Sunday, August 30, 2015

Puzzle Pieces

Dump out a new box of jigsaw puzzle pieces and it can look a little overwhelming.  Subtle shades of the same color blend into the pile and it's hard to distinguish the features of a single piece until there's a closer inspection of detail. However, there is anticipation and excitement about the prospect of completing the puzzle. It's a challenge but one that can be successfully completed. And so you start.....first by flipping over each piece so that you can clearly see them face up.

The start of another school year is similar to opening a new box of puzzle pieces. There are feelings of excitement, anticipation, hope, and of being a little overwhelmed with all that needs to be accomplished before the kids come into the classroom/school for the first time. A new challenge is motivating! Great educators are constantly seeking ways of improving their craft.  A new year, a new puzzle, is a fresh start to tweak and implement all of the ideas that have incubated over the summer.

How do you complete a jigsaw puzzle?
  • Look at the cover of the box. The picture gives you an idea of the direction that you need to take. It's your vision of what can be. 
  • Start with separating the pieces into groups. For me, the puzzle pieces include the various groups of people that I'll work with throughout the year. The pieces are also the different components of what I want to accomplish like implementing PBL, a maker-space, STEAM, genius hour, content, and a more student-centered classroom. 
  • Connect the border pieces. Border pieces are the foundation. Building relationships with my students are my priority. Although I feel the pressure to start immediately with content, I know that taking the time to build trusting relationships far outweighs any curriculum standard or objective.
  • Assemble small groups of like puzzle pieces together. Start with what you know. I don't know all there is about Google and Chromebooks. I'm starting with what I know. I know that @edmodo is my foundation for all of my online class activities. My students and I will learn about the other various puzzle pieces together.
  • Stop working for a time. Come back to the puzzle with fresh eyes. Reflecting on what I've accomplished, what I need to improve, and where to go next is crucial for growth. Here's a taxonomy of reflection that was shared by my PLN. 

  • Engage the help of others. Part of the fun of putting together a jigsaw puzzle or trying new things in a classroom or school is collaborating with others. I want the help and experience of others as I try and put my puzzle together. I know that there will be mistakes. Some puzzle pieces are not going to fit together. But, I know that my PLN has my back. They are there to support me every step of the way.
  • Celebrate the success. When all of the pieces start connecting, when the vision of what you want to accomplish starts to come into focus, when the momentum of connecting the pieces speeds up, that's success! Take the time to celebrate. I'm really looking forward to the time when everything starts to fall into place.

Tomorrow, I start my sixth week of school. My how time flies! The puzzle pieces are face up. The border is almost completed. I've managed to connect little groups of similar puzzle pieces. I have a vision in my head of what I want my classroom to be. If I close my eyes, I can see it, feel it, hear it, touch it! I'm just a little unsure about which group of pieces to assemble first. My instinct tells me to ask my students....and so I will.

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