Saturday, January 22, 2011

Baby Steps

Confession time. My work day is planned out before I step into my classroom with no space for flexibility. I stand at the front of my classroom and expect students to listen to every golden nugget of wisdom that slips from my lips.  I frequently make the trek to our school office for the sole purpose of creating copies of worksheets for my kids. I scold students for talking to their neighbors when I have deemed it inappropriate.

If you're thinking to yourself "Well, what's wrong with that? Isn't that what teachers do?"... feel free to move on.

If you are sitting at your computer, shuddering in horror - Stay with me! If you're doing the same thing in your classroom and it's killing you inside - Stick around!

I've spent the last three days at an incredible "technology" conference with Angela Maiers. I came with the assumption that I'd be leaving here with a new way to build a unit of study around technology. I'm leaving with an invaluable understanding that technology in the classroom is nothing without the right point of view. I can slap a phonics worksheet on my document camera and say I'm using technology, but what in the world are my students actually gaining from it? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

I understand now that children are geniuses. Truly! What do huge companies like Google and Amazon and Apple look for in their workers? Innovation. Creativity. Confidence. The ability to play well with others. If that's not a Kindergarten classroom, I don't know what is! What is happening to these amazing little citizens between their first year of school and their last? We, as educators and role models, are telling them that it is NOT O.K. to color outside the lines. Purple trees don't exist and are unacceptable. Your writing doesn't have the prescribed parts I demanded of you - you fail. You absolutely may not speak while I am speaking, and if you dare to talk to another child about how to solve a problem, you're a cheater.

What have we done?! What am I doing to these precious children in my room? And most importantly, how can I change myself to give them what they deserve from me? That's what this blog is going to be all about. I'm embarking on a new journey. Not for myself, but for all of my students. And I do mean ALL of my students... I've only been in the world of education for two years. Think of the hearts and souls and minds that I will be privileged to come into contact with in the next thirty!

If you've made it this far, thank you so much for reading! I hope that you'll join our journey as a community of learners and give us tips and encouragement along the way. I can't wait to get started!


  1. Kelly I'm so glad you had the same experience I did. I couldn't sleep last night my head was spinning with thoughts of how I can help our teachers understand what we went through and how it changes everything! I have even more questions (and frustrations) now. Here are a few quick ramdom thoughts:
    1. if you even want me to come into your classroom while you are gone please let me know - I'd love to help out
    2. we have to keep this alive - the 5 of us need to continue our great dialogue from the past 3 days and support each other in our teaching transformations
    3. we really need to start wearing cuter shoes! :-)

  2. Thanks, Beth! This has given me such a great outlet for expressing my thoughts. I loved writing in college until the creative part of it got beaten out of me... Ironic, yes? :)

    If I could wear heels right now without my feet swelling to enormous proportions, I'd totally do it! (For about 3 minutes. Do they make fabulous flats??)

  3. Woohoo! You tell it so powerfully, Kelly. I gave my junior highers the "You are Geniuses" speech today and no one snickered. If they didn't believe it they wanted to! Thanks for the encouragement. I will definitely be coming back to read more.

  4. Oh Denise... You brought tears to my eyes! How neat to know that my silly blog is bringing genius to other classrooms! :) I'll be floating on air all day!! My kids made some papers to explain their genius... I'll attempt to post them tonight. Thanks so much for reading!

  5. Kelly I think you've written everything that I was thinking after this experience. I am still trying to figure out the best way to make it work in my classroom, but I know it can! Thanks for sharing the last few days with me. Hopefully we will be able to support each other as we return to the "real world".

  6. Kelly, I loved reading your blog! I have never thought of myself as a writer. I spend my day crunching numbers and solving problems as a high school math teacher and tech coordinator. My goal is to start blogging and become that better writer. I love shoes, too, but my shoes have to be supper comfortable. If you find that shoe you buy it in every color that it comes in.

  7. Thanks Kelly ... this is absolutely awesome. In watching and listening to you and the others involved in "figuring out some stuff," I'm reminded of a story ... humor me as I'm old enough to have a lot of stories! In my mind I'm equating your work (as well the others) to my love of oak trees. It amazes me these beautiful, mature, and oftentimes HUGE oak trees all started as one small seed. Oak trees grow very slowly but because of this, they become very strong trees. Unlike some trees that grow rapidly but really don't have the strength to last very long. I envision to the work you and the group is doing to my love of oak trees. A small seed can grow strong and mature over a period of time. Thanks and keep up the great work.