Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Desk or No Desk?

At the end of the school year, my class collectively gave me a gift card to I loved this, as I can get a variety of things, not only for myself, but for my classroom as well. One of my purchases was Of Primary Importance by Ann Marie Corgill. I've been wanting to read this for quite a while, thanks to the recommendations of two of my First Grade colleagues, Cathy (of Reflect and Refine) and Deb (of Primary Perspective.)

It finally arrived this week! I've had a hard time dividing my reading time between a library book on my Kindle, a book for pure pleasure that I've had on my nightstand since last summer (yikes! that's how little time I have for pleasure reading,) and this professional book. I finally dived into Of Primary Importance today and am having a really hard time putting it down. (And that's saying a lot because that has never happened to me in regards to a professional text.) I read something addressing a topic that I have been struggling with for a couple of years and just had to respond.

Do I keep my teacher desk or get rid of it?  I've always used it as a "home base" in my classroom. A place where I plan my lessons, check emails, and keep my supplies. But, do I really need it taking up space in my First Grade classroom, which already feels claustrophobic as it is? Cathy and Deb have both banished the teacher desk from their classrooms. They've said they'd never go back to it. Ann Marie says, "If a large part of the room is filled with a teacher desk, teacher chair, teacher filing cabinets, teacher corner, then there's little space left for the students to move and work in comfortably." Further, she says, "I don't want to send the signal to my students that my needs and my work and my comfort is more important than theirs, and if my area takes up a quarter of the room, then that's exactly the message I'm sending."

In my building, once you get rid of a piece of furniture, you'll probably never get it back again. There's minimal room for storage, so if it doesn't fit, they ship it offsite to a storage facility somewhere else in the district where anyone can claim it. So, once I decide to get rid of it, I've committed to it being gone for good. There is no going back. This isn't a decision I can take lightly. 

So, readers, what are your thoughts? Do you have a teacher desk or don't you? What are the pros and cons to getting rid of your teacher desk? 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Evolution of a Professional Blog

So, I have a blog. Now what do I do? I have a personal blog for my family. I have a web site to communicate with my students and their families. I read blogs of other educators and take away valuable tips, insights, and lessons. I know that I want to have a professional blog, but I'm not sure where to go with it.

I have to come right out and say upfront that I have always been insecure. It's something I've dealt with, and have been working on my whole life. It's a very deep seeded and long background, but let's just say that I'm a work in progress. And, knowing me, I'm sure you'll be able to see evidence of this throughout my future posts. I've honestly never felt like I have much to say that would enlighten others. I've always thought that my thinking was somehow inferior to others. Now, my friends, family, and co-workers would argue otherwise and tell me to stop undervaluing myself. But, I always feel like I'm three steps behind or my instincts for what is "good practice" are somehow just "off" when compared to others.

I work on a daily basis with some phenomenal educators. They are not only knowledgeable about what is developmentally appropriate for their students, they put it into practice every day. Where I look for "fun" and "cute" activities, partly because that's what I grew up with, and partly because I feel like that is what is going to draw my students in and make them excited about learning, they say they don't have time for that. Then, I start to question myself. Is this their way of telling me that I'm focusing on the wrong thing? I'm sure, at some point, they will be reading this blog and see themselves in this post. I mean no disrespect and am in no way saying that I think what they are doing is not right, it just might not be right for me. However, I can't help but feel that, because they are so knowledgeable, that means that what I am doing is not what I should be doing. Does any of this make sense?

I guess when it comes right down to it, the title I've chosen for my blog kind of says it all. I'm learning to teach, and teaching to learn. I spent two years as a substitute teacher, the next 10 as a Reading Specialist, and am now in my fourth year as a First Grade teacher. So, while I have felt like I'm starting all over again, what teacher doesn't see him/herself as a lifelong learner? There is a sea of information out there, I'm just trying to wade my way through it all. Who's to say what is right and what is wrong? I have to do what works  best for me and for my kiddos. The bottom line is, I have no idea where this blog is going to take me as a teacher, or you as a reader. Welcome to the journey!