUGE goal of mine for 2016.

Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. ✔
Logic and reasoning.
Construct arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
Model with mathematics.
Use appropriate tools strategically.
Attend to precision.
Utilize Structure.
Utilize Patterns.

Differentiated math problem solving journals. 
I’ve created a centralized bulletin board to post our daily “I Cans” for ELA, Math, Science, and Word Work standards. I’ve been able to re-structure the verbiage I use so that it is specific, yet 7YO- friendly. My sweet kiddos have already helped me grow and adjust this routine in our room to work for us. How cool is that? One day, they came back from Art and said, “Miss Burdett, Mrs. L. reads the “I Can” and we repeat it after her! Can we do that in here too?!” Guys, incorporate this into your daily routine.

❗❗❗I REPEAT. Incorporate this into your daily routine. ❗❗❗

Hey Lucy Carrera, check out that objective! Language function,  content, and supports.
Takes just one minute and has a huge impact in student understanding of learning target. Hold them accountable!

I’ll tell you that I continue to take initiative for my own learning by expanding my PLN, keeping up with best practice, and taking risks in the classroom.

Now I know I’ve been unusually distant on my PLN social media accounts. Maybe you're someone who has been wondering... “wait - what happened to her?” Or, “she hasn’t been as active as she used to be...”

Well, guys, here I am.

And I’ll tell you that I am as happy as could be. I genuinely hope this update finds you in a good place as well. We’re teachers after all. We deserve it.

(Not too shabby for my first time back in over a ½ year, huh?) 😉

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Meet the Teacher

Hello there! Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Virginia (Ginny) Burdett and I am a (soon-to-be) 3rd year, intermediate teacher in the Chicago suburbs. Originally, I had planned to use my first post as a way to share my “Meet the Teacher” story in hopes of you getting to know me a little bit better. Little did I know, I would run into major writer’s block three sentences in (if this is a sign of what’s to come, I am in big trouble!).

Rather, I decided to settle for a collage of images that tell that same story.

Illinois State University. Professional Development School. Teacher friends turned best friends. Mentors. Marigolds. Standards Based Learning/Reporting. PLNs. A 1:1 technology initiative. Flexible learning spaces. Lifelong learning. These kids.  If you are pictured, thank you for playing your role, be it big or small. I couldn’t be ME, without you.

I have started this blog to share ramblings, rants, realizations, and reflections with anyone who cares to listen. I welcome you to join me in conversation as I continue to draft my story.