Today...tears...emotions just flowed....the universe reaches out at times to tap us on the shoulder...to remind us of the good, the beauty...and to hold on to hope... This election season/cycle has/is a dangerous one...it really has brought out the ugly warts we still have to freeze and remove-the "phobias" & isms" that still float around us... Today I had the honor to be part of the launch & luncheon of a new private school for underserved children-Congrats San Francisco Nativity Academy! ...thanks neighbor Libby Adams for inviting me and my common bond sisters Maria Isabel van Strien and Lia Nguyen... Dr. Jennifer Arnold reminded us to THINK BIG...reminded me of Shel Silverstein's words..."listen to the mustn'ts"... Paths cross for a reason! One love and peace!
love, love, loved the lecture/presentation i attended last night at St. John's school (Houston, TX)... KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program...my former employer) co-founder Dave Levin and the writer Paul Tough shared some intersting info based on Paul's latest book How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiousity, and the Hidden Power of Character...
basically their findings coincide with where i'm currently "sitting" in regards to the importance of knowing/understanding the stages of development for infants/toddlers...what is developmentally appropriate in terms to how we guide the learning...and how we, the adults, react, guide, mentor, challenge, or just get out of the way as he or she explores and discovers to learn.
so put the "my baby can read" away...turn off the zombie-maker, i mean the tv... ditch any program/dvd/cd that will have your child reading by 2 yrs....and yes stash the ipad.... what infants, toddlers & preschoolers need the most...is safe place to play, discover and explore, with music, movement, rich language, books, AND adults who guide with appropriate words, questions, modeling, observation, patience, love, and logic...
in the end, it's not just "getting the grade"...but ALSO being a "good citizen" of the world...by having had the chance to "fall and skin a knee," not "make the grade" and coming up with own solution... to not win first place and come up with a plan to win next time... and most important, learning how to deal with emotions that come with failure. we have far too many humans who are unable to deal with let-down, failure, loss, change... turn to unhealthy, unproductive, drastic measures...sometimes life-ending...
here i am.... haven't written.. so much has happened! all good! my oldest, the 3 yr old, was accepted in Post Oak (Montessori) School. great place. so far i like what i see and hear...from the teachers to the school's headmaster... and now what i see my little girl...
my two year old is doing well... growing, talking, asking, trying, climbing, playing, "reading," "writing," painting, cutting, riding trike, sliding, molding with play-dough.... we will begin the application process for her so that she may attend school with her "big" sister!
a bit pricey of a private school, but worth it... this means i need to increase my current earnings!!!!
so why a private school? why did we choose to go private? me, public school teacher.... every now and then i get little reminders as to why i chose private school. i tried to get into a well known public charter school, but we didn't get in... what were we looking for.... this is how i began the school selection process journey..
1. Begin with the end in mind. (what is the end goal/s of the school/district?)
2. Do the actions match the mission/goal/s?
3. What colleges/universities were the students heading to?
4. What % of the students were going on to college/university?
5. What kinds of tests are given and how is the data used?
6. Are the schools/districts open for visits and classroom observaions?
7. How are the learning spaces set up?
8. As I observe the classroom and teachers what do I hear and see? Discussion, project work, hands-on, art, music, one-on-one instruction, small group instruction, peer instruction, team/group work, student led instruction.....
9. Was the teacher a facilitator? A guide? An instructor?
10. How did the children look? What were their expressions?
11. Was their evidence of open-ended learning? Evidence of problem-solving? Evidence that children were curious of the material?
i went on a number school visits and observations in search of the best place for my girls.... this journey began when my soon-to-be 3 year old was about 5 months.... well, it actually began with a friend of my who was looking for a private school for her then 4 year old daughter. i came across an ad for the Houston Private School Preview (which is held every September at the JW Marriott Hotel across the street from the Galleria) and invited by friend, her family etc. she asked me to go with them for support, help with what to ask/look for in a school etc. as we walked around, me pushing a stroller, her walking hand in hand with her four year old, guess who got most of the attention? me! according to the school representatives it was too late for my friend's four year old....but i was right on time with my 5 month old. this was the moment when i realized the race to enter a great school started the moment i found out i was pregnant... i then began to notice the other babes in strollers and mom's to be who were going around signing up for school visits, open house and wait list for their unborn children and infants... the race has begun, the race was on and i accidently fell into it. fast foward to may 12, 2011... almost 3 years from that first private school preview (i've attended additional private school previews since then)...my husband and i attended a "meet the teacher" meeting at our daughter's future school...it is a premier montessori school here in houston. this school seemed so out of reach because of the process to get in... the cost to stay in if you get in... this school was as the top of my list, my wish list. well, we got in...now we are working out how to afford this. it is a great place, with great people who's vision and mission align with our family's vision and mission. i remember driving by this place and pointing it out to my mom and then my husband... i shared with them that this was a top school, one where i would love to send my girls... now here i am.... we are excited and ready to see our continue to flourish and grow.
when i share this journey of school selection, i'm met with "why don't you homeschool?".... "this is your field!".... "can you teach my kids with yours?"..... i've given this a lot of thought, i just don't see myself homeschooling... who knows. maybe things will change, i will change. all i know
I have many cases to share in support of teaching with the following practices: creative thinking, open-ended solutions, empowering the student's/child's voice, problem-solving, teamwork approach to projects.....
We celebrated my one-year old's birthday at the children's museum of Houston over the weekend. The place is a model of what a school should be! Many walk in and only see kids playing, jumping, laughing, talking, and shrieking with delight as they create paper rockets and try to lauch them with an air pump rocket launcher. I watched a group of children launch their rocket, aim at the highest target and miss. The group waited on each other, watched each other's paper rockets fly and returned to the work table. Back at the work table they inspected their own rocket, they inspected each other's rocket, they talked about why it didn't hit the target and what changes they were going to make for the next launch....... then I had an "a-ha" moment. When the question comes up of "what should we do to improve out education system, here is an example how how to improve it. This place is like a compass and it is pointing due north! This place is a great resource for educators, just sit, watch, listen, learn, wonder, take notes, take pictures, ask for samples, etc.
Thinking out of the box is a practice. We hear the slogan. We see it posted. But do we really practice it? In 1997 I began my journey in education. It took about 2 years into my journey to really put this "saying" into practice. I was always jumping out of the box. Some strategies/techniques I learned did help and some did not. I sought out my own mentors. How does one impart to teachers that he/she is empowered? That he/she has the ability to seek out, learn, try, do, ask, etc? This has been part of my make-up. This must be part of every teacher's make-up. After you ask to attend a conference/workshop/training and you're informed that the budget is not available to cover, now is the time to "think out of the box." The cost for going to the children's museum of Houston: It can be free on the first Sunday of the month or on Thursdays from 5 - 8PM! The cost all other times is $7!
Workshops and trainings usually have a fee. Some school budgets are creative a find ways to cover costs, some have had to cut back. But the journey to becoming a educator must go on! Just like the kids who kept at it with the paper rockets ships! They missed the target but kept going back to the work table to figure it out. When we "miss the target" we must not only go back to the "work table" but take a hard look at what tools your "work table" has. Begin with your vision for your students. Ask yourself: "Why do I teach the way I teach?" "Why do I teach what I teach?" "How is this preparing my children/students to be creative thinkers, to be problem-solvers, to be team players... in essence to be tomorrow's leaders?" Finally: "How do we all get on board to do what is necessary for our children/students?"
Remember in the end that great teaching doesn't come from a box of manipulatives. It doesn't come from the latest technology or computer programs. It doesn't come from a curriculum/program in a box. It's about the people. It's about you. It's what you do with the resources. It's how you become creative when your preferred resources are not available. It's thinking out of the box. If we don't, then how will we impart this on our students/children?
I love the following quote. "Play Is The Work of the Child" -Maria Montessori
tons of fun was had at yesterday's DWM! playgroup. we played, listened to a story about by eric carle, climbed up a slide (mountain) then slid down the slide, crawled through a "bear" tunnel & under a "waterfall," learnd ASL for the words pand, more, and again; sang songs to develop phonemic awareness as well as paying attention skills, made a "monkey dance" on a parachute as we tossed it up slowly and fast, caught bubbles as they floated down like leaves from the trees giraffes eat from, discovered endangered animals with the story panda bear, panda bear by eric carle, and finally discovered how to make binoculars using recycled items....lots of discovery learning!
also, want to thank ms. jennifer for leading last week's playgroup while i was out of town. she is a rising star! ms. jennifer is studying to be a teacher and is a mommy to one of DWM!'s explorers!
my 22 month old is speaking in three to four word phrases... for example: "mommy sit down" or "sit down mommy" when she wants me to play with her or "mommy sit down write," "mommy sit down play." she also uses a combination of words accompanied by ASL such as the signs for "play," "read a book," "eat," "milk."
today we went on a field trip of our own to the Miller Outdoor Theater! we watched a performance on music and dance spanning 5 decades (50s-current)... my 9month old clapped and jumped on my lap throughout the performance! i think she is going to be my little "ham."
...and the high school dropout rate is atrocious.... i love jaime oliver's food revolution... it is time for an education revolution.
is anyone else disturbed by these findings?
this past thursday and today, saturday, i had fun presenting and emceeing for the veggie pals children's show! on my part it was a little bit of theatrics, drama, teaching, dancing and singing as i jazzed up elementary age children! veggie pals is a program that promotes eating healthy foods and exercising. one of the main components of this program is a presentation of the mascots, a huge banana, carrot, apple, broccoli, and strawberry doing songs and skits. had a great time promoting healthy eating habits and exercising at browning elementary's head start program and lyon's elementary school's fitness fest.
the best part of it all was watching my two girls as their eyes lit up while they watched me jump and sing around with the rest of the children...... my wonderful supportive husband stood on the side with them and took care of them, he was also jazzed at how both our little girls were stone still as they watched me and the mascots promote the veggies and fruit.... my oldest then ate her banana and apple without hesitation (right after the program....)
our first "discover with me" field trip! a couple of mommies and i met up at Discovery Green Park on tuesday, april 13th, in downtown Houston to discover a play - Alice in Wonderland! we also celebrated the park's second year with a slice of chocolate and vanilla birthday cake!
as i sat and watched my toddlers watch the play, i could not help but wonder what an impact this would be to the children who "must be prepped" for upcoming standardized tests.... i was imagining if i was the teacher... i'd rather bring my students to watch the play and plug in the teaching objectives that would of been covered in any test. a play, with characters, plot, setting, problem, etc... what a way to get children into literature, reading, writing...
my mind began to race and think of a plan (as if i were a teacher)... how would i get my students to this play...