powerful moments in education
Soul Strikers turned 2 a few weeks ago. Had I not been in the whirlpool of returning to the classroom after dropping my baby and a chunk of my heart off at baby school (I prefer this word to day care…) I might have properly celebrated.
Regardless, one of my favorite elements of a new school year is thinking back to where I was the year previous, amazed at what I know now- and astonished to think that in another year I will know so much more. The wonder of what new practices I will acquire this year is slightly thrilling, yet simultaneously overwhelming. I always say the better we get at our jobs the harder it becomes, because the more you know about better instruction the more you try to do. Because if you know it exists, you just have to try it. All.
When I began this post, it was going to be a reflective Top 10ish list of what I have learned since entering the internet education world. But when I began, going back 2 years just didn’t seem right to me…it didn’t provide enough perspective on this era without knowing what preceded it.
12 years ago I was student teaching, doing my first ever (and last!) Dibbels reading assessment with a first grader. I was annoyed that my supervisory teacher interrupted me but she just wanted to let me know that some planes had crashed into the Twin Towers and that parents might start coming to pick up their children. I didn’t react- I did not comprehend what she had said and had never been to New York so truly had no schema for the magnitude of the scene I would see on the t.v. after the kids went to Special.
11 1/2 years ago I was a substitute in Western PA, often being called to fascinating assignments such as In-School Suspension monitor, Shop teacher (no power tools allowed with a sub), Drivers’ Ed, Ecology Sciences, wrap-around aide for Mohaned, a student born without eyes… When I entered the schools, I would hear, “Miss H! Who you in for today?” followed by a nod if it didn’t affect them or a “YES!” when they felt they would be catching a break in 4th period.
11 years ago, I began my first teaching job, a 4th grade classroom teacher in Rochester, NH. I was plotting my move to New England to begin a Waldorf training program, as this path appealed to me and anyway, I only gave myself 5 years max in public education. I still lived in PA when I was offered the job and when the team asked, “Where will you live?” I replied, “New Hampshire, I suppose!”
That class of students does not know how to write in cursive, and probably has spotty phonics skills, but they learned a ton of Social Studies. That was my strength in my first year of treading water and I went with it.
During his State of the Union address not longer after that, President Bush made his speech announcing that No Child would be Left Behind, but he forgot to mention that No Teacher would be Left Standing, no Test Left Unturned, No Innovation to be Found.
10 years ago, an interview team took a chance on me. I looked interesting on paper, interviewed well, but did not have my Master’s degree- unlike the rest of the certified staff at the school. I had just had the most challenging year of my life, personally and professionally. Upon being offered the job, I ecstatically accepted and was asked to pursue my degree in the near future.
9 years ago, in only my second year of teaching multi-age 3/4, both of my teammates retired. We hired one of my new teaching partners, turned close friend and skilled colleague. I liked her because she stated during the interview, “I don’t like to sit all day so I certainly wouldn’t expect my students to do it.” It would be a friend of hers that would become my husband in years to follow.
8 years ago if you asked me if we needed technology in schools I would have said, “No way. They have that at home.” I never checked my email and I found it easier to do things in isolation because then I could work to the rhythm of my inspirations, or my soul strikers I suppose I could say. I can’t be found more than a few inches of a device these days and I have a crush on efficient, collaborative tools.
That same year I shook my head in disbelief as I gave my first ever NECAP assessment to a class of 3rd and 4th graders, wondering why I was testing them when they had only been with me for 6 weeks. Money, was answer someone gave. It’s cheaper to have them scored during the school year. Oh. Right. Priorities.
7 years ago, my principal put a flier in my box advertising the Curriculum & Instruction Arts program Lesley University offered. Cohort. 2 weekends a month. Arts Integration. A post-it note was attached that read, “Hmm… :) “.
6 years ago, I began that program- a life-changing Arts Integration Masters program, at the enchanting Walnut Hill in Raymond, NH. My arts based experiences enriched my personal life and expanded my teaching abilities more than anything I imagined. I made some lifelong friends, the kind that I will drink Bloody Marys (Maries? Mary’s?) with when I am 85.
5 years ago I was in the midst of my most challenging class ever, a year that burned me out and almost drove me into classroom teaching retirement. I learned an extensive amount that year about my patience, my perspective, and I collected a heck of a lot of data. When the buses pulled away on the last day of the 2-year loop, I collapsed on the ground and lay there, looking at the sky, feeling relief that I survived, yet knowing I grew a great deal as a teacher.
4 years ago I was graduating from my Masters Program, turning 30, and getting married. I have an all-at-once kind of mentality. Go big or go home.
3 years ago I had no idea what Twitter was and when it was explained to me, I brushed it off as something that was “not how I think”. Not long after, I began spending countless hours poring through the links and #hashtags that opened my mind, exploded my mind rather, to what teachers around the world were up to.
2 years ago I began this blog and my head was spinning after entering this online educational world. It was like being in a pedagogical candy store! There were so many blogs to read, so many practices to try, so many people to connect with, and even larger world to grasp- the world of educational technology and the myriad possibilities it gave to teaching and learning. I took a few classes toward my online teaching degree and began to build my arsenal of digital tools.
1 year ago, I joined together with some local educators (see year 3) as well as a close friend (see year 6) and we hosted the first EdCamp Seacoast in Portsmouth, NH. (insert plug for the 2nd annual EdCamp Seacoast here) My new passion for relevant professional development exploded and the feeling I had hearing all of the conversations around the building planted a seed for a new direction. I was pregnant and looking ahead to a brand new life with a baby and possibly a career shift…if I could only convince the powers that be.
Today I reflect, my daughter sleeping upstairs, my husband on his favorite weekly excursion to the town dump, wondering what my list will say next year.