In the spring of this year, after 18 years as an administrator, I decided to take a break from administration and return to the classroom. I know not what the future holds, but the present is teaching kids Math!
Through my time as an admin, I always taught 1 class each year, so I have never truly been out of the classroom. But going back as a full time teacher is quite a shift.
So here I sit writing at the end of my first full week in room 301. And it was a great, exhausting, and energizing week.
This gives me the perfect opportunity to “walk the walk” that I have encouraged teachers to take for the past five years. Through my personal learning network on Twitter, the PLP experience, and conferences and connections that I have been so blessed to have made, I feel the refreshing challenge of putting the practice into practice.
I am teaching my students Algebra II and Geometry. I will be counting on my readers here and my twitter friends to inspire me and offer opportunities for me to deepen and strengthen my own love of learning and teaching.
Each day so far, I start by being mindful that my students are people. They need to feel known. I need to give them agency. I need to come from a position of compassion and care. After that comes pedagogy.
I will be writing on my experience throughout the year right here in this space. I am sure there will be successes, new ideas, struggles, and mistakes for me and my kids. That is the ever changing nature of life. But it will be fun.
I look forward to this new experience and am honored to be serving as my students’ teacher. I am back to prepping like a new teacher, thinking about UBD plans, working on being as creative as possible and dealing with occasional self-inflicted anxiety. And while I came home this week completely exhausted, I was, at the same time energized.
So here’s to a year of teaching learning, laughing, caring, and growing.
More adventures coming soon!
Thanks for stopping by. Comments and brilliant suggestions welcomed!
At lunch today, I decided, as I sometimes do, to do some blog reading. So I went to Seth Godin’s blog, and saw this post Industrialism and the Death of Agency. And, as his writing usually does, it got me thinking.
First, Godin defines agency:
“Agency is the ability to make a decision, and to be responsible for the decision you make.”
In education today, do we allow kids to have agency? Teachers? Principals? If not, shouldn’t we?
The post ends with:
“As the industrial company sputters and fades, there’s a fork in the road. In one direction lies the opportunity to regain agency, to take responsibility for ever more of our actions and their effects. In the other direction is the race to the bottom, and the dehumanizing process of more compliance, a cog in an uncaring system.”
A cog in an uncaring system. Hmmm. As we seek compliance to securely hold on to the current model of schooling, are we denying kids and their teachers and administrators agency? If so, what stands in our way?
The path of life is curious. I have been on the periphery of the edtech/elearning world for a while now. I still visit my twitter feed several times a day, post occasionally, and think about writing, but never do it.
I have been spending a great deal of time this summer in reflection, work, and yes, a little fun with friends and family. It has been really great so far, but I want to find my educational voice again and get back into the conversation.
This morning, I was reading this post by Tara Sophia Moore.
“Can you give yourself permission to say your honest, heartfelt critiques even when you don’t have a solution to share?”
And while the post does mention education, it is not specifically about that. But as I read it, I felt the need, and most importantly, the intention to write.
I have been on the sidelines for personal reasons, but I was also feeling a bit tired. And that is not my normal nature. I don’t mean physically tired, but tired in the sense that I have lost sight of the passion that lives deep within me that believes that we, as educators, can do what we do better. A belief that we are mindlessly moving through time, accepting standardization, test scores, the diminishing of the importance of the arts, fear of social media, fear of connected learning and a focus on easily and cheaply obtained data can actually tell us something about learning just makes me tired.
I am so grateful to the voices that keep pushing for change one classroom or school at a time. You inspire me.
I know what I need to do. I need to rev up my learning engine again, reconnect with my PLN, stay curious, be brave, and not worry about saying something important every time I write anything. Yes, I am struggling, but struggling, like everything else in life, is a wonderful teacher.
Peace and happiness to you and thanks for stopping by.
I guess it is because I am in between the weekends of Pippin, our school’s spring show that I feel the need to write. And the kids are doing an incredible job. So here I go on to my arts in education soapbox!
As we look around our country, and the educational/political drive to standardization, the arts are often left out in the cold. You don’t have to listen very long to politicians, billionaires, or TV pundits to get the idea that the arts are just not necessary. When they discuss student achievement they mean success on standardized tests. Notice they never say student learning.
So As I watch the students in our show learn, collaborate, create, present, and reflect, I can clearly see their achievement. I can see their learning. As the spring moves on, students all over the country will play in spring concerts, (a good friend of mine’s son is playing trumpet in his school’s concert tonight) dance in recitals, perform in plays and musicals, and have their artwork and photography displayed. This isn’t fluff, this is real work. This is authentic.
So how do we get the word out on the arts in education to shake the established values? I know, we can’t even get most to see the benefits of 21st century tech embedded learning. But if the arts go, so does creativity, and where does that leave us?
Thanks for stopping by. Feel free to comment and add your thoughts. Peace.
I am currently directing our school’s production of Pippin. Working with a great creative team of adults, an incredibly talented and imaginative group of students and a great musical work is always a joy. It can also be exhausting a times, but so worth it.
As we are two weeks from opening, we can begin to see the show ready to bloom. So much to do, but so much already accomplished. The rehearsals have gone well, the singing, dancing, and acting get stronger each week. And the adaptability of these kids to changes in concept, choreography, vocal arrangements, key signatures, and schedules is truly impressive.
The band has been working on the score, striving to bring perfect execution so that the singers and dancers have the best accompaniment. And they will.
The stage crew has been imagining, building, painting, solving challenging complex problems, and staying positive and good-natured through it all. They are on lunch break as I type this. That’s right, it’s Saturday and about 40 students will be spending a long day here working on the set, sound, and lighting for the show.
Beginning on Monday, we will begin to put it all together. And the fun will continue.
And through it all, there is learning.
Thanks for stopping by.
It has been a while since I have written in this space. Certainly not for lack of desire to write, but as happens to so many of us, life gets in the way.
This post is more personal than educational. While the year featured my first ever ISTE conference, and while I have learned so much, I need to reflect a bit here on this last day of 2011. So bear with me and read on!
In many ways, this has been a challenging personal year. The most significant event was the end of my marriage. The year started with the awareness that life was going to change dramatically. And it has. The groundless nature of 2011 for me has of course, caused pain, but has brought strength.
The strength has come from family, friends, and colleagues. It has come from reflection and prayer. It has come from a mindful awareness that this is my life, and I need to live it.
I don’t know where I would be without my family, who has helped me, driven me, listened to me, (even when I am sure I was repeating myself) and loving me. From dry cleaning to endless trips to the supermarket, they have been there.
My friends have been incredible. The amount of rides they have given me cannot be counted. The endless stories they have listened to shows the great patience that they have. They have seen me anxious, sad, peaceful, stressed, energized, disconnected, hyper connected, tense, fun, and happy. And some of that was all in one day!
So here we stand on the edge of a new year. And while I have learned that the present moment is truly all that we have, I will take a chance and think about the future.
2011 has been tough for me. But it has also been a learning experience, and I have made some great new friends in the process. So here goes.
I start the year with an open mind and heart. I want to work to show compassion and kindness in all that I do. I want to do whatever I can to bring peace to others. I truly want to be grateful, aware, and patient. I want to be present to every conversation and situation.
While I still feel pretty groundless, I am peaceful. I am also hopeful. I look forward to the great possibilities that the New Year brings personally and professionally. I truly believe that the great way that the year is ending for me will continue, so I am very curious and open to the newness of a new year.
So if you are still reading, thank you. I plan on writing here more frequently, and I am sure that some educational reflection will be here soon.
Happy New Year to you. I wish you Peace, Happiness, and God’s blessings.
Of course, you are welcome to leave a comment.
I am a visually impaired person. That is something that I cannot change. Not yet anyway. I am a passionate educator who loves to read. I have an iPad, it reads to me when I need it to. I love to read books on it.
So I should also be able to enjoy the Kindle app as my sighted friends can. After all, having the Amazon library available to me would certainly expand my options. Don’t get me wrong Apple, the iBookstore has been great and it is growing. But the Kindle app will not work for those of us with visual impairments. So much for universal design.
I just purchased a new book on the iBookstore for $12.99. It is a book that I really wanted to read. Having just returned from the ISTE 2011 conference, I want to read Dr. John Medina’s Brain Rules. It is on the Kindle app for $2.99, but it might as well be free, as it does me no good at all. And the audible copy is $24.99!
I did contact Amazon about this a few months ago and was told that if I wanted the text to speech option, I should buy a Kindle. Interesting. So because I have this disability, I need to spend more money. My chosen reading device, the iPad, will work with everyone else that uses the Kindle app, but not people, including kids , like me.
As IOS devices become part of everyday life in so many schools, why would Amazon not make their store accessible to all? That certainly would not affect their bottom line. And oh, yes, I know some publishers don’t want their books to be TTS enabled. And as you can imagine, I find this thinking very short-sighted (no pun intended). But why make the app not be compatible with voiceover on the iPad, and other IOS devices?
Sure, the entire visually impaired community could buy Kindles. But since we really want the TTS option, the rest of the great features on the device really aren’t that useful to the visually impaired. But TTS is. And the IOS devices allow us to access the web and all of the apps, check and send email, tweet, find directions, read train schedules, and check the baseball scores, read the news and so much more.
So Amazon, can you find it in your heart to make that app accessible to voice over? Most apps are these days. You see universal design for learning is a real and necessary concept. Technology is leveling the field for so many people with disabilities, and isn’t that what we want as a people? I think it is just a few lines of code. Come on, make it happen.
I welcome comments. Thanks for stopping by!
Recently I was given the honor of being a regular contributor to a new blog called Voices From The Learning Revolution. This is a blog started by the great people at Powerful Learning Practice. I am one of 10 voices in the group and it is humbling to be among these great educators.
My first post on the Voices Blog was called It’s Always Opening Night-The Arts and 21st Century Learning. If you get the chance, stop by and leave a comment. And be sure to check out the other posts on the blog. We will all be posting regularly there.
Of course, I will continue to write regularly here at Imagine and Teach, my personal blog home.
Thanks for stopping by!
Since arriving home from EduCon 2.3 I keep telling myself that I need to blog about the experience in great detail. But as I have read from many others, that will take time to sink in. I think I need much more reflection on what was an incredible experience before I can properly detail it here. But I feel the need to post a brief reflection anyway.
It is through connecting and networking that we learn. That is plainly evident to anyone who attends Educon in the true spirit of the unconference experience. I attended the weekend with 4 other innovative educators from my school. We had all attended last year and couldn’t wait to get to 22nd and Arch where The Science Leadership Academy is located. And we were not disappointed.
We teach in a traditional school. But we are lucky to have the support of our school to attend EduCon and to support our 1 to 1 pilot.
One of the incredible things about Educon is the opportunity for everyone to meet the people that we have been connecting with on Twitter and on blogs in person. When you already have a connection with someone, meeting them in person deepens that connection and lets you know how tall they are! (Those twitter pics are small)
I will discuss the sessions that I attended in the next post and will certainly drop some names as well. But I can say, as I did in, my last post that the conversations in the halls, the library, the café, and just about anywhere were almost as good as the conversations in the sessions. I am already looking forward to next year, which will be my fourth.
So more to come.
Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a comment. A conversation is always welcome!
Tomorrow, my favorite PD adventure of the year begins. EduCon 2.3, the annual conference in Philadelphia is this weekend and I can’t wait.
Three days of conversation, inspiration, collaboration, learning, and connecting can’t be beat. The “unconference” is held at Science Leadership Academy, an outstanding high school in Philly. One of the best parts is that the event is a community undertaking, with the teachers, parents, and yes students making it all happen. Seeing this great community come together to handle about 500 of us crazed tweeting educators is impressive in every way. They make us all feel welcome, and we really do.
So I am looking forward to the conversations, both the ones on the schedule and the ones that just happen. I am looking forward to seeing friends that I get to see rarely thanks to geography, and the chance to meet other friends for the first time in person. I will attempt to blog over the weekend and will, at least, blog some final reflections when it is over.
I will be with a team of 5 from our school. Two of us are admins, and three teachers will be with us. So here we go. See everyone at EduCon.
If you are on twitter, follow the #educon tag. There will be tons of backchanneling.