Post workshop thoughts

My first presentation went above average. I’m a big fan of Garrison Keiller. Anyway, I feel the need to process the presentation. First, I cannot explain how it feels to be sitting in a conference room alone wondering if anyone is going to show up. My workshop was on the last day in the afternoon with a large snow storm looming. As I entered the room, I watched the hiatus of people leaving the building. Oh, man. My ego was in check….don’t do this for the wrong reasons. Do your best. People will not judge. Just share as you do on twitter.

When 2:15 arrived, I shut the door and began my little presentation. There were about 10 people in the room. THANK you if you are one of them!!! The women were a wonderful audience. They shared information about themselves and asked great questions as the presentation went on.

During the presentation, I was able to connect with my friends in France. It was a short demo on the power of skype to build learning communities. Merci Thierry et Marine! Vous êtes trop sympas!!!

I finished a little early. It was okay. I made it. Now, I’m looking to dive in again!

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Why not?

So many times, I hesitate in posting on my blog. I put it off…think I’ll come back to it but never do. Yes, I am busy. I have two small children, teach full time, took a group of students to France for 2 weeks…blah blah blah. We all have our busy lives. I have a fear in writing. The fear of the critique or fear of inadequacy.  (for example…the last idea was not a complete sentence…and three points in a row isn’t really sound writing). Hence the glory of the blog. It does not have to be perfect….but it has to be something. Without writing or without posting your thoughts and ideas, you might as well abandon the blog. For if we only write in it once a month, it does not serve a purpose. It becomes a dreaded task.

I am inspired by @nunavut_teacher  and other teachers on twitter for their continuous and loyal posting. How I enjoy their thoughts and ideas. I must continue to write without fear.

I hate my parents

“I hate my parents.” I hear students say this all the time. Sometimes it’s a good thing. Sometimes not. It is imperative for parents to take on the role as a parent and not as the friend. Our children may not alway see why rules are enforced or why limits must be set. Later in life, we understand the implications of having structure and expectations.

As a teenager, I was very close with my parents. I was the exception to the rule. Participation in extra-curricular activities kept me busy and loyal. I rarely spent time with my peers outside of the classroom or gym. I did not want to deal with the pressures that my peers were faced with every weekend.  I was okay with my choices. My older sisters (5 older sisters), did “hate” my  parents at times. They did push the envelope or question authority. My parents set limits and had consequences for bad choices. I grew up in a loving, safe home.  In college, I felt the first time the feeling of not understanding my parents. I wanted my own identity away from their opinions.

Now, as a high school teacher, I hear my students often complain about their parents. Initially, I always seem to be biased towards the parents. Today, I felt a different perspective. He said,” my parents hate me.” Having two precious boys myself, I have a hard time understanding not loving my boys. He continued from his perspective about things his parents have said to him. I was so sad. Yes, it was only his side of the story. However, even if there were only half-truths it was sad to hear. I fumbled for words to comfort him. Being a beam hit me. How can I be the supportive adult model for him? How can I show I appreciate him as a person?  Everyday, I will give him at least 5 minutes of my undivided attention. It is a small step…but hopefully he will feel the support.

Anyone up for sharing? Anyone?

Below is an email I sent out to the entire district where I teach. It is a smaller district but for some reason we rarely cross paths with the middle school or elementary school teachers. In the email, I was trying to sound excited, open and honest. I did not want to sound condescending or assuming. The whole purpose of the activity is for me to share what I have learned from Shelly Terrell’s book called The 30 Goals Challenge. Please read this short email:

Do you ever feel alone in your teaching? Do you ever feel like you are banging your head against a wall? Have you ever felt disconnected to your students? I have. This past year, I have learned about unconferences. It’s a place where teachers share and lead with their ideas and experiences. I would love to share with you a fabulous professional development opportunity. It’s free and will change your perspective! Please consider. I understand we have no time and are already giving 100%. If you can find 20 minutes, I would love to show you how I have learned from teachers all around the world. We will meet in my room (454 in the high school) on February 3rd at 3:15. This unconference is open to all staff members in our district. Please let me know if you will be attending.

Cecilia Schoultz

So far, there has been one person who has accepted from a list of over 150.  Should I be happy about one person? What could I do to encourage more to participate?

Since writing this post, I have will have 3 current teachers and 3 student teachers attending my sharing session. I also had one administrator decline but show support and gratitude. I’m very excited to share with the teachers some of the tools I have learned and how it has changed my teacher.

Nous n’aimons pas

A gift from my mom

My mom with granddaughter Maria

For the past two years, my mom has written an email every Tuesday to her daughters and some of her closest friends and a couple of her siblings. My mom has a gift. She is an amazing writer. She is dedicated and determined. It takes her hours to write her email. Technology is challenging for her at times. She struggles with forwards and using yahoo. As she would say, “I have gifts but technology is not one of them.” But every week, as I open my email on Wednesday morning, there is always mom’s letter. My sisters and I are going to try to convince her to post her emails as a blog. She does not see value in it. I think her letters would give many a smile to know the happenings of our family.  The following is her email from this week. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Thanks mom. I love you.

Merry Christmas week everyone, It looks very much like Christmas as I look out the window at 6 more inches of new snow. It is almost 30*, so it is sticking on trees. It is beautiful. I told Sara last night that I was glad it is going to be in the high 20s this week. She responded, “That sounds balmy.”

I was out at Tata Cece’s this past Thur. Baby Michael was not feeling the best and neither was his mom or me. Things are better now. Terry loves his Christmas tree. He and his mom keep decorating it and redecorating it – and Michael loves watching them and the tree lights.

Major problem at our church this week. Dad’s group( the folk choir) was to practice Tues. night. Well, Diane told Bev. the main choir was going to practice at that time- “Sorry,Bev” Bev disbanded the folk choir and they are not going to sing on Christmas day. I am hoping something will be resolved for the future but the Belgiums are almost as stubborn as the Irish. The reason the Norbertines first came here was to try to keep the Belgian Catholics from breaking away into their own little churches. A priest friend of dad’s asked him if he knew the difference between a terrorist and a liturgist? … You can negotiate with a terrorist.

It is a big week here. Patsy and Katie I wish you were able to join the rest of your sisters, but we look forward to a summer gathering with everyone here. We are expecting more snow so travel plans for everyone might change. I think we are ready. I pick up Sara at the airport in 2 hours, the Christmas News went to the P.O. today, the house is decorated, dad’s chili is made, Kelley and dad made another trip to the candy store, and there is lots of snow on the driveway for sledding.

I was looking at Bishop Morneau’s poems and I like this one for this week

LEVELS OF TRUTH a deep truth “I am” a deeper truth “you are” the deepest truth ” we are not alone”

We will not be alone with Jiff, Kelley, Bridg., Sara, Theresa, Cece and their families here.

Love to you all mom

Staying Focused

Even though the #30 Goals Challenge was intended as something to accomplish in 30 days, I feel a sense of worth as I continue to work through them.  I started the goals in July and now we are in December. I will finish the goals before December 23rd. Perhaps even tomorrow I might finish. It doesn’t matter when or if I finish to anyone but myself. There isn’t a diploma or certificate. No one in my building knows I’m even working on this professional development piece besides two of my co-workers who contribute on Twitter. I have not been doing any of these goals for anyone but myself and my students. I have so enjoyed the entire process. I cannot think of a better way to learn than if it is self-directed. In fact, I think I have put off finishing the goals because that will mean I will be done. Not that learning is ever finished…I have just felt that the goals have been attainable, challenging and meaningful for me. I fear it will take me some time to find another course that I will enjoy as much as the #30 Goals. Alas, all things must come to an end so I must contiune on to goal #28….Staying Focused.

Staying focused in general is challenging for me. I have a difficult time in lecture based meetings. I find my mind wandering to things that need to get done or what I’m teaching tomorrow or what I’m making for dinner. You see, I am not a linear thinker. My mind does not go from A to B to C. My mind goes from A to red to coffee to Paris. For some students, it is interesting to be in my classroom because of my continue battle to stay focused. One student said once, “I wonder what it would be like to be Madame.”  For other students, it is so difficult to be in my room. I never teach a lesson the same 2 times. My classroom is continually changing. This goes to staying focused.

My twitter network of educators (PLN) have helped me to find ways to focus my classroom. One is through web-branding. Through a group known as allofe,I have been able to organize my classroom to help stay focused and keep my classroom on goal. It has been very challenging and I am continually working on improving it. I cannot say enough good things about ALLOFE.

Also because of #30Goals, I submitted to participate in a technology conference. On March 22, I will be presenting at WEMTA. Because of this commitment, I must continue to stay focused on my technology goals for my classroom. By participating, it will help me to stay focused.

My goals for integrating technology in the classroom:

  1. Technology will be used to demonstrate learning.
  2. Tasks will be relevant and student-centered.
  3. No paper will be used in my classroom beyond a notebook for when technology is present.
  4. Each student will have a blog to use as a personal portfolio of their class work.
  5. Each student will receive a comment from someone outside of class.

I would love to hear other teachers’ goals for their classroom or suggestions on how to improve my focus. What are your goals for your classrooms? or schools?

 

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