I attended college in 1978 – 1982 and then returned in the 1990’s.
I took many many courses on education. Used a ruler to learn to write neatly on a chalkboard.
Read and read and read facts and figures and historical data and more!
Struggled through (still do) with math and cartwheeled with joy through literature.
Discovered which educational leaders I agreed with — and which I strongly disagreed with.
Did my student teaching pretty much unobserved, unaided, and learned as I failed and succeeded!
Listened to umpteenth lectures on what makes a great teacher GREAT —
and entered the classroom.
And for about 25+ years — I was a great teacher! A creative teacher — yes!
AND — by the book — I was a great teacher —
it you believe conformity, strictness, and obedient dutiful (and terribly bored) students demonstrated my greatness.
And now– since 2013 — I find myself re-inventing myself —
and IT IS HARD!
I struggle with not having rows in my class.
Rows show neatness — rows show order!
And I am a symmetrical person — so rows help me stay calm.
BUT – I have totally rearranged my classroom with comfy areas, and lack of rows, and lots of floor space.
However, every day — deep down inside of me — I want to make the room “straight”
— yet, I don’t have rows of desks — because I see the students thriving and learning in a casual and comfortable environment.
AND the students think I love the cluttered chaos comfyness in our room — and I am learning to love it —
Yet, still — there is a teeny bit of me saying “rows, Jen, rows”
I struggle with having a positive behavior policy.
My classroom has no don’ts — we only have do’s.
Sometimes, I want the room to be totally silent, for kids to only be able to answer a question when they raise their hand — and often I want conformity and little robots all doing Miss Wagner’s bidding.
BUT - I allow students to be kids, to have second chances, to see examples of grace/forgiveness/kindness
However, every day– deep down inside of me — I want my room to be “perfect”
– yet, I don’t have a perfect room — because I see the students thriving and learning in a casual, comfortable, and considerate environment.
AND the students think I love catching them being good — and I am learning to love it —
Yet, still — there is a teeny bit of me saying “behavior charts, Jen, behavior charts”
I struggle with students wandering out of their seats
After the lesson (idea) for the day is demonstrated – the objective shared — my students are able to roam the room freely.
Sometimes, I want students keep their eyes on their own work.
BUT – If they understand the concept, they can move and help those who don’t….if they don’t understand the concept, they can move and ask for help. From me — or another student.
However, every day– deep down inside of me — I want everyone in their seats — working individually….with Miss Wagner as the SUPREME knowledge in the classroom and the students sit in awe at my WISDOM —
– yet, I don’t make students stay in seats — because I see the students thriving and learning in a casual, comfortable, considerate, and cooperative environment.
AND the students think I love the freedom of classroom movement — and I am learning to love it —
Yet still – there is a teeny bit of me saying “students in their seats shows a controlled classroom, Jen”
I struggle with students being on different tasks.
I have semi-structured goals – standards — expectations — for the computer lab. Since it is an “enrichment” I am allowed a certain freedom – but I still have my “plans” — yet, some of my students have demonstrated very “above average” computer skills and I have worked out individual computer goals with them — which they work on while the rest of the class might be working on something else.
Sometimes I want cookie cutter kids.
BUT– I have different students working on different projects at different times at different learning levels.
However, every day — deep down inside of me – I want everyone on the same page — the same lesson – learning at the same skill level and timing,
– yet, I don’t keep kids on same page — because I see the students thriving and learning in a casual, comfortable, considerate, cooperative, and challenging environment.
AND the students think I love letting students learn at different levels — and I am learning to love it —
Yet still — there is a teeny bit of me saying “we learn in unison”.
I struggle with being on social media.
I want the world to know about our classroom — what we are doing — how we are doing it — what FUN and LEARNING is happening.
Sometimes I want me and my class to be invisible.
BUT – I have a personal blog and classroom blog, twitter, facebook, edmodo — and students will be blogging soon.
However, every day — deep down inside of me — there is an insecurity of being judged, of being misunderstood, of being ridiculed and it is a daily discipline that I can easily ignore
– yet, I don’t stop blogging or tweeting — because I see the students thriving and learning in a casual, comfortable, considerate, cooperative, challenging, and connected environment.
AND the students love when they hear me talk about others on the internet following our classroom, people responding to our tweets.
Yet still — there is a teeny bit of me saying “shhhh, Jen…..what happens in your class, stays in your class.”
I struggle with technology
I am a hands on person — enjoy learning new programs — truly enjoy free apps on Friday! Always reading blog posts and twitter ideas for things to try in the classroom.
Sometimes, I just don’t get it.
BUT — I roll up my sleeves, take a deep breath, and sit down at the keyboard.
However, every day — deep down inside of me – I am terrified! that I might break something, I might get a virus, I might bring down the network, I might accidentally show something inappropriate on the internet or youtube
– yet, I don’t close tech down — because I see the students thriving and learning in a casual, comfortable, considerate, cooperative, challenging, and connected, and computer-using environment.
AND the students relax in the confidence I display with technology and the expectation I place on them that they too will have confidence and success!
Yet still — there is a teeny bit of me that feels like a fraud to admit how utterly scared at times I am with all this.
To be honest — I think the last two years have been the most exhausting — yet exhilarating years of my teaching life.
Still struggling to figure this all out — and some of it is very very hard as I rework ways I have done things for a very very long time.
But, when I see the students flourish and learn and are not only excited to learn – but also excited to share their learning — I have to honestly believe I have to be doing something right — right?
Just my thoughts today!
I am an educator who LOVES bringing creative opportunities each day to my students. Currently, I am working with a wonderful group of Kindergarten through 6th grade students at a Private Christian School in California. Since 1999, I have been hosting online projects for elementary classrooms at ProjectsByJen.com. I have won several awards for my projects – but those mean nothing compared to the smiles from students and the thanks from parents & teachers! I enjoy traveling to conferences and edcamps and sharing ways to bring JOY and CREATIVITY back into your classroom. Follow me on Twitter @JenWagner. Have a wonderful day!