Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Complaints from a Weary Fellow Traveler


Deep in January the sun doesn't rise early enough for me and the night arrives way too early.  The landscape without snow is damp and dreary and bleak. The bare trees split the predawn sky and I am gloomy.  So I channel Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music and start to think of my favorite things.

My hot coffee in a travel mug,
Brahms or Bach or Beethoven playing on my favorite radio station,
My family-all healthy and happy and safe,
My students who come to school ready to learn, and
Yoga-for all it has taught me about being grateful and in the moment.

I begin to feel better, but still there is a nagging sense of discontent, a moodiness that lurks underneath. As I drive on my usual route, I spot the man that I have seen many times over the years.

He crosses the street with abandon, physically disabled he uses crutches to make his way over to where the bus stop is. He too is on his way to work in the early morning. His struggle just to cross the street causes me to stop my rumination. His long legs twitch and spasm as he struggles to send them in the right direction. What I appreciate most about this man is his moxie.  He crosses the street where it is convenient for him-straight across the street disregarding the crosswalks or the traffic signals. He is a man with a mission and the traffic be damned!

What is my take away from watching this man for 15 seconds as I wait for the light to change?
 My life is great, I don't struggle physically to get to work and so I should stop whining and be grateful.
As I drive by the silhouette of the man I am happy and content. That is until an idiot cuts me off and I am mad again.
 Yours in all things techie,

Eileen

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Getting Down the Mountain- an analogy

Years ago, I started skiing.  Initially I didn't take any lessons. I muscled my way down the mountain ending the day exhausted and drained. There was no joy in this.  One day as I got off the lift I noticed in front of me two young skiers full of enthusiasm. They flew off the lift and clicked their ski poles together overhead and yodeled a "Yee Haw" as they flew down the mountain.  I turned to my husband and I said, " I need that! I want a Yee Haw day"

"Perhaps a lesson would help", my husband suggested.  I agreed that that would be a good idea. The next day I met up with my instructor. He was a wizened Austrian who lived for the snow and the winter.  When I explained my difficulties he concluded that what I needed was a technique that would make me feel confident getting down the mountain.  Yes, that is exactly what I needed. I needed instruction so that I could get down the mountain with confidence. He started where I was and added a few things so by the time the hour was over I felt confident on different terrain and steepness.

Since then, I have taken many lessons and have enjoyed many amazing days of happiness skiing down the mountain and yes, every once in a while I have a "Yee Haw Day" where I click my ski poles together in joy.

As I have been incorporating Common Core and PSSA prep into my ELA classes this story came to mind. When teaching reading comprehension I first have to teach the students  how to get through the text with some joy.  This has to start with where the students are and then I can add on to their technique so there is confidence and some ease. I hope that this approach serves my students as it has for me. Happy skiing and reading!


Friday, August 26, 2016

AUUGUST!!!

AUUGUST!!

Ahhgust.


The calendar never lies.  It is late August and it is time to face the fact that the optimistic plans laid forth in June are not happening Gone is a new kitchen(What was I thinking?), a clean attic and a highly organized and efficient filing system for paperwork and such. Gone are lesson plans for the entire year (What was I thinking?), Weekly blogs, and Educational Branding.  Instead, a new school year looms ahead with very few familiar landmarks.  The sand shifts under the feet of so many teachers this year that it is no wonder that when we can hold onto something familiar we cling with all our might. New curriculum, new grading system, new teachers, new responsibilities and new policies and procedures are heading my way in just a couple of days. I could work myself up into a tizzy, wringing hands and writing never ending to do lists to prepare for what is essentially unpreparable. (  I just made that word up-It means events or circumstances that are so overwhelming that you cannot possibly prepare for it)  

So instead,  I have taken the AUG out of August and made it Ahh. Meaning I am enjoying the last few mornings where the day stretches out in infinite possibilities. I welcome friends for coffee or lunch and my to do list can wait until later.  I relish the time I have in this moment knowing that in a few days time and energy will be in short supply. My strategy is if I enter this new school year rested and replenished, I will be up for what ever they throw at me.  Who knows, the strategy might work. I will keep you posted. Till then , Yours in all things Techie and Teachy (made that word up too)


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

April is the cruelest month.....


This is the time in a school year where bulletin boards are frayed , inspirational posters are  dog eared and the nerves of students and teachers are a little frazzled.

It is time when teachers think back on the promise of what was supposed to be in early September and then are confronted with the reality of how much needs to be done before the standardized tests begin. In April we all need resilience, patience and a little humor to get through the tedious days of test prep and grading.

Thinking back on last summer,  I had so many ideas for lessons that would inspire and cultivate new thinking in my students.  To be fair, some did come to fruition. Other lessons failed miserably and still others were successful without me actually knowing why at the time. The time for reflection is still a few months away when I will spend a good portion of my summer , as I always have.....planning for the best year ever! Until then, I can read some T.S. Eliot and wait for the rain.


APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering         5
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.

T.S. Eliot (1888–1965).  The Waste Land.  1922. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

There is always more.... I really mean it!

Okay, true story. Just happened. My brother asked me how to share a blog from blogger on Facebook.  I didn't remember how,  but I didn't want to sound like an amateur  blogger being that I have posted two blogs and received a few likes, so I decided to look into it . I clicked on my blog, I clicked on all the icons but to no avail. I couldn't remember how to do it. I knew it had to be easy because I don't remember it being a big deal when I first shared my blog.

Okay, I have seen others search the web for the "how to.." advice. Bravely I opened up another tab. I find a little article that has  step by step directions on how to share a blog onto Facebook.  Boy did I feel all techie and impressed with myself.  Except for the fact that if I am looking at information that doesn't make sense to me I can't retain that information for more then a microsecond. Seriously, I read the first step in the "how to" web page then go back to my blog and in that little bit of time I had forgotten what step I had to do. Then there was this crazy thing about copying a URL code and then pasting it in Facebook somewhere. Pasting URL codes freak me out a little. I was ready to surrender.

Then what do I see on my blog page.... a button that says more... yes more. What did I find when I clicked on more......a tab that said "share with Facebook". Remember always click on more, you just might find what you are looking for..and more!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016



To Siri, With Love.

Long ago and far away, when I was young the movie "To Sir With Love" was a big hit. In it, Sidney Poitier plays a new teacher sent to a rough school in the east end of London.  With love, respect and patience Poitier's character turns a disrespectful, disillusioned class of teenagers into literature loving successful students. 

As many teachers know, this is not all that is needed. Yes, of course if we treat our students with respect, attend to the whole child not just the curriculum we will achieve a level of success. But there is so much more. Teaching students is a complicated endeavor. 

As we all hop on the technology bandwagon, this is an important lesson to remember.  Technology is an amazing resource that engages students and brings the whole world into view. But we also must remember that these are children with vast and differing backgrounds, interests and learning styles. As a teacher of teenagers I am also dealing with growing pains, love and hormones.

When I asked my students to find a question that Siri couldn't answer, I was expecting questions like "What is the meaning of life?" or "What will the world be like when I grow up?". Instead, my students asked "Siri, what is my shoe size?" or many of them just said "Hello Siri".  One student didn't complete my assignment at all, he was too busy looking at his reflection in his darkened iPad. 

Siri, like all technology is an amazing tool. It is up to the teachers to show our students the potential of these tools and themselves.

Your in all things techie,

Eileen

Friday, January 15, 2016

There is always more......


Ten years ago, I didn't have an email, a smart phone, an iPad or a laptop.  Siblings and friends alike would mock my lack of digital prowess.  Fast forward and here is my first blog where I will write about the trials and tribulations of a "late to the party" techie.

The biggest thing I have learned is that there is always more.  That can be liberating and daunting at the same time.  The plethora of materials, advice, apps and web sites that are available is overwhelming especially for a newbie.  It wasn't long ago when I wasn't comfortable having more then one tab open.  Is there some unspoken language that lets some people know that three dots (...) means that if you click on it more options are available to you? Who knew? Most people under 25 years do.

So I leave you with this as I continue on this journey.  Tiny steps, great leaps and formidable disasters await.  I will keep you posted..unless I forget how to log back in.

Your in all things techie

Eileen