“How long do you normally stay after school?” one of my sweet girls asked me today as we sat in an afterschool tutoring session. I looked at her and had to retain my eye roll. “Oh, it depends on the day,” I respond in a generic way. Students usually have 2 visions of their teachers, either they are young, married and have little kids to go home to or they are old and live at the school. But, I don’t fit into either of those categories. I’m young. I’m not married yet, and I have 25 students who get all of my love so I don’t have or want kids.
I don’t tell her that I stay at school late, that I don’t have anything to rush home to and that I actually prefer work because I know I can be productive here. I could go out, I could leave school right at the end of the day and fit all of my work into the 45 minutes of planning I get each day. But I don’t. It would mean doing significantly less work for my students. And that is something I will not sacrifice.
As a student teacher, I was always warned, don’t burn yourself out in the first couple of years. Make sure to make time for a personal life. Leave early at least once a week. But, burnout isn’t a fear I have. I can’t imagine burning out on something I love as much as teaching. You could put me in an arena with my job on one side and my social life on the other where you could only save one thing and I would pick my job. Every. Time. Because to me, it not working it’s doing what I love to do. It’s giving to people I care deeply about. It’s fulfilling my purpose. I guess what they say is true: “Do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” And besides, my social life isn’t that exciting anyway.
I did my first Google Form Quiz in class this last week. It went really really well. The kids were able to do it as a warm up activity before announcements. This was a great use of time. Instead of students coming in and not having a clear task to do other than reading, they came in and I was able to check in on their understanding of the previous day’s concept. I think I am going to start doing a quiz like this at least once a week.
In fact the only problem I really had with it was that I have students who help with announcements that didn’t have time to complete it when they got in the room because the computers take so long to turn on. I think I have a solution to this as well though. I can have a table mate leave out the computer they used for that student so that instead of having to get a computer, turn it on, log in to the computer, log in to Google and then take the quiz they will only have to log into google and take the quiz. This seems like a much better use of class time. Fingers crossed this will be as useful as I think it will. Technology is the future of teaching and this is just one example of how it can be used.
As I’ve grown up, schools have become more and more focused on standardized testing. As a child, I put up with these tests because that was just the way it was. I was taught that each year I would be tested. Some imaginary greater-being need to know if I had learned for the year. I didn’t understand it but I didn’t argue. Luckily, I have always been a strong test taker. I don’t get panicky. I trust my gut. I do well. It’s a simple and mind-numbingly boring process.The thing is the standardized tests weren’t even necessarily checking to see if I learned, they were the check to see if my teacher had done their job. But these tests have never shown the really important things. This one test didn’t show the amazing things my teachers did for me as I was growing up.
- They didn’t show how my 2/3rd-grade teacher taught me how to be a leader in group projects and speak up for what I thought was a good idea.
- They didn’t show how my 4th-grade teacher built my confidence as a learner and showed me that I was actually smart.
- They didn’t show how my 6th-grade teachers helped me over come moving across the country and leaving all my friends by sending me packages from my old class.
- They didn’t show how my 7-th grade science teacher helped me as I battled depression and actually cared about if I was mentally healthy.
- They didn’t show how my Algebra 2 teacher knew I wanted to be a teacher and when I was his teacher’s aid, let me teach the class some basic concepts I’d already learned to try something I was passionate about.
That’s the thing about standardized tests they don’t show the whole picture. It’s like one of the pictures that are so zoomed in you can no longer tell what you are looking at.
As a teacher, it isn’t the teachers who were focused on having good test scores that I remember and want to be like. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s those teachers who cared about me as a person more than if they had good test scores that I try to be like. If any of my students think back on me as a teacher someday and think about the things the test didn’t show, that is how I will know I have been a successful teacher.
Today, while teaching social studies, I had a very interesting experience. We were talking about the 3/5 compromise. An agreement made at the constitutional convention where slaves were counted for 3/5 of a white man. My students were horrified to find out that Americans had done something so terrible. They were outraged, insulted to even think that something so horrendous could have happened in their history. One student, in particular, was upset. “How could they think like that?” he said with indignation. “They must have been monsters.” The thing that struck me about this wasn’t that he was upset. It is a normal reaction to think that way. What I thought was surprising was that this was the same student who earlier in the day had made a comment about “savage midgets”, who has made fun of other students for being “a loser”, and who had told others in our class “you must hate that your family doesn’t celebrate Christmas because it’s the best holiday.” Hearing a rather intolerant student talk about these terrible actions from our past made me start to wonder.
The thing that struck me about this wasn’t that he was upset; it is a normal reaction to think that way. What I thought was surprising was that this was the same student who earlier in the day had made a comment about “savage midgets”. Throughout the year, I have heard him make fun of another student for being “a loser”, be aggressive with my students who are new to the country and tell others in our class “you must hate that your family doesn’t celebrate Christmas because it’s the best holiday.”
Hearing a rather intolerant student talk about these terrible actions from our past made the questions start running through my brain…
“How can I connect these actions to the things I see him do?” “Is there a way to help build tolerance through history?” “What activity can I plan to build around this to better our classroom community?”
The only problem is, I don’t have the answers to these questions. But I as a tech-savy teacher have what my dad calls “the wealth of human knowledge” at my fingertips. So off to the internet I went, and I found http://www.tolerance.org/classroom-resources I had heard of tolerance.org before but didn’t realize the many resources that were available for teachers there. Not just PD resources but also, really great lessons to teach tolerance. I have started looking through them and have decided to try to make one of these activities part of my weekly longer class meeting. I am hoping I will be able to find one that connects to the 3/5 compromise and the language we use to talk to others about tolerance. I am hoping this helps to make the connection for my students.
I will write a reflection post about how the lesson goes once I am done. Does anybody else have a favorite lesson or resource they use to help teach tolerance to their students. Let me know so I can check it out.
Today bright and early at 7:30 am I opened my room to 25 familiar faces excited to see their friends after having 2 weeks of winter break. I greeted them at the door and was reminded why I became a teacher. Each smiling face, hug, and high five revitalized me. I became a teacher for a simple reason; I love interacting with kids every day. The way they approach tasks, the risks they are willing to take help me to set goals in my own life. Kids aren’t afraid to try new things because they haven’t yet been taught that they could fail. I think their energy rubs off on me and motivates me to try something new. I need to learn and try new things so that my students will see that they have no reason to be afraid. That they never need to stop taking risks. That failure is not an option.
My newest risk has been trying to incorporate the LAUNCH cycle into my classroom. I started with the MARS Challenge. It went well but was a bit rushed and not as planned as I would have liked. The important thing was that I saw how passionate my students were to participate. Students who usually don’t want to try were bringing new and creative ideas to the table. They were taking risks. So, with my neighbor teacher, (Shout Out to Donna who is also blogging, check her out -> Teaching and Learning) I am taking a risk too. In the midst of BAS testing, STAAR prep and teaching all of our content, we are trying our 2nd Launch project of the year. Fingers crossed it goes even better than the first one and that my students continue to work passionately. Because, when they are passionate, I learn important lessons from them. From my students I’ve realized sometimes, risks are worth it and that if you keep trying, failure is not an option.
Today was the 1st day back for the semester. No students just all of the teacher’s gathered for a half-day of training. I love training days. These are the days where I get my inspiration. What new thing will I learn? What will be the new thing I try to excel in? Today, like always, left me pumped up and ready to try out some new things in my room. This week I am going to work on implementing Google Form Quizzes in my room. I am hoping this will help me to get quick formative assessment data while incorporating technology.
This week I am going to work on implementing Google Form Quizzes in my room. I am hoping this will help me to get quick formative assessment data while incorporating technology. I could see these quizzes being useful across the board so hopefully, it will be as successful as I think it will.
What was one thing you learned about today that you can’t wait to try out in your room? Leave a comment so I can see what everyone else is excited about learning.