Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Time to make lemonade

I heard somewhere once that teaching is like making lemonade. All school year you squeeze the lemons. You try to squeeze every second out of the school day, you try to squeeze just one more thought into a mini lesson, you squeeze one more hour of planning into your day before you pack up and go home. It is summer when you get to add the water and sugar and reflect on time you spent during the school year. Summer is when you can drink your lemonade and think about what went well and what you want to change. Each sip is a reward for a years work and the lives you have touched.

For me during my 4 short years of teaching summer has been a time of high anxiety, hoping, and waiting. Every summer I have interviewed with countless principals and teams of teachers hoping they would pick me and make me part of their teaching team. This summer is no different expect that I really thought this was the year. There were many retirements and lots of open positions in my school district. I have had several interviews all with negative outcomes. This summer as I drink my lemonade I am reflecting on why they haven't chosen me and questioned what I need to do to make my dream a reality.

I went to a professional development today about digital learning. As I sat and listened to the presenters (both of whom are colleagues who I respect greatly) I realized once again that I have all of the pieces of the puzzle, I have the drive for learning, I have the desire to make a difference for the kids that will be in my classroom, I want to step outside my comfort zone and try new things. All I need is that classroom full of kids.

I know everything happens for a reason and that my role as an intervention teacher this year gave me many opportunities to learn from other teachers and for that I am grateful. I guess I need to take time this summer to drink my lemonade and find ways to use my knowledge in my intervention role. I have to be thankful that I still get to work with kids even if it is not a classroom full of them. They still need me.

Here's to you lucky teachers that know there will be a classroom full of smiling faces at your door to greet you in August. Be thankful for them and spend your summer sipping your lemonade and reflecting on how you can make the next school year even better.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Eagle Research Part 2

I am happy to report that we are almost done with our eagle research. I still have to compile the slides for our podcast and share our learning with the other two kindergarten classes but for the most part the project is complete.
The students have really enjoyed learning about the eagles and to my surprise still enjoy looking at the non-fiction books. I am a very reflective teacher and looking back on the project there are a few things I would change if given the opportunity to teach this unit again. I feel like I should have done a better job talking about the purpose of our writing. I can still do a lesson on this when we share our learning but explaining I don't think they knew why we were doing the research. Secondly, I wish I had allowed the students to be a little more creative with the bulletin board display. I feel like it is a little too teacher focused and not enough authentic kindergarten work. Teaching is so much about how to make what you do better so I will chalk this unit up to learning and try to be better next time.

This is a sample from our research journals

One of the posters in the hallway display

Hallway display, the big brown paper is a replica of how big an eagle nest is

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The eagle has landed

I have a new obsession that I have passed onto the kindergarten friends in my classroom. It's not as bad as it sounds (unless you ask my family). I have been consistently watching the Decorah Eagles on the live web cam for a week.

My obsession started last week when a colleague introduced the web cam to her classroom. We were mesmerized while we sat and watched the eagle as she tended to her new hatchlings. That day I introduced my own classroom of kindergarteners to the eagles. They were just as interested as I was, the feeling of excitement buzzed through the room. As we watched the eagle tending to the nest feed the hatchlings my students started asking questions and making comments at a fever pitch. I wasn't able to answer many of their questions so I suggested we research eagles so we can learn more about them while we watch the nest.

I spent the weekend watching the nest and doing some research on my own. After a trip to the library we began to explore books and record our questions. I was very proud of their enthusiasm and willingness to learn about the eagles. They had some great questions considering their age and inexperience with non-fiction. Here are a few of the questions they asked:

  • How long do the babies stay in the nest?
  • Why do the eagles sit on their babies?
  • Why do eagles have long claws?
  • When will the eagle babies fly?

Even some of my lowest students asked some very insightful questions. I am so excited to start researching tomorrow. We are planning on sharing our information with the other kindergarten classes, I can't wait until we are all eagle experts. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Day 1

Today is the first day of my blog. If you had told me a year ago that I would have a blog I would have laughed at you. Blogs are for people who know what they are talking about. I read blogs written by people who I admire and strive to be like--not me. 

Why blog now?? The Slice of Life Challenge 2012. 

I have been reading many posts that have inspired me to become a writer. I have been to many book talks and the message that resonates is to be a better writing teacher you need to be a writer yourself. That is challenge see myself as a writer. I have kept a journal in the past to help me deal with changes and challenges in my life. I have often turned to a paper and pencil when I had emotions that I needed to express. Writing has been a release of those emotions that I have been to afraid to express but does that make me a writer? Although I enjoy writing to express myself it is not something that I do regularly and it is definitely not something that I publish. 

Challenge # 2--Believe in myself and feel like I have something valuable to contribute. I have always had issues with my self-esteem. It would take many hours of therapy to figure out why but it is who I am. I am a reflective person and strive to be better that I was the day before but I have trouble with my confidence. I hope that this blog and pushing myself to write every week will help raise my confidence which will in turn open doors and create opportunities I never would imagine. 

I guess this is the first step who knows what the next step will bring.