Monday, May 11, 2015

Personalizing the Make School Different Meme


Scott McCloud began it. Doug Peterson curated some of it. Aviva Dunsiger turned it on its head (thanks to Doug's dog).

I was tagged by Deborah McCallum(@Bigideasinedu) and Anita Brooks-Kirkland (@AnitaBK) - It took me a while to remember who tagged me because Twitter ate my notifications from March 10 - April 30. I can recite many things that need to change in education. (Valuing school libraries would be near the top of the list.) However, that won't lead to any changes. The truth hurts, but here goes ...

1) I have to stop pretending that I am organized and tidy.

Actually, I think I was cured of this a number of years ago with a stern comment from my husband:
Just because you buy organizational supplies, that does not make you an organized person.
That stung the first time I heard it, but I've come to accept it. I can coordinate large-school events and magazine deadlines, but there are times when my scheduling isn't up to snuff. I don't mind mess. But others do. Confession - my superintendent commented on the rather chaotic-looking MakerSpace corner in the library to my principal on her last walk-through. I cleaned it up at the principal's urging, but it hasn't stayed that way. Organization is a valued learning skill on our report cards. I can't just shrug my shoulders and say "Oh well, I'm just a messy person; I can't help it." That wouldn't be good modeling to the students. I have to reserve time to sort through papers on my desk and put objects back where they belong. I don't enjoy it but it's necessary. I need to do that digitally too - place all my Google documents in specific folders so I don't rely on searching my email for references to items I seek. Yvonne recommended it at the ETFO ICT Conference, and I should follow up with that helpful hint.

2&3) I have to stop pretending that I evaluate assignments in a timely fashion and modify lessons effectively for my special education and English Language Learner students.

These two items were my Annual Learning Plan goals and I deliberately made them the focus of my recent Teacher Performance Appraisal, which pushed me out of my comfort zone. I did a better job during my observation lesson, but I need to work on this frequently, not just when I'm being watched. I seem to assess quickly and alter tasks appropriately so much better during summer school. Maybe it's because I get caught up in the swirl of committees, clubs, and other responsibilities. Whatever the reason, I must keep those focus students in mind to set them up for success, and not let "busy times" interfere with my weekend marking stints.

4) I have to stop pretending that I don't lose patience with the students.

I was complimented recently by another teacher who said that she never hears me yell or scream at the children. It was kind of her to say, but not that accurate. I do raise my voice, and I get frustrated. I've gotten better at reducing the amount of sarcasm I use. I have what newer teachers call "good classroom management", but I need to remind myself that the students aren't aggravating me on purpose. When I visited Mrs. Butters' HSP class, I admired her positive redirection of student misbehaviour. I have to remember to apologize more often if I'm short in my responses because I'm flustered or overwhelmed.

5) I have to stop pretending that equity education is easy and just about buying the right books.

This one is hard to admit. My Mentor AQ class has brought this issue to the forefront for me, and I thank my classmates and a new book study group formed from a few colleagues from the AQ that have agreed to continue having discussions, for getting me to think about it more. I've been afraid - afraid to do the wrong thing and be labelled a racist. I've been ignorant - until this year, I didn't know what CRRP stood for (and it's Culturally Relevant and Responsive Pedagogy, a key concept). I'm taking a few, nervous steps to rectify this. I'm following some people on Twitter, like @RafranzDavis, @RusulAlrubail, and @TheJLV. I'm reading the #educolor conversations, and getting braver about asking questions, even at the risk of making me sound stupid or unenlightened. I'm also taking a hard look at myself, to see how what I say or do perpetuates or dispels stereotypes. Yes, I have purchased great books to represent different cultural, economic, racial and social situations, but that can't be where it ends.

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