Being a Nat Geo Educator has given me a new set of tools that allow my students to engage with the world and develop global competence. On 9/28/18, I had the privilege of being on the summit of Mt. Taylor, NM, to see the sunrise with a group of 25 students. We were on trek with the Cottonwood Gulch as part of the Students in Wilderness Initiative while our other group of 25 eighth graders was up in northwest NM exploring the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area. Camping and hiking out in wilderness areas with our students as Explorers has been a dream come true and we’re looking forward to our upcoming day trips this winter and our multi-day backpacking trip in the spring.
Teacher friends, I encourage you to explore becoming a Nat Geo Certified teacher. You never know where the experience might take you and your students! @insidenatgeo #natgeocertified @natgeoeducation @cottonwoodgulch
Learn more at NatGeoEd.org/Certification
At 5:40 this morning, we started up the trail to the summit of Mt. Taylor with our headlamps illuminating the path. 55 minutes later we sat at 11,306 feet waiting for the sun to show her glorious self. The kids amazed me; they noticed so many details from how the light was changing to how the colors of the sky blended, just like they’ve been learning in art class. “Ms., take a picture so we can draw the sky in art.” This is just one the extraordinary experiences I had with our students on our three day trek. I’ve got more to share, but for now, I’ll just say that I know - I know - I’m one of the luckiest teachers in the world.
We’ve been thinking, talking, reading, writing, and drawing about what it means to be an Explorer. And tomorrow, we’re heading out to Explore! 50 kids + 5 teachers are heading out tomorrow. One group is heading to Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area and the other group is heading to West Malpais and Mt. Taylor. Two nights of camping, three days of exploring - let’s go! @natgeoeducation @cottonwoodgulch
I’ve been on a little adventure and away from the classroom. Taking time off is not entirely easy; the sub plans alone often propel teachers to just suck it up and go in. But I had signed up for a mini-trek to northwestern New Mexico over this equinox weekend and I’ve been out for a 4-day weekend. There were many wonderful aspects of this experience including: (1) Since being selected as a Grosvenor Teacher Fellow, I see the world differently and I see myself differently. Exploration is around every corner! (2) I didn’t think about school alot. (3) I slept out in the wild with the light of an almost full moon streaming into my little tent; I hiked and learned, shared and listened; I met people who immediately and permanently made me a better person; I explored the sheer beauty of my home state of New Mexico. Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area and Chaco Canyon, a UNESCO Heritage site are places I had been longing to explore.
I’m a little tired, but I am entirely happy. I’m a little nervous about heading back to school tomorrow, especially since we head out on our 8th grade trek on Wednesday. And I’m grateful for my own adventure and being able to share one, very soon, with my students. @natgeoeducation @cottonwoodgulch
Me, during and after a lockdown drill during lunch with 180 seventh and eighth graders who, when the drill was announced, began to screech and run around the gym in the most stunning display of “exactly what not to do during a drill” behavior. Grateful for the three other women who were also in the gym who worked to get the kids to re-embrace their wits. After the Picture Day Debacle Of 2018, this lockdown drill had the potential to take this teacher down. Don’t worry, I rebounded when a substitute teacher told me this joke: why did God invent short people? Because they make good pets. Uh huh. I may never recover (until I do, by tomorrow, to do this crazy thing called teaching.)
Let’s talk….tedium. Because - and this may come as a shock (to nobody) - teaching isn’t always glamorous. Today, I present…Picture Day Doldrums.
Actually, I may have preferred doldrums. It was more like this: - I arrive at school to see many kids in nice shirts and dresses, cowboy boots and curled hair. They look angelic and I my heart warms at the wonder of working with such lovely children. - I start my first class and we hit a rhythm early on and then…oh, then, we leave for the gym. The walk over is uneventful, but then we walk into the gym and the kids start getting - weird. They start - shoving and pushing each other off the benches and running around and screaming and then I have to use my TEACHER VOICE which is easily one octave lower than normal and I puff out my 4’11.5” frame and I’m pretty sure I breathed fire, too. - And on the walk back? Some kids tell one kid to jump on another kid’s back and she does and they both land on the ground and then a different child was mad-offended-angry-bored-doldrummy - actually, I’m not sure - but she runs out of the classroom and away away away while I called an admin to run run run after her. - That was funny.
I won’t bore you, dear reader, with the happenings of my afternoon class except to say - I may have turned a couple of children to stone with my TEACHER LOOK when I turned to see one boy holding another boy like a plank and spinning him round and round.
The good bad news - other teachers had a similar day. When we suffer, we suffer together. That helps.
But all this chaos inspired this idea — let’s have an all-selfie yearbook!!!! Kids take their own pic and text it to the yearbook club (who are Angels themselves) and that’s it! DONE! I mean, yearbook pics in which kids have puppy dog ears and stars coming out of their ears.....come on!
Today we had our second in-classroom Students In Wilderness Initiative session and it was awesome. Besides the fun rock-paper-scissors game, we had two Rangers from the NM Wilderness Alliance talk about their work in wilderness areas in New Mexico. Liz Vogel from the national Wilderness Society also visited today! 54 eighth graders + 5 teachers leave on two separate treks in 8 days! Stay tuned to find out where in New Mexico we’re going! So grateful for this amazing opportunity for our kiddos.
You'd think going on a radio show wouldn't require a basket full of props and materials, but the Children's Hour is not a typical show. With children participating and even co-engineering the show, it's a unique opportunity to engage the kiddos in the studio in learning about the Arctic, climate change, and what it means to be an Explorer.
That's why my Arctic wildlife friends joined me, in addition to my posters, postcards, and there was even a VR experience for the kids (and parents!) to experience Svalbard (Thanks, Kimberly Young, for sharing your 360 footage! They loved it!) It was such a joy to be part of the creative, fun energy that Katie and the young people in the studio exude.
Thank you, @lindbladexp and @natgeoeducation , for the opportunity to be a Teacher Explorer and share the wonders of the Arctic with my community.
Disclaimer #1 - I’m not blaming anyone in today’s post. Disclaimer #2 - I am screaming a little in this post. SORRY! Disclaimer #3 - I’m ok and I’ll be fine and I haven’t lost hope. And…… How how how how how do we allow students to progress through our educational system and arrive in 6th grade reading at the 1st grade level? I’m not a proponent for retention. I AM A PROPONENT FOR GETTING STUDENTS THE SUPPORT THEY NEED AND EARLY INTERVENTION.
On Monday, I’ll add to my teaching schedule a reading intervention group - 5 students, three reading at the early 2nd grade level and two reading at the early 1st grade level. 4/5 with IEPs. 1 with dyslexia.
I will love these students. And, by God, I will work to nudge them along even though I desperately want to leaps-and-bounds them to higher reading levels.
I may be well-intentioned, creative, and dedicated. But, I’m ill-equipped and under-resourced for this unique situation.
And I’m sad. I’ve cried these past few nights thinking of children who are left behind.
This post is not a pity party. Truly. It is a genuine distress call about how We as a system, We as a whole, don’t get to every child. Children don’t fall through the cracks - the systemic inequities fracture the playing field and children get caught in the absence of educational justice. And at the end of the day, I know that, perhaps even without malice, I’ve played into this system of disparity. I’m complicit, too.
Disclaimer #4 - It was a full, sort-of rough week. I’m tired. I promise to focus more on the good than the hard spots. But I can’t tell a year of authentic teaching stories without these vignettes, too. I know you understand.
Once a month we have an Advisory Morning that focuses on building strong relationships with and among our school community. Today we explored dance and music through joyful and playful experiences. My day had started out a little rough, but the high-energy of the morning coupled with the abundance of joy I felt catapulted me straight into gratitude. Thanks #frobrozofficial for spending the morning with us!
Visual note-taking warm ups after a quiz on dialogue punctuation, a mini-lesson on adding description to narrative writing, and students revising their work. Felt good to her them giggling and exhaling after some focused, detailed work.