the pre-semester roundup

My fall semester starts officially tomorrow.

My sincere intention is to continue blogging very regularly. We all know, however, how during the semester, nothing but teaching, grading and preparing seems to get done. So I wanted to mark this day in a few ways, both to celebrate the enjoyment I’ve gotten from blogging so far and also to affirm my commitment to continuing it.

So here’s what the “pre-semester roundup” consists of:

1. Today, my blog’s “total views” stat passed the 1000 mark. To celebrate, I have added the “blog stats” widget to my sidebar. This is to remind me that, if I want that number to keep going up, I need to keep posting.

2. Over the weeks since I’ve started blogging, I’ve discovered a number of blogs about education and other matters that I keep returning to again and again. Today I added some of these blogs to my blogroll. If you and I have been communicating through my/your blog and you didn’t make it onto my blogroll this time, please don’t be mad. It might be that I just haven’t had enough time to really get to know your blog yet. So many blogs, so little etc.

3. I have compiled a few quotes/posts from other bloggers that I want to keep close at hand to boost me up through the first days and weeks of the semester, if not right through to the end. I’d like to share some of these with you here.

From Doug at Borderland:

Trends develop as the kids and I figure out what will fly, and what won’t. I have to cut some things off, rechannel energy, fill in low areas, check the flow here and there.
In the beginning of the year the job is fairly simple, but it requires constant vigilance and creativity: I help students focus on whatever they need to do. The kids, being veterans of the game, know the rules but they must also explore the limits. That’s what they do. And even as I am testing them, they are testing me. Getting through this part of the year gracefully is at the top of my to-do list.

Pedablogy’s list of thoughts on planning for the fall.

On Education’s list of quotes from Chomsky about education, particularly this one:

Most problems of teaching are not problems of growth but helping cultivate growth. As far as I know, and this is only from personal experience in teaching, I think about ninety percent of the problem in teaching, or maybe ninety-eight percent, is just to help the students get interested. Or what it usually amounts to is to not prevent them from being interested. Typically they come in interested, and the process of education is a way of driving that defect out of their minds. But if children[’s] […] normal interest is maintained or even aroused, they can do all kinds of things in ways we don’t understand.

Blog of Proximal Development on creating community to foster learning experiences:

I need to think about how to create the kind of environment that fosters and supports learning experiences, not the kind of environment that imposes them on students. Perhaps, what I’m really interested in is what Dave Cormier calls “habitat.” He states that a proper habitat can “make it more likely for community to form and more likely that that community will do the kinds of things that were intended … that prompted the creation of that habitat.” In other words, as Dave argues, “a careful attention to the construction of habitat can increase the chances of a community forming.” I spent the last three years creating communities with my students and I learned that if the right (ripe?) environment is there, the community will emerge.

And finally, a small but important reminder from Patrick Tay that I want to meditate on, not only in the classroom but in my daily life:

…in the process of a social exchange of ideas with one or more individuals, we should not debate but listen.


2 responses

  1. As you enter into the world of active duty, I just want to take this opportunity to express how much I appreciate your blog. It is refreshing to read such honest and thoughtful writing about your experiences and your developing philosophy of education. Thanks Siobhan! I hope more and more teachers discover your blog. They’ll be sure to find much to enjoy, relate to and learn from.

  2. Thanks so much, Maia. I’m glad to know you’re getting something out of it; I certainly get something out of writing it, and out of reading the responses that others write. I hope you’ll continue to leave your comments and observations; I appreciate them a lot.

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