Posted tagged ‘reflection’

Musings…

September 1, 2009

It has been months since I have written here; and even longer since I have reflected and written on anything educational. I am not going to apologize for my absence because I needed a break, and just because I haven’t been writing and reflecting publicly, does not mean I have not been thinking. For the most part, I enjoy blogging, but, there are times when it starts to feel cumbersome or stagnant… times when I need to stop for a bit.

So, what is my inspiration? What has prompted me to write again after my months of silence?

Nostalgia.

The beginning of the school year always makes me nostalgic. Nostalgic for my first year teaching. Now, don’t get me wrong… my first year of teaching was hard (you can read about it here); but I was filled with zeal and enthusiasm and a naivety that I no longer have.  Oh, I still LOVE education and teaching, but there is nothing that matches the first year of your teaching career – when you walk in your classroom, see all of the desks and realize that YOU are in charge of imparting knowledge to a group of adolescents. It is terrifying and gratifying rolled in to one.

I love working with the new teachers; it helps me recapture a little of that lost idealism. It is fun to hear them discuss their students and talk about their lessons. And, it is gratifying to lend a helping hand when they start feeling a little overwhelmed by it all.

The first week of school is over, and we are in to the second week… and it is good to be here (maybe a little great actually).

So as I think about my first year teaching and the years that have passed since, I have some advice for you newbies:

  • Get to know your students because… they are worth knowing.
  • Give yourself a break when you need it – we all make mistakes; realize yours, correct it and move on.
  • LISTEN to your students and give them the respect that you would like.
  • Even that student who makes you want to tear your hair out is someone’s baby… so be patient and kind.
  • Keep learning and trying new things!
  • Ask for help AND take it.
  • Share your successes and failures with your colleagues.
  • And remember, that no matter how large and grown-up your students are, they are still adolescents who need guidance and understanding… cut them a break sometimes.

And for those of you who are new, I offer you hope… when you have a bad day with your students, I need you to relax, breathe and think, “they will thank me some day”… because they will.

I offer proof… Here are some words from a couple of my former students who have found me on Facebook.

“…I really do want to thank you for being such a great teacher, you cut me some slack sometimes and that made me try even harder because i knew i couldn’t let you down so thanks!!”

“…I’m in college right now. I go to the Art Institute and I’m going for culinary art….OMG who knew. Well thank you for everything……just to let you know you were my favorite teacher.”

Endure those tough days because it is worth it… THEY are worth it.

I Dream a World…

November 19, 2008

Langston Hughes is one of my favorite poets, and I Dream a World is one of my favorite poems of his.  I was thinking of this poem today, and I was frustrated and irritated by some things at school (probably because my patience is down due to being in my 9th month of pregnancy) and the combination of these two things prompted this post…

It is the time of year on my campus when students are tired and frustrated, teachers are tired and frustrated, and we are all in need of a break… thankfully we will get a week of “break” starting Monday.  But more than a week of vacation, I think we need a “break” from the current educational philosophy that seems to abound in this country, our state and our district.  We need a break from how education has always been run; we need a break from all the bureaucracy that envelops education, and we need to seriously evaluate what is important in regards to educating our students.

With this in mind… this is what I dream…

I dream a world where education

  • is not governed by people who are out of touch with students’ abilities, goals and needs
  • is not judged as effective based solely on standardized test scores
  • is more about learning and relevancy than it is about meeting AYP
  • encourages individuality, creativity, questioning and stepping outside the boundaries of the traditional
  • addresses student needs on an individual basis instead of measuring everyone with the same stick
  • is a priority to students, parents and society in general
  • is not always viewed as passing assessments equals mastery of content
  • is collaborative, innovative, and fun
  • doesn’t have to occur the way “I learned it”
  • doesn’t just mean focusing on the core classes but allows students to investigate areas of interest to them
  • doesn’t expect students to be experts at all subjects (because let’s face it, most of the adults I know are not and they are still successful)
  • encompasses skills that matter for success outside of the classroom (time management, information management, team work, balancing a budget, social skills, etc.)
  • encourages students to want to learn so they continue to do so when they leave school
  • rewards effective teachers based on their relationships with students, their continued growth and their zeal for teaching (instead of what percentage of students passed a test)
  • does not base a child’s graduation on the passing of four tests
  • values the students’ and teachers’ individuality
  • realizes that teaching a concept well takes time and allows teachers the opportunity to work at the pace of the kids in his/her room
  • emphasizes the importance of  teachers building relationships with students
  • allows time for teachers to continually grow professionally

I am sure by now you get the point, and I could probably go on forever. The short of it is, I need education to change, to evolve into something that fits the society where we currently reside and prepares our students to effectively navigate in this fast-paced and continually shifting world.  I need it to be better, and I am tired of waiting.

So my questions to you are…

What do you dream? And how do we make these dreams a reality?

What I Think…

September 10, 2008

I came across this little activity on MJ’s blog the other day and thought it might be fun.

I decided to do two. This first one is school related.

i am: happy to be working at such a great school
i think: the TAKS test is AWFUL!
i know: I have good friends at work
i want: all of my students to be successful
i have: a rewarding career
i wish: all students took their education more seriously
i hate:falling behind in my work
i miss: teaching English (some days)
i fear: not adequately preparing my students for life after school
i feel: teachers are under appreciated
i hear: the sound of my student’s laughing
i smell: cafeteria food 😦
i crave: enough time to get things done for work and enough time to rest for me
i search: for new and better ways to learn
i wonder: where my students will be in five or ten years
i regret: not building a relationship with EVERY student
i love: seeing my students graduate
i ache: when my students make poor, life-altering choices
i care: about instilling a love of learning in students
i always: attempt to be positive with the students
i am not: some one who yells
i believe: people can turn their lives around
i dance: in my car on the way to work
i sing: in the car on the way to work
i don’t always: give as much attention to the students as I should
i fight: poor attitudes
i write: to reflect and learn
i win: when my students succeed
i lose: my keys all the time
i never: give up (at least for very long)
i confuse: myself when math is involved
i listen: when I need to
i can usually be found: on my laptop doing work
i am scared: of failing
i need: people to care
i am happy about: having a job where every day is different

And this one is just about me.

i am: getting fatter at an alarming rate (baby is due in December)
i think: I need to get some exercise
i know: I have the funniest little dog imaginable
i want: to be able to sleep through the night
i have: a nice husband
i wish: people were more thoughtful
i hate: rude people
i miss: my best friend Dana
i fear: giving birth
i feel: TIRED
i hear: the sound of Bones on the television
i smell: my dinner of Easy Mac
i crave: some of the yummy pumpkin bread Sarah made me
i search: on “the Google” when I need to find something
i wonder: why I have such a hard time with directions
i regret: not paying more attention in high school
i love: my pajamas
i ache: when my husband is away for too long
i care: about education
i always: brush my teeth before going to bed
i am not: going to age gracefully
i believe: in the power of choices
i dance: when I feel like it
i sing: off-key in the car… very LOUDLY
i don’t always: have as much patience as I should
i fight: against policies I think are wrong
i write: what I feel and what I think
i win: arguments
i lose: my temper when people are confrontational
i never: raise my voice
i confuse: myself more than others do
i listen: to music when I am working
i can usually be found: snuggled up with Little Abbey
i am scared: of losing people I love
i need: to read every night in order to get to sleep
i am happy about: where I am in my life

Feel free to participate on your blog if feel the need.

Reflections on the 2008 National Educational Computing Conference

July 7, 2008

It has been a few days since I returned home from the 2008 NECC conference in San Antonio, Texas, and I am just getting around to posting my reflections. I wanted to give myself a chance to think and process on what I learned before writing about it.

So, to begin, this was my first NECC conference (my school district will not pay for conferences out of state). I have attended the TCEA conference on several occasions, and, in my opinion, NECC is a vast improvement. Although TCEA is a great conference for many, I am sure, it seems to lack rigor for me. When I have attended in the past, I have not come away with many “new” ideas or tools. That being said, I did not learn a whole lot of new information at NECC either, but I did get the chance to hear from educators around the world and developed some ideas for professional development and teaching that I don’t think I would have come up with otherwise.

There were several presentations that I thoroughly enjoyed…

My favorite session was presented by Chris Lehmann, principal of the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia.  He began the session by asking the question, “What is the purpose of school?” He answered the question and then focused his session around the tenets of the book Understanding by Design. Mr. Lehmann is an outstanding presenter; he is passionate and dynamic and held my interest for the whole of the session (which is difficult to do).  I have since ordered Understanding by Design and plan on adding it to my summer reading list and hopefully incorporating some of the ideas into next school year’s professional development.

I would greatly suggest checking out the USTREAM of the session as well as the session’s wiki.

I also enjoyed Stephanie Sandifer’s session on Marzano and Web 2.0. I came away with some more ideas for professional development.  Stephanie has put together a rather extensive wiki with information about Marzano and how to effectively implement web 2.0.  I suggest giving it a look. You might also want to check out the presentation on USTREAM

The final session I attended was led by a pretty impressive panel who focused their presentation around “virtual” and collaborative professional development such as the K12 Online Conference. I particularly enjoyed that the panel illustrated what they discussed by including a panel member who was Skyped in. Check out the USTREAM of the session to learn more. After attending, I am excited for the 2008 conference to begin, and I have some new ideas for getting my staff excited about participating.

So, all in all, I was impressed with my time at NECC.  I was excited that a large portion of the sessions focused on pedagogy and professional development and not merely Web 2.0 (or other tools). I was excited to meet and talk with so many educators who are passionate about student learning, education and technology. It was interesting to get some perspectives from educators from outside of the state and to hear that educators struggle with the same issues around the world (and then to hear what they do to surmount these obstacles to education).  It was also refreshing to be around so many educators who share many of the same philosophies towards education and technology.

Next year’s NECC is supposed to take place in Washington, D.C., and if I am lucky I will be able to figure out a way to attend.