07 December 2010

Week 15, 2010-2011 school year

This week has been a difficult one as I get further and further behind. The overload of stuff that I have on my plate at this point definitely affects the way I interact with students and that's a hard reality to face.

I have been learning about students this week. One of my students told me that their car was stolen this week. Yikes. The things these students have to deal with constantly blows me away. I continue to wonder at the myriad of issues that is their daily life. It reminds me of the blessings I have. Insert thankfulness here.

Another student is dealing with a holiday season that is the first after the loss of a parent. Specifically, the parent passed away right at a year ago and it seems that is really taking a toll on the student. My heart breaks for this particular student. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to focus on anything right now.

Everything this week has been hard. When I do formative assessments during class (questions to students, which are review, basic recall) no one knows anything and everyone looks at me like I'm speaking a foreign language. At one point I stood with my face toward the whiteboard and hit my head on it a few times to try and get the cobwebs to go away. The problem was there weren't any cobwebs in MY brain! Some days it is just at the point that I have to wonder "What am I doing wrong?" or "What am I NOT doing right?" I see those as two very different questions and I have to say that I've asked myself both several times throughout the year.

I have come up with several answers, the most important being that I have too much on my plate to focus the best of my energy into the most important task, which is teaching my students to the best of my ability. This master's program is really wearing on me and I welcome the soon to come Christmas break.

I was asked to write an article for Educational Leadership about engaging the 21st Century learner. That's supposed to be published in February, so we'll see whether that comes to fruition.

I taught two classes at my alma mater in their degree completion program (which has given me the desire to teach Higher Ed) and I've committed to two more of those same classes, which are both in Tulsa, for the Spring and Summer of 2011. Additionally, I am scheduled to teach a traditional class at the same University this Spring and the thought of getting ready to teach that, for the first time, is weighing heavily on my mind.

I have been working hard at getting the skeleton of my curriculum online as a sort of "online plan book" with all of my lessons aligned to our P.A.S.S. It comes short little bursts of work where I'll work on it for several days and then go a few weeks without doing anything. It's a pretty major project and I am beginning to realize that it may be a multi-year task.

Another problem is that I am implementing several new things in my class this year. I've been beta testing and kind of critiquing the development of a new product while implementing it into my class. It's called Journie and you can read about it here. It's a great program and really engages students, but implementing something while communicating with the developers is quite a daunting task.

I have been integrating the use of GoogleDocs into my classroom this year, much to the delight of my students. While it tends to cut down on the amount of paper that is used, it does take more work to get it done. Along that same line, all of my tests and quizzes are online this year (via GoogleDocs) and that requires a lot of work on the front side, but really cuts down on the grading, after the fact.

I have presented at one conference so far this year and am waiting to see if my proposal has been accepted for a second and I am considering a proposal for a third in the Summer. The saving grace here is that my presentation is the same for all conferences.

My most difficult issue through the last several weeks has been the amount of time I spend helping other teachers with technology. I love working with my peers to integrate technology, but it's starting to cut into my productive time. I have started keeping track of the amount of time I spend doing it and will be asking for another planning period next year. I think I will have enough to show that it is warranted.

Finally, since I will be competing for Teacher of the Year for my district, I have begun thinking about all of the things I need to talk about on the application/portfolio, which was (at least part of) the impetus for this post. If it sounds like I am talking about all of the things I do that are good, I don't mean to brag, I just want to be able to represent my faculty in such a way that they can be proud.

As a side note, I was nominated as Oklahoma Technology Association's Technology Teacher of the Year. That will be announced in January. Just when I thought the year couldn't get any better/worse! :-)

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