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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Oh STINK! I'm stayin' in School!!

This is Cindy.  She was my Best Student Ever.  My Grandma
made her... and I dusted her off for this picture. 
Strait "A's" - I tell you!
 And I have a TON of ideas!!!  First, I must tell you that I was born to be a teacher.  I was that kid.  The nerd who took home left over worksheets to teach my dolls.  The kid who asked for a red pen as part of every holiday gift giving occasion because I wanted to “grade” papers.  I even had “struggling” dolls – who ended up with very low grades and I had to remediate them.  I differentiated before differentiation was cool! 

Alexander grabbing his feet this afternoon. 
Happy Baby in the grass.
So, now I will confess.  I’ve been wondering if school was really the place for me.  I wasn’t sure if I was spreading myself too thin.  Was my family getting enough of my attention?  Should I be spending more time with the twins?  Was I being an effective teacher?  Were my students learning enough now that my attention was sometimes distracted by my family issues?  These are the thoughts that have consumed me the past few months.  It is worse when Alexander’s health is in jeopardy.  It is better/worse when the people I work with are so understanding.  On one hand, it is such a relief that I work with such amazing people – they tell me I can take time when I need it.  On the other hand, it is another reminder of what I have on my plate at this moment.  This has been the topic discussed around our dinner table for a while now.  I believe the topic has been decided.

I’m staying in school! I’ve been off work for a week… and I’m bored.  I miss school. I miss my students.  I miss my co-workers.  I miss adult conversation.  This past week from school was exactly what I needed.  Between Alexander’s 24 hour EEG, Easter vacation, and a conference today – it was just enough time for me to miss my professional life.  I’m going back next year, and I’m thrilled to death about it.

So I have some new ideas I’m excited to try.  I teach in a technology-based classroom, so I want to do something new next year.  I want to teach in a classroom without desks.  I want to get a big piece of carpet, a few couches, some bean bag chairs, and some big pillows and create the ultimate “coffee house” classroom.  I want to put a few big round tables in the classroom for those students who would still like to sit at a desk… but really – why do you need to sit at a desk to learn?  My students spend 99% of the class time doing one of two things.  They are either engaged in discussion with me or each other OR they are working on an activity on the laptops.  So – in either scenario – what does a desk have to do with anything?  Being excited to learn is over ½ the battle.  And – I’m going to bet money that my classroom without desks is going to be exciting to learn in.  Can you picture it?  Students sitting around in little groups discussing communism in China or the social implications of reality TV?

So Picture a Combination of these 3 ideas in a clasroom ~

Replace the kids doing nothing with students working!

Students working like this - in a room that feels like the first picture

You stil need some desks for collaboration.

The other idea I really want to persue is bringing one of my classrooms into a “college” setting.  Some schools are partnering with colleges and offering college classes in the high school.  I am SO the person to do this.  The only issue standing in my way (ok… there may be several issues standing in the way – but one I’m not sure can be overcome) is I do not have my master’s in this content area.  I do have a master’s degree – but not in this content.  Don’t worry – I’m willing to push down doors to see if I can find a crack to squeeze through.  I just cannot take on more coursework at this juncture in life. (I mean… I just decided I was going to emotionally be able to handle going back next year!)

Finally – I saw this really AMAZING idea where students partner with other students in another country to become e-mail pen pals.  I am definitely doing this next year.  I am so psyched to be able to offer this as a learning experience.  I mean… how amazing would it be to e-mail about the culture while we are discussing culture in our lives?!?!? 

So…. I don’t often talk about school.  It is a huge part of my life, but it is difficult to decide what is appropriate to put in a blog.  I certainly feel my dreams for crazy ideas in the classroom are ok to share.  I hope you can feel my passion for teaching because I am re-energized to try new things.  I am going back to work.  My life’s calling since before I can remember what I wanted to do.  I will plan to change the world 180 students at a time for now until I can become a professional blogger and change it a few million a post. Skype Emoticons

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At April 26, 2011 at 8:47 PM , Blogger Tommy Oaks said...

These ideas are GREAT! I would have totally loved all of these plans/ideas. For 3 years, no matter what class, I always enjoyed learning from you. I know that your future student's will have a blast and be able to take on so much more because of your style of teaching and the atmosphere you create. And so some road blocks come're MRS. MOWERY!!! When has that EVER stopped you?

At April 26, 2011 at 8:55 PM , Blogger Wildtree To You With Erin said...

Great ideas! In my classrooms, I always had a "reading nook" with couches, lamps and bookshelves, carpets and bean bags! I loved it! And I think my kids did,too!! I raided thirft stores to get my stuff!

At April 27, 2011 at 6:31 AM , Blogger Mihaela said...

What discipline do you teach in?

At April 27, 2011 at 8:57 AM , Blogger Kimmie said...

Great ideas Kristen -- I was the same way growing up with red pens and dolls as students, but I have not quite found my "place" in teaching yet. I hope I can be as excited to try new things like you without thinking about too many of the things that always drove me crazy in the world of teaching (and honestly have pushed me away from the profession).
You'll have to keep us posted on how these ideas play out -- it sounds awesome AND btw - I think you should consider making some bean-bag chairs - that would be fun! :)


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