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Reflections from a 4th Grade Shadowing Day

Posted by on in Education Leadership
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 “The secret of joy in work is contained in one word–excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.”– Pearl S. Buck

Mrs. Johnson’s 4th grade classDeerfield Public Schools – District 109self-contained special education7th grade math

Today’s leadership focus was learning about our work and our leadership through the experience of the students we serve. I’m drafting this post during writing time; it’s the first time today I’m doing my own work; I was doing the actual 4th grade student coursework all day. I participated as a student in number corner, language arts whole group and small group, art,lunch/recess, match, science and around the world!

With the help and support of the awesome students I learned the routines, rules, procedures, expectations, essentially “how” to be b2ap3_thumbnail_4cs.jpga 4th grader at Walden School. The students were really busy all day and the day flew by. The students and I were busy pursuing authentic learning tasks. We analyzed complex text, we reviewed multiple sources of informational text. The conversations were high level, complex, meaningful and quite impressive. Mrs. Johnson runs an active classroom and she clearly puts in tons of time planning, preparing, reviewing, teaching, helping, listening – she is an excellent teacher! In math class we followed the Illinois New Learning Standards and we worked collaboratively and with multiple methods of discovery and presentation. Mrs. Johnson respects the individual needs and abilities and interests of her students.

Our teacher, Mrs. Johnson is amazing! She is kind, considerate, well planned, organized, authoritative, focused, diligent – truly excellent in every sense of the word and per all criteria I have studied, read, and implemented over the years about effective instruction. As a student I participated in guided learning, independent practice, individualized activities and personalized opportunities. I had clear expectations and clear outcomes to produce yet often I was able to select the way in which I could produce the learning.

CIRCLE TIMEThrough deliberate conversation and teaching I was reminded naturally of the Illinois New Learning Standards as a normal part of the vocabulary and discussion. It’s as natural for Mrs. Johnson’s students to speak the language of Standard NF.3d as it is for them to use the “real” vocabulary of mathematics. The students are learning to become fluent in math vocabulary, concepts, practice, and mastery of standards based learning. In art class I learned about Wassily Kandinsky, the color wheel, and how to make colors out of paint using the primary, secondary, and tertiary colors. My one hour as a fourth grade art student was fun, engaging, informative, and active. I completed the primary and secondary color abstract painting with the help of my fellow students and wonderful teacher Ms. Summers.

Today, in “real life” I saw examples of learning on the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains. The students routinely performed thinking tasks, considered the feelings of other and they were moving around all day long. This was a classroom preparing students for today and tomorrow! This was a modern, contemporary, relevant learning environment for some wonderful students.

I saw and I experienced the 4C’s: Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, and Critical Thinking. The natural integration of multiple processes, routines, actions, and learning make me quite proud. Mrs. Johnson spoke in the language of high expectations and kindness and courtesy and focus. The students were normal, typical kids – a little rambunctious, funny, fun, interactive, and to a person – ENGAGED in the learning. Mrs. Johnson is teaching students and they are learning. They learn how to work with one another, they focus on social emotional learning (they use theBotvin Life Skills program as do all 4th and 5th grade students in the district). The students with whom I learned today truly were engaged in their tasks, learning, content, subject, one another, and school in general. They inspired me as their superintendent and their performance all day – bell to bell – truly was inspired. They were empowered to select from a variety of resources and tools both technological/digital and in print throughout the school day.

The students were learning and engaged in authentic learning tasks aligned with best practices from the minute they walked in to the minute the bell rang at 3:25pm. Mrs. Johnson is an outstanding representative of an outstanding faculty! What a great experience! I am fortunate to work, lead, and serve in the Deerfield Public Schools.



“The secret of joy in work is contained in one word–excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.”
– Pearl S. Buck
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Michael Lubelfeld, Ed.D. Mike currently serves as the superintendent of schools in the Deerfield, IL Public Schools (District 109).  Mike is married and is the father of two young children. He lives and works in suburban Chicago. Mike attended the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science, with a minor in criminal justice. He holds a Master of Arts in teaching and Educational Specialist in administration and supervision from National-Louis University. Mike earned his Doctor of Education in curriculum and instruction from Loyola University of Chicago, where his published dissertation was on Effective Instruction in Middle School Social Studies. Mike has had a variety of experiences as an educational professional. He began his educational career as an elementary and middle school teacher, prior to assuming roles of associate principal and principal at the middle school level, and as an assistant superintendent for personnel services (PK-8). He is also on the adjunct faculty at National Louis University in the Department of Educational Leadership. He can be found on Twitter at @mikelubelfeld and he is the co-moderator of #suptchat - the superintendent educational chat on Twitter.
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