Watching this video, which is part of the Global Oneness Project's empathy lesson,
will make you really think about why you became a teacher. I know I did. I also cried a little.
Many students are lucky enough to live their lives with all of the love and support they need at home. For every one of those kids, there are a handful of others that aren't as fortunate. Sometimes all of the love and support they receive is at school. As educators, most of us have a knack for spotting those kids and making those important connections. Often, people don't understand why this is...but we all have a story behind the why. Like Wright says in this video, "The reason why things work is love."
As I watched, I thought of my high school physics teacher who made me love physics. But then, when this physics teacher told his story...I thought about my father and my sister. The latter shaped my adventure in education.
My older sister was severely and profoundly handicapped. Born in the 1960s, there was little knowledge about what caused her condition. The doctors said for my parents to put her in an institution, forget about her, and have more children. Lucky for me they chose to ignore the first parts. I watched my father's devotion to my sister. Life was not easy with a disabled child. Even though I was a few year's younger, I boldly took on the role of protector. I remember pushing her wheelchair when we were out, barely able to see over it, and confronting people who stared and whispered. I remember being mad at them for being rude. I was 4. I wanted to make them understand that she was aware of what was going on around her and that they needed to not be hurtful. Empathy....they needed to understand!
I attended preschool with her at an innovative program designed for kids like my sister and their younger siblings. It was the early years of inclusive programs. Once I started real school, I was bused to a "normal" school. It wasn't until we had moved to North Carolina and I was in high school that kids like my sister were in the same school as I was. More importantly, I got to know other kids in my school who were like me - they had siblings like mine! Many teachers didn't know what life was like for me at home. But the ones that really got to know me, they inspired me. Mrs. Strickland and Mrs. Lennon...they solidified my decision to go into education. They somehow managed to see that there was more to me than met the eye and encouraged me. I thought I wanted to go into special education, until I met Dr. Kamenish and Dr. Bachner when I got to college and on the School of Education track. It was then that I realized my true passion and ultimately became an English teacher.
My path may have shifted slightly, but I never lost sight of how important it is to connect with your students and to take the time to get to know them - especially the ones that are quiet. They often become the brightest stars when shown a little faith. As educators, we need to take those little leaps of faith so that our students can boldly emerge into who they are destined to become.
Mercutio: Nay, if our wits run the wild-goose chase, I am done; for thou hast more of the wild goose in one of thy wits than, I am sure, I have in my whole five. (Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, scene 4)
Who doesn't love a scavenger hunt!
I have been a fan since I was a little girl. Making lists of random things and seeing who could be the first to find all of the items. When I grew up, I bought a handheld GPS receiver, took up geocaching and began many a quest for camouflaged containers on and off of the beaten path...heck, I even kayaked to an island to find one! More recently I have participated in a hybrid scavenger hunt with printed lists and Instagram submissions and hashtags.
And now, there is Goose Chase.
Recently, I became part of the NC Digital Leaders Coaching Network. Passionate educators from across the state applied and were selected to be a part of this dynamic group. We spent two days together in mid-October learning about our roles as coaches and leaders in our home districts and schools. We bonded over common goals, problems, and successes. We actively learned about some cool and inspiring tools. And we participated in a Goose Chase.
Let me just say that Goose Chase rocks - and I'm not just saying that because I was on the winning team, but this one tool (we learned about MANY) has great potential. Basically, you design a scavenger hunt with parameters that outline the tasks. Participants have to use critical reading/thinking skills and come up with out of the box solutions to problems. Photos are submitted and the leader board shows all the stats. Because the submissions can be bounced back and teams submit as they complete the challenges, the leader board always changes. The moderator can continue to add challenges with varying point values during the chase...really keeping participants on their toes! Our team had some very competitive souls on it and while all of us worked together to complete the tasks, there were naturally a few who secured our lead. As with any group task, leaders emerge.
That's what made me think of the quote from Romeo and Juliet . The quick wit and kind nature of the group leaders that emerged made this challenge a ton of fun! When using this tool with others, make sure to establish some parameters so that all contribute. Believe it or not, there are folks that don't like group work of any kind and think scavenger hunts are for children. Perhaps they just need a wild goose chase with the right team.
We can change their perspectives...one step at a time.
TEACHER: Class, make sure you have put your homework in the tray by the window so you can get credit for it. No name, no credit!
Wait, what year is this? Eight years ago in my middle school classroom, this was the norm. In October of 2015, this is still happening....more often than not. The 'eight years ago" me would argue that there is nothing wrong with the old fashioned way....but a lot has happened in eight years. Not just in education, but in the world.
I have three kids. Being a mom has undoubtedly helped with my transformation as an educator so hang in there as I go down memory lane for a moment.
My oldest made it out of high school and is now doing well as a freshman in college. He successfully navigated through...in the background, I was cringing at construction paper and glue stick projects. (Yes, even in high school) He was lucky, though. Over the years, he's often been my test subject and learned how to use Google docs and such before some of his peers. And definitely before some of his teachers.
DISCLAIMER: Not for lack of effort on my part...believe me! Insert digital native mumbo-jumbo here and the fact that some teachers simply need a little more time!
My oldest often asked if he could use technology to complete a task instead of hand writing things since he has difficulty with fine motor skills and I encouraged him. I'll never forget the first time he turned in an English paper by sharing it with the teacher through Google instead of printing...she didn't quite know what to do! But by the end of that school year, progress had been made. I truly credit his present success in college to his Google Drive skills combined with taking many online classes through NCVPS. Oh, did I mention that he is autistic?
Then there is his brother. Same handwriting issues as the big bro. Brilliant mind! He took three high school courses in eighth grade - two through NCVPS. He has no doubt been shaped by watching his brother's struggle, but as important is that he has been extremely lucky to have had a group of dynamic and innovative instructional leaders in middle school. They embraced technology in their classrooms, often blending instruction and giving students flexibility and choice. From math to the media center to the virtual classroom - he had options. He's a messy one, too...settles for mediocrity far more than he should, frustrates the heck out of the adults around him. But, given the parameters of the task and some flexibility to demonstrate his knowledge in ways alternate to paper/pencil - he can do it.
However, he just started high school and it seems to him that he has gone back in time.
The homework line at the top of this post? Wish I could say I made it up. It is from one of his classes. A class in which he has zeros for all of the homework assignments. The teacher told me that he is a very knowledgeable kid and isn't disruptive, but "wastes class time" when given time to work on homework. My son would argue that his time is wasted having to sit there. And he would be right.
I can't help but think about the other kids just like him...he's not alone.
After an arduous week and weekend, I think my son has a plan to change his approach to homework. He will use the class time to plan his approach and design his product...no matter how simple. At home, he will hunker down and pull it all together. Usually he comes up with some pretty good stuff that way. And let's face it - homework isn't going away any time soon. It is only freshman year.
Learning is a journey. He has to take it one step at a time.
One can't tell you what shoes to buy without knowing what size you are working with and what you need those shoes to do. Must they just be cute shoes or just be comfortable? Provide basic support? Maybe they need some sort of a chip to track your progress? What kind of environment will they be subjected to?
There could be eight shoes that all do the same thing. How do you find the right one? Maybe you ask other people who use shoes. You read reviews. You do some research. You try them on...just because a salesperson tells you they work doesn't mean they will necessarily work for you.
A good shoe salesperson will listen to your needs, have you try on shoes, test them, push them to the limits. They will offer reviews and articles where said shoes are compared and put through real-life tests to see how they fare. They will be honest and tell you if the cheaper shoe is just as good as the pricey one...or even if it's not.
Yeah, apps are like shoes.