Jul 2, 2012

Teacher Field Notes: Certified Scrum Master

Feb. 28th, 2012

I had the great opportunity to attend a Scrum Master workshop Feb. 9th and 10th and I'm amazed at what I have gained from the experience. I am a 4th grade teacher that has been teaching for 10 years. I have taught 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th grade. I have been using the Scrum process with my 4th grade students this year. My students have gone above my expectations with this process. I couldn't wait to go to the workshop because I knew my students were ready to learn the whole Scrum process in class. I started out introducing the Product Backlog and Sprint Backlog. I then introduced the team Retrospective board. I couldn’t wait to learn how to implement the Burndown chart and clarify some of the Scrum process that I was still unclear about.

My first day of the workshop I was sitting there, the only teacher surrounded by business people from banks, health insurance companies, grocery chains, phone companies, and IT employees. All of a sudden it hit me, I felt like I was sitting there with former students of mine. I felt like I was sitting there seeing what my students were having to go through being adults in their work force. I realized that I didn’t prepare my students as well as I would have liked to. At the beginning of the class most of the business people there were required to be there by their company. They were there because their company wanted them to work more collaboratively and be more productive.

 It hit me that, that is what we as teachers are asked to do or strive to do. As a teacher are goal is to reach the highest cognitive level possible and get them to work collaboratively. As I was sitting there I realized that this is the perfect opportunity for teachers to start using Scrum in the classroom. If we teach our students the process now it benefits them at a young age and even more when they are adults in the work force. I came to realize this within the first hour of training. As the day went on we continued to go through the Scrum process and steps.

 I then realized that this is much bigger than just getting students to use it. If we want the full benefit we need to get teachers to use it themselves. I was sitting their thinking of all kinds of ways that teachers could use Scrum with their grade level teams and as a whole school. I was so excited I had to call my principal at my lunch break and tell him some ideas that I had. I wanted to get our teachers to use it during our team meetings. Our school has grade level meetings every Monday that we call our PLC meetings. We meet with special area teachers and our grade level to plan and discuss student progress. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to teach the teachers how to Scrum. My principal was on board and took it a step further and wanted me to present at our teacher in-service day the following week. I couldn’t wait to get back to my school and share what I had learned. I felt that I had gained everything I wanted to from the training and more.

 I was so excited to go back to my classroom and share with my students what I had learned. My students knew I was going so they were also excited to hear how it went. First thing Monday morning I changed a few things to make sure that we were using the whole Scrum process. We even started a Burndown chart. My students loved it and even got a little upset that we weren’t doing it this way sooner. I had to explain to them that I just learned about it when I went to the training. This experience has been eye opening for me and has really changed my thinking with how we should be working with our students. It showed me that we really need to change the way we teach so that our students are prepared for the future.

4th Grade Teacher

Can All Students Be Treated Equal

Can All Students Be Treated Equal?

I found myself asking these question, "Can students treat other classmates as though they are all equal?  Is there away that they can work together without a hierarchy.  Can students treat others as a whole and have respect for one another?".  Nowadays the big new word is Being Bullied.  Students hear it from social media and it's all over the place.  I don't think all students understand what it really means and hopefully they never have to experience it.  I hear students say "I'm being bullied" I ask them what does that mean?  The most common response that I get is, "I don't know but they are bothering me".  Is being bullied the wrong focus?  Should we focus more on how to teach students to respect each other and treat one another as a whole?  Don't get me wrong, bullying is a problem, but, maybe our focus is in the wrong place.  Maybe the key to solving bullying is to teach students how to work together, respect each other, and hold value for one another.

Is Scrum In Schools The Answer?

I have witnessed first had what Scrum has done to my students self esteem and respect for one another.  If you were to walk in my classroom during a Scrum session you would not be able to tell which students had disabilities or which students are gifted.  The students respect and value each other.  Last week I had a group of students that were working together.  They noticed that one of the students in the class didn't have any group to join.  With out hesitation or direction from myself, they went over and put their arm around him and said, "come on over to our group". Every day I am so touched and moved by what my students have accomplished and the compassion for others that they have gained by doing Scrum in the classroom.

A couple of weeks ago I started my Reading class using the Scrum framework, which consists of six homeroom students and the rest from other classrooms.  This was the first day working on their project.  I have students coming and going during this time because several go to resource.  One of my students came back in the middle of us already starting.  She did not have a group to go to.  She tried to go to one but the students were hesitant to let her in.  Another group saw this and pulled up a chair and said" Hey, don't worry about it, your with us now."  At that moment I could not have been more proud of my students.  It gets me choked up just thinking about it.

My Students Amaze Me Everyday!

My group of students is your normal make up of any class.  When this class was made, know one knew that I would be the teacher.  At that time I was a first grade teacher.  Before the last day of school in May 2011, I had the great opportunity to move up to 4th grade.  When I saw my class list I saw the normal make up of a class ranging from behaviors to all different ability levels and disabilities.  I am amazed with how much my students have grown this year from when they first came to me.  Any visitor coming into the classroom would not know the difference between any student.  I have seen the shy students come out of their shell and state their own opinions.  My students are not afraid to ask for help or let the other students know that they need help.  I believe this is because they have the trust and respect for one another.  My class has used a retrospective board and they post how they are feeling.  They are not afraid to say they are struggling in any area and they are eager to post their achievements and celebrate with each other. 

Last week I was reviewing a math problem with my students.  I had 25 students say that I had the wrong answer.  There was one student in the class that had the same answer as me.  This student is one of the shyest students in class.  He spoke up and said "Mrs. Mills, I got that answer too."  The other students listened to him explain how he got it.  Another student chimed in and said "I get it!"  Then the two of them ran the class discussion explaining how they got the answer.  Before I knew it, I was standing back just listening, then a third student chimed in and explained to the class how he "got it".  I was amazed!  I didn't show them, they taught each other, and before I knew it, they had every student in the class understanding how to solve the problem. This is the power of Scrum, to empower the students and amaze the teacher.

On Behalf of a 4th Grade Teacher , CSM