Monday, March 21, 2016

The NCCE Conference: How to Know You Don't Travel Enough

I'm so lucky to be writing you from the 26th floor of the Sheraton in Seattle! I am attending my second #NCCE conference. Last year it was in Portland, Oregon. I made some great new friends and learned a lot, so I planned to go again as soon as it ended!

It's a good thing...because it is completely apparent that I do not travel enough to keep my big city schema up to date! Here are 6 ways I know.

1. When I entered the elevator, and pushed the button for my floor, it wouldn't work. The next guy that came in slid his room key into a slot and then pushed the button. Oh, is that how that works.

2. I didn't realize the hotel had more than one tower and therefore more than one set of elevators. Whoops!

3. When I talked to my daughter, I said I was at the "motel" as in Motel 6. LOL Big difference between a motel and a hotel!

3. Every time I left the conference center, I went any direction besides the right one.

4. I was blown away by everything in Leslie Fisher's sessions. Apparently, I have been living under a rock.

5. I suggested we go to Target so we could watch the escalator for carts.

6. At the conference center I got in an elevator and panicked when floor 4 was not an option. I still don't know where that elevator was going. I stuck to stairs...

Thank you NCCE for another EPIC conference!

I met several new friends, meet several Twitter friends in real time, had an awesome team bonding during the scavenger hunt, and broadened my knowledge base on Seesaw, Twitter, Evernote, and Augmented Reality. I came home way cooler.

See you in Portland next year! Maybe I can work again answering questions I didn't know the answers for (it was actually a lot of fun!).

*Disclaimer: Yes, I was having too much fun at the conference to finish the blog post. It's just about a month late. :)

I LOVE STUDENT TEACHERS: The Myths, The Truths, and The Legacy.

When the new tech comes out that allows your thoughts to be sent to paper, or document, without stopping other chores, tasks, and minutiae (ie vacuuming) I will be the first one to sign up.

I get so many great ideas for my blog that I want to write down, but other things take constant priority. And if you are like the end of  a long day...last thing I want is to do some heavy thinking.

It is spring break here (can I get an amen?) and while my "To Do" list is still TOO long, I have a little less rushing around and consequently, decided the last fleeting thought for my blog deserved recognition.

I'm not sure about your week before spring break, but mine was a killer. I have a student teacher and so I was having these beautiful dreams of finaling finding the actual top of my desk, you know before all the paper piles started in September. I know it's there, but it has become akin to an archaeological dig.

However, Monday came and Monday went. Tuesday came and Tuesday went. You get the drift.

In kindergarten we describe our problems as big problems or little problems and there was an abundance of big problems. Ones I had to jump right in and solve, try to solve, find someone to help me solve them, etc.

And each day I would say..."Today, today is that day I am getting X done." And yet "today" never came. My days were full of problems clear up to 3pm on Friday. And, here is what gets me, there were TWO adults in the class! Two teachers for the love of all things holy. Typically, there is one, who must survive...amidst the chaos...on her (or his) own.

Which gets me to the point of this blog...I LOVE STUDENT TEACHERS.

When you teach K you love anyone with a heartbeat that can help out in your class, because you realize two arms, two ears, and one mouth is not enough. You know what I'm sayin?

And in weeks like this last one I realize why student teachers are the bomb.

1. You actually see things that happen when you are usually too busy teaching. Like Billy glueing pencils to his chair and Blaire tripping kids on purpose. (Names have been changed to protect the guilty) I then get to bring up these topics with my St Ts and we laugh about how little we are able to see, when we really do think we see everything.

2. You get more done. I was serious and kidding about my desk. I didn't get done nearly what I hoped to have done, but when you are finally able to go through and pitch the mimeograph copies in files that have lived there since someone so graciously gifted them to you, you jump for joy (not really as I'd hurt something, but I do in my mind).

3. You leave a legacy. This week I had the privilege of watching two former St Ts on Facebook, posting pics of things they did with their classes, things I did with them when they co-taught in my class, and it hit me...I made a difference. I helped grow another teacher. They planted the seed. I watered and tended the sprout and seedling and watched it bloom into a sunflower, radiating promise and belief in the profession. Their students enjoyed celebrating St. Patrick's Day, as we enjoy celebrating it in my class. They made art and traps (STEM people, STEM!!) just like us and what I saw was kids loving learning, and Ts loving teaching. It made my heart happy.

The Myths: I hear people say they don't want student teachers. They say it's too much work (really? because they are the ones who have to create a portfolio, not you). They say they had a bad one (it happens--which is why I am a proponent of meeting the St T ahead of time and seeing if your personalities match). If you feel you and your padawan are sympatico the more likely you are to enjoy the experience. But, no matter what, the benefits far outweigh the costs.

The Truths: I am on my 4th student teacher and each has brought me great joy. My first was interviewed by my principle. It was a great match. Both Amber and I had been "non-traditional" students (code word for old). She did a great community outreach that netted us plants from the garden club. We put them in the much neglected planters outside our school. Our legacy lives on in them. My second, Amy, I was allowed to interview and she brought her wonderful skill of art to the class. She reminded me of the joy in homemade cards and in the eternal joy she brought to every event. We started a list of funny kid sayings that year. My third was Jo. She was a former TESL practicum who asked to student teach with me. I was honored. She was all over everything but had to learn the art of being a teacher not a friend (everyone does- we jokingly call it "getting mean" as that's how student teachers feel). She taught our class (and me) about football. She shared the love of the Patriots in tandem with the class majority love of the Seahawks and the kids were the winners. And now there is Meagan...she came to me under different circumstances, but the result has been the same: learning for her, learning for me, and a friend for life.

When we help others grow in the profession, it in turn helps us grow...and so just like every year, I am about ready to remind my principal, "Now remember, I'd REALLY love a year long student in the fall...."

From my class...

From Aimee's

From Jo's

I am creating a legacy...