Monday, June 25, 2012

The Transition...

I have now been in education for 10 years. I feel like I live the movie Groundhog Day over and over each June for all 10 of those years. The transition is horrible.

Let me explain....

For 10 months, the educator works 40-60 hours per week lesson planning, grading, teaching, serving in lunch duty and recess, and so much more. This does not even begin to capture the emotional hours educators put in from Sept-June. You know what I mean... the issues that wake you up at 3am and continue with no clear-cut solutions. 

Now it is mid-June and life as you know it has come to a screeching halt. All of a sudden, you are on summer vacation. There is a to-do list a mile long. After all, the house hasn't been cleaned sufficiently in 10 months, moldy food is in the fridge, a ton of household projects have been waiting for summer to arrive, and the kids are home and bored so put on my entertainer hat. In addition, at the end of each unit I teach, I add it to my summer to-do list to refine it. Throughout administration meetings, I keep a list of "future admin projects" and plan on fleshing out details while on summer break.

However, instead of accomplishing anything, I find myself sitting on the couch doing a bunch of nothing.

If I was content on the couch that would be one thing. However, I feel guilty for not doing something! After all, I've been doing "something" constantly for 10 months. So for the first 1-2 weeks of summer break for the past 10 years, I feel like I'm in a period of melancholy as I adjust. It has taken me 10 years to put into words how I feel each June. I doubt I'm alone. If you are in my boat, take heart is knowing there are other educators who feel the same. There is hope too. The melancholy days end and the to-do list begins to be accomplished. I never get everything checked off the list, but I make a huge dent... eventually, once July hits. 

"All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another." ~Anatole France

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


I know I'm not the swiftest with technology, but I'm a willing learner. I am just beginning to find out all that Google Docs can do and have proposed to my fellow administrators that we begin to go the route of "paperless". The constant copying, recopying for the students who lose forms, and shuffling of said papers wastes plenty of time and money. We will begin to utilize Google Docs for certain communication and forms. Right now I am thinking of converting coverage request forms for teachers, end of the year checklist for teachers, and perhaps some lateness or disciplinary forms over to Google Docs (specifically forms). Is your school going paperless? If so, what ways have you found this concept to work? What problems have you run into? I'd love to hear feedback of those who are further down the road.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Collaborating in the AP English Literature classroom

I've always had a dream of connecting my English classrooms with other classrooms around the country or world. When I began teaching in 2002, the thought of pen pals on the other side of the world was always on my mind, but I never had the time to pursue this project.

Now, 10 years later, I am in the classroom again teaching AP English Literature. My dream of connecting and collaborating with another similarly leveled class somewhere outside Philadelphia remains. With the internet, skype, twitter, facebook, etc., I imagine the resources are plentiful to make this dream a reality.

Despite knowing that the dream is within reach, I return to square one for some reflective grounding.

1. Why would I consider doing this project?
               I firmly believe our students are "connecting" more with others via social media. Our world is not nearly as small as it was when I was in high school in 1997. However, are our students able to effectively present an opinion or depth of thought while connecting and collaborating? So often, our superficial communication contains messaging lingo and abbreviations that do not prove that we are intelligent human beings in the least.

2. What would I desire to connect/collaborate about?
               One element I find lacking in the AP English Literature students is their depth of reading. Sometimes they only read what is required in their school classes. If they read for fun, they read YA (not that there is anything wrong with that!) I would love to have a virtual bookshelf where my students (7 are scheduled for my class this coming year) could post intelligently about a book they read - perhaps examining theme or a symbol specifically.  They could then recommend (or not) the book to other AP English students. I would love my students to be able to access other recommendations from students from other schools around the country and globe. Realizing that we are all enjoying literature and are able to examine it in depth is important to spur them on towards more learning and reading.

3. How would I do it?
              This is the element I still need to figure out. I know exists and is a wonderful place to keep your own reading lists and review a book once you have completed it. I will have to further examine if this would be a good resource or if there is something better out there.

BUT I NEED YOUR HELP!!! If you have taught at the upper high school honors/AP track level, would you see benefits in a program like this? Do you know of a resource  that could assist me in making my dream a reality? Would you like to join me? Feel free to e-mail me ( with any suggestions or questions.

Happy reading - and collaborating!!!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Well, it must be summer again since I have a few moments to post. This school year has been filled with experiences to teach me more about myself and education in general.

1. Success is reached when we focus on the students. The times of failure I've seen this year, either with teachers or administration, is when we take our eyes off the needs of the student and focused on the "needs" of others. The challenge I walk away with is to keep my focus clear for 2012-2013.

2. I was once again reminded to not be afraid to love the student body. There is always a balance, but these students need love. Often it doesn't exist at home so we, as educators, must fill the gap. The difficulty comes in walking the tightrope between loving them and still keeping proper boundaries. I find this most difficult in a Christian school environment.

3. The amount of resources online is endless. I need to be ever-vigilant to be a life-long learner. Technology is not the authority on education, but there are certainly wonderful tools that can assist the teacher in the classroom and the administrator in his/her daily duties.

4. Everyone has an idea worth hearing. Regardless of the person's role in the school, he/she might have a wonderful idea that could change the way things are done. They need to be valued enough to be heard.

5. I still have a lot to learn. The second I think I know it all, I am humbled by my ignorance. It is vital to keep my humility far in front of my pride.