This blog is a place to ruminate on the problems of teaching. If I am thinking thoughtfully, my posts will hopefully raise more questions than answers. By problematizing teaching we reflect on those questions that are constantly behind, in front, and at center of everything we do in the classroom. Feel free to comment. I'd love to hear what other teachers are thinking about on these and other issues.
Tomorrow at noon I will be officially on summer vacation. To say that I am excited to be on break would be an understatement. (See here for an end-of-year reflection where I try to come to terms with my feelings surrounding this very challenging school year.) At the same time, the end of the school year is always bittersweet. There is the mental and physical exhaustion that comes with having spent an average of 180 days of the year with students and adults in a very closed environment that often breeds the worst and the best in all of us. Then, there is the anticipation of renewal as we look forward to the summer months full of days without having to be regulated by an alarm clock. Yet, the truth is that many of us may still get up at the crack of dawn to attend to graduate work, personal and/or professional writing, or just to steal a few minutes of peace before everyone else in the house wakes up; this is not much different from what happens in my house during the school year.
I'm trying very hard to finish this year on a positive note. I don't want to leave for the summer feeling sour and negative. However, when at every turn it feels as if doors get closed faster than they're opened, it's not easy.
Teaching shouldn't be so hard. Teachers should be supported in their work and administrators need to be the ones to do that. I am feeling disheartened despite repeated attempts to brave the storms. I have even considered quitting my present job in order to gain some perspective on my professional and personal life.
But something is holding me back.
Is it pride in my past accomplishments? Possibly, but it's not the determining factor. Is it that I don't want to let down my ESL students, most of whom will be with me next year? Very likely. Is it the thought that this year has been an anomaly and the hope that next year has to be better and so let's give it another shot? Possibly.
What is certain is that I will be doing a lot of sou…
I think I have begun to understand the power of Twitter.
First, a little history. I've had a twitter account for several years now and, although I would occasionally tweet or retweet a post, I rarely engaged in much conversation. I was always worried that my tweets weren't witty enough or correctly written, not to mention that it took some effort to parse them down to 140 characters. I was never quite sure what hashtag to use or who I was supposed to mention in my tweet - the contemporary version of a faux pas.
I have only participated in a tweet chat once and, even then, I couldn't stay the full hour. But, those 30 minutes that I was online, reading and posting, were amazing. So, while I have yet to make twitter chats a regular part of my repertoire, it is coming. I have connected several times with other educators via direct message and although it felt good to reach out, it didn't generate lasting connections or enhanced learning opportunities.
Last week, however p…
after having spent six years living in Calgary, Alberta.
Image from: http://bit.ly/19cIuyP
Those six years in Calgary were wonderful; both my husband and I had amazing jobs and we made some good friends while we were there. I could write an entire blog post about the great things going on at the Calgary Board of Education and how that quickly changed about three years ago to look more and more like what's happening in the U.S.
The first year we were in Calgary, after having lived 10 years in Quito, were undeniably challenging and surprisingly so. There were so many adjustments to make - the weather, the culture, the educational system, just to name a few. Yet, we faced them all with such aplomb that at one point late into those six years I even considered just staying on for the long haul. However, family and friends here called out to us and we realized that we needed to return to our home base.
OK. I'm on a roll. I have been energized by thinking and writing about what's working and what isn't going so well with my ESL classes. I have enjoyed trying out new routines and activities with my students. I've written about some of my ruminations and attempts to improve learning for my students here and here.
Today I want to share about an old but new-to-my-students activity: collaborative story writing.
My instructions were simple: start a story and pass your paper to the person on your right so they can continue it. We talked about making sure that there was a beginning, middle and end, and that the middle involved the problem and the solution. We talked about setting and characters and that ample details make a story more interesting. We talked about the importance of each subsequent section fitting in with the previous sections. In other words, the story had to make sense. We talked about printing legibly so that their group members would be able to read their w…