Giving Back! My Final Make

Here is my final make! I am so grateful for this course and I can already see its principles taking root in my classroom. This project can be adapted and used in any school setting, youngster to adults. I want to especially thank my classmates in ED677 Spring 2019, all of our guest speakers, and Professor Christina Cantrill for making this an unforgettable learning experience. The journey has been incredible!

Link to Project:

Thinking about Empathy…and everything!

I took some time this week to examine my blog and the blogs of my classmates. It was lovely to look back on some of the thoughts I have had over time, and I enjoyed watching my inquiry questions evolve through thought exercises, discussions, and research hunting. Besides my own progress, the progress of my classmates’ thinking is evident in their blogs, and I felt grateful to be part of this class and to work with such rockstar educators.  The small moves were evident throughout our blogs, and I could clearly see how my own small moves are really coming together to grow a connected learning classroom for my students.

One move was my own examination of my own learning and teaching.  I think drawing out my map of learning a few weeks back made me realize how I was supported and supported others throughout my learning journey.  It was clear that those moments of connected support and shared purpose were times when I learned the most. My own examination of my learning was something that made me reflect on the opportunities present for my own students.  I know that a teacher inspect the environment of her students, prospect the resources available, and plant the seeds of collaboration within her classroom. This is something that has helped me recently in my field.

Another small move I have made with my students is building social-emotional learning into my social studies classroom.  At my school, we have a restorative period at the end of the day where students are to work on math and reading strategies. I recently was approved to provide some of the eighth grade students with some social-emotional learning. We worked on getting to know ourselves as individuals and how having confidence in one’s self will help us to connect and work with others.  We reflected on the ways we react to emotion and we shared out and learned about one another. We learned empathy! This small move is turning into something big, I think!

I want to combine social-emotional learning with social studies discussion tactics. Can these deep self-analysis can help students make more meaningful connections with their classmates during collaborative discussion?

Super 7 Sunday

How can we do even MORE with Google Classroom? Here is a great article that shows us ways we can bring about more student-centered, shared-purpose learning in our classeooms.

Vocab Lesson on types of empathy. Deepen that understanding!

Cool empathy activities for students: Gets them in coversation and up and moving. I am going to try these this week!

I am currently teaching some Social Emotional Learning in my class, this is a helpful and purposeful place to start.

This is such a nice list to keep on hand as a teacher of connected learning. It is an awesome list of activities to build kindness and compassion

I often tell the kids, “the most important relationship is the one with yourself!”  These activities help students to build that self compassion!

A great lesson to use in any subject area:

Find Time!

This week’s readings and activities inspired me to look for sources that addressed mental health and relationship building in the classroom. Here’s some of what I found helpful:

Relationship Building 101: This video from Edtopia does a fabulous job highlighting the extra special work today’s teachers are doing to promote relationship building in our schools.

Using Unbreaking America to start student discussion and model collaborative efforts. I found this video to be an engaging example of connected activism. Make it clear to students that they are studying the patterns of communal activism, and that you are in no way encouraging them to join this movement. They are analyzing it!

A list of teacher tips when it comes to mental health in our classrooms

This TeacherMag article addresses mental illness in the classroom:

Check out what John Legend is doing to support connected learning in our schools! I am so glad I stumbled upon this during my weekly find time! I will continue to visit this sight.

What can we do NOW as teachers to help our kiddos with trauma?

Is Networking working for our kids?

In this week’s focus, we were able to collaborate ourselves as students and also take time to reflect on our own process of collaboration as well as the stories found in our readings and videos this week.

When collaborating with my classmates, I wanted to make sure my slide hit on my personal philosophy, but also complimented the work and efforts of everyone’s in the slide show. I tried to stay focused to the prompt while paying close attention to the theme of my own beliefs. As a contributor, I felt that I had a duty to my classmates and myself do showcase my beliefs in a comprehensible, concise way. We are trying to essentially publish our beliefs, so I wanted it to ring true to me while staying on task with the prompt.

Do we give our students enough chances like this in our public school classrooms? I do not think so. With the lack of technological resources, it can be easy for a teacher to give up. With the demands of standardized testing, it can be hard to allow students choice and freedom to explore what inspires them. To ensure our classroom is an equitable, connected on, we must find a way to work around these obstacles and provide the opportunities.

Sharing 5 about Shared Purpose

#1: Discussion Leaders: in my own classroom this week, I set up seven discussion stations. Students would visit stations in groups of 3-5 and use a posted question to discuss our topic at hand and its implications in today’s world. After doing this with a few of my classes, I wanted to try to assign students leadership roles (for classroom management!). I asked seven students to station themselves at the discussion questions and stay there throughout the rotation. Their job was to present the question to each visiting group and then discuss it with them. I saw more discussion than ever before. There was positive peer accountability. Students that might have become off task with rotating served as excellent discussion leaders AND they made sure every other student was active! Students who felt unsure or shy had reassurance from the discussion leaders. I will do this again

#2 – Using a Discussion Circle and Doing it Effectively: When I completed my learning map this week, it was clear to see the shared purpose throughout my journey of becoming a teacher. One place where I heavily relied on discussion and reflection was in my student teaching cohort. People counted on me and I counted on people. I could definitely bring this energy into my own classroom. And Edtopia provides a lovely format for creating a loving, supportive environment:

#3 – Getting in the Mindset as a Teacher – Digital Collaboration by EdTech: Looking at the examples like “Student Voice” and “American Creed” are wonderful fountains of shared purpose, but how can we as educators make sure our students use these tools to our greatest potential? check out this article for great takeaways

#4 – Shout out to Jessica’s Blog post this week. TeachersPayTeachers is a fabulous example of a place where purpose is shared. I benefit from this database constantly! When reflecting on it in this type of a thinking exercise, it helped me see the power of responding to sources by leaving reviews and feedback!

#5 – Feeling Inspired by Others’ Words – Sykee’s post this week was lovely to read. And as I was reading to look for helpful articles or sources, I was inspired by her own reflection from her learning map. “…I want to instill a positive change in them (students) in some way, any way.  I want to build them into future contributors to the community.” Thanks Sykee!

Learning to Teach: A Visual Journey

When thinking about my own educational journeys, the first example I think of is my learning to be a teacher. This journey is happening always. Hey, it is happening RIGHT. NOW. I feel as though I am standing on a see saw, one side teaching and one side learning, and I am constantly teetering back and forth. That is called being a teacher, right?

To analyze this “Journey of Learning,” I decided to hand-draw a map of it. Once I put pencil to paper, I used a simple line-style graph to show the learning curve, equipped with bumps and regresses along the way. Then, I broke the lines into chapters and gave each a defining title. Within each “chapter” of my learning process, I described the programs, people, and motivations that guided me.

As I did this, it was easy to reflect back on those whom lifted me up in times of challenge. It would be a lie to say this journey has been an easy one. Over the past twelve years, I have experienced depression and anxiety. I have also experienced wonderful surges of confidence and pride. And, most importantly, I have experienced the learning of young adults–not just academically. Watching a student take action for others or make strides emotionally is a phenomenon you will experience in this field.

Once my map was completed, it served as a helpful tool when continuing my reflection through writing. Throughout my learning chapters, one can find a group of people working for a shared purpose. It is in those places where the strongest professional growth was cultivated.

  1. Peer Support during Student Teaching: I assure you. I am not saying this to sound proud and mighty. But, our practicum seems to be more rigorous than any other practicum I have encountered. We had massive papers due on top of 4 page daily lesson plans. We had to be ready at any moment for a drop-in supervisor observation. All of our observations were “drop-ins” and they occurred weekly. I slept 4 hours a night, maximum. It was tough. My peers were my support group. We shared stories. We counted on one another as listeners when we would vent about our struggles. You would listen to one person, and they would listen to you. And we NEEDED this. We shared resources and gave tips. What a wonderful example of shared purpose.
  2. First Year Teaching Mentorships and Having my Own Student Teacher: I believe these individuals were the reason I stayed at my job through my first year of teaching. I think they felt purpose when they helped me. And I needed them to help. This became even clearer to me a few years later when I had a student teacher of my own. I learned so much about my own teaching from helping my student teacher. And he motivated me to be a better mentor, and in turn, a better teacher for my students.
  3. Directing the Musical: Co-directing a musical will show a person the value in teamwork and shared purpose. I learned how to work together with kids and adults outside of the classroom. Students relied on me and I relied on them. My mentor director led by example, and I helped her by lightening the load of responsibility.

Below is my learning map. I am grateful for those names you see on there. It is because of them that I can say proudly: “I am an educator.” Thank you!

Find Five Student Activists Across the Country…

Student Activism (happening right now!)

Gun Control in Indiana…

Mental Health Support in Arizona…

Students in Colorado decide to support their teachers’ fight for fair pay…

Students Fight for More a More Diverse Teaching Population in New York…

Teen Vogue reflects on the change in youth activism since Parkland…

My Letter to the World: A Necessary Push for Mental Health Support and Education

It was my freshman year of college and I already knew what I wanted to do: teach in urban education. I was part of an urban public high school and it was this diversity that brought me to life. I felt that I learned so much about the world just from my classmates. I am now in my seventh year teaching eighth grade in the very school district I attended. The strength of the diverse community is still strong, but we need to support it correctly. I stand behind the belief that we need more mental health support in our middle school. Because of this, I have written a letter to the world. To capture my organic thoughts, I took to pen and paper. Here is my message:

I think about these things constantly in my career. We as a school have spent hours of trainings and meeting studying trauma and its effects on our students. Yet, our two guidance counselors are left with the task of tending to 800 students, as well as manage scheduling, plan conferences, and cover classes when no subs are available. How can we make this world better for our kids? We need to shift our focus. Now.

Here are some helpful sources:

This video breaks down the concept of ACEs and what we can do…

Pose, Wobble, Flow

How can a teacher go from posing a challenge for herself and her students to then wobbling through the growing pains and processes to finally feel a steady, productive flow to the learning experience?  This book (one I have read and analyzed over this year) teaches about the free falling feeling that comes with teaching. As educators, we can plan for hours and that lesson could have no effect on our classroom. It could show signs of potential.  And it is easiest to give up and start new, but then are we really challenging ourselves as teachers?

This week in my field, I only had two full instructional days with my students.  I suffered through some sort of stomach bug that ravaged my lesson plans for the week.  This was coupled with a snow day on Wednesday and a Curriculum Writing day on Thursday. Simultaneously, I am co-directing our school’s theatrical production of Mulan which takes place in one week! Too many things!! In Pose, Wobble, Flow, the authors promote many different metaphors for teachers.  When a teacher attempts to build relationships, craft culturally-responsive curriculum, and aid students in their journey to well-rounded human being, we definitely wobble!  

Part of the struggle I feel as an educator is that we hold a tremendous amount of responsibilities.  It is a challenge to build relationships and deep-thinking skills and collaborative discussion techniques.

I will continue to update this post as I have more time in my classroom. I will miss 2 ½ more days of instruction this week due to musical rehearsals, performances and a field trip!