Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The "wonder" of trying something new!

When I came back to Williams I was certainly not at a loss as to what to teach the students in my charge. I have so many K-5 lessons that I have loved over the years. Most years I don't get to them all. For my two month stint here I felt free to choose the ones I had the most fun with, were meaningful, and fostered a love of the library and reading. I had a blast. I had more time to peruse Twitter and Facebook this winter, and a funny thing happened as a result. Even though retired, I found myself gravitating towards the education posts and actually having the time to read them!! I looked at many library ideas, pedagogy, general education philosophy, assessment, testing, and integrating technology to name a few. On one occasion in February I came across a twitter chat that discussed using to foster inquiry and motivation based on students choosing what they wonder about. It is a great website that leads kids to be even more curious and provides a deeper learning opportunity by offering choice. There are unbelievable wonders out there. I used the FREE Wonderopolis brochure template that was offered by Teachers pay Teachers to guide the students. It was an end of the year activity with fourth grade. I wasn't sure I could get them to be excited about doing research in June, and at first I think they just wanted to get through it, but before long they were doing exactly what I hoped would happen: They dug deeper into the website and came up with more questions about their topic. Their enthusiasm grew and they all wanted to share what they learned with each other. I couldn't have asked for a better outcome. So kudos to the 4th graders at Williams for helping me try something now. We all learn together!!

Reprising my role at Williams

Sometimes life brings on the unexpected. After retiring from my position as library and IT specialist at Williams School in June 2015, I enjoyed a wonderful summer giving tours of Fenway Park. My husband and I planned a cruise to Canada that left the first week of school! That seemed weird. A funny thing happened late in August. I ran into my principal in the parking lot at school when I went in to return something. She said she had a one day position as a school substitute to fill and asked me if I would do it. I hesitated and told her I would think about it, but if anybody else came along and wanted it to go ahead and hire them. Well, I got back from my cruise and started back at my school one day a week. It worked out marvelously. I had my fix of school, felt like I was making a positive contribution, but I was also free to pursue my Fenway adventure. Around the middle of the school year I found out that the person hired to take my place, my colleague Felicia Quesada Montville, would need a maternity leave at the end of April. I decided to step back in as Library teacher for the last two months of the year. I am so glad I made that decision. It gave me a chance to work with the kids again, use some of my tried and true lessons, and try something new! Watch for the results in my next post! While it is a challenging time to be an educator, it is also so extremely rewarding, invigorating, and such a chance to make a difference in our students' lives. This morning I watched the fifth graders graduate. Their play this year was "Wonder" by R.J. Palacio. They marched across the stage with their "Choose Kind" tee shirts on as they closed their years at Williams. We have such important work to do. I am so proud of all of my colleagues for continuing to choose this path, and I am grateful for stepping back in to help one more time! This profession is amazing.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

That's a wrap!

Another school year has come to a close. Every year I take satisfaction knowing that we have successfully moved the students forward on their formal education journey. At Williams we end the year with a ceremony called "Arch Day" to celebrate the students' efforts and progress over the current school year. There is always a tremendous sense of accomplishment for both students and teachers as we acknowledge the hard work of the whole community. This year was a hard year for me personally as I lost two very important people in my life within an 18 day span. One was my mother, who succumbed at 94 to Dementia. I continued to learn from her until the last day of her life. I watched her struggle for her final seven years, but at the same time I learned to appreciate the changes and challenges that come from the mind and body in its final stages. She was so strong from the beginning of her life to the end, and I hope to move forward with the same strength and conviction that was modeled for me. My dear cousin, Janice, my lifelong companion in so many adventures and trials finally lost the vicious war with ovarian cancer. Her five year battle with this disease was fought with strength, dignity, and great love for her family. She always put them first and continued to smile, advise, and be there for them. Her example has given me renewed perspective to live my life to the fullest every day and to try to give everyone my best effort in whatever I do for as long as I can do it. So June 2015 is a watershed moment for me. I have to decided to retire from my position in Newton Pubic Schools and explore a new path. I am a rabid Red Sox fan. I have taken a job as a tour guide with the Boston Red Sox. I am giving tours of historic Fenway Park. it is a lot of fun so far. I am meeting new colleagues,(who are wonderful and also crazy Red Sox fans) and watching the joy and wonder on people's faces as they see the Fenway field for the first time. Life is changing, but it is good. I hope to remain true to the words I spoke to the graduating 5th graders this year: "learn, grow, and improve. None of us are experts, all of us are learning. I want to keep living and learning to the fullest. It is the best way to honor the people in our lives and work to make our community as good as it can be. Be kind to each other, help each other, take care of each other.