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Posts Tagged ‘30 Goals’

“If we teach today like we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.”

John Dewey

“True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.”

by Socrates

Challenges are good for us, even if we don’t always want to admit it.  For this reason I am thankful for the 30 Goals Challenge. I am thankful for the goals, ideas, and reflections that have all been a part of this. If I am to take this experience seriously, then I can’t ignore this challenge, a global communications challenge, one that I haven’t actively attacked as a World Language teacher. Sounds like a given, huh? It’s not as easy as it seems.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that one of my duties as a World Language teacher is to show my students a glimpse into the world outside their immediate community, outside of their direct sphere of experience. That knowledge will hopefully help them understand other peoples and perhaps themselves a bit more.

Making that actual connection, however, with the global community is a big step. It’s finding the connection, finding a means with which to communicate from both ends, dealing with time differences, school district red tape, etc. There’s a lot to do, lot of hurdles that I haven’t even tried to jump. So, when posed with the challenge of actual global communication my response is: but, umm…

So, once again, I would like to thank Shelly Terrell and the 30 Goals Challenge for posing this to us.  It’s not just that the challenge brings to the forefront something that I have been shoving to the bottom of the pile. It’s that the challenge also provides us with examples and resource ideas to start from.  My first step: start exploring these resources. My end goal: providing my students the opportunity to communicate with someone across the globe.

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“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

Plato

Today’s 30 Goals goal is “Leave it Behind.  Make a list of ways you can leave your stress behind and not carry it with you into the classroom. To take this a step further, try one of these stress relievers today and share the experience with us.”

I read today’s goal and laughed to myself. This is something that those around me have been after me to better work on for so long!  For 15 years I was a single-parent and worked full-time. To be everything that my child needed, my students needed, my building needed, and that life demanded was more a heavy burden that I was struggling to carry than part of a journey.  Over the last couple of years, I’ve taken a closer look at that journey and made some gradual changes. Let me emphasize that these are gradual changes and that the journey continues…

  • Family. When it comes down to it family lasts longer than our students, our curriculum, our administration, our buildings. They are our foundation. Give them a hug before you leave for work every day and tell them how much you love them. My new husband keeps me in check with this every day. J
  • Prayer or meditation. Open you heart and mind at the beginning of each day to set your focus and remind you of what’s really important.
  • Walk. Walk to relieve the stress, lower the blood pressure, get your blood flowing and stimulate your brain activity.
  • Reflect. Reflect on your day – your day with your students, your class successes and failures, your choices, your direction.
  • Collaborate and Refuel.  Find your PLN! If not at your school or even your District, try online. There are so many out there and I am thankful for all those that all me to lurk, participate, or both.  See this link for information on Personal Learning Networks.

I am not perfect at implementing all of these as regularly as I should or you may even think, but I have seen the positive effects that they all bring: positive for my students, my health, me career, and my family. I’m still on the journey and wish to thank all those that have helped me!

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“Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.”

by Albert Einstein

I think I could end my blog post there.  Einstein says a great deal about grading without ever knowing it would be taken as a discussion point for us.  Our challenge today in  30 Goals 2011 is “to assess one assignment or project … in a way that doesn’t add a numerical value but has the student seek value in the progress made, the learning achieved, or the work put into it.”  I watched the video (click on the link), read the challenge, and walked away from the computer for most of the rest of the day.

My thoughts and emotions are mixed regarding this challenge.  One side of me laughs at the challenge: how am I going to get my students to even try something if there is no grade to put in the grade book.  Therein lies the problem. Our society has placed such a high value on “the grade,”  the GPA, and the class rank, State testing, ACT, SAT, AP and so much more that learning for the sake of learning and the pride that comes from within is lost. The real loser is the student.

Back to my initial moment of laughter: how am I going to get my students to try something that doesn’t have a numerical value attached to it?  First, I’d like to train them in appreciating “the process” of learning. I want them to see that there is learning in each step of what we do.  My first step began today.  One group of students are finishing a project this week.  I’ve spent time with them setting up their foundational skills, presenting examples, modeling the information, making the theme authentic (in theme and product), presenting the project, and giving the project purpose. Their final leg of the assignment has 2 steps: they are to post their Glogs on edmodo with a comment/abstract plus respond to other posts (with guidelines provided), and complete a google docs evaluation.  The edmodo post allows them to boast about their product and provide positive feedback to others.  It’s an affirming experience.  The google docs evaluation is designed to illicit information about their experience all the way through.  It’s a self-evaluation about their successes, failures, needs, and wants from this project and for future ones.  In the end, my goal is to provide the students opportunities to show value in themselves and others; and, to be able to talk about their experience as something that is valued as much as the end product.

I tried to apply the challenge to something immediately, so it wouldn’t be just a topic to blog about, but one to put into action immediately. I want to find the value in the process just as much as I want my students to do.  I may not fully accomplish this goal for some time, but I’ll be working on it as the challenge continues.  The numbers aren’t going to go away for some time, but there’s still room for value in the process of learning.


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“You cannot force commitment, what you can do…You nudge a little here, inspire a little there, and provide a role model.  Your primary influence is the environment you create.”

by Peter Senge, suggested by John Evans

And so it begins… What? The 30-Day Challenge. It’s a personal challenge with an end goal of better engaging us with our students. The link to the challenge, should you choose to be curious is : Teacher Boot Camp – 30 Goals 2011 .  Those participating will use various media to reflect and support each other with and through various goals. Today’s goal:  Be a Beam.

Shelly Terrell, the foundation for this challenge, describes a beam as a strong, hidden structure that offers support.  She tells us that every day we have the opportunity to approach students as a support or as a wall.  What do we choose? What do I choose?

It’s my hope that I choose every day to be a support to my students. Some days are likely more successful than others.  Do I, however, extend that to my colleagues as well?  It’s easy to do that with the various social media that I participate (twitter, Facebook), because one can choose like-minded professionals to follow/friend.  Colleagues aren’t always those people.  I am hesitant to even say that, because comments have already been misinterpreted and misrepresented from my own Facebook page and spread through areas of my building.  (Really, my FB page is not all that exciting or dramatic – someone, for some reason just found it so.)

With that said, my goal today (and the next 30 days) will be to become that unseen beam for those people with whom I work.  Keep reading, I’ll post at the end of the challenge what I’ve tried.  Will I notice any difference in my colleagues?  It doesn’t matter. I hope I’ll be setting the foundation for better, improved collaboration and collegiality.

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