I have been wanting to create a holder for the activities and plans I make for my classroom. I also know how much I enjoy supporting other teachers and sharing ideas. So- You got to start somewhere. I finally created a shop in Teachers Pay Teachers. I have one freebie so far, as that is the requirement for starting a store. Let me know what you think! www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Samanthas-Creative-Writing-Prompts-4083549 You will have to have a TPT account in order to view it. Enjoy!
A couple of years ago I wanted to try writing rhyming messages to my students. This year I have committed to writing a rhyming morning message every day we are in school. Every morning it centers me and helps me focus on the purpose of being here. It is a small meditation! For me, it is fun. For my kids- I am modeling making a simple commitment, but sticking with it is the lesson. I am collecting them here.
Elevator Talk on school reform.
The beginning of my teaching career coincided with the No Child Left Behind reform. After three years, I quickly learned that test scores undermined creativity- my own and especially my students. I was teaching 15-year-old seventh graders who were itching to drop out. I had an eighth grader in my class whose parents blamed me for their son writing a bomb threat. One of my students ran away from home and I did not see her for a month. This was awful, but it meant that I would have enough desks for my Language Arts class. Every federal administration has tried to “fix” the school system in America, but it seems like a new reform is just the same money making scheme painted over with a new banner. American politics and our government may (I want to believe) at its core, have the right intentions, but non-educators and wealthy philanthropists with agendas have always been heard over the parents, teachers, students, and education professionals. Schools seem to be the historic scapegoat. Teachers have always been expected to fix society, to develop a competitive nation without having the support and respect they need and deserve to educate our children. Too many kids in America do not have their basic needs met. There is no way someone could be expected to perform on a test if they were hungry, scared, unclean, sick, or homeless. This is not the work of educators. This is our country’s responsibility. There is not an easy solution, but a start would be to elect officials whose main agenda is taking care of our citizens. When people are more secure in their basic needs, educators can do their jobs. As a parent and a teacher, my hope is that other parents will be aware of the pressures being put on our children. I hope that parents will value a child’s creativity, social-emotional well-being, and curiosity about the world and that they will stop looking at a grade or test score as the only indicator of what is happening in the classroom.
Guns are for one thing: killing. Why are we talking about whether or not to put guns in schools? This debate makes me so sad. Guns are the antithesis of what I am all about. I am a creator and a giver. I help children reach their potential. I view creative value in each of my students. I help them create their own knowledge, to value education, to read and learn and know and think for themselves. I raise my child the same way. I will not live my life in fear. How is it, once again, that the people in charge who are stating their great ideas about arming teachers have not set foot in a classroom since they themselves stopped paying attention? When will the dumbing down of our culture, our education, our generations leave a most meaningful consequence? How is it that now a military state may be demanded by the clueless and the hateful? What has our country come to? Teaching at a Jewish day school already brings some level of anxiety. We understand that for some people we are a target. Last year it was a rash of bomb threats, remember? A note to people in charge: please build schools and communities. Give students what they need to be healthy and learn free from fear. Spend money on books and professional development, after school programs, and food, field trips, science equipment, social-emotional curricula, psychologists, and health care, art supplies, and technology, universities and labs, infrastructure, and innovation. Build bridges, gardens, upstanders, and basic needs. Create love and open conversation. Give people a voice, including children, especially children. Invest in mental health and mindfulness. Take a walk. Teach yourself to take a stand and lead with dignity. Take a look at countries doing things right. Be inspired. Hire professionals and help them learn. Maybe I am blind by my own ideals, but I really did believe we were making progress. Give teachers the respect they deserve for caring for the well being of your children.
Here is the poem I wrote last year. Same as it ever was.
In 1980 a boy
I will never forget
with a sneer of copied hate-
passed down from
the deceived and deprived
pointed his finger
Did he have an audience?
A cheering section
Scared to not agree, no doubt
I was told
at recess I would be shot
For my ancestry
That may be my only
So stark from that year
Yesterday, my son
Same sweet age I was then
He is now
History repeats they say
And through the woods
They made a game
Of their escape
Called to exercise his right
Was this a call from my generation?
What happened to my first grade bully
Did he graduate or pull the alarm
Satisfied by the power?
He could create panic
To calm our youth with no answers
We learn the past to not forget
To teach forgiveness in the face
Of lessons we thought
We already learned
May my child and all the children
Remember no fear
That the path they walked
Down this year
Was only guiding them
What is it? Where does it come from? I created a new page to explore this topic through my Creative Class- EDUG639, Spring 2018 at Meredith College. See tabs above!
I am excited to start our 4th and 5th grade service learning project this week! Watch this video:
I don't know what it is about college stairwells- the worn wooden handrails, pull tab information flyers taped on the walls for writing groups, nanny positions, computer help, flu shot clinics, self-help groups. It could be my quickened heartbeat, racing up to the third floor or the echoing ghosts of academic conversation that awaken my curiosity and potential. The transition between classes, this nostalgia for the halls of the University of Kansas in 1992, my own need to be writing and thinking keeps calling me back. At Meredith College, I get this same excitement in the stairwell leading to the education department, where I am pursuing this masters degree.
However, nothing so far in my professional and educational career has inspired me more than my training at Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. There I have been called to witness my own limiting beliefs about myself as a teacher, a writer, an artist, and a human. There I am reminded that my work is important. That my mark on the world matters, and that my passions are leading me in the right direction. For me, to write is to breathe. I am grateful to the staff developers for reawakening this part of me. To be continued...