Teacher and life-long learner looking for innovative ways to inspire the students I teach. Middle school reading interventionist (grades 6-8) in Texas, yearbook adviser, & student advocate looking to grow my PLN with real people and real solutions.
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When a Connected Educator Unplugs
you had asked me last year, I would have happily told you that I am a connected
educator. I thrived on making new connections with fellow educators who I could
bounce ideas off of; hear about new things that are working in education and
things that aren’t. I searched for classes I could connect my fifth graders to,
broadening our learning experience as a collective learning community. It was
where I felt most comfortable as an educator. And when life handed me lemons (as
life has a tendency to do)- it was no big deal. I’d make lemonade and
blissfully move on while adding sugar and stirring. I had the year down pat and
felt my students were learning so much.
then seemingly overnight I found myself making connections and connecting less
and less…. And oddly- it didn’t bother me. Once the new school year started, I not only
connected less, I finally just unplugged.
off. Game over.
you may ask… (and I did! I asked myself that same question… A LOT). I really
didn’t have an answer other than there were several pressing issues that needed
more of my attention on a daily basis at this point in time, and… (how dare I even say this; it’s blasphemous)
I needed a break.
problem began, however, when I tried to resume my connectivity. I tried to use
the same techniques I had done last year with this year’s new group of
students. I anxiously awaited to same expectation and thrill of collaborating
with other classes and students from various areas of the US, but instead was
met with hesitation and apathy. Not only that, I have a different schedule this
year making scheduling time to connect and meet-up problematic. Some days I
felt like I was skimming the surface and didn’t know how to fit it all in, but
knew it was worth it. Then frustration set in. Not only was I unplugged, but
now I was frustrated and feeling hopeless. I felt like instead of lemons and
lemonade, I was dealing with lots of lemon seeds with nothing to work with!
few nights ago, I was thinking about my feelings of being stuck in a rut and
wondered what advice I would give if a friend from my PLN was in this same
predicament. I decided it all boils down to starting little. I needed to find
one area to play with, experiment with, a willingness to try. I set up a Skype
meeting with my friend Craig Yen from California. He and his class would meet
with us to read a chapter from The Fourteenth Goldfish and discuss ideas
from the book. Our students would verbally share their ideas via Skype, as well
as use a backchannel for additional communication with one another. After our time together, my
kids were excited, I was excited; the excitement of sharing our reading with
others was present in the classroom again, and it felt good!
was in this moment I realized that while I’ve been expecting the same outcome
as last year, and dealing with problems the same as I would have last year, that’s
not what being a 21st Century educator is about. It’s about
flexibility, growing, and learning. It’s about realizing the learning comes
first and everything else is extra to enhance that. It’s about realizing that
instead of waiting to make lemonade, I’ve been given seeds and if I would plant
them, they’d grow. It’s ultimately about being ok if this year doesn’t look
identical to last year, because this year is its own- and that’s a good thing
because with a little water and some TLC, this year might be the best I’ve ever
.... and there is was. I loved my classroom. I loved my kids. I loved those things and they were great... But I wanted something even more than that. I wanted to be able to focus on reading with small groups of students at a time in order to understand their individual needs; to try to get a glimpse into why they struggled year after year, to be a source of encouragement, and ultimately to help them be a little better at reading and comprehending than before they'd ever met me. So... to do this- to go after what I wanted but had never had, I had to do some things I had never done. I had to leave my intimately cozy school where I truly considered each person there a part of an extended family unit. I had to load up 8 years worth of materials and teacher junk and haul it to a new school; and not just any school... to a MIDDLE school! The horror! I had always sworn I would never... COULD never teach in a junior high/middle school setting, and here I was scrambling over boxes and giv…
QUESTION: If you were any animal, what would it be? While I would love to say a cheetah for its stealthy ability to run and its sleek body movement in the wild, the fact that I am a wood duck proved more accurately after a recent field trip to a Botanical Garden and boat ride on the bayou. While I've gone with classes in the past on this same field trip, ridden this same boat through the bayou, and heard about the wood duck nesting boxes erected along the side of the bayou- I guess I had never really given much thought to the special nature of the baby wood duck and the mother duck who calls her babies to literally fall out of the wooden boxes since they are unable to fly. I think the mother wood duck must feel like a teacher most days of her motherly life in her little nesting box. Why? Because as a teacher I worry and fret about what I'm doing in the classroom to help my students be successful. Sometimes as a teacher you feel like your kids have automatic hearing they can turn o…
Autonomy and collaboration are two buzz words you hear often right now in the realms of education chatter. And for those days when collaboration means within our own classroom, it seems like this is the day autonomy needs to be focused on the most. I can take the same two students and match them up to work as partners, who would have normally joined up anyway- but there is something about the teacher doing the matching that often times sets things on a bad foot right away. I noticed this when school first started. I would watch the groups and partners gather in clusters when I simply said for them to partner up- versus watching their reactions when I actually called them out, putting them in very similar groupings. There is something to be said for students feeling like they have a say in who they work with. I guess we are no different as adults.
I saw a strategy at a workshop last year called "Making Appointments" that I envisioned as a complete train wreck, but one day last…