Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Summer Reflection

     A personal theme I’ve chosen for myself this summer is “reflection”.  This is something new for me, this idea of choosing a theme to focus on for the summer. But after all the turmoil in education over the past year and a half, it felt like something I just needed to do in order to reenergize and get ready to jump back in this fall.

     It was in this mindset that I answered a call from a colleague this afternoon.  We chatted about our summer so far, things we’d been doing, and then she asked me if I’d heard any news from school.  I live about forty-five minutes from where we teach so I rarely run into anyone I know from school.  Usually, summers leave me feeling pretty isolated and out of sorts, like I stepped in a different world.  Then, by the end of summer, I’ve adapted so well to being home, it’s hard to switch gears and head back to school.  But this summer has been diffident.  Instead of feeling stressed and lonely when my friend asked me abut school, I felt energized and excited to talk education, even though I had not heard from anyone from school in almost a month.  What’s different?  I made the jump into Twitter this summer.  Actually I closed my eyes, leapt in with both feet, and haven’t looked back since.

     Now to be honest, this leap wasn’t entirely my idea.  Our district is having teachers take an online class this summer and one of the modules deals with creating your PLN through Twitter.  The course required us to create a Twitter account and pick some people to follow for a few weeks.  At first, it was frustrating.  I didn’t know whom to follow and couldn’t understand the value of it.  Why would I want to know where someone in California was eating lunch?  Then I discovered Twitter Chats, and nothing has been the same since.

     It was through joining in the chats that I was able to find and connect with so many interesting educators from all over the world (including Australia!).  I’ve chatted about student blogging, free technology resources, global classrooms, and more.  And then there are the resources, why didn’t anyone ever tell me about all this great stuff available for FREE?  My favorite so far has got to be the free webinars I’ve found.  They are only a half hour long and offer so many great ideas.  Many seminars have been interactive and the audience is able to ask questions throughout the presentation.  So yes, I am spending time this summer doing professional development, but it’s on topics I’m interested in and I can do it from home in my pajamas!

    Needless to say, I do not feel isolated this summer.  I’m excited about all I’m learning and the wonderful people I’ve been meeting.  I’m afraid my enthusiasm may have frightened my colleague, but I was able to send her links to some resources that I think she find very helpful.  And who knows, she hasn’t reached the Twitter module of the course yet, she may yet convert.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Power of Words

Wow.  Besides tugging at my heart this little video left its mark on me.  How many of us truly understand how words can affect people?  So often in our classrooms we try to help students understand the power of their words both written and spoken.  This video so simply and clearly illustrates just that.  Think of what could be accomplished in the world if everyone understood the power of his or her words.  We can use our words to change the world.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Book People Unite!

I just discovered this video posted on the "National Writing Project Daily" http://paper.li/dogtrax/nwp.  I think it would be neat to share with students and parents.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Professional Development

         Ahh…summer, time to kick back, enjoy the sun, lay around by a pool and just generally do nothing.  Teachers have it made right?  Wrong!  Since becoming a teacher, actually even before that – since beginning this journey in education, I have spent every single summer immersed in education, taking classes, first to become a teacher, then to complete my master’s degree, next my reading teacher's license, and now as professional development to continue my quest to improve.  This summer I’m taking three courses; two are through St. Thomas University.  One of the courses is about poverty and how it affects students and their education.  The second course is on RTI and developing personalized learning plans for students.  I’m currently working on the RTI class.  It was scary at first (a personalized learning plan for each and very student?  Yikes!), but as I’m getting more into the course I’m realizing that I’m already doing many of the things that are recommend for tier one and tier two interventions.  Breathing a little easier now…
The other course I’m taking is also on personalized learning but with more of a technology twist to it.  This is an online course my school district is requiring all teachers to complete over the summer.  It’s only four modules and is mostly an introduction to the importance of “being connected”. It emphasizes how we can use technology to help our students become connected, incorporate personalized learning, and become connected educators.  Currently I am working on the second module, which deals with PLN (personal learning networks).  I’ve been a member of Englishcompanion.ning for over a year and love the friendships and knowledge I’ve gained.  I also “tweet” but so far it’s mainly been with family and friends, to stay in touch.
            What I’m wondering….. 
What PLNs do you belong to?  How have they helped you?
Do you tweet?  Who do you follow/recommend?

Monday, July 9, 2012


      What does it mean to be a teacher?  For those of you already in the profession you know it’s so much more than a job.  It’s more than a career.  It’s a way of life.  And this may sound a little corny, but I actually feel it’s a calling.  You don’t just wake up one day and decide to become a teacher.  It’s something that grows within you.  You can feel it in your bones.  At least that’s how it is for me.  In my twenties I never dreamed I’d be a teacher one day. Then after having children of my own, I knew it was what I was destined to become.  So began my journey into education, a journey that has become as much a part of my life as everyday activities like going to the grocery store or visiting friends.
It’s hard to explain to someone who’s never been a teacher what this life is like.  Teachers don’t just go home in the evenings and forget about their “job”.  We don’t have our summers off so we can “play” and “forget about school” for three months.  Wherever we go, what ever we do, we always carry our students with us.   We’re always looking, learning, and thinking, “How can I use this in my classroom?  Won’t my students be excited to learn about this?”  It’s not something we can “shut off” and to be honest, we don’t want to, it’s become a part of us.
For all these reasons and more, I’ve decided to start this blog.  Maybe I just need a place to ramble about how I feel, muse about new ideas I’d like to try, reflect on my experiences, whatever.  It’s a place where I can share my ideas/thoughts and welcome responses from others.