Tuesday, October 9, 2012
So here we are...several weeks into school, me teaching 103 kids, all of whom have been issued iPads by my school district. Most days I am really on top of things and I teach the kids something. However, I really am learning a lot from these children! I love it! It's exciting! It's the future! It's EXHAUSTING! The facilitator for this program assures me that once I figure it out and can stay ahead of the kids more than a couple of days, I will never want to go back to my old method of instruction. I hope so because I have very little brain power left at the end of each day. iThink i'M lOsing mY mInd...and the iPad is getting it!
If you have any ideas for using iPads in instruction or any awesome, must-have apps, please leave me a comment. I'd greatly appreciate it.
Friday, July 29, 2011
Most years I am very ready to go back to school...I get excited about meeting a new group of students and look forward to seeing my friends (teachers) who I don't get to see during the summer. I enjoy working with all these professionals and really love getting ideas from others. In years when I'm not so excited about going back to school, attending meetings like the ones I just did get me in the mood. I begin reconnecting with old friends, and often make new ones. And we have collegial conversations that are priceless. So, although I intend to thoroughly enjoy my last week (lots of time at the pool with my kiddos) I am ready to get back in the grind! :)
Happy back to school, everyone!
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
My friend Kim hasn't yet explained to me how to make an image so that you can click on it and enlarge it (not that I've asked her...), so here's a close up of the Stop Sign.
And in case you still can't read the sign (because I'm not great at taking photos) it says this:
Do not even consider
stepping in this door
without your materials!!!
In the last week I have issued 24, YES, TWENTY FOUR...and if you're having trouble comprehending that number, count all your fingers, both thumbs, all your toes and four more fingers...After School Detentions for students coming to my class unprepared. What that means is that T-W-E-N-T-Y F-O-U-R times during the last week a student has interrupted my teaching to say they left something in their locker, at home, or just can't find it.
Do you think the sign will help?
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
BUT, (you knew there would be a but, didn't you?) I have been working really hard at being a more consistent teacher. I have been known to overlook something because I considered the student who committed the grievous error (and said something like "Oh...it won't ever happen again"). Well, I've been called on it. Too many times to be comfortable. I don't like being accused of showing favoritism or being racist, because my job is hard enough without having to worry about that. For instance, when another one of my favorite students left her notebook in her locker (something that they need EVERY DAY!) and I gave her an ASD for leaving class to go get it, she was unaware that some other students had suffered the same consequences for the same or a similar behavior. When I called the home of *Brandy (who just happens to be African American) I was accused of being racist. Mind you, I LOVE *Brandy! She's smart, beautiful, flipping hilarious, respectful, kind...all the things you want your own children to be.
Another perfect example is *Stacy. She is a voracious reader. That is a great quality to have, especially in middle school. However, Stacy loves to read so much that if she's not taking notes from the board and should be listening to instruction or watching her MATH teacher do a "think aloud", she's reading...under her desk...with her book inside the pages of her notebook...or acting like she's tired with her head down and book in her lap reading. Then she wonders why she doesn't do her very best on tests and quizzes...too distracted by her reading. So in Stacy's class I made a rule...Ahem (in a very loud teacher voice) "Ladies and Gentlemen...from this day forward, if I see you with a book out reading...a book unrelated to math, and I have not expressly given you permission to read, like I might after a test or quiz, then you will receive and After School Detention!" Cut to the next day. *Jennifer, a fantastic, beautiful, sweet, smart student who makes straight A's in my class is reading her novel after she finishes her warm up. Rather than issue her an ASD I walk over and quietly whisper "put the book away...remember?" Now I want to make it clear that I do not remember ever having to ask Jennifer to stop reading and pay attention in class, AND she has not made a grade lower than an A all year. Anyway, now I'm unfair because I didn't give Jennifer an ASD. And to make it worse, Stacy is still reading under her desk top and I can't catch her, so the whole reason I made the rule just out-smarts me again!
See, here's the thing...I might give someone an after school detention that no one else knows about. So should I really make a spectacle out of it every time I give one, so that everyone is aware? Would that solve the problem? When I let *Kevin borrow my calculator, I didn't SAY "but you have an ASD" but maybe I gave one anyway. I had to call home and let his mom know, but Melissa, Jennifer, Brandy and Stacy didn't know that I did that...so they think I didn't. They now think I'm inconsistent and/or unfair.
This is REALLY hard! Being consistent. If they'd just remember their junk it wouldn't be so hard. If I didn't have to repeat the same thing 80 bobobbagazillion times, then I wouldn't have to make rules that seem so unfair. I wouldn't have to worry about being accused of being racist, or unfair, or weird, or WHATEVER! It wouldn't be so hard. By the way...Melissa's mom was the 14th mom I spoke to tonight. Does that make me unfair? I have 94-ish students...I issued over 10% of them an ASD. All I wanna do is have some fun...and teach some math while I'm doing that. HUMPH!
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
The point of this story is not to tell you that I was a talkative first grader and got a paddling every day during that school year...no, it's to explain that school was not easy for me. I had to work at it. It was rigorous...and satisfying for me to work hard at something and earn decent grades!
Since I've been teaching I've struggled with working hard to teach, and expecting my students to master what I've taught, but not feeling like I had a way to gauge that mastery. As fate would have it, the Superintendent in our district has set a goal for herself of seeing a common grading system in place in our district between middle and high schools. This goal led to the formation of a task-force of about 40 teachers from all the secondary schools in our district, who were charged with reviewing the current grading policy (which is very broad and open for interpretation) and fleshing it out so that it can be used by all teachers in order to be more fair when grading our students.
We worked for about a year, meeting approximately ten times to hash out items...it was not easy nor was it always fun, but it was always rigorous and led to lots and lots of communication and compromise from committee members. We were able to have good, solid collegial conversations about what we value for our students...and it turns out, we all value rigor for our students!
On Monday, December 13, I joined five other colleagues in making a presentation to our school board about our meetings and suggested changes we came up with. It was a very interesting meeting that you can read about right here.
I have read several books on rigor and have definitions that I like, but the one we used Monday night in our presentation is posted below...read this and tell me what you think. What does the word rigor (as it pertains to education) mean to you?