Sunday, October 5, 2008

Part V - a chicken come home to roost

At the beginning of the school year, last month, as I was sitting at my work station in the library, a former student appeared right at my desk. He was positively beaming, was this young man. He was almost glowing so I asked right away what was the cause of such joy. Master S. said that he had just passed all Advanced Placement tests at his new high school and was very excited about the opportunities such Advanced Placement would offer to him. He mentioned also competing for a position on the Varsity soccer team and that that had also worked out to his benefit. He also said that for him one of the most amazing parts of his experience was that as he answered different questions for the Advanced Placement he would see Mr. W. teaching him the concept in math; he would see Ms. K. illustrating the idea in science; and he would see Ms. W. accessing resources. As each of us passed in his memory he knew that he had the response he needed for the questions! And he knew that he had reached a new level of awareness. The look on his face as he told the tale was affirmation enough.

The piece of the story I want to relay for every one of us who struggles to make sense of what we try to do on a daily basis is this: one student out of many is enough to validate what we do. Our voices are heard, we do tell the truth. And enough are listening. I have a tendency not to remember the positive. I can get easily lost in the struggles of the day - too much to do and too little time in which to get it done, and the list grows daily! Be of good cheer - one day, one student did realize and he returned to tell the tale, and that has made all the difference. We each contribute a part of this student's story.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Part IV

Using Roman numerals makes me feel as if I am Sue Grafton - will I run out of numbers before I run out of things to say? Whatever, here goes Part IV. We are in the second month of the academic year and either I am getting use to the pace or things are slowing down. Probably a function of familiarity rather than reality.

We have had conferences for twelve of the past twenty-four hours. I have always been very impressed with the skills required for effective conferencing; want to give good, clear messages and communicate concerns but do not want to startle the care-givers with "too much information." I believe having good conferences is a real skill. I love to have the students bring their parents into the media center, you can almost see a gleam in the eye because they are so proud that they know where to find their favorite books.

Grades were due last week for middle school. I teach third, fourth, and fifth plus three hours of kindergarten on Fridays and I have one hour of media technology with the seventh or eighth graders every day. We have a new program to put all of the grades on-line. The primary benefit is to give the parents access so they can stay aware of what the student is doing, with fewer surprises when the grades come home. I have really struggled with this program, I am still not comfortable with whatever it is doing. The good news is that it increases my awareness of challenges in technology, so I can be more patient with the users at school.

Went to a wonderful wedding last Saturday. Two good friends who are nothing but the very best for each other. Had the opportunity to visit with friends who helped to shape my teaching so many years ago! Shared the day with my nine-year old granddaughter - what a treat! Good company, good conversation and I did not get lost - does not get any better than that!

I have developed a photography unit for the middle-schoolers using digital still cameras and processing the photos on Photo Shop. We started this week with the story board and I think I definitely heard enthusiasm. Next week we bring out the cameras. I have the class divided into groups of two or three and we will stay in the library. Not sure how all of this will work out so I will take great notes!

Have an excellent week-end.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Part III

Here I sit on a Tuesday morning - the week was started with great hopes and a solid paper plan. It has been turned on its head; and I am surprised! There are too many plates in the air! I must find a way to say, "No, thank you." with kindness and openness. It really feels as if I am doing nothing well, only trying to reach completion. I totally dislike the feeling of not doing my best. How do I cull my involvements! Just ranting - not comfortable yet with the pattern of moving from Google Reader to blogspot and I just need more time. I would be lost without the support and advice of my colleagues.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

21 September 2008

Part II!! And quite a month it has been, too. I cannot remember a bumpier start to an academic year than we have had this year. Not sure why all the pieces seem so reluctant to blend together. There are new students, always a given in schools! - there are new teachers, which means new support for the technology that might be different from the previous school - there are new staff who need instruction in the procedures of Ramsey IFAC, so very much to do and so very little time! This year just feels tighter than I remember in the past.

The great news is that I have had three excellent books suggested to me and I am devouring them whole; Proust and the Squid was recommended by a colleague in the district and a MILI instructor, Jean Doolittle. The book expands my awareness of the process of reading and how it is strengthened and refined over time, fascinating! I think before I really thought that reading was a single goal, something I just did. This book shows me how the skill of reading expands with repetition! NPR reviewed a curiosity titled Traffic and it caught my ear. Challenging to think that we have similar situations to the streets of Greece and Rome - perhaps not very much has changed! And finally, the joy of my reading has been Ann Perry. I am not sure how I have missed her writing before but she surely fits my temperment right now! I am astounded at how much I am understanding about my grandmother through Ms. Perry's protagonist, Charlotte Pitt and the socialization of her time. Nice to know I am not through learning!

Reading is my passion and my grandchildren are my delight! Heaven's reward (or good karma) for living well. We are spending this glorious fall day together catching up on what we have each been doing in school for the past week. May you each enjoy a day of warm sunshine and happy hugs.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The beginning of a new school year

The dreams in August tell me that school is just around the corner. When I start to dream about colleagues then I know that it is time to turn my mindset to thoughts of school! And it is a regular as clockwork; a colleague, in the beginning of my teaching career, told me that such dreams would happen and he is right on the money - here comes September, here come the dreams!
The faculty and staff started back last week. Some of us have shown up over the summer for various reasons but last week is the formal beginning of the academic year.
This is my fourth year at Ramsey and I was delighted to see remembered colleagues and to meet the new staff. Monday was devoted to school business and to organizing from summer school and trying to see if we could get as much of the technology each teacher needed as close as possible to where he or she might need it!
My "techie" from past years has been deployed within a matter of almost days (he was gone within three weeks!). Fortunately I had no idea of how much I would miss him both professionally and personally. His replacement is a complete jewel, we are very fortunate to have him. He is all that you would ask of a new hire and then some so we are very lucky in that regard! One of the fall-outs from having my friend gone is that I am much more aware of others in their desert fatigues and I do not hesitate for an instant to express my gratitude to each and every one of them - I did not do that before.
I expect to be at school tomorrow morning around 6:30 - it's an early start but I doubt I will sleep well tonight; I wonder if the students know I am as anxious to start the new year as they might be?