To All The Others….

Just Jen's Thoughts 2 Comments »

Unless you are new to my blog — you have no doubt that I am NOT a big fan of awards — especially awards that are often given for popularity and notoriety  ……. and many many who are just as hard-working, yet again, go unnoticed.

This weekend will be yet another awards ceremony and people are beginning to tweet about it …. and I wondered, why does this bug me so?   I was reading this blog post — which sums up well, the thoughts I have been having, have had, and ever so often dwell on — http://www.eduleadership.org/an-open-letter-to-the-bammy-awards/ – (written a year ago but still relevant.)

So — as many are preparing to receive awards, smooze together,
and pat each other on the back
…… this blog post is for all the others……

Thank you — for your hard work this past year — that perhaps has gone unnoticed or even overlooked or even perhaps been credited to someone else.
Please, keep up the hard work.
Though, you might feel invisible — someone who needs what you are doing has noticed
and they are thankful.

Thank you — for writing your blog post — that perhaps has gone unnoticed or even overlooked or even perhaps been credited to someone else.
Please keep up your writing!
Though, you might feel invisible — someone who read your blog post remembers it, perhaps did not comment, but you had an impact
and they are thankful.

Thank you — for sharing what you did on twitter — that perhaps has gone unnoticed or even overlooked or even perhaps been credited to someone else.
Please, keep sharing thoughts on twitter.
Though, you might feel invisible — someone who read your twitter thought told someone else
and they are thankful.

Thank you — for sharing that resource (on a google doc, or website, or facebook, etc) — that perhaps has gone unnoticed or even overlooked or even perhaps been credited to someone else.
Please, keep sharing your ideas!
Though, you might feel invisible — someone who read your resource, used your resource
and they are thankful.

Thank you — for getting up each morning and doing your job — that perhaps has gone unnoticed or even overlooked or even perhaps been credited to someone else.
Please, keep doing your best.
Though, you might feel invisible — to your students or to your staff — you are INVALUABLE!!!
and they are thankful!

Thank you — for making a child or a staff member feel important and necessary — that perhaps has gone unnoticed or even overlooked or even perhaps been credited to someone else.
Please, keep noticing those around you!
Though, you might feel invisible — you just made someone else’s day
and they are thankful!

Thank you — for showing up at conferences and edcamps and joining the conversation — that perhaps has gone unnoticed or even overlooked or even perhaps been credited to someone else.
Please, continue to be a part of the conversation!
Though, you might feel invisible — someone heard what you shared
and they are thankful!

Thank you — for not giving up — even though you might have gone unnoticed!
Please, don’t give up – but continue to GET UP and make a difference.
Though, you might feel invisible — YOU ARE NOT INVISIBLE —
and WE ARE THANKFUL for what you do!

Just my thoughts today
Jen

 

You can lead a teacher to Twitter, but you can’t make them tweet

Just Jen's Thoughts 1 Comment »

I have been on twitter now since 2007 — seems like forever, yet really only 7 years — not very long in an average lifetime.

It has been a rollarcoaster of learning — both from others and also learning a lot about myself.

I am a better teacher because of twitter — I can say that without hesitation.
My world has broadened considerably — I can say that without hesitation.
I have said some tweets that have been extremely helpful to others — I can say that without hesitation.
I have said some of the most stupidest things in my life – I can say that that without hesitation.
I have burned some bridges (perhaps, some I should not have) — I can say that without hesitation.
I have made some life-long friends — I can say that without hesitation.

Twitter has been good and bad — but mostly so very good……..

Because of this, for me — I cannot see how a teacher — an educator — would NOT wish to be on twitter.  Yet, so many I know are still on the “I don’t “get it” page.”

~~I have the same 24 hour plan — just like you — BUT NOW, I feel I live a 36 hour day because of the resources I find on twitter….that I never would have found on my own.
~~I am an exhausted teacher — just like you — BUT NOW, I know that I am not alone, because I read tweets of encouragement…..that get me through to the next day.
~~I am a Christian teacher — in a private school — just like some of you — BUT NOW, I have found many teachers who work in the same arena with me, and we can share “private school” experiences and be understood.
~~I am an elementary teacher — just like some of you — BUT NOW, I don’t work in a little bubble called “my campus….because I can come to the world of educating ideas by logging into twitter.

Yet, I don’t seem to be able to convince others how valuable a tool this is.   How helpful a tool.

Not to gush — and never to forget that there are pros and cons.

But what an opportunity that is just waiting – available to anyone who wishes to take part.  (either with an account or without if you search with hashtags or user names).

Yet, many remain unaffected, disinterested, and even resistant.

And so, I have to remember — twitter is a personal thing….and until one “gets it” — it really truly does not make sense.

Today’s thoughts
Jen

Hmmm — will this work?

Classroom No Comments »

Last Friday — I was out buying doorprizes for the #DENAPALOOZA green session I was doing.   Dollar store green tableclothes make great green screens!

While I was picking up the tableclothes — I saw green paper plates and thought — “Hmmm, will this work?”

So, I grabbed 2 packages, a bunch of tableclothes, and off I went.

During the session — I showed the paperplates — but due to time constraints — we did not get to try them out.

So today — I took the time to play — AND THEY WORK!!!

To create with green screen — I use an ipad and the doINK green screen app:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/green-screen-by-do-ink/id730091131?mt=8

Since today is DOT DAY and also the beginning of the O.R.E.O. project
I first combined 2 images to make a DOT/OREO image:

Step One:  Stack Oreos

IMG_0740

Step Two:  Add in Dot Day Image

IMG_0747

and got this:

IMG_0741

Okay — that was fun

SO I decided to try something else — what if I cut the paper plates into different shapes or sizes — etc

And I did — and this is what I got:

dotday2

Smiles — I think a green screen monster has now been unleashed!   This is fun!

 

Re-inventing — Re-evaluating — Realizations

Just Jen's Thoughts 9 Comments »

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!
Jen

 

ABOUT JEN:
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!

 

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