Monday, July 13, 2020

Reopening Schools: A Decision to Die For!




Would I die for my students? 
Probably.
Teachers have placed themselves in harm's way for their students countless times.

But, not like this.
Not in a situation where decisions could be made that would keep our students and educators safe. 

A 61 year old educator in Arizonza was infected with COVID19, along  with two other educators who were working in the same classroom.  She died.They still don't know if she got it from her family, and bought it into the classroom, or if she contracted it from another teacher.

It doesn't matter. With all the precautions, all three teachers were still infected.

Our "Secretary of Education" Besty Devos states that we shouldn't worry.
“If there’s a short-term flare-up for a few days, that’s a different situation than planning for an entire school year in anticipation for something that hasn’t happened,” she told CNN host Dana Bash. “Kids have got to be back at school, they’ve got to be back in the classroom. Working families have got to have their kids back in school.”

What do you notice? 
I notice that she does not mention the fact that educators or school personnel can get sick. I notice that she is worried about two things. Kids have to go to school and their working parents need to have them in school. No education personnel are mentioned.

What do you wonder?
I wonder if she cares if educators, or any staff member,that works in the school, becomes ill or dies?
I wonder if she thinks we are dispensable?

I dislike remote learning. Intensely. 
I miss seeing the kids face to face. 
But none of those emotions are reasons to be sent into a classroom when our safety cannot be guaranteed. A situation where there are more questions than answers.

My heart bleeds for the teacher who has to go to work. It's easy to say don't go. 
But when you have to feed your family, the rent or mortgage is due, the bills have to be paid, and you are told to report to work, what are your options?
Take a minute to read this article from NEA,"Returning Safely to In-Person Instruction:What Educators Need to Know" to get an idea of what your rights are.

Remember the good old days?
March 2020? 
Everyone thought teachers were heroes? 
Now they want us to be martyrs.
Would I die for my students? Probably.
But not from  COVID-19.



Saturday, June 13, 2020

Shut Up and Teach!:Silence is Golden?






This tweet. (See below)
When I read it, someone else had retweeted it, the first thing that stood out to me was her use of the simile, "like wild animals." Hmmmm.....

So she, and I am sure she is not the only one, has a problem, because educators aren't being silent about the issues America has with systemic racism. Educators had the audacity to bring what is happening in the world into #Edutwitter! Gasp!

She doesn't believe that educators should post their anger, sadness, their emotions, that they should continue to "share resources and build each other up, and model digital citizenship." (She said model digital citizenship and then compared educators to wild animals)

WTH? ANOTHER black man was killed by a police officer!!!!! 

And the world exploded. The world!

And educators should continue to just share resources and ignore the fact that the world is changing? Eyes are being opened?  Why shouldn't this happen on #Edutwitter? We are teaching black and brown children, and they need an ally.
Sharing resources is not all there is.

We should be sharing, even if it makes people uncomfortable, sharing how to be antiracist, sharing how we are feeling, and sharing ideas on what can be done to help the situation.

When I read this tweet, I immediately thought of  Laura Ingraham telling Lebron to "shut up and dribble."

Fortunately, educators are not being silent. They are speaking out, they are using their voices. 

We will not "shut up and teach.", we will not turn a blind eye to what is happening, and we will definitely not be silent!





Saturday, May 2, 2020

This Remote Teaching/Learning Thing!

Just a hodgepodge of thoughts/opinions here!
Thank goodness I have always been a fan of integrating tech in my classroom, that has made this remote teaching/learning situation a WHOLE lot less stressful for me! Whew!

However, I feel for teachers who were not prepared for this, and find it very difficult to navigate this terrain. Especially when it just happened out of nowhere, there was no time to prepare, the expectations are crazy(in some places), and companies are coming at you.Buy/Use my Distance/Remote/Virtual Learning tool! Take my Distance/Remote/Virtual webinar!

If you are an educator showing what you are doing during this time in order to help others, thank you. If you are "showing off?" STOP. You are making other teachers feel "less than."  Have you seen the "Not Every Teacher" image?

Why would someone think it was a good idea to have teachers create a classroom setting virtually? I mean the "sit in front of the kids for hours" type of setting?

Why would teachers give kids SO much work? Especially middle school and high school? Is it required?

Why are kids with devices not completing assignments? My friend had to talk me down from stressing about this. Almost there.

We need to do something to make the education system equitable. I read where some students are still waiting for devices. In April, I mean May?  I am fortunate to work in a district where we were already 1:1. They made sure every kid who needed a device got one. And no, I do not teach in a wealthy district.

I went into this thing thinking I was going to teach 3 subjects a day,  I got over that quickly. Now, I do one subject a day for about an hour. I use what I think will engage. I start with Morning Meeting,(I got this template from Matt Bergman), and edited it.I do a little activity. A fun example, my students love Estimation Clipboard, very cool Math Estimation slides. And then I teach ELA or Math.

I decided I am going to start Math with a Mystery Science video, I miss teaching Science. My kids miss Science.School has to be more than ELA and Math. Nearpod and I are besties. My other buddies are Classdojo, Scholastic Online, Gimkit, Jognog(Not for long though, my FREEBIE is expiring-Boo hoo), Quizizz, and Quizlet, just to name a few.

But those links mean nothing without my kids. The majority come faithfully, even if most don't work outside of "class." It gives us a little bit of "normalcy", I guess. They are pretty quiet, so I let them use the chat to participate. I don't care if they wear a hoodie, or wrap up in a blanket, or show the top of their head. I don't require video, but if you don't answer or answer in the chat, after a while I do know you are not actually there. smh. I do share my screen, so they can show their work, but I switch it right back!

I do let them know I will not compete with their cell phone or television. Choose. One of my students wrote in the chat, "I choose class." I caught him looking up at the television. Does he not realize teachers have these uncanny powers?

I use Zoom. Yes, even after the panic. Zoom was not created for educators. They were not ready. But they quickly adapted and put security into place that has protected me and my kiddos.There is no perfect tool. Hackers will be hackers. Use the waiting room, the password, don't let anyone share your screen...

This remote teaching/learnming thing has taught me some things.
Robots will never take over teaching.
I miss my my classroom with the kids in it. :(

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Monday, February 17, 2020

"I Don't See Color":Why Educators Should Acknowledge the Race & Ethnicity of Students.






"I don't see color".


This was a phrase that was used by a teacher in a Facebook discussion regarding an article about
why more teachers of color are needed. The educator in the group took offense because
she felt that she didn't see color in her classroom, therefore the race of the teacher
should not matter. That's the part that resounded with me.


 We all see color, it's something that can't be avoided.


There is nothing wrong with "seeing color." It's a natural way we use to identify our fellow human beings.
I once had a teacher describe a student  with every identifying feature, but their race. I finally asked her
the student's race.Did she believe that I would misinterpret the identification of the student's race as racist? 


"Seeing color" becomes an issue, when along with a person's racial identity, we focus on the stereotypes
that go along with it. When we assume the Latino children can't speak English, or that they
are in the country illegally.When we assume the black children are dumb, and their parents are drug addicts
and/or alcoholics. Even when we think our stereotypes are "positive", it can still cause anxiety.
For example, the myth that the Asian and Indian children are smart and will always excel in class.


In the article, "Color Blindness" the author states that,"race and ethnicity often play important roles in
children's identities and contribute to their culture, their behavior, and their beliefs." Therefore,how
can we,as educators, ignore something that is a huge part of who our students are?


Building relationships with our students is the most important thing we can do in our classrooms.
How can we build relationships if we ignore a central part of who our students are?


If you "see color", you are more likely to have representation of all students in your classroom.
If you "see color", you will make sure that what you teach provides role models for all students.
If you "see color", you will make sure that a student does not feel uncomfortable in your classroom,
especially if they are the "only one."
If you "see color", you will, more than likely, recognize the cultural dynamics of the
students in your room, and understand that they may not mirror yours. 


I deliberately make sure the images I use in my classroom, represent all my students. When my Muslim
students fast during Ramadan, I find a place for them outside of the lunchroom. I read stories that reflect
the cultural diversity of my room. Little things, that mean a lot. Look around your room, do the images
in your room represent all your students?


We are all human, and whether we admit it or not, we take our biases into our classrooms.
That being said, a teacher who is aware of her/his biases, should do their
best to make sure that the color of their students does not "color" their view of them. Instead, it should
enhance the view, and help develop a stronger connection between themselves and their students.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Read to Self: Just a Kid and a Book.



Date: Monday, January 5, 2020

Place: My classroom

Student: Mrs.Mims, could we start doing Read to Self again because I got this great book for Christmas and I just want to read it.

Here's what's funny, and by funny, I mean ironic. During the break, I was thinking about how I had pretty much eliminated Read to Self from our daily schedule. (Don't worry, I did not spend my entire break thinking about work.😉)

What had happened was... there were so many other obligations to be met, and it just kinda, sorta, disappeared, vanished, was gone.
However, a lot of these obligations were taking place in front of a computer; Dreambox, Imagine Learning, completing their assignments on Schoology, and of course, digital reading websites. I am all for integrating tech, but this was getting to be a little too much screen time.

They needed to read. Just read. Read a book.

I do have Book Club on Mondays and Fridays. Thanks to DonorsChoose, I have plenty of novels the students  can access. But, it's not the same as curling up in a video chair, couch, those comfy flexible seats we just got from, yeah, DonorsChoose, and reading on their own.

Every day. And yes I mean every day, since we have returned from break, that kid I mentioned above, comes to tell me how many more pages he has read during our Read to Self time. Or someone will point out one of our Vocabulary words. Or they will tell me something great that happened in their story. Or, they will share something with a classmate. Or... I could go on and on about how valuable this time is, if... we want to create READERS, and not test takers.

I'm not saying my kids aren't ever going to get reading passages. As much as I detest it, SBAC is real. But, with no regrets, I am going to continue to give them their 15 minutes and let them read to, and by, themselves.
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash