July 2007 Archives

After returning from a week long vacation, I am back at Camp El Valor for the second four-week session and I must admit, I am very excited! We have the same curriculum, but new faces and new challenges. The first difference I've noticed is the wider range of ages. Last session saw mostly fifth and sixth graders. This session has quite a different split: several incoming fourth graders, as well as several incoming freshman with a strong showing of all ages in between. I find teaching in multiage classrooms incredibly exciting and rewarding. My first job teaching was in a ...

In her blog last week, New Terrain, Jessica Shyu posed the question, "Why do teachers stay?" I think a lot about why teachers quit. But Jessica’s question demands optimism, something that is easy to lose in this profession. I teach because I want children to reap the benefits of problem solving, the enjoyment of reading and the pride of finishing a well-written paper. I want to help each child develop a positive self-image in order to appreciate the beauty of life, and the critical thinking skills needed to determine the injustices of the world. I teach because I love ...

We have entered the fourth and final week of camp session one. We just returned from camping in Mokena, IL, a first for many of these children. I’ve enjoyed seeing them in a new environment. We met a skunk, a groundhog, a coyote, two gray wolves and a raccoon from the Big Run Wolf Ranch, a federally licensed non-profit educational facility specializing in North American wildlife. We helped replant the prairie at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. We identified caterpillars in the wild and studied butterflies gently swooped up in butterfly nets. We learned how to watch for birds ...

Two cheerful and gifted girls sit in the back row of my morning technology class. “Are you having fun at camp?” I asked. “We love it!” they replied in unison, like best friends often do. “What do you love most?” I questioned, secretly hoping for a few compliments. “We love science class!” the bolder one remarked, while the quieter of the two smiled and nodded away at her friend’s proclamation. I must admit, my ego deflated slightly even though I felt elated to hear two sweet, smart and beautiful girls professing their love of science. “We love the projects,” ...

Recharge. This is what teachers do in the summer. My batteries run out of juice around April. By mid-June, when Chicago Public Schools let out, I feel completely deflated—and not from the students. This past year I started my own business to meet the needs of after school programming because I was unable to find a job in a school suitable for me. Sounds a little particular for someone with no health insurance, but I had worked in an unsuitable school before—a junior high with metal detectors and aggressive guards, where I witnessed the principal slap a kid across...


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