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New job, new beginnings. »

I am still currently in South Korea, hanging out with my granddaughter and teaching some ESL. It is now confirmed that in August I will be working at Colegio Nueva Granada, in Bogota, Colombia. I will be teaching grade 7 (middle school is my favourite age group) English and science. Science is my passion but English will be my uber challenge.

I have been reading Joe Bowers blog a lot these days and I am hoping I can follow his lead. Marking is not only my least favourite thing to do as a teacher, but it is the one I mentally slave over most. It takes up huge chunks of my cognitive time, worrying about whether I have been fair, helpful, professional and motivating. I literally dread giving back project grades. My stomach gets in a knot and I go into avoidance tactics, including letting my grading pile up till the last possible moment which is totally counterproductive. I give long speeches before returning work to try to undo any harm I might accidentally cause by what I have said about their work.

I have no idea where or how to start this process. It means a rethinking of almost everything I do and everything I assign for the students to do. Good thing I have a bit of time on my hands to think about this before August.  Any suggestions? comments? ideas?

Questioning the Status Quo »

My thoughts in this post trickled out after reading David Warlich’s post Qualities of an Effective Teacher and the comments that followed.

What is the name of the teacher quality that teaches students to question the world, question the status quo, question their role in the making of the world, question the subtle, everyday things we do and say that supports the status quo (racism, classism, destructive consumerism, etc.) even when what we want to do is undermine it?

I have only had one (formal) teacher that did this for me, Magda Lewis, and I was well on in life when it happened. Fortunately for me, I’ve had informal teachers (family, friends) that have filled this role. I’m sure many of my teachers modeled it, but I didn’t get it or wasn’t paying attention. Teaching it, is different.

Some people I know were somehow born with this gift (it can be a curse also). It seems to me that most of us, including myself, must learn it. I know those of you that were born with it don’t get that, but it’s sadly true. And even sadder is that many (maybe even most) of us will never learn it.

I just read over the PYP learner profile as I believe it is an impressive list of qualities that I would like my students to have. Regrettably, even a student who acquires all this, but applies it only to selected types of ‘knowledge’, could fail to understand that many of our daily actions negatively effect people all over the world.

So what is this quality called and how do we teach it?

My life as an Edublogger »

It’s been about 3 weeks now since I decided that I needed to enter the 21st Century technology savvy world of a teacher. I had been living fairly vicariously through my daughter who teaches at The Canadian International School of Hong Kong. I have been teaching for over 20 years, have never felt afraid of technology, but using TIME as my excuse have always been a few leaps (a small river bed, not a canyon) behind truly savvy tech people.

This year I am taking a break from the main stream classroom, not because I felt I needed one but because I needed time with my granddaughter. This has freed up some time for sitting in front of the computer. I started with this blog, have a delicious account, follow too many blogs with rss, twitter, can do a presentation in Prezi, understand how I could someday use wiki, Google document, ether pad and have played with changing photo images in a huge array of free on line programs.

I’d like to say thank you to all those technology teachers and a few english teachers who have been my unknowing mentors along the way. My question is: WHERE ARE THE SCIENCE TEACHERS?? I am following two of you and when I have something to contribute, probably next year, I will start joining in the conversation. Until then I’d really like to know where the rest of you are.

Having More Fun »

Recently one of my students pointed out that I often say, “Well in my perfect school …”. The topic of my perfect school comment on that particular day was about having more fun. Interestingly Volkswagen seems to agree with me.

Liberal Arts Education »

Click here to watch: Patrick Awuah on educating Leaders

I watched this TED talk to day. Although many talks at TED are interesting and motivating, this was the first one that made me feel that a solution was being offered for the bottom of the inverted pyramid. In other words, yes there is a huge climate change problem, a huge inequity problem, and a huge _________ (you fill in the blank) problem  in the world. But I don’t think any of this is going to change until we have leaders who not only talk about change but also create meaningful changes aimed at eradicating these problems.

Patrick Awuah talks about his Liberal Arts education and how this changed how he saw the world. And more importantly, how his actions are now changing the world.

Wikipedia defines Liberal Arts education as:

“The term liberal arts denotes a curriculum that imparts general knowledge and develops the student’s rational thought and intellectual capabilities, unlike the professional, vocational, technical curricula emphasizing specialization. The contemporary liberal arts comprise studying literature, languages, philosophy, history, mathematics, and science. In classical antiquity, the liberal arts denoted the education proper to a free man (Latin: liber, “free”), unlike the education proper to a slave.

In the United States, Liberal arts colleges are schools emphasising undergraduate study in the liberal arts. Traditionally earned over four years of full-time study, the student earned either a Bachelor of Arts degree or a Bachelor of Science degree; on completing undergraduate study, students might progress to either a graduate school or a professional school (public administration, business, law, medicine, theology). The teaching is Socratic, to small classes, and at a greater teacher-to-student ratio than at universities; professors teaching classes are allowed to concentrate more on their teaching responsibilities than primary research professors or graduate student teaching assistants, in contrast to the instruction common in universities.”

So my question is, “Why aren’t all universities liberal arts universities?”.

STARTING OUT! »

I haven’t decided the purpose of this site yet. All I have decided is that it is time, or long past time, for me to learn how to do this.