Posted in Reflective Writing Club

Reflection

Ryker Rear View
I couldn’t resist using this as my post photo given that Michelle used one much like it in hers. What’s special about this photo is that it is one of my own. The dog is my sweet Red Lab Ryker.

Through my experience with Edublogs’ EduBlogsClub, I got to know some very interesting and insightful educator-bloggers. One of my favorites was Michelle Pacansky-Brock. Now that the EduBlogsClub prompts are done, she has started The Reflective Writing Club as a professional development offering from @ONE (Online Network of Educators which is the result of a grant from the California Community Colleges. Michelle has done an impressive job of crafting the learning experience – from setting up a learning management system to reminder emails, she hasn’t missed a beat. So while I had intended on catching up on my remaining EduBlogsClub posts, Michelle’s group started and I figured I would stay on track with that instead of falling behind.

The Reflective Writing Club Prompt 1:

Identify a time in your past and think critically about differences between then and now. How have you changed? What do you know now that you wish you had known then about yourself, your profession, other people, technology, or life in general?

What jumps to mind immediately for me with this prompt is me from three years ago versus me now. In 2015, I felt that after 15 years in the classroom it was time for the next stage in my career as an educator. I had long desired to become an instructional coach. I had applied many times within my own district over the previous 5 years, only to be rejected every time. 2015 was different, I was finally accepted by my district as a teacher on assignment/instructional coach. I was thrilled…and scared. I had an amazing position at an amazing school and I was about to give it all away for the unknown.

Over the past three years, I have suffered a lot of professional disappointment since leaving the classroom. I am careful about writing too much about them as it has always been of the utmost importance to me to keep things positive on my blog while being as authentic as possible. I have become more cautious, critical and closed since leaving the classroom as a result of what I have experienced. So what would I have told my 2015 self? Get ready for a very bumpy ride. Learning and growing isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Don’t become cynical and don’t give into the sadness. Remain the optimist you are and know that there is always light after the dark. Everything happens for a reason, and it is up to you to make the most of life’s lessons.

Mountain Goat
Since Ryker kicked off this post, it was only fair he would close it. He has been a source of comfort on so many levels.
Posted in Reflections

You Learn Something New Every Day

Dr. King
Image Credit: John Hain on Pixabay

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. day…a national holiday in the United States. As an educator, I have taught countless 2nd – 5th graders about Dr. King. As I took in all the media coverage about this important holiday today, there was a part of the history behind this holiday that I had been completely unaware of – the significance of a song written by Stevie Wonder that I had never taken the time to truly process.

The only parts of this song I ever really heard was the chorus, and I thought this was just a more ‘modern’ way to sing Happy Birthday, as there are a variety of takes on this classic tune. But the parts of the song that aren’t the chorus are very significant:

You know it doesn’t make much sense
There ought to be a law against
Anyone who takes offense
At a day in your celebration
‘Cause we all know in our minds
That there ought to be a time
That we can set aside
To show just how much we love you
And I’m sure you would agree
It couldn’t fit more perfectly
Than to have a world party on the day you came to be

I just never understood
How a man who died for good
Could not have a day that would
Be set aside for his recognition
Because it should never be
Just because some cannot see
The dream as clear as he
That they should make it become an illusion
And we all know everything
That he stood for time will bring
For in peace our hearts will sing
Thanks to Martin Luther King

Why has there never been a holiday
Where peace is celebrated
All throughout the world
The time is overdue
For people like me and you
Who know the way to truth
Is love and unity to all God’s children
It should never be a great event
And the whole day should be spent
In full remembrance
Of those who lived and died for the oneness of all people
So let us all begin
We know that love can win
Let it out don’t hold it in
Sing it loud as you can

We know the key to unity all people
Is in the dream that you had so long ago (happy birthday)
That lives in all of the hearts of people (happy birthday)
That believe in unity (happy birthday)
We’ll make the dream become a reality (happy birthday)
I know we will (happy birthday)
Because our hearts tell us so (happy birthday)

I started my educational experience in the 80s, I am not ashamed to say that it was 1979 when I entered kindergarten. It seems odd to me that I attended school before the holiday in honor of Dr. King was official. It wasn’t until I was in the 6th grade that the holiday honoring Dr. King was officially observed. There is a great post about this bit of history written by Marcus Baram that has all the details, but it just amazes me how you really can learn something new every day, even about a subject like Dr. King and everything he stood for and his memory continues to stand for. Happy Birthday to you Dr. King!

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Posted in Edublogs

Digital Citizenship

digital citizenshipEduBlogsClub Prompt #28:

Prompt: Write a post about digital citizenship

  1. How do you teach students about being good digital citizens and appropriate behavior on the web?
  2. Have you had any specific experiences related to students, behavior, and the web?
  3. How do you think that digital citizenship is related to in person citizenship?
  4. What would you add to the list of digital citizenship elements and why?
  5. How have positive and/or negative experiences online influenced your digital citizenship values?

Digital citizenship has always been important to me as an educator. I recall very clearly the last year I was in the classroom (2015), that I promised myself I would make digital citizenship a priority despite the lack of significant technology in my classroom. My students deserved it. They needed online skills. What I mean by lack of significant technology is that my classroom of 30ish 4th graders had 4 desktop computers and we had computer lab time for only a fraction of the school year when state testing or district testing was not occurring.

Despite the lack of a 1:1 or a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiative, I was able to teach digital citizenship. A safe way to do this was the use of Edmodo. It was safe for me as an educator because it was a district approved site and designed for student use. I took computer lab time to teach my students the ins and outs of Edmodo and they were very excited to use it. Because of our limited tech situation during the school day I fully expected most of the true interactions to happen at home where students were free to use their own devices. And use their own devices they did! It amazed me how quickly some of my students became cyber-bullies. It was shocking really and a very teachable moment. I would monitor Edmodo anytime I had the chance to, which meant several times a day during the school day as well as during my own time. I would then deal with any troubling issues like cyber-bullying as well as praise students for their creative ways of using the online setting in a positive way and related to their studies. I would always take a bit of class time to highlight things on Edmodo I had observed, the good and the bad. Mind you, I was careful to avoid publicly shaming students who had succumbed to cyber-bullying, but I did not avoid talking openly about it. We had very healthy conversations in class about what was good online behavior and what was not. I think it helped students to better understand what was bullying behavior and what was productive online behavior. It also helped students connect online interactions to their educations and not strictly social places to goof off.

I have been an ISTE member for a long time and have even managed to attend a couple of ISTE conferences. I highly recommend membership for all 21st Century Educators. They have amazing standards for Administrators, Educators, and Students that truly and clearly outline what sorts of goals we should have in all of those roles in today’s educational landscape. It has been the ISTE standards for students that has guided my instruction and motivated me to be creative and not let my limited resources prevent the instruction of digital citizenship.

I have been fortunate to have had many incredibly positive experiences online. The various platforms that exist to broaden our horizons and truly make us all global citizens is astounding. I want my students to be able to partake in that digital and global community and not only benefit from it, but contribute to it. That is why I teach digital citizenship with every opportunity I get.

Since I no longer have my own classroom, I have one active and ongoing student, my son: a 7th grader at Connections Academy, a public online charter school. Digital citizenship is a daily occurrence for him as his entire school day is spent online. He attends live lessons daily, which look more like interactive webinars for those familiar with such things. He interacts with his friends online as well, largely via Skype and whichever online game they happen to be playing.

Choosing online school was a family decision and took some rearranging of our lives. First and foremost I did not feel he was benefiting from what I call a “traditional” schooling within my own school district. Others in the online schooling community call it “brick and mortar” schooling. Either way, my son was falling through the cracks and also had to deal with escalating bullying. To make matters worse, he was officially diagnosed with depression and anxiety. As an online learner myself (I completed my second Masters degree online and am currently working on my doctorate online), and someone passionate about online learning, I knew this was a viable option for my son’s education. I believe online learning has been successful for my son and my family thus far (we started this school year). It did require my mother moving back in with us (which she was going to do anyway) so that my son could have some supervision during the day while my husband and I are at work. However, I have never had his schooling be so transparent. I know exactly what he is working on and how to swiftly and easily reach his teachers. His current grades are only a click away and always up to date. My son is using technology all day long which is helping his digital citizenship skills tremendously and helping him work on the other standards that ISTE outlines for students.

I don’t believe the teachable moments I have with my son about digital citizenship are any different than I had with my students in the classroom. The only difference is perhaps I am a bit more direct with my son as the filter that teachers need to use with children that are not their own is not necessary when it comes to talking to my own child.

How do you teach digital citizenship to your students? How do you teach it to your children? Is it the same? Different?

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Posted in Edublogs

Celebrate and Reflect

celebrate and reflect#EduBlogsClub Prompt #40:

Prompt: Celebrate and Reflect

Some of the topics you might like to discuss this week include:

  • Goals: What are your blogging goals and how have these changed over the year?
  • Achievements: What are you proud of?
  • Benefits: What do you see as the benefits of blogging? Has it been worthwhile for meta-cognition? Relaxation? Building community? Gaining new insights?
  • The future: How would you like your blog to evolve?

While we won’t keep publishing weekly prompts, anyone is still welcome to respond to any of the previous prompts. We will still be monitoring comments so would love to hear from you and read your posts.

Happy New Year!

I have been spending the past several weeks thinking about how I wanted to use my website and getting back on track with the posts from the EduBlogsClub challenge that I have not completed. It seemed fitting to take the last post in the series and use it at the start of a new year. I am not one for resolutions, but I do enjoy reflecting on the the year and thinking about what went well and what could have been done better. I have to say I am going to miss the regular challenges, I did enjoy the prompts, but I guess this is sort of a training wheels moment…off they come! I will remain a follower of EduBlogs of course, I think they do great work and while I never got to use them with my own students, I would recommend them to any educator looking to blog with students or to start their own blog.

What are your blogging goals and how have these changed over the year?

My only blogging goal last year was to complete the EduBlogsClub challenge. While I did not complete all the posts in 2017, I will be completing all the posts as I move into 2018, so I won’t count that goal as a fail. 😉

What are you proud of?

I am proud that I made it through the majority of the EduBlogClub prompts! As of this post I was able to complete 29 out of 40 prompts. I am very pleased with that and I know the other 11 will be complete in the coming weeks. Once this post is live I will only have 10 more prompts to complete!

What do you see as the benefits of blogging? Has it been worthwhile for meta-cognition? Relaxation? Building community? Gaining new insights?

I think blogging is very beneficial. It has certainly been worthwhile for meta-cognition, relaxation, building community and gaining new insights. I highly recommend blogging to anyone…not just educators and their students. I have always been one inclined to journal, but I have never been consistent with it. Perhaps I needed an audience to engage with and to learn from.

How would you like your blog to evolve?

That is a great question, and one I have given a good deal of thought. I left the classroom in 2015 and for the ten years before that my blog had been a communication tool I used with my students and their families. Once I left the classroom, I was unsure what the purpose of my blog would be and it was dormant initially. I then realized that my leaving the classroom was an opportunity to give my blog a new purpose and that is when I began the EduBlogsClub challenge. I am very grateful to them for posting such interesting prompts and for allowing me to be a part of their blogging community. As I transition from educator to aspiring administrator, I will continue to blog about topics related to education and continue to build my virtual professional learning community.

Thank you for reading and I wish you a 2018 full of opportunities and growth.

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Posted in Edublogs

Guest Blogger

mouse-2575068_1920EduBlogsClub Prompt #27:

Prompt: Write a guest post on another blog, or find a guest blogger for yours!

Ask someone else to post for you this week on a topic of their choice. Or see if you can find another blog or website that will let you post there. If nothing else, consider writing on something like Medium.com this week, it can help you grow an audience 🙂

I knew the guest blogger prompt was coming (because I am behind and I have all the prompts queued up) and I still couldn’t bring myself to do it. So I got to reflecting on why that is and I came to the conclusion that I view my blog as a journal that only I write in, but lots of people can read if they so choose. I welcome comments and enjoy them, but that is where guests get to write on my blog if they want. I didn’t look for another blog to blog on because of the same thinking. The blogs of others, belong to them. Unless it is a group sort of blog, I think blogging on another teacher’s blog is not something I feel comfortable with.

So if I am not going to have a guest or be a guest, then that leaves me with the other suggestion in the post (thank you for those!), which is looking into Medium.

I have been aware of Medium, but I never really looked into it, mainly because I really don’t want to have to manage another log in for another website or create another account for a service I may not use. I know that sounds rather pessimistic of me, but that is not my intent. It is just a time thing. I only have so much time and signing up for a bunch of things is not the best use of it, when I know I am going to have a hard time staying on top of or even using all the things I sign up for. I have to be selective.

But for the sake of this prompt I did look into Medium. I spent some time looking at the work of other Medium users, specifically the “Noteworthy” writers. I really enjoy the way Medium is set up. I think what stands out to me is that it doesn’t look like a blog, it looks like a and feels like a writing community.

So without further ado, here is my first post on Medium.

If you are on Medium too and would like me to follow you, share your link with me in the comments below. 🙂

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Posted in Edublogs

World Teachers’ Day

38_World Teachers Day

#EduBlogsClub Prompt #38:

Prompt: Reflect on a teacher or the status of teachers

What thoughts come to mind when you think of World Teachers’ Day? Here are some ideas:

  • Share a story of a teacher who made an impact on you.
  • Tell us about your experience with higher education and the teaching staff you encountered.
  • Why did you become a teacher?
  • If you had total freedom and unlimited resources, how would you celebrate World Teachers’ Day at your workplace?

So much for blogging a few times a week to catch up! Life is funny like that. Regular blogging is important to me. The reflective practice of blogging is very therapeutic.

Today’s topic is so time sensitive it forced me to do my catch up posts out of order. It might even have caused me to do the remaining past posts in any order they appeal to me rather than their numerical order. What’s fun to remember is that I make the rules here on my blog, so catching up in numerical order or completely random order is up to me.

Today is World Teachers’ Day. I have to be honest and say that in my 17 years as an educator I don’t recall celebrating or acknowledging World Teachers’ Day. That’s not to say it doesn’t matter, it most certainly does, but now that I am out of the classroom I have a lot more time to reflect on my classroom days.

Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers

I felt very empowered when I was in the classroom. While I had the framework of my district to work within, I always felt I had some room to make decisions about how my students were taught and how I wanted to approach teaching them. I felt free to read and learn about new approaches and strategies. I felt free to collaborate with my colleagues to make my students’ academic experiences as powerful as possible. It had been my hope as a teacher on assignment that I would be able to work with teachers in accomplishing the same goal…enriching the learning experiences of their students.

On this year’s World Teachers’ Day I ask all those who have been teachers and are now in a position outside of the classroom, whatever that may be, do you feel free and empowered in your new role? Do you feel disconnected from the teacher you once were or do you feel you are even more empowered in your new role? Share with me in the comments below. 🙂

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Posted in Edublogs

Reflections

img_4855EduBlogsClub Prompt #26:

Prompt: Write a post reflecting on the last half year of blogging.

Here are some possible topics to help get you started:

  • Share your favorite posts that you’ve written and tell us what they mean to you.
  • Share your three favorite posts that others in the #edublogsclub have written and tell why you loved them.
  • What has been your biggest challenge during the last six months of blogging? Why?
  • What would you like to do differently over the next six months of blogging? Why?
  • What has been your proudest moment in blogging over the last six months? Why?
  • How do you feel that blogging about education has made you a better educator?

The prompt was originally posted in July of this year so I am still a bit behind, but I enjoy the opportunity to reflect.

Favorite posts? I enjoy writing all of them, so I can’t say I have a favorite really. Favorite posts from other EduBloggers? I am going to amend that one to be my favorite EduBloggers. I have followed the blogs of several of the other bloggers in the challenge. And while I enjoy reading all the posts, here are the EduBloggers that have not only stood out, but have continued to blog regularly:

Mandy Ellis, A Principal’s Decree
As an aspiring administrator, I really enjoy being able to read the blog of a blogging principal! While I know some principals do blog, they don’t with the frequency that teachers do. I enjoy reading Mandy’s perspective and seeing how she uses her blog as an administrator.

Alicia Abdul, Readers Be Advised
I really enjoy Alicia’s thoughtful and regular posts from her perspective and experiences as a librarian.

and my newest favorite read…

Kathleen Morris, Primary Tech
Kathleen may be the newest contributor to the EduBlogger account, but she is a wealth of information and a very nurturing support to EduBloggers. Her responses to my posts have really helped remind me how important engagement is. I tend to be a lurker when reading the posts of others (like on Mandy & Alicia’s blogs) and I really need to engage by leaving comments. Thanks for reminding me of the importance of that Kathleen! I even volunteered to be a mentor for the student EduBlogs challenge, I would love to have some student blogs to visit on the regular to leave comments on.

I am pretty sure I had signed up for the EduBlogsClub challenge before and not participated. I am so glad I did participate this year. I may have gotten VERY behind at some point, but I am enjoying the process of catching up. The prompts have me reflecting on my experiences and practices each time I write and that is so valuable.

While there aren’t many months left of this year’s challenge, I expect to finish it on time with the few other EduBloggers that have managed to go the distance. I plan on signing up for the EduBlogsClub challenge each time they offer it. I enjoy having the prompts and they way they get me to think about things. It has been very therapeutic!

Have you reflected on your own blogging? What did you realize? Share with me in the comments below. 🙂

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