I am a Hypocrite

Yes, I am outing myself.  I am a hypocrite.  I am not a reader in the way that I expect my students to be.  I require that my students read everyday. Without fail.  End of discussion.  So of course I read everyday, right?  Nope.

I haven’t read a book cover to cover in years.  Yes, I am embarrassed by that.  The last book I read was Pleasure by Eric Jerome Dickey in 2009.  Ok, so that’s not exactly professional level or deep reading.   It was not difficult and really kind of mindless.  And before that, I couldn’t tell you.

So now to defend myself.  I do read, everyday.  Just not the way I would like to be reading.  I read articles from my RSS feed.  I read some news.  I read things in social media.  The kicker to all this is I LOVE to read.  I have a stack of books I am waiting to read, and I want to read them.  I just don’t schedule it in and time gets away from me.  I would love to spend time with those books.  I had to stop buying books, because I just couldn’t get to them.  I used to LOVE magazines.  Well, I guess I still love magazines.  At one time I had subscriptions to  at least 8 magazines.  But then they started to pile up.  Last month’s would sit on the month’s before and finally I had to stop them.  Now I just subscribe to two and I really have to work not to get behind on those.

But now I want to change the type of reader I am.  I have started to get one of my magazines on my ipad.  That is really helpful.  I am able to read whenever,  wherever and I don’t have to lug around a magazine.  But I have a long way to go.  I have started to download samples of books that I would like to read because I will not buy more books until I have read what I already have.  So I am going to be a more dedicated reader as I also become a more dedicated writer.  If I’m asking it of my students, surely I can ask it of myself.

What kind of reader are you?

Good Intentions

Well, I started the school year with good intentions.  I looked back often at the renewed page and the first post of the school year and I thought, “Wow, I really should work on this.”  Guess what?  I was right.  I should do it.  But is wasn’t until I was cleaning out my Google Reader that I came across this blog post by Karl Fisch.  In this post Karl references Seth Godin’s post.  (I had never heard of Seth Godin before.)  But it was exactly what I needed.  So here I am, in this post.  Writing poorly in public (everyday).

In Seth’s post he talks about writers block.

Do it every day. Every single day. Not a diary, not fiction, but analysis. Clear, crisp, honest writing about what you see in the world. Or want to see. Or teach (in writing). Tell us how to do something.

Writers block has never been my problem.  I have plenty of ideas to write about.  That (his quote) has been my problem.  Doing it everyday.  I know, make it a priority.  But I have a very full life now: a 1 year old, a significant other and his children, a house, a new job, and a long commute.  But Karl’s post is what I have been wrestling with the day since I wrote the New Beginnings post.  Who am I as a teacher of reading and writing if I don’t read and write?

It also matters for my students.  Karl said:

I think we’re often overly concerned about the quality of our students’ writing, and whether it’s “good enough” to share. Now, to be clear, I think our students should be concerned with the quality of their writing, and should strive to get better at communicating their thoughts. But if we let the worry about what others will think get in the way of having our students write more, and for a larger audience, then we’re doing them a disservice out of fear.

That is something I struggle with; just having them publish their work in our room, let alone for the world.  But I think there is great value in publishing to the world.  What better validation and inspiration than to have someone who doesn’t know you relate to what you are writing and sharing. Not your teacher, not your mom, not your classmate.  I have had my students maintain a blog before, but have kind of shied away from it for exactly that reason. Their writing is not perfect. Plus working with students whose second language is English just puts the spotlight more on what is wrong.  But they have such great ideas and so much to say.  So yes, they need to  publish to the world.

So tomorrow’s post will be about my life as a reader because I am committing to writing poorly(and then not so much).  In public.  Everyday.

New Beginnings

Well, it seems this year will bring me a new opportunity and beginning.  I thought it was only fitting that I  refresh this site with a new look and a renewed effort for this to truly be a learning community for me and anyone who joins me in my journey.  I was refreshing a couple of the pages and went back and read one of the first entries from my first Camp Plug and Play.  And I can’t even imagine not liking a Mac.  But my reflections on ELL students was spot on.  I will always stay focused on being the best teacher I can, especially for our ELL students.

The Woes of Teaching

I have not posted here in a very long time.  There has been a lot of frustration professionally that caused me to stay off the grid.  I just didn’t think I could contribute in a way that would cause me or anyone else growth.  But now, some things have happened that I think are worthy of conversation.

What are we trying to do to teachers and the education system?  On Thursday, my school district laid off 187 teachers. It is not the schools district’s fault, although I think we really should revisit closing some schools. Thankfully for me I have a job next year.  But some people who have been with the district for as long as four years do not.  I am thankful for having a job, but at some point at what cost?  If the state does not pass a tax increase in May, my classroom may have  at least 38 students in it.  At least.  Really it could have as many as 45- 50 before we start talking about thresholds being too high given that we would be a at a 38:1 student teacher ratio.  When does class size stop becoming about teaching as much as it is about management.  And as one of our administrators talked about the budget and the future we face next year, he spoke of how our pr campaign to get more students is going to go after students in neighboring districts.  He commented we are going after them and we are, “fighting for scraps”.

If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn’t want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher’s job.~Donald D. Quinn

And I must add on a $40,000 salary (I’m being generous) and supplementing his supplies out of his own pocket in a 35 hour work week.


Many good things can come out of conflict.  I am currently in conflict.  I have conflict with what I am currently doing professionally and where I see what I want to be doing.  There is such a divide between the two, I’m not sure how to cross it.

My current position is teaching an ELD classroom that is full of more restrictions than it is creativity and varied opportunities for learning.  There is sooo much pressure for students to perform on AIMS there isn’t room for anything besides teaching to the test.  I hate it.  I understand where it is coming from and why, but surely there has to be a middle ground somewhere.

Where I see myself professionally (today, that is) is teaching writing to middle schoolers.  I am inspired by storytelling and the creativity and voice that we all have, if we just learn how to share it.  Which really is a place I never thought I would want to be at. I have been greatly inspired by fellow ELD teacher, Ms. Gonzalez, who is a GREAT writing teacher.  She gets it.  She is so knowledgeable about children’s literature.  What’s more important is that she honors students’ voices.  I think that technology provides an avenue for students to share their voices in a way that is natural to them.  If only we let them, monitor and advise them.

So with that, I must get to where the rubber meets the road.  What am I going to do about it?  It took me three years to get this site up and running, and I have let it just sit here.  I want to teach writing, but really have not honored it for myself.  I don’t write everyday more than a Facebook update, and even that has been sporadic lately.  I haven’t read an adult book in over a year.  REALLY!!  Yikes!  I am embarrassed to share that.  But it is what it is.  And it is where I am at.  But it is not where I want to be.

Post update(11/10): I don’t hate teaching.  I actually enjoy my class this year.  (I haven’t said that in two years.)  They are a great group.  I do hate the testing pressure.  Just felt I should clarify.

Am I Really a Writer?

Today, the ELD Instructional Coaches attended in-services presented by our own.  The writing presentation today was AWESOME!!!! I was greatly impressed and learned more in two hours than any writing training I’ve had in 7 years total.  I have always struggled with teaching writing.  I have come to realize that maybe my lack of drive in teaching writing is connected to my lack of writing here.  I never really thought about how as a teacher of writing I need to have some connection to writing myself.  I have not made writing a priority.  If I really want to improve my teaching of writing I need to give some priority to my own writing, not just here, but also my own personal writing.   All writing is not worthy of publishing, but surely I have more to say than what I have so far…

Technology dependent???

Well, when I moved into my new classroom this year, I inherited a Smartboard  projector that had met its lamp life.  To use my Smartboard I had to turn off my classroom lights so the kids could see the board.  So of course I was all over it with our MIS department.  Fortunately our district has an exchange rebate program that will replace it.  Unfortunately this is going to take 1 -2 weeks(so they say).  So I am on day 5 of no projector. I am trying to stay positive about it.  I was only at work 3 days this week and next week has three half days…but oh how I miss my projector. No movie clips, no Smartboard, no document camera.  What am I going to do????

Getting Into the Swing of Things

This is week 3 of school, officially week 3 and 3 days.  But really, academic full press on, this is week 3.  I am just getting oriented to the new curriculum and pacing and such.  We have lots of help this year with pull-out interventionists.  It has been pretty hard to get scheduled and instruction focused while the majority of my class is out.  I am hesitant to teach new material for having to re-teach it in 30 minutes.  I am still trying to maximize that time with the students I have left.  One thing that I have found this year is that I am always questioning how I could have done a lesson better.  That is definitely something I have to credit to the National Boards process.  Hopefully one I can just continue on my own rather than in pursuit of something.  We’ll see…

I”m going to get better at this!

I just took about 40 minutes to truly visit my aggregator, something I haven’t done sine I went back to work 3 weeks ago.  I had over 60 posts to read.  Of course I didn’t read all of them and I left 6 to be read later when I would really read them and not just clean up my aggregator.  I enjoy developing my personal learning network and trying to learn about different perspectives on technology integration.  I hope to add more locals to my network and become a better contributer myself.

Beginning reflections

The school year has started with a bang for me.  I have a great class and am loving the grade level change.  The transition to  new leadership has been relatively smooth.  There is much to look forward to this year!

But it just hit me this morning.  Our district eliminated our electronic grade book because it changed attendance systems.  I realized today that I will have to do grades manually this year.  Really?!?  REALLY?!?!!!!  What year is this?