Sailing is my passion so my best day teaching was last year when I took my class on the R. Tucker Thompson. They were able to steer the boat, climb the rigging and hoist the sails. I work in a decile 1 school and it was the first time any of them had ever been on a sailing boat. They were buzzing for weeks and still talk about it whenever I see them!
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Third Grade Teacher
When finding out I needed to write about “My Best Teaching Day Yet”, I jokingly told my friend and colleague who is here with me, “I haven’t had it yet.” I’m having a very difficult time thinking of one specific day in my years that was my best. I have some days that stand out because they were bad, some were sad, some had fun or funny events that took place. Like everyone else, we have good times, bad times, and in-between, and they all blend together like the paint spilled on our too-old carpet. But one day that stands out in my mind was a day when I went to school and implemented my version of Pernille Ripp. If you don’t know Pernille Ripp, I would recommend reading her. I heard of Pernille through a blog: Forever in First. Tammy, from Forever in First, has some of the best ideas I’ve stolen to date. She has introduced me to so many people (all virtually, of course). George Couros, Carol Dweck, Todd Nesloney and Adam Welcome, to name a few.
That day, I gave my kids voice. They filled out a simple survey. It was a survey of “What would you change”, “How do you like our classroom?” type questions. But that day led to a paradigm change for me. My classroom is about the students, not about me. It’s about growth for us all. Not that it wasn’t before, but I’m not sure it was. And this learning, from these professionals around the globe has led to places and activities I would never have imagined.
Thursday, March 23, 2017
Middle School Math Teacher
Well, where to start? If you haven’t heard already, Math is a subject not liked by many especially teenagers, pshhh! When given the task to choose the best teaching day ever it was pretty difficult. Having been in the education field for about ten years, I’ve had many moments of success and failure. However, since becoming a teacher I’ve experienced a lot of moments where many of my students haven’t been challenged to think beyond being a middle school or high school student. One thing that I’ve found myself focusing on is trying to connect real world scenarios to Math. The dreaded question of “How/when am I going to use this is life?” We had the opportunity to visit Junior Achievement of Arizona at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year. The students were to pretend they were applying for a car loan, creating a budget, etc. I truly enjoyed connecting with the students and helping them think about their future and how their choices affect them and have good and bad outcomes. Teachable moments is what I always strive to take advantage of. It is extremely rewarding knowing that I have pushed my students to work for not only for the present but for the future.
Picking my best teaching day ever is surprisingly difficult. I think this is because every day that I have been a teacher, I have loved what I do. Every day I leave my job with some anecdote that makes me smile or laugh. This isn’t to say that my job is consistently sunshine and roses. I teach at an alternative high school, so there also isn’t a day that I don’t leave in near tears because of another difficult life struggle that one of my student’s is facing. That being said, my best day teaching ever was earlier this year at Sun Valley High School. I was teaching a unit on American Women’s History and I had my class doing a PearDeck I created on some basic background information on important women and events in history. Through PearDeck, I was able to insert videos after each woman/event in order to give students a more interesting background while they took notes. I also inserted a Blendspace so that they could further research women’s suffrage. I have been teaching this class for years, and have never seen such engagement and interest. As students became involved, I added some discussion questions, and even encouraged students to stop and Google for additional information on various topics. This lesson was early in the course (2nd day) and through PearDeck, I was able to get so much information about each student, that by the end of class I knew everyone’s name and their interests. Also by the end of class, each student had chosen a topic for their first essay, and they were actually excited to begin their research. The end of the PearDeck included questions where they told me what they found most interesting about the lesson, and also gave them an opportunity to tell me what they would like to learn about in this class. This provided me with the feedback I needed to modify my course to their interests. That day was the beginning of the best class I have ever taught. 95% of the students passed with nothing lower than a C+, and the discussions, cooperative learning, and engagement that occurred was better than I have ever had.
Saturday, March 11, 2017
All of my best teaching days have nothing to do with the day's lesson, but teach strategies for realistic “adulting” and being better people. Any day that results in a student becoming more resilient, more confident, and increasing the hippie in their heart is an awesome day. One of these started with a pep rally, a popular teenage girl, and an epic face plant into the gym floor. I, proud teacher, am taking a video of my step team/cheerleader squad when one of my students eats it. Face first. The video stops. The crowd erupts in laughter. She slinks over to the bleachers with her ice pack on her ankle. I went over and asked her if she was ok, and if she was really hurt or if it was something other than her ankle that was hurt. From the look in her eyes, I could see it was not her ankle, but her middle school pride that hit floor first. I took the risk. It went something like this… “Honey, this is one of the defining moments of your life, and what you do next will shape the kind of person you are. I know it is embarrassing, I know you want to hide, but I want you to suck all those feelings in. Take a deep breath and get the hell back out there with your team!” (Small cuss words are a risky but effective motivator for middle schoolers - use with extreme caution) I took the ice pack and threw it far back into the crowd, and she sprang back into action. The smile on her face was one of the best rewards I have had yet!
Saturday, February 25, 2017
My best teaching day wasn’t actually a teaching day, but it was certainly my best day as a teacher. After 24 years of teaching elementary school, in the same school where I did my student teaching, I reconnected with a former student on Facebook. Jessica had been in my first class ever, a sweet fifth grader who had Grand Canyon dimples. I was thrilled to get her friend request and added her immediate. We arranged a lunch date and got together a couple of weeks later.
It turns out that Jessica had graduated from our local high school and completed a masters in psychology. She is currently a living donor counselor at a world-class hospital, working with patients who are donating kidneys to family as well as strangers. Oh, boy, was I so proud to hear this. I know that she had so many more teachers besides me, but I still feel like this was my doing.
Jess was one of those students I kept in touch with through middle school and high school. I attended her clarinet recitals and even her quincañera. Her parents celebrated their nuptial mass (having been civilly married in Mexico) and I was lucky enough to celebrate with them.
When we got together for lunch at La Scala in Beverly Hills, we had the best long talk. She asked me how I had seen her when she was a student. I told her that she was one of my smarties, and that I knew she was destined for great things. She told me that it was hard to believe, because she’d had such a poor self-image when she was a child because she was a recent immigrant from Mexico, and didn’t start school in the US until she was in the third grade. When she was in my class, she told me that she felt so stupid because she wasn’t fluent in English. I told her that she was very good at hiding her insecurities, that I thought she was just shy.Those recitals I attended 22-23 years ago made such an impression on a sensitive little girl. What she didn’t know was that I was feeling so burned out, and had lost so much of the passion I once had for teaching as a profession. Hearing her words brought back so many positive memories, and rekindled the fire.
So my best teaching day wasn't just a day at all. It was my career.
Saturday, February 4, 2017
SPED - RSP
FCSS - VHEA Community School
I was thinking of a lesson I could co-teach with the math teacher. I decided to present a real-world environment that included using tape measures, a yardstick, and a rolling measurement wheel.
I started by taking a Google Maps screen capture of our school, and shared it with the students. To access prior knowledge, I asked students to name as many shapes as they could find - i.e. rectangles, squares, circles, triangles, etc.
I told students we were going to measure the school, starting with the basketball court, and ending with the block our school is located on. The students were told they would annotate the dimensions on the Google Maps picture. The students would work in teams.So the students would know how to measure using a tape measure, I included a YouTube video, on how to use a measuring tape.
With the dimensions recorded of a basketball court, we continued and found perimeter, area, circle area, radius, etc.