This transcript has been edited for clarity and grammar but is a direct representation of what is said in the podcast.
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John Davis: This is the Ten Minute Teacher Podcast with your host, Vicki Davis.
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Vicki Davis: Today’s sponsor is Advancement Courses. Stay tuned at the show’s end to learn about ten top things to do and top topics to learn for teachers this summer. We need to learn, but can’t we have fun at the same time?
12 Ideas from An Exciting End of Year in Jillian’s Classroom
Today, we’re talking with a 21-year educator, Jillian Dubois, from Clearwater, Florida.
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She is a children’s book author and has an incredible new book, Destiny’s Amazingly Different Dreams. About Neurodiverse Children, which is an exciting topic. But Jill, we will talk today about what excites you in your classroom. So, what’s going on in your classroom right now?
Idea #1: How to view this time of year as exciting
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Oh, my goodness. So much so. You know, we’re wrapping up the year. I mean, we’re at the fourth quarter. It’s almost like, you know, we got past halftime. We got past that third quarter. We are almost to that fourth-quarter ready for that celebration at the end.
And oh, my goodness, you know, sometimes we’re about to run out of steam. But I tell you, this is the most exciting time of the year for me. I tell you why because we have finished standardized testing. We finished everything that we needed to finish with our students.
And now we get to have fun. Right. I mean, we still learn. We still go by all the standards, and we do all of that. But it gets me excited when I know that we can start exhaling.
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And that’s not slowing down. People always say, “well, how do you feel about the school year winding down?”
It’s like we don’t wind down. We just kind of crash into the wall and stop, kind of like a crash test dummy. So you were telling me before the show relating it to a recent episode on the podcast; tell us which podcast were you talking about and then what happened in your classroom to connect to that research?
Idea #2: How Jill is Using the Element of Surprise
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Oh, my goodness. It was the Neuroscience of Surprise (episode 774). It was awesome. It was just talking about, you know, instead of being so hard on our kids, instead of being so, you know, because we do have behavioral issues, we do want our children to self regulate.
And all of those things have a great mindset when it comes to learning. But when we focus on the negative things, when we tell them “no, don’t do this, don’t do that,” but instead recognize the positive behaviors and the positive attributes.
And we say, “Hey, oh my goodness, do you see? You see what he’s doing? I appreciate how you have done exactly what I asked you to do.” Well, without a reminder, you can look at what every other student was like, “Well, what are they doing? Oh, well, I better be doing that, too,” you know, is that element of surprise. They don’t expect that to come out of your mouth.
Idea #3: How Her Class “Collects” Words on 3×5 Cards
And we were doing an activity where we were learning some new vocabulary.
And I have read this excellent book to my students called The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds.
And I use it every year because when we do novel studies, we get an envelope, write the novel’s name on the outside of the envelope, and start getting three by five cards.
And whenever we hear or see a word that interests us, we collect it. And each student has their own envelope. They’re collecting their own words. So I happened to make a copy of a page, and when they were at a special today, I went down to the copy room and made a copy of this page that we were going to be doing an activity with. And so, now, I teach second graders, so they’re seven, eight, or nine.
Idea #4: How An Accidental Mixup Created a Meaningful Moment of Learning
And somehow, a seventh-grade vocabulary quiz got mixed in with my copies. So when I was going to pass out the documents, one of my students said, “I don’t think I have the right paper.”
And I said, “Oh, no. I said, What do you have?”
And he said, “Well, it says seventh-grade vocabulary.”
“Mike Oh, well, let me see that.”
So I took that piece of paper, and I’m like, “Hey, yeah, you know what? Flip over the piece of paper you have because we’re not going to do second-grade vocabulary right now. Guess what? We’re going to do seventh-grade vocabulary right now.”
They all went, “what?”
And it was almost like that adrenaline, you know. And he was talking about the neuroscience of how that surprise works when they’re not expecting something.
Their little lights clicked on, and they were so interested in knowing what a seventh-grader is learning. I mean, they’re eight, right? And they’re so curious. I have such a curious and, oh, my gosh, just lovely class this year.
Sound like. All right, let’s look at these words. First of all, we start to read these words. So we took step by step, and they’re so good, you know, that’s what we do for second grade. We teach them how to, you know, how do you break apart words? How do you phonetically learn all the patterns and rules and exceptions to the rule?
And it was just a great, you know, real-world learning experience for them. And as a teacher, that gets me excited. As a teacher and as an educator, I love to see spontaneity. I love it when those things happen that you stumble upon in it, creating this vast opportunity to teach. Teach them. But for them to learn and share and watch their eyes light up. And we just had such a brilliant time together.
Idea #5: Teacherpreneurship in Action in the Classroom
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Let me tell you what you did; I’ve been talking about this term for a long time, teacherpreneurship. So a teacherpreneur is like an entrepreneur. Now, a lot of people have used the word. You know, some people make money from teaching stuff like the TPT stuff.
The way I’ve always used it has been a person who has autonomy in the classroom and looks and finds learning opportunities and makes the most of them. And so, what you saw was a learning opportunity. It’s teaching at its best.
You’re able to reinforce all you’ve been teaching about breaking words down and understanding meaning, and it was a fantastic spontaneous experience. Aren’t those some of the best it was surprising for you to see? Weren’t you in teacher overdrive?
Idea #6: Looking for Things to Reinforce Learning from the Year
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That’s what makes teaching so special is because we have that freedom to do that. And you know, especially now that fourth-quarter stretch where you’re looking for things to integrate into all of the curriculum you’ve already taught.
Idea #7: Watching Bald Eagles on the Raptor Resource Project
And, you know, yes, we still have some things to do, but it’s just one of my favorite things. This is an extraordinary time of year for me as an educator. For the past ten years, I have been following Explore.org
It’s the Raptor Resource Project, and they have a pair of bald eagles, a male and a female bald eagle, that come back to the same nest in Decorah, Iowa. So this nest is “ginormous.” It is about 8 to 9 feet in diameter.
It’s huge. It’s about five feet deep. And in February, they come back to the nest to lay their eggs. So we keep it on. Somebody is monitoring, and they got different camera angles. I mean, it’s down to a perfect science now, but it is just fascinating, as we always have in second grade.
We have an animal habitat project at the end of the year, but this time of year is when they get to see animals and nature in their natural habitats from start to finish. They get to see them nurturing and caring for their young.
I mean, the male and the female shifting the communication that has to happen, the different symbiotic relationships that have to happen because that nest is so deep, and there’s mice and other birds that build nests and are there to help keep the nest clean.
And I mean, it’s just it’s crazy. So we have so much that’s our science for the last quarter of the year.
Idea #8: Eagles Fly Higher in Turbulent Winds, and So Can We
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So we are the Eagles at my school. And so let me tell you an Eagles story that I love. This is my favorite Eagles story. One time I went up to a lake fishing, and I saw these eagles up high, and I found this story.
I can’t remember what book I read it in, but what it said was, Of course, eagles can go pretty fast, but the fastest the Eagles have been clocked is when you have turbulent weather, (Vicki’s note: see this article, which isn’t my source but backs up this story) when you have the true wind in actual turbulence, that the Eagles can soar up on those turbulent winds. They have been clocked at over 100 miles an hour. And the point that I make to my students is if you learn to fly on the turbulence, some people see turbulence, and they fight it with it, but the eagles soar on it, and they can go faster than they could ever go any other way because there’s turbulence and that’s life. Right? We can learn to soar in turbulence. Sometimes you have to stop fighting it and go, “Hey, here we go.” You know, and that’s a lot of educators. A lot of educators have been soaring.
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Oh, my, I’m going to share that with them tomorrow!
And it is super windy in Iowa, even though there were several inches of snow over the weekend.
And I asked them if they had watched it over the weekend. They’re like, “yeah, the babies got all wet.”
And I’m like, “Wow, did you see how quickly the mother or the father would nestle, you know, the babies underneath them in that snow? They’re protecting their young. That’s their job. You know, they don’t even think twice. That’s just their instinct. That’s just what they do.”
And I love that “going soaring through the turbulence.”
Idea #9: Pushing Baby Eagles “Out of the Nest” When They Are Ready
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I think, as well as when it’s time, as you know, the Eagles will push those babies out of the nest when they know it’s time. And you know what an excellent metaphor for the end of the school year.
You’re ready to soar. It’s time to get out of this nest and move on to third grade. I love these stories. Jillian, this is awesome. I was talking with somebody today about how I feel like this whole negativity is, in some ways, killing social media because I know there’s a lot of stuff to be upset over. There are many things to be tired over; there are lots to be frustrated over. We could just all name it. However, there are a lot of excited educators out there who are still doing their job, pushing through the tough times.
Pep Talk for Educators at the End of the Year
And so what’s your pep talk? You’re excited; you’re overjoyed. What’s your pep talk to educators who are like, I wish I had 25% or even 5% of Jillian’s enthusiasm. I guess I’m not feeling it right now. What do you say?
Idea #10: Find Connection With Your Students
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You know, the big thing for me is to. Find that connection, finding connection with a student, finding connection and helping them to make a connection, you know, even if it’s just as simple as, you know, one small, you know, self-connection or a world connection or world to self connect, you know, look for those things. And I always say, don’t TAKE the time to make the connection, MAKE the time to make the connection because there’s something very intentional about making time to do something when you feel like you have to do something.
I think I got to take the time to do this. Now, when you want to do something, you’re going to take the time to do it. And with our kids, I think we want to see that.
And not every educator feels that it’s this easy and it’s not easy. It’s just, again, it’s just intentional. We have to understand who our kids are. We have to be able to connect with them. We have to show them our vulnerability and not so much personal stuff, but to show them that we’re human and normal. “Yeah, I’ve got to ask Sarah because I don’t know the answer to your second-grade question,” or, you know. But make them feel respected and make them feel encompassed in your culture and the environment that you’ve created in your classroom.
Idea #11: Truly Knowing Your Students Even in a Large Class
So, you know, that’s so different for each of them. I’ve got 24 students this year, and it’s a large class, and it’s been a little more difficult than normal because there’s been so many of them. But it’s also been a great challenge, and it’s been great because I have if somebody asks me now, do you feel like, you know, all 24 students, I’m like, Yeah, I do. You know, I know what he needs, and I know when he is not feeling himself. I can see it in his face.
And I know when she drops something, and she puts her head down on her desk, I know what she needs.
And I know if you’re, you know, bickering with so-and-so, and you just intuitively have to tune in and know them and build those healthy relationships with them because you’re with them. You’re parenting them technically. You are more with them so many hours a day and communicate with the families, too.
Idea #12: We Partner with Parents
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Because we’re partnering with parents.
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We can do more together than we can’t. Just like that with mom and dad, we partner. We need to. We need to partner. Jillian Dubois, a children’s book author, has a lot of great stories she could tell.
But I’m so glad that you told the stories of your enthusiasm and excitement in the classroom. I’m ready to get back into my classroom. I’ve had to break because I had a break in my foot. And by the time this airs, I will be back in my classroom and so excited, and I’ll have all my stories to tell. So thanks, Jillian.
Thank you, Advancement Courses, for sponsoring this show.
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Last summer, I took my professional development with Advancement Courses, and I am so glad that I did on my blog. I recently shared 10 Ways to Rejuvenate and Learn This Summer. All of the course ideas come from the advancement courses catalog to go to https://www.coolcatteacher.com/top10.
Learn about some courses you might want to take and things you need to do this summer. Your current needs should impact your professional development. Advancement Courses makes it so easy to complete your PD with courses that are online and self-paced so you can take them anywhere any time with up to six months to complete. And right now you can use the code cool. 15 to get 15% off your course today. So go to www.coolcatteacher.com/top10 and begin deciding what you want to learn this summer.
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John Davis (Announcer and Producer)
You’ve been listening to the Ten Minute Teacher podcast. If you like this program, you can find more at www.coolcatteacher.com. If you wish to see more content by Vicki Davis, you can find her on Facebook and Twitter under @coolcatteacher.
Thank you for listening.