Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fears, Revealed

What would you do (as an educator) if you weren't afraid?

All people feel fear, but this prompt represents a more alarming issue with how teachers are seen in society. Teachers are too often silenced and placed into spaces of fear and toxicity. Sometimes their fears are not ones that revolve around their teaching craft and students - most of the time, the fear is around their job security, salary, and pressures from administration and parents. The job stigma that exists in teaching professions in our country further develop and strengthen our fears. 

I hope to think that I am not held back by fears when it comes to working with my students. I want to collaborate and guide students in ways that they need in real time, not what adults need for their benchmarks, pacing guides, and political agendas. My fear lies in whether or not I am doing good by my students. 

I want to reach them in a equitable and meaningful way and I want them to remember the experiences they have had with their classes. There isn't any one way for a teacher to know right away if they have succeeded in this...sometimes it takes time.

Here are some thoughts I found from Siobhan Curious...

"Identifying these fears was a major step in recovering from my burnout.  As I unpacked them, I realized that I needed to change my conception of “good teaching,” I needed to confront classroom difficulties head-on, and I needed to let go of the fantasy that I’d one day walk into the classroom with total confidence that everything would go well.
Fear is a part of any important work.  We don’t need to get over it, but we may need to change our approach to it.  In my next post, I’ll discuss one way I tried to deal with my fears: I got more training."

Monday, September 29, 2014

Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes, Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousands Moments so Dear

In midnights
In sunsets
In inches
In cups of coffee

First year jitters
turn into anxiety
but in moments of failure
learning lives on
growing, succeeding, gaining courage
even in the face of hell
affirmed in my beliefs
found and lost a side of me
I didn't even know I had

Four years later, here is a poem I wrote during Emily Vizzo's amazing presentation at the SDAWP Fall Conference "Where Power Corrupts, Poetry Cleanses".

The girl's on fire
don't take your eyes off her
some hate, some love
some flee, some play
burns it down
chills hell
lights it up
mentally, physically
her heat finds all
faster, the intensity only rises
her blood is already thick
red, she burns.

In laughter
In strife
How do you measure a year in a life?
How about love?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Collaborating on Online Resources on the Weekend using Technology

25th: This weekend I had the honor of presenting at the San Diego Area Writing Project's Fall Conference 2014. I spoke about building and sustaining a writer's community. In building this, genuine and meaningful collaboration needs to exist between students. 

26th 3 go-to online education resources:

Edmodo: The teaching team uses this for sharing PD resources.

Teaching Tolerance: Amazing resources and articles on equity and privilege.

Math Task Ideas: http://www.insidemathematics.org/common-core-resources/mathematical-content-standards/standards-by-grade/2nd-grade

27th Weekends or Holidays

The days off are for a time of rest. However, most of the time I spend my time off still thinking and reflecting on my practice. I ask more questions of myself and set new goals for the upcoming week. In January, some of our weekends are also used for Saturday School - not the traditional kind. It's the type of Saturday School where you invite your students who would benefit the most from a small group (no more than 5) 3 hour instructional block. Our students actually whine to be a part of Saturday School when they are not invited. Saturdays - like this last one - are also spent being a part of professional development. I am a SDAWP fellow and teacher consultant apprentice. There are book club dates, conferences, pd, and other duties for the weekends. 

28th Technology

Technology should enhance, extend, and challenge the process of learning. It is more than a tool because many modes of tech have the ability to push student thinking further. It can be used much in he same way as writing.

We use technology to learn more about something.
We use technology to share what we have learned.
Use it to demonstrate learning.
Use it to enhance the understanding of an intangible concept.
Use it to reach out to more resources.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Collaboration on our site is a necessity. As a staff we believe and agree to a few significant core values:

SDGVA Core Principles
  • Teaching for joy and justice begins with the non-negotiable belief that all students are capable of brilliance. Our duty as educators is to attempt to coax the brilliance out of students by building upon their strengths and personal lived experiences. – Linda Christensen
  • Teaching is a noble profession. Teachers who are well informed and effective in their practice can be successful teachers of other teachers as well as partners in educational research, development, and implementation. Collectively, teacher-leaders are our greatest resource for educational reform. – National Writing Project
  • Writing is essential to communication, learning, and citizenship. It is the currency of the new workplace and global economy. Writing helps us convey ideas, solve problems, and understand our changing world. Writing is a bridge to the future. –National Writing Project
  • Service-Learning integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to teach civic responsibility and strengthen communities. Students become actively contributing citizens and community members through the service they perform. – National Service-Learning Clearinghouse
  • Resiliency is a characteristic of individuals that allows them to adapt, persevere, and succeed despite adversity. Administrators, teachers and families who work cohesively together to build a safe, nurturing school environment where everyone on site feels loved, respected, contributes positively and is challenged continuously by high expectations will overcome any obstacles in their way.
  • We will write the future!

Together with these beliefs, we share ideas and offer emotional, physical, and pedagogical support to our teammates.

Work Hard, Play Hard.


Including the community means promoting students' self awareness of themselves, their families, neighborhoods, and world connections. Being receptive of families and inviting them as part of the school creates unity. Taking walking field trips to explore local establishments instills trust for students in their surrounding environment and provides spaces and opportunities for them to reach out to these communities. 


The buzz has been around inquiry-based learning with the new Common Core State Standards and the New Generation Science Standards. I am most intrigued with inquiry based learning because I believe it is fascinating. It exists in all different forms and it allows room for imagination and creativity. The structure is in the foundation work and the conceptual understanding of topics. The imagination builds on these bases to form flexibly understanding and critical thinking. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Playing Catch Up

18th Teachers are learners, Learners are teachers.

19th Metacognitive Reflection, ASC protocol, Self-Awareness Habitude
Self-Awareness means knowing yourself better than anybody else. It means examining yourself closely and honestly - being aware of your reactions, actions, learning. It means stepping back and looking at yourself, considering strengths, weaknesses, and all areas in between and feeling acceptance first, then empowerment to move forward.

20th Students have the choice to decide what to showcase in their portfolios. They are the designers of their file and make choices of the order or submissions in their portfolios. Students are welcome and encouraged to make these choices, but are required to also be able to provide an articulation of why they chose a particular piece to showcase.

21st Last year I had the opportunity to introduce my students to one of the best Hayao Miyazaki films, Totoro. I had grown up watching this film, my family owned the VHS in English, Chinese, and in Japanese. The students were exposed to a unfamiliar realm of movies, with a new idea of "action", and new world of characters. I loved showing them this film and will do a more in depth study of Miyazaki this year.

Totoro - a Hayao Miyazaki Film

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Challenge

The challenges that beat against education revolve around teachers, families, communities, and students. Here are some articles I'd like to share to shed some light on some of the challenges I believe are the most detrimental to students if they are not faced.

Give the Kid a Pencil

Speaking Tolerance

When Teachers Romanticize Their Students' Poverty

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


A superpower to know.
I'd like to know more about how my students' lives look out of school. It would be beneficial to know what their home lives and relationships feel and exist. I do believe that if I had more knowledge of how my students actually feel before and after school, it will help me plan and teach more accordingly. There are ways to get to know this information, but I do not think there is a way for me to deeply understand how they actually feel and go about their home lives. Questionnaires and phone calls have been one way I get to know families, but I want to know more.

Maybe home visits? maybe more family meet ups?

Until then, there's always the superpower to know.