A small town girl takes on the world

Sunday, December 6, 2009


We had a lockdown on Friday, during 5th period. We had just had a drill last week, so we knew that this was a serious thing. There had also been a pretty significant fight at lunch involving a girl whose family sometimes gets involved, so that's what my mentor teacher thought might be going on.

We found out later that a neighbor had reported gunshots in the park next to the school, so we were locked down until the sheriff could search the area and declare it clear.

We were only locked down for about ten minutes, but it was pretty adrenaline-filled. I was in charge of locking the door, and the entire ten minutes all I could think about was whether I had actually locked it or not (even though I checked it when I locked it).

Since then, I've had a few dreams about people coming into schools with weapons and taking people hostage. Yuck. It was in those ten minutes of lockdown that I realized just how responsible I am for those was a sobering thought.

Anyway, that's the news of the day! Happy, eh?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

You must be a teacher if.... are grading on Sunday evening and your desk looks like THIS:

Monday, November 9, 2009

...On The First Week of Teaching My Own Unit!

A dear old friend just reminded me that I have a blog. :) What can I say, it's been hectic!

You can probably tell that I've been busy, since I'm updating this at 6:03 am. Well, it's now or never!

Last week I began teaching a unit that I designed myself. Needless to say, I was pretty worried about how it would turn out. A) I'd never done it before and B) I'd never done it before. My mentor teacher was very supportive, though, and last week went great! Here's some highlights:

1. When describing the big drop down in numbers of a rabbit population, a student said, "It DRAMASTICALLY decreased!" Now, the blogger is underlining that as a misspelled word, but I think he may have been on to something!
2. I overheard two students having a conversation about drugs and had to approach one of them about it. She received it really well and even *seemed* to value my opinion. Hm....
3. When asked for ideas about how natural selection works, some students blew me away with the science that is built into their brains:
a. Student 1: Wait, so none of this matters, right? I mean, does it even matter if animals get eaten if they mate first? Cuz don't they just want to mate and that's their life goal?
b. Student 2: I think that maybe this fox would be able to adapt to a new environment, it would just take a really long time, since you have to wait for them to have babies.
4. I have several students who were seriously lacking in engagement and participation, and they are not only participating and not whining about class anymore, but they are GETTING 7 and 8 out of 9 ON THEIR QUIZZES! Before, a lot of them would just write "IDK". For those non-hip people who don't know text acronyms: IDK = I Don't Know.

I wish I had time to post everything that I want to post here, but I don't. Just know that I am excited, glad to be where I am, and finding that although my days have somehow all become 14 hour days, I am finding ways to stay sane and I am TEACHING these KIDS SOMETHING. It's amazing!

This is definitely the profession for me. Not to say it's not hard a lot of the time, but the rewarding parts are so worth it.

Cheers, everyone; I'll try to post more often!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

...On Getting the Hang of Things!

So, I know it's been awhile since I've posted....and this isn't going to be a long post. I just want to point out that the length between postings should indicate to you about how busy I am. So yeah, I've been busy. In fact, I'm supposed to be reading for tomorrow right now. But I thought I'd throw something up here first.

Teaching is hard. It's a ton of energy, even more time, and so often there is no sign of impact. At best, a day goes by where nothing really big happens. I've found that this is the attitude you get if you don't focus on the little positive things. So here's my amended philosophy....

Teaching is hard. It's a ton of energy, even more time, and so often there is no sign of impact. But if you really look hard at every interaction you have with a student, you begin to see big signs of impact. To illustrate this, I'd like to share a few short anecdotes. Then, it's off to bed (er...reading).

1) Thursday. 4th period. Student are ROWDY today, not sure why, but all classes have been like this today. My mentor teacher is tired, frustrated, and sick of asking kids why they're 10 minutes late to class. (Or do we even want to know?) She asks if I can take the class for just 10 minutes, so she can step out for some fresh air to recharge. Sure, no problem. Still won't settle down, so I decide, on the spot, to try something new. I say, relatively quietly, but oh-so-firm-and-disappointed, "You guys and girls can really do better than this. No, I'm not kidding. I know you can do great work, and I don't know why today it's so difficult, but I know you can do better. You know, why don't you...yeah, repeat after me: 'We will do better!'" The class murmurs, "wewilldobetter...." I say, "No, no, WE WILL DO BETTER!" The class says "We will do better!" except one student who never speaks up for good reasons, who never participates, and can't write down assignments to save his life....this student stands up and says, "I WILL DO BETTER!" I look at him, and say, "Yes! [Student], that's great, let's say THAT! I WILL DO BETTER!" The whole class, "I WILL DO BETTER!" It was marvelous, and after that they were loud but still got their work done....not sure why it worked for that one student, or the class, but it did. It made me feel great, because you know what? It shows that somewhere under that nervous, uncertain exterior, there are INSTINCTS. And that's what really makes a teacher.

2) Friday. 4th period again. Short classes today, kids are rowdy (what is it? a weather change?!). A student who is failing (at like 20%) for some reason is energized by her "role" as a physical anthropologist in the activity we're working on today (started on Thursday), and keeps calling me over to talk about fossils. She wants to know how they're made, and tells me that her family was driving somewhere and found a big skeleton of a big cat (think lynx, cougar, bobcat, not tabby or siamese). She's never spoken to me with excitement before, and certainly hasn't ever looked me in the eye. I'm puzzled, but excited too, so I chat with her about it while I can (this is a busy, high maintenance activity for the students). She leaves class that day, saying, in singsong, "Bye, Ms. Kramer!!!" I'm still puzzled, but energized by her uncorked enthusiasm. Later, I'm leaving school, and she's sitting outside waiting for a ride home. She looks up, sees me before I can say hi, and her whole face brightens. She says, excitedly, "Hi, Ms. Kramer!" I say hi back to her, smiling as big as ever, tell her to have a great weekend, and keep moving. She has no idea the start she's given me to my own weekend, and thinking back on this....I'm still smiling for her.

Those are just two of the little victories I've had in the past two days of teaching. I can't stress enough how much these matter to me, how much they keep me going. They also encourage me, because these tiny little connections I'm making with students mean that they can tell I care about them. They're letting me in, little by little, whether they know it or not. And that is a HUGE victory, because once they trust me, I will descend upon them with science! :) No, but seriously, the realization that I can be respected and trusted after a little over a month interacting with these students is quite an honor for me. When I see 5th period (who I only see once a week), I can tell the distance that is between the students and me. They still talk to me, and still know my name, but they don't trust me. And why would they? I'm never there. That will change soon, but for now I have all of my small victories to carry me!

This got long....didn't expect that! If you're still reading, thanks! I like sharing my victories the most!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

...On Feeling Rejuvenated (and some "good stuff")

Right now, I'm at Zoka working on this scholarship application. It's the first real day of fall weather (true fall weather) in Seattle. Pouring rain, thunder, and cold. There's a little boy outside the coffee shop, dancing in the rain for his mom, who is sitting inside by the fire. It's pretty cute, and I'm glad to see someone else enjoying the rain instead of complaining about it. I'm sure I'll change my mind, since my school is mostly outside (trips to the copy machine will be miserable), but I still appreciate the green.

The middle of the third week has come, and it's time for me to go back to UW for classes. This is the last scholarship I will ever write, and I can really feel my entire journey of college coming to an end. Although I'll still be in classes, what's most important now is the field experience. It's making me nostalgic!

Last weekend, I was feeling like I needed to get out, so I went out to Rattlesnake Ledge, which is a short hike (2.0 miles) up to a fantastic viewpoint. I wanted some solitude, so I went for a sunrise hike. I wasn't alone on that ledge though, there was a mountain goat! It was on a ledge next to me, but didn't seem bothered by my presence at all. Lots of animals were out, since it was so early, and the sunrise was brilliant. I'll try to upload some pictures and add them to the blog later tonight when I'm home. It was only ~2 hours of my life, but it made all the difference. It reminded me how beautiful life really is, and how important it is to pass on that sentiment to young people (well, younger than me). It's easy to forget the beauty when you're surrounded by ugly situations...perhaps I can help some of my students see the real beauty of life, especially of the natural really set up my week nicely!

I've had a great week so far with the students, too. I feel that I've really reached and found ways to make sure they see that I mean that I care about them. I've been trying to make leaps and bounds with certain students, and I've made an effort to say something to every kid in every period, no matter how small. I've been working on framing everything I say in a positive light, whether it's behavioral, academic, or just personal. I've never believed it more that students can see your genuine nature and intention, and that they feed off that. I think that my efforts are making a difference, and it really motivates me. Too bad this feeling is coming right when my days at the school are cut in half....

I'd like to start sharing some "good stuff" each entry. This is something that my good friend, Rebecca, does when she sends updates on her teaching in Berkeley, CA. She taught 2nd graders last year, and is a Teach for America starlet. :)

So, in true Becca nature, here is some good stuff:

A student, Lawrence, was talking about how dumb Homecoming is and how he isn't going. I said, "Lawrence, I'll be at Homecoming!" He slowly, deliberately replied: "No offense, Ms. Kramer, but that doesn't change my opinion...."

In Advisory, discussions about babies came up when Gala, who is pregnant, shared her first ultrasound with us. Bisart, a particularly vocal student, said loudly, "Man, when I have babies, I'm going to get me some twins!" As if he could just go pick them out?!

Our classroom has a gas leak (science classroom, hence the gas), so after we figured out there was one and turned OFF the gas with the main shut off switch, we needed to get the kids out of the room because it smelled awful. We walked around campus for a few minutes, chatting and letting them feel free and happy. It was fun, but frustrating because it reminds me how old our building is...not sure why this counts as "good stuff"???? :)

Another student, Daniel, has been impossible in terms of sitting down and doing work. Today, for the first time, he sat down and took his work seriously because BOTH me and my teacher were PUSHING and PUSHING him to get something done. Instead of grumbling through it, a sparkling little scientist emerged! It was incredible. He was asking questions of other students, of us, and they were great questions! I was was a great way to leave the day.

And so, I'll leave you with a good feeling that I have:

"Teach for the pleasure of doing something you are good at, not out of a sense of duty. Teach for the satisfaction you feel at seeing others succeed, not out of a desire to 'help' them. Teach for the joy of the subject matter you are discussing, not to attain 'standards' deļ¬ned by others. Teach out of the love you feel for students, not out of some larger mission of social transformation."

This quote is ringing true for me this week. I am acutely aware of myself, my successes, my failures, and how all of those things, no matter how glorious or painful, have brought me to right here. And it feels GOOD.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

...On Juggling My Life

My latest challenge has been trying to balance my life so that teaching doesn't consume me. Not that I'm putting in too much time, but it's really overwhelming at first. Today, for example, I don't have much energy to write anything. I woke up sick (THANKS, kids.) and need a nap, but definitely needed to eat first. I also need to get some work done, desperately, so I'm headed down to a local coffee shop to do that, after a quick nap.

Needless to say, this is difficult, but I'm getting better. I am teaching more and more full periods by myself, with few to no problems or snags. I actually got 1st period to LIKE me today. We played a game that makes you share one unique thing about yourself, and a Samoan girl said, "I can sing a Vietnamese song". So, naturally, we asked her to sing it, because none of us knew that she could speak any Vietnamese! It was beautiful, and everyone clapped at the end. It felt good to be a part of such a great community. That's what I really love about this school; it's all about community! And there is a fairly tight-knit community here....

Unfortunately, it's still high school, so there is drama. One girl is trying to switch to another school (and district) to avoid the mean girls here. I don't blame her, she's pregnant and doesn't need any extra stress.

Anyway, I need to nap, so that's all for today!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

...On Teaching an Entire 100 Minute Block....Alone!

Today, I taught an entire 100 minute block period by myself. I did the entry task (warm-up), the administrative stuff, the lab, and the "oh-no-we-ran-out-of-time" activity. And here's the thing: the students actually listened to me.

This might seem like a silly celebration, but only two days earlier, most students were definitely of the mindset that I "was a student teacher, so therefore not a real teacher, so therefore we don't need to listen". Wrong! Right? Yeah, but they didn't budge at all, no matter what I did. So, today, I started class out, and after trying to keep them quiet for a bit, I announced that I was assigning them seats. Without a peep from my mentor teacher - she didn't even flinch - and they knew that somehow, they had misinterpreted my power. It was AWESOME! Respect, for the rest of the class, was easy to come by. All it took was a few names called out, and relative, working silence followed.

At the end of the period, we were taking books down to look at, which are numbered and ordered so that each student is accountable for one book each period. That way, if any go missing, we know who to ask. Anyway, they were having a really tough time actually figuring out that if someone else took their book, they should probably find it instead of just grabbing a random book. Instead of just sorting it out, I made them ALL put the books back, and practice grabbing the books again. Oh MAN you should have heard the moans and groans, but they did it. I think that may have helped with the whole authority issue, again, because AGAIN Ann did not even flinch, so they knew that I meant business and that she was going to back me up.

Now, this was only one period, but it did wonders for my self-esteem/confidence in front of these kids. It's amazing how incredibly daunting and intimidating these kids can be, but are they EVER!

To top it off, the termites we ordered from a biological supply company (who will remain nameless) are not coming in on time. So, I spent the afternoon prep period digging in the gardens at school searching for pillbugs (potato bugs). Needless to say, they don't WATER the gardens at my school ($$, probably), so everything was super dry. For those who don't know, pillbugs are fond of dark, wet places. So, I spent the evening digging around in my back yard. I found all the pillbugs I needed, and several spiders and centipedes that I didn't. Ugh. For an ecologist, I sure am creeped out by things with lots of legs (except octopi).

Anyway, another day in the life, I suppose. Things are becoming more of a schedule, and a student actually asked me, "Ms. Kramer, are you teaching us today?" which implies that they at least know that I'm SUPPOSED to be teaching them something, whether it's working or not....Also, it shows that they know my name (BOO-YAH!).

My new motto has become: "Small gains = big smiles." Those who have taught/are teaching will understand particularly well what that means.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

...On the First Few Days of School!

First things first: photos of my room!




So, that's a taste of what the room looks like. Old chairs, etc. Lots of chemical supplies, though, even if they are mostly really old. It's all good. We have been mixing things and showing kids reactions and lighting hydrogen balloons (small ones) on fire in class. The usual, you know. It's funny because it's not entirely the kind of science I've been being taught to teach (was that a confusing sentence or what?!), but it's still fun. So much planning is required for anything that it's hard to do much else than demos and introductions right now. We're putting a lot more planning into the first few units. These are the "warm up days" of school, it seems. Especially since we are doing 6 classes a day right now, and starting Monday we will be doing 3 2-hour blocks a day instead. Things will change a LOT then.

Things have been very difficult. I memorized all the students names today, and I think that earned me some street cred. Okay, maybe not STREET CRED, but some type of cred. Does classroom cred exist? Doubtful....anyway, I can feel myself exponentially becoming more of a permanent fixture in the classroom. Students still call me "Miss", but that seems to be the default title for a woman whose name you can't remember. Especially if you are a Spanish speaker. They tend to use Miss instead of Mrs., which is fine with me because it's accurate. I told a kid the other day that I was 36 and his eyes got HUGE. Kids are gullible. Don't worry, I told him that I wasn't, but I still didn't tell him my age. They don't need to know that I'm only ~5 years older than some of them. Later. :)

I've been able to do a little Spanish work in the classroom, translating a few words (siblings = hermanas y hermanos) and catching people saying naughty words (sometimes it's just the WAY they say it, I don't know the word, but when I look at them and pretend I understand, they get sheepish...ha!). One student wrote on a survey we gave them that he wishes one of his teachers would just ONCE speak Spanish in class. I can feel the anxiety already (about speaking Spanish in front of a native speaker), but then I remember that he can barely speak English. Maybe we can trade lessons, who knows?

I've already caught myself focusing in on the typical people that I focus on: the very intrinsically motivated students and the ones that people seem to have given up on. I gravitate towards the extremes. It's something I have to be very mindful of, since there are students who exist in the middle ground who shouldn't be forgotten either!

All in all, this has been stressful, exhausting, awkward, and sometimes a little nerve-wracking. I've found myself really questioning my ability and my drive, etc. etc. However, I also met with my science methods professor and several grad students that work with him, and they really gave me hope that everyone goes through this stage of "HOLY S*%&, WHAT DID I GET MYSELF INTO?"....So I think I'll ride it out and wait for the successes to pick me up and give me that certainty back that this is something I truly believe in.

I already love the kids, even the mean ones...and especially the scared ones!


Sunday, September 6, 2009

....On Being Proud of Yourself (Myself)

I am currently sitting in Zoka, a coffee shop near my house, working on a few scholarship applications. I am going into the last 6 months of my program, but there is never a better time for help paying the bills, right? I really should be working on these, but I can't stop thinking about something.

Lately, I've been really down on myself, my goals, my life, my accomplishments, etc. I've been thinking things like, "I haven't done anything" and so on. I'm only 23, but I haven't been able to shake the thought that so many of my friends are doing such COOL things, like living in Spain or moving to Boulder for graduate school instead of sticking around Seattle. I haven't been able to really think highly of myself lately, and it's been worrying me because I HAVE TO GET IN FRONT OF SIX CLASSES OF HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS ON WEDNESDAY. Needless to say, some confidence would really help.

As I sit here typing essays about why I'm going to be a qualified teacher, how I'm going to change the world, and why I'm worth thousands of scholarship dollars, I'm beginning to remember exactly why I decided to pursue this profession. It's funny, but I think the best advice I've ever gotten might be from Zoi, my multicultural education professor. She told me, "You know, it might sound silly, but you absolutely have to revisit WHY you want to teach at least every few weeks. You have to remind yourself why the pain and the difficulties are worth it. Otherwise, you won't know why they are, and you won't be able to DO it." So, I guess I'm reminding myself of all the COOL things I've done in the past that led me to this place. It's easy to forget them when they're just words on paper, but when I have to think through them and remind myself of their significance, I remember.

I remember people like Chariti, a girl I worked with on applying to colleges, who eventually started college in a small town in South Carolina 2 hours from my summer internship. I got to move her into her first college dorm, and it was such an incredible honor! I remember schools like T.T. Minor Elementary, which is closed now due to budget issues, that were filled with people (kids and adults) who were completely different from me. I learned more at that school about public education than anywhere else. I remember a time this summer, when I had an incredibly difficult time working with a small group. I felt I could barely held my tears in through a series of disciplinary actions, but managed to retain composure until the students had left. I cried because I was frustrated, because I felt inadequate, and because I knew these students were lashing out at me for much deeper reasons than boredom. That was one of those times that I had to remind myself why I was doing this "teaching thing".

As I sit here and reflect on why I'm here, applying for scholarships to finish a program that can be tedious and painful at times, I feel empowered to drive through the hard times that I'm sure are ahead. The next six months will be excruciating, but they will also be rewarding beyond my wildest dreams, and that is what I will remember when I think back on them. So, thanks for your support, ahead of time, because I'm sure I'll need it......and, back to writing essays!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

LID and DID, and more acronyms...

Yesterday, I started the big "PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT" week (called DID and LID, acronyms) at school. It was insane. We started out in small schools, but then eventually got to a educational service area meeting, with all of my high school's feeder schools. Basically, all the elementary and middle schools in the area. It was a bit overwhelming, since we weren't provided places to sit, nametags, or dignity, like the "real" teachers. Oh, well.

I left yesterday feeling overwhelmed and discouraged about the school I was at, but I'm not going to dwell on that because today was SO MUCH BETTER!

Today we met as a small school, and spent the morning discussing logistics of the school year. We also analyzed data from last year as a group. This included WASL scores and MAP test scores. This school has had some incredible boosts in WASL scores in areas like science, reading, and math, likely due to the SIP (School Improvement Plan) they implemented last year surrounding increasing literacy....incredible! These are the "trouble" areas, so it was really exciting to watch people discover that the work they are doing is having awesome effects!

THEN, on top of that, I got a DESK today! Of my very own! It's an old wooden desk with three drawers, and is set up in the front of the room, just like a real teacher's desk. HA! I could barely contain my excitement in front of all the master teachers at my school today. I thought, "Don't let them see how excited you are! They'll think it's SO newbie of you!" Luckily I managed to not pee my pants in excitement....

Another exciting thing is that I am beginning to build a great relationship with my cooperating teacher (CT), and I have a really great feeling about being matched with her. She has been so supportive already (you should see the DESK she got me!), and I'm getting really little-kid-on-Christmas-Eve-excited for this entire roller coaster to leave the platform.

And I can't believe how many acronyms exist in the world of public education......OMG. :)

Monday, August 17, 2009

First Day of Summer Prep

Today, I met with my cooperating teacher (CT) for the first time at the school. It was a pretty incredible experience, even though it was mildly disorganized and hectic. We also got locked into the school at the end of the day, so that was exciting. Luckily, that resulted in my opportunity to meet with the principal, who is such a fantastic guy.

I learned a few things today about this school.

First of all, let me explain. My school is located in a part of unincorporated King County. In other words, no one wants to annex it. The main argument is that the crime rate would jump so much from the annexation that no nearby city is willing to take it on. However, it is also located in one of the most diverse parts of King County. You can be driving down a street and all of a sudden there are signs in Spanish everywhere. Then, all of a sudden, you are surrounded by Vietnamese, then back to English. It's really amazing. There are a lot of cultures that are well-represented here that aren't as much in other parts of Seattle (El Salvador, for example). It's really exciting!

The school is broken into three small school settings, each with their own set of administrators (including principals), teachers, and staff. They are all housed on the same campus, though. The small school that I will be a part of is focused on fine arts, and is therefore a bit more creative and liberal in terms of student rules. The lockers in the main building for my small school, for example, are painted by the students each year. There are lots of murals and other types of artistic expressions located around the small school buildings.

The two science classrooms are located in a "mixed" building, which is shared by two of the small schools. They are totally bizarre science classrooms, in terms of organization. I suppose it's just that they are small, but setting up the classroom is pretty tough.

That's what I did today with my CT. We decided on groups of 6, so there are seats for thirty students in the class. However, there aren't enough chairs for each spot, and on the first few days of school we will probably have about 33 students. So, that will be interesting! Each "desk" is a table that has space for two students. There are very few matching chairs in the classroom. I'm not sure if I will have a desk or not, as I don't have one yet and there might not be space for it anyway.

Lots of old science equipment, like old balances and crazy looking machines that are straight out of the 70s, not sure what they do. There are lots of beakers and stuff like that, though, so I am excited for chemistry.

Oh, yeah, did I not mention that yet? My CT is teaching 3 periods of Integrated Science (basically biology or life science) and 2 periods of Chemistry. So, not only do I get experience the subject in which my background is in, but I also will get experience in the other endorsement I have (Science, which encompasses chemistry, physics, and earth sciences). It's more or less a perfect experience. I'll also get to see what it's like to plan two different classes simultaneously, which is likely what I will get as a new teacher. At least two subjects. Some teachers get three.

So, anyway, on to what I learned today! I learned that in terms of the WASL, the school has improved drastically. I believe that scores are reported with all three small schools combined. The year before last, only 9% of students passed the science WASL. Last year, 24% passed. This is huge! Although 24% is still really small, that is OVER A 200% CLIMB in passing scores. My CT was beaming when she heard that, for the first time, as the principal let us out of the school (which we were locked into). I also looked through her grade book for last year, and saw one class period in which 8 people got a C or above, with the remaining 22 students getting a D or an F. Most of them failed. That was really hard to see, but as she said, it's the way it is. If you superimpose a graph showing attendance and one showing grades, you can see that the students who have 15-30 days of unexcused absence are the ones who also get F grades.

Needless to say, I am so psyched to work in this district, at this school, and with this teacher. The area intrigues me, the diversity excites me, and I think it's going to be a perfect fit. I think it will be really challenging, as well, and I welcome that with open arms. I am going to continue to keep my journal here, in blog form, so that those of you I invite to check it out can keep tabs on my journey to become a teacher. Since this is a public forum, I won't be using any names at all. So, my teacher will always be my CT, and I won't name the school. Some of you know where I am, etc., but I feel obligated to keep names unpublished out of respect for privacy.

I go back tomorrow to hang posters in the classroom and then talk curricula with the other science teacher in the small school and her intern, also someone from my program.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Learning to Teach

It struck me tonight that I am, indeed, learning how to teach. I'm told that I will never stop learning (as I am teaching), and that teaching is, in fact, the best way to learn. One of my classes is actually called "Teaching for Learning". It's all very confusing, but I suppose the point is to remind us that we are never solely teachers. We are also learners, and will always be. Perhaps that's the most important thing for us to teach our students: how to be open to learning.

Two weeks into this program, and I've already questioned what I'm doing here. It's amazing what change will do to a person's confidence. At the risk of sounding stupid, or pathetic....this program is hard work! I am pretty sure I could get by alright without fully engaging myself, but that's certainly not how I do things. The program is forcing me to challenge all the things about my teaching that I always red flagged as "something to work on": preparedness, pre-thinking, planning and re-planning. Last week, as I was in class listening to m professor talk about developing a lesson plan, I thought, "This is so much I really cut out for something that requires this much dedication and preparedness?"

Well, I've had a few days to really let that sink in, and I think the answer is, simply, "YES!" I have been motivated to teach this way by the students I have worked with in the past. As they drift a little further into my past, I think I'm letting myself the important lessons they taught me. Going into this profession is about me, because it's my career, and it's my passion....but it's also about the students who aren't getting the attention they deserve. It's also about the students who are given the impression that they can't do something because they don't know English well enough, or because their parents don't sit with them at the table at night doing homework. It's about the students who have it in them to do great things, but are afraid to because they might be laughed at. It's about them! That's where the passion really is, for me: helping those students see their talents and abilities for what they really are (glorious!), and then watching what they do with that.

So, here I am, on a Sunday night, working on lesson plans and getting distracted by my own, rediscovered......naive ideologies. But you know what? I like these ideologies, because they give me hope that I can change a dangerous path for someone. They empower me to be a quality teacher who is prepared and ready for the tough challenges. I'd rather be empowered, ready, and perhaps naive than disenfranchised, bored, and cynical.

I suppose I should continue getting my work done.....toodles!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I've been in my graduate program for almost two weeks now, and feel that it would be a good idea to chronicle the experience in some way. A lot of people have been asking me about what the program is like, how I feel about it, and all of those usual questions. I thought, "Maybe I should just write all of this down!" That way, I'll have a record of the changes I am going through, the feelings I am having, and all of the other life-changing events that might happen to me. Reflection is a powerful tool, and I don't use it enough. Right now, I am entering a new chapter of my life. A lot of things are changing, and I'm learning a lot about how to take more control over my emotions and my reactions to things. It's been a long time since I've had a journal or diary to look back on, but every time I have had one, it's been helpful, so I thought I would give it another whirl.

And hell, why not make it public? :)