Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Reflective Blogs/Induction

Reflective Blogs/Induction

Spring Fever

The year has passed rapidly and is now winding its way to the end. Seniors are pushing the boundaries, frantic to leave the confines of who they were to become who they are destined to be. Freshmen itch to run the grounds, begging for outside activities and "free time." If I hear another student suggest that the class play "heads up - seven up," I think I may "to a nunnery go." (What is that game, anyway?)
At this time of year I find over-planning beneficial for several reasons. One has to do with the short attention spans that spring fever deposits in student desks. Another has to do with the inevitable abundance of material remaining to be taught. A more subtle reason is my own desire to push the boundaries, leave the classroom, and run free through green fields and fresh air. I love Colorado!
Do you have any suggestions concerning classroom management / teacher patience during this time of year? Feel free to share!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Extra-curricular Activities

I started working as a speech/language therapist in August of 2002. I taught for the first three years out in the Elizabeth Schools in Elbert County...38 miles, each way, from my house. One of the most difficult parts of working so far from home was not being able to attend or participate in many of the extra-curricular acitivities of my students (if I did attend it took all of my afternoon/evening time away from my own kids). My knowledge of them was limited primarily to therapy time. When I was chosen for this job with LPS, I couldn't wait to figure out how to get involved beyond providing therapy. Even though I have been finishing my masters degree this year, I have been able to do quite a few things - including band concerts, Special Olympics basketball, plays, and athletics events. It may be my first year at LPS, but I already feel like I have built relationships and trust with my students beyond my role as teacher. What extra-curricular activities have you participated in at AHS? How has that impacted your role as teacher and your relationships with the students?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Life Long Learning

Over the past three years I continue to hear the phrase "lifelong learner". I understand lifelong learning to be the ability and desire to learn after conclusion of formal education. It is a passion to know more and go beyond what is required in a classroom.

An article from Educational Leadership (Dec03/Jan04), titled A Forecast for Schools by Marvin Cetron and Kimberley Cetron stated that, "Tomorrow's citizens will need and expect to engage in lifelong learning. A career used to last for life. Once a carpenter, always a carpenter. Today, new technology could redefine or replace almost anyone's job-even the industry in which they work. Today's students will pursue an average of five entirely different occupations during their working lives. Both management and employees must get used to the idea of lifelong learning, which is becoming a significant part of working life at all levels."

I believe that the majority of teachers are life long learners. We value the process of learning and are excited by it. Of course, we must take classes to keep our teaching license but the majority of educators take classes to increase their content knowledge and enhance the lessons they teach.

I have kept this phrase in my mind during the school year. I want to encourage my students to be lifelong learners. I want them to understand that when they graduate from a university or trade school they are not finished learning. So my question is, what learning formats are more likely to encourage life long learning? How can these ideas be incorporated into a classroom? How do you encourage students to be lifelong learners?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

After a nine year sabbatical from teaching I am back in the classroom and doing what I love, opening the minds of my students to the world around us and showing them that what we teach in the classroom has real life applications. Since I have been back I have noticed many changes in how we need to teach, but the basic student profile has not changed. There are students that strive to learn and make the most out of their school experience and on the other hand there are students that don’t. I know teachers that work very hard to reach students and provide them with the best educational experience they can give, but some students seem to have or take very little responsibility for their education. I have been struck by how students just want to get by, or just get things done with little or no effort to actually learn something on their own. I don’t see my class as a means to an end, but a door for them to open if they choose to. How can a teacher move their classroom from teacher centered to student centered? What is our responsibility as teachers? What role should I expect my students to take, in their education?

Friday, April 07, 2006

Suspensions...who do they punish?

After hearing my deskmate talk about another student who will be absent due to suspension, I began thinking about the concept of suspension as a punishment in high school.
In my experience, the vast majority of students who have been suspended in my classes have been "D" or "F" students who miss class quite often as it is. I find myself wondering why we (and by we I mean ALL schools) choose to further remove these students from school as a form of punishment. I emphasize the fact that I am not sure what the answer to this question is, but for most of these students it seems that a more appropriate punishment in their eyes would be to make them spend more time in school! After my rambling, I suppose my question is threefold: 1. What are the origins of this punishment? Why has it proved succesful in the past? 2. Have you had the same experience in terms of the demongraphic of students who are typically suspended? and 3. What alternative punishments could we provide these students where we could still "punish" them without further hindering their academic experiences?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Amazing

Imagine if you will a day that goes a little something like this….You show up to school every day in order to go to six different class periods with six individual teachers, each with a set of rules, instructions, assignments, different personalities, even different ways to write your name on the top of a sheet of paper in order to receive credit for that assignment. Imagine that you do this day in and day out, working as diligently as possible only to barely manage a 1.5 grade average. Only to feel every single day that you just aren’t smart enough or that you aren’t working hard enough. Only to feel as if you really don’t fit in socially either? Only to feel in your own eyes that you are “stupid”. How many of you would sign up for that job?

This is a day in the life of my students in Special Education and yet…And yet, they show up every day to give everything they have in order to be educated. To learn as much as they possibly can before they go out into the “real” world where things are even more confusing. And they amaze me every single day with their resiliency. They are the reason that I wake up every day at 5am and drive 20 miles. They are the reason that I work as hard as I can to help them achieve their dreams to be the very best that they can be in life.

So tell me, who amazes you?