I simply cannot believe I have not posted since June. June! In case you hadn’t guessed, things have been rather nutty over in my neck of the Educational Woods.
Where I’ve been
Briefly — for those 3 “regular” readers who may have assumed that I’d “taken off, eh” in my true Canadian form — this is what I’ve been up to:
- A wonderful summer of laughter, love, travel, family, and yoga. Blissful vacation in my home province of Alberta, Canada, and my partner’s home state of California.
- In June (shortly after my last post) I received a request to run an MYP Language A level 1 workshop in Hong Kong — my very first MYP workshop ever! Of course I accepted, not quite realizing how much work would be involved. The workshop dates: Sept 13-15, 2008.
- Also in June, I began studying for my GRE (Graduate Record of Examination), as preliminary application prep for grad school in the fall of 2009. My exam date: Sept 26, 2008.
- It then occurred to me that both preparing for my MYP workshop and studying for my exam were going to have to happen simultaneously. No problem, right?
Photo by Dr Craig
- Back-to-school in mid-August. Mayhem ensued.
You’ve probably already guessed that the MYP workshop prep took priority over my GRE study. When I look back at the past two months, I still can’t quite believe I did all of this AND taught 4 different grade levels full time, coherently (OK, OK, semi-coherently). So, you might say I’ve been insanely busy.
How it went
MYP workshop in Hong Kong: Wonderfully! Far better than I had expected, and with plenty of positive feedback to boot. It was well worth the two weeks of Hardly Any Sleep (yes, that deserves capital letters), and 3 nights of mediocre room service meals in my hotel room.
GRE: In a word — notsogood. Without going into too much detail, it sucked. I hate standardized tests. Hate them. Really, really hate them. They have so very little educational value, and the very core of my Teacher Being wants to rebel and take a stand! But dangit – some of the best technology / literacy / education programs in the USA require me to take them just to get my foot in the door. So I have relented, and scheduled another exam at the end of November. I promise this time I’ll study for the math section, though I might need some help. Hey, if nothing else, it’s an excuse to go to Bangkok for another weekend, just in time to do some Christmas shopping.
What’s next: Affirmations
I’ve spent the past three weeks simply trying to catch up and get into a routine. And now, suddenly, it’s Autumn Break! What a great time for pause and reflection.
Photo by h.koppdelaney
My goals this year (even though we’re a quarter through already) involve even more focus on the integration of technology into my English classes to best reflect MYP philosophy.
I admit it: I am MYP FanGirl #1. That doesn’t mean I don’t think the programme has its drawbacks and weaknesses — it most certainly does. But I believe so strongly in it because it reflects much of what I know to be true as a teacher and learner that I unabashedly put my support behind it. I definitely see myself growing even more within this educational framework, and I’ve been with it already for 7+ years. I do not see my MYPness (yes, I said it ) waning any time soon.
I also will admit that technology has its drawbacks and weaknesses. But it, too, is something that I believe strongly in because I recognize that our world is changing before us, and our students need to think differently than we did. Like Einstein said, “We cannot solve problems using the same thinking we used when we created them.” And so, at the heart of it all, I still believe that it’s not about the technology. It’s about thinking and learning in different ways to make sense of the ever-changing world, and technology is a big part of the thinking, the learning, and certainly the change.
Where I’m going: Aspirations
So what’s down the road?
The more often I speak to other like-minded educators, the more often I am struck with this realization: the “making sense” part of our job is the same in every “schooly” subject area, and it almost always comes down to communication.
An abridged defintion of “communicate“:*
–verb (used with object)
1. to impart knowledge of; make known: to communicate information; to communicate one’s happiness.
2. to give to another; impart; transmit: to communicate a disease.
–verb (used without object)
5. to give or interchange thoughts, feelings, information, or the like, by writing, speaking, etc.: They communicate with each other every day.
6. to express thoughts, feelings, or information easily or effectively.
7. to be joined or connected: The rooms communicated by means of a hallway.
Interestingly, the origin of this word is from the Latin, commūnicātus, ptp. of commūnicāre to impart, make common.
Photo by lumaxart
What I’m dreaming of is this: a place where the finest, most important skills of communication — that is, those that involve the imparting of ideas and interchange of thoughts and feelings — are not only taught and fostered in an English (or Communications) course, but across every aspect of learning at every age, in every subject area. (Will there even be a need for subject areas? The world is so interconnected now; the idea of separating them feels so outdated to me.)
And that’s about as concrete as I can get at the moment. It all starts with a vision, right? I have no clear idea what this scenario would look like, sound like, or feel like, but I’m confident that if I continue down the path I’m currently on, the tangible will eventually accompany what is currently visceral.
I envision a time in the not-so-distant future where my current job (English teacher — that is, teacher of both English language and literature) is obsolete. Instead, I see the language, literature, and tools of communication being delicate, abundant, and essential threads across learning of all kinds.
Where does it all leave me?
I’m just not sure yet!
*I’ve left out some definitions here that refer to archaic uses or the partaking of the Eucharist.