Final but not the last. Thoughts on this blogging thing…

Per usual at the end of each quarter I find myself reflecting, and then reflecting on those reflections. This post was a hard one to put together, mostly due to finals burnout and the intense excitement (but still lots to do) of being a quarter away from holding a teaching certificate. With this final thought in mind, I have thought about the major moments that have reshaped and molded my developing teaching practice. Months and months ago I would have spouted the various texts and articles that have opened my eyes to classroom communities and the diverse student body. Quotes from respected professors or mentor teachers could paint this post, a soft touch of how to care for the student and a high expectation of capabilities within the classroom. But what has helped me grow as a reflective teacher was the very medium I was using to post said reflections: The Blogosphere. Yes, I no longer begrudgingly admit that blogging, though many times frustrating, tedious and filled with exhaustive thinking, has proved to help me grow. The more poignant ways are though my own reflections and those of my peers. The most notable evidence of this is the post Back at it, but much to do. (Just keep swimming part one) it reaches my audience and deepens my perspectives on my practice by not only reveling my true thoughts on the uphill battles of student teaching, but shows space ( that I created) where I can be honest with myself and colleges about the feelings that are tied to working back and forth from main placements and the classroom. What’s more , the space I created where only a few paragraphs helped me clear my thinking an reflect developed into a space where my classmates could reflecting and comment. This back and fourth showed me that not only I am NOT alone in my thinking, but more importantly I have a place to help my own colleagues professional development. And that place is one not in any classroom.
This shows as a true testament that blogging can open all forms of communication between professionals, where we can comment, exchanges or ask for help. This is something that I would never have thought would be the outcome when initial assigned to blog every quarter. I truly have grown into a professional that will not only feel the need to reflect (mostly Sundays before midnight) every week , but to find a space that supports growth not matter the years I have been teaching . The most amazing thing about this thought is I created this space for growth. And for that, I thank the blogosphere. Here to another end of a beautifully messy and hard quarter, and to the many years and years of reflection.

Final Push : Just keep swimmning part two

This post will be short as of most are during finals week! I am feeling a mixture of relief and excitement with the end of this quarter in sight. Excited that I will begin the adventurous journey of taking my placement class on full time as a teacher, and have begun the steps toward job searching. I feel relief that this quarter (the programs most taxing) will be over and that I have retained all the amazing knowledge and educator insights I have picked up along the way. I am sad to be leaving my cohort full time as we all embark on this last quarter. It seems we all just started our first day of class together , feeling that excitement of the unknown blossom into confidence that we are becoming teachers with the “ write stuff” ( pun so intended). I know this week will be exhausting and stressful for many but I want all my cohort members to know: YOU CAN DO IT! We are almost at the finish line and you are the most talented, kindhearted, accomplished people I have grown to know and love. Take care this possibly late night Sunday and have a fabulous Monday. And if you feel the stress turning into a snarky monster that might lash out at unsuspecting pesterer’s AKA our loved ones, just remember “ Teachers Have Class” .

Early to Rise on a Sunday

I was lucky enough to have a fantastic weekend. One of the reasons was participating in a race that had me running though an empty city at 6:45 in the morning. I know, my fellow classmates and teachers are giving me the harry eyeball, “you got up how early on a Sunday?” I admit that the night before the race I thought the same thing…”I have to get up early for school why am I doing this to myself on a SUNDAY?”
As I hit the off button on my alarm, reading 4:30AM, going through the motions of preparation and hitting the road on this chilly and rainy morning, I began to feel that sleepy excitement that builds at a rumbling pace. That excitement built as I hit the starting line, and continued as I raced with the masses. As I ran though the usually crowded and bustling city streets, the calm that encompassed all of us runners left me feeling entranced. I realized that we all get caught up with the motions of hitting the alarm, getting dressed and heading to school-all to start over day after day until the weekend. I know normally I post about academics, the classroom etc..Tonight I want this to leave people with the idea that we can wake up on Monday (early for most) and feel that slow excitement as we drive to school. I want us to feel invigorated during the day and come home with a sense of accomplishment. Running this morning, pushing past the sleep deprivation and feeling at peace among strangers- but not strangers is a feeling that we can have every day. if we set our mind to it. So I wish everyone a happy Monday, and Tuesday and so on. May your work week feel like your weekend.

Back at it, but much to do. ( Just keep swimming part one)

This week at my main placement had really helped me realize that i am picking the right profession. With taking on more reasonability, taking over lessons etc. I can feel the confidence building. With comments coming from peers,” wow you look great!” and from my field instructor, ” I love how happy you are while teaching- it made your students excited to learn and feel cared for” I can wholeheartedly say that i am in the right place and field placement. This feeling of peace, and excitement (though still very much hard at work) is such a brash comparison to my last couple of weeks on campus. With all the high stakes assignments and certificate requirements many feel bogged down with stress. And though we all are experience the same demands, it seems more difficult to carry all that joy and grit we have at our placements in our own training classrooms. With reflecting on this the entire week ” how come I am so happy at my placement school- even though we have the same if not more demands as we do on campus?” I still don’t have an answer; I know that I do not want to leave my placement next week with these fabulous feelings to have them dissipate the following week. Some ideas I have come up with is carrying a notebook filled only with reminders of all the learning and care (and funny moments) that come up in my classroom. When I feel the stress building or frustration with a assignment this, I am hoping, will keep me smiling. Fingers crossed- I will know if it works in a week! Coming up with these things will help with my teacher training in the long run. What do you do to keep moral up and a happy attitude?

iPads in the Classroom

iPads in the Classroom
This weekend I read an article What Students Think About Using iPads in School from NPR’s facebook page. The article – linked above- is a short one loosely covering student feedback at the prospect for using iPads in the classroom. Most of the students were excited, and seemed tech savvy enough to see the benefits of easier homework and teacher feedback access. A few were weary of the expensive devices , having to repair them if they break it. One noted that there will be fewer school field trips that next year, indicating that this was due to a budget cut because of the iPads. I myself am still on the fence with spending money to put an ipad in every studetns hands. One of the issues that keep coming up for me is that this is another way to identify the “ haves” and “have nots” of the school districts. Schools with the right budget can afford this, lower income schools cannot. The question that comes to mind as well is what happens to everything else after we have spent money on individual iPads, teacher and staff instructional workshops, student workshops, tech support etc? Will these schools field trips become spares throughout the year? What about school clubs and academic support? I am 50/50 on the iPad phenomena. There is no escaping its glitz and glamour, and yet some aspects of it are enriching for student learning. But at what ( literally) cost? When our public school systems have so much to work on , student attendance, dropout rates, free/reduced lunches, the new CCSS and so much more, I feel that the ipad needs need to take a back step. When we have improved much more pressing matters of our public school system then I can feel ok with spending money on devices when in the words of one student, “ pen and paper would work just as well..”.


We talked  about filling one another's buckets this week..great lead into community building discussion.

We talked about filling one another’s buckets this week..great lead into community building discussion.

What a great week to be back in my main placement. I was able to teach some lessons and have officially taken on all other classroom responsibilities to start preparing for taking over in the spring. I have also planned out with myCT what lessons etc i will be in charge of doing while she has a substitute that day. I am really starting to feel that confidence building , the ” this I can do next year ” is staring to be paired with almost all daily tasks. I am realizing that this growth is coming from superb conversations i am having with my CT, placement staff and outside educators and admin. I have learned really revel in constructive feedback and turn things i can work on into teaching goals. This has made me look at the intern experience as a really positive one. adding to this new mind set is that with all that my cohort mates and self are learning i am beginning to really connect the “academic ” dots during staff meetings and instructional meetings,PLC etc..this has left me looking forward to those extra intern hours because i am really able to participate and think about what they are discussing.
I am aware that this is really a polly
Part of a mini lesson I taught  this week!

Part of a mini lesson I taught this week!

positive post today , but it cant be helped. Through the piles of school work and exhaustive reflection and grueling schedules the surmounting excitement is breaking free! Soon this program will be done, and soon i will be interviewing at schools and for districts leading to a new wave of hard work and stress ( that i will LOVE to take on). The new voice in my head is deleting the old ” ….am i getting it? Can i do this ?” to ” I can do this!”.
As the end is in sight i am sure there will be more meltdowns and low days but if i can remember this week I have had i will get through them.

Project Learning Tree: Environmental education

Project Learning Tree
This week I was fortunate enough to listen and participate in a PLT workshop. I learned how to incorporate environmental education into my curriculum, what some of those lessons were like by way of doing them and why it is so important for our students. I really appreciated that starting out the discussion was the central idea that we cannot tell our students how to take care of the environment and the care won’t come from them unless they learn to love it. Starting off with the connection and love for the environment (which will eventually lead to action) is supported by the Pyramid Approach.
What I love about this approach it that the objective is not to tell our students how to take care of the environments but rather expose them to the beauty of our world, take them outside , open up conversations of where our food comes from or the type of energy they use in their daily life. This is more than just teaching them about environmental care, it modeling how to think critically about our world and environment we live in. To question if there are ways to improve our environment and how can we do that? More importantly this type of thinking leads the student to choose what and where they want to take action because it is something they specifically care about.
I am a huge proponent of not force feeding ideals or values to my students, so this is great for me as a teacher because this leads them to make their own decisions because they are in tune with what part of environmental education matters to them and what type of action they can take. Needless to say I am super excited to integrate PLT into my lessons next year.