In Peru it is National Teacher’s Day–Happy Teacher’s Day to all of the teachers out there.
For most teachers, I believe, teaching is a vocation. (Yes, vocation, not vacation.) I am sure there are some who teach so they can have summers off, or because they don’t know what else to do. The majority, though, teach because it is part of who they are. They love building the relationships with the students, building the enthusiasm in class, and building the knowledge/skills/wisdom of their students. It is our way of making the world a better place.
Does it work? I like to think so. One of the challenges of teaching is that you never really finish. An architect opens the building, a baker tastes the bread, a programmer runs the code. A teacher is never done; this year’s students move on, and the next year comes with new students. Occasionally we get a glimpse of our work when we see a former student on TV or in the paper (hopefully for something good). Occasionally, we receive a letter from a former student saying hi or saying thank you. Usually, we never know.
I was reminded of this recently when I received this picture of blueberries. About eight years ago my wife and I planted some blueberry bushes in the backyard at our house in Minnesota. These bushes take a while to grow and produce fruit. About five years ago we sold our house to a friend when we moved to Lima, having not tasted the berries. Today, that friend sent this picture and said there are more blueberries that she will soon harvest. That is wonderful! Who knew?
I knew when she wrote and sent the picture. If you are looking for something nice to do, try writing a note to that former teacher. Let him or her know that you are well, that you remember, that you are thankful. Your former teacher would love to hear from you, especially on this National Teacher’s Day, even if you are not in Peru.
Today Martin Vizcarra, president of Peru, made the decision to close and/or not open schools until March 30, 2020. Most private schools in Peru had already begun the school year (my school had already begun the second semester); public schools were scheduled to open in Peru on Monday, March 16, 2020. This is to say that my middle schoolers will not be coming to school tomorrow as the teachers move classes online for the next two weeks. If the situation warrants it, I am sure that schools could remain closed.
Is this a good idea? Perhaps an over-reaction? In Peru there are now 17 cases of coronavirus. Considering population of almost 33 million, 17 cases seems pretty small. The problem is that not all schools have the conditions necessary for students to stay virus-free. According to one article, 10% of the schools in Lima do not have water. If students cannot wash their hands, the virus spreads more easily. Such a statistic begins to explain the decision.
While I would much rather have students come to school, I understand the decision. So, I will look forward to learning more about online teaching as I practice it for the next few weeks. I completed my M.A. in Teaching Writing from John Hopkins online; I have some experience as an online learner. Three years ago school was closed because of the huaicos in Peru so I had the chance to get my feet wet in online teaching. This time I will only get better.
If you have any suggestions for online learning, please let me know.
A writer who wrote had a dream:
Tell stories to feel, think and scream.
“I’ll motivate reading,
Young minds I’ll be feeding,
With wonders that aren’t what they seem.”
I have known “writers” who don’t write and folks who say they are not writers but who, in fact, write. Me? I like to tell stories about kids who are similar to my students, typically 4th through 8th graders with dreams and worries, hopes and inhibitions. Soon I will join the legion of writers who take up an MFA program in writing. It is a low residency program at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota that focuses on writing for children- it is a perfect fit for me… and they accepted me.
In order to complete the program I will travel twice a year to Minnesota from my home in Lima to learn, write, reflect and revise. My previous studies in the last 20 years have been to find or keep work. I have enjoyed earning each of my teaching licenses and the learning that came with them. This one, though, is for me and my students… and I am really looking forward to it.
If you know of any sources to assist with funding please send them my way.
In the meantime it is almost November and that means NaNoWriMo. But who needs an excuse to write?
If you have not seen these please take a look: Graphic Organizers. Estas ayudas gráficas están disponibles en español también.
Any time we can help students organize their thinking, plan their learning, make their learning visible, we are helping them build connections and increase the number of synapses– that is learning! With graphic organizers we can increase literacy, too.
Literacy Creates Justice!
I love the Minnesota State Fair! I try to go at least twice a year when I am in Minnesota. While there is lots and lots of food, there is also much to learn, arts and crafts, animals, … If you go, be sure to check out the Education Building to learn about options for post-secondary education. Amazing possibilities!
Here is a view from the Space Tower at the Minnesota State Fair:
This week I have been learning about a new way of teaching kindergarten that my school district is implementing. I don’t know much about kindergarten and I know even less about kindergarteners so, there is a lot for me to learn. About the first ten years of my teaching was in middle school and then mostly 4th and 5th since then.
I commented to a colleague about my lack of knowledge/ experience with 5 and 6 year olds. She asked, “But you know a lot about middle schoolers, don’t you?”
“Yes, I do,” I answered.
“They are very similar: unpredictable, variable moods, they want to be grown up and little kids at the same time, they learn fast, they say everything they think without filtering, they want life to be fair and consistent,” and on she described the wonderful, amazing middle schoolers I have worked with (with whom I have worked!).
I think I will have to spend some more time with 5 and 6 year olds and see if she is right. What do you think? Is my colleague right?