Thursday, July 16, 2015

It's been a minute...

This seems to be a theme...this whole, "It's been a minute" thing.  A great deal has happened since my last blog post.  I know; it has been OVER a year since my last post.  In many people's lives, a great deal does, in fact, happen over the course of a year.  Please, I beg, cut me some slack.  You see, my last post was a wrap-up to the school year preceding the one which ended in May.  Less than a month after that post, I found out I was pregnant...with TWINS.  I did not have the easiest of pregnancies, which accounts for the first semester of this most recent academic year.  In addition to that, they decided to make a dramatic entrance into the world (eleven weeks early), wrapping up that semester.  Needless to say, I have been a bit distracted since all of this has transpired.  I am, however, excited to dive back into what I believe is my calling...educating and empowering the next generation.  The next school year will begin in a few short weeks;  my beautiful (and VERY healthy) little girls will be in the care of very capable hands; and I will have the opportunity to refocus on the task at hand:  preparing a generation to be a knowledgeable, civic-minded, and productive group.

Friday, May 30, 2014

"The Why"

The 2013-2014 school year came to a close today.  Tears were shed; unexpected hugs were received; and well wishes were sent to our students who will no longer be just "our" students.  It was a hard day...perhaps even harder than the days filled with the hustle and bustle of "end of the school year" checklists and plans leading up to it.  As the week inched closer and closer to those final moments, I was reminded of "the why."

To offer more of an explanation..."the why" is the reason I do what I do; the reason I work more hours than I am technically paid to work; the reason why I carry these children home with me each day spilling over into my time with my family; the reason why I chose teaching as a professions; but, that's just it..."the why" makes my job so much more than just a paycheck.

For me, "the why" is:

  • reading a thoughtful note on the back of a "re-do" that I all but forced the student to take; then also getting wrapped in the biggest bear hug I've ever gotten from this same student as she boards the bus  leaving the middle school for the last time
  • being visited by an unexpected student carrying flowers who just the day before was escorted (by me) to the office and being thanked for the support I have provided her over the last two years
  • taking silly pictures with extremely talented and very distinguished colleagues because we just genuinely enjoy each other's friendship in addition to the professional relationship
  • reviewing "Zombie Apocalypse" proposals and knowing that my students would survive because they know (learned this year) the best-equipped civilizations (throughout ancient and medieval history) to establish their strongholds
  • watching a community come together donating their time, energy, and resources to create an event that both entertains our restless pre-teens and raises significant funds for a worthy cause
  • ...
  • ...
  • ...
This list goes on and on...

Now, as I head into the Summer months, the renewal process has already begun.  "The why" is yet again refreshed and stirring the passion within this educator to continue planning for the year to come with an even greater fervor than in years passed.  And, it is my hope, that as these years continue to pass, that I may always remember "the why."

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Future of Learning: Gamified Classroom

From birth, I have been on this relentless, perpetual journey of improvement.  I don't know if this is part of being my own worst critic or the desire to genuinely make the world a better place...perhaps a combination of the two, but lately, I have had this driving motivation (stronger than usual) to improve my craft as a teacher.  This leg of my odyssey (pun intended as I do teach World History) and of course a fellow educator, Laren Hammonds, (who just happens to also be a great friend) has led me to this:

As a life-long competitor, I admit to being intrigued by the concept of a "gamified classroom" for personal in addition to professional reasons.  Personally, I believe this type of instruction has the potential to reach the previously disengaged students...perhaps athletes (which appeals to my competitive nature), "gamers," or the just plain bored (for whatever reason).  Not a day goes by that I do not see students (from every demographic/walk of life) playing games on their mobile devices...incessantly, unremittingly.  THIS (games) is how students are spending time (as much as they can) in our classrooms and at home.  Why not use this to our educational advantage?  Professionally, I think this learning environment will provide a unique opportunity for students to be challenged.  One case study completed in an Arkansas high school indicates that students in one biology teacher's classroom are prompted to apply, "create," "make," "write," and "develop"...all of which are Bloom's buzzwords.  Just a quarter into the book, I am finding myself provoked into deep reflection on my own practice and motivated to dig even deeper.  Only time will tell, but this social studies teacher may be a "Game Master" yet.

Sheldon, Lee. The Multiplayer Classroom: Designing Coursework as a Game. Austrailia: Course Technology/Cengage Learning, 2012. Print.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

My Inaugural Post

Mid-way through year three as a teacher and after reading countless blogs of other educators, the decision has been made to try my hand.  Please allow me to introduce myself...I am mid-level, social studies teacher/sponsor/coach from the deep South.  From an early age, "classes" were taught and "reports" sent home to favorite teddy bears, barbie dolls, and neighbor children.  Teaching and caring for the next generation is ingrained deep in my soul, and I am rather fortunate to have the opportunity to serve young people from six weeks old to twenty-two.  From camp counselor and nursery coordinator to conference volunteer and middle school teacher, I am invested in providing support and learning opportunities to those with whom I have the chance to do so.

This being my inaugural post, I am not entirely sure what expectations to set for the audience.  There will be social studies.  Teaching/preparing/caring for the next generation is my passion, and social studies is a close second and a means by which I can reach the students.  Social studies affects every person every day and will continue to do so until the end of time.  Engaging in social studies, knowing it, and applying principles learned from it provide students a distinct opportunity to be successful, productive, and contributing global citizens, and thus social studies should not be overlooked.  There will reflection.  Reflection on instructional strategies, assessment, student anecdotes, successes...and yes, failures, as I am sure they will come and probably come most often.  There will be honesty.  Reflection does little if it is not honest.  Sharing ideas and stories does little if it is not honest.  It would also not be "True Life:  I'm a Teacher" if it is not honest. it is, my first post, motivated by an intrinsic desire to improve my practice (among other things) every day and by the extrinsic challenge of the sheer excellence of my esteemed administration and accomplished colleagues.  As my students say, "The struggle (for me reflection, growth, in general) is real," and I will add my own bit..."but, so very worth it."