Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Parent Teacher Conference is a learning experience for me

While staying late sitting in my classroom until its dark is not the way I want to spend a day, I do find Parent Teacher Conference Night a way for me to be a better teacher.
I love seeing the family dynamic. Kids can be so funny; they behave one way in the classroom and act completely different around their parents. Seeing how much the parent loves their child is also a reminder that the kid in my class is actually someone's child. They're young and out in the world without their parent next to them, and that is sometimes a scary thing. After I met with one father, I watched him tousle his son's head, say "Let's go, handsome" and my heart just melted. They're not just my students, they're someone's pride and joy. I need to keep that in mind more often.
Some of my students are the family translator. Many of my students have parents that don't speak English, and they translate for them. These kids are taking on an adult job in some ways, being the go-between for their parents and the outside world. There's even students who have an active role in the child care for their little brothers and sisters. They seem so grown up sometimes, when they’re not. I need to keep that in mind too.
I learn a lot about my students, but I also learn about me. I find out ways I could support my students better; what I'm doing or not doing in my classroom to help the learning. It's helpful to listen to the students from their point of view and the discussions they have at home about my class. I can always use some suggestions for improvement.
What is really great is when the parents thank me for the job I'm doing, and tell me how much my students love my class. I know it’s not about me; I teach technology and kids love it anyway, so I can’t take all the credit. It is nice to hear though that my students look forward to my class. Those are the times that make the late nights worth it.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Second First Year

I've mentioned the gym before on this blog, and how I go often. It's one of the things that I do that I'm most proud. I'm proud that I went that first year and lost all that weight (40 pounds) but actually, since I recently hit the two year anniversary, I'm more proud of myself now.
Sticking with something when you see results is one thing, but sticking with something that doesn’t show big results is another. I go to the gym now because I feel better than when I don’t. I'm not losing the weight I once did, but I'm keeping if off. The gym is now a part of my regular schedule. I never had to remind myself to eat or sleep, and now I don't have to remind myself to go workout. I just go without thinking about it.
I'm trying to remind my students that when they first learn something, it can be life changing, like learning how to write. It came with its own reward. But learning how to write well, and the mechanics of writing, isn't as glamorous but still very important. It's what you do the second year that really shows your character.
There are only two qualities that can guarantee success in anything you do: commitment and perseverance. That's what I know and desperately want my students to understand.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

How Blogger gives every student a voice.

I use Google Classroom in my technology lab almost all day, everyday. It's a great tool. I've personalized each class with a portrait of the kids. Here's some of my little knuckleheads.
I also use many other Google tools. After the students get their school gmail account, we go over how to create documents in drive and how to share them. The students then set up their blog in Blogger. That takes at least one class period since we have to set up each URL address individually so it works correctly.

Once they have a Blog address, I paste into a google sheet I've set up in the "About" tab in classroom site. Every student can access this spreadsheet, not just me. (I did lock the sheet, so they don't accidentally delete anyone).
This part is where real communication occurs. They're not just writing for me; their whole class is the audience now. Now their posts get a comment from me and from their peers. To make sure everyone gets comments, I ask each student to comment on the person listed above and below them on the roster. The next blog post might get commented on by the names two spots above and below. Eventually, everyone has read and commented on each blog. 
This method has worked really well for me. It's my way of helping my students develop their voice.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What am I going to work on this year.

I've got a lot of these skills covered, but certainly not all of them. I'm assuming we all could improve our skills. This post resonated with me, so I made it pretty to post it near my desk. When I glance at it, it reminds me of what I am working towards. For all the resources, go back to the original post in The Educational Technology and Mobile Learning website.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Not staying in your lane.

My students, like every adolescent, have their phones in their hands all day. They are in constant contact with their friends, and don't miss an opportunity to take pictures of themselves or their lunch. To the adults around them they may seem very tech-savvy, but the adults should know better. The kids certainly know how to use Instagram and Snapchat, but they don’t know how to insert a picture into a Word document without screwing up the whole page. They stay in their lane.
I thought I would someday be out of a job because the kids would just naturally learn everything before they got to me, but it’s still not happening. They get to sixth grade still not even knowing how to double space a paragraph or create a simple chart. These aren’t highbrow skills; these are tasks that they will need to know how to do. They will need to present their knowledge in ways to efficiently communicate their thoughts, and it’s my job to show them the best possible way.
What I teach rounds out their technology knowledge, heck, its most of their technology knowledge. My job is to take them out of their safe lane and teach them how to drive in all the lanes, even the fast ones. They will work at jobs that haven’t been invented yet, so I need to teach them skills for those jobs. I owe them my best efforts, and I need to teach skills that are creative and effective.
I take my responsibilities seriously and I’m honored to have this task.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

How do you stay motivated?

I am better off when I'm self-motivated. I don't need to tell other people about my goals, I hold myself accountable. But the minute I tell someone else about a plan, I will crawl over broken glass to fulfill my plan. I can disappoint myself, but I'd rather die than disappoint someone else.
I also love earning gold stars. I keep track when I go to the gym, so I can look at the calendar and see all the days I've kept my promise to myself.
It's taken me quite a few decades to realize that about myself, so I shouldn't waste that insight. I choose how serious I am about a goal. If I'm hopeful but not completely confident, it's best to keep it to myself. If I'm sure I will complete the goal, then I can shout it from the rooftops.
All of this goes back to my classroom, (doesn't it always?)
I want my students to be self-motivated. I want them to complete work for me, but I really want them to learn because they want to gain the knowledge. The best way I can get this to happen is to engage them in relevant, enjoyable tasks. I can show my enthusiasm for my subject, and demonstrate how the skills I’m teaching the class will benefit them.
I’m asking my students to reflect in their blogs on the lessons they’ve completed. I ask them to go home and teach the people there what they’ve learned today. I still need to do more. I need to light fires that they will themselves keep burning.
I take this as my challenge, and since I’ve made this goal public I am required to achieve it. Because I won’t stop until I do.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Here's my latest infographic

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