Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Educational Summer

There's astronomical summer (June 21) that corresponds with the summer solstice. There's meteorological summer (June 1) that corresponds with the temperature cycle.

Then there's educational summer, which for Montgomery County, started approximately June 16th this year. That's the day both students and teachers start their summer breaks. Unless you're a resource teacher, that is, or some other specialty teacher that has to come in during the "summer break."

As a resource teacher, I'm part of the school's instructional leadership team, and we meet during the summer. For some reason though, the administration decided we were going to meet during the last official day for teachers, which made things a bit interesting in terms of getting staff "cleared" and out of the building. I needed to clear everyone before 10AM, so that I had time to find my way over to the Discovery Channel building in downtown Silver Spring, which is where our "retreat" was going to be held this time around.

I made sure to follow someone else, since I'm not exactly proficient with the area. I found a parking garage, and after I parked, I saw one of the special education resource teachers standing nearby. That was comforting, as I knew I wouldn't be the last one to the "party," so to speak. We met up with our school's dean of students, and headed over to the Discovery Channel building.

What an interesting place! We had to wait in the lobby for a while, since the principal was a bit late in getting there, but there were some really cool things to see.
Bimboraptor, recreated with feathers Bimboraptor without feathers
There was also a neat Rube Goldberg machine that both me and the math resource teacher thought would be awesome if we could get an engineering academy student to do something like that as a capstone project.

Once Mildred arrived, we were led back to our conference room (who would have thought that the Discovery Channel building would have government-like security?!), where a Qdoba-catered lunch was waiting, and we could begin our discussion about the school focus for next year. Amazing how we'd barely closed out the FY15 year, and we were already talking about FY16.

I chose to remain with the discourse committee, since I like the idea of student collaboration, and trying to entice more of it. With the advent of flipped classrooms and the blended learning cycle, I believe student discourse is a piece of the 21st century classroom of teacher-facilitated learning, as opposed to teacher-directed learning. Plus, science classes seem to lend themselves to student discourse naturally just via most the NGSS practices.

So, today and tomorrow will be spent hashing out what "discourse part deux" will entail. This is amidst the cleaning and refurbishment that the building service staff is trying to do, plus me trying to change classrooms. It turns out that the room I'm moving into has a lot less storage space than I thought, plus the AP Biology teacher has a lot more stuff to store than I anticipated. I'll make it work, but it wasn't as easy as I believed it would be.

And the view from the new classroom sucks. The room I've been in for the past two years overlooks Northwood's courtyard, which just became a sculpture garden for a capstone project (or two). My new room overlooks.... nothing. Just a roof. I'll have to compensate with more posters or something.
My old view during a mini-snowstorm in March
Do I miss truly having a few uninterrupted weeks off during the summer? Hell, yes. I did end up bored most of the time though, so having something productive to do is good. I've plotted out a few weeks off so that I can go hit up rollercoasters, plus mom and I can do our western road trip, but I really do work more of the summer than I have "off." Oh, the myths of the teaching profession.

But, no matter what, being sans students and staff is essentially a vacation, so I'll take it. :)

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