Tag Archives: cohort

No more theory, put it into practice.

15 Mar

I need a break. I can’t remember what I did this morning (which feels like three days ago), let alone what I blogged about five weeks ago. Thankfully, I have technology to do most of my remembering for me. I have been taking on more teaching responsibilities in the classroom this week, as well as pounding out and polishing up final papers for my teaching courses. I will be thrilled when the last paper is submitted and I can maybe sleep more than 5 hours or even go for a run.

This quarter has been a roller coaster. December was hard. It began with a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school, on December 14. I sat down and cried, and found solace in a song. Later in December, I had a huge change in my life, and was lucky to discover people who truly care about me. I initially didn’t want to blog about it, but I found it was profoundly affecting my life – and I began to wonder about students who have trouble and changes at home, and how it affects their learning. So I shared. A little. I opened up my private life to the internet and made my thoughts public. It was hard, but I feel it is important to always remember that our students have a lot going on in their lives that they may not tell us about, but that can immensely impact their school life.

This quarter, I have been inspired by teachers who are not afraid to take a stance and to dive into the politics of education. The many teachers in Seattle who refused to administer the MAP test have been receiving national attention. I wrote a post about it, which prompted some interesting dialogue in the comments. Additionally, I have greatly enjoyed reading The Jose Vilson blog, and this post about white teachers teaching black history month was very striking. I commented that I often wondered about the “right way” to celebrate all of my students. He responded to me (and to the other commentors) with this post, giving some examples of what white teachers SHOULD (in his opinion) do to teach black history.

MAP testing is a hot topic, as one of my cohort-mates, For Whom The Bell Rings, wrote about a recent blog entry from our local weather guru, Cliff Mass. I commented with my own ideas, and the conversation that began in these blogs seeped out into the real world – our carpool, classrooms, and lunch times became sounding boards for ideas and arguments about this way of thinking. It’s just one example of how a blog post can create dialogue and push people’s thinking, on and off the internet.

So, there’s my blog reflection for Winter Quarter. In a week, full-time student teaching/co-teaching begins. We’ve learned the theory, crammed it into our heads, hoping something will stick. We’ve worked with fantastic educators and professionals, and even more fantastic (fantasticker? yeah.) students. Now we’ve got to put it into practice. Blogging isn’t required for the remainder of our program, but I think I would like to continue reflecting on my teaching on a blog, perhaps even collaborating with some of my cohort-mates.

Now, here I go on to the next assignment.

Picking up

27 Jan

broken_heart

 

Without going into detail, my world shattered in late December. Though things have “settled” a bit, I still find myself, in the middle of one task or another, suddenly standing still, wondering “How on earth did I get here?” and “This is NOT where I am supposed to be.” And to be quite honest, I’m having a hard time focusing on anything, from cooking (which I love) to school (which I usually love).

This happens to students all the time. Parents lose their jobs, or divorce, or even die. Families move across town, across the country, or across the world. Shootings. The fear of shootings. Violence at home, or in the neighborhood. Bullying. Family members who fall ill. Numerous other events that happen every day.

Just like me, these students – these children – are expected to go on as if nothing has happened. Rarely are teachers even aware of what, specifically, is affecting their students lives – but usually they can tell something is going on. Students lose focus, act out in class, neglect their homework, and otherwise “act out.” At this age, they are not capable of putting their feelings into words, they only know that something is wrong, so they do these things, to prove that life is not working right for them.

I have been lucky these past few weeks, to discover who my real friends are. Family members and friends have provided support, encouragement, and help, as I struggle to pick up the pieces. As teachers, we must be a rock for our students. Even when we don’t know what is wrong, it is our job to sift through the clues, be the glue and the support, and help our students “fix” their lives, as best we can.

It’s not all about teaching reading and math. As John Spencer says, it’s about love. “Real love. Muddy love.” Really, that’s what life is all about, isn’t it?

End of Quarter Reflection: Fall

9 Dec

The quarter doesn’t feel over, yet – I’m still processing things, and I’m still completing a few assignments. I feel as if all I have done in the past week is “reflect.” So now it’s time to reflect on my blogging over the past few months.

One of the biggest goals I set for myself as a blogger this quarter was to blog once a day in November about thinks I am thankful for. I feel it’s important to focus on gratitude, especially in the middle of this quarter when everything was beginning to seem so overwhelming. Some days, I effectively linked my thankfulness to education, such as this post about “Small Business Friday,” or this one about using words like “gay” in the classroom. ome were more personal, such as this one about my dearest friends, and some were just for fun. For the most part, I managed to blog once a day for the whole month. I even wrote a short blog on a day I had the worst stomachache of my life. Why? Because writers write. As a teacher, I hope to model my love of reading and writing to my students (as well as my love of math and science). I love to write, and as Erasmus said, “The desire to write grows with writing.”

My most-viewed post was about a lecture I attended at UW titled “Finnish Lessons – what can the world learn from educational change in Finland?” Not only did members of our cohort comment on it – in the blog and in class – but I also had an actual Finnish teacher comment on it, starting a conversation about what it’s like to get certified in Finland. I am glad I had the opportunity to attend this lecture, and glad that I had this blog as a platform to share what I learned with other people who didn’t have that opportunity.

My most commented on post was about children’s screen time, and whether or not it was good for kids to spend all day sitting in front of a screen. The post was a follow-up to one about the contrast of technology used by my main placement school and my dyad, and my questioning about whether or not reliance on technology was good for students (and people as a whole).

I think the best way to generate comments is to write about something people are interested in – whether it’s Finland or technology. It also doesn’t hurt if that topic is also slightly controversial. Although a lot of the information about blogging out there will tell you that short blog entries are the best, my most-read and most-commented entries were two of my longest ones. I suppose that proves that readers are most interested when the writer is most passionate!

I tried to comment on many of my cohort mates blogs, they are all writing about interesting and insightful things. One of the blogs I commented the most on was Learn2Teach4Equity, such as this post about networking. Networking, meeting and collaborating with other educators, is probably the most vital part of becoming a teacher, and it’s one that can’t really be taught. I think we are especially lucky in this program to be forming relationships with our cohort-mates, which will last through our careers.

I also commented regularly on Teacher PostScript, such as this post about the differences we were observing between private and public schools. We shared a similar experience in our Dyads, going from public elementary schools to private middle schools, and regularly discussed the differences (both in our blogs and in person.)

Recently, I have come across several interesting articles and stories I want to blog about, and have found myself very frustrated that I don’t have the time! I suppose this proves that my month of blogging had a strong impact on me – my desire to write has definitely grown with writing.

 

Thanks-vember 26

26 Nov

What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for the chance to catch up with friends over grown-up beverages. I’m thankful for truffle fries and discussing school. I’m thankful for truffle fries and not discussing school.

I’m also thankful I am in school with a group of people who support each other. We might say something that is controversial. We might talk about touchy subjects. But we are a cohort – a group, and we value each other.

It’s almost Thanksiving! (Giving Thanks, day 20 & 21)

21 Nov

Yesterday, I left my house at 7:50am and didn’t get home until 10:30pm. And I survived! I am thankful for that 🙂

Today I’m thankful for this 5-day weekend. I was going to get right into the homework swing, but I haven’t. And that’s ok, because I have four more days (well, 3 and a half because I plan on doing nothing but eating tomorrow afternoon). I am thankful for the awesome show I am working on, which has a preview on Friday night. I’m thankful for professors who take time to chat about stress and workload and who give good feedback – but most importantly make me feel heard.

I’m thankful for the fact that my awesome man-friend went to the store for me yesterday so I didn’t have to go today. I’m thankful for friends who are hosting a “Friendsgiving” tonight. I’m thankful for my awesome ridiculous, extended family – many of whom I’m not actually “related” to (by blood or by law), but who provide me with support and inspiration every day.

With that said, I’d like to ask you something. Can you try, in the frenzy of “The Holiday Season” that is rapidly approaching, to remember the things that are really important in your life? Can you tell your friends and family how much they mean to you, give the waitress a tip, and the bookstore employee a smile? Can you think about those who have less than you, those that have to work on Thanksgiving in order to pay rent, those who can’t afford gifts for their children? I’m not saying you have to drop everything and go work at a homeless shelter, but just remember to be kind, and thankful for what you have.

With that, a reminder from one of the most influential people of the 21st century:

Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.   – Oprah Winfrey

Coming Back

4 Nov

I took the weekend “off.” I saw a play. I had family in from out of town. I got to say “I’m with the band” at a concert. (And, I took my parents to a rock show.) I thought about blogging on my own personal blog (didn’t do it, but thought about it…). I went on a date with my man-friend, saw a great movie, and refused to think about school.

I needed it. But now I need to buckle down and get back to work. This week is going to be about hopping back on that horse, not letting anything slow me down, and riding off into the sunset. Or at least into all these assignments that are due in the next few weeks.

It is November now, which means two things: No more October Cry, and Thanksgiving!

I seriously love Thanksgiving. If we’re being honest, I love the food. But I also love taking the time to think about what I am thankful for. I know it’s the 4th but I’m going to start posting one thing I’m thankful for a day, for the whole month of November. Which means you get 4 things right now!

1) I am thankful for my cohort, these 25 people who support me on a regular basis

2) I am thankful for Facebook and Twitter – I am “friends with” or “follow” teachers that live around the world. Teachers that I have worked with, teachers who taught me, and teachers I may never meet. Each one of them provides a unique outlook on politics, teaching, and the world at large, and I think these people will help me be a better teacher myself.

3) I am thankful for my desk. I read an article on Apartment Therapy last week titled “Using Your Home to Reach Your Dreams.” It’s about creating a space for yourself to work towards your dreams. My dream is to be an incredible teacher. I made myself a desk space but too often find myself sitting on the couch, surrounded by distractions, attempting to do my work. Now I’m back at my desk, hoping that using this space will help me “reach my dreams.”

4) I’m thankful for the rain. I love listening to it. I love how green this beautiful city is. Yes, sometimes that green is moss because everything is damp and grey – but I love it. When I have my own classroom, full of wet children after recess, I may have a different opinion, so for now I’m going to enjoy it.

What are you thankful for?

The October Cry

1 Nov

They say (and by “they” I mean almost every teacher I’ve ever talked to) that, in your first year of teaching, you will cry in October. Probably more than once. Whatever it is that sets you off, it will boil down to this: teaching is hard work. Harder than you imagined. You will be tired, you will be frustrated, and you will not be sure you know what you are doing.

Friends, I hit that wall last week, and I’m not even “actually” teaching yet. I still have another year until I’m “supposed” to hit that October wall.

And yet, I found myself there, sitting in class, feeling completely lost, completely exhausted, and completely overwhelmed. I may have teared up a little.

Then I got home. And my house was a mess. And it was almost Halloween, which was, once upon a time, a holiday I really enjoyed. And my cat threw up. And that was it. I cried.

I cried as I cleaned the rug.

I cried as I washed some dishes.

I cried as I tried to fold laundry.

When my boyfriend came home, the real waterworks began.

What am I doing? Am I really cut out to be a teacher? I can’t even keep my house clean, who is going to trust me with a classroom full of children? And so on, and so on.

Luckily, I live with a supportive, caring man who told me to suck it up (in a supportive and caring way, of course.) He reminded me that I am impatient, and want my life to immediately be how I envision it – but that’s not how the world works. He reminded me that I am used to things coming easily for me, and don’t know how to handle it when they are not. He reminded me of how much I want to be a teacher, and how many people I have supporting me, and how lucky I am to have him. (He didn’t say that last part, but I think it’s obvious, don’t you?)

And the next day, I got up, and went to class, and discussed life and school with my classmates and professor, and discovered that I was not alone. We are all hitting a wall, in one way or another. And we are lucky to have each other.

I think that may be the best thing about this program I am in. I have 25 other people who understand what I’m going through. Twenty-five people to discuss teaching, classes, students, art, music, books, Halloween costumes, silly stories, and whatever else with. We are not all alike. We range in age from just-graduated college to having-college-aged-children. We are liberal, conservative, male, and female. And we are all passionate and excited about teaching. We support each other, care about each other, and listen to each other.

I am so looking forward to becoming teachers with these people.

Also I’m excited that October is over. November resolution: Don’t cry over inconsequential things like a reading about lesson plans.

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