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updates for 01.17.2012

5 new posts today

All you need is a little IMAGINATION!

Best question I've ever asked on a test:  Of all the civilizations we've learned about so far this year, which would you most want to have lived in, and why? I. picked Egypt:  "They have some jars for the mummification. For guts to put in." A. chose hominids (early humans) although she doesn't "want to look like them." S. also chose Egypt, though she is interested in the mysteries that archaeologists have yet to solve: "There are a lot of mysteries to unlock from the ancient world. All you need is a book! Wait! All you need is a little...IMAGINATION!" And my personal favorite:  W. picked Egypt, with one caveat: "But the thing I hate about it is the respect they get from the pharaoh. I wouldn't like to live in a place with a pharaoh. I would like to live with the Sumerians and for only one thing. Respect From Others."


MLK Day of Service

[gallery columns="1"] Today, over 65 volunteers gathered for three hours of service at Roosevelt High School.  Several teachers and students came to represent the school but the majority of the crowd was comprised of citizens from the surrounding neighborhoods of Shaw and Tower Grove(s) East and South.  The law firm of Bryan Cave LLC also turned out a significant number of volunteers who quickly rolled up their sleeves and got right down to work.  We spent our time today cleaning out two old audio-visual closets (small rooms with unbelievable capacity!) in addition to several other rooms and closets around the building.  Now, the fashion teacher will have storage for donated materials and the freshman team has a space for a student lounge and future computer lab.  The ESOL classrooms were prepared for WIDA Access testing this week, as around 150 students will have their language skills formally assessed through that series of tests.  Recycling was also collected from around the building and as usual, obsolete electronic waste was inventoried for removal.  No matter how much we remove, there is still more stuff that stands to go in the 400, 000 square foot castle that is Roosevelt High School. Even though we only worked for three hours, when you concentrate that many people into several specific projects, amazing results are possible and the volunteers proved that to be the case today.  Everyone just simply got down to business and didn't think twice about the work they were being asked to do even though it was dirty, hard, and at times exhausting.  I am so grateful that the community continues to turn out in support of Roosevelt.  We are making headway for some very important next steps for the school and tremendous efforts like those shown today by the community are a refreshing example of how much the community cares and wants to be a part of the rejuvenation and restoration occurring at Roosevelt. Information on a spring Day of Service will be coming.  Probably in April unless I can find some projects before then :-)   Yours in education, An AP humbled by the service of others   Stay tuned for an update on the science labs.  Workers were there all day today installing furniture!!!!!!  I can't wait to see what it looks like tomorrow!


MLK Musings

"It seems to me that education has a two-fold function to perform in the life of man and in society: the one is utility and the other is culture. Education must enable a man to become more efficient, to achieve with increasing facility the legitimate goals of his life...we must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character--that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. The broad education will, therefore, transmit to one not only the accumulated knowledge of the race but also the accumulated experience of social living. If we are not careful, our colleges will produce a group of close-minded, unscientific, illogical propagandists, consumed with immoral acts. Be careful, "brethren!" Be careful, teachers!" -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., re-posted from The Purpose of Education Dr. King stated in 1948 that the dual purpose of education is utility and culture. He went further to state that a highly educated individual must be well-equipped with good character as well lest he become a powerful, yet corrupt man capable of horrible deeds against mankind. I’d argue that the United States is experiencing a convergence of educational ends where we are trying to raise everyone to the highest standard when truly our system was originally designed in at least three tiers: 1.) Gain culture and networks to succeed in the upper echelons of society 2.) Gain skills to contribute within a competitive workforce 3.) prepare to be a productive, informed citizen. Your level of attainment would be predicated on your socioeconomic status. Anyway, that’s food for thought for another time. On this day, I’ve realized once again that I really enjoy being a mentor and role model for my students. It was fun to shoot around with a few today at our school’s gym. However, now that I have to finish my lessons for tomorrow, I’m less than enthused. There are aspects of this job I love, but the ones I don't love are really holding me back. Can I do this for another year? Aspects sure. The entire job description and then some? I just don’t know at this point… Regardless, I will stay in the struggle to realize Dr. King's dream, I just don't know in what capacity. TBD


You can wake up from even the deepest dream

Sometimes I need to be a real writer. Journaling is honest, but it speaks to no one who’s alive yet; blogging is so nice because there’s so much affirmation. But all of my writing is just pages and pages of me wondering aloud whether I’m not just writing to repeat and make true the thoughts I want to have. I’m obsessive about honesty. That’s what estranges me from people and makes them say I think too much. And all the while, I have work to do up there at ground zero. And all the while, I’m sitting in Starbucks while sitting in Starbucks.   The thoughts I want to have: I am justified. I am smart and convicted and honest. I am reflective and thoughtful. I am happy and content deep below everything. I deserve this or that.   Sometimes I need to stop writing, precisely because it brings deep matter to the surface—which makes me doubt its depth. Even the darkest, rawest earth dries out when it meets the air, and no matter how true it was at one point, dislodging it makes it as superficial and dishonest as any set of words. No, sometimes instead of writing and bringing dirt up, I need to go down myself. If I could, I would close all of my eyes so completely that they turned around and stared right into my brain stem. If my eyes could burrow, they’d make tiny hardly noticeable tunnels as deep as they could go, from dry sunlit warmth down through moist earthy chill down through hard-packed nothingness and finally into hot core truths and values and causes and motives. And because the eye-tunnels would be so tiny and conservative, and since they’d be there merely to see and not to excavate, I’d have no choice but to believe the demons’ reasons.   But obsession isn’t that simple. Crazy isn’t that easily circumvented. You can wake up from even the deepest dream, no matter how gut-wrenching or life-defining it may seem. Doubt is, without a doubt, the only thing that would be exposed by such an invasive procedure. The deeper I go, the more there is to be uncertain about, and the contradictory selves I create just gain more momentum. Writing is problematic because I either reinforce one voice—and so stifle the others—which is the definition of dishonesty—or I become a battleground, a mess who would have to go to drastic measures just to convince myself I exist. How can someone find the truth this way?   I think I’m stuck writing because the battle is so captivating and important. I have to watch the struggle between these different versions of myself—gory, distracting, fictional or not, eventually the war will cause this mirror to break, and I have to tune in.   As unthinkable as it is, I think I want it to shatter. “Reflective” has just become another word for “schizophrenic,” and it’d be so much simpler if there were just inscrutable shards and nowhere to dig. Then whoever it was, driven but not so complex, could stop staring, stop writing, and DO something.


Kindergarten is THE place to be

Funny that I would say that, really, because six months ago I threw an epic temper tantrum over being assigned to a kindergarten position. Trained in ESL (and having spent Institute teaching 8th grade writing), I felt that switching me to teach 5 year olds would not be good for either party. How could I possibly know what a 5 year old should be able to do? Not to mention knowing how to get them to do it. Besides, the year before I taught a group of kindergarteners and it was a management nightmare - a group of wiggly, giggly little kids who seemed impossible to corral. Nevertheless, 4 months into my full-time job as a Kindergarten teacher, I'm sold.
So here's why Kindergarten really is the place to be: Pajama Day! FINE, fine that's just a perk, not the real deal. The kids are adorable, but that is only a good enough reason to teach them for about four and a half minutes. Kindergarten is where the magic happens: it's the place where you ostensibly learn everything you will need to know; it's the place where non-readers and non-writers suddenly wield books and pencils with a passion that is often gone only a few years later; it's also a zone free of prejudices, misconceptions, cliques, and gossip. And the giant cherry on top? It's the place to get kids on track before they are really off track. [Ok pre-K people, you may have me there, but given that Kindergarten is mandatory or at least free in many states, I'm going to lay claim to that opportunity for a little while longer.] Kindergarten is, quite frankly, a pleasure to teach for the creative, patient, and open-minded generalists of the teaching profession, and it's very, very much worth teaching. People who back me up here: 1. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/20/opinion/occupy-the-classroom.html “Schooling after the second grade plays only a minor role in creating or reducing gaps,” Heckman argues in an important article this year in American Educator. “It is imperative to change the way we look at education. We should invest in the foundation of school readiness from birth to age 5.”   2. http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/preschool/a2.html The people who'd gone to preschool were more likely to be employed; they made more money. They were more likely to own homes and cars, to have savings accounts. They were more than twice as likely to say they had positive relationships with their families. The men who'd gone to preschool were more involved in raising their children. And the biggest difference of all had to do with crime.   3. Early Ed Alliance Research demonstrates that high-quality early education improves the school readiness of children from all ethnic, racial and economic backgrounds, with disproportionate benefits to low-income and minority children.8 Several studies have found that well-funded, well-designed, and well-staffed pre-kindergarten programs can improve the academic achievement and long-term outcomes of low- income and minority children. With those articles to explore, I will leave off until my next post. Topics to come: why teaching kindergarten is super fun and intellectually stimulating; the achievement or readiness gap as it presents itself in my classroom; the role of play in child development and the current lack of it kindergarten; evidence that play works; cute quotes from kids. Stay tuned.

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