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.

Half way to Full Circle

The beginning of my blogging began with the beginning of my teaching program. I was incredibly hesitant, dare I say frustrated with the prospect of “having to blog” (insert heavy sigh and eye roll). The first quarter was rough. I struggled to blog, the idea of having to blog on top of everything else required in my life only added to my developing discontent for it.
With two more quarters passing me by I surprised, however, to find blogging an effective tool for reflection. Blogging has become an outlet for my deeper thinking on some heavy educational topics. It has pushed me as a writer- something I normally feared in my coursework. The Blogs I look back on that show this growth is my first blog and my most recent. I can clearly see the style which I write change from a stiff formal platform to more relaxed and reflective. I am no longer concerned with length or if “I sound deep”.
This past quarter has been one of growth in terms of my commenting on my classmates blogs. The number has gone up and the questions and ponderings have strengthened. I love that I feel more confident to respond to a classmates blog, and relish when we actually communicate back in forth! I also find it incredibly helpful to read their responses and find myself thinking deeper on the questions I bring up.
As we have reached our half way mark for the program, I am excited to see where my blogging takes me in the next few quarters and beyond the program.
Happy Holidays everyone!

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!

Finding Joy in Writing

example 2 - just as charming

example 2 – just as charming

A dear studetns letter

A dear studetns letter

This week I have been writing, writing and more writing. If I haven’t been writing I have been thinking about writing, yup it’s that time of year again: school work crunch before the holidays!
This past week I have been working on an assessment report focusing on a student’s reading and writing, coming up with activities and assessing them to see If I correctly identified the students zone of proximal development. With this in mind, I have also come to terms that if we cannot bring out the joy in writing then there are no point in teaching the “rules” of writing to them. As educators we face a multitude of concerns with a student’s writing journey, but if we narrow in on what is wrong and how to fix it we may forget to teach them to write what they love, or what inspires them. Looking back at my main placement, I flipped through some of my 2nd graders own writing they gave me ( I was the example for the first week of school as classroom star of the week !) Each week the students work on a personal letter to the star of the week, the first two sentences are devised as a whole class- and then they add their own thoughts and well wishes. This letter is worked on during spare class time throughout the week and comes with a personal drawing! I love this because this is writing at its finest; there is a purpose (star of the week) critical thinking (vocabulary, letter writing, punctuation etc…) and creative ideas (drawings and coloring- connecting images to meaning of words). This is all joy in writing- who would not love to get a booklet from your classmates, and who does not love sharing why someone is a good friend or how you love the color blue just like you? We need to keep the focus of writing activities that bring joy out of it- if the students love to write, the rest will fall into place.

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.