Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Don't be hatin' on the marigolds, yo.

Summer is great!   It's the time I get to decompress, reflect with more intention, and work on expanding my awesome.   As my kids would say, I get my teacher thang on.    The other day I was mindlessly trolling around the Internetz (thank you, Coke Zero for keeping me up past my bed time) and I saw this feed in a group where the original poster was asking "What is it about teaching that makes you justifiably angry/mad?"    I didn't comment.   I took on the role of full fledged creeper, ya'll.  

I read the comments.   Here are a few of the answers I read.   Note:  These aren't MY ANSWERS.  

  • "Unsupportive administrative team."   
  • "Lack of empathy."   
  • "No time for professional development."   
  • "Too much time away from family."   
  • "Lack of resources."    
  • "Confrontational and/or intimidating authority figures."   
  • "Over-bearing parents."
I had to stop reading because it made me feel terrible!  

It dawned on me that I felt terrible because I couldn't relate to the comments I had read at all.   So I had to first attack this terrible feeling with humor.   Hence the meme above.   Yes, no name on papers drives me nuts... but not for the traditional reason you may be thinking.   It drives me crazy because when I read something a student wrote, I want to hear their voice as I'm reading it.   I want to put ME with them.   It helps me read with more clarity and purpose.   Anywhoo... I digress... back to that terrible feeling that Imodium doesn't cure....

I'm sure there are things out there that can rattle even the best of us.   I realized I could not relate to a good chunk of the comments made.   Reading the comments in turn (after some serious reflection) ended up being a blessing in disguise.    It made me realize how lucky I am to do what I do with the people I do it with.   We all have our moments.   We all have our bad days.   We all get frustrated from time to time.   But... wow... how blessed am I to know that if and when frustration/anger comes... I'm never alone.   I have love, guidance, and support from the wonderful people I work with. 

So... if you know me in real life... and we work together - thank you!
If you are a part of my Professional Learning Network - thank you!

If you are aimlessly wandering the Internetz and being a creeper like I was the other night... thanks to you, too!     

And also... ironically enough, the post I creeped on was deleted.    Scandalous!  


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Things that make me go "hmmmmm"

I am absolutely loving this book.    I find myself reading... highlighting... smiling... pausing for reflection.   Joy writes in such a way that really draws you in as a reader.   I'm about halfway through this book and I find myself literally saying, "YES!" and "AMEN!" or "WHOA!" as I read.

Joy talks about Shifting things... but doing it at your pace.  One thing at a time.   When I participated in this week's Twitter Chat I found myself reflecting about the literal classroom environment.   The literal tables and chairs.   The setup.

My classroom has no windows.    One thing I'm going to try to shift is the lighting in my classroom. I'd like to bring in more lights and attempt a more natural lighting look.    I'm also pondering moving my desk.   Not sure.    The struggle is that my desk is next to the phone and the only "hook up" to the projector.  

I've also been toying with the idea of creating a Maker Space.   I'm still reading up and researching that.    The point is, I want to make my classroom an even more desirable place to be.   I have a wonderful rapport with my students and I'd like to make the space provided as rewarding to them as possible.   Here are some shots of my classroom as it is now:

Saturday, July 8, 2017

What teens want...

This article is amazing!   Seriously, take a looksie!   It's a quick read, I swear!

What happens when YOU are bored?

How do YOU prevent boredom?  

I don't know about you, but I know I need to be intellectually stimulated at all times.   If I find myself bored, I start plotting ways to re-arrange furniture or other ridiculous tasks.  

#cyberPD Book Reflection

This is my second year participating in #cyberPD.   We vote on books and this year our book is:
Most of our discussion happens in a Google Community as opposed to Twitter or Voxer and will end with a Twitter chat with the author at the end of this month.    Below you will find a cut and paste of my thoughts (sometimes rants) of chapters one through six.

Chapters 1-6 reflection

I first need to say that I teach high school special education, specifically, reading/language arts in the resource room. I'm not sure how I feel about this book. While I appreciate some of the things being said in this book, and there are things I agree with, I don't feel this book has been written with a special education teacher in mind. This feeling could change as I've just gotten to chapter seven and there's more to read.

In chapter one, our author says that "Reading is also highly complex because it involves a slew of cognitive, linguistic, and sociocultural processes that all must somehow work together, often simultaneously in order for words and texts to have meaning." (Vinton, 4)

This is something I absolutely can agree with. However, Vinton goes on to say (page 5) ... "And we teach them that the main idea is often found in the first or last sentence, or can somehow be magically cobbled by stringing keywords together." 

Absolutely NOT. Not in my case, at least. Even though my students are below grade level (some drastically behind) there are NO shortcuts. We dive in and we tackle each task. We start together and we move towards independence. 

I agree (page 10) that text detail + background knowledge/schema = inference. Of course. That makes sense. Background knowledge is something we struggle with in my classroom. Some students simply do not have it for one reason or another. In fact, that's an entirely different post.

My main take away from Chapter 2 is where on page 16 she talks about how third grade is the new middle school and middle school being the new high school. I'm seeing that front and center right now as a parent. My son is five. He will be starting kindergarten at the end of August. He will be in a half day kindergarten program and the only subject that is not on his schedule is a foreign language. He has summer reading homework even though he's not officially a "reader" yet. He has flash cards of sight words he must learn. He has a journal to keep. He also has a "reading map" to complete for a prize. Now, not to toot my own horn, but my kid is smart. He is. He knows all his letters and how to write them - big and small. He is supposed to know how to count to twenty, and he's up to 1,000. He can do it forwards and backward. He's presently interested in learning addition. He enjoys learning about anything and everything and can blow your mind in a conversation. However, there are going to be many kids who CAN'T and now I can see why kindergarten can be seen as intimidating. My fear is that while we want our students to love reading and to be able to tackle the tasks in front of them, I fear if we shove it at them it will then, in turn, result in a lack of interest or motivation. Does anyone read to just read anymore?

I don't have much to say regarding Chapter 3. I just graduated with my Master's Degree (focus in literacy) so this was not news to me at all. Chapter 4 was a pleasant surprise. I especially liked the section on STRESS. This section only solidifies my reflection (or rant) about kindergarten above. Just because our students may not have a mortgage or student loan payment, does not mean they aren't stressed. High school today is not like the high school we experienced. I believe that is something we can all agree on. 

Chapter 5 however, did get an "AMEN" from me when I read page 80 where Vinton wrote, "Giving students opportunities to wrestle with problems provides them with concrete examples of what monitoring comprehension can look, sound, and feel like, and it lets them experience how thrilling it can be to figure things out on their own, which can help them become lifelong learners." 

To this point, I say YES. Teaching in the resource room sometimes has some misconceptions. As a special education teacher, I do not baby or coddle my students. I do not do the work for them. I do not allow them to refuse to try. There is such joy when you are able to present a problem, tackle the problem, and see the sense of pride on your students face when they did it... on their own. Too often kids are used to finding some sort of a bailout. They might Google a math problem to get the answer, or "find a friend" to work on homework with. There are no words to how amazing it is to see your students make progress independently. Responding without judgment (chapter 6) and letting students be the teacher goes right along with this. 

I teach according to the need of my students. It has made all the difference. I have seen success time and time again. However, I can tell you one thing. This success would not have happened AT ALL without me first gaining the trust and respect of my students. If my students don't feel valued in a classroom, they're not going to be able to learn. 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Growth vs. Safety = Oil vs. Water?

The summer issue of Educational Leadership is completely FREE and digital right now.   This issue focused on change.   Change often starts off as scary.  It can be intimidating.   Sometimes, it can even be infuriating.

Can you think of times where you stayed put or took a step back?   What happened?
What happened when you chose to take a step forward?

One of my students last year used to say, "But did you die?" as a response to someone in conversation.   I sometimes chuckle to myself when I think about how I chose to continue with my Masters in the midst of a health crisis.   Did I die?   Nope!   Or even when I asked a question which I was pretty sure it would get me a snide remark back.  Did I die?   Nope!

The point is - when you allow fear to be your idol, you've got a problem.   Fear is a liar.   Trust yourself.

Book Review: Instant Relevance by Denis Sheeran

The power of the Internet.   I found out about this book one night while aimlessly scrolling through my feed and noticed there was a #MakeItReal Chat on Twitter.   I followed the Hashtag and before I knew it I learned that there was a book study coming up for this book and it would be on Voxer.   At the time, I knew nothing about Voxer.   However, the awesome part about networking with a bunch of educators is that they will in fact, educate you.  

I looked Instant Relevance up on Amazon and I wasn't sure if Denis Sheeran would be the author for me.  Would I feel engaged in a book written by a ::gasp:: math teacher?   I loved this book so much that I gave it a five star rating on GoodReads.   I wrote all over on the inside.   And I laughed out loud.  A lot!  

Denis got my attention in the very first chapter with this...

Teaching gets tricky.   Is it strictly professional?   Is it personal?    Where do you draw the line?   This could be an entirely different blog post.   I especially agree with Denis when he said, "...opening ourselves up to our students helps them share in our experience, resulting in lasting connections to the content and a sense of true relevance."   The fact of the matter is this, our students want to know about our lives.  Do we need to be careful about how much we share?  Absolutely!   But they want to know.

I could NOT stop laughing at the next page.    First of all, I went to Catholic School growing up.  Two spaces after a period was happening.   Even now, I still do it.  Bad girl, I know.  Even when I type with only one space after a period, it doesn't feel right or look right. See? Ew.  Ah... that's better!  2! (Sorry, Lisa... and all fans of APA)

After I posted my first blog a few hours ago, I sent the link out to some friends.  A friend of mine told me that she loved that I was blogging but disliked my two spaces after a period.   I sent her this image.  Thank you, Denis!

In all seriousness, this book was phenomenal.  It completely exceeded my expectations.  I enjoyed reading it.   I also enjoyed discussing it with my PLN via Voxer and Twitter.

Denis shows you how you can take your life and make it relevant in your classroom.  It can happen by shoveling snow.   It can happen by staring at your food.   It can even happen by sending bacon Valentines.   Treat yourself to this wonderful book!  I stepped out of my comfort zone and I have no regrets!

I look forward to reading your comments and Tweets!  (Twitter: leighanne_geib)

P.S. - This is my blog and I can put two spaces after a period if I want to.  

Story Time

Image via Google Images

How did THIS happen!?!
I truly believe that reflection is a MAJOR part of an educator's day.   Hopefully.   I've always been a reflective person.  I am blessed to say I've always had someone in my life that I could reflect with if need be.   This past year, I decided to FINALLY finish my Masters Degree.   Finally.  It was long overdue with many unexpected roadblocks.   

It took a great deal of reflection when it came time to choosing my research topic.   I made the deliberate decision of NOT using my students for my research.   I did not want them to feel any added pressure.    Our district was working on piloting a peer coaching initiative and I immediately felt inspired.   Long story short... my research question became:  How did peer coaching impact the teacher as a professional?

As I dove into the research I began finding a LOT (seriously... a lot) of information about teacher isolation.   The more I read, the more I became intrigued.   I learned about the Goodlad study of 1983 which basically said that teachers are normally separated from one another and little is done to encourage teachers to come together in their schools to discuss.  SAY WHAT!?!?  As I read on I learned that Goodlad had some very strong beliefs regarding reflective practice and teacher isolation. 

Goodlad also clarified that the isolation was not deliberate... it just happens.   Apparently, we teacher folk are busy people.  Who knew?!?   The more I dug into the research of Gusky, Kelleher, and even Bill Gates... I felt intrigued.    Meanwhile, on the homefront, some of my teacher friends were talking about "What they learned on Twitter."     *insert eye rolling emoji here*

Twitter?  Really?  Are we 12?
I must first state that while English is my native language, I am also fluent in sarcasm.

When I started hearing about Twitter, I was NOT sold.   First of all, it seemed overwhelming.   Secondly, I had a life.   Who had time to tweet?   Third, I'm a Polish girl from Philadelphia.  I have a lot to say and I can't be breaking that down to 140 characters.   

Finally, I had heard so much about it I decided to try it before I got all judgey-wudgey (no idea if that's a real term).   I had heard about something called #cyberPD and I jumped in.   Last summer I participated in my first #cyberPD event.   I bought the book, did the reading, and ended up starting my first PLN.  I learned and met some great folks along the way.   All from the comfort of wherever I happened to be.

As I was sitting in my Action Research course I knew I had to incorporate Twitter into my research somehow.    The research was crystal clear:
  • Learning needs to be personalized.   
  • Learning is intimate.   
  • Networking is important.   
  • Professional development is effective when it is embedded in your work.   

Professional development should be meaningful.   It should be personal.   I sarcastically searched "Personalized Professional Development" and soon fell in love.   I found a wonderful group of educators under the "PersonalizedPD" hashtag.   I geeked out when I discovered that there was a book to back it up.  
{Shoutout to Dave, Jason, Kenny and the #personalizedPD crew}

I found myself growing as an educator.  My paper started flowing (except when it came time for citations... APA and I aren't friends)...and as I ended the paper I needed to talk about future plans with my research.... hello, blog!

Because of Twitter, I was able to connect with some very cool people at an ECET2 conference.   Because of Twitter, I was able to meet educators from all over the country.   Because of Twitter I was introduced to a wide variety of professional development books, chats, materials and opportunities.   Because of Twitter (seriously, who knew!?!?), I have grown as an educator.   

Two years ago, if you told me that I could grow as a professional via Twitter (let alone Voxer), I would have thought you were drunk.   

So... here we are!   "Hi!"
So here it is.   My first ever professional blog post.   Please bookmark me, encourage me, give feedback... but most of all ... please enjoy!   Feel free to comment here or let me know what you read on... yup... you guessed it... Twitter.   (Twitter handle:  leighanne_geib)

I want to thank you for reading this.   Thank you to my PLN for helping me grow as an educator in the 21st century.