Saturday, April 9, 2011 found me, our school principal, and three of our students in San Angelo at the annual TCEA Robotics competition. There, our team competed along with over 100 teams from across the state. The challenge this year was great, and half the teams struggled with the same aspect of it….it all came down to one tuna can.
I am here to tell you now that our kids were awesome. I have never been so proud of them! Did they win a trophy? No. Were we all disappointed? Yes. But I was, more than anything, proud and excited and awed by them. In a society that seems to emphasize winning over anything else, it is easy to get caught up in a competition. Yesterday, as I watched our three students struggling to overcome their challenges, I found myself more and more amazed by them.
For those of you who have noticed the absence of my articles, I can only say that I, like Alice, had fallen down the rabbit hole. That is where the similarity ends, however, as I never saw a grinning cat or a white rabbit with a pocket watch. No, no….my rabbit hole was of an educational kind. And, boy, it’s a doozy!
I have been working to bring more lessons to my students involving technology. This has involved a great deal of research and work on my part. These things, on top of my own studies for my PhD, family time, robotics meetings, and regular duties at work have kept me…well….hopping. I am not complaining, mind you, merely explaining.
February eased into March with sunny days and cool nights. Spring is obvious in the bits of green I see popping up in the yard and the birds returning to the trees.
Spring is also obvious in the hallways and classrooms of our schools. Boys notice the girls, who giggle in groups as they try to seem older than their years. I see the pent up energy of my students bursting to come out – sometimes in strange ways.
Me: Ok, let’s get our novels out.
Me: (startled) What was that?
Students in room: laughing
1st student: Sorry, miss. I don’t know what happened.
See what I mean? It was as if he had been holding in that yell all day and it finally erupted in my classroom. Taking them outside has a similar effect.
I have made no secret about how I feel about technology. I love technology. Using it in the classroom, while it can be occasionally frustrating if the technology is not cooperating, is usually quite rewarding. So allow me a moment to brag on my students.
Over this past six weeks we have been working on persuasion. We looked at the different types of persuasive techniques, we found it in writing and in ads, and wrote persuasive papers. The topic of their papers was to persuade me that their favorite place was, in fact, the BEST place and that I should want to be there, too. Once the steps in the writing process were complete, they typed their papers and saved them to a special folder. Now their papers are on a tiny little flash drive. Much easier to carry. As a final project, they are now creating ads using the computers and various programs online and in the software on the computers themselves.
All across town parents and children are anxiously watching the weather to see if it will actually snow. For those who live in the north, it is hard to comprehend the excitement felt by many of us who breathlessly anticipate the opportunity to wake to a world of soft white flakes floating down and covering the ground. In fact, I found myself amused at a reminder given to me by my youngest son at the unpredictability of Texas weather.
Son: Is it going to snow?
Me: Well, the weatherman is saying it may snow.
Son: But it isn’t Easter yet.
Yes, the famous Easter snow from a few years back has remained a vivid memory in the minds of my children. Also this incident provides proof positive (if it were needed) that our Texas weather, while never quiet, is always unpredictable.
Working in education is full of all sorts of moments. There are moments of stress, moments of celebration, and moments of laughter. Today I want to talk about the magical moments that take place in a classroom.
Lately there have been several magical moments in my class. One such event was a couple of weeks ago. I was introducing persuasive techniques by showing them various ads. I had taken the ads I found and put them into a program to use with my interactive whiteboard. As I clicked through each ad and we discussed it, I was amused to hear from the back of the room an awed voice….
Student: Wow…how did you do that?
Happy New Year to you all! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season, and are ready to face the New Year with open arms! My children are a little sensitive right now, due to their own educational experience over the holiday. As I mentioned previously, teachers have a hard time just doing nothing during a break. Oh, don’t misunderstand – we can do nothing for a day or two – but then we find things to do that we don’t have time for when school is in session!
At my house, with the addition of new toys, I felt the need to get rid of the old. I spent a day roaming through the house carrying a box of trash bags on a search and destroy mission. The first target: my sons’ room. They collect junk. Treasures to them, I know, but….still…an old candy wrapper? A pencil that is only half an inch long? My youngest son tried to defend his toys:
Son: But I still like that.
Me: It’s broken.
Ahh…nothing like winter in Texas. Eighty degrees on the first official day of winter. Bet it turns cold quickly soon enough! So here we are, gleefully enjoying our two weeks’ break for the Christmas holiday and I thought I’d take this opportunity to dispel a couple of myths folks may have about educators and the holiday.
Myth number one: Teachers are off two weeks. Well, technically this one is true. However, all the teachers I know simply cannot leave work alone for long. For example, I have already begun planning lessons for the first couple of weeks of the second semester. I am researching ideas and trying to figure out the best way to begin when we return.
Yes, it is Christmas time again. My classroom has been decorated and lights strung all over the place. As my homeroom slowly became the most decorated, lit up classroom so did my status rise as being the teacher with the “cool” homeroom. Students began asking to move to my homeroom. I laughed, allowed myself a moment of “warm fuzzy” feeling, and then was brought shatteringly back to earth when the darlings followed up with, “but I really like my homeroom teacher now”. Sigh. Kids are so fickle in their attentions.
Kids say the funniest things – sometimes not intending to – and that makes it all the funnier. They are so sweet, and sixth graders are trying so hard to grow up too quickly. One teacher shared this story with me, as they were studying vocabulary:
Teacher: Ok, who knows what ‘linen’ is?