Thursday, August 21, 2008

Journey to Success

I’m been back at work for a few days, and it’s been fun setting up my new classroom and planning how I will use technology this year. I’m particularly excited because I have an intern (student teacher) who is very enthusiastic and full of ideas. Her name is Lindsay Jeter, and I’m really looking forward to working with her. It’s been years since I had a student teacher, but the last one I had was wonderful. We worked as a team, and it was as if our students had two teachers instead of one. I expect that Lindsay and I will work just as well together. To me, student teachers who are enthusiastic and open-minded are like a breath of fresh air to a veteran teacher!

Today I am enjoying a leisurely morning before going to school. This evening we have Open House from 4 to 6 p.m. so I can report to work a little late. Part of me wants to rush off and get to school because I do have a lot to do, but the other part of me wants to linger over breakfast and do a little blogging first. I’m on out my deck which overlooks my backyard and the trees beyond, and I love hearing the birds chirping to start the day. Enjoying a leisurely breakfast on the deck will be a thing of the past next week, so I want to enjoy it today!

My thoughts this morning are on meeting my new students tonight. I’m so glad we have Open House a few days before school because I do enjoy meeting my kids before the big day and seeing their excitement. Our students probably don’t realize that teachers can be just as nervous about meeting their new students as they are about meeting us! I try very hard to keep myself in a state of ignorance about my students until I meet them in person. I don’t want to talk to other teachers about them, and I definitely don’t want to look into their cumulative records for more information. I know that teachers are often encouraged to look in those files before the children arrive, but I just can’t make myself do it. My feeling is that if there’s something really serious in that file, I will probably already know about the child or someone (social worker or guidance counselor) will let me know. Other than that, I just want to remain ignorant so I can form my own impressions. I don’t want to know in advance that a certain child has learning disabilities or another child is “gifted.” I just want to see my students as individuals and let them become who they were meant to be, without labels of any kind. Yes, I know that I will eventually have to learn the labels attached to their names, but by that time I will already know them personally and the labels won’t mean much.

I also try to remind myself that if I do end up with a child who has a reputation for being “difficult,” it doesn’t mean that they will be difficult in my classroom. Often those children have a quirky sense of humor or a keen intelligence that’s masked by poor social skills or undesirable behaviors. I’ve learned that if I can find the little spark that makes each child so special, any difficult behaviors disappear or become more manageable. Perhaps I will be the teacher who helps put this “difficult” child on the road to success. In fact, that’s our school theme this year – Journey to Success! I guess we need to be the travel agents who find the right journey to success for each of our students!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Time for Technology?

I love new technology, but I have to admit that I’m beginning to feel a little overwhelmed by the rate at which things are changing! I just don’t feel that I have time to explore all the new resources available to me, but I’m realizing that I need to find time to check things out. Our students are certainly jumping into Web 2.0 technology, and I’m intrigued by the possibilities that these applications open up for me and my students. So this is going to be the “year of technology” for me! One of my goals is to raise money for a Smartboard and learn to integrate it into my teaching. Another is to figure out the whole social networking scene. I’ve created a Facebook page, I’m on, and I’ve started this blog. Now what?! Maybe you can help! How can I find time to explore all the new technology and still teach kids? What's important to learn, and what's just interesting? Please share your thoughts with me by adding a comment to this blog post.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Let the Adventure Begin!

Last year my husband and I bought two kayaks, and we love paddling the Lumber River here in North Carolina. It’s a peaceful, quiet river, and within moments of starting each trip, it’s as if we have left civilization behind. The section of the river we paddle is narrow and winding, full of twists and turns, and we never know what we might find around the next bend.

One thing I love about kayaking is the way I can think through things as I paddle along quietly. I’m away from my computer and all of the hectic activity that fills my life at home, and my mind just drifts quietly from thought to thought. With school starting in just a few weeks, the end of summer vacation is on my mind. I do love summer with its freedom and time to relax, but I’m also looking forward to a new school year. I can’t imagine being anything else but a teacher!

As a paddled along, I reflected that each school year is like another trip down the Lumber River. It’s the same river, yet it’s always different. Sometimes the water is so high that it rises over its banks, and other days it’s so low that we have to navigate around stumps and trees, frequently getting out to drag our kayaks over obstacles. Teaching is like that for me, and I would go crazy if I had a job where every day was the same. One reason I love teaching is that each day is different, and I can never predict exactly what is going to happen next. In the same way that I can get ready for a river trip, I can plan and prepare for teaching, but I have to meet each obstacle as I encounter it, using my creativity to overcome problems. Sometimes I have to paddle furiously to battle against the current, and other times I can just drift along, enjoying the ride. No matter what, each day in the classroom is an adventure! Let the adventure begin!