Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Meeting with the Past

Today I went to lunch with some "old" colleagues.  We have all retired from public education and moved onto other things.  All of our lives are different and our views are varied.  At one point it did get a little tense when one end of the table made a political remark and the other end countered, but wise heads prevailed and we moved to other topics.

One thing I noticed and relished is the laughter.  We laughed a lot.  We laughed about past days at school, past colleagues, past experiences, and the passing of time.  We weren't all the best of friends or colleagues but we were and I think still are caring, intelligent women.  No one tried to better another with a story about a trip, a grandchild, etc.  To me this was a change to some lunches we have had in the past.  There have been times I have thought that people were trying to strut their stuff.   Today was different.  We seemed wiser and happier.

I am left thinking I was privileged to know and to have worked with these individuals.  I look forward to another opportunity to laugh and enjoy their company.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Writing Lesson Objectives

The title is boring...and the subject is hard for college students to grasp.  I have found a basic formula that I ask the students in a low level course to use.  It is four parts...I give them a handout, an example, a color coded model, practice, etc., etc, etc. and it is still tricky.

Today the students are working together in groups to plan a lesson presentation with the books they wrote for the class.  When they present, it will be a time to shine and share and learn and yes, I ask them to write a measurable instructional objective.  And the four parts are condition, perform, product, criteria.

I am borrowing a book shared with us during the month of March from Linda.  She shared Lemonade and Other Found Poems.  Today for the class's warm up I will share two examples from the book and then three of my own.  Here is the one with the four parts needed for a measurable instructional objective.

Condition            Perform               Product                                Criteria
                 To do
                         Form to fit                                                                                                                                                                 
                C = Prop
                P = Action
                P = Noun
                C = Rate

                                No tear  ----- No  pout ----- No fear

Can do

Then they will try the task...we will share...they will process and work together.  Hopefully this will make the task easier plus they will have a great tool to use with their future students.  (Thank you, Linda!)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Being to Keep Up!

I am going to add writing to my being.  When thinking about starting to "slice" on Tuesdays,  I thought I would  "add writing to my habits" and then STOPPED.  Is habit a negative term?  It can be, but it can also be positive.  But I thought is it a habit I want to add?

And so I thought of some traits I might have that are habits.

When teaching there are times that I will say, "We kinda need to do this."  I know when I hear that come out of my mouth, I am announcing something that many students will not want to do or may have trouble understanding.   And so I struggle with giving the task and so I say "kinda".  College students just want to know  what to do, when it is due, and what I expect.  This frustrates me and so...I will say "kinda" when I know or think I will meet resistance.  But as soon as I hear it come out of my mouth, I know I am sending the wrong message (there truly is no "kinda" about it).  I am working hard to break this habit...because I feel it is a "bad" habit.  I shouldn't care if they resist it or if it challenges them (I should HOPE to always challenge them). (To be honest, when I catch myself saying it, I will stop and say "This is an example of bad teaching." and then explain why).

When I go outside and run, something I try to do daily, I feel that I have a "good" habit.  So when deciding to write each Tuesday  I first thought this is a "good" habit I am starting.

But when thinking of something as a habit, I want the writing habit to be something more...and so I decided it will be part of my being.

And so cheers to me for being a writer and part of a community of writers!  

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Writing --- a Joyful Experience

I have taught for thirty eight years.  I have writings from my students that date back to 1976.  Why did I keep them?  It is simple those pieces were pieces of the children I worked with, encouraged, and yes, loved.

I shared my writing with my students.  I found it easy to read what I wrote...but if I posted it --- I felt shy and nervous.  Each year, of course, I wrote a welcome letter...doesn't everybody?  But at the end of the year, I wrote them a letter sharing what I hope they received and what I received from them.

Now I am teaching future teachers!  I find that to be a rewarding, challenging, and weighty responsibility.  I wish each student that earns his or her degree and certification will teach well and in caring ways. So at the end of each semester, I write them a letter.  I stand up in front of the class and read it out loud and then hand each one a copy that includes a personal note.  This is what I say:

It is the end of the semester and ahead of you is a well deserved break from the educational grind.  It amazes me how quickly time has flown.  Looking back on this semester and the course, Writing in Education, it seems that we accomplished a great deal.   To be honest, there is a lot more I would like to share with you about writing.  Each of you has an opinion about your personal writing; and I hope that from this class you feel better about your own writing and more committed to helping your students become confident writers.  Each of you will be someone who will impact your students’ feelings about their written expression.  Please encourage, support, and prod them to do their best!!!  Developing individuals who feel at ease with sharing their thoughts in writing is a goal I feel each educator should have.

During my teaching career at the end of the school year, I would write a letter to my students letting them know what I hoped they had gained from being in my classroom.  This letter is my way of sharing what I hope you have gained from this class. I realize the reason you took this class was to work on your portfolio, and I wish you continued success in your endeavor.  I trust that the task of completing a professional portfolio seems attainable even though the work has truly just begun.  I would urge you to review and work on it often.  To me that wasn’t the most important aspect of the class.  Being confident and willing to share your ideas in writing is imperative and I hope each of you has grown in these areas.  I also shared ideas that I hope you can develop and use one day with your class.  It would be wonderful if you have gained a desire to make writing important to your students.  That would make a positive impact on your students.         

I hope, though more than anything, that I expressed to each of you what an important task that you have ahead of you.  You will teach… a career that is of utmost importance.  Enjoy it!!  Motivate your students to inquire and explore the world around them.  Please encourage their writing skills so they can learn more about themselves and that they are able to communicate effectively their ideas to others. 

I love teaching!!  I hope you will too.  Remember work hard, be consistent, laugh often, and embrace the energy of the children you will meet.    

And so I end day 31 of slicing...

Dear Slicers,

Thank you Stacey and Ruth and all fellow slicers for allowing me to share my thoughts and ideas through writing.  I am a better person and teacher for participating in this opportunity.   Thank  you all for the inspiration and desire to write!  Something I have "preached" for thirty-eight years and celebrated in others but didn't always do (except all that writing that was required).  This has been writing for me! 

This isn't goodbye though...I will continue slicing on Tuesdays.  

Friday, March 30, 2012

March...it is marching.

This month has marched by.
Is it because I have been slicing?
Is it because there have been two family members with birthdays?
Is it because they are getting older and then so am I?
Is it because my youngest son got a job with benefits and so his wings are spreading?
Is it because I had spring break?
Is it because my work LOAD has gotten to be really heavy?
Is it because the March work is spilling over to April?
Is it because the weather is beautiful?
Is it because my allergies are acting up?
Is it because of our St. Patrick's Day celebration?
Is it because I have tried to spend as much time as I can with my grandkids (only when invited though)?
Is it because KU is in the Final Four and I love basketball and soon it will be over for another season?
Is it because my husband and I have been running and walking every chance we can get?
I don't know but I can say...
This month has marched by...and it is good to have met some slicers along the way!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Book and A Signature

A textbook...a textbook that my grandmother used in 1899 (copyright 1889 - a year after her birth).  I remember as a small child looking at the cover and running my fingers over the rivers and the mountains that were indented and raised on the map.

This had been my grandmother's book in 6th grade.  I would look at the pictures and read the text inside.  On. pages 86 and 87 at the top of the pages she wrote in pencil "Hurrah! for McKinley.  Bryan is an old cabbage head."   I would always laugh at the term "cabbage head" and be amazed that she thought about politics because as my grandmother, I never saw her as having an interest in politics.  She always seemed interested in me!   I would imagine her as a sixth grader and wonder would we have been friends.

And then I would look at the front cover page and notice her beautiful signature and my attempt to write like she did.   And then I smile once more...because when I look at that signature I remember that my grandmother was the sixth of six children.  She was given the name Avo without a middle name.  She told me that she felt her name was too short and so added Mildred for length.

And I smile again because children of a certain age (12 or so) need to exert their independence and this is a glimpse of my grandmother's individuality that I loved.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Rock

This rock sits in my house as part of the decor.  Strange maybe to those visiting but then I have found that the items in our house are memories.  To be honest when looking at the books this rock rests on memories come back to me.  The two top books are from family members and the one on the bottom is one I bought when I first began teaching.

But back to the rock.  It was found on a beach in Wales on the Irish Sea.  My son and I were traveling with his soccer team.  We were spending two weeks in Wales and England as he had played soccer.  On the day we found this rock, we were on the beach.  We were with two other soccer players and their parents and the boys were having so much fun.  Running into the cold water, chasing each other, and of course, burying each other in the sand.  Their energy was boundless.   When hunger finally set in and we were ready to go, my son brought me this rock.  It was very dark from the moisture it held and cold.  We both agreed it was a find that we must take home.  To be honest, I loved it more than he did.  When we got home I took it to school and set it on the edge of my desk.  My students loved it.  I had several that would go and touch it, rub it and comment and it.

When sharing Mem Fox's Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge with my students, I always used that as an example of "something precious" to me.  When I retired and began teaching in college, the rock always makes a visit when I share Fox's book.  The lesson is similar...we must share our stories...but now I want my college students to know that to teach writing well you must write and share along with the students.  To me if  teachers ask students to write they must be willing to write and share their stories.   This seems scary to them....why share their stories?  Aren't they suppose to "just' teach?  And I remind them to teach well, you must practice what you teach.

And so my rock that was found on the beach of the Irish Sea lives on to tell its tale through my eyes.  (I feel a little guilty maybe I should have left it their for others).