Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Negotiating identity

I've started classes at CGU again. We have a lot of reading to do right off, because we're supposed to be teaching classes as Interns (which means getting paid to teach a full class load while studying) ASAP. Unfortunately, I don't have that job yet, so everything I'm learning is still just theory.

For one of my classes I am writing in a new blog, Negotiated Identity, reflecting on one chapter of a book called Negotiating Identities each week until the beginning of October.

The assignment is to create an "Interactive Journal" with my reflections on the book interacting with other readings and real life. I would also really love to interact with YOU in the journal. So please join the blog as a Follower, and tell me about how YOU have had to renegotiate your identity throughout your life, or about how your students are negotiation their own identities to fit in your classroom and school.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

We've already proven that we can

Sharon White responded to the previous blog post:

I so agree with your remark that we (second career teachers) don't need the kind of recognition that young new teachers need because we've had it.

People don't ask us why we "settled" for teaching because we've already made our marks in the 'real world'.

The phrase "those that can - do, those that can't - teach" doesn't apply to us. We've already proven that we can.

We're eager to take on the ancient role of elder mentoring the young.

When I was "preteaching" this summer, one of our duties was taking our students on breaks. I sort of felt like we were herding sheep, but since there were no official breaks, school rules required our herding. In the beginning it was sometimes hard to get them to come when break was over. Once I told them to just think of me as their mother. One kid replied "I never do what my Mom tells me to do." "Then think of me as your Grandma," I said. "Ohhh, that's different," he replied. "I'd never cross my Grammy!" and he came along. I never really had problems with them after that.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Do we mature teachers have the strength to keep going?

Schools Need Teachers Like Me. I Just Can't Stay wrote Sarah Fine in the August 9 issue of the Washington Post, which I found quoted in The Week magazine:
I quit, said Sarah Fine. After four years of teaching at a public charter school in Washington, D.C., I’m walking away from my students and my profession. Armed with high ideals and an Ivy League education, I became a teacher because I loved the idea of making a difference in young lives in urban school districts.

Teaching was sometimes “exhilarating,” but my best efforts to engage students from troubled families often failed. It was painful trying to reach “students such as Shawna, a 10th-grader who could barely read and had resolved that the best way to deal with me was to curse me out under her breath.” But though I tell people I’m burned out, my reason for leaving goes beyond simple frustration.

I’m tired of giving my all for a profession that is widely viewed as “second-rate,” fit only for people who lack the drive and the intelligence to make it in business, medicine, or law. People like me are constantly asked, Why teach? It’s “nice,’’ but it’s not a real job. Largely because of that attitude, half of all new teachers quit within five years. Now I know why.
People like Sharon White and Lou Groner, whom you can meet in the videos that follow, (and me and some of my classmates at Claremont Graduate University, too!) are going to try to bring our life-long experience to the classroom. I'm hoping that we will be able to bring the ballast of many years experience to help us through the frustrations that ended Sarah Fine's teaching career. We may not teach many more years than the 5 she mentioned, but I do hope that we will be able to catch the students' attention with our life stories and show them that education is worth while. We don't need as much reccognition as Sarah needs, because we've already gotten it.

Building a Kite

Here's another mature teacher who wants to make a difference.

Back To School

I met Sharon White at an interview day at Greeen Dot High Schools and then shared a room with her at the EnCorps Teachers bootcamp in June just as my classes at CGU were starting. I am proud to know her, and look forward to working with her when I start to teach.

I think we mature people can use our experience to inspire our students. Sharon's story is particularly impelling to her students. She's been where they are, and come back to help them get away.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I haven't written here in a long time. Classes at CGU and preteaching were exhilarating as well as exhausting. And since August 1, I've been visiting with family in Maine (see pictures!) But I liked this quote from the Sierra Club Daily Ray of Hope (my best source of quotes.) I thought it said a lot about teaching.
If you want to build a ship,
don't drum up the people to gather wood,
divide the work, and give orders.
Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.

-- Antoine de Saint-Exupery
What should our students yearn for to want to learn Algebra?