Sunday, March 9, 2014

Inspiration from a Teach For America Corps Member

On the Teaching As Leadership Framework section of the Teach For America website, I came across this wonderful idea I want to remember for the future. I thought this policy sounded so actionable and useful that I would share it:

Julia King (Chicago Corps ’08) held meetings at the beginning of the year with students and families to determine where her kids wanted to be in two years, five years, and ten years, and then had a frank discussion of what would need to happen in order to realize those aspirations. Ongoing, she called and texted parents throughout the day with updates on their children. As one father said, “She makes me feel like I’m in class with my daughter!” Each week Julia sent home student work with Post-Its for parents to add comments. When they were returned to her, she laminated the comments and put them on the wall to keep her students proud and motivated.

I like all the ideas in this excerpt, but especially calling and texting parents throughout the day and displaying comments from parents in the classroom. I think it's so important for parents to be involved in their children's education, and these are both very concrete ways of making that happen.

I remember in the preschool where I worked for 3 years how much the parents appreciated being in touch with their children's teachers throughout the day: since they could not be with their children themselves, it was a close second to be able to readily contact the school. And I love the idea of words of inspiration coming from parents (known role models) rather than only displaying inspirational quotes from the internet.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Rita F. Pierson: "Every Kid Needs a Champion"

I found this inspiring lecture on this link of 15 TED Talks That Will Change Your Life

Rita F. Pierson advocates making personal connections with your students to raise achievement. She talks about a group of students so "academically deficient" that she cried. But the mantra she gives them to repeat for themselves is something powerful indeed:
And I gave them a saying to say: "I am somebody. I was somebody when I came. I'll be a better somebody when I leave. I am powerful, and I am strong. I deserve the education that I get here. I have things to do, people to impress, and places to go."
That's definitely one for the classroom wall.
And they said, "Yeah!"

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Birthday Abroad

This year marks my first birthday away from my family and friends. I was sad to be apart from the people I love, but the people I've met here have made me feel so welcome that I was still able to enjoy my special day. My students, for example, bought me this giant florescent cake and an equally colossal bottle of Inca Kola. The affection communicated with this gesture was as grand and bright as the gifts.

My host family then cooked me a special lunch of Chifa food, which is the Peruvian version of Chinese food, one of my favorite things to eat here. We all gathered around, including the toddlers in the family, and enjoyed the meal together, which was very heartwarming.

Lastly, my collegues gifted me this handsome messenger bag with the emblem of our school. I love its encouraging message.

KEEP GOING is right!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

South America: Teaching in Peru

I am currently teaching English at Universidad Cesar Vallejo in Trujillo, Peru. Everyone here has been very welcoming and friendly! My schedule is very full with prep, exam design, grading, and tutoring, so in lieu of a wordy post, here are some pictures of the campus where I am teaching:

Just like Ecuador, everything here is very open-air. I really like this economically and ecologically friendly design, but it does make it seem that no such thing as quiet exists in Peru! I am just enjoying the breezes and omnipresent music/rooster crows/car horns and the all-around energetic vibe.

Friday, November 29, 2013

South America: Volunteering in Ecuador

Here is a little glimpse of the natural beauty I am getting to take in these days in Ecuador:

While in Ecuador, I am studying Spanish in the exchange program at Universidad de Especialidades Espiritu Santo in Samborondon, a small city just outside of Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city.

UEES has a really beautiful, open-air campus, complete with palm trees and wandering iguanas:

When not in Spanish classes, I am volunteering at this also-beautiful, equally open-air campus:

Unidad Educativa Jose Domingo Santistevan is a part of the Junta de Beneficencia (Board of Charities) in Guayaquil. This non-profit school educates students from preschool through high-school graduation. I am working with classes of students aged 14 and 15.

While volunteering at this school, I am shadowing a wonderful, talented English teacher, Ms. Diana. Diana is a young and energetic teacher who cares so much for her students that it is truly palpable. She began each class by thanking her students for being there, sometimes reminding them that they were a family, together every day in their shared home, the classroom. While I was there, she also sometimes reminded them that I was their guest, and so to show me the hospitality required when you host a guest in your home. She conducted class with a real passion for her material, then closed each session with
"Thank you for your hard work, have a wonderful day,
and remember to always be kind, and to be good people."

It was such a pleasure and inspiration to get to work with her every day. I learned so much from Ms. Diana. I know she will be successful in her future as an educator, and I hope that in my time with her I have learned enough to be successful in a similar way.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Next Step: South America

Tomorrow I leave for a year in South America, but I will always be a Rembrandts teacher 7-3 in my heart.

During my send-off, I received these touching words of encouragement from my boss:  
Frances, I speak for so many when I say we cannot thank you enough for your time at [redacted for privacy]. You have really touched so many lives here and only 1/3 of them are under 5 years old! You will do great things in your life and I am so proud our paths crossed (for 3 years)! Come back to say hi and keep J. and me updated on you!"
Since updating this blog, I have finished my Child Development Associates, completed my contract with my preschool, wrapped up my life in the States, (literally wrapping up the contents of my apartment for storage), and made arrangements to study and teach in South America for a year. 

I have neglected this blog again, I'm afraid.  It is the paradox of this internet age of documenting our lives that the times when there is the most to document, those are the times when we are least free to take time to document. But here are my plans: first I will spend four months in Guayaquil, Ecuador, learning and practicing Spanish in immersion. Then, armed with my improved Spanish proficiency, I head to Trujillo, Peru, to teach English at Universidad Cesar Vallejo. 

It would be a lie by omission if I didn't say I'm nervous about this big change. Moving to another hemisphere when I have found so much to be grateful for at home can be a terrifying prospect. But I am confident that where I choose to apply myself I will succeed, and I see no reason for this adventure in South America to be any different. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Preschool: Election Day

Dear faithful readers,

My humblest, most appreciative thanks for making my page views climb, even as I take a long break from blogging.  I'm still teaching, still tutoring, and still plugging away at my Child Development Associates.  And I am still photo documenting it all to share with you when I have more spare moments.

But today, I have a time-sensitive post to share.  Today is Election Day, so our class conducted our own presidential vote.  I explained simply that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both want to be president, and so we, the people of The United States, all cast a vote to decide who it will be.  I printed out photos of each candidate, as equally sized as I could find, and gave each student a sticker to cast his or her vote, explaining that you can vote for whomever you like, but you only get to vote once.  I turned the Circle Time easel around for a little voting privacy and assured the class that their selection was between them and their sticker.

Not pictured in this photo is the rest of the class, sitting on the rug just behind this voting machine, waiting their turn to do their civic duty.

I was their elections official, and we even had a little voting machine malfunction when a sticker got stuck to a voter's finger.  All is well, though, her vote was cast and her voice was heard.  Our election was so authentic, the children all got stickers to keep after they voted.  

Before the grown-ups' election results are in, here is my classroom's vote tally:

And here are some relevant Kid Quotes:

We will make our choice and put a sticker on who we are voting for.

Three-year-old, who went along with his parents as they voted: "Not me!  I already vote!"

 . . .

So today, all the grown-ups will vote, and tonight they will count all the votes, and tomorrow when we wake up, we'll find out who the next president will be!

Three-year-old girl: "ME!!"

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Preschool: Wash My Hands (Back and Forth)

Say what you will about this song, but this is just about my favorite music video of all time.

It's the perfect combination of catchy, bright, and adorable, and I love its confident message.

Here's my health lesson remix:

I wash my hands back and forth
I wash my hands back and forth (just wash em)
I wash my hands back and forth
I wash my hands back and forth (wash em real good)
I wash my hands back and forth x4

Hop up out the bed turn my swag on
Pay no attention to the germies
Because we wash em off
And we ain’t doin nothin wrong
So don’t tell me nothin
I’m just trying to have lunch
So keep the pasta coming
So whats up? (yeah)
And now they don't know what to do
We turn the knob and wash our hands (and just)
Shake em off (x4)

Don’t let germies get me all a-grime
Wash my hands, I know I’ll be fine
Keep scrubbin until I get there
When I’m down and I feel like cleaning up

(chorus x3)
I wash my hands back and forth
I wash my hands back and forth (just wash em)
I wash my hands back and forth
I wash my hands back and forth (wash em real good)
I wash my hands back and forth x4

Imma get more shine in a little bit
Soon as I hit the stage
Applause I’m hearing it
Whether it’s soap bars, soap jars, I’m feeling it

But can’t none of them wash em like I do (I)
I get to them mm-yeah go hard
When they see me pull up
I wash em real hard x2
Real hard
I wash em real hard

Don’t let germies get me all a-grime
Wash my hands, I know I’ll be fine
Keep scrubbin until I get there
When I’m down and I feel like cleaning up

(chorus x2)
I wash my hands back and forth
I wash my hands back and forth (just wash em)
I wash my hands back and forth
I wash my hands back and forth (wash em real good)
I wash my hands back and forth x4

All my kiddos if you feel me
Gone and do it, do it
Wash your hands (wash your hands)
Don’t matter if they look clean,
Do it, do it wash your hands
Your hands, your hands!

(chorus x3)
I wash my hands back and forth
I wash my hands back and forth (just wash em)
I wash my hands back and forth
I wash my hands back and forth (wash em real good)
I wash my hands back and forth x4

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Summer Activites: Self-Education

Here's what I have been up to lately. . . .

I have been fortunate enough to travel a lot this summer.  I visited friends in Spain and a friend in Costa Rica to look at possible Spanish-immersion locations for the future, and even got to spend a week at the beach with my family.  All this travel has really re-sparked my natural curiosity.  I have learned a lot of Spanish, explored rainforest and cloud forest, and spotted several different types of monkeys.  Being out of my element has made me more aware of my surroundings, especially the natural ones.  And of course, I brought back plenty of props and pictures to share at Circle Time and in my tutoring sessions. 

It has really been a summer of self-education.

In particular, I have had time during my vacation to complete my TESOL course.  I am excited to have this certification under my belt, especially since it will allow me to apply for jobs teaching English abroad when I'm ready.  I also view it as a step in the direction of a full-time career in teaching ESOL students, which is the career choice I am leaning toward now.

Next in my self-education this summer is a Child Development Associates.  I am participating in a program at my preschool center to complete my CDA online by the end of this year.  I am really looking forward to getting more standardized knowledge of child development and finding more ways to formalize our preschool classroom and pre-kindergarten program. 

Here's a Kid Quote about a popular summertime activity:

Three-year-old: "I don't want to watch a lot of TV because I will get a mush brain!"

Four-year-old: "I love to watch a lot of TV.  It's my favorite thing to do."

Oh no!  Don't watch too much; you'll get a mush brain!

Four-year-old: "No I didn't."

Monday, July 23, 2012

Happy Summer!

Here's a rainbow of mermaids to brighten your day!

The artist was my seven-year-old tutoring student, who moved back to Korea this summer.  I miss this family, but I'm looking forward to working more regularly with the other clients this family introduced me to.

And here is a summertime Kid Quote:

Four-year-old: "When I was at the beach I found a turtle egg and it was a baby one and I picked it up and it was still in there and I carried it as carefully as I could and then it started to hatch."

Really?  What happened then?  Did you put him in the water?

Four-year-old: "No I put him in a pot of water with my fish."

Oh!  What did you name him?

Four-year-old: "I named him Frances!  I fed him peas.  That's why I named him Frances.  And I gave him some gummy bears and some jellybeans because he ate all his dinner."