Tuesday, January 06, 2009

AR Work over Break

So I received the go ahead to cross post my grad school reflections on my personal blog, here is the first one:

Beginning this semester, I will have a student teacher for the first time ever! I wrote previously about my feelings behind having a student teacher so I am not going to go back over all of that today. Instead I want to write about how all my work over the Christmas break, taking a class about mentoring, and Randon’s student teaching are all coming together.

Over the break, I finally decided to give up on my struggle of learning DreamWeaver. It hasn’t been fun nor interesting and instead was turning into a dreaded nightmare. I know there are those out there that will say it is a shame that I am not learning website creation or programming, but I think my resources will be better devoted to really thinking about learning, working hard to be the best mentor to Randon and my students, and not driving my family nuts.

So, in my abandonment of Dreamweaver, I took up Google Sites. How can we not love everything about Google. I put together my entire Google Site: http://sites.google.com/site/annesmithomet/Home which I am pretty proud of as well as worked on pulling together my students’ reflection about our AR project for the first cycle one report. I also submitted my paper to the GSEP writing lab in order to get some professional feedback on APA style and my writing. Being an English teacher, this is a really interesting adventure of putting myself in my students’ position. This nervous anticipation of appraisal of my written work and my thinking is what they must feel. More and more I see the importance of my continuation of learning.

Throughout this Masters’ program, I am forced to be in the seat my students face everyday. What a unique perspective and insight as well as appreciation for what they are going through. Instead of this Masters’ program being like all of my friends’ programs where they have walked away feeling like all they received is a pay increase, instead I feel like such a LEARNER! What a powerful feeling that is.

Also, it was great to get such positive feedback from Margaret about the work I am doing. It is so important that I model this with my own students knowing what it does for me. I think this really ties into the feedback I am seeing from them in my cycle one report. The students really value being in control of their own education and learning. They value multiple opportunities to learn and by being able to redo assignments over and over again, they can show their true understanding and learning.

But now this is my challenge of going forth. How will they respond with a new teacher taking this idea over? How do I inspire Randon to continue this philosophy and find the value in it? Already after his first assignment, only 10 kids completed the work. Randon wondered about the late work policy and what should he do about so many kids not completing the work. I talked with him about the No D policy and ability to redo work over and over again until they truly show their learning and understanding. He wondered how does this teach them responsibility. This is where I struggle with the No D policy as well. Where do they learn responsibility? Will life always allow them to redo work? What about deadlines? What about being held accountable?

And here is where it all ties into my reading on being a mentor. For one of my new classes, we are focusing on mentorship in different relationships as well as finding a mentor (I think I already have one in Karl Fisch). I already read one of the assigned texts called Tao Mentoring and now I am reading Power Mentoring. What I am really enjoying about this book as well as Tao are the connections between my AR and Randon being a student teacher in my classroom. How will I mentor him or put him in connection with other people who will help him along this journey? Who are the people in my life that are my mentors and are guiding me along my learning path? Does this book fit more along the lines a business model? Can these mentoring ideas be applied to education?

I say YES to all of these. Yes I have mentors( Karl, Mike, Dan, Scott, Ron, Gary, Margaret) and I feel very fortunate to be surrounded in education, through my connections with Karl, to a number of influential and encouraging mentors who are not afraid to push back on me. I really see this with Mike Porter at our district offices. Through all his encouragement, he also reminds me of what things to keep in mind and areas to shift my thinking. I too hope to do this with Randon. I do not want to be his problem solver or solution maker, but get him to think.

I think this is one of the most effective things a mentor can do is just to get you to think about everything you are doing and figure out if these are the right things to be doing all along. And mentoring to me seems like such a two way street. You are getting out of mentoring what you put into the relationship. There needs to be that basis of trust, honesty, respect and then so much can grow from there. I hope that the next 12 weeks with Randon will be a learning and growing process. I hope I am able to give him what he needs from me as a mentor, that this relationship will grow to truly create change with my AR project, and that ultimately, my students, Randon, and I become better individuals and educators as a result. Also, my process of mentoring as well as being mentored by those wonderfully intelligent gifted people around me can grow so that I can see where I need to go in education. All of this thinking can only benefit the kids and that is what it is all about anyway.

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