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Lead from the Start: December 2007

Friday, December 28, 2007

EduSpeak-inator or Jargon-omatic

I couldn't pass this post up by Joane Jacobs who got it from Kitchen Table Math on the Jargon-Omatic. The Jargon-Omatic helps you convert regular language into edu-speak so that you can talk to policymakers and eduwonks in their own language. Now, if this only came in the form of a small fish to insert in my ear (ala Douglas Adams) or like this real online version of the Babelfish or if I could buy it off the rack in an Ipod Version, I might have the necessary tool to help kids by influencing the creation of sensible public education policy.

Just for your own knowledge, this from wikipedia:
The Babel fish is small, yellow and leech-like, and probably the oddest thing in the Universe. It feeds on brainwave energy received not from its own carrier but from those around it. It absorbs all unconscious mental frequencies from this brainwave energy to nourish itself with. It then excretes into the mind of its carrier a telepathic matrix formed by combining the conscious thought frequencies with nerve signals picked up from the speech centres of the brain which has supplied them. The practical upshot of all this is that if you stick a Babel fish in your ear you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language.

Life -- a website to translate languages across the globe -- Imitates Art - a plot device to facilitate intergalactic communication, that Imitates Life -- Closed captioning for the hearing impaired. Now that is truly 21 century thinking at work.

TLN Five out of Ten

The Teacher Leaders Network was present as 5 of the top 10 stories for 2007. It makes me very proud to be a member of this organization. If you are into teaching and don't read TM, you can get a free subscription by going to the website. COngratulations Anthony Cody, Mary Tedrow, Anne Jolly, and the entire TLN organization for supporting teacher leadership nationally.

Here are the top ten stories from the website.

December 27, 2007


Get these and other stories at:

Why Teachers Quit
A new survey reveals why former teachers quit the profession.

Creating Readers: Part I
Donalyn Miller, self proclaimed "book whisperer" and sixth grade
teacher, answers your questions on inspiring and creating "real"
readers and writers in the classroom.

TLN -- Teaching Secrets: Students Behave When Teachers Engage
Veteran teacher Anthony Cody shares tips on classroom management.

New Thinking on Staff Development
Teachers and researchers have common perspectives on what works in
professional development.

TLN -- Team-Oriented Teaching
Author Anne Jolly sees collaborative work among teachers as the
future of professional development.

TLN -- Teacher Talk: What To Do About Reading?
Members of the Teacher Leaders Network discuss concerns about
students' reading habits and debate new literacy instructional ideas.

Creating Readers: Part II
Donalyn Miller, self-proclaimed "book whisperer" and sixth grade
teacher, answers readers' questions about motivating boys to read
>and the role of parent involvement.

TLN -- Teaching Secrets: Students Can Do Hard Things
A big part of teaching is helping students realize they are capable
of doing far more than they think, says Anthony Cody.

TLN -- Senior Year: A Teenage Wasteland
Virginia teacher Mary Tedrow believes that, for many students,
senior year is a waste.

Classroom Podcasting 101
Technology expert and author Bard Williams shares advice about
podcasting for teachers.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

our friend returns

You may remember that one of my students was diagnosed with Leukemia in early October. She has been receiving spinal taps and chemotherapy for the last 10 weeks. Thanks to her mom and my awesome students we have been able to help L. to continue to feel like she is part of the class. Through our blog, some student visits to her house, my regular visits, and communication with her homebound instructor, L. has continued to be part of the life of the classroom. It is a good thing too. In January she will be returning for 2 hrs a day twice a week with the assistance of her homebound instructor.

She came to our winter celebration last Friday. Seeing her back in our circle and the joy on her mother's face brought me to tears. Hopefully she will continue to recover, and her presence in our class again will teach us all something about the important things in life. The stuff you learn in preschool.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The new teacher gulch

Jose Vilson included a graph of new teacher attitudes towards teaching in their first year on his insightful blog about teaching in the inner city. I have seen this graph played out by the first teacher that I was a university supervisor for last year. She started out great. Her attitude took a nose dive as she got some late registering students.
She struggled through Oct. and Nov. then right before winter break, I could tell she was going to make it. I am not exactly sure what it was that told me she was going to be able to be a great teacher in our high needs inner city school but, I could tell. She started laughing again, and maintaining a guarded optimism that seems to be one of the key ingredients to success in our school. Here is the graph. I also have a copy that I showed my former student teacher in Nov. just to give her some perspective. Maybe it helped.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Great Blogs Around the Country

If you want some food for thought why not try something new? Maybe a taste of America from the teachers' perspective. I just received this great list of fellow Teacher Leaders Network blogs. It has blogs from TLN members from around the country. They are all by passionate educators who are extremely well informed and active in the profession. Several are folks located here in Virginia.

TLN BLOGS (they appear on our website)

Bill Ferriter - The Tempered Radical

Nancy Flanagan - Teacher in a Strange Land

Renee Moore - TeachMoore

TLN Teacher Voices (excerpts from our daily conversation - group blog)

Teacher Leadership Today
(A newsy blog that John Norton keeps)


Susan Graham - A Place at the Table (Teacher Magazine) (Virginia)

Betsy Rogers - Brighton's Hope (we help with it)

Barnett Berry - Building the Teaching Profession (at CTQ website)

OTHER TLNer BLOGS (incomplete list, I'm sure...)

Emmet Rosenfeld - Eduholic (Teacher Magazine) (Virginia)

TMAO - Teaching in the 408

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach - 21st Century Collaborative (Virginia)
Sheryl also group-blogs at TechLearning (she has Sunday)

Dayle Timmons - Timmons Times

Cossondra George - Middle School Day by Day

Jennifer Barnett - Reflect to Redirect

Marsha Ratzel - Reflections of a Techie

Anne Jolly (new) - Learning Spot

Kitty Boitnott - Her campaign blog for VEA president (Virginia)

Brenda Dyck - Brenda's Blog (Education World)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Save Humpty Dumpty!

I am always super excited when coincidence and effective practice converge in my classroom. I found out about the Super Why podcast yesterday and then read Karissa's post on the Pre-K Now blog. If you are a Pre-K teacher and/or a Pre-K parent you might just know that problem solving in Nursery Rhymes and fairy tales is the premise of the awesome new PBS Kids show Super Why. You can even download free podcasts on itunes or another podcasting tool. Vanessa's post about problem solving and nursery rhymes reminded me of a lesson we did a couple years ago in my classroom, inspired by my daughter's preschool teacher who had students solve the problem of saving Humpty Dumpty from cracking. In my daughter's class they used a real egg to represent Humpty. I was a little less keen on the prospects of eggs splattered all over the art area, so we used a plastic egg filled with jelly beans. Students solved the problem using materials gathered in the classroom. The picture below shows on of the pillows from the House area. We were able to talk about how and why Humpty did or didn't crack. I know I will revisit this theme in the new year. Thanks for the inspiration Vanessa.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What is your credo?

This was the single most important question any professor asked me during my teacher preparation. The assignment was to come up with some ideals I would like to live up to. I thought, “Why do I need a credo? I’m going to teach preschool.” Something about the twinkle in my professor’s eye told me this was an important assignment. This is what I came up with:

1. Nurture and empower students to take part in the creation of their lives and the world.

2. Encourage students’ curiosities, imagination, thinking, feeling, respect and care for themselves, others and the environment.

3. Recognize and nurture all talents and intelligences in order to meet my students’ developmental needs.

4. Ensure that my actions and teaching practices align with my credo.

5. Create a better education for all students.

Each year I would unpack my laminated credo from my desk box where it sat all summer and I would think, “You’re not living it.” I was sure I was achieving the first three, but, when I got to number four I was never sure and when I read five, I didn’t know where to start. I needed to take another step. The National Board Certification process was that step. Being an NBCT means that my actions and teaching practices do align with my credo. And, as a National Board Certified Teacher, I have finally begun to live the hardest part of my credo, the creation of better education for all students. I know there is a network of other professionals that believe creating a better education for every student starts in your classroom.

I unearthed this recently and decided I would post it here.
As I look at the nature of educational leadership and consider how I will define my role as a leader I am happy to know that I am still working on fulfilling my ideals and that I still don't want to change them.

What is your credo? Please post a comment and let me know.