lit lover book

reflections of an ever-evolving educator

Thursday, June 22, 2006


testing, part deux

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

moving on up

Just a note to say I'm relocating my blogging about education. My new Wordpress blog may be found at A new blog to go with my new school and my new job (and to think some women would just buy a suit). Hope to see you there!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

positive reinforcement

As I've noted in the last few posts, I'm no longer in the classroom. My new position puts me in front of other teachers for the most part and there's one actually positive aspect about it that has been really bugging me these last few days (leave it to me to put a bad spin on something good):

I have actually had a great couple of weeks in this new job. Teachers have been overwhelmingly warm, friendly, complimentary and supportive. In fact, I can, without exaggeration, say that I have received more "atta-girl"s and "great job"s in the past two weeks than I have in the last five years.

But why?

Don't get me wrong--my new position is demanding, complex and multi-faceted. While I am still teaching (albeit adults), I'm also juggling many other disparate responsibilities. But none of it is any more difficult or demanding than what I did in the classroom for 18 years.

I know that part of the difference is that teachers are more vocal than kids, much more likely to speak up and let another adult know their work is appreciated. But why can't we, as teachers, do that for each other? Why can't our administrative teams and our parents provide that much needed acknowledgment that what we are doing with these kids is valuable and valued?

Perhaps, if I had received the level of support in my teaching that I have in this position so far, I would never have left.

So to all of you classroom teachers out there, I want to say, "Thank you. You're doing a great job. i don't know what we'd do without you."

It's not enough, I know, but at least it's something.


I'm beginning to get that anxious, overwhelmed feeling already and I've only been officially working in my new capacity for 8 days. Here's my to-do list for tomorrow:

  • Meet with the guidance counselor to explain that the Teacher Led Collaboration process is just that--Teacher Led, regardless of what some parents might prefer
  • Schedule conferences with previously mentioned parents
  • Somehow schedule, staff, and publicize after school tutoring sessions for students who failed the Graduation Test (their retest is Sept. 2)
  • Figure out what staff development sessions I will be offering for the entire school year and write up the plan and approval request for PLUs
  • Complete the mentor-mentee paperwork and get it sent to the county office
  • Create and distribute info sheets for/to all my new teachers
Don't get me wrong--I really like this job. It's a welcome change after 18 years in the classroom. But I do miss my kids--not to mention that feeling that I actually know what I'm doing. (Did you know that in the time it took you to read this post, 4 new acronyms were added to educationese in my district?)

Sunday, July 24, 2005

struggling to let go

I am starting a new job for the first time in 18 years. Although officially I don't begin until Aug. 1, truthfully I feel as though I started as soon as last school year ended.

I am moving out of the classroom, something I never thought I'd do, and something I keep wondering if I will regret. The position is called Instructional Lead Teacher (a really unclear, almost nonsensical job title, if you ask me). Basically, I'll be mentoring new teachers and overseeing professional development for the faculty. It's a job I've thought I wanted for awhile, and at the school that's in my backyard, so I should feel happy.

While moving onto something new is exciting, it's also scary as hell. I've been pretty confident in my abilities for a long time now. For many years, I've gone in to work each day knowing what needs to be done, and mostly doing it. Not always perfectly, but still...knowing what needs to be done. Not so much, now.

The hardest thing to let go of has been yearbook, and I keep getting pulled back in. Next year's editor, Emily, is one of my favorites. There's just something about her--her positive spirit, her work ethic, and her self-deprecating remarks, that made her a natural choice for the job. But now she wants to quit.

And I can't blame her. First, she has some major health issues that may necessitate surgery. She doesn't want to bring the whole staff down, and she knows that with a new sponsor, she would have the entire staff looking entirely to her for guidance.

But I think equal to that is the fact that the new sponsor has no experience and seems unenthusiastic about doing what it takes to get the job done. She informed Emily that everyone would just have to get all their work done during class because she herself absolutely cannot stay after school. For those of you who are unfamiliar with working on a school publication let me just say, that is utterly impossible. 50 minutes a day is simply not enough. It's an unrealistic and unfair expectation of the kids.

I feel so sad about the whole situation, and angry that the administration ignored my advice and hired someone who didn't want to do this, when there was a far better candidate available who did. The most painful part is that I can't fix it and my hardworking staff is going to suffer for it. And poor Emily feels like she's letting me down.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

great blogs

This post is specifically for my colleagues in the KMWP Tech Initiative (you know who you are!)

Explore the many varied faces of blogs by visiting a few of these sites:

To see my classroom blog:

Here's the Pebblebrook blog:

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

grading marathon: day 3

Am I the only teacher who finds herself spending at least 2 hours each day of spring break grading?

I can almost see the light--it's dim, and obscured by the clouds, but there's a glow around their fluffy edges.

blogs lead the way

Like Teach42 and budtheteacher, I find myself getting really excited about technology in the classroom these days. Our school board is considering a massive shift, and our local community is greeting it with great consternation, to say the least. Through special options tax funds earmarked for educational technology, our school board is considering the purchase of laptops for every high school and middle school teacher and student in our district. Part of the plan would also include a wireless network, a network that would eventually be accessible to students at home as well as at school.

I think it's visionary, as I've stated in an earlier post, but our district feels otherwise (which I've also detailed). I won't go there again. However, what has me really excited is all the potential we have to make meaningful changes in our educational practice if the board flies in the face of public criticism and moves ahead with the proposed plan. I attended a forum for teachers only a couple of weeks ago, and I felt those first date butterflies in my stomach as I began to consider exactly how this plan could really change the way my classroom (and others of course) works.

A few days later, I met with our ILT (instructional lead teacher), and we began to map out a plan for training teachers to utilize the coming technology. She wants me to begin by introducing blogs to teachers as an easy way to create a class website. The more we talked, the more excited we both became as I explained my understanding of the potential blogs can offer, and how much greater that potential could be if every kid could be using and accessing and contributing to his/her own and others' blogs throughout the school day. We also talked about other technologies, but the ILT felt that the simplest way to get teachers who are reluctant on board would be to begin with blogs.

How great is that?

Saturday, April 02, 2005

the rewards of procrastination

I had such a good time with my freshmen Wednesday. I spent some time Monday night putting together a Jeopardy review game for The Odyssey (SO much more fun than grading the essays that are threatening to grow mold at this point). I downloaded a great template from a site which also included a very helpful planning sheet. The kids loved it. They got so competitive and goofy, and I laughed more than I have all year with them. I hope that next year, my second one with this prep, I'm able to inject more of the creative, fun aspects of learning. While I know it doesn't always have to involve playing a game, having new textbooks and switching from seniors to freshmen has been quite an adjustment for me. I feel as though I'm just beginning to "get them." So I'm hopeful about next year.

In my quest to avoid grading papers, I've been spending my time on other really productive ventures (just not quite so critical as the grading really is right now). I've begun working quite a bit with NoteTaker, an awesome Mac application that you really have to see to believe. Aquaminds makes it and they're working on a Windows version for the rest of you folks, but it won't be available till sometime in 2006. The basic premise of the software is creating a virtual notebook, but it can do so much more than that. Like export your entire notebook into a website (you wouldn't believe how fast and flawlessly that feature works--it takes less time than saving a single Word page as html and without the mangling of format). Like export an entry into your blog via ecto. Like import and/or embed documents from other applications. Like export individual pages into Word. And lots of other stuff I haven't even had a chance to play with or discover yet.

My new infatuation with NoteTaker has led me to begin a staff manual for yearbook, to begin creating a notebook that will house all of my 9th lit materials, and to my creating a notebook for my next unit on poetry (which necessitated actually writing the unit). I told a friend yesterday that once I get caught up, I'm going to be so impressed and pleased by all the other work I got done while I was procrastinating.