Blue Serials (12/20/15)
You Made It.
Well, through a semester, at least. That's something, right?
I shouldn't assume that most of us are exhausted, or at least relieved, rather than joyously celebrating another 18 weeks well-taught. But this is a weird gig, folks. The idea that we can cajole kids or teenagers, 30 or so at a time, into learning random stuff they rarely see much point in knowing, and do this more or less alone - every day - once the door is closed... who would expect THAT to work?
Before we spend too much energy lamenting the times it doesn't, or the kids who won't, consider what a freakin' miracle it is that you make it happen AT ALL! It's really quite impressive.
Imagine flapping your arms wildly, hoping to fly about twenty feet off the ground. You only make it about eight feet, though, occasionally skimming the grass as you swoop wildly around the yard - less than half of what you'd hoped. BUT YOU FLAPPED YOUR ARMS AND FLEW OUT OF SHEER FORCE OF WILL AND A HEALTHY SIDE OF DELUSION! Anyone else would have to count that as a win. (Well, except state legislators who are positive you should be at least a quarter mile above the rooftops because they wrote ALL THE BILLS WITH THE SUCCESS WORDS.)
That's a little Christmas Miracle you have going all year 'round, my #11FF - even during those few weeks in April when you're like, 'screw this', and those three 'mental health days' you took last month. But otherwise - FLAP! FLAP! FLAP! FLAP! FLAP!
Oh, And It's Also Almost Christmas.
For those of you who are into that kind of thing. It's cool if you're not - but I'm personally a bit giddy. Consequently, I'm going to focus on the warm fuzzy touchy feely hopey stuff this week - or at least things primarily concerned with teaching, and students, and our various classrooms.
Still, these are tough times in education, especially here in Oklahoma. You should be following and supporting the legit folks fighting for your paychecks, your sense of purpose, and your students' academic souls - especially OKEducationTruths, A View From the Edge, and Fourth Generation Teacher.
But this week, I'M all about unicorns and rainbows, baby - because IT'S CHRISTMAS!
OK - maybe not ALL unicorns and rainbows. But NOT politics. Not yet.
By Failing Our Students, Are We Failing Our Students? - Maha Bali at Reflecting Allowed wrestles with something very familiar to many of us as we finalize those first semester grades. Yeah, I see the numbers on the screen. Yes, I read their work. I know, I know... if only they'd tried, or listened, or made a little more effort... but... Could I have done something differently? Tried harder to reach THEM? Understood MORE of what they needed? Will this grade teach them an important lesson about responsibility, or...? If you know something of this feeling, you'll want to bookmark this one. You may not find answers, but I felt better knowing others had the same struggles. And if you don't know this feeling, read it anyway. Follow @bali_maha on the Twitters and you can wrestle through a variety of deep issues together. She's amazing.
How & Why We Should Let Our Students Fail - Since we're on the topic, Jennifer Gonzalez at Cult of Pedagogy has a fascinating review of The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed (Jessica Lahey). I haven't read the book, so I have no idea what it might be about, but... (That was what we in the blogging business call 'knee-slapping humor'.) Like only the best reviewers can, Gonzalez gives us a solid stand-alone piece that merely doubles as a book review. On the other hand, I'll be downloading this title with some of those gift cards I hope to receive soon. So should you. In the meantime, follow Jennifer on the Twitters at @cultofpedagogy for more learnin' stuff, and while you're at it check out @jesslahey as well - they're both practically #11FF if they'd just join the %#$@ contest!
What NOT To Say To Your Music Teacher - Mindy Dennison at This Teacher Sings speaks from personal experience, but I have to think this one resonates with any teacher who has ever taught a so-called "extra-curricular" subject. Turns out they're not always fighting the tide of disrespect, testing-driven curriculum, and budget cuts just because they're "lucky." Maybe they're fighting for our kids artistic and non-linear souls...? Follow Mindy on the Twitters at @MrsDSings and brush with greatness - she's kind of a big deal now. #oklaed
Brave Spelling - Dana Murphy at Two Writing Teachers talks about spelling. And learning. And how 'getting it wrong' is the worst way to see things. Oh, and these weird little letter robots, too - who knew THAT was a thing? Follow Dana Murphy on the Twitters at @DanaMurphy68 and Two Writing Teachers at @2WritingTeachrs - they're all hung up on the joys of learning and not very good at crushing hope out of little people. I love that about them.
A Voice - Rebecka Peterson on One Good Thing does that thing she does so well with the thinking and the wondering and the caring and the hope. Much like when I hear a capella live or watch Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog for the eleventeenth time, I don't get it and I can't do it, but I'm sure glad others can - and that they're this good at it. Follow Peterson on the Twitters at @RebeckaMozdeh and sing along with her. Er... metaphorically, I assume. #oklaed
One Year Ago - And SO Worth Revisiting...
"To The Friend That Once Said, 'You Need To Be Realistic.'" - This week's flashback to #amazeballs post (I really need a more consistent name for these) is from Kris Giere at Involuntary Verbosity. It's a poem, actually - which is what makes this a 'first ever', since I don't really do poems all that often - or share them ever ever ever. But oh my glowing baby in a manger, is this one worth a read or seven hang-it-on-the-wall. It gave me the tinglies - and not the naughty kind, either. Go follow Kris on the Twitters at @KrisGiere, but don't expect tinglies ALL the time. Mostly he's just thoughtful and insightful and talks about education and stuff, and makes you feel smarter as a result of his questions and suggestions.
Finally, Giddy Congratulations to #OklaEd Winners of #Eddies15:
OKEducationTruths - First Place, Best Administrator Blog; Second Place, Best Individual Blog
A View From The Edge - Second Place, Best Administrator Blog
This Teacher Sings - First Place, Best New Blog
Mrs. Waters English - Second Place, Best EdTech/Resource Blog; Second Place, Best Teacher Blog
It's an honor to stalk and harrass each of you!
Alright Darlings - regroup and relax, give and receive, sing and watch and eat and play. We have so many miles to go, and so little objectively suggesting we'll ever arrive.
Isn't it exciting to have a challenge?