Thursday, January 17, 2008
2:13 pm – 2:19 and 9:32pm -9:34, 10:29-10:37, 11:04-11:16
I had planned on working on my traveling stories during my daily writing time, but I have noticed that although I set aside time to write I have not been setting aside time to get the story prompts, initial memories off of my e-mail as starters as I did on Tuesday. I will need to do that before I work on more memoirs, so for today I will write my teaching philosophy. Last class I took one of my fellow students said that it is very beneficial to write out one’s teaching philosophy because the actual writing of the philosophy helps a person to crystallize their thinking. I hope it does that for me today. I know what I believe about teaching but I am not sure I know how to put it into words.
This is where I am starting (I copied the following paragraph out of my resume):
To educate children in a mentally challenging program that respects each child’s capabilities by furnishing developmentally and age appropriate material that not only provides the necessary learning skills but also fosters life long learning.
This is my final product:
My teaching philosophy by ME
I believe in educating children in a way that respects each child’s capabilities.
I believe in furnishing developmentally and age appropriate material to help children learn.
I believe in not only providing the necessary learning skills but also fostering life long learning.
I believe in using authentic literature as a basis of all instruction throughout each subject and content area.
I believe in treating each student with respect and recognizing their individuality.
OK I have a new train of thought. I don’t think that I am mentally making much headway with my philosophy of teaching. Maybe I need to look at other people’s examples of their philosophy of teaching. Does anyone have any that they would like to share?
For now, instead, I will share my thoughts on the day. Today it is absolutely pouring down rain. I mean I am drenched. As a friend of mine pointed out, it reminds me that I really do live on an island. The weather here is constantly changing, but there are times when I actually mark the weather by how many days it has been since it rained (i.e., it hasn’t rained in x # of days.) Today my daughter got utterly soaked on the way to school. I looked at the people around me. Some people were wearing Wellies (tall rubber boots) on the walk to school and then changing their shoes once they arrived. Others had all the appropriate wet weather gear: umbrellas, Macintoshes (heavy raincoats), waterproof covers for strollers and bike seats and much more. They are so used to the pouring wet weather that they are completely prepared and inherited by it. I admire that. For example, when I picked her up from school yesterday the wind was gusting boldly, the rain was falling sideways and still people were walking to pick up their children and waiting in the powerful weather for their children to be released from school. In the U.S., people would have driven to pick their children up and for those who would be in the weather; they would probably not have the appropriate paraphernalia. For those who would wait outside for their children, there would probably be much more complaining and commenting on it. Here, you don
I, on the other hand, come from the U.S. and Texas at that. Where I come from we are not used to such weather. We are not prepared. If it began to rain sideways we would head for cover, stand under the awnings, and not just put our hoods up. People here know how to handle continuous rain. But I don’t think that’s because they necessarily are better at such, they just have more experience at it. And they have childhood memories of how to deal with such weather. I don’t. So, unfortunately my daughter’s trousers, socks and shoes were completely drenched when she arrived at school. They were so drenched that I went home, got clean socks, shoes and trousers and took them up to the school so that she could change.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
11:50 am -11:53 and 9:11pm -9:18 and 9:40-10:04
My husband left for the States today. Mike Green died in Afghanistan last week and Bruce is going back for the funeral. He flies in to New Orleans, meets up with Eric Walton and then goes to Biloxi, Mississippi for the funeral. Bob Grimmer, Mark Smythe, Troy Prehar, Greg Softy, and John Pearson are all going to be there, probably more people. He will come back Monday.
For today’s free writing I am going to write about my day volunteering at daughter’s school.
I had a fantastic time volunteering at my daughter’s school today. We live in a rural village in England. Paige attends the village primary school. She is four and a half years old and attends what the British call Reception, which is their first official year of school, full day. Paige has a wonderful teacher, Miss Machin. If I could personify a person as an angel, Miss Machin would be it. She is calm, cool and collected. She is ever so polite to the students and seems to never loose her cool. Even when three boys were acting up she made a sound, as to get their attention, and then peered sternly at the boys for a very long moment. Finally she said sternly, but softly, “I suggest you find something more constructive to do with your time.” Wow. I feel that just by volunteering in my daughter’s classroom I could learn so much from her teacher. Miss Machin pays attention to the students as they talk to her. She works hard to make them feel loved, accepted and valued. She points out the positives that students do. When she sees good behavior she rewards it publicly by praising the student, giving them a sticker, allowing them to do something special, giving them a cheer or a clap, sending them home with a note that tells the parent of their accomplishment or something else along those lines. When a student misbehaves she tells the class why the behavior is wrong, if the misbehavior is brought to the teacher’s attention during a class meeting, otherwise she usually speaks to the student privately.
My duties in helping out were to tend to the painting area where the students were assigned to paint the number 6. I made an example to show them. I helped 2-3 students at a time. The teacher stationed herself at a center as well, working with the students and taking anecdotal records of what the students can do. She also watched the students while they played at the nearby centers, also making notes about them as well. I was impressed how well the students stayed on task during the day. There are no desks in the classroom, only tables. Each table has a different activity at it. The students do not have a particular place to sit. This is in stark contrast to the way that I set up my Kindergarten classroom when I was teaching. I gave each of the students their own place at a table. When the students entered the classroom they were to sit at their spot and start work on their daily journal writing, which consisted of a blank sheet of paper and they were to draw and write on. After watching Paige’s classroom, I would change the way that I would teach Kindergarten. I would do more like the British system and have various activities at each table and have the students come into the classroom, put their stuff away and begin immediately to allow them to actively work at the activities at the table. I would have this time separate from the learning centers around the room which we would do at a later time.
The students sit on the floor during group activity time. Also during group activity time the students work with a learning buddy. They are instructed by the teacher how to interact with the learning buddy for each particular activity, whether they are to answer a question to the learning buddy, show them their answer, or help each other. The subject that I watched the teacher do with the whole group was numeracy (math). She was introducing to them addition and subtraction using a number line.
I am always so very impressed how high the expectations of the students are in England. And, amazingly enough, the student achieve to those expectations. At 4 ½ years old my daughter has already learned all of her letters and their corresponding sounds, she has memorized almost 30 sight words, she can easily sound out normal 3 letter words and sometimes she attacks a 4 letter word. She can count at least to 40 and do simple addition and subtraction. The teacher even gives the students instructions at the learning centers for the students to do. She writes the instructions on small pieces of paper using simple words in one sentence. They have already introduced to the students a full stop (period) to go at the end of the sentence. This too has affected how I feel I will be as a teacher in the future. I think that when I go back to teaching I have much higher expectations of my students and their parents. I will require more of them and give more ideas to the parents of ways in which they can support the learning of their students at home.
To learn the sight words, the teacher gives each student a small tin box which measures about 2”x4”x1”. In it she puts tiny laminated words. The student first receives 5 words. At the end of each week they are tested on those 5 words. IF the student knows the words they are given 5 more, if the student does not know those 5 words, then they are not give any more words. Those words are incorporated extensively when the class composes writing jointly. The teacher also asks the parents to read to the students nightly. The parents/students are given a reading log blank book to fill out each night. The parent writes what book(s) were read and the parents are also given a place to make anecdotal notes about the student (such as “my daughter is able to point to the words as I read them.”). The teacher reads over these notes about once every three weeks and gives comments in the book. At the beginning of the book are listed the school’s objective and standards in an “I can” format such as “I can hold a book correctly and turn the pages.” Or “I can point to the words on a page as they are being read aloud.” The teacher checks the objectives/standards as the students complete them to keep track of what the students can and cannot do. I think that this is a wonderful way for parents to see what standards and expectations there are of the students and also for parents, teachers and students to see the students’ learning progress. What better way to help a student learn than to make them aware of what is expected of them and doing so in a non-threatening, non-pressuring environment. There are no grades given to students in the early learning stages of the UK schooling system. Instead, they report if the students are meeting standards.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
10:06 am 10:28am and 1:53-2:05 pm
Today I found 2 e-mails that I wrote to my parents that described a Fourth of July party that I attended, hosted by the American Embassy to Spain in Madrid. As my daily writing today, I would like to do some major revisions and add descriptive writing to it. Here is what I start with:
Friday, July 1, 2005
We go to the embassy Fourth of July party tonight. My husband said last year that is was like the beginning of some James Bond movie. Hope it is like that tonight. He is in his uniform and I am wearing the classic black dress. All the ambassadors and attaches will be there. How exciting! Later,
We are back in the DAO office. We will go home in a few minutes. The party was really cool. There were spies there from other countries scoping us out and lots of people just being here. I guess it is the party to be at. It was the perfect setting, out on the lawn and lots of tents with free food and of course, free drinks. People wearing all sorts of fashionable and slinky gowns/dresses. Lots of fun.
Here is what I finish with:
July 1, 2005
I was surrounded by beautiful women in slinky gowns with high heels and men in full dress, military uniforms or sharp, crisp tuxedos. My husband and I, although not assigned to the US Embassy in Madrid, were attached to the embassy and therefore invited to the bash. The Fourth of July is always a big event for Americans and for American diplomats living abroad this is THE event of the year. My husband was wearing a mess dress uniform, the fanciest of all the military uniforms as it is embroidered in gold and has distinguished medals hanging from his chest. I donned a classic black dress with simple pearls. We were moving out of the country the next day. All my household goods had been packed and I saved out clothes sparingly.
The scene of the party was as if out of a James Bond movie. The evening air was warm, yet a slight wind brushed against our skin, cooling the evening and making it enjoyable. The setting was the grassy hill at the back of the embassy. A live band was staged at the top of the knoll providing upbeat background music, usually a tune by Gypsy Kings or another similar sound. At the bottom of the hill were booths covered with tents. The booths gave out free, generous portions of drinks and foods, each sponsored by a different corporation such as Tony Roma’s or the Hard Rock Café. Tuxedoed waiters walked around the outdoor gala picking up people’s glasses and handing out new drinks. My favorite drink quickly became the mojito. Looking similar to a mint julep, I don’t exactly know what it is, but the taste was refreshing and light.
Making our way around the manicured grounds, our friends from the embassy introduced us to their international counterparts. Then as those counterparts turned away we heard the background stories. Like the Chinese military attaché’s wife who could barely speak English, but sent out e-mails surprisingly perfect in grammar, punctuation. We were all sure she did not actually write any of her e-mails. Then there were the people who would remember your name perfectly as if they had mentally written it in some notebook to recall at a later date. When I casually asked my husband if there were spies at the party trying to collect information he immediately hushed me and told me not to talk about that, of course there were. When asking if our friends were spies he reassured me that they were overtly gathering their information.
Later in the evening the ambassador spoke his mild Texan Spanish and the Spaniards rolled their eyes at his staunch support of George W. Bush. Then the evening continued well into the night. We decided midnight late enough for us. We had a babysitter with our daughter and need to get back home before our move the next day. Before leaving we go up to the office to change clothes so that we won’t stand out on our way home, even riding in a taxi. As we walk out of the embassy compound we pass the armored vehicle and armed guards. Reality begins to set back in even with the sweet tunes still playing in the air.
I am sure my small experience dwarfs in comparison to the experiences of many, but considering this was the closest I would ever get to James Bond, I savor the moment and hop in the taxi.
Personal note: I need to fix the inconsistencies with tense. Past vs. present
Monday, January 14, 2008
I started my 7th or 8th graduate class today. I am a little apprehensive about the class because it is an advanced writing pedagogy class and I don’t think that I am a good writer, plus literature is my specialty, not writing. But part of the class is to write for 30 minutes a day and so, here goes. . .
Some of my goals in writing 30 minutes per day are to write/edit trip reports/stories about when my husband and I lived in Spain. During that time we visited about 12 countries and I usually wrote my thoughts about our trips. During this semester I would like to use my personal writing time to work on those memoirs. My dream would be to create a book called My Year as a Professional Tourist or The Tourist Housewife or Memoirs of a Tourist or something along those lines, but that is a far off dream. To be honest, I really am not that great of a writer, but this is the chance to get better.
My second goal during would be to write some short stories geared toward children. These short stories would be based on the real lives of my family members and ancestors. The reason that I would like to do that is because I read so many stories to my children that are fictional stories or stories about other people. I would love to read them entertaining stories about people they are related to. I feel that it would give them a better understanding of who they come from. It is only when we come from that we can know where we are going.
When we lived in Spain we traveled to (2004-2005)
September France (Loire Valley, Paris, Normandy)
October Poland (Warsaw)
Czech Republic (Prague)
November Hungry (Budapest)
December Germany (Stuttgart, Wiesbaden)
January Portugal (Lisbon, Citron)
February Monaco (Monte Carlo) and France (southern) on the way to . . .
March Italy (Livorno, Pisa, Rome, Naples, Pompeii)
May Spain (North, South, East and West – I would have to look at a map to remember all the places we went)
Living in England we traveled to
May 06 Germany (Stuttgart, Spangalem)
June 06 Bosnia and Herzegovina (Sarajevo and more)
Croatia (Dubrovnik and nearby peninsula)
Sept 06 Ireland (Dingle Peninsula)
Oct 06 France (Normandy, Paris)
March 07 Spain (East, Alicante)
August 07 Scotland (Inverness, Loch Ness, Hadrian’s Wall)
I plan to get on my e-mail tomorrow and download all of the memories that I have already written, then as I write each day I will rewrite them and edit.
File location: LEXAR MEDIA, D’s book, Micro countries
I have quickly discovered as we have traveled through Europe is my utter fascination with micro countries. Andorra, Vatican City, and Monaco are a few examples. What is a micro country? Considering I invented the term, I would define it was a tiny country, usually consisting of a city or small mass of land. I wonder, how do they sustain their economy? Do they have their own currency and political leaders? I understand that the answers to these questions are different for each country.
Since I have such a fascination, I have had a strong desire to visit these countries, much to the chagrin of my husband who has had to drive many hours out of his way to visit such obscure places as Andorra.