Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Keep Moving Forward

Posted: July 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

Hi all (four) of you! 

Things are alive and well in the world of moving forward, and, as I mentioned before, our school has gone 1:1 with iPads for the upcoming year. 

In order to document that journey, I will be spending more time at my new blog:

I’d love it if you would join me there. I will (hopefully) keep up this blog for things that I want to keep a bit more, well, anonymous (read: my students might not find)… but here we go!


Tonight I watched a TED talk that was recommended to me from my husband. It is Benjamin Zander talking about the love of classical music. There are so many parallels to be drawn between the belief in classical music and the belief in teaching and learning.

Watch it here:

Perhaps some of my favorite quotes here, as pertaining to teaching and believing every kid can love learning:

“It’s one of the characteristics of a leader, that he not doubt for one moment the capacity of the people he’s leading to realize whatever he’s dreaming.”

He breaks down where people’s thoughts are falling apart about classical music, he breaks down the meaning and the how and the why in the piece by Chopin.

“”This is about vision. This is about the long line… from B to E.”

“How would you walk, How would you talk, How would you be if you thought ‘Everyone loves classical music! They just haven’t found out about it yet!’?”

“A conductor’s power depends on his ability to make other people powerful… my job was to awaken possibility in other people.”

“You look at their eyes, and if they’re shining, you know you’re doing it.”

It is of us…

Posted: December 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

For it would seem – her case proved it – that we write, not with the fingers, but with the whole person. The nerve which controls the pen winds itself about every fiber of our being, threads the heart, pierces the liver.

~ Virginia Woolf

Writing quotes have often resonated with me and only recently have I realized that it’s not, in fact, because I’m somehow meant to be a writer (which I am definitely not meant to be). Instead, I think they resonate because teaching, like writing, is so much of who we are that it is part of our innate being… and what we put out into the world uncovers the soul, much like the masterpieces so many authors write.

Be your masterpiece.

No need to hurry. No need to sparkle.
No need to be anybody but oneself.

~ Virginia Woolf,
A Room of One’s Own

“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.” -Friedrich Nietzsche

A practice I first learned about in my Master’s of Education program, the Walk and Talk is a fantastic way to think things through and work things out. As adults in the Master’s program, we did it to process information, get to know each other and brainstorm. Whenever I have the chance, I like to do this with students for precisely the same purposes.

From Walk and Talk: The new meeting room, there are a number of health benefits that strengthen the case for the Walk and Talk. Some are:

  • “Walking stimulates oxygen flow around the body to increase your brain function so you can be more creative and it also increases your ability to solve problems faster.
  • Being on the move allows the mind flexibility because you are looking around as you walk. This stimulates the right side of the brain and the visual sense gives a greater sense of perspective to a situation being discussed.
  • Breathing is improved (standing and walking – rather than slumped in a chair!), which again improves brain function and increases energy.”

“Walking is good for solving problems – it’s like the feet are little psychiatrists.” -Pepper Giardino

Although the Walk and Talk is beneficial for all students, I have found it especially helpful for the students who might be the hardest to reach. It has worked for kids who are having a breakdown, kids who seem to be having behavioral problems in class, and kids who don’t have the skills to deal with their emotions. When there is a behavioral problem or just a kid who is having a hard time being their best, it is so fantastic to take a minute and go for a quick walk together. So many things get figured out, kids calm down, and perspective is found by both of us. We also have that moment to share. Walking is a shared experience and I think it helps build the bond between two people.

During the last week of school, I saw one of my colleagues walking up and down the hall with one of her (perhaps toughest) students. Later she said that during the first couple minutes, they just walked in silence. Shortly thereafter they had the opportunity to have a calm discussion. This is precisely what I’ve seen work as well!

The problem? When she came back to her class, the remainder of the class had gotten a bit out of hand. I wish there was a way to have the walk-and-talk without forcing others to give some of their prep time to watch the class. Perhaps it needs to be a change in culture so the class knows that it is important to be especially good during that time (just as they might if the teacher were standing outside the door talking to the student by the locker), but in a world where one can’t even legally leave the classroom to go to the bathroom without having someone watch the class, I have a feeling that just “trusting the kids to be good” won’t be the answer.

“Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow; Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead; Walk beside me, and just be my friend.” -Albert Camus

Does Superman exist?

Posted: May 24, 2010 in Uncategorized

“You can’t relate to a superhero, to a superman, but you can identify with a real man who in times of crisis draws forth some extraordinary quality from within himself and triumphs but only after a struggle. ”
Timothy Dalton 

So have you all heard about this new documentary that is coming soon to a theater near you? It’s called Waiting for “Superman”.

I look forward to seeing it. I also, however, fear the story that will be told. (Maybe it’s Michelle Rhee saying that our educational system is crap.)  I hope that it is not one-sided and more heavy on idealistic rhetoric than proven strategies that can extrapolate across all areas. Don’t get me wrong. I love idealistic rhetoric. It inspires me. But when it’s being used to create an “informed” public to work against the system instead of working together to improve it, I have a problem. I hope that won’t be the case.

I’m no superman. I do what I can, when I can, to make the educational process more meaningful for students; get more kids to buy-in, stay-in, and keep-it-in.  I have a lot of fun and really, really, enjoy why I get to go to school every day.  On good days, much of what we work through has recordable positive effects in students’ educational programs. We all do. We all struggle and succeed, struggle and succeed. I hope the struggles are honored as much as the successes.

The blue students

Posted: November 16, 2009 in Uncategorized

Catching up on my blogroll today, I read a post by dy/dan about “The Blue Students“. It reminded me, in part, of my classes normally, but definitely reminded me of last spring’s class. We were having a hard time, and I had to be on my game every second of the period… or I would lose them, or at least the most influential few.

I like the way of looking at this because I’m sure that class will not be the last class of the blues. It’s a good reminder that they keep you lean (much more than those who can/will learn via almost anything) and that we are not alone in this.

I especially like the note in the comments describing these students as “in fourth down, punt formation at all times”. These are the students that make teachers. The gray students can be taught by anyone. The blue students prove your  mettle.


Posted: November 9, 2009 in Uncategorized

Deutschland 2008 006

Tomorrow is the big day!

9. November 2009 is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall.

What a fantastic day, and what fantastic discussions to be had.

So I am feeling overwhelmed.

I know there are SO many things out there about the fall of the wall that I am sure that I am missing some of the very best ones. I have slogged through all of the fantastic content that Deutsche Welle has on the topic both in German and in English and have catalogued it for when I teach the upper level class next semester (and sifted for the things I can use in 85 minutes tomorrow), but I know there is soooo much more out there.

I love the story of the two animatronic robots/giants that went through Berlin to find each otherRiesen in Berlin… I would like to find more about them.

I would love to hear even more stories about that night. I would love to hear more Ostalgie stories. I would love to hear more stories of escape, more stories of the Tränenpalast, more stories of Alltag in der DDR.

But I’m too overwhelmed to even start looking… because with news stories coming and getting buried faster than I can blink an eye, I’m (illogically) afraid all of it will only be available tomorrow and never again.

Do you have anything wonderful you’ve seen?