It is amazing to me that I get to work some of the people I do. Teachers giving up so much "free" time to work on a direction that will benefit students so much. I am truly lucky to be a part of such a heroic endeavor. Thank you all so much!
I could have written this last night. Its is spot on! To my students you are the reason I do this. I am lucky to get paid to do this :)
"It’s 4 a.m. I’ve struggled for the last hour to go to sleep. But, I can’t. Yet again, I am tossing and turning, unable to shut down my brain. Why? Because I am stressed about my students. Really stressed. I’m so stressed that I can only think to write down what I really want to say — the real truth I’ve been needing to say — and vow to myself that I will let my students hear what I really think tomorrow.
This is what students really need to hear:
First, you need to know right now that I care about you. In fact, I care about you more than you may care about yourself. And I care not just about your grades or your test scores, but about you as a person. And, because I care, I need to be honest with you. Do I have permission to be honest with you — both in what I say and how I say it?
Here’s the thing: I lose sleep because of you. Every week.
Before I tell you why, you should understand the truth about school. You see, the main event of school is not academic learning. It never has been. It never will be. And, if you find someone who is passionate in claiming that it is about academics, that person is lying to himself or herself and may genuinely believe that lie. Yes, algebra, essay writing, Spanish, the judicial process — all are important and worth knowing. But they are not the MAIN event.
The main event is learning how to deal with the harshness of life when it gets difficult — how to overcome problems as simple as a forgotten locker combination, to obnoxious peers, to gossip, to people doubting you, to asking for help in the face of self-doubt, to pushing yourself to concentrate when a million other thoughts and temptations are fingertips away.
It is your resilience in conquering the main event — adversity — that truly prepares you for life after school. Because, mark my words, school is not the most challenging time you will have in life. You will face far greater challenges than these. Sure, you will have times more amazing than you can imagine, but you will also confront incomparable tragedy, frustration, and fear in the years to come.
But, you shouldn’t be worried about the fact that you will face great adversities. You should be worried because you’re setting yourself up to fail at overcoming them. Here’s the real reason I lose hours of sleep worrying about you: You are failing the main event of school. You are quitting. You may not think you are quitting, but you are because quitting wears many masks.
For some, you quit by throwing the day away and not even trying to write a sentence or a fraction because you think it doesn’t matter or you can’t or there’s no point. But it does. What you write is not the main event. The fact that you do take charge of your own fear and doubt in order to write when you are challenged — THAT is the main event.
Some of you quit by skipping class on your free education. Being punctual to fit the mold of the classroom is not the main event of showing up. The main event is delaying your temptation and investing in your own intelligence — understanding that sometimes short-term pain creates long-term gain and that great people make sacrifices for a greater good.
For others, you quit by being rude and disrespectful to adults in the hallway who ask you to come to class. Bowing to authority is not the main event. The main event is learning how to problem solve maturely, not letting your judgement be tainted by the stains of emotion.
I see some of you quit by choosing not to take opportunities to work harder and pass a class, no matter how far down you are. The main event is not getting a number to tell you you are worthy. The main event is pulling your crap together and making hard choices and sacrifices when things seem impossible. It is finding hope in the hopeless, courage in the chasm, guts in the grave.
What you need to see is that every time you take the easy way out, you are building a habit of quitting. And it will destroy your future and it will annihilate your happiness if you let it. Our society cares nothing for quitters. Life will let you die alone, depressed, and poor if you can’t man or woman up enough to deal with hardship. You are either the muscle or the dirt. You either take resistance and grow stronger or blow in the wind and erode.
As long as you are in my life, I am not going to let quitting be easy for you. I am going to challenge you, confront you, push you, and coach you. You can whine. You can throw a tantrum. You can shout and swear and stomp and cry. And the next day, guess what? I will be here waiting — smiling and patient — to give you a fresh start. Because you are worth it.
So, do yourself a favor: Step up. No more excuses. No more justifications. No blaming. No quitting. Just pick your head up. Rip the cords out of your ears. Grab the frickin’ pencil and let’s do this."
– C. Mielke
original post @ https://affectiveliving.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/what-students-really-need-to-hear/
I feel incredibly privileged that colleagues are comfortable enough with me to ask for technology help. I see a huge movement in our building to start incorporating some amazing 21st Century Teaching and Learning techniques. I see teachers being learners, which makes for better teaching in my humble opinion. I see teachers searching for a way to help digital natives navigate learning skills in an in-between world. Our infrastructure has not caught up with the expectations of students and teachers alike.
I wonder if lack of infrastructure is hindering new and innovative strategies to create a learning environment that satisfies teachers' and students' needs, but also continues to push our cutting edge needs. We need to know where the edge is, where we are pushing the boundaries of technologies and thinking in order to keep moving ahead. We have a hope of preparing students for jobs we don't even know exist (seems to be where the bulk of job creation is).
I am by no means suggesting that current jobs are going to be completely obsolete; this explains the balancing act we face everyday.
Is our innovation hindered by infrastructure? Or, does innovation drive the infrastructure that is needed? I find myself exploring learning environments supported by the tools I have. I wonder if my own innovation is hamstrung or just pushing the boundaries already. I feel the frustration of my colleagues and students that our infrastructure is unreliable and not meeting the needs of the amazing learning opportunities created by teachers and students. Some of my best practices come from students willing to share what they know.
Aside from the infrastructure problems, I see a trepidation out there towards technology, in some regards. I have read countless articles on gaming and social media that condemn its existence and use. I wonder if that is the chicken and egg piece. Are we losing out on 21st Century Learning opportunities because we haven't explored the technology available to us? Or, are we missing out on brilliance because the infrastructure isn't there?
I may have just answered my own questions. I see us being hampered by a little of both. Those that wish to push the limits of technology and what it offers as a tool for 21st Century Learning are indeed hampered by archaic infrastructure. Those that are trepidatious of technology as a tool are not hampered by infrastructure in that it is not relevant to his or her progress in 21st Century Learning strategies. The infrastructure is more advanced than the practice.
This might be a ridiculous blog post but I needed to work through it.
I don't often take to the Web to vent. I try to be thoughtful in what I post. Often, knee jerk reactions tend to be regrets. I have done nothing but think about the state of affairs in public education these days. It has become very apparent to me that the majority of people I talk to think that public education, like health care, are worth fighting for. I have no doubts that the vast majority of BC residents want nothing more than the best in education for our upcoming generations.
It stands to reason that an educated society is a benefit for all. I am, therefore, at a loss. The proverbial "we" spends a lot of time liking and forwarding memes and blog posts on Facebook and similar mediums in order to spread the word of our discontent. It reaches many and quickly. I have worn many hats across my teaching career thus far. As class sizes balloon and enrolment numbers allegedly shrink, I have been shuffled from position to position and been forced to adapted like a chameleon.
I am currently a technology teacher, so I get the social media thing. I am, however, shocked that this seems to be where it ends. We pass around these blog posts and memes to spread the word but that never goes anywhere. It becomes some funny picture of Christy Clark talking about education while enrolling her son in private school. I understand the intention but as British Columbians, and as Canadians, where is our follow-through?
Why is it that we are content to let teachers and other unions stand out in front and fight for the rights of everyone? Why are there not more people out there doing something about this? Teachers take a pay cut, while attempting to keep all students caught up and ready for year end. They have worked all year planning for things like track meets and year end field trips. When these privileges are in jeopardy, teachers are to blame for their selfish want of better working conditions.
Let us just look at what those selfish conditions are. Teachers are losing pay and, more importantly, sleep to ensure the youth of this province are treated like people that matter. They are fighting for smaller class sizes, and it's not because they are lazy or unable to do anything but teach (that misnomer might be my favourite one); rather, they want to give students a better chance to learn at their own pace and have the support they need to do so. I, for one, know the quiet students that just does what they are supposed to and truck along. They get lost in the day-to-day demands of the classroom. It is simple: less students per class equals more teacher one-on-one time.
I heard it best from a colleague the other day: "Invest now, or pay later." I think we have been a "pay later" society for too long. I know it's cliche, but "be the change you wish to see in the world." If you truly believe public education is a priority, then stand up to the government that is attempting to make a two-tiered education system: one where if you have money you get a stellar education, and if you don't, too bad for you!
Instead of just passing along the blog posts and the memes, join the teachers on the picket line, write letters to the Ministry of Education demanding they stop this nonsense, and let me and the 45,000 other teachers in this province get back to doing what we are trained to do, and that is teach.
I have thought long and hard about this. I put this out there as a plea to the public to stand up and be counted.
I know I have not been the best at blogging, but that doesn't mean the gears haven't been turning. I was just reading a great blog post about why the flipped classroom feels like self-teaching to some students. This struck a huge chord with me. My students give me feedback about the course; they have been asking me for more teacher-led, in-class instruction. I have to say that I have been trying to do that for them. I was relieved, and at the same time intrigued, to hear in the blog I read that this is a common growing pain of flipping.
If I think about what I am asking my students to do, I am basically asking them to do the opposite of what they have been doing the majority of their academic career, and likely the opposite of what they are doing right now in other classes. It is no doubt then that having them look at content in their own time and own way is foreign and feels like I am doing nothing.
I will admit it has been odd for me, too. I feel like I put so much effort in that no one sees. Students, parents and colleagues have no idea how many hours I spend outside of class researching and making content for my Youtube channel and for my website and assignments. To them, it probably looks like I am a slacker. I spend my class time working one-on-one with whomever needs it, with whatever they are working on; and, occasionally I do group instruction, if there are a few at the same place. It looks like, in the traditional sense, I do "nothing". My marking load is much different as I never just sit down and mark a stack of the same assignment: it is not likely that there is a stack of the same assignment. Most people are at different places at different times. Instead, I am constantly marking. I am constantly trying to stay on top of the 6 different classes I teach in 2 physical blocks of student time.
Flipping has allowed for us to run 6 different programs in 2 blocks. I don't know that I would try that again, as it is a bit too much, but it sure has been great for the students. They have been able to choose which computer course interests them the most regardless of the block designation.
Sometimes I do need to clone myself. I feel torn in so many directions that I sometimes forget what they are talking about. They are really pretty tolerant at explaining to my multitasking mind exactly which part of which assignment in which class they are struggling with. It may inadvertently be teaching better advocation skills. For me, however, it is overwhelming at times. I would like to try this again with a little less going on and see if this really is effective.
I feel like I am just keeping my head above water with it right now. I don't know if it is because I need more practice or if 6 classes in two blocks is just too many subjects. I am so grateful for this digital world of supportive colleagues. If you have suggestions or know if I am just going through growing pains, let me know. I could use the guidance.
I am on my way to BCIT to take a test that lasts three days. I have been given the opportunity to get certified as an IT trainer. I have one problem: I don't know what they are testing me on. Is it content? Is it how to use their software? Is it both?
The entire course is online and the platform is actually pretty cool. I can see how this platform will enable me to do things I can't currently do, due to budget constraints. I am pretty excited about that part. I first have to pass this unknown exam. This has brought up a problem I suffered from going through high school and post-secondary, and one I see increasingly in students. I have major test anxiety!
I have never been one to downplay the anxiety of students. I fully understand, but this has reignited a need to make things even clearer. I blame no one. I may have had the inability to find the information; this could rest solely on my shoulders. All I know is that I need to be much clearer in my own online portions of my course.
Wish me luck!
This has been a learning curve of exponential proportions. I am definitely not there yet. I have yet to successfully print an object bigger then 1.5 cm^3 . Check out this video that explains a bit of the process.
I wish I could claim I was this brilliant on my own, but I am not. I was having a conversation with a colleague (thank you Jen) and we were evaluating our practice with portfolios. Why do we do it? What's in it for us as teachers? Why should it be part of my professional development? Isn't it a student thing? We started discussing how it affects us and our ability to show progress. We know it works great at the end of a course to show how far a student has come with skills, but how was it working for us in our teaching practices?
We talked about it changing the onslaught of mass marking for assignments as students tend to pace themselves differently in this kind of environment. We also talked about how that could cause us to use this tool differently. I am working on showing students their progress on a more micro scale. Yes, the big progress will be evident at the end of the course, but how I use portfolios to show little increments of skill building is where I want to focus.
This is when lightening struck! Jen asked what about reflecting on reflecting? I probably looked like a deer in headlights at the point, because I hadn't a clue what she was talking about. She must have sensed my utter confusion, because she continued.
"What if I use a reflection within a reflection with the gr. 9's? What if they have to examine how they verbalize how they think and reflect on their learning, over the course of a semester?"
I was gobsmacked! Of course. We evaluate portfolios for skills in a particular course, but I haven't been asking students to evaluate how they verbalize their own reflections. How does that change over the course of a semester, a year, a grade, a high school career. How does one's view of your education change as you reflect? Does your reflection have a pattern? Does is cycle? Does it change based on the course? I feel a thesis coming on!
Jen my wonderful friend this place is so lucky to have you!!
We talk about living in the greatest place on Earth. I agree: best country, best area, all of that. However, I never realized just how much the geography of a school effects students' experience and teachers' sense of belonging and value.
Most schools in our area are retrofitted, renovated shells of schools built in the hay-day of the industrial era. They are giant boxes or a conglomerate of boxes fused together and partitioned into classrooms. Where you get to live in those boxes is often determined by tradition, legacy, and equipment needs. You could spend 20 years in the same classroom, or like me, bounce from place to place every year. I am not sure which is better or worse. I have occupied spaces in nearly every nook and cranny of this place. I have attempted to carve out space that feels like mine, but it never really is. I don't know that space should be territorial, but it's nice to have a place to store your resources, and a place to look after. Spaces often get neglected when they are transient spaces for teacher and students. If no one "owns" the place, then it becomes unimportant and neglected. It is someone else's responsibility.
The whereabouts of a space is just as crucial. Portables, attached buildings, as well as classrooms that are "out of the way", breed inequality. They stop the flow of people and they isolate students and teachers alike. Teachers are looking for a home no less than any student. We are constantly trying to increase attachment, because there is no doubt that attachment has an enormous effect on our young people. Sometimes creating that attachment is really difficult based simply on geography. If a teacher is responsible for a space and has claimed "ownership" of it, they are somewhat tethered to that space by the mere fact that they feel responsible. I think they should feel responsible. I think they should feel pride in the place they spend their time with students. That attitude towards a space transfers to students and promotes a healthy learning environment. If that space is out of the way or not in the general flow of people, what happens to the teacher and to the students who are attached to that teacher? Or, what happens to the students who would really benefit from attachment with that individual but don't know they exist because of geography?
There is a saying around the Kootenays: "There is no hope past Hope". Our community feels out of the flow of things in our province. Our municipalities are banding together to make our voices heard and to create flow in our area. Kudos to those that are solving the problem! How do we transfer that kind of common goal to a school? It is just a set of classrooms, right? We all teach different subjects. We all have different strengths and weakness. Not everyone likes everyone else, nor should they have to, but there has to be a way to make a conglomeration of boxes feel more inclusive and healthy.
I don't have an answer for this. Sometimes 25 stairs really is a geographical mountain to climb. Sometimes it's just 4 stairs, and sometimes it's just windows. There are so many things that create geographical barriers in a school. We need to find a way to make teachers and students feel more included and less marginalized by geography.
Striving to explore flip: explain in order to engage!