Sunday, October 26, 2008

This school year

Each and every school year is unique and full of hope and promise especially at the beginning of the year. We have summer to become rejuvenated and excited about our students and the new things we hope to try with them. As fall passes and our students learn the routine, our journey moves closer to fulfilling expectations of growth and learning for all of us. Of course, monkey wrenches and twists and turns change our course. All good teachers know that we must be flexible. These are people that we are teaching and just as each of us is unique, so are our students. What worked last year may or may not this year. Those lesson plans that we work so hard on, by the end of Monday are needing to get reworked. Such is the life of a teacher.
Each week I am supposed to teach 31 classes for 45 minutes. My schedule is very tight with many days having back to back classes with no break in between. Teachers come with their students and help out in the computer lab. I usually am in front of the SMART Board and the teacher is at the computer. The teacher is an active participant in the lesson and gets a feel for what the students are needing to do once directions have been given. I like that the computer lab is a place in which students and teachers are coming to learn new things.
This evening as I sit and work on my lesson plans for this upcoming month, I am having trouble with keeping my classes (grade levels) on similar lessons. Some students I have not seen for 2 weeks and other students have missed 1 week and other classes have never missed a class with me. In-services, vacations, field trips, speakers and other miscellaneous absences have made lesson planning a challenge. I have tried a new idea with having students create a whole class digital story telling project. It is a good thing that I am flexible because it is taking much longer than I anticipated :)
I am taking a graduate class right now called "21st century web resources for teachers and students". I love being the student. Learning from other professionals in this online class allows me to do just that.
The students continue to grow and learn from the dedicated individuals that are a part of their lives. I know that the teachers in my schools also continue their school year to be flexible and meet the challenging needs of their students. It is quite a journey for us all.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Life's Lessons

This evening I was reflecting about the past. I thought about the people that I have met along the way that have helped me in my journey. I think that as we travel life's bumpy road we have the opportunity to learn unexpected things. At the time we might not recognize the lesson, but with time, clarity and maturity these experiences make us the adults we become.
I am fortunate as a teacher to have my students and co workers teach me things every day. Last week a young boy shared that his grandpa was dying. This weekend a student was taken unconscious to the hospital due to a drug overdose. A fellow teacher was diagnosed with cancer. My small aches and pains are nothing compared to the suffering of others. Life is precious. I have very little to complain about. I have much to be thankful for.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

It's About Attitude

I am fortunate to have a job. It is a job that I love most of the time. The teaching profession has many people that either enrich your life or people that bring frustration to it. Life is a journey and how we look at problems often is reflected in our attitudes.
I walk through the commons where hundreds of students are sitting and socializing. I feel like a rock star with so many students waving, calling my name and wanting a smile of acknowledgment. A fellow staff member said to me when I went into the office, “My you are Miss Popular”. I told her that I really don’t know of any kid that does not like computers. Although this is true I think my “popularity” with the students has more to do with my positive, caring and upbeat attitude about the students. In the two schools that I work in, I have more than 470 students that I see once a week. I genuinely want to know the students. I ask about them and listen and remember what they tell me. It is not a wonder to me that students like me. Just as all of us have the need for affirmation from others in our lives, so do these children. It does not take much effort on my part to do this. I can see more easily from their perspective how the school or home environment might be.
Often as teachers we complain that we cannot control what happens in the students home. Terrible things might be happening there. This is sad and something that rightly so we should be upset about. We don’t have control and we cannot change the environment that these children go home to. All that we can do is provide a safe, loving, accepting and joyful place for our students to learn. This is not to say that everything is rosy and happy all the time. It is not.
What matters is that our students know, and know in their gut, that they are cared for and loved by their teachers even when they misbehave and make mistakes. The world is not an easy place for our students to navigate. My job as a teacher, is to help our students navigate through life and hopefully develop a positive strategy to solving problems and learning.