Thursday, July 24, 2014

Teaching Whole

What a powerful morning I've had today.  I'm sitting here, eating lunch and reflecting on my dear friend Marcia Bond's presentation on "Teaching Whole".

Marcia is co-facilitating the Oakland Writing Project's Advanced Leadership Institute (#OWPSI14) along with Richard Koch and myself.  We are are a site of the National Writing Project in Oakland County, Michigan.  The OWP and NWP have made a profound impact on my teaching practice (and life).

Marcia's message is an important truth.  We need to live and teach along the border of the things that make us whole.  In today's society, too many times are we asked to pick a side.  In order to teach whole, we must be whole.  To me that means acknowledging and embracing everything that I am... Father, husband, brother, friend, teacher, etc. Only then can I truly be whole when working with my students.It's a scary thought at times.  It makes me vulnerable in front of my students, but is that any different than they feel in front of me?

Parker Palmer discusses this idea in his book "The Courage to Teach".  We reflected on Ch.3 - The Hidden Wholeness: Paradox in Teaching.  I highly recommend teachers read this book.  It will have you deeply reflecting on your practice.

Feel free to follow the "official" hashtag of the Oakland Writing Project's Summer Invitational at #OWPSI14.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Who's Your Cheerleader?

I have to apologize, mostly to myself, for the lack of posts.  4th term was a bit of a bear with 4 preps (2 I haven't had in years).  Now that summer has set in I've had some time to relax, recenter, and refocus.

This post is more of a question that I'm posing to you, the reader.  It's a way for me to wrap my brain around the thoughts I have regarding "self promotion". So here's the question:

Is it appropriate for a teacher to actively "self promote" themselves?

Here's the reasoning behind the question.  I received an email from a student last week thanking me for a letter of recommendation I wrote on his behalf.  At the end of the letter he added the following:
"I also wanted to thank you for all the help that you have given me throughout my high school career. I think that you’re an amazing teacher who is deeply committed to the overall education of your students. I have greatly enjoyed your physics and astronomy and meteorology classes. The knowledge I have gained through your classes allows me to see the world in a different light. I am now much more aware of the physical processes which govern the world around me. It has truly been a pleasure to have you as a teacher."
Obviously this made my day.  I got a lump in my throat and tears started forming.  This is why we do it.  To know we've helped make a difference in a student's life.  This is what keeps us going.

We don't get these types of thanks from students very often. We may get them from parents from time to time and sometimes these are shared with our administrators.

So I pose the question again...

Is it appropriate for a teacher to actively "self promote" themselves?

Would it be appropriate for me to share this email with my administrator? I'm so proud of receiving this email yet I struggle with being seen as boasting or bragging if I do share it.  At no other time in my teaching career have I felt as though I need to be a cheerleader for public education, let alone myself.

What do you think?  Please share any thoughts below.  I value and appreciate your comments.



Saturday, April 19, 2014

Common Core Social Studies?

I had to laugh when I was surfing the internet and came across this article Common Core Scrubs ‘Liberty’ as a Founding Principle complaining about Common Core Social Studies. First of all, I'm a science teacher, not a social studies teacher.  As far as I knew there wasn't an organization/group pursuing new national social studies curriculum.  Here in Michigan we're still waiting to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards and that's already political enough.  I chat with the social studies department chair often enough and he hasn't mentioned any national curriculum in the works.

After a quick view of the article's site I went to check out these New York Common Core Social Studies curriculum framework. What I was happy to see was that the state of New York included references to the Common Core State Standards for Reading and Writing in Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects (pg59-66).  These standards are quite familiar to me.  I've been doing some presentations/conferences on these in regards to science literacy.  I'm no expert on social studies but I do applaud the creators for recognizing that students need to be able to read, think, analyze, critique, write and speak about the content, not just regurgitate.

I guess the authors of the article above don't want students to be able to do any of the following:

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
·         Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
·         Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning and the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.

Research to Build and Present Knowledge
·         Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
·         Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

 Comprehension and Collaboration
·         Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
·         Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.

The authors probably realize if the students of New York can do these things (along with the other CCSS Reading and Writing Standards) they won’t be visiting their website!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Welcome to My Blog

Well it's been a few weeks....  A few weeks since I created this blog site to be exact.  I recently returned from the MACUL 2014 conference in Grand Rapids, MI ready to join the "Twitterverse", create a blog, and share my thoughts, feelings, and maybe even emotions on all things education.

Starting to use Twitter as part of my PLN goals was quick and easy.  I didn't realize that people I've never even met could make an impact on my professional thinking. 

During a Twitter chat at #mschat a side conversation took place about blogging.  Another teacher was having the same dilemma as me.  She too created a blog recently but hadn't posted anything to it.  She feared, as did I, that nobody would read it.  We encouraged each other and promised to read each others  blogs.  Another teacher following our conversation commented on how she recently started blogging and that it was the best decision ever.

A few brief statements from strangers, passionate about education, was all it took to give me the encouragement to start.  If nobody reads it.  That's ok.  If you do please feel free to share your thoughts.

The encouragement I felt was very powerful. It gave me the confidence to feel as though I could do it. I will try to be conscious of this when working with my students to give them that same feeling.

A special shout out to @CherylTeaches, @GloffMona, and @dubiouseducator for getting me to start....  Now shutting me up?   That's another story...