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.

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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..”.

Reflections : round two

Reflective thinking is exhausting as a student teacher. There are so many outlets for it, blogs, tweets, social media, journals and of course coffee meetings with friends and co-workers. With the end of this quarter nearing, and the pile of coursework getting higher and higher, it makes me think how our students handle this reflection. It saddens and angers me some when I overhear a teacher saying “ they just don’t get it” or “ in one ear out the other”, or worst “ my students are just unmotivated to think about this stuff”. This is simply not true. Student has just as much as reflection as we do, It just doesn’t look the same as ours. What makes this idea terrifying is that their reflections may include thoughts of “ I don’t understand this..” or “ Miss. So-and-so is really hard on me..I don’t get it..”. I think it is up to us to give them some more reflective tools and outlets so we can see where they are at in learning and what is weighing heavy on them. Besides journaling or blogging I am still mulling the ideas over, so any help or ideas will be greatly appreciated below!

Un-Plug and Make a Connection

With all this talk of technology in the classroom, “there is an app for that”, and bridging the gap between learning and technology I find myself thinking about connections in the classroom. No, not a connection to the world wide web, but person to person connection. Rather, the teacher to student connection.
This thought came to me during my student teaching this week. Our lesson was centered on using video clips to drive the unit objective home to students in the most explicit way. And though I say some made connections from the movie clip to context to their own notes, mostly they were just thrilled to be able to watch a movie (I say movie because five clips ranging from 5-10 minutes is a movie in my book).
However, before the lesson began, I was able to check in with some students and I had startling conversation with one in particular. Now, I am not going to divulge a student’s thoughts and worries on the web, but I will share a phrase that left an impact: “I don’t give a hoot (student used their own choice word here) about what we are learning, why does it matter?”
And though we worked through why it did matter, my teacher speech was interrupted with another thought by this student: “why do you even care about what I learn, you don’t know my history, I am a BAD student”.
By “bad student” the student meant more than just test scores. Needless to say I had my own moment with this student, telling them in fact that I do care, and I do not care about their past and in fact I am here on their time and not being paid for it because like them, I too am a student. Was my response honest? Yes. Did the student look shocked that a person who has only known them for a matter of weeks cares about what they learn how they feel and much more? Sadly, yes. And though this conversation brought to life some real participation in class all the while using technology to boot I could not help feeling we are missing the point here.
The point, that could easily turn into a rant about championing students, specifically those attending school in a low income area etc. (And, that is an important topic that all teachers need to keep in their mind). But, the point is that we are becoming so wrapped up in using technology to connect students to learning that we might overlook the most significant connection of all: connecting to the students.