Sunday, March 27, 2016

Good is hard and Teacher’s Aides Make Classrooms Better

Good is hard and Teacher’s Aides Make Classrooms Better

I've been try to contribute to my blog every week. It has not been working, which is to say I missed a couple entries and have actually fallen off to every other week. This is not to say I don't write a lot. I do write quite a bit.

The trouble I'm having right now is the depth of my writing. To write something that matters, has a bite to it or offers some kind of insight is difficult. Blogs have evolved from online diaries to respected journalism resources. Scholarly writing takes cognitive work. I feel I am creative but sometimes I find it difficult for me to say original stuff. I'm sure others feel this way.

Thoughts about the worthiness of technology integration and there multiple matrices fictitiously categorizing a teacher’s use of digital resources has me ruminating. I'm working on conjuring up a blog post focusing on these thoughts. I'm not there yet.

Today I worked in a friend's school. Katie MacFarland, the Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Canandaigua schools, cross contracted to have me provide professional development. The training was very low level and the paraprofessionals who work in the school rarely have professional development focused on their learning. I also think it is safe to say that there were many hesitant technology users in both groups I worked with.

I was hesitant as well. It is Good Friday and in Canandaigua's case the last day of work before vacation. These educators were not attending my workshop voluntarily but they were getting paid. These situations, although not ideal, happen and I know my colleagues throughout experience similar situations.

This was a great day. There were ups and downs. One of the downs occurred when I said "is it possible that you accidentally deleted your Google Doc." Instantaneously, a sheepish look came across this young ladies face while simultaneously pointing the finger at her friend who was helping her." I defused with zen-like comments about togetherness uttered in dulcet tones. The ups for today were all the smiling faces who thanked me and said they learned a lot.

I had a teacher's aide in my alternative education classroom. Darla Havens made my class better and I'm not sure I could have done it without her. I probably appreciate her more than she knows. Many teacher's aides have the same kind-hearted, compassion, and eager to please attitude as Darla Havens. Never forget about your teacher's aides or paraprofessionals. And if you are a teacher's aide or paraprofessional we appreciate you. You make our good classrooms better. Thank you.


Donald Watkins said...

Good read. I'd like to suggest that learning and leading transcend the teaching profession just like blogging transcends journalism. For example, I'm a writer who never took a journalism class. I'm also an accomplished geek and hacker and I never took a computer science class. I am in the words of a friend an auto-didact. I think the people who came to your session on Friday are just that too. They are an amalgam of learning. Just like me they lack official degrees but they are no less qualified to lead and perhaps you have created disciples who will help transform the Canandaigua School District.

Rick Weinberg said...

Don. thanks so very much for your kind words. I'm starting to realize your words. Whether it be riding my bike, keeping my weight off, having a growth mindset or being a life-long learner, people do change because of my words and actions. I hope that this does not sound pompous or narcissistic. I will tell you that this is the second time presenting at Canandaigua School District. Last year I taught about coding and it's importance. Now, Canandaigua has a Google CS club and students, who do not have homework and are in the library are voluntarily signing out computers and following the coding curriculum on their own. I will not stop doing what I am doing until all students in New York State experience coding during their k-12 matriculation.

Donald Watkins said...

Your words don't sound pompous or narcissistic. In fact I think you're finding your "Universal Tone" as Carlos Santana would say. We each have our own tone and for a time and maybe it's a long time we are afraid to play it. It's inside us waiting to be manifest. I think you're finding yourself in this work and helping others to find theirs too. Nothing artificial, pretentious or contrived about that. We all need help giving voice to that, though. Recently the affirmation of my commmunity manager helped me to realize that.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Rick. Reminds me of my favorite teacher's advice when I became a teacher: Treat every paraprofessional with respect and learn their names because when you're having a bad day, and your lesson is falling apart, and the kids are pushing back, and you're at your breaking point, they will be the first to offer a helping hand and will alleviate your stress, and it will make all the difference in the world. I've learned this to be very true. -Brendan