I, Joy Kirr, am a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. My 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of my learning experiences... Want to have me speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is my PORTFOLIO.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Great Posts - BEGGING to Be Shared

I share a TON - on Twitter.
I share a TON - at EdCamps.
I share a TON - at my own school.

Whether it's because I don't want to be looked upon as the teacher who thinks she's got it all figured out (my readers know I know I don't!!), or the one who is "too radical" and "lets her kids do whatever in that classroom," I don't share (enough) at school. Sure, I share a website every now and then, but I sit on my hands (translation = "shut my mouth") when I think other teachers could benefit from philosophical blog posts or research that goes against what they're doing in the classroom. After all, who am I to tell them I disagree with what they're doing? I will continue to ask questions, but I just can't stir the pot in this fashion on a consistent basis. My own students get most of my energy as I try to stay immersed in our learning and culture when I'm with them, and by the time I try to talk with adults about some of these ideas, my energy is often quite depleted.

Knowing that I don't know who reads these posts, I'll post this one, hoping that some place, some day, some teacher from my own school will read one of these posts, share it with another, and discuss the ideas. Have that conversation that we don't normally have. Be transparent. I am proud of my actions on Twitter, but I just can't often bring up these conversations at my own school. I have, however,  stepped WAY out of my comfort zone by hosting a three-session book study for Shift This this March in my own district - wish me luck!!

Changing the Classroom Atmosphere
A Veteran Teacher Turned Coach Shadows 2 Students for 2 Days: A Sobering Lesson Learned
10 Things Students Experience Every Day at School that We Educators Tend to Forget About
17 Rules and Policies that Inadvertently Disrespect Students
Hugging a Porcupine

Homework / Late Work
A Late Work Policy That Supports Learning
It's Time to Stop Averaging Grades

Be Brave: The Only rule in my kindergarten class

Awards / Rewards / Extra Credit
The Wejr Family Awards
Why I Don't Give Extra Credit (or Gold Stars or Smiley Faces)

Parent Relationships
The Parent-Teacher Conference is Dead...

Thoughts from Alfie Kohn - Separate, because they're that good...
Beyond Discipline
Rethinking Homework
What Do Kids Really Learn from Failure?
What to Look for in a Classroom
Motivation (Podcast)

Here is Dean Shareski's K12 Online video... pushing me to share these blog posts with you:

Saturday, February 3, 2018

A Learning Dilemma

I'm working with a student when she appears at my side and asks...

"Mrs. Kirr, do you have pencil lead?"

"Middle drawer of the student station."

I continue working with a student on an activity, when she returns...

"There are three pieces left. Can I have them all?"

"Do you need all three? What about other students?"

"They don't need them. If they did, they would've taken them."

"What about my next class? Or tomorrow's classes?"

"Can I have them all?"

"You have to make that decision."

"I hate you, Mrs. Kirr."


One aspect of having a student station in lieu of a teacher desk is that students have to manage the supplies. I've run out of tape, often times after a student takes the tape to their own desk and "decorates" their pencil. We make do without tape for a bit after that. Sometimes students help peers regulate how much of the supplies they need. I've also gained a few pairs of scissors along the way.

My students are 11, 12, and 13 years old. Their frontal lobes, the part of the brain they use to they make decisions, won't be fully developed until they're 22 years old (or even later). They need the practice making these types of decisions. I'm glad the student station provides a teeny bit of this practice.

I've told this story a couple of times, and have been asked each time, "Did she take all three?"
I have no clue.
I don't need to know.
I love that she had the internal struggle.
I'm okay that she "hated" me at that point in her life.
I hope she learned something as a result.
And really - I can afford to run out of pencil lead.