I firmly believe that reflection is one of the most important skills an educator can poses and one that has certainly helped me grow. My love for reflection was born during my Masters degree and one that I will continue for my career as an educator. I do not believe this particular blog will be one that I will continue just because of time commitments. Once my life settles down some I may be able to start using the blog again, but during this time it is not possible. I want to thank Kenan Fellows for pushing me to use this blog and for helping me reflect during my internship. I believe this is a valuable tool for all Kenan Fellows and I look forward to reading more of them in the future. Thank you Kenan Fellows program for all of your help/support.
Throughout this year as a Kenan Fellow I have seen myself grow in many ways due to the commitments of the Kenan Fellows program. I have learned to connect content to real life material more effectively, become more of a leader throughout the district and even had to work on public speaking. The biggest impact that Kenan Fellows had on me was the push to implement a K-8 District Wide Math Team.
Without Kenan Fellows this team would not have been created and we would not have seen the growth in math that we have. Kenan Fellows pushed my cohort team members and myself to meet regularly and collaborate with other educators in the district through our math team. This has been an amazing process and one that we plan on continuing in the future.
I would absolutely recommend this program to any educator out there that would like to increase their effectiveness as a teacher, increase their networking and increase their love for teaching. This program has been a great influence on me and one that I am forever thankful for.
The process used to create our finished product was a methodical one with many steps along the way. In doing so this allowed for our products to be perfected so that they can challenge and engage our students in the best possible way. Though, it was challenging at times and a lot of work our overall products will help benefit not only our students, but also students in our school as well as teachers who read them through the Kenan Fellows webpage.
I would love to see this process used when creating lessons on major topics that students need. Each grade level has specific topics that students struggle on and if we could come together as a school and create a lesson on those specific topics just like we did with our products I could see those topics going from a concern to one of the better topics our students know. It takes a team to perfect lessons just like we have seen through this process and our schools need to rally around that idea and work together to perfect specific lessons.
Below is a picture of the rainfall level in Snow Hill, NC. The numbers from the chart are used during math lessons throughout the school to help relate the content.
While working with teachers after observations I always give at least one thing to work on and try to implement into their daily lessons. One common suggestion is to connect the lesson to real world applications. One particular moment that sticks out to me is after a lesson on money was taught. The teacher did a great job introducing the lesson and going over the objective for the lesson, but she missed a huge teachable moment. Money is everywhere and our students need to be able to discuss why it is important to know how to count money. Future jobs may require them to, when buying things from the store, when getting change from an order and much more. After suggesting this to the teacher I have done many walkthroughs in her classroom and every time the students can answer why they are learning new material. This was an exciting moment for myself because I could see how important that was for the teacher to learn. Moments like these make our jobs as educators so fulfilling.
During my Kenan Fellowship I have been able to grow as an educator in a number of ways and have also been able to help create more STEM opportunities at West Greene Elementary (Grade 2-3). Throughout my fellowship I have been able to look at the curriculum from a different lens, push teachers/students to try new and challenging things, helped me collaborate on a K-8 Math team and has also pushed me to get more STEM related materials inside West Greene Elementary.
The biggest change has been the implementation of the K-8 math team. During our first few weeks as Kenan Fellows our cohort from Greene County discussed creating a math team for the county. This discussion led into the creation of the district wide K-8 math team where we meet monthly to increase math instruction. This group has helped the cohort and myself become vocal leaders throughout the county on math and hopefully has also helped us increase math achievement in the whole county.
While STEM education is big in Greene County we always feel as it can grow and become even more powerful. This thought process has helped me collaborate with my cohort, county leaders and other educators on ways to increase our STEM program. Right now we are in the process of developing a plan for the future and we are really excited about what the future holds.
Overall my Kenan Fellowship has allowed me to grow as an individual and professional as well as a leader in Greene County.
During my internship with the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) I was able to work with Mr. Carl Kirby and also with Mr. Rodney Taylor. The majority of my work was done with Mr. Kirby where he taught me more about agriculture in a week then I have learned over my lifetime. Mr. Kirby is extremely talented when it comes to agriculture and did not leave anything out.
One time when we were working with a local farmer on how to decompose his dead chickens into fertilizer, I was hit with an “ah- ha” moment. Not only did Mr. Kirby do an amazing job explaining to the farmer the process of decomposing the animals, but he also explained the positives that go along with it. Not only would the farmer be saving money by not having to pay for someone to come pick up the dead animals, but the farmer would also be getting free fertilizer that he could use to help grow his crops. This blew my mind because I would have never thought before my internship that dead chickens could help grow food that we eat.
Mr. Kirby and I have talked since my internship has ended and he has been a great resource for Greene County Schools and myself. He has reached out to let me know that anything I need to let him know. I am very thankful for the opportunity he gave me to learn underneath him and will forever look at agriculture with more appreciation to all their hard work.
As part of my Kenan Fellow Internship I created a Personal Remote Learning plan that will allow me to attend professional development of my choosing. My plan is to attend the Policy Summit in July of 2017. Though, I have not been able to complete my PRL, the process of choosing my own path is exciting.
Many times as educators we are told what our professional development is going to be and we show up. The buy in for these professional development sessions are low unless the teachers have asked for specific sessions. Kenan Fellows has allowed us to pick our own professional development, which in turn has allowed me to improve on something I have a passion for.
This is a process that schools may want to adapt to help increase the level of effectiveness of professional development. Below is an article from ASCD called “When Teachers Drive Their Learning”.
The first few weeks of school have certainly been a whirlwind. Between buses running late, buses leaving students at school, students being assessed daily and angry parents not much time has been set aside to reflect. The one tool that I have implemented and have found to be successful was writing a hand note to all staff members. I have written a note to every person in our school thanking them for something they have done to help our students, a peer or the school.
Though, this is not a huge deal I believe it is has set the tone for a positive working environment and school year. Being the new Assistant Principal I want staff members to know I am here to support and help them. We are truly a team and I want them to see I notice the small things they are doing daily to help our school. I believe this tool can be implemented into classrooms and teachers can also write their students notes letting them know they appreciate their hard work.
I challenge anyone who is reading this to try it out and write your students a note. If you have more then one class try it with one class, but make sure you are sincere and personal. The note needs to not be generic and give the students something you saw them do. See if morale increases at all because I truly believe it has helped start a positive working relationship with the staff.
Throughout my internship I have gained many insights to the world of agriculture and all of the work that is involved. I have learned leadership qualities, work ethic, gained networks I wouldn’t have gained if it wasn’t for my internship and much more. One thing that I have always tried to teach my students, but never was able to really connect with them because I only had my experience at the schools to back it up is the use of 21st century skills in the workplace.
Incorporating 21st century skills into my lessons was something that I always tried to do, but after my internship it will be one of my priorities. Students need these skills to not only be successful in school, but in their future jobs as well. While implementing these skills into all lessons I will be truly relating to our schools mission of preparing students for the workplace.
My internship has also opened me up to new possibilities of connecting the community and the school to become a partnership. I believe it is extremely important to have the community involved in the education of our children and by being a Kenan Fellow it has helped me gain many new networks that will help me reach that goal.
One of the many things I learned while working with the NRCS is that rainfall is important to all farmers. Crop farmers need lots of rain to help their plants grow, but not too much and hog farmers do not want too much rain when their lagoon level is high. The importance of rain has helped me create a rain station at multiple schools in Greene County.
Students will use a rain gauge to collect how much rain has occurred weekly. This data will then be placed on a larger document for the whole school to read. From there the data will be used in word problems during math and for students in science class to compare the precipitation amounts to other ecosystems. All grades deal with place value and using the rainfall data from years past the students will be completing worksheets that involve the rainfall data.
Below is a picture of one of the worksheets the students will be completing that deals with place value.