Monday, February 9, 2015

#LoveTeachingChallenge - Why I Work in Education

In the midst of much negative attention and feelings toward education, there is so much good that is happening in schools everyday. It seems the only time that schools are on the news is when something negative happens. Meanwhile in every single school across the country great things are happening. Teachers are creating supportive, exciting, safe, and effective environments in which kids are allowed to do what they do best: learn, share, and have fun.

I am not on the front line of education anymore. I am not doing the heavy lifting anymore. I do not face the challenges that classroom teachers face. However, I do support teachers. I am there as a resource and hope that my efforts help teachers be more effective in supporting the learning of their students. I know that teachers are often the most influential adult in a student's life. This is why I stay in education.

Luckily, I do have the opportunity to work with students in some capacity. I tutor high school students who are in a residential soccer program. Mostly I work with the students on math, but will give any subject a shot.

I love it when a student comes into tutoring frustrated and worried that they do not understand their math assignment. Often they will say they have no idea what they are doing and have little hope of ever "getting it."

I love this not because I enjoy watching the students struggle, but because I know it is another opportunity for me to see that "light bulb" moment. It is another opportunity for me to show students that seemingly impossible tasks, can be overcome and understood. Over time, I see these students show incredible growth and some even learn to like math. I love hearing, "I never liked math before. But now that I understand it, I like it." These are the moments that keep me going back. These are the moments that I remind myself are happening in classrooms all over Pinal County and the reason that I try my best to provide teachers with relevant and useful information.

I believe education is something much different than most professions. I would say education for most people is what life is about. It is connecting with and helping students discover themselves and grow into whatever it is they wish to be.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Blogging - Leaving Pieces Behind

I am writing this blog in response to Todd Nesloney's #EduLS Week 5 challenge. The assignment is to write a blog entry. For some it will be their first ever blog. For others this week's assignment will be part of their regular routine. For me, it falls in the middle. Blogging isn't something I do everyday or regularly, but something I have done sporadically. I have contributed to two blogs, this blog and Banana Daiquiris and Life Lessons. This blog is for my "professional life" while BD & LL is more personal. I am one of several (and certainly not the most entertaining/creative/cleaver/consistent/funny) contributors to BD & LL.

Back to the point. As I thought about the topic for this blog post, I read through some previous posts and a thought started to develop. There are lots of great reasons to blog. Jon Harper mentions a few of these in this video introduction. I find that blogging is a chance for me to think through some of my disjointed thoughts and attempt to make them understandable and relevant for others. As I read and reflected I also took a moment to look at my blog data. My blog is not followed by many people (actually only 1 and I think he was guilt-ed into it). However, by the magic of the inter-web and social media, my blog has been viewed 595 times. Certainly not very impressive and not even close to what more popular educational blogs see in one day.

Still I can't see this as a bit impressive. My first post was on March 21, 2014. In a little less than a year my little dinky, experimental, rambling, inconsistently contributed to blog was looked at 595 times. Not too bad. Granted some of these were friends and family, some were certainly repeats, some were probably even accidental. Still, it means that 595 times someone was exposed to what I had to say. I can somewhat confidently say that even if only half of those visits were from viewers who were somewhat interested in the content and took the time to read all or part of a post, my thoughts were shared with another human being around 300 times. That's pretty cool! And just maybe of half of those times - 150 times someone read something what I wrote and considered it. And just maybe a quarter of those instances (around 37 of those times - I should have used an easier number) someone thought further about or talked about or actually made a change to something that they do in their classroom or with their own children. Well that's pretty cool. And all I had to do was take 15 minutes and write some thoughts and post them to the magical inter-web. Pretty awesome stuff.

And how does this all relate to the title? I began to understand that writing a blog is like leaving little pieces and bits of information behind. And what's so impressive about that? Pretty simple. We all look for information on a particular topic daily. What's cool about blogs is that any time someone goes to the Google and types a question or topic into the search bar, there is a chance that that person will come across what you wrote. My job is to present PD to educators. I love my job and hope that I make a difference for students. However, I know that there are times when I present on a topic - let's say task-based learning for instance, and those that I am presenting to (or some of them) are not quite ready to use the information to make change in their classroom. Unfortunately this information may be lost. And lets face it 99.9% of the time they will never look at the materials given to them ever again. But then later (maybe 1 year, 2 years or 5 years later) they say, "Wow, I can really see how I could use task based learning to help my students understand _______________. I just wish I could find that stuff that one guy gave me." That's were the internet, including blogs, teacher pages, etc are great resources. They are little pieces of information left for others to find when they need it and when they are ready for it.

Now do I know if anything that I write makes a difference to anyone? Not really. But I think the odds are with me. Especially if I continue to blog, read blogs, consider their ideas, share their ideas, blog some more, post some more resources etc.

Happy blogging and thanks again to Todd Nesloney for putting us all to the #EduLS challenge! Maybe someday I will make his, or someone else's list of favorite blogs! And be sure to check out BD&LL. I like to think we are somewhat entertaining and will make you think about some things you never thought you would think about. Besides, we'd all like to be famous. And the only way for that to happen is if people like you read our stuff. Enjoy!