Saturday, May 19, 2012

MAC Wk 3 Comments to my classmates

HI Amanda,
The stories you tell about the teachers lounge are so so true. It is amazing that no two teachers lounges are the same, but often times the conversations are. The teachers who are negative all the time, seem to be those who are stuck and find themselves on auto-pilot. It takes an open mind and heart to find the good in any student, and it is worth searching for. I am lucky that we have no real teachers lounge any longer. The district was going to remodel it, but ran out of funds. They no longer serve teachers lunches in there any longer, so no every really uses it.
I find myself talking with other special ed teachers, and most of the talk is HOW can we do this, or change that...we want to benefit a student. I get frustrated when other staff do not treat our students like they would any one else. If our students break a rule they should have the same consequences. We have to remind staff from time to time that our students know the rules and need to be held accountable.


MAC Week Three: The Way Things Are, and don't forget Rule No. 6!

As I read the next four chapters in The Art of Possibility this week, I couldn't help but reflect upon the discussion board topic that we were also give for this week.  I'm pretty sure Dr. Joe knew what he was doing this week.  Our discussion this week had to do with the barriers to integrating technology in the classroom.  We were supposed to discuss, from our experience, what it is that keeps teachers from embracing new technology.  Our answers varied from time commitment to fear of failure, lack of PD to lack of support from Admin. Since most of us are classroom teachers, we hit probably the top ten roadblocks, easily.  But after the reading this week, my eyes are open to some new possibilities!

In the chapter, The Way Things Are, the authors discuss our tendency to see the negative in a bad situation, instead of seeing it for what it really is...just another situation.  They also discuss the tendency to express problems as a downward spiral, I hear this all the time in the Teacher's Lounge!!  The same teachers who balk at integrating new technology are typically the same people who express their frustration with "these" students, who are always the worst students ever, and Oh! Just wait! The class coming up is the worst EVER!! It's so frustrating, and disheartening, if you buy into all that talk.  Why would anyone ever want to dedicate their lives to teaching? It's much more encouraging to think of these kids as being different from previous generations, not better or worse, and to think of ways to reach them that weren't available in previous generations.

Where are you speaking from:

And finally, lest we all forget, remember Rule No. 6!!

{Not to give it away if you haven't read the book, but Rule No. 6 simply states: Don't take yourself so goddamn seriously!}
{PS: There are NO other rules!}


 Comments to Cindi Madanski 

HI Cindi,
I know how  you feel about your students. It is sad that the playing fields are never equal and our students are made to feel they don't count. Fighting the feeling of failure is hard, but you try. Your students will come around and they will see that trying is key, even if they mess up. The environment at home and with their friends you can't control, so that will make it harder. If you class can accept "trying' as a part of their classroom culture, then you will be on your way.
Teachers like you that accept challenges and see the good that could come out of it are hard to find. Your administrator should see that and I hope they will believe in what you are trying to do.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Week Three Reading: TRY

In this week’s reading of The Art of Possibility, there were some quotes that really stood out to me. 
When told by a violinist that a difficult passage in the violin concerto was virtually unplayable, Stravinsky is supposed to have said: “I don’t want the sound of someone playing the passage, I want the sound of someone trying to play it!”
That quote makes so much sense to me based on the environment where I teach and the students who are placed in front of me every day.  According to the state department of education, my students are “failures”.  Their test scores are and always have been abysmal.  Older students from this neighborhood do not graduate high school, let alone go to college.  Many of my students have police records and are involved in gangs.  My students know their school has the lowest rating possible and that they are behind grade level. 
My goal this school year has been to motivate these students in ways they have never even considered.  So many of my kids have never truly tried to accomplish anything academic, by the time they reach 8th grade they have no desire to even try.  They have failed so many times, they have a “why bother” attitude.  My first month the words I heard most often from them were  “Shut up talking to me” and “That’s doing too much.”  I had to get across to them that I was not expecting perfection in solving algebraic equations, but I was expecting effort, and interest in how they work.  I was not expecting students to recite all of the phases of the moon, but I was expecting students to be curious about these events and try to hypothesize why the moon changes.  In a sense, “I don’t want the sound of someone playing the passage, I want the sound of someone trying to play it!”
Now, I realize that the quote from Stravinsky is stated in a different light.  He wanted the emotion, passion, and drive to come through in the music, rather than just the notes.  I want my students to actually know it is OK to TRY even if they fail, or only achieve a small success.  I want a classroom full of students who are willing to try.  We are not completely there, but I am proud of the progress we have made in just one year.
Another concept in this week’s reading that stood out was the concept of the one-buttock player.  It goes along with the Stravinsky quote, in that passion is as important (if not more important) than just hitting the right notes. I wonder if the CEO from Ohio had success when he transformed his company into a one-buttock company.  Can I have a one-buttock classroom?  Not this year, but if progress continues at my school that could be in our future.  How exciting!


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