Thursday, January 27, 2011

Homework for my Reading class...

Ok friends, here are the pieces of the instructions for my assignment this week:
Create a blog posting containing the following items: 1) a minimum of 4 of your favorite ways that you learned that middle school/high content area teachers are using blogs with their students, 2) one way you might use blogs with your students, and why, and 3) how you would know if this way of blogging was effective with your students.

Here are some cool "teacher" blogs out there: On this blog, the teacher, Mr. Brovont, uses the blog to inform his students. He doesn't post as regularly as other bloggers might, but it does seem to be a tool that his students can use to engage in the classroom more consistently and regularly. I am completely impressed with this blog! Mr. Chaple uses this blog to keep his students in the loop! He also uses this to create articles for his students about topics that they need to be aware of. So, Miss Baker is definitely very into the blogging world! Her blog is very complex with lots of different sections and I'm pretty sure it would take me hours to get through everything on her blog! So, Mr. Gonzalez uses his blog to keep his students tuned in and has gotten some very real attention for it! They're presenting at their local school board meeting about all the fun things their science class has been doing. I think this is a pretty interesting way of using blogs in the classroom.

One way that I have considered using blogs with my students would be to use it to share with them different "fun" things that are happening outside of their own bubble in the world of their neighborhood and school. I have wanted them to see that there are fun things happening in the world of science and so much more to life than just their school, their neighborhood, their family, even this city! However, I worry that they might not be open to the idea of participating on the blog or might not even be into it. I don't know if blogging is something that they're capable of in a way that would make this an accessible project. I think that doing this in this way would be a way for them to learn more about the world around them.
I think one way that I know blogging would be effective with my students would be that they would begin to ask questions of interest and engagement in what was happening in the world around me. In the long term, I think that I would know that this would really be an effective teaching tool because over time I would see students reaching for new things and engaging in new areas of the country or new areas of the world.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My homework today

So, I'm in a class this semester called SPED 7000 which is basically "Introduction to the Exceptional Learner". Ie, all students who have any kind of disability, physical, mental, emotional, etc.

Our assignment for today was:
How much experience do you have with individuals with disabilities?

What is your comfort level with people who have disabilities?

This was my answer:
While working in the hospital I frequently found myself dealing with the care of people who had any number of disabilities; for some they were physical or mental and there were others with emotional disabilities, and some who had more than one. These people all taught me valuble lessons about the rights that they have not only as patients, but also as individuals. Many times, there would be children in the pediatrics department, who had not yet been firmly diagnosed with a problem and while the nursing staff may know that there is a problem, it was these cases that required the most patience.

As I continued working with these children, I became more comfortable with them and with their parents. At first I felt slightly intimidated by the experience and the interactions that were required of me. However, I found that if I didn't know how to use a certain assistive device or what the patients were capable of, it worked out best, if I just simply asked them or their parents how best to help.

As an educator, I no longer have any feelings of being intimidated by their assistive devices or their diagnoses. My new intimidation comes in finding ways to be sure that I have educated students for whom, learning is a challenge. It is harder for me to feel as though I have been competent in my job as an educator and made sure that I have shared the pertinent information the best way possible so that I can give ALL of my students the education they deserve. Further, in the classes where I do have students with learning challenges or disabilities, I find I am more frustrated (and MUCH less patient) with the students who are "behavioral issues" or who have diagnosed behavioral disabilities. It's learning to balance these fears and issues that I am finding most challenging.


It really sucks when you're teaching somewhere and you feel abandoned like a ship at sea... Not having a good week and being pregnant does not help!

The kids don't help. Most of them time I feel like they barely listen to me and they don't understand how much better their lives could be if they just took an interest in getting their education.

Such a disappointing state of affairs.

It really leaves me feeling not motivated, uninspired and well, tired.

I wish there was someway to be filled with the energy and enthusiasm I had at the beginning of the school year. It's as though coming to school everyday slowly sucks the energy away from me and I'm left feeling like I'm in a constant battle to teach these kids stuff that they don't care about and won't even bring their notes the next day.

It sucks seeing so many girls pregnant who don't give a crap about their future and have no interest in having a better one. The guys aren't much better. They seem to think that acting out or lounging in their seats is the right way to go.

And then I get lectured on my professionalism?!? I work my butt off everyday to try and motivate the students to do what they need to do. However, they don't seem to care or want to be motivated. I don't know what else to do...It all just feels like I'm trying to push a boulder the size of Texas straight up a mountain without any help or slightest appreciation for the efforts. I feel like I'm suffocating in the battle.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Studying fossils

Right now we're on fossils.

I found this really cool video, or so I thought on dinosaurs and this one has a video of a dinosaur that had been mummified by nature! How cool!?!? And they did a CT Scan and lots of other things to actually get a true picture of what the dinosaur actually looked like.

Clearly, I was into into in fact that I was watching the whole thing. Of course I shushed the class several times at the beginning. Well, a minute ago I noticed it was "really" quite in the room....and now I know why!

Who knew that an exciting video of discovering what dinosaurs actually looked like and discovering a missing genetic link to T-Rex was so boring!??

Elections, Councils and Ambassadors...Oh my!

So, in recent school news I was asked by my principal to be our TEI Ambassador for our school. I have to admit that like many teachers in the MCS system I have been very concerned with what exactly TEI is and what it means. For a while now there has been a feeling of the unknown and I think many teachers are worried about what a new evaluation system could mean for their jobs and their work. Many educators in MCS are incredible, educated and wonderful teachers. Some need a little help with becoming more competent with integrating technology, others many need help with peer-to-peer communication, but there are some very bright stars in our midst. From what most of us can understand about the TEI (Teacher Effectiveness Initiative) the goal is to help find the weaknesses of teachers in each of the 6 Domains of Evaluation and in turn be able to develop a true action plan for each teacher that will help make them more effective and successful at what they do.

Unfortunately, of late, Memphis City Schools has been having a very public arguement with Shelby County Schools about disolving the MCS charter, the possibility of consolidation and SCS getting a "special schools" disctrict charter. Overall, the biggest problem that teachers and the general public are having with this, is unanswered questions. Many of the questions, it seems, can not be answered effectively because the correct, current answer is, "we don't know." Obviously, no politician is going to say, "I don't know." even if it is the actual answer. It is a frustrating place to be.

For teachers, there are some pros and cons to consolidation:
Pro: Shelby County requires smaller class sizes for their classrooms
Pro: On average Shelby County spends about $0.50 more per student
Con: Several teachers in MCS are worried that they might not meet the standards of the SCS
Con: Consolidation may also mean reorganizing zoning, busing and attendance AGAIN

As you can see there is no simple solution and these 4 points are just surface things, there are many bigger issues at play.

In the latest personal professional news, I found out yesterday that I am a newly elected member of the M-PACE Council. The M-PACE council is the political action council of the MEA (Memphis Education Association). It handles interviews of candidates, recommendations for candidates based on education issues, certain issue campaigns and activies. This is supposed to be a "great leadership" opportunity, however, I have not done enough soul searching or pondering to decided if this is something I really want to do. Not to mention, I don't really know what all of this means or how I got the nomination in the first place.

On a happy note, I have had 2 very successful evaluations and have found, to my delightful surprise, that administration at my school really like having me on staff! YEAH!!!
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