We Are Half Way There

Tuesday, January 29, 2008 | 0 comments »

Here are a few random thoughts......

This time of the year marks the half way point of the school year. I'm assuming you are probably in the same boat, give or take a week. I think we always say how time flies during the first half of the school year and now we begin the long stretch until Spring Break around Easter time. Either way, I'm looking forward to the second half of the year. I've got some things I need to continue to work on and learn, but there's time for that.

Our 2 sixth grade classes this year contain a rather large number of pains in the butts wonderful students. There are several good kids, but because the classes overall have too many troublemakers, the good kids get the short end of the stick. It sucks, they know it, I know it. Most of the same kids are in lunch detention, which happens to be in the library so I can enjoy their company (at least I'm not supervising them) several times a week and generally don't give a rip when they get in trouble. There's very little support from the parents - surprise - and not much seems to work to get them in line. It's to the point now, where our principal is setting up a temporary office in the orchestra room near the sixth grade classrooms so she's closer to the chaos and can monitor them closely. We'll see how this works.

We are getting 3 new students from a refugee camp in Thailand on Thursday. Apparently, they've been visiting a doctor lately to try and determine the grades they should be in. They've NEVER been in school and can't speak ANY English. It seems as though they will be in 3rd, 5th, and 6th grade. I already feel bad for their teachers- this is going to be tough. Hopefully they will be great kids and quick learners.

We had a work day Monday and an inservice day today (Tuesday). Things went just fine, but to me, they were better than ever because I missed both of the sixth grade classes this week! : )

Today's weather near Milwaukee - woke up to 43 degrees - it's now 9. Yes, that's a drop of 34 degrees in one day. Oh, did I mention the quarter inch sized hail my daughter and I collected earlier as well as the wind gusts over 30 mph? Gotta love Wisconsin!

I have one more class to finish before I get my final library certification. The class I need is only offered online at the University that is about 15-20 minutes from my house. Every other class I've taken has been face to face. This online thing is a first. Basically everything we'll be doing will be in the form of an online discussion. Our first assignment was to write a brief summary of ourselves including where we work, etc. When I signed on and started reading, I was amazed. I'm located just outside of Milwaukee, but was amazed at the locations of the people in the class. There are students from California, North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois, Texas, Ohio, Bahrain (Middle East), Minnesota, Kansas, Indiana, and New Hampshire! Wow, what a collection of experiences we will be sharing with each other.

This brings me to the idea of getting K-12 students involved in something like this. Most schools aren't even close to being ready for something like this, but isn't blogging a start? It brings people together who have a common interest with the hopes of learning something - or at least being entertained. Sure, a class requires people to "be there" where bloggers can stop by if they want, but getting the variety of experiences and backgrounds can really lead to some fascinating learning. While I was not originally thrilled with the idea of an online course (extra $ and no set time to meet) I'm beginning to get excited to see how all of this plays out. Will I find myself more engaged, checking the message boards, emails, and IM's more often? Will I miss the face to face interaction with classmates and the instructor? I guess we'll find out.

Do You Love Where You Teach?

Friday, January 18, 2008 | 4 comments »

One week ago tonight, I was getting ready to attend a little holiday party for the staff of my school and their significant others. I was really looking forward to the party because I really like the people I work with and knew I was going to have a great time. Sure, there are some I'm not that fond of, but at this school, there just seems to be so many people I like. This got me thinking about our jobs as educators. While most of our job deals with working with students, it's those "other people" we work with that really makes a particular teaching position great. We could all have the greatest classes, with well-behaved and motivated students, but it wouldn't be the same if we didn't have other great people we worked with. Maybe it's taken me too long to realize this, but I really feel that the relationships the teachers have with each other can have a huge impact on the overall atmosphere in a school.

Think about that for a moment. Would you be willing to do a little more for the others you work with, including the students, if you genuinely liked the other people in your building? Would you willing to put up with more of the crap from students, parents, and administrators because of your co-workers? I know I would. Team teaching, collaboration, and all the other interactions would be so much better. Kids would also see that positive interaction and it would rub off on them. It would create such a great environment that achievement would have to go up, wouldn't it?

I've been in several different schools in my district and haven't had the same relationships I have now in any other schools. I don't know why. I don't think that the other people I worked with weren't fun, enjoyable people, because some were. The overall attitude of the adults I work with now is hard-working, but fun. They realize that teaching isn't everything and the rest of the picture plays a very important role. It may be hard to describe, but you know the type of person who is willing to work their tail off during the day, but still have the sense of humor, willingness to head to Happy Hour after school, and simply know that regardless of how important our jobs are, we still need to have fun. Did my previous schools have people like I just described? Of course, but my new school just seems to have more.

I'd love to hear about the people you work with? Do you enjoy working with them or do you hope to get to school and never have contact with them? Is it somewhere in the middle?

No Blog Left Behind

Sunday, January 13, 2008 | | 0 comments »

Just like the insane law that tells us to make sure No Child Left Behind, the title of this blog is just as crazy. There will be children left behind, we know they don't all learn at the same pace. We know there are many things out of our control that impact the success our students have. I could go on, but you've heard it before.

We also know there are a ton of blogs out there that we are missing- many that are left behind. I'm guessing that us bloggers have our favorites among the 10, 50, or 100 we try and follow. If you don't have time to check them all, are there a couple of you make sure you check on a regular basis? If so, let me know what they are - I would like to add more to the list I don't keep up with!

Yes, I've been slacking on my blogging and mostly on my reading. Oh well, things come up. The problem with getting behind is the fact that I find myself still reading everything, okay-maybe skimming, but not commenting as much as I'd like. I also don't think I'm taking the time to really read and think about what others are writing. I have to work on this.

Now it's time to prepare for the week, wait to hear about some of your favorite blogs, and recover from the Hannah Montana concert my daughter and I went to today!

As we all know, technology can be a great thing. Sure, it can be a pain sometimes, but there is often a lot of positives about the new technologies that are out there. Over break, our library automation software was updated and today was the first live day. Overall, you never know what will happen with a software upgrade, but for the most part, everything went rather smoothly. My library and 2 others are piloting the software prior to the rest of our schools jumping on board. I love being part of pilot programs because I'm willing to jump and try new things. I'm open to learning and am always looking for ways to make life easier for my students and teachers. This new software has a lot of great parts and I can't wait to share it with staff and students. They will certainly benefit from it and will hopefully learn more!

The three media specialists involved are using Google Docs to keep track of our new discoveries, tips, and other general notes and questions about the software. I introduced this web 2.0 technology and they really seem to like it. This collaboration tool is great and it's letting us work together and learn from each other rather than keep individual notes. As we learn more, we can edit the document. In addition, as the other schools get the software, they can have access to the document as well.

I'm thrilled with Google Docs. For us, the sharing of information is a necessity and this web 2.0 tool is going to be a huge help! I'm curious if anyone has used Google Docs with students? Beyond the headache of getting accounts set up for kids, is it worth a shot?

This Blog in '08

Wednesday, January 02, 2008 | 4 comments »

Okay, now that 2008 has begun, I've decided to take a look at this blog and try to figure out the direction it's going to go. When I started the blog, I picked the title Teaching, Technology, the Library, and Other Stuff. My intention was to write about all of those things and I think I have done that. In addition, I wanted to learn about blogging so I could use it with my students. From writing about what's going on at school - frustrations and excitements to projects my students are working on to my son's eBay adventures to things I've learned about Web 2.0 stuff, this blog has covered a lot of topics. I wonder if this is a problem. Are people looking for certain topics when they visit a blog? Are they disappointed when they visit a site and don't get something they're looking for?

I'm blogging for the conversations and the communication. I feel I have a couple of consistent readers who comment more than others - thanks Rookie Teacher, Mrs. Whatsit, and Happy Chyck. I know there are others that I missed (sorry) - please comment and tell me you're reading. I really value the comments. I guess it validates the blogging for me. I visit my site to see if I have comments and I'm happy when I do and a little bummed when I don't. If I'm writing and no one is reading, should I continue? I have so far, but sometimes I have my doubts.

I read a lot of blogs. I'm doing more professional reading now than I ever have, although some would argue that reading blogs may not be as professional as reading a book. After about 9 months of doing this, I've realized there is a ton good stuff out there, but you already know that. I have my favorites and am finding more by the day. If it wasn't for Bloglines and Google Reader, I'd be lost. I use Bloglines for education related blogs, library related blogs, and other blogs where people express their thoughts. I follow 32 blogs here. Some post almost daily, others not so often. I use Google Reader for Ed. Tech blogs. Most of the blogs I follow there are more serious. I follow 22 blogs here. Rather than blog about a frustrating administrator or student, some focus on a conference they spoke at or attended. Much of the discussion is about Web 2.0 and where it's headed. Some of the discussion is way above my head. Perhaps I'll be ready for more of it some day, but not yet. Is 54 blogs too many to follow? I do know that I'm way behind on my reading. I'm wondering how many other blogs people follow? Please share your answer to this. In addition, one of the problems (althought it's not really a problem) I'm finding with the more serious blogs, is that I read about great Ed. Tech ideas and want to jump right in and do some of those things myself. However, for a number of reasons, I can't. To me, it's frustrating reading about the great stuff teachers are doing and not having the means to replicate the idea myself.

So what should I do with this blog? I'm leaning on continuing doing what I've been doing - blog about whatever I feel like, mostly related to education. However, if anyone has any suggestions, I'm willing to listen.

As far as this blog goes, here are some things I hope for:

I hope to write decent stuff
I hope someone tags me with a silly meme
I hope regular readers visit often
I hope readers comment
I hope to read great blogs
I hope to comment a lot
I hope to create meaningful conversations
I hope to gain friends and colleagues
I hope to learn

If you can help me with this, I would appreciate it.

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