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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

8 things the school year has taught me so far

We have just started the fourth week of class. Here are my thoughts

1. It's much easier to blog in the summer. Not sure I need to list obvious reasons as to why, just wish I had more time to carefully reflect.

2. My focus this year is to increase critical thinking. Overall, I think I am keeping to that focus. My lesson plans are designed better, they have a natural flow and go from lower level to higher levels. I think this is the best I have ever started out a year and is due in part to this focus. I start with basic knowledge/comprehension and then move to application/analysis, then finally to synthesis/evaluation.

3. Frontloading your year takes a lot of patience and hard work, but four weeks in I can see that this is going to pay off all year. I am more focused and so are the students. I have had to spend a few days getting students used to using programs such as Google Earth and how to share docs on Google Drive and how to use Canvas. Now after using those programs I don't have to explain as much and students just know what to do.

4. Allowing students to publish thoughts/opinions on a forum such as Canvas, I know other schools use Edmodo or another such program, is not only a great way to see what each student has to say about a subject, but gives everyone a voice. As you know only a few of the same kids participate in class discussions, so this forum is much better at allowing EACH and every student a voice. They have time to consider their answer and thoughts before being put on the spot. Whether they are shy or outspoken all of them have an outlet and time to consider their thoughts before hitting submit.

5. Technology has made some things easier, but it still has bugs and is not the same in person. Nothing beats in person.

6. Students are funny. Here is an exchange from this year. If you know Utah geography this will be more funny, if you don't it's still funny.
In an attempt to get to know everyone I memorized everyone's names. After I was successful I then asked the rest of the class if they wanted to try as well. One such student was attempting to get all the names and came to a student named Logan. She then said she needed a hint. I responded that since it was a geography class I would give her a geography clue. I then said Utah State, which is in Logan, Utah. A good clue that most students would have gobbled up. She got excited and shouted out "Idaho". Now I'm not certain where she was going with her answer, but she had heard his name mentioned at least a few times. Let's face it, she just blurted out without thinking.

7. Everyday and each class is a new adventure. Although I teach the same subject, each class is a different experience. In the morning students are still waking up, after lunch they are wired, and no two classes are the same. Funny how each class has its own personality. It's what makes it fresh and exciting.

8. It's taken me a few weeks but I finally feel like I am fully back in gear. Took me a couple weeks but I have my mojo back. I was energized and physically in shape, but it not in teacher shape. My voice is finally up to par as is my stamina and my wit. I imagine the students feel the same. It takes a few weeks to get rolling. So far this is the best start to any school year I have had. Fingers crossed for best year ever.

Monday, September 3, 2012

My Personal Manifesto 2012/13

Tomorrow school starts again. It is a time of new beginnings and excitement. It is a time of renewal and opportunity. I love the first week of school. It really is my favorite week. I am a purpose driven person and as much as I love the summer, I love having a purpose even more. Tomorrow my purpose begins anew. My personal manifesto this year is to become the teacher I have always wanted to be.

For me that begins with making sure that my room is one of opportunity, excitement, challenge, and safety. Each and every student should feel a part of something grand. All should feel welcomed and valued; especially the ones that need it the most. Each student should feel that they have are free to share and speak their mind whether or not they agree with me or others. They should feel that they are learning and what we are doing is valuable. They should be excited to come to class each day, especially when the weather changes and the novelty of being back in school wears away.

I want to do big things that matter this year. That will require some risk taking and vision, which means that there is the possibility of stumbling and falling along the way. I want to challenge my students to think about themselves and the world in ways they never have before. To see the world from multiple perspectives and opinions and see that there is not one right way to look at things. I want them want to make a difference in their community. I want them to believe that all things are possible and that if they are willing to work hard enough they can accomplish anything.

I believe that teachers have a wonderful opportunity to be inspiring. I want my students to not only dream but to act on those dreams. I want them to want to be better people and citizens. I want them to follow their passion and make their world a better place for everyone. I want them to carry their enthusiasm from the first day to the dog days of winter and to the final week of the year. To seize each day and make the most of their education.

Tomorrow each student starts out fresh. It doesn't matter what they have done, good or bad or not at all, it matters what they do from here on. One of my favorite sayings is that if you want to be an A student then act like one, do the things that A students do. I need to heed my own advice and realize that if I want to be the teacher I dreamed about when I decided to become one, then I need to act like that teacher.

So here's to making this the best year yet. Here's to taking the excitement of Sept and spreading it to January and extending it to June. Here's to becoming the teacher I have always wanted to be. It begins tomorrow. My personal manifesto for this year is to make sure it never ends.