Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I've moved

I'm now blogging at http://www.awaldorfjourney.com. Come visit me there!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

It's been awhile!

So, the last time I updated this blog was over a year ago. So much has happened since then! The class graduated in June. It was a lovely ceremony and though it is strange to not have them as a regular part of my days anymore, I am grateful to have the time to focus on my own family and home.

The teaching does not stop, though. This year I will continuing to teach at the school but in a very different way. As a sort of sabbatical I will be the aftercare teacher for the preschoolers and kindergarteners. I'm looking forward to the love and affection that those little ones are still happy to shower upon their teachers. School starts on Wednesday and I can't wait. Look here for updates!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The People's Republic of China

Sometimes I'm struck with how fate works. This week I am scheduled to begin a block on the Geography of China with my class. The students and I have already had several conversations about the 7.9 earthquake that hit last week, and now we're going to spend a good chunk of time in main lesson learning about it. Sometimes it can be challenging to find a way to bring information about the science of the earth in a lively, interesting way. In the past I have ended up focusing on cultural or economic issues when it comes to geography. This week I have a fabulous opportunity to discuss the geography of China, the science behind earthquakes, and cultural issues in China in a way that will feel relevant to the students.

We'll also be reading The Good Earth by Pearl Buck. A couple of months ago I read this book that takes place in China around the time of the cultural revolution and loved it. It does such a lovely job of portraying the slow, steady, and incredibly rich landscape of China. I hope the students love it as much as I did.

We're definitely in the home stretch. This is our last block of the year and then it's on to eighth grade!

Friday, May 9, 2008


It's been positively ages since I posted and I find it interesting that my last post was about what comes after grade 8. I've been thinking about that a lot lately and have pretty much come to the conclusion that I need to take a bit of a break from class teaching after my class graduates. Though there is much about teaching that I love, it is wearing on me, my family and my homelife.

So lately I've been writing articles for websites and seeing how I might be able to scrape together a living after graduation. The ideal situation as I see it would be to do a little bit of work at the school, do some freelance writing, and, ooh, maybe a job at a yarn shop on the weekends.

The latest with the class is that on Monday we leave for our class trip on the historic schooner Adventuress. We've been selling burritos and burgers all year long to raise money for the trip and though it means I'll be spending three days on board a ship with 17 teenagers, I'm actually looking forward to it. Here's a pictures of the ship we'll be on.

The kids are getting along pretty well right now. The school year is really winding down and they're starting to act like 8th graders. Once we get back from the trip we just have one more block until the end of the year -- 5 weeks! Yippee!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

what's next?

So now that I'm in 7th grade with my class I'm starting to get questions from people about what I'm going to do when I graduate my class. At our school after your class graduates 8th grade you're basically out of a job. I can't think of another job where you give years of successful, dedicated service only to find yourself out on your ear. Of course there's always the option of applying for the next 1st grade class.

As I contemplate my future I do think about applying for grade 1 when I'm done. All of my own kids will still be at the school, we'll still need tuition, I'll still need a job, so it seems like a logical conclusion. I think I could relate to first graders pretty easily, though it would definitely take a bit of transitioning after being with the older grades for so long.

It's funny, though, as all of these questions come to me I find myself wondering if the people who are asking have an opinion about what I should do when I graduate my class. Would all of the parents of those little first graders be happy to have me as their children's teacher? Do my colleagues respect me enough to rehire me -- especially now that they know my faults?

I was talking with someone just last night about how challenging this job is in so many different ways. It requires so many different skills that you're bound to find your weakness, and have to struggle against it everyday. Of course, this is really what it's all about, but dealing with these weaknesses day in and day out can sure be a blow to the self-esteem. I mean, in many ways I know I'm a good teacher and I love what I do, but there are days when I don't feel like such a fabulous teacher and I question what I'm doing. A mentor once told me that when she started teaching she was just convinced that she was terrible at her job and it was only a matter of time before everyone found out that this was true. I've often felt the same way.

Still, I sometimes find myself looking at those little kindergarteners and wonder if I will be their teacher.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


This chemistry block is extremely cool. For the last week and a half the students and I have been exploring combustion, which means we're basically lighting things on fire, watching them burn and setting up mini-explosions in class. How cool is that! (Of course, we're also learning that combustion is what happens when a substance reacts with oxygen and other concepts like that, but the demonstrations are the cool part.)

I have to say that is what is so cool about Waldorf education. Though we get to the concepts connected with the things we're learning, the concept is not the entire point by any stretch of the imagination. I always think that the goal of my teaching is to create fond memories for the subject matter. So though the students may not remember a fixed concept like oxidation or combustion, they'll absolutely remember the colorful flames they saw when the mixture of zinc and sulfur ignited and the feeling of dread they felt when I set one student's dollar bill on fire. Then, when they come across these subjects again (like in high school) they'll have a natural affinity and interest in the subject, when they are really ready for the definitive concept.

Tomorrow we begin studying acids and bases. I'll start with letting the students taste two different "mystery substances" and try to describe the difference between the two. Then they'll put their hands in two different buckets to feel the difference. Then finally they'll watch the magical color changes as I add red cabbage juice to the different substances. Then we'll make red cabbage juice together. We might talk a little bit about naming these different substances "acids" and "bases" but we'll go into that in much more detail on Thursday, after they've had a chance to sit with these experiences a bit.

Though they're sometimes challenging, right now I'm loving exploring this stuff with them!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

finding help

On Friday afternoon I met with the school counselor at one of our local middle schools. One of my students has had serious challenges with written language. Even now in Grade 7 he sounds out every word that he reads. He has somehow found a way to understand everything he reads, despite his halting, stuttering way of reading, but learning to read was a real challenge for him and he continues to be a slow reader. In addition to his struggles with reading, he really struggles with writing. He is able to compose sentences fairly well, but his spelling is so atrocious that other people would not be able to read his work. He misspells simple sight words (so is soe, for example).

The meeting was incredibly productive and the psychologist and the principal were very supportive and were convinced at the end of it that this child needs their help. They're going to assess him and find what he needs and how they can help him.

After this meeting, though, I'm feeling pretty bad that his challenges haven't been addressed before now. I mentioned to them that he has been a concern from 2nd grade on and it was so clear in the conversation how sad it is that he has been a concern for so long and that he's getting help now in 7th grade. The whole thing has me determined to help in setting up some sort of assessment standard to use in our school. It's interesting how our school's greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. It's wonderful that our teachers are independent enough to teach to the class what seems most important for that particular class. We don't have to worry about testing and assessing ability is solely up to the individual teacher. In many ways I can assess my students' abilities better than anyone. But at the same time, I'm quite close to the situation and it's sometimes difficult to know what to do. It's quite easy to just keep plugging along, doing the work that needs to be done, without really addressing individual students' needs. There just isn't time for it. I think, though, that if I had another teacher look over my students' work with me and then we had guidelines about what should be done when there is a question about a student's achievement, this student's challenges would have been addressed earlier.

Anyway, I'm glad something is being done now and I hope that I can help set something up so that this kind of challenge doesn't go on for so long in the future.