Sunday, August 16, 2015

Bye Bye Summer 2015

So, I sort of paused the reflective teaching challenge, but it's for good reason...I've been enjoying my last days of summer vacation. Friday we went to the National Zoo and hosted a get together with friends, yesterday we went to the family shore house, and today we played outside. This morning I got to spend some quality time with my computer while I took the final exam for my grad class. The hardest class I have ever taken is OVER! Of course, my next course starts in a week and a half, but that's at least a week to get my bearings at school before the class begins.

This summer has been wonderful. We didn't have a formal vacation, but we spent a lot of time with our kids and enjoyed being home. We went to the shore a lot, explored playgrounds with friends, played in the yard, did some gardening, ventured to Austin, read a lot of books, and just had fun. Being a summer stay at home mom is definitely fun. I am grateful that I get to have two worlds to enjoy-- my world at home and my world at work. The summer felt short, and it was, just 8 weeks, but they were 8 enjoyable weeks. I am sad to say goodbye to the summer, but I am also happy to say hello to school and autumn and a schedule (oh thank goodness for a schedule!). Saying goodbye to Lily and Jackson tomorrow will be hard, but I know they are excited to see grandma. 

Here's to summer 2015! Welcome fall!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Reflective Teaching: Day 11

How do you envision your teaching changing over the next five years?

Wow. Tough question. If I could envision what technology will look like in five years, what the landscape of education will look like...this question would be easier. I know these things for certain: I want to continue to learn and grow, 2. I want to include more technology in meaningful ways, 3. I want to stay current, 4. I want a truly learner centered environment in my classroom. I think creating a learner centered classroom will be an evolving process over the next five years. It will unfold slowly as I discover what learner centered looks like in a high school classroom. Over the next five years I want to continue to push my students by engaging them in discussion and debate. I want to learn to be more fearless and embrace positive chaos better. This school year is sure to be one where my style of teaching changes. I am planning on trying so many new things that I am hoping my classroom looks completely new and different to those coming through.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Reflective Teaching Day 10 (1/3 of the way through!)

Still no room pictures. I am sure you are all waiting on the edge of your seats for those, but I still haven't transferred them over...

Anyway, moving right along to..."What is your favorite part of the school day and why?"

It's going to sound typical, but I love the end of the day. The reason why, however, is not what you might think. I think the typical answer would read something like, "because the day is over! FREEDOM!", but I look at the end of the day differently. When the day ends my day isn't over. I move from teaching to coach class, or meetings, or practices, or advising a club. The end of the day is the time when I decompress. I regroup with my colleagues and go over my day. I recall my successes and my not-so-successes (they aren't usually failures, but sometimes things just don't go the way I planned!). I hear about what my colleagues did. I might run through plans with my grade level team (so, Sarah). The end of the day gives me time to center myself and settle myself. I get ready for the events of the afternoon and the next day. I clean up my room. Change my objectives. I get ready for my next new start. This is the really wonderful thing about teaching. Not only do I get a whole new school year EVERY year, but I get a new start EVERY day. That's pretty magical.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Day 9: About me.

Today's task is a long one. For Reflective Teaching Day 9, I need to:

1. Share five things about myself
2. Share four things on my bucket list
3. Share three things that I hope for this year (as a "person" or educator)
4. Share two things that have made me laugh or cry as an educator
5. Share one thing I wish more people knew about me

Here we go...

1. Five things about myself...

  • I have 2 beautiful kids, Lily and Jackson. They are my motivation to be the best teacher that I can be. I want to be the educator that I would want them to have.
  • I coach the varsity volleyball team. I coached for 3 years before I had Lily. I am in year 2 of my second stint as coach.
  • I try to be a runner. I have gotten better about running as I have gotten older. I am going to be running in a team relay in October.
  • I function best when I am on a schedule. This might be one of the reasons why I love teaching so much.
  • I met my husband at work. I also met my wife there. (This is only sort of a joke.)
2. I don't even think I have a bucket list...but these are the things that I would like to do before I turn 100...
  • Visit more states. I don't want to say all 50, but I just wanted to see more of the country.
  • Travel to Europe. Specifically to England. Specifically to stalk literary sites.
  • Be happy, always.
  • Keep in touch with the people I love. (So, maybe the last two are a little lame and aren't really concrete things to go do, but as I was doing this I realized I don't have some long list of things I feel like I HAVE to do.)
3. Three things I hope for this year...
  • That my learner centered classroom works beyond my expectations.
  • That I stay balanced at home and at school.
  • That I get Jackson fully potty trained and sleeping in his bed all night long.
4. Two things that have made me laugh or cry as an educator...
  • One crying moment: I had a really tough co-teaching experience that just wore me down. I was carrying my load and the co-teacher's load and it was just a huge burden. I definitely broke down crying in my classroom when that was happening.
  • One laughing moment: A lot of things make me laugh. One moment isn't particularly educational, but it is funny. When I was pregnant with Lily one of my students who was sitting in the front row of the room blurted out, "OH NO! I am in the splash zone!" I replied, "What do you mean, splash zone?" He replied, "If your water breaks! I AM IN THE FRONT ROW!" I told him I would get him a raincoat.
5. I wish more people knew that I work so hard at my job because I believe the students who I teach deserve a fair chance at a good, solid education. I also believe that each student who I teach needs an adult in his/her corner. Sometimes balancing my job and my home life means late nights and long days, or dragging my kids to school for another function, but I believe it's worth it. I don't believe I am sacrificing one thing for another by being involved at school. I love my work. I love my family. I am so lucky that I can make both worlds work.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Day 8 of Reflective Teaching...and no pictures yet...

Write about one of your biggest accomplishments in your teaching that no one knows about (or may not care).

I really had to think about this one. Probably my greatest accomplishment was being named the OM Teacher of the Year this past year, but after that was in the newsletter, most of my colleagues know that (although, you all might not know that!).

I think my biggest accomplishment was getting through my 11th grade class this past year. It was a tough class. I had a really challenging 11th grade class of mostly boys. They all knew each other, they were all (mostly) friends, and they liked to push buttons. It took the entire year to really figure out how to best handle those guys. I worked so hard for that class. I changed lessons, modified EVERYTHING to try and break through to them. By the end of the year I had kids asking to be in honors. I moved at least 3 students up to honors, and I am happy to say, almost every student passed (the ones who didn't were attendance problems)...and they didn't just pass with Ds...they passed with Bs and As. There were days when I felt like I could walk of of my room in tears, but I pushed through each class and worked my hardest to teach them. In the end, it all worked out. I forged some really solid relationships with some of my students, which is really the greatest accomplishment. I think my biggest accomplishments and successes are the ones where I can break through with a kid. Those are the moments that truly count.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Reflective Teaching: Day 7

Guess what? I still haven't uploaded those pictures! I am clearly on my A-game with this...

Because of my lack of picture uploading, I will move on to the next Reflective Teaching challenge. My reflection today: What's in your desk drawer, and what can you infer from those contents?

Haha. This makes me laugh. Which drawer? What time of year? When I was pregnant with Jackson, I tore through my desk in the office and cleaned it out right before period 1. I didn't finish. I had to leave it a mess and go teach. I did finish during period 2. Nesting at its finest.

Anyway, that wasn't the question. If you look in any of my desk drawers you will find some assortment of the following:

Post-it notes
Binder clips
Hall passes
Staples and Stapler
Tape and dispenser
Tide To-Go Pen
Gum and/or mints
Tylenol or Motrin
Stamps and ink
Keys (coaching keys, usually)
Masking tape
Hair product
Small brush

I am sure I am forgetting things, but you get the gist. I have a lot of school supplies and a lot of medical and beauty aids. So the school supplies are fairly self-explanatory...I teach...I need things to write notes on, to write with, and to generally keep the administrative side of my job together. I have medicine because sometimes you just don't feel well, but you still need to get it together and work. And, secret, it's easier to go to school sick than to make sub plans. If I can pull it together, I will be at school. Most of the beauty products come out when I have parent conferences or back to school night. After a long day teaching I generally need a touch up before meeting with parents (or other important people). The Tide-to-Go is because I spill things. The Band-Aids are because I get a lot (and I mean a lot) of paper cuts.

Now, I do have all of the things I need, so I suppose you could say I am always prepared; however, they are in total disarray, so I am a little disorganized. I find my desk drawers are where that ends. I try to keep (and generally do keep) everything else fairly organized and in place. At the beginning of the year, my desk drawers are usually clean and organized, but they devolve over the course of the year. Honestly, I rarely venture in them unless I really need something. The things I need (pen, classroom key, ID, etc) are in my bag or around my neck. If they aren't...that's means I left them at home...and that is when I really have a bad day!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Reflective Teaching: Day 6

I still didn't upload classroom pictures, so I am tackling the day 7 question for day 6...

Who was or is your most inspirational colleague, and why?

This is one loaded question. I have so many current and former colleagues who I really admire and respect. It is hard to narrow my answer down to one colleague. I can only pick one colleague, though, so I will do just that. The colleague that is and was the most inspiring to me is Cindy. Cindy was the long-time health/PE teacher at OM. In addition to teaching, she coached the allied teams and advised SADD. She retired this year after a long recovery from a car accident. Her spirit will be impossible to replace- she exuded enthusiasm, joy, and happiness. Her students loved her. They trusted her. She is the teacher that you remember long after you graduate; and, if you become a teacher she is the one that you point to and say, "I teach now because of her." Cindy was simply amazing and extremely inspirational. I am so glad that I was able to be her colleague for eight years.