Finland Teaches Happiness

I am sharing this video I viewed on Facebook. It gives a brief synopsis of why the Finland schools are thriving and producing students who are independent thinkers and happy as they pursue the interests that help them develop cognitively as well as develop personally and bring about happiness through their educational journeys!

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It’s Time for School

 

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Summer, as I know it, is coming to an end! I have prepared my body for early mornings, meetings, planning times, students, and trainings!!! When the summer ends, it’s always bitter sweet. I will miss time with my family, traveling, swimming, eating three balanced meals at leisure, but I’m excited about my new students I will meet, new classroom systems and implementing new and innovative ideas.

As a Special Education teacher, I consider myself to be an empathetic and nurturing being. I like organization with a little bit of “learning chaos”. I love to hear my children learn! I differentiate my specialized instruction to meet the needs of individual students, however, some of our best work is done cooperatively. I am sincerely excited about how my students will look and sound when they are excited about their learning and experience those ” aha” moments that last a lifetime. In a few more days, I will get to experience a child’s joy when they read a chapter book for the first time, a child’s laughter that was missed at home. I will possibly teach a Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton, and even a Donald Trump! No matter, I will teach.

I will miss my summer, however, I wouldn’t do anything else. It’s time to focus on my students and ALL the other students around me. Not because I have to, but because it has to be done.

Who Has Summers Off???

The months of June and July are filled with “fun in the sun” for some and “business as usual for others”.  For educators, it’s a combination of both, plus seminars, trainings, and workshops in preparation for the upcoming school year.  During the summer months, my phone rings more often with questions like, “So what are you going to do with yourself for two months?”, “Are you going to do anything or just sleep and eat?”, “Why don’t you get a summer job? You have nothing else to do, you have summers off!!!” Who has summers off???

While on vacay in Florida, I waded in a huge pool with my son and other delighted, splashing children.  Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles lined the peripheral, relaxed and unmoved by a Tuesday afternoon without work.  As I drifted, I came upon two women with their young children.  They chatted, having polite conversation about their husbands, kid birthday parties, the heat, and then all of a sudden, the conversation turned.  To my surprise, they were both educators! They talked about book boxes, upcoming trainings, new classrooms and everything school related.  For the next hour, we were engrossed in the upcoming school year.  The conversation was very much alive and passionate. Kindergarten and fourth grade teachers sharing the same love for teaching from the beginnings of formal schooling to the transition to the middle.  Why are we talking about school? It seems like a collaborative meeting at work.  Don’t we have summers off?

Upon reflection, education is the only profession where working vigorously for 180 days concludes with time to regroup and rejuvenate. As a teacher, I can change my rituals and routines using what worked and discarding what didn’t. I can learn new and innovative ways to teach. I can utilize different strategies and reflect upon my school year and make things better.  This all happening during the summer! For me, it’s a great time to organize and restructure my processes for the upcoming school year. I am always thinking, emailing, texting, shopping, searching the web for ideas, resources, anything that will help me in preparation.   As a teacher, we never really take a break. We are lifetime learners and supporters of students. So when you ask a teacher what he or she will do while they are off this summer, don’t be surprised at the response…Who has summers off???

Summer Reorganization

Now that the kids are out of school, it’s a great time for teachers to reflect on their year. Contrary to popular belief, teachers’ minds stay focused on teaching and learning long after the final bell rings and the last bus leaves the lot. We are creatures of improvement! Improving how we teach, manage the class, manage the paperwork, and how we want to improve our way of organizing to be more efficient next school year.
I don’t know about you, but I get excited my first week home because I have a chance to go through all of my school “stuff” and discard items I haven’t used or just don’t want. The task can become overwhelming but it has to be done. Here are some tips that will help you reorganize over the long break with enough summer time to spare!

1. Rest a bit! But while resting, sort through your school emails. You can do this while sitting, enjoying your favorite summer beverage or snack!
……….review the emails with attachments first. Decide which ones to keep and download the attachment. Save it to a Zip drive and delete email. All other emails require your decisiveness. Get rid of them!

2. Go through your resources. If you’re like me, you brought home everything that was in a pile on your desk, behind your desk, in the cabinet, etc. I like to use the summer to reorganize my papers and purge dated materials. If it’s something that I know I can get again digitally, I purge! For everything else, create folders labeled for each content area and skill. As you are going through these papers PURGE some more! We should be moving away from all of this paper!

3. Develop a filing and organizational plan. Notebooks, filing cabinet, folders, portfolios, how are you going to file your papers? I have found that one notebook with students’ data, grades, attendance, individual student instructional notes and parent contacts will make conferences and phone calls much easier. Everything you need for clarifications, explanations and questions are in one place. Great place to document contacts and conversations with parents. I also keep an instructional notebook to keep my standards, instructional map, pacing charts etc. Any professional development handouts are in this notebook as well. Lesson plans are developed with this notebook in hand! Great for collaborative planning!

Ultimately, our goal in the summer is to figure out a better, more effective way to use our time and manage our teacher “stuff”! Sometimes I feel like that’s why we have summers, to reorganize for next year! It’s a never ending story.

Back to Life, Stay Connected!

It’s been a while, but life happens! As an educator, I am the first to admit that the “follow up” is a struggle when life’s distractions keep you from continuing what you started! At times we forget that in the schools, life happens as well. Our colleagues, our families and even or students face “life”. There are set backs and challenges, obstacles and negativity, that keep us from being our best, doing our best, and seeing the best in others. When it comes to the education of our children, those same challenges and obstacles may interfere with their education; from the adults’ perspective as well as from the children’s perspective. It happens!

The good news is, as a community, we can recover, reassess and reevaluate our purpose and commitment to our children. We can become more involved, so that our children know the “Village” is real, is ready, and is responsible to them and their education. It is never too late to become involved in the educational process whether you are a parent, family member or just someone in the community who cares. We owe it to our children and we owe it to our community.

Here are five questions to think about when wanting to get involved in a school community:
1. What are the needs of the school?
2. How can I meet any if those needs?
3. Do I have a T.E.A.M.? Talent, expertise, ability or mentorship that can be shared…
4. Do I have a C.O.R.E.? Connection, opportunity, relevant experience that can help?
5. Am I willing to commit physical and/or emotional time to my community’s school?

Five is a significant number in building a strong educational community as it involves:
1. Student
2. Family
3. Teachers
4. Administrators
5. Community
Educating our community is educating our future!

Educating our community will ensure a sound future for our great-grandchildren, will bridge the gap between home and school, and will bring communities together one school at a time.

Welcome!

Welcome to Educating Our Community, a blog for you; families, teachers, and community members, who are in need of information, inspiration, resources and reassurance concerning the youth in your lives.  My goal is to provide educational and moral support that will develop and/or enhance our community.

A few topics of interest:

Families – How to start the first day of school successfully, How can I become more involved in my student’s school life, How to make the best use of time in parent/teacher conference

1st Year Teachers – How to set up a classroom on a budget, How do I get to know my students, How often should I communicate with parents and about what

Veteran Teachers – How to maintain your sanity after years of teaching the same grade level/subject or at the same school, How to press restart in the middle of a semester, It’s ok if your students notice you made a mistake

Community Members – How can I mentor at-risk youth, How can I motivate unmotivated youth, How can I get involved with the schools in my community

Please visit my blog in the near future as I will address these topics as well as other concepts, strategies, and discussions.  Let’s spread the word and build our community through education and awareness!