Writing my way through the school year!

Ever since I saw Rita Pierson’s TED talk, I have wanted to do a TED talk.

So, when I received an email saying that TEDxWilmington was looking for speakers, I jumped at it.
I have to be honest, I started filling out the app, and got discouraged. It was due the next day, and I had to submit a video, arrrgh! READ MORE

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I have to be honest.
For a number of years I was that teacher. The one who prophesied the negative places kids would end up.
“Yeah, he’ll be in jail in about two years.”
“She’ll be pregnant in middle school.”
Sometimes my prophecy would come true, and fortunately, sometimes it wouldn’t.READ MORE…

I wiI will not be armedll NEVER carry a weapon, concealed or otherwise, in my classroom.

I will NEVER keep it locked in a safe.
I say this with the utmost certainty.

There is a huge debate going on about whether teachers should be armed in order to protect their students.
As usual, teachers’ voices are muted by the roar of non-educators who believe they know better. READ MORE…

They don’t understand.

When they discuss Rosa and the bus boycott, see the photographs, and videos, their voices echo, “But that’s not fair!”

As we study Dr.King, they question, “Why?”

I explain to them that it was the law. Segregation and Jim Crow laws. I explain to them that not everyone was like that. That people of different races came together to defeat this awful thing that made one group think they were better than another. READ MORE

Top reasons, I am an edtech ambassador.

1. I LOVE the resource.

I use it. Often. That’s why I was chosen. Whatever the edtech tool or resource, it is a part of my classroom toolbox. It works for me and my students. It’s a tool that helps me, help my students. If it did not accomplish that task, I would not use it, and I definitely would not be an Ambassador.

2. I get to provide feedback that someone actually listens to. 

Think about it. Who wants feedback from a classroom teacher? Hardly anyone. The teachers in the classroom are rarely asked what they think, how they feel, how could we make this better? We are given the latest books written by authors who are not in the classroom, scripted curriculum, and orders about what next “new”thing we are to do with absolutely no consideration of our experience.

As an ambassador, teachers provide feedback, and get this…the edtech companies listen to us. We get to tell them what is working, what isn’t working, and what we would like to see happen with their product. We get to Beta test new features and give them our opinion about how it would work in our classroom. They are asking the advice of the people who are in the classroom, taking our advice, and making the product we use better!

3. I get a little swag.

FREE. The word teachers all over the world love. Why? Because much is expected of us, little is given. I have NEVER, and I mean never, in the years I have been an ambassador for any company, felt compromised. See #1. I write blog posts about it, share on Twitter, talk about it in Voxer, but these are things I would do anyway. We get some swag, a tshirt or keychain, items to give out at presentations, and maybe upgrades on the resource we are using. I have never been given a trip to the Caribbean.

4. I share with others.

When  I came across an edtech resource that enhanced the way I taught the curriculum, I did not want to keep it to myself. I came out of my comfort zone and became an edtech presenter. At that point in time, there were no teacher ambassadors. I was a teacher who had the ability to make another person more comfortable with integrating edtech. The edtech companies realized how we could benefit from each other and took the steps to create Ambassadors.

By the same token, who do I want to hear ideas from? The edtech creator or the ambassador in the trenches? Kudos to the edtech companies for providing a platform for teachers to share their knowledge with others!

In a week, I will be presenting on an edtech resource I started using last year. This company doesn’t have an ambassador program. If they get one, I will definitely take advantage of the opportunity to join. I am excited to share this resource with others because I am sure it is something they would love in  their classroom, as much as I love it in mine. And that’s the point.

5. Networking/Building your PLN(Professional Learning Network)

Integrating tech in the classroom is not everyone’s “thing.” Sometimes it is difficult to find like-minded people in your physical space. Being an ambassador provides that link to like-minded people all over the country and the world. The connections are limitless. I know the feedback they have contributed has helped many of the resources I use evolve into what they are now.

I don’t understand how teachers became villians for working with edtech companies as Ambassadors.

Here’s the problem.

From the viewpoint of our naysayers, we are “endorsing” a brand. Actually, we are sharing something that works in our classroom, a resource that we use and like anyway.


Good teachers don’t give up all other resources, and focus on the one(s) they are an Ambassador for.

It’s funny that athletes recieve millions of dollars to endorse a brand, people in Hollywood get designer clothing and jewelery worth thousands, sometimes millions, to wear to celebrity events.

And teachers are horrible because they get a tshirt and a premium subscription to an edtech resource?

A colleague ran into a former student of mine. He was in my class 10 years ago. She shared how he felt about our school, but she added, “His favorite teacher was Mrs.Mims because  I knew she cared about me.”

“She cared about me.”

Let it sink in.

We need to understand, and remember, that we are dealing with children.

Many of our children come to school with issues adults couldn’t fathom, much less handle. When they walk in that door, many need a respite, a safe place, from wherever, or whatever, they came from.

They don’t need to hear that they are late, again. They don’t need to hear that they have been absent for X many days.Why tell them how much work they need to make up before saying, “Good morning, glad you are back?” It’s the little things.

And I,am by no means perfect. There are those kids throughout the year that no matter how hard I tried….it didn’t matter to them, and it made our relationship, difficult.

With my students, there is no question that they are loved. They know that I care. They know I will “fuss” when it is needed. I will hold them to high standards. I will listen to them. I will have fun and be serious. I won’t tolerate “mess.” I give and expect respect.

Is it easy? No, not always. I have had instances where I had  to bite my tongue so I don’t say something I have no business saying to someone else’s child. They will take you there.

But I keep working on it. I have become better at building the relationships in my classroom over the years.

Because 20 years later, they will remember that I cared.

bad kid poster

Sometimes, ok many times, she could be loud.
She rolled her eyes and twirled her neck. Often.

Her behavior was everyone else’s fault, never hers.

But as the school year progressed, she changed.
She evolved.
Was she perfect? By, no means.
Did I require perfection from her?

No, why should I?

But I observed waaaaay less yelling, bullying, eye rolling and neck twirling.

Way less.

In my End-of-the-Year card! 🙂

I never yelled at her.

I  talked to her, not “at” her.

I listened to her.

I would allow her to lead.

Let her use her voice for good.

I resisted the power struggle.

Had to, because sometimes she would take me there.:)

And we grew together throughout the school year.

We grew to understand each other.

She knew I “didn’t play”, but I loved her anyway.

She knew to grab that Ipad, set the timer for 5 minutes, and go to the buddy classroom because needed a timeout. 🙂

I learned there was a girl who needed to know she was more than a loud, bullying, eye-rolling, neck twirling child.

We built a relationship.

As the school year ended, I chose her to be the mayor at JA Biztown.

She was amazing!

Everything ran smoothly, she gave her speech to the “citizens.”

I was so proud. What a leader!

But here’s the thing with the “bad” kid.

Some educators don’t want to let go of the label that has followed that student for years.

“I can’t believe out of all the kids in your room, you chose her to be the mayor!”

Really?

I have this pesky habit of believing in the “bad” kid, just as I believe in all my kids.

I believe in giving kids a fresh start, and not believing the hype that follows them.

I believe educators should stop chasing down the previous teachers to get the “scoop” on a child and then continue to treat that child the same way they were the previous year.

Thre’s no magic wand to change a child.

And sometimes, what is tried, fails.

This year, give the “bad” kid a chance to be viewed as good, or at least as worthy as everyone else.

 

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