Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Things I love about teaching

I can't tell you how much teaching warms my heart.  Just today, a student asked me a question that I had explained the day before. I asked her what she remembered from yesterday, and she faltered a bit.  A friend next to her tapped her on the arm, and they had a quick discussion about the topic.   I love when kids help kids.

I love to see kids get excited about reading.  I require my students to blog about books once every six weeks or so.  We also have a follow up lesson and activity about how to make appropriate comments.  After that, I let the kids loose to read and comment on all of my class blogs.  They get into GREAT discussions.  They have revealed to me that the blogs have helped them find new books and new authors, as well as changed their minds about books they had previously not wanted to read.  When a friend discussed the book, it was much more impactful (that's my new word) to students than any other source. They are middle school kids - take advantage of it.

I also love to see kids successful and cognitive of their growth in writing.  I love helping kids grow in their writing!  Writing is a mystery to some - sometimes, it's a mystery to me. But when I had math/science kids look at me with glazed eyes, I realized that I had to make writing connect with their learning strengths. There's a science to good writing that I can break down for them. If nothing else, it becomes a concrete activity in which they can observe real growth.

I'm stressed and overworked, but these are the moments that I live for.  These are the moments I left a better-paying corporate job for.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Sept 29 - Day 29

How have you changed as an educator since you first started?

I am actually getting more and more flexible and more open to new strategies and styles.  I used to be very strict on deadlines (mainly because that was the educational culture), but now, I try to understand that I'm teaching skills, knowledge, and problem solving. Kids are still kids. There are often multiple chances in life.  Yes, there are one-strike-and-you're-out situations, but educators can work that in as students get older.  I allow much more choice and time flexibility, especially as I move into ROLE  (ROLE Reversal by Mark Barnes).  

I don't do much reading aloud any more - I'd like to, but even thinking about it makes my yawn!!!!  I once put myself TO SLEEP when I was reading something out loud to my class. (A student asked if I needed someone else to read....y.e.s.)  I'm  yawning now.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Sept 27 - Day 27

What role do weekends and holidays play in your teaching?

Not too much... Sometimes, I try to arrange a unit that could incorporate holiday activities, but that's usually only before our winter/Christmas break.  I say winter/Christmas because not all of my students are Christian, and I want to honor that diversity. There are even Christian denominations that don't celebrate holidays, so I don't want to make a huge deal of it.  I'd rather bring out seasons, patriotic, or historical events since they are universal to my students. 

I try not to have a lot of homework over the weekend.  I make my plans with the idea that if students are working hard, they should be able to complete everything inside of the class time allotted.  Reading outside of class is the most important habit to instill, so if they have little other work to worry about from me, then I hope they read. 

Sept 30 - Day 30

What would you do (as a teacher) if you weren’t afraid?

I'd stop giving them grades.  The premise behind education is to ensure they have mastered skills and acquired a basic knowledge base.  Eliminating grades would help shift the focus for everyone involved from scaled scores to a simply yes/no - has the student mastered this element of their education?

Sept 28 - Day 28

Respond: Should technology drive curriculum, or vice versa?

Curriculum is the knowledge they need, and technology is a tool we can use.  I want them to have the best advantage over their peers in college and the workplace, but I think the advantage is having the ability to choose the best tool for the job.  Technology  might not always be the best tool, and an environment that is too technology driven disregards our learners with different learning styles and needs. 

Sept 24 - Day 24

Which learning trend captures your attention the most, and why? (Mobile learning, project-based learning, game-based learning, etc.)

I really support flipped lessons for many reasons.  If I create a video or a presentation or have students review information, they can actually learn it at their own pace. They can review it as much as they need or want, and they can come back to it later.  This also ensures that I give the exact same message to each student - I'm fully aware that I may forget something I said from one class to another.  

Parents can also review the material if they want clarification or they want to help their student.  

THEN, I can work with any students on an individual basis if they need clarification.  I am also able to build in more class discussions and workshop time for them to work with me available to them.

Sept 23 - Day 23

Write about one way that you “meaningfully” involve the community in the learning in your classroom. If you don’t yet do so, discuss one way you could get started.

One thing I've done is to invite parents and staff from our school to get involved on our class blogs. We often write about books we've been reading, and I have students reply back to each other.  Parents have participated, and once, we had an author reply back to a student.  

This year, I want to tweet out what goes on in the classroom, and I want students to write things to tweet. I haven't had them do this yet, but maybe we can work into it.