My [redacted] Journey

A teacher's search for inner peace.


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PARCC It Here


May 16, 2016

Dear Readers,

It’s test time again across this great nation of ours and apparently I’m not allowed to discuss our state mandated, high stakes test. In fact, neither are my students. Seriously?  Seriously. As I was reading my students the scripted test instructions, I had to re-read the sentence warning students to not even talk about the test. I’m familiar with instructions about not talking during the test. But heaven help me! We can’t even talk about the test? Huh?

Apparently, in this corporate takeover, data driven, standardized reform-y thing we call school, teachers are having both hands tied behind their backs.     We won’t see the results of the tests until next school year, and now the students can’t even talk to us, their teachers, about the questions they had to answer. 

This is a really big deal. Teachers across the nation are being threatened by the almighty PARRC for writing about, thus revealing, how inept and inaccurate their test for 4th grade students is. I strongly urge you to read the following ‘copy and paste’ and pass along the information you deem worthy. Thank you. 

Peace, ~v. 

https://gatorbonbc.wordpress.com/2016/05/15/parcc-can-go-scratch-please-re-post-on-your-blog-share-widely/

PARCC Can Go Scratch! Please Re-Post on your Blog. Share Widely.

Posted on May 15, 2016 by GatorBonBC

The PARCC Test: Exposed
The author of this blog posting is a public school teacher who will remain anonymous.
I will not reveal my district or my role due to the intense legal ramifications for exercising my Constitutional First Amendment rights in a public forum. I was compelled to sign a security form that stated I would not be “Revealing or discussing passages or test items with anyone, including students and school staff, through verbal exchange, email, social media, or any other form of communication” as this would be considered a “Security Breach.” In response to this demand, I can only ask — whom are we protecting?
There are layers of not-so-subtle issues that need to be aired as a result of national and state testing policies that are dominating children’s lives in America. As any well prepared educator knows, curriculum planning and teaching requires knowing how you will assess your students and planning backwards from that knowledge. If teachers are unable to examine and discuss the summative assessment for their students, how can they plan their instruction? Yet, that very question assumes that this test is something worth planning for. The fact is that schools that try to plan their curriculum exclusively to prepare students for this test are ignoring the body of educational research that tells us how children learn, and how to create developmentally appropriate activities to engage students in the act of learning. This article will attempt to provide evidence for these claims as a snapshot of what is happening as a result of current policies.
The PARCC test is developmentally inappropriate
In order to discuss the claim that the PARCC test is “developmentally inappropriate,” examine three of the most recent PARCC 4th grade items.
A book leveling system, designed by Fountas and Pinnell, was made “more rigorous” in order to match the Common Core State Standards. These newly updated benchmarks state that 4th Graders should be reading at a Level S by the end of the year in order to be considered reading “on grade level.” [Celia’s note: I do not endorse leveling books or readers, nor do I think it appropriate that all 9 year olds should be reading a Level S book to be thought of as making good progress.]
The PARCC, which is supposedly a test of the Common Core State Standards, appears to have taken liberties with regard to grade level texts. For example, on the Spring 2016 PARCC for 4th Graders, students were expected to read an excerpt from Shark Life: True Stories about Sharks and the Sea by Peter Benchley and Karen Wojtyla. According to Scholastic, this text is at an interest level for Grades 9–12, and at a 7th Grade reading level. The Lexile measure is 1020L, which is most often found in texts that are written for middle school, and according to Scholastic’s own conversion chart would be equivalent to a 6th grade benchmark around W, X, or Y (using the same Fountas and Pinnell scale).
Even by the reform movement’s own standards, according to MetaMetrics’ reference material on Text Complexity Grade Bands and Lexile Bands, the newly CCSS aligned “Stretch” lexile level of 1020 falls in the 6–8 grade range. This begs the question, what is the purpose of standardizing text complexity bands if testing companies do not have to adhere to them? Also, what is the purpose of a standardized test that surpasses agreed-upon lexile levels?
So, right out of the gate, 4th graders are being asked to read and respond to texts that are two grade levels above the recommended benchmark. After they struggle through difficult texts with advanced vocabulary and nuanced sentence structures, they then have to answer multiple choice questions that are, by design, intended to distract students with answers that appear to be correct except for some technicality.
Finally, students must synthesize two or three of these advanced texts and compose an original essay. The ELA portion of the PARCC takes three days, and each day includes a new essay prompt based on multiple texts. These are the prompts from the 2016 Spring PARCC exam for 4th Graders along with my analysis of why these prompts do not reflect the true intention of the Common Core State Standards.
ELA 4th Grade Prompt #1
Refer to the passage from “Emergency on the Mountain” and the poem “Mountains.” Then answer question 7.
Think about how the structural elements in the passage from “Emergency on the Mountain” differ from the structural elements in the poem “Mountains.”
Write an essay that explains the differences in the structural elements between the passage and the poem. Be sure to include specific examples from both texts to support your response.
The above prompt probably attempts to assess the Common Core standard RL.4.5: “Explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage directions) when writing or speaking about a text.”
However, the Common Core State Standards for writing do not require students to write essays comparing the text structures of different genres. The Grade 4 CCSS for writing about reading demand that students write about characters, settings, and events in literature, or that they write about how authors support their points in informational texts. Nowhere in the standards are students asked to write comparative essays on the structures of writing. The reading standards ask students to “explain” structural elements, but not in writing. There is a huge developmental leap between explaining something and writing an analytical essay about it. [Celia’s note: The entire enterprise of analyzing text structures in elementary school — a 1940’s and 50’s college English approach called “New Criticism” — is ridiculous for 9 year olds anyway.]
The PARCC does not assess what it attempts to assess
ELA 4th Grade Prompt #2
Refer to the passages from “Great White Shark” and Face the Sharks. Then answer question 20.
Using details and images in the passages from “Great White Sharks” and Face to Face with Sharks, write an essay that describes the characteristics of white sharks.
It would be a stretch to say that this question assesses CCSS W.4.9.B: “Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text.”
In fact, this prompt assesses a student’s ability to research a topic across sources and write a research-based essay that synthesizes facts from both articles. Even CCSS W.4.7, “Conduct research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic,” does not demand that students compile information from different sources to create an essay. The closest the standards come to demanding this sort of work is in the reading standards; CCSS RI.4.9 says: “Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.” Fine. One could argue that this PARCC prompt assesses CCSS RI.4.9.
However, the fact that the texts presented for students to “use” for the essay are at a middle school reading level automatically disqualifies this essay prompt from being able to assess what it attempts to assess. (It is like trying to assess children’s math computational skills by embedding them in a word problem with words that the child cannot read.)
ELA 4th Grade Prompt #3
In “Sadako’s Secret,” the narrator reveals Sadako’s thoughts and feelings while telling the story. The narrator also includes dialogue and actions between Sadako and her family. Using these details, write a story about what happens next year when Sadako tries out for the junior high track team. Include not only Sadako’s actions and feelings but also her family’s reaction and feelings in your story.
Nowhere, and I mean nowhere in the Common Core State Standards is there a demand for students to read a narrative and then use the details from that text to write a new story based on a prompt. That is a new pseudo-genre called “Prose Constructed Response” by the PARCC creators, and it is 100% not aligned to the CCSS. Not to mention, why are 4th Graders being asked to write about trying out for the junior high track team? This demand defies their experiences and asks them to imagine a scenario that is well beyond their scope.
Clearly, these questions are poorly designed assessments of 4th graders CCSS learning. (We are setting aside the disagreements we have with those standards in the first place, and simply assessing the PARCC on its utility for measuring what it was intended to measure.)
Rather than debate the CCSS we instead want to expose the tragic reality of the countless public schools organizing their entire instruction around trying to raise students’ PARCC scores.
Without naming any names, I can tell you that schools are disregarding research-proven methods of literacy learning. The “wisdom” coming “down the pipeline” is that children need to be exposed to more complex texts because that is what PARCC demands of them. So children are being denied independent and guided reading time with texts of high interest and potential access and instead are handed texts that are much too hard (frustration level) all year long without ever being given the chance to grow as readers in their Zone of Proximal Development (pardon my reference to those pesky educational researchers like Vygotsky.)
So not only are students who are reading “on grade level” going to be frustrated by these so-called “complex texts,” but newcomers to the U.S. and English Language Learners and any student reading below the proficiency line will never learn the foundational skills they need, will never know the enjoyment of reading and writing from intrinsic motivation, and will, sadly, be denied the opportunity to become a critical reader and writer of media. Critical literacies are foundational for active participation in a democracy.
We can look carefully at one sample to examine the health of the entire system — such as testing a drop of water to assess the ocean. So too, we can use these three PARCC prompts to glimpse how the high stakes accountability system has deformed teaching and warped learning in many public schools across the United States.
In this sample, the system is pathetically failing a generation of children who deserve better, and when they are adults, they may not have the skills needed to engage as citizens and problem-solvers. So it is up to us, those of us who remember a better way and can imagine a way out, to make the case for stopping standardized tests like PARCC from corrupting the educational opportunities of so many of our children.

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My Kids vs. Bebe’s Kids


April 24, 2016

Dear Readers,

At the end of every school year I’ve been teaching, I’ve run into the same problem: my kids vs. bebe’s kids.  I think a little background is in order before I continue my post.

Bebe’s Kids (pronounced bay-bay) was a 1992 movie based on a stand-up routine by the late American comedian, Robin Harris.  Bebe’s kids, the expression, has worked its way into the vernacular of urban America.  Bebe’s kids is a term used to describe young children who are rowdy and/or misbehaving, who seemingly have no home training.  Used in a sentence:  The students hurling spit wads in the hallway are bebe’s kids.

Lest you get the wrong idea, bebe’s kids are not delinquents, they are not the young juveniles committing crimes.  They are also not the well-mannered, polite students that most parents believe their children to be.  No, bebe’s kids are somewhere in-between.  Bebe’s kids are middle-school students.

At the start of every school year, I spend a great deal of time turning 100 or so bebe’s kids, into my kids.  Bebe’s kids put their feet up on classroom chairs and desks, and they hardly ever say “Please,” or “Thank you,”, unless it’s to their advantage.  Bebe’s kids almost always answer, “Yeah?”, or the always annoying, “What?” when addressing adults.  And they pick their nose, they burp, they fart, and they sneeze loudly in public.  Bebe’s kids have a hard time understanding why 12 year-olds do not have the same privileges as their teachers, “That’s not fair!  How come I can’t _________ (fill in the blank).”

Nine months later and some of my kids still have trouble keeping their hands and feet to themselves.  To be honest, I get lax at times and can be seen propping my feet up on my desk…but mostly not in front of my students.  Most of my kids remember to say, “Please,” and “Thank you,” and are not nearly as rude as they were nine months ago.  Most, not all, but most, have stopped picking their noses in class, and I only occasionally hear one of my kids burp and/or fart during class.  Bodily noises ceased being funny for most of my kids on about the second month we were together; they were never funny to me.

As for my kids whining about how life is unfair and they should have the same privileges as I have at school, well, let’s just say they more or less suck it up during class.  Oh, most still think they are equal to me.  They are just better at hiding their entitlement while in my presence.  For the most part, my kids have begun to show signs of maturing.  Of course, it’s what I expect from them.  That’s not to say there are still a few bumps in the classroom.  The following was a true exchange:

“Why are you late?” I ask one of my kids as she hurries through the door, long after the tardy bell has rung.

“Whaaat?”

“Oh, this is going to be good,” I muse to myself.  “Why are you late?” I repeat.

“Oh, because I was walking over here and when I got right around the corner, I was with my friend, So-and-so, and she saw me, do you want me to go get her?  And I was right over there and I was coming to class and you guys saw me right?  And I knew the bell was going to ring, and the bell rang, and I was walking over here, and…I fell.”

True exchange, dear Readers, she fell.  Of course I wasn’t done with her.  “So, um, you fell, right?”

“Yeah, I mean yes, I fell.”

“Are you alright?!” I ask in mock concern.

“Yes.”

“Do you need to see the nurse?”

“Uh, no, I already saw her.”

“Oh, you did?  She let you see her without a pass?  That was certainly generous of her.”

“Yeah, well she wasn’t busy.”

“How  lucky for you.  And surely she had you sign in and sign out, right?”

“Uh, no, she just gave me an ice pack and I left.”

“And where is the ice pack?”

“Oh, I threw it away before I got here.”

“Of course.  So let me recap:  You were on your way to my class with your friend, you fell, you went to the nurse, she didn’t sign you in, she gave you an ice pack, sent you on your way, and never signed you out, you threw the ice pack away before you got to class, and that is why you are late.  Do I have that right?”

“Yeah, I mean, yes.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to change any of the details in your story?  Now would be a good time to tell me why you were really late.”

“Gawd!  That is why I’m late!  You don’t hafta believe me!  Just ask my friend, So-and-so, she’ll tell you.  I should go get her.”

“No, that’s quite alright.”

With a self-satisfied smile, my student sits down, believing for all the world that she just got away with putting one past me…until she sees me pick up the phone in my room.

“Hello Ms. Nurse, this is Ms. Kunzmann.  I’m calling to check on one of my students who fell earlier and said she had stopped by your office to get an ice pack.  Her name is (blank) and she was just there.”

“I’m sorry Ms. Kunzmann, I never treated that student today.”

“Oh, I must be mistaken.  My apologies Ms. Nurse.  Sorry to have bothered you.”

And that was the end of it.  My student had a rueful, smile on her shamed face (at least she had the good grace to be embarrassed), and we got on with the business of 7th grade language arts.  Later during class, my student apologized to me, and I accepted.

I don’t expect my students to be perfect.  Heck, I’m not perfect, and I let my kids see my flaws.  I just want my kids to be accountable for their words and their actions.  It takes more of my time to ensure that they are held accountable in my classroom, than to just let them think they got away with some untoward word and/or deed.  It also takes a heck of a lot of repetition; they usually don’t get the lesson the first time.  But in the end, it’s worth it.

So, nine months into the ten month school year, and I am happy with the progress each and every one of my kids’ has shown.  Their teachers next year won’t have too much breaking in to do.  Now, if I can just do something about the other 500 students not under my charge.  Those bebe’s kids will just have to wait until next year.

Peace, ~v.

 

 

 


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Begin Again


June 4, 2015

“Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you’ve been through, it’s never too late to begin again.”
Joyce Meyer, You Can Begin Again: No Matter What, It’s Never Too Late

Dear Readers,

I cannot count the times I have had to begin again.  I won’t belabor the point, but, yeah, I’m beginning again.  And although that is the title of today’s post, I have a much bigger issue to discuss with you.

Few people I know will ever know the pain of being homeless.  Fewer still will know the pain of an empty belly.  No, I’m not going to tell you I was homeless, starving on the street.  However, there are too many people in my community who are.  I can help do something about it.

As I sit in my air conditioned home in a city that reaches triple digit temperatures throughout the summer, I am moved to action.  I cannot imagine not having a place to cool off throughout these hot days.  And I can’t imagine not helping where ever I can.

Volunteering is nothing new.  In fact, it’s universal.  I write this tongue in cheek, dear Readers.  However, if you are looking for similarities, and not differences between you and the rest of the world, volunteering qualifies.

I wish I had been more diligent in teaching my own children how important it is to give back to one’s community through volunteering.  I guess it’s never too late.  Hey you guys…Volunteer, it’s good for the soul.  And if you live in the area, hit this place up:

Praise Chapel Food for Families
590 Hancock Rd.
Bullhead City, AZ, 86442
Peace, ~v.

 

 


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Out of Focus, Again


August 2, 2014

Dear Readers,

Two days ago, I published the post Out of Focus, in which I described falling flat on my face during one particular lesson in writing.  I took my lunch hour to furiously write about my dilemma and meditate in hopes that either one (or both) could help me determine where it was that I went wrong in the execution of the lesson.  I was completely out of focus and I couldn’t be, as long as I had other classes to teach.  Long story short, I figured out what the problem was and I was able to fix it so that my afternoon classes would not have to suffer the same fate as my morning classes…or so I thought.

Although my afternoon classes did go much smoother after my adjustment, the real test would be the next day when I had to try to re-teach the lesson in which I received no student engagement whatsoever.

In my first class, the lesson went well.  One down, one to go.

I bombed, again.  I’m still trying to figure out what had happened.

I will lay out the groundwork.

I am teaching my students how to write to persuade.  Additionally, I am teaching them the six traits to writing a proficient essay.  Each of the next six weeks will be spent closely examining a different trait, last week was Ideas and Concepts.

The easiest way to get students to come up with good ideas is to have a class discussion, but they will only discuss that which is important to them.  I thought I had picked a good topic and discussion and I did pick a good topic, at least for three of my four classes.  A good topic is one that ultimately ends  with a collaborative class discussion, one in which students are throwing out their ideas and opinions and I am playing devil’s advocate.  And this did, in fact happen, in three of my four classes.  My second hour class just would not be moved.

There I was, trying again, to inspire, motivate, even cajole 29 12 and 13 year olds to voice their opinion.  Nothing.  Thus, I am left, once again dear Readers, to reflect on what it is that will move my students.  I think I may be on to something.  Of course, then again, I thought I had solved this little dilemma.

This may take some time, dear Readers.  I will have to sleep on this one as I am out of focus…again.  Peace, ~v.


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Out of Focus


Out of focus

July 31, 2014

Dear Readers,

I am writing to you during my lunch hour at school. I am writing because I believe it will help me to focus for the remainder of my classes. Right now, I am so out of focus that it is interfering with my ability to teach.

I am one of the few teachers who will admit to loving lesson plans. I love the creative process that comes with lesson planning. I enjoy coming up with new and exciting ways to teach the same old concept. I may have to teach the same rules of grammar over and over and over again. But, you can bet that I have never taught it the same way any two years in a row. (I know a teacher who is still using the same lesson plans he created when he became a teacher…12 years ago. Seriously? Seriously!)

Today I thought I had a fairly decent lesson on writing a persuasive essay; it wasn’t my best, but it was far from my worst. I enjoy writing and I especially enjoy teaching writing. However, this morning, I fell flat. The students in my first hour class couldn’t concentrate as we had a fire drill right in the middle of class. Holding their focus after that commotion was not going to happen. Okay, I’ll get the next class.

I was even more out of focus for my next class. Have you ever been to a comedy show where no one laughs? The comedian is giving it all he’s got and all you hear is crickets? No one, not one audience member is giving up a laugh and it is painful to watch. And if it’s that painful to watch, imagine how excruciatingly painful it must be for the comedian. During my second hour class, I was the comedian; crickets.

So here I sit, dear Readers, writing during my lunch hour. I am reflecting on how I can improve my delivery for my two afternoon classes. Teachers do this. We reflect, we modify, we adjust. What works for one class may not work for the next. In addition to not wanting to be boring, I am constantly changing the way I deliver a lesson. Right now, I figured if I could purge this horrible, falling flat on my face feeling through my writing, I can re-focus.

I’m going to take twenty minutes and meditate before my next class, I’ll let you know how it goes. Peace, ~v.

Dear Readers,

I’m baaack! This afternoon went much better. It was the polar opposite of this morning. After my meditation and reflection, I decided to change the topic of the writing assignment and that seems to have done the trick. Not only did the students participate in the class discussion, when it was time for them to write in their journals, they didn’t want to stop. Now, that’s what I’m talking about.

As the only adult in a roomful of 34 people, I have to take responsibility for the crash and burn. I first look at what it was about my delivery, my planning, my something that sent the lesson south. It is not always me, but even when it is not, it is always my responsibility.

I can admit that, yeah, most of the the time it is my delivery, my planning, or lack thereof that leads to my bombing a lesson. Today was no different, it was my fault. In fact, the only time that it has ever been more the students’ fault than mine was when I worked at a boy’s prison, and I defy any teacher to hold a lesson together while a student is calling you an effing ‘B’ and throwing a computer at your head. But that dear Readers, is a story for another day. Peace, ~v.


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It’s In the Cards


July 15, 2014

Dear Readers,

I recently wrote that I was celebrating my one year anniversary writing my blog, My [redacted] Journey.  Having reached that milestone, I envision taking my writing into a new direction.  What that entails exactly, I do not know.  I do know one thing, however.  I do know how to tackle my indecisiveness.

At the heart of the matter is my lack of clarity and guidance.  I am  not clear what I want to ‘do’ with my writing.  Therefore, I lack the proper guidance to get me there.  Usually, a major concern such as this,  puts me in an emotional state;  I feel anxious, I begin to obsess, I am easily irritated.  Not this time, I have a better handle on my life’s direction.

Next, I take a good look at why I am resistant to explore my options.  The reason I am holding back this time is because I have recently started a journey of self-discovery and it hasn’t always been pleasant.  In the back of my mind, I am afraid the only thing I will discover about my writing is that I shouldn’t be writing.

Then, I check my motives for wanting what I want, in this case, to pursue my writing.  I check myself for any ulterior motives, any hidden agenda.  In this case, I feel a twinge of guilt for wanting to do something other that teach.  I recognized my inner calling long ago, so to change it up, I must not be judgmental and learn to make the hard choices without the guilt.

Once I stop judging myself and what I desire, I see what was once important to me begin to slip away.  For example, in order to concentrate on my writing, there are certain qualities in which I have to let go.  If writing become my life’s focus, my nurturing, caring side would  become a former focus of mine instead of my primary focus.

So where do my attitudes and beliefs fit in?  What are my goals insofar as writing is concerned?  What is the alternative future for me as a writer and not me as a teacher?  The answer to these questions is for me to us my common sense.  If I take a realistic approach to my writing, an opening may appear that leads to my taking a chance with a future in writing.

It is only then that I begin to face unresolved issues about my personality that may make taking a different path, such as that of a writer, even more difficult.  Here is my breakdown:  I have to resources to teach, but not the knowledge to learn.  I have the capacity to lead, but am hesitant to do the following.  And I have the humility to give, yet the hubris to never receive.

Subsequently, I see myself as having suffered one too many losses to begin with something new and lose that, as well.  I have suffered great losses of things (and people) that I loved, and right now, I am feeling deprived of love in general.  I realize I have made wrong choices in my lie, I am apprehensive to make many more.

Here is where it is always best to see myself through the eyes of others.  Others perceive me as energetic, outgoing, cheerful, and self-assured.  Sometimes, those perceptions are only what I am projecting into the universe.  I have to stop all of the negativity making a loop through my brain.  I need to begin to see myself in a more positive light.

So then, what are my hopes and fears about my future writing endeavors?  I believe that writing is a gift I must use to feel fulfilled.  Writing, in conjunction with teaching, represents that which will help me become connected, engaged with what is around me.  I am in a position to realize my heart’s desire: to actively contribute to society and to be of service to others.

So, what do I see as the overall outcome with respect to my writing?  Well, I do not believe my writing has run its course; I still have so much I have to get out to the masses.  I see that it is time for me to take action.  I have thought about my writing and I have imagined me as a writer.  I even dream of being a writer.  Now is the time for me to act.  Soon the dust will settle and I will see how my plans have fared.  Meanwhile dear Readers, any suggestions?  Peace, ~v.


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That’s What Friends Are For


November 13, 2013

Dear Readers,

I began writing a blog entry earlier this evening, but stopped short.  This is the post I was meant to write.

The current state of affairs in both local and national education has been the impetus for my re-thinking both my teaching skills and my teaching altogether.  Decisions, decisions, decisions.  And then just like that (snap*), God sends you an angel.  After a bit of a dry spell, today’s blog post is in honor of my angel, MW.

MW and I go back to the 7th grade together; that’s when my family and I moved to Holbrook, AZ.  I won’t tell you MW’s age, but you know mine 😉  So, I’m on my way to work this morning and I get a message from MW.  She is sending me a link to a blog that she believes I will like and appreciate.  I message her back that I will check it out.  And I did, finally.

I have seriously been questioning the type of teacher I am.  I am unconventional, to say the least.  However, with the ‘rigorous’ curriculum, the rapid pace and the ever-present tests, unconventional doesn’t seem to be such a good fit for my students.  I am afraid I am doing them a disservice by not preparing them for the test, but rather, preparing them to learn.

If the end all is for my students to pass standardized, benchmarked, bubble-marked, district assessments, then I am doing them a disservice.  In all of my hubris, I thought I was doing right by my students.  “Could I be that wrong?” I have been asking myself these past few weeks.  Sadly, I came close to uttering, “Yes, I am wrong,” several times in the past two days.  “I could do more good in a different capacity within education,” I began to think.  Thank goodness for God and His angels.

As I relaxed for the evening, I remembered the link MW had sent me earlier in the day.  It was such a gift.  Although the rest of the blog is well worth the read, it was yesterday’s post of Mike Sissel’s blog KaleidoEye  that MW chose to share with me   http://kaleidoeye.com/blog/

She couldn’t have known that it was exactly what I needed to read, or perhaps she could.  Doesn’t matter, she is my angel today.

Mr. Sissel writes about qualities of “our favorite teacher(s)”.  And although being someone’s favorite teacher is nice, it is the “Why” that catches my attention.  “Because this person more than likely influenced you on an emotional level as a result of the powerful energy they created in the classroom.”  That’s the kind of teacher I want to be, I strive to be I am to be (not proper grammar, I assure you, but just go with it!).

I’m thinking that I’m doing wrong by my students, and my angel drops in my lap a message, I know, from God.  I am doing more for my students by being unconventional, if you will, because what I leave with them, will transfer to others, and they’ll transfer it to others and pretty soon, I will be the teacher who taught the students who changed the world.  Mr. Sissel likens this to the “ripple effect”, which measures the level of influence we have on others”.  I would like to believe that my “ripple effect” is gracious and overflowing.  And maybe, just maybe, it is.

On September 27th of this year, ironically, my birthday, I received the best gift a teacher can ever hope for.  I received a lengthy e-mail from a former student I taught while in the Middle East.  This young lady was writing to tell me how sorry she was because she was under the impression that she had hurt me in some small way, or at least I saw it as small thing; she, however, did not.  By the tone and the angst of her email, I could tell that she had been bothered by this slight she believed she had dealt me.

In the e-mail, she made it clear that she loved me as a teacher and she would never forget me.  And I believe her.  She is part of my “ripple effect”.  She is now a student at a university in Egypt, studying to be an engineer.  What I transferred to her will ripple throughout the world.  And sooner than you think, my student will begin her own ripple, probably already has.  And all it took was for me to do one of the things that I do best:  teach.

So, there you have it, dear readers; I will be the teacher who teaches the students who change the world.  God knew it all along, he sent me an angel.  Peace, ~v.