Sunday, August 15, 2021

Give Teachers a Break...

 Over the past several weeks, I've heard a lot of teacher bashing.  I've heard teachers compared to grocery store clerks, liquor store clerks, and others.  In the Spring of 2020 when schools shut down, parents and community members could not thank teachers enough for jumping in, taking charge, and fulfilling their responsibilities within their best abilities (and resources) to assist in the learning of their students.

Fast-forward a year, and teachers are portrayed as whining, sniveling, pseudo-professionals who not only do not "want" to go to work, but who also do not seem to care about the progress of their students.

I have always told my students that the relationships we establish in the classroom will be long-held, that the connection that is made there will be a life-long one that will continue to shape and mold their futures long after we have said our end-of-the-year goodbyes.  I never make an effort to go back and see my banker to let him/her know what an impact that interest percentage made in my life.  Nor do I go to see the mechanic to tell him/her that the new muffler installed has enriched me.  Likewise, I never return to a grocery store or liquor store to rave about my purchase or the transaction that took place.  I DO, however, remember all of my teachers and the impact, good or bad, they made on my life. I do not in any way want to discredit any of these professions; respectfully, however, they are not anything like teaching. 

The people who are spouting these reflections, I am quite certain, have never had the joy of seeing 30 faces before them, eager for what you might provide in their lives.  They have also never had to deal with such collective criticism when striving to just uphold their place in the professional realm while still going the extra mile to provide resources and ENGAGING activities in the classroom to make it a second home for "their kids."

I am aware of the hypocrisy when I again and again see individuals carefully gathered together with 2 tables between them and spread across their meeting space, making decisions for teachers who work in often overcrowded classrooms. Teachers do not have that option and neither do their students.  

I believe that anyone who makes a decision about teachers in classrooms and how classrooms should be managed, (during a Pandemic or otherwise), should commit to spending one hour a day (minuscule in comparison to a teacher's time) in a crowded classroom, INTERACTING with students and keeping the students engaged.  Then, and only then, will teachers respect the decisions being made and believe that they are truly being kept in the highest considerations of safety and practice.

I currently teach graduate courses in education at a local university, and I am constantly seeking resources to enrich not only the preparation of future teachers but also the souls and mindsets of our future educators.  I came across this video and nearly cried while watching it, thinking of the thousands of teachers on computers at home or in buildings, trying desperately to keep the flow of learning going, all the while being told that they are not doing enough.  I, and many others I'm sure, can relate to the teachers in front of their screens, trying to be funny, active, and purposeful for the students watching through the screens.  Let's give teachers a break and begin to appreciate the amazing and caring individuals they truly are!

Thursday, May 27, 2021

THANK YOU...not goodbye, but see you later...

 Today was a bittersweet experience as I had lunch with my CAPS colleagues...something that happens on a regular basis, but today they made me feel very special with a nice send off with gifts and cards reflective of my retirement.

How can I ever thank each and every one of them for the hours of support, collaboration, reflection, and dreaming that we have shared over the last several years.  As I looked around at the faces of my CAPS friends, memories surfaced in my mind that I realized would become the true mementos I would take from this place.  

 I don't see this as an "end" but rather a moving on, there is certainly a sense of finality as I look around my stark classroom that over the weeks has become less and less mine.  Many of the small items that meant so much to me have been given away, discarded, or saved, but never again will they be placed in their CAPS home in quite the same way.

This has not hit me seems still like I'm wrapping up for the summer.  I don't think that the impact will really be upon me until the Fall, when I see the scurry and excitement of the new school year and will not be a part of it as I have been in the past.

THANK YOU to all of my CAPS friends.  I could not have asked for a better place nor a better group of people with which to end my K-12 career.

Hugs.  This isn't goodbye...just see you later...

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Bidding A Goodbye and Expressing Pride and Promise

 I will be retiring from the Blue Valley School District at the end of this school year.  While I am excited each year to see what our future educators might develop, this year I am especially proud. 
The students dealt with many challenges and obstacles as they drifted from virtual to hybrid to in-person learning and teaching platforms.  This year's CAPS Teacher Ed students have acquired skills very revised from  those of our normal program protocol, and they have handled it with class, with poise, and with a great attitude.  Long gone is my fear that I would have a difficult time "personalizing" activities this year and getting to know my students.  I feel close to them all and am so very proud of everything they have attempted, dreamed, and accomplished!

As a highlight, it is with a bittersweet feeling in my heart that I share some of the things the students have encountered and accomplished this year, and with it, bid goodbye to this portion of my life and look forward to another personal and professional chapter in my life.

Twitter @wevegotclass 
Instagram @capsteachered 

A few of this year's projects:
  • Simschool-an online simulation in which students could "teach" avatars and receive a culminating report giving them information about their strategies used and their effectiveness.  Simschool is a program well-researched and normally used by university programs.  We were the first high school program included.  Now...they have other high school programs wanting to become subscribers. 
  • Virtual Teacher Academy-our students completed units of study in educational history and philosophies.  All work was submitted, and students received certifications from the Mary Lou Fulton School of Education at Arizona State University
  • Kids' Konference-our students created and executed an entire conference for elementary students.  Our students did this all virtually, over Zoom, from their homes, while they were remote  Video from the event: 

  • Virtual Teaching-during the school year, we had a group of students who met twice weekly with the virtual classes of Ms. Catherine Healy.  Our CAPS Teacher Ed students conducted tutoring sessions and breakout room study sessions and presentation sessions
  • Students have spent 3-6 weeks in virtual and f2f classrooms.  During this time, students blogged regularly on their experiences and completed other assignments such as "what would you do" scenarios in which they discussed strategies they would use in classroom situations
  • Portfolios--students again completed portfolios.  Those can be viewed in the link below or by going to our website and clicking on "portfolios"
  • Twitter-students reached out to Will Richardson and others after watching their TED Talks and created real-world network connections to take their learning beyond the typical classroom
Teacher Ed Portfolios and Senior Slideshow (some students are still revising this week)

I am sad to leave Teacher Ed this year, but I'm excited about my next steps.  Thanks for allowing us to share just a glimpse of some of the work our students do in our program!