Don’t Be a Cheerleader

My 5th grade spring I decided I wanted to try softball. My best friend played, she was a cute little blonde so couldn’t be too hard. Yeah well it was and I sucked. I spent most of the time on bench or right field. When I got to play right field, it was my favorite because the fence was next to the sidewalk and the boys would stand at the fence and talk to me. The cute baseball players at that. That was all I liked about softball. I tried out years later in middle school, they cut one person from team – me. But one thing I learned that spring was how to cheer on teammates. No matter how bad I sucked my teammates were always doing some chant cheering me on when I would go up to the plate to strike out. In the past I have joked that they were just “wanna be cheerleaders” but it’s something you come to expect from softball players.

I was reminded of this during my daughter’s gymnastics practice. The girls were practicing on the bars. One at a time they would do their routine, the others would cheer them on. For the first time I am a season ticket holder for Alabama Gymnastics (last year’s national champions, roll tide, I may add). Every year since I was in college I make at least one meet. When at a meet, the girls not competing at the moment are standing there cheering on their teammate. My favorite is during the floor routine when the others start doing the dance moves. They never stop encouraging their teammates.

My sport of choice throughout my life was cheerleading. Mostly because I’m good at it. Very good at it. I cheered through my middle school & high school years. I have been a coach for 7 years. I’m only a cheer coach for 2 more weeks. I’m a tough coach but have a trophy case full of awards my girls have won. Two things peeve me the most at practice: 1. Only going through motions of routines and 2. When I am working with one stunt group, the other groups just sit and gossip. Sitting at gymnastics last week it hit me, cheerleaders don’t “cheer” each other on like other sports. Last year we went to largest cheer camp in the country and I never recall a squad cheering on the rest of their group trying something new. Never, unless they thought it would get them a spirit stick. But they are the cheerleaders right? Or is that just a title?

So often I see teachers on twitter complain that their administrators or district do not support them, technology, flipped classrooms, etc. We expect them to cheer us on because it goes with their job title, like the cheerleaders. Maybe we need to instead cheer on our teammates and each other. A second basechick’s (is that the girl term?) job is not to cheer on their teammate at bat, but they do. When we help and cheer each other on, encouragement happens. Not just online but in our buildings and those on our team. We have coworkers just as frustrated as we are, give them a little rah rah ree! We have too many “cheerleaders” in schools, not enough cheering teammates.

Because It Is Life…

My last post “Because It Is Fun…” was a slight rant about how using “fun” as a reason to integrate technology into your classroom is a cop-out.  The past 2 days it has been on my mind how important technology is in our everyday lives, not just the “fun” part. The more we are familiar with it, the more our students are becoming prepared for the future, the harder it is for me to believe it is something “extra” or “fun.”

Last Sunday night I took a shower and fixed my hair before going to bed, which is rare because I am a shower in the AM person. I slept with the TV on and louder than normal. I turned the ringer on and the volume up on my fully charged phone.  Had the house phone near by and the night stands were covered with flashlights. Why? Because since Friday the local meteorologists were warning that there would be severe weather – tornado threats – that night. I fixed my hair and had flashlights ready in the event I would have to get ready without power. I had the TV on because my brain is trained to hear James Spann’s voice and know there is a warning somewhere in the viewing area. I had my phone on loud because I have a weather radio app and it would “ding” when there was a warning.

Unlike what Diane Sawyer reported, we had warnings days in advanced. How is that for technology?! Could you imagine the change and the learning that meteorologist have had to go through over the years to get where we are today? Where we can predict tornadoes 3 days in advanced? That is a reason students need to use technology in the classroom, it would suck showing up to meteorology school with a pencil and notebook and only using tech to post on facebook and play video games. And though my weather radio app did not alert me or others (major fail, but I know from experience tech fails and how to deal with that), we still had old school sirens that night. I was not only up watching the TV before the weather moved into our area, but I also picked up my phone to follow the other stations’ alerts on twitter.

While on twitter looking for alerts, there was a lot of activity from fellow Birmingham residents. We were chatting, commenting on the location of the storm, even prodding others to take pictures of their families wearing their bicycle helmets while in their safe place. Not only did it calm my nerves, but kept me awake and aware of what was happening. We need to teach students the importance of social media and connecting with others online. We need to teach them how to be safe on that medium as well. So many that night did not have TV but had the station apps and were on twitter and knew exactly what was happening. We were so eager to share and look out for one of another because of the relationships we have formed there.

Luckily I was safe and had no damages. Unfortunately other places in my community were not so lucky. Over 200 have lost their homes, 3 people lost their lives, one of which was a 16 girl from my district. I think considering all the devastation we should be very thankful for technology that is there to keep us safe.

I think when we look at technology as something that is in the way or “extra” we need to remember we use it everyday because it is life, and it saves our lives.  When you treat it as something “extra” so with the students who need it now and for their future.

Because It Is Fun…

Warning I kinda have a soapbox today. Now you were warned, my soapboxes are ramblely too. I am stepping up there.  This past week I have heard/read so many comments about schools/teachers using technology because it is fun so kids are engaged. Ugh. That is not why we need to be integrating technology into curriculum.  Period. If that is your hook for resistant teachers, ok I can buy that, if that is your philosophy, I disagree. We need to use it because of many other reason than that.

I saw a tweet this week that said “you can be a good teacher and not use technology.” Yes you can be a “good” teacher, but that is all, you cannot be a great teacher, you cannot be a teacher preparing students for 1999, let alone 2018. Yes your test scores will probably be pretty good but you have just cheated your students out of an education they deserve.  Your kids are in danger because you did not teach them internet safety or model those skills.

Today Apple announce iBooks2. Textbooks on the iPad. Cool. I guess, it only becomes new and relevant when you look at the creation side of it. A textbook on an iPad is still a freaking textbook. And word to the wise, a digital textbook is not more “fun” than the smelly ones falling apart in my classroom. It is still the same thing, wow factor wears off after a day. It is about as fun as taking a test online. Woowhoo a test – no never heard that.

Last week I got a set of ActivExpressions. Love them, love what I can actually do with them. Someone said “The kids are going to have so much fun with those.” Um probably not “fun.”  Will they be engaged? Will I have immediate feedback to see if what they are learning? Will my lessons I use them with be fun? Yes to all of those, but plugging in answers will not be the “fun” part.

The tools are not to be the focus and more than likely if the lessons are “fun” the technology is just part of it. I hate the thought that teachers assume adding technology into their lesson will make kids enjoy it. That PowerPoint is not enjoyable. I worry when the class climate does not change if these teachers become frustrated or discouraged.

Fun should not be the goal. Preparing for their future, being relevant should be the goal. Think about it, what you are doing is not “fun.” You are using technology, right? If you read this blog, you probably are reading others, so you are learning, right? These are positives, just not “fun.” Maybe enjoyable, not “fun.” How many times today outside of school have you used a paper and pencil? Even in my classroom I run low on pens, I only use them to make list or put my signature on things. See my point? Technology is relevant, it is something they use everyday. The more we use them in the classroom the more we model safe use. The more we teach them to use it with ease and properly. The more the students see technology as a tool to help them in their educational journey. The more the students see it as more than text messages and Facebook. That is why we should integrate technology.

Your Cake Wrecks Pinterest Me

So last night my back went out again, to avoid more pain I spent most of the day laying down – bored. Luckily I had my phone and the interwebs to keep me occupied. Most of my morning was spent on Pinterest. If you have not discovered Pinterest yet, you need to just check it out because it’s kinda hard to explain. But what I do love about it is the fact it celebrates creativity and gifts of others. Whether it is an amazing new recipe or a wreath made from netting or fabulous shoes, creativity of others is celebrated here. Not only that but it encourages more creativity. I cannot even number how many things I have made where the initial idea came from this site. I’m sure others have the sake story.

While scrolling through I tweeted a link to a friend of an awesomeccake. Another friend replied with a link to horrid cake on a site called “Cake Wrecks .” I then get sucked in to the site. Laughter followed. page after page of gross, ugly, or messed up cakes. There are over 600 pages of this site, I looked at at least 30.

Cake wrecks like all the other fail blogs out there (google fail blogs and there are pages of results) it celebrates failure. It is kinda sad we live in a society that loves failures that much. We make fun. We search for this stuff. We put people’s failures on display for the world to see and usually write a few jokes about it. Not celebrate learning from it, but find delight in the fact someone looked that dumb.

These sites are like the opposite of Pinterest. No one looks at fail sites and decides “Hey I want to do this” no it makes some even more afraid of trying something new for fear it may end up there.

I wonder often if my classroom is a Pinterest environment or a Fail Blog. I hope more and more it is becoming a Pinterest. I know that “I” may fail at this so often. I know now though I will try more to encourage the creativity and not focus negatively on the failures (I don’t mean grades by the way). Even more I hope to teach how to learn from mistakes or failure. What is your classroom? Is it a Pinterest or Cake Wreck?


Modify. When I read that word I read it like Mia and Tia from Cars. If you don’t know they are the Miata twins with the headlights, ok too many long nights watching Cars with an insomniac son. Anyway, doubt you have noticed, but I haven’t posted here in 2012. Sad. Maybe not to anyone but me, but I find it sad. Even sadder (that is such gross English, sorry) is the reason I haven’t blogged. I’m frustrated. A lot in the education world is making me discouraged, mostly testing & the way we “prove” students are learning. It’s getting to me. Frustration.
Also the way I teach, my teaching, classroom management, etc is frustrating me. I have a period that makes me insane, I feel my lessons can’t teach what I need to because of trying to stay on schedule, and we won’t even go into my frustration with class size.
I’m frustrated with my health that can’t keep up with my life. Details I won’t go into but because of this major changes are going to have to take place. But a healthy mom is what my children deserve.
We won’t even go into my frustration of a new year and still not holding that tech job I have long for for years now.
So I’m frustrated and feel stuck. So stuck. Tonight I opened a fortune cookie and it read “Modify your thinking to handle new situations.” Frustration without solutions is a brand new situation for me. I’m a Plan B, Plan C, let’s fix this now person. Time to modify my thinking, not sure how, not sure what, but it’s time to change thinking and mindset. Now just need to find that starting line…