Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Tuesday quickwrite - June 29

I'm in the Coppell HS library today helping with summer school. In 100 steps, I'm either sitting with students at tables among the stacks of books or standing between rows of computer screens and a lone bookcase of biography books. I can look at windows that face the outdoors in a park setting or windows that face the main corridor of the school, lined with potted plants.

The building brings us together for the common goal of helping kids where they struggle. We may see different views through the windows, just like different teachers have different insight into the background of different kids. We are surrounded by knowledge (books) and tools (computers), but the key component to helping these kids is the relationship we build with them. That is not objectively visible, but it comes from the conversations: students with students, teachers with students, teachers with teachers, teachers with administrators, or students with administrators.

We may not save everyone, but we are working to impact them as best we can.

Monday reflection

Writing is a solitary act, but it requires a community or you'll lose your sanity.  I'm participating in #teacherswrite this year, and I've got a community of writers in my district from our #cisdlitcamp workshop. A community helps with all parts of writing - idea brainstorming, organization, voice, the craft of writing, and emotional support.

I'm currently in the midst of revising my movie script from grad school; it was my thesis project.  It wasn't bad, but I'm getting into the exploration and scrubbing that revising requires. It's pretty cool.  Even after three years beyond my graduation and getting a grade, I know I can keep working on the project to make it really amazing. That's what writers aim for - amazing, heart-breaking, touching, inspiring. Anyone can do first draft crap. It might even be pretty good. I got by with mostly first drafts through my bachelor's and my teacher certification, making 3.55 and 3.89 GPA respectively.

But, what could happen if you really stretched yourself to revise with vigor? I'm reignited with excitement about screenplays (movie scripts). I'm excited about my story. I'm rooting for my protagonist, and developing my antagonist into something beyond a stereotype. I've got a few too many supporting characters who need to be eliminated or combined. I'm also going to change a male character to female.

I reread Paul Chitlik's book, Rewrite, and I'm recreating my plot line and beat sheet. That's outlining in screen lingo. The messy, muddled middle of my script is my nemesis.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Stepping out of my comfort zone

I'm looking to expand my career beyond simply teaching in the classroom.  This May, I was asked to be a Lead Mentor for my campus mentors and new teachers. This kind of position is ideal for my background as a life coach, so I think it's going to be a great year.

However, I also took a step outside of my comfort zone. I was going to attend the TIA 2016 (Technology in Action) conference in Denton, Texas, but I noticed a link that called for presenters.  Why not?  After fretting with co-workers on the content I could present, I sent in a proposal and was accepted.   I'll be presenting ways that teachers can use the many Google apps in their classroom.

Here's the actual session description:

Google Apps can be used in your classroom for classroom & behavior management, relationship building, real-world audiences & authentic feedback, and managing all of the documentation we are called upon to keep updated (RTI, SPED, mentoring, planning). 

Bring your own device to get your own Google Apps started. We will use1. QR codes directed to Google docs for classroom and behavior management
2. Google docs for conferencing: reading, writing, and personal goals
3. Blogger for sharing books, sharing and responding to current articles, creative and digital posts, and constructive commenting
4. Google forms and docs for RTI/SPED/ESL documentation, weekly planning reflections, mentoring, etc.

***added after I submitted

Google sites for teacher/student resources, unit planning, and student products

5. (Bonus - for LA) Google Sheets for genre/book lists

My presentation is almost complete, and I've run it by some of the high school teachers and administrators in my district while teaching summer school.  Based on their reaction (please share with me NOW), I'm pretty stoked!  

Maybe I'll be on the road next summer as a professional presenter.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Thankful for professional development

Have you actually been thankful for a professional development workshop?

When I was in the corporate world, I begged for training. I asked and got denied. It was really frustrating, and lack of training opportunities was a key component to me leaving corporate. 

I work in Coppell, Texas, and our training opportunities have continually satisfied and built my knowledge base as a teacher.  However this year, I think the workshops have really been a godsend for my current place in my teaching career. I went to 4 days for mentor training and supporting new teachers. What a perfect role for me to step into! 

I'm also attending reading/writing workshops designed to refresh my reading and writing passions to bring it back into the classroom.  We are given time to read and write. We are back in the student seat, feeling all those feels.

Now I have a community of teachers who are just as passionate about real reading and writing in their lives.  It's not just something we stand up and teach students. We live it outside of school as well. For this I am thankful.

I knew this was the path for my life and my students, but I have felt like I've been swimming upstream. I'm not swimming alone. For that, I am thankful.