Wednesday, August 14, 2013

How to find the right elementary school

I think there's more to it then just these three points but they do make a good point though.  I especially agree with the statement about high expectations.  If the admin staff has high expectations all around - it will be evident throughout the school.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Neglected But Not Really...

I don't even know if it's appropriate for me to apologize for not keeping this blog up-to-date.  However, if you are interested, I am doing an online course which requires me to keep an educational blog, so here is the link:  This blog will definitely be kept up-to-date as it is part of coursework for me to write blog entries every week.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Sharing My Hopes

Today is the end of the first two days of school.  Many schools I have been in have implemented 'Thursday as first day' approach for the start of a new school year and I am very grateful for it.  The first couple of days are probably the most exhausting days of the school year.  My body is adjusting to the school hours from the summer hours, while tackling beginning-of-the-year admin email #238.

Every year, I try to implement something new.  One of the things that I tried this year is sharing my hopes with the students.  Here's how it started.  I decided that I needed a specific direction for my teaching.  I've been inspired by many teachers, books, and anecdotes in the past.  I've been inspired to have a certain goal for the students each year.  But I've never really sat down and thought about the kind of classroom I wanted and had it written down for permanent referral.

Many leadership books tell you that a leader without vision is just confused.  A teacher is a leader by default.  Whether we want it or not.  So, I jotted some of my vision for my classroom.  What do I want my class to look like this year?  And I came up with six hopes for my classroom.

  1. Feel safe
  2. Develop independence
  3. Be confident about themselves
  4. Show integrity
  5. Take risks in learning
  6. Grow closer to God
I want my students to feel safe in my classroom.  I want them to feel safe to be themselves and feel safe to make mistakes.  I want them to develop independence and learn to think for themselves.  I want the students to know that they are valued and that they all have gifts and talents they can be proud of.  I want them to show integrity and learn the value of being honest.  I want them to take risks and experience how that could expand their learning.   Lastly, I want them to grow closer to God.  

I didn't plan on sharing this with the students but as I was planning my lesson for class goals, I thought it would be nice to let the students know what I'm aiming for.  So, I used this as a jumping off point for coming up with our class goals.  It was oh so neat to see how the students responded to this.  They really understood that this was my heartfelt hopes for the class.  I lead brief discussions about each of these hopes and their responses showed me that they had a better understanding of why I have consequences and why I have certain procedures in place.  

After this I got them to share their hopes for the class.  I was very proud of them for not copying my hopes but they were very honest and specific about their hopes.  Something I was really proud of was, one brand new student, who had been painfully shy, raised his hand to share his hope for the class.  I wondered if he felt more comfortable to do that because of what I shared.

Next year, I think I'll talk more specifically about how I plan on realizing these hopes in the classroom.  I have these hopes laminated and displayed in the classroom.  To be honest, it is for me as much as it is for the students.  I am first to admit that I forget to really honor and celebrate students for who they are and focus more on their performance sometimes.  This will be a great reminder for me throughout the year.

Hope you all have an amazing year!  

Monday, May 30, 2011

Freedom Writers

Have you seen this movie?  I hope you have.  I was perusing youtube clips and came across this trailer.  I have seen it years ago and seeing the trailer made me want to rent the movie out again.  Anyway, this little clip lead me to google Erin Gruwell, the teacher who is responsible for the Freedom Writers. The googling lead me to this The Freedome Writers Foundation.  The site briefly introduces how it came to be, including the history of Erin Gruwell's teaching career.  According to the website, she is now a lecturer at a teacher's college in California. 

Just reading her story about her first few years of teaching, how she used unconventional methods at the time to get these students' attention and turn their attitudes around and make them actually want to learn was truly inspiring.  It really made me look at my teaching.  I love teaching.  I love the fact that I'm in a position where I can influence someone's life in a positive way.  But to have that kind of passion.  To have that kind of determination for the students....I know that that's not an easy thing to come by.

It was also interesting to read that the methods that she devised for these students are proven methods that have become very popular in the 21-Century education.  She obviously was ahead of her time.  But this also made me think about how having the right motivation will lead you in the right direction.  I think all the talk about student-lead learning and making the curriculum relevant only seems prevalent now because people are talking about it overtly and having seminars on it.  But, I bet that there were teachers using this method long before all of this research etcetra came about.  Because I know that there have been passionate teachers since the beginning of teaching. 

I know I can't always be the perfect teacher who has the perfect lesson plans.  Life is constantly vying for my attention.  But, Erin Gruwell was a good reminder that if my heart is in the right place and I make sure that it stays there, the rest will follow.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Truly a class without walls

The Class Without Walls from the class without walls on Vimeo.
One of those must-save items that I had to save as I absolutely love this!