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helmet-158268_640.pngSometime this spring, I applied for a scholarship to be part of the 40-Hour Teacher Workweek Club, a professional development club created by Angela Watson.

I am a workaholic. I work all the time. I ignore my family a lot. I love my job and I wish I could do it better. But I need to spend more time with my little family before my girls grow up and leave the nest. No matter how much I really want to do my job well.

I don’t know if I can work 40 hours. I work a lot. A lot a lot. Even when I’m sleeping.

My friend Mary told me this morning that maybe I could cut down to a 60-hour workweek.

Next week I’m going on vacation. So maybe I can put it on hold for that. We’ll see.

In the meantime, I’m going to set my brain to work on prepping for an easy peasy start to the new year, despite teaching a new class and trying to flip the content. (That means putting the lecture outside school hours so we can focus on practice in class. More time for students to get the help they need!)

We’ll see, we’ll see.

It’s a lofty goal.

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New-Americans-swimming-YMCA-Bishop-20170612In my first full-time job in Burlington, VT, I was teaching alongside a colleague who taught me much.

Here’s a story about her class and how they are learning about swimming. It’s the same program that brought my YES class to the Y. She’s been bringing little ones to the Y for quite some time, through a program that teaches water safety to 2nd-graders.

I can’t wait to see where this goes… for both of us. Take a chance to listen.

It truly does take a village.

Who knew?

Food for thought as we move into the summer…

i wore a bra to get a job

A digital zine (meant to be read on the computer) for you if you live in Northern Vermont! how to talk to kids about racism_digital_vermont

A printable zine (meant to be printed double sided and folded) for you in you live in Northern Vermont! how to talk to kids about racism_to print_vermont

A digital zine for you if you live anywhere else! how to talk to kids about racism_digital_general

A printable zine for you if you live anywhere else! how to talk to kids about racism_to print_general

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On the last day of Year End Studies, students get the opportunity to check out what happened in other programs. People who went on trips have to make presentations. Most of the cooking classes serve up tastes of what they made. And we went back to our pictures.

Through the generosity of Burlington School District, I was granted 20 iPads a couple of years ago for my EXCEL program, which serves the newest students in our district with the lowest English proficiency levels. Pictures are worth a thousand words, particularly when you don’t have the words yet to say what you want to say.

Sadly, one of our iPads was retired after this YES program. I usually make students carry them with their case covers, but the covers get lost. So this year, I went without, and one of my iPads paid the price.

But giving students the opportunity to document their learning in this way crosses language barriers and gives them a voice.

We used a program called Animoto, which is a simple online program that takes video and photos and throws them into templates.

I’d like to once more thank all the organizations that helped us out during this Year End Studies class: The Teddy Bear Factory; BCA Firehouse Gallery and Fletcher Free Library; Pomerleau Y and Pine Island Community Farm; Burlington Parks and Recreation for providing our beautiful parks and bike path; Shelburne Museum; Spirit of Ethan Allen, ECHO Leahy Center of Lake Champlain; Shelburne Farms; CHILL, my lovely colleagues at BHS for sharing your classes and Sara Crothers for showing us another beautiful part of Vermont; and the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts educational programs.

It’s been a lovely two weeks. Next year, maybe we’ll do it again.

#YES@BHS #SoGrateful

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On the last regular day of classes, we spent our morning at the Flynn Theater with Stacy Raphael, associate director of school programs. 

The Flynn has been kind to us over the years, and the outreach to my students in particular has been outstanding. We’ve benefited from grant programs, from Flynn artists in residence and from opportunities to attend theatrical events. And this year, Stacy outdid herself in catering to our particular needs. We went first to the gallery, where we spent a few minutes looking at Abenaki clothing on display. One piece she pointed out to us is jewelry made from the bark of trees, with patterns created by biting repeatedly.

We went to the dance classroom to talk about classes that are available at the Flynn. After that, we went on a tour of the main theater, spotting the fiddleheads in the artwork on the walls and in the woodwork. We also hunted for phoenixes in the light fixtures and patterns all around us. We went up to where the spotlights and stage lighting are controlled. She took us on the stage to take the opportunity to look out on the audience seats, as countless others have before. She took us downstairs to the makeup room and showed us the giant fan that runs the heating and cooling for the building.

Finally, students went on a treasure hunt, discovering how to decode where to find a seat: evens on one side, odds on the other, and high numbers down the middle. We were rewarded with chocolate and then went on our way, having had one final glimpse into what Burlington has to offer its residents.

Big, big thank yous go out to Stacy. It was more than I could have ever hoped.

After lunch, we put together our final projects. And later that evening, I put it all together into a video we showed to a small group of students who came to see what we had done. One student who will begin his fourth year with us in the fall lamented that he could not take Welcome to Burlington. “A field trip every day? That sounds like a lot of fun!”

Tune in tomorrow to see our final project.

#YES@BHS #SoGrateful.


The community partner who we were unable to connect with on the day we went to the skatepark was Zack Engler, who works with Chill Burlington. This organization makes it possible for kids who normally don’t get exposure to board sports (skiing, snowboarding, skateboarding, stand-up paddleboarding) an opportunity to get out and try. They provide the training and the equipment; all the students have to do is show up with a responsible adult.

This program is run through community partners, such as King Street Center. There has to be one adult for every five students who wish to participate, so volunteerism is extremely important. They also are the beneficiaries of several fundraisers, including the Color Run that takes place in the fall.

It’s not often that you see Nepalis or Somalis or Iraqis at the skatepark or on the slopes. Particularly if they are newly resettled refugees. So I wanted to give my students a chance to hear about it. And after my boys finagled their way into borrowing a skateboard the day that Zack and I misconnected, one of them kept asking about lessons and when they could take them.

Zack felt so bad about not making it the day we were at the waterfront that he wanted to come by the school and talk to students. And he brought presents. They all were recipients of t-shirts, and those who had the right sized feet got some skating shoes. He told us all about the program, and Zack and I made plans to reconnect in the fall. We have three students who really want to jump on a board. I bet anything there will be more. Thank you, Zack!

Then we went over to see the drumming class and got a quick lesson on beating on the drums after a short demonstration of students’ newfound percussion skills. These quick dips into other programs lets students know what was on the Year End Studies menu this year and what they might be interested in signing up for next year. So Matt Yu, a BHS math teacher, was up for helping us widen our students’ knowledge base!

Shortly thereafter, we went back to art teacher John Mazuzan‘s YES class, where students were just finishing up their papier mache lizards that we had visited early in the process. Most of his participants were out photographing their final products. But we did get to see a few students’ work.

We all piled in the car shortly after that and went to my partner teacher’s house in Jeffersonville. It’s about 45 minutes from the school, and students get to see quite a bit of the county where we live. It’s up in the mountains, on country roads that feel a bit like rollercoasters at some points.

We had lunch (most brought their own) and watermelon and jumped on the trampoline. After we finished, we headed down to a covered bridge on a river, where we waded, took selfies and threw rocks. Simple pleasures.

It’s days like these that make me think that the love part of the love/hate relationship with the YES program should win out. We’re nearly finished, the students are mostly having fun, and they’ve been exposed to things they didn’t know existed in this area. I get so conflicted because there is a whole lot of good that comes from this. And yet I still find myself dreading this time of year…

But I’d just like to give a huge shoutout again to Zack Engler, Matt Yu and John Mazuzan. You help make our days a little brighter!

#YES@BHS #SoGrateful

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