Some days it’s all worth it…

I don't mean to be self-aggrandizing here, but I need to share a comment that gives me hope.  A student who has not yet earned an A average in my class, nor counts English as his favorite subject, wrote this in his writing portfolio reflective letter:

But that’s one thing that made your class great, it was honestly about learning. Not finished X amount of work to give us the accreditation. I loved going into your class and sitting down to learn. Never once did I say “awww man I gotta go English now?!? Darn.” Not once. I wasn’t too often overly excited but I did enjoy sitting down in a comfy chair and preparing myself for some great learning, what a year.

 I've been teaching for nearly 30 years, but after trying to shift my classroom to a more student-centered approach this year, I have a renewed sense of optimism.
Reaching out to a community of learners through Twitter, blogs, skype, and the PLP allowed me to bring new ideas and experiences to my students; I tried to "be less me and more them" to quote Gary Stager. Oh, it wasn't always successful, and I had many days I wish I could do again. I'm sure some of my other students would share less positive reactions to class.

But tonight I am focusing on this one comment, "it was honestly about the learning."
It's going to keep me going.

Another year, another job

And I was so looking forward to focusing on being the instructional tech coordinator again next yearSocial-networking (though I love Matt Scully's new title–what was that Matt? Coordinator of Innovation and Creativity?)

Anyway, the bottom line is I am being moved from ninth-grade English to eighth-grade English (to fill an opening), which may not sound like a big change, but it is. And it's the fourth job change in four years!

New lesson plans, different assessments, and NO laptops in the classroom. After working for a year in our 1:1 program, going back will be difficult.
But I have a plan.

  • I am going to take out a loan and buy some netbooks. Yep. Three or four or five to keep in the room so we can blog, wikify, and chat, as well as research, read, write, share, and collaborate online. The school has some laptops, but I don't want to share w/ @caphohanka :)
  • What I've learned about effective teaching will be even easier at the middle school level. I"m ready to collaborate with @mrmayo, @pwoessner, and others to build a program of independent learners and thinkers.
  • No tech coordination. This year I tried to do both, and there were days it felt like three jobs, when I consider how much time we spent on with the PLP (all worth it, but still time). Few people understand how much behind the scenes work it takes to build a network, help others build a network, find collaborative projects, and simply share readings and links. I am going to try to take the year off and focus on MY teaching. I"m not worried since I have a great tribe over in the Upper School in @jclarkevans, @dgarcia @snobles, and @kblashford, who will carry on and scale what they have learned across the division.

I'll be reaching out to you middle school folks to link up and inspire me. We can do great things together. I remember reading this quote years ago when I was teaching middle school, and it still frames my work:

"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood,
divide the work, and give orders. Teach them to yearn for the sea."
– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Reflections on a PLP year…

DSC_0039 1. I love learning in this connected, collaborative world.
2. Our students benefit from having a real-world audience for their work.
3. Building a professional learning network takes time that I must make.
4. Many times and in many ways, my PLN crosses over into my PFN (personal friend network), and I am richer for it.
5. The new digital divide is between those who understand and can move in this connected, sharing environment and those who can't.
6. My favorite moments in the classroom are when students leap out of their comfort zones, take the class in a direction I had not imagined, and use tools in clever and innovative ways that push their thinking and learning.
7.We have some incredibly hard-working and passionate teachers at Fredericksburg Academy.
8. We have some incredibly hard-working and passionate students at Fredericksburg Academy.
9.  It may take our students longer to realize the value in learning this way than some of us.
10. All this TIME has been SO worth it (see #3)


DSC_0043 DSC_0034  DSC_0037