Monday, October 8, 2012

Team Positive!

In teacher lingo, a group of grade level teachers is a "team".  For example, we need to have a meeting with the third grade team [translation: those third grade teachers need to get in here to find out what we have to tell them] OR the first grade team is out for planning this afternoon [translation: first grade teachers will not be found in their classrooms.  Try to find them in one of the rooms scattered around the building.] It is a rather fitting term, as we work together like a team to all accomplish the end goal:  doing what's best for kids.

Sadly, last year one of our team members retired her Way t-shirt, but lucky for us, we have a new 3rd grade team member who is really terrific!  She has years and years of experience and expertise, and although it is with kindergartners, she has quickly become a solid part of our team.  I feel like we are already working as a cohesive and productive group. It's been a positive thing to have a new teacher with us.

Today was a planning afternoon for the third grade team.  There are many positives involved in planning time. Like eating lunch with adults.  Getting to chat with teacher friends.  Having time to work on curriculum and talk about what's working/not working.  Getting some honest advice when you need it. Learning from and with each other.  Freedom to use the bathroom whenever.  And, basically, just having some fun together while still working. 

Our focus today was on looking at the new Common Core writing.  At the risk of being dull, for any non-teaching people reading, these are the writing things we need to teach.  So, first we had to giggle about the acronym (CCSS).  This stands for Common Curriculum State Standards. Google it.  We have been using GLCEs (in teacher lingo this is pronounced GLICKS).  It stands for Grade Level Content Expectations.  But how in the world would we say CCSS?  If we were going to use them we had to have a good acronym for them.  

As a side note, the educational world loves acronyms. They use acronyms because it would take far too much time to say all these huge words when you are talking and in a rush (like most teachers always are).  Instead of saying to your  principal, "Hey, I just did a phenomenal lesson on  Grade Level Content Expectation R.NT.03.04!"   you can simply say, "Hey, principal!  My writing GLCE lesson was awesome today!" 

If you are thinking that talking about writing standards is dull, think again.  We really had some positive conversation and then were so inspired that we realigned our curriculum for the year.  We decided our team would jump right into the world of CCSS and then regroup to touch base and talk about what we are learning, trying, doing.   Think of it like a chef trying a new recipe.  We are still serving food, but it might taste different.

Part way through our planning, I noticed our new team member looking a little glassy eyed.  Her eyes were a little wider than normal and her usual sunny disposition seemed a bit lost.   Boy, did I know how she was feeling!   I thought back into time (15 years ago) when I was sitting in a similar spot (although with the 5th grade team), as a new teacher.  As the three other teachers frantically wrote things in their planners (that I didn't even understand), and excitedly talked about upcoming curriculum and units, I remember feeling frozen.  I could hear words around me but I couldn't make sense of them.  Although I've never had a panic attack, I couldn't help but think that one was going to happen to me if I didn't make it stop. And then, one of them looked at me, smiled and told me not to worry.  She would help me.  And I knew she truly meant it and that, somehow, I was going to make sense of all this information.  I wasn't going to ruin a classroom full of kids or be fired because I had a team that would help me.    So I took a breath, fought back some tears, and believed her.  If it wasn't for her at that moment in time, I'm not sure what would have happened to me. 

So today I looked at our new team member.  And I told her we would help her.  That I knew this is all overwhelming and scary.  I told her to just try to think about what was happening today and this week, not to worry about the year ahead and all this stuff we were talking about.  Because we would all help her.  And it would be alright.  And then I gave her a hug.  Now any of you that know me know that hugging is not my thing.  But I think she really needed it.  And all this positivity that I'm thinking about and promoting and working for is becoming second nature.   So welcome, new third grade team member.  You are a great teacher and the kids are lucky to have you as a teacher.   And we are lucky to have you on our third grade team.

If there was a Super Bowl for teachers, I think my team would win.  It's going to be a great season.


  1. A) Our new teammate DOES rock! We got a ton done today!

    B) It's very considerate of you to notice her look of bewilderment. I didn't... and I'm sure she appreciated it! New teammie, it's only week by week that you have to learn it the first year, but you'll get lots of help and we have lots of resources to share!

  2. I feel like you gals should come up with a team cheer. And you are right about common core...where's the catchy acronym? We need a catchy acronym:)

    1. C esses, not to be confused with siestas (integration of spanish here) might work!


      Rah, Rah ree, let's hear it for grade three! Rah rah rass, we've got a lot of class!

  3. Oh, that new team member of yours is so lucky to have you! Your positivity, reassurance, assistance at every turn, not to mention your understanding and empathy weighs more than any CCSS or GLCE could ever overwhelm! Thank you one and all for your care and consideration - Never did like being that "deer-in-headlights", "WTH", "I am so totally lost" feeling. Haven't felt it in a long while, but you, astute teammate, did recognize that I felt that way today. Thanks for the reassurance and positively calming words...but mostly, thanks for the hug! We will rock this year - already we do!

  4. What a great reflective practice this blog is! A good mentor reads the lessons and offers sage advise that only years of experience brings. A great mentor reads the person and helps shape a future mentor. This team is quite impressive.

  5. I wish I had a team of PE teachers so we could RAH RAH RASS!!!