Passover?

For those who don’t know, its that holy time in the Jewish year: Passover. ¬†Yes indeed! From Friday last week to Saturday this upcoming week there’s no leavened bread, and I need to use all new silverware, plates, cups, etc…Which means i’ll be using paper and plastic for the rest of the week ūüôā

 

Anyway, the reason I bring up the holiday is that on the first two nights (friday and saturday this year) we Jews have what we call a “Seder” which in English means “order.” ¬†On those nights, we join with families and friends to remember the Jews’ miraculous exit from the land of Egypt. ¬†During these seders one may find a leader, or leaders, walking the rest of the participants through the order of the evening, from washing hands, to eating bitter herbs with matzoh, we walk step by step through the evening all the while recalling our people’s history. The whole point of this process however is to bring about questioning. Throughout the evening we take a number of steps that some may deem odd. ¬†Some families may have the tradition to move a table, others to move plates, and some to stand on chairs! All of this is towards engaging the audience and eliciting questions from the participants. ¬†Bringing this thinking into the classroom, I think we could all enhance our teaching by doing something different that makes a student question “Why.” ¬†Maybe its a funny picture in a powerpoint, or jumping on a table, but any which way we do it, a student can be engaged by switching things up a bit. And, for that, making a fool out of ourselves, or stepping out of our comfort zone is worth it.

Getting towards the end

With just 2 classes left, it’s a bit strange to think that GRS is about to end.

 

For those of you who haven’t kept track, here’s a list of the things we’ve done in these past near 15 months:

Summer:
– Weeks-long science investigation + Investigative Paper
– Camp GRS — Captain Planet color war style (“best camp year ever” – freedom school staff)

Fall:
– STARS planning
Р8 week STARS team investigation, STARS presentation,  100+pg long final paper
– 200+ hours of “observation” in a classroom
– 4-weeks student teaching

Spring:
– 8-week student teaching
– Innovative unit paper (also 100+ pages)
– edTPA? (not done here, but I can’t speak for the rest of my cohort)
– Portfolio! (Not even started here, but again, can’t speak for everyone else)

Looking back at it all, I never thought May would get here, but now graduation is just around the corner.

 

For all my cohort members, a pre-emptive, but definitely called-for congratulations and commendation for all the hard work and effort you’ve put in this past year!

 

Have a nice week and weekend everyone!

It’s application season!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As we move into the month of April we officially enter the all too real time of application season. Each member of the cohort is now tasked with taking all that they have learned in this past year or so and turning it into words that can be expressed during an interview to get a job offer. As the year comes to a close we see each of us looking to begin the next phase of our lives in different places. Some are leaving this still snowy wonderland, while others are looking to establish themselves here (at least for the moment). It is just an all too real understanding that soon the people I have grown to depend on will be (for some) many hundreds of miles away. ¬†Even so, I think we are all feeling the pressure between juggling application season, and the countless other assignments, and certification requirements. However, it is also true that when we get past the homeworks, the presentations, the applications, the certifications, and the interviews, this rollercoaster of a year, with its very high highs, and for some low lows, will be at its end. That being the case, despite the work, I’m choosing to cherish these last few months, even though I’ll probably spend the majority of that time staring at a computer screen writing.

 

Have a nice weekend everybody!

A week(ish) at NSTA

Howdy y’all,

 

I can say that because I’ve been in Nashville for 3 days and as our many Uber drivers this mini-week have explained, it takes just a weekend to get a southern accent.

 

In any event, this past week I had the fortune to travel to Nashville Tennessee with 2 of the best pre-service teachers in Rochester. We started out with a riveting talk led by Bill Nye the Science Guy who delved into the importance of incorporating aerospace studies into the classroom, regardless of the content area or grade level.

 

The next morning, at the early hour of 8am, our group split up and found a number our sessions focusing on hands on science, spectacular demos, and lab experiments that can be adapted for the classroom.  We met science technician companies, science teacher educators, and about 3000 science teachers from across the country.

 

We each walked away with something different to take away. For me, its the truth that when I get into the field, there are literally thousands of people out there to help me figure it out.

 

I’d give more specifics, but for those secrets you’d have to go to NSTA yourself!

 

Have a nice weekend y’all! And come down to Nashville sometime, the sights are awesome, and the music is…well…country…but still enjoyable ¬†ūüôā

A weekend away

Hello to my lovely readers!

 

This weekend I took a trip back to Jersey for a weekend away. It is important to take a weekend away in order to get back in touch with those important to you. My aunts, uncles, friends and extended family all took the trip to NJ and we had a typical friday night dinner of 18 people.  Now refreshed, I feel I am ready and able to get back into the thick of things in Rochester to take on the difficulties to come as I move into writing my portfolio and completing my unit papers.

 

I hope you all had a nice weekend as well!

 

For all my readers: What do you do to get your head back on straight?  Do you visit your family? Play video games for 24 hours straight?  Fill us in below!

Winding Down

Ladies and Gentlemen, boy and girls, the time has finally come.

 

This week, myself and my cohort members (save 1) are all coming to a  close on our student teachings. We of course still have some time left to phase out of our placements, to tie up loose knots, to say our thank yous, and most importantly to say goodbye. However, after 7 months in schools, planning, implementing, reflecting, revising, and sleeping a whole lot less than we probably should have, our time has finally come to a close.

 

In thinking about this closure I decided to look back to where my student teaching started (click the hyperlink to check it out for yourself). After my first week of student teaching I said,

 

“Going into this semester, I said to myself that no matter how hard it got to juggle the things, being in that classroom would get me through it. ¬†And, with this first week done, I can say that I was right. ¬†I don‚Äôt know exactly what the next few months of my life are gonna be like‚Ķ6Am wake up calls most¬†days, and classes most nights. ¬†But, if this week is telling, I‚Äôll do it all with a smile on my face :)”

 

I’m still finishing those days, but with only a handful of 6am wake-up calls and late nights in the classroom, all I can say is that it was indeed being in the classroom, and working with my students that got me through this. ¬†Their energy, even at 8am, is what gave me the energy to continue, and their drive to do better, to learn more, and to make me laugh, is what makes all of this worth it. More importantly, while I waxed and waned throughout the time, it was all because of those kids¬†that I was able to do it with a smile on my face ūüôā

 

So, this post is a thank you to all of my students, all of the 160 of them (plus or minus 20), who helped me get through the last 9 months of endless days and sleepless nights.

Intro to Evolution

Howdy team,

 

So just yesterday I introduced a new topic in my biology classes: EVOLUTION! ¬†Evolution is one of my favorite topics to learn about as it helps me to understand the way we are all in a way connected and to understand the significance of the life I see in the world around me. ¬†However, in teaching Evolution, I’ve come to understand I have to tread very carefully as I need to ensure I am not negating or working against the home cultures and religions of my students. ¬†We took some time out of our actual class to have¬†a conversation about¬†what a “theory” in science is. ¬†I ensured that my students understood that we would be walking through the evidence the scientists have accumulated¬†to support the theory that scientists have decided to call “Evolution.” Still, I had students who needed to push back against me, primarily¬†1 on 1, to ensure that what they have been told, or what they believe, is still valid. ¬†And, of course, we had the conversation. I ensured that I met them in their own space, I kneeled down to their level or below, and they were provided the opportunity¬†to explain in their own words what they were feeling. ¬†Some students simply shut down and refused to comment and do work, but through these kinds of conversations and larger class reassurances that as scientists and science teachers we were not telling what the student TO believe, but walking them through the evidence¬†and providing them the¬†agency to make their own decision about what to believe about how humans, and the world around us, came to be.

 

For my readers,

do you remember learning about Evolution in school? How was it addressed?  How did your teacher contextualize the conversation?  What, if at all, did they do to reassure you that your beliefs could walk hand in hand with what you were learning?

 

Enjoy the weekend! ūüôā

I don’t know about you, but i’m feeling 22…

Howdy folks,

 

In case you didn’t know, my blog title is a reference to Taylor Swift’s song 22. Not a fan of her work, but for the purposes of this post I thought it would be fitting. ¬†Recently, I’ve been noticing a lot of my peers beginning to feel the work build heavily on their shoulders. ¬†We have been working extraordinarily hard, pulling 70 or 80 hour weeks for months now, and are often not recognized by our professors for it. ¬†Its not that they are oblivious, or that they are trying to bring us down, it is more so that they just do not know. ¬†I look at my cohort around me, and members of other cohorts working towards other certifications, and I see the stress building, and the work overwhelming us all, and there’s not much more we can do about¬†it other than to keep pushing and working until our student teaching placements are over (3 more weeks WOO!) and we graduate (2 more months WOO!). ¬† Building off of this, when we reflect on our own work I see us critiquing ourselves harder than anyone else. We spend hours designing student centered and innovative lessons, implement them, and all we can think about is the “mistakes” we made, or the areas we have to improve. ¬†Well, you know what? ¬†I’m not perfect, my peers are not perfect. ¬†We haven’t been teaching for even a year yet and we’re working our behinds off day after day and doing well.

 

SO, this post is to remind us all that we should be feeling “22” so to speak. We’re still in the start¬†of our profession and there is plenty of room to improve. We still have got decades ahead of us to demonstrate what we are capable of, and I know I speak for myself and my peers when I say I cannot wait to finish up in graduate school and start working to see just how great I can be.

 

 

Have a great weekend folks ūüôā

A cool resource

I was working with my favorite collaboration partner and stumbled across this awesome set of videos posted by a 7th grade teacher named Mr. Parr: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJjstNDkwktHyvUdtcBfb2g

 

This was one of my favorite of his videos. I don’t think I’ll be able to use it in my current placement but I can already imagine using it for a student directed learning activity as I write this: