Every day I come into my classroom and I feel the possibilities, the hope, the future.  No, I am not intolerably optimistic or even overly unaware of what the world is really like, I just want to believe that my life's dream is meaningful to more than just me.  Is this advanced and socially acceptable narcissism, maybe, but it is the way I get through the tough hours, days, or weeks depending on the impending level of chaos and/or lack of money in my bank account.
Now, I tried this whole blogging fiasco two years ago and although I love to write (narcissism again, lol) I get so caught up in the everyday teaching, paying bills, being a mother to my 8 year old little genius girlly and my 4 year old tough as nails, pain in my ass, best friend son, that I forget to write, ever.
My days are spent in a somewhat imperfect set of routine.  I get up as early as I can every morning, as I am not so anally sensitive that I have a perfect and set routine, as I find this is not applicable to my freedom loving lefty self.  I get my children up, to the chagrin of my boyfriend Kev, who loves to sleep as late as possible but rises with prodding and lots of hugs.  He has been helping me watch Nolan lately and although this is a non-traditional and somewhat odd arrangement to many, it works most of the time for us.  After getting my 3 sloths out of bed; breakfast, clothes, shower (not in that order) and I'm off.  I am apparently also slightly masochistic as in the middle of this Colorado winter I decided to give up coffee, reasons may or may not come later, and seem to be taking longer to get into fast mode in the morning. I always wanted to be one of the those "perfect weight", lean, yoga supermoms who gets up at 5am and either runs 5 miles or do an hour set of power yoga, but at 31 this seems far away, like another world!
After a 10 minute drive, in which I blare music and hastily apply mascara in the car (okay, at stop lights I promise) I get to work. Funniest thing about my job, even as a teacher at a "high-risk" middle school in a highly gang dominated area, the children are my favorite part about my job.  I love it!! Seriously, I just get them, maybe its my past, or my own need to be free and happy that drives my understanding and the connections to them, but whatever it is, they are amazing.  I feel like all the mornings of waking before the sun (which every teacher in the world does), weekends writing lessons and grading papers, and all the drama is so worth it.  Its just some of the adults in my building I don't get.  I wish I could help every teacher at my school see the possibilities they are cultivating and be happy at our little school, then my job would be a dream.  As it is, its hard somedays. Off to work.


Beware the Summer

It almost seems sad to see the young minds we have worked so hard on all year venture off for a summer of cartoons, daytime television, late nights, and debauchery. Yet, how many memories do we have that come from those lackadaisical, adventure filled summer days? Most of my most beautiful memories from childhood are summer nights filled with anticipation, excitement, and friends. We need those days of learning to become ourselves, seeing the world through burgeoning minds, and filling our time with folly and companionship. It is amazing how much these young minds will grow, advance, and change over one small summer. I also believe that some of what we taught them will remain, there in their minds to grow and create connections even as they eat too much ice cream, treat sunburns, swim, and stay up all night talking about nothing. Enjoy your time and come back prepared!


This is only my dream

I am not a well-known prize winner, holder of a PhD, or even been around for very long but this website will serve as a record of my own trials, tribulations, experiences, achievements, and adventures as I navigate my own goals and dreams. It is my most desired dream to be a catalyst for positive change, in the classroom and across the globe, and to help those who need it most. People facing high poverty surroundings, familial duress, or physical impairment do top the list of whom I aim to help the most, but any student, any person, anytime, could and does need someone positive in their life. That is why I plan to use the two things I love most (besides my kids) to create a better world, one student at a time. My passions are using technology and compassion to change the world, hence the title of said blog. Is it easy to be a catalyst? NO! You should see how people role their eyes at me when I mention recycling or oil, ha ha. No, no one is perfect and I still love to shop for shoes (very consumerist) but if I can help one student to find their passion and help them to see their opportunities for growth, change, and happiness, I'm all for it. So bring on the team-meetings, after hours grading, cursing frustration at the website that refuses to do as I want, and the stupid paper cuts (yes, I am whiner), cause nothing can stand in my way of giving someone else a chance to dream their own dream.


Technology Does Not Equal Progress...But it Does ROCK

How do we start to use technology in the classroom to enhance our students engagement and increase the meaning of the content? Trying to add too much of anything, especially technology into our curriculum and classes all at once is a big mistake. All use of technology needs to be related to the content in a way that has real meaning, relevance, and connections to students lives and the abilities of students in your class. Using technology does not necessarily mean progress, but when done correctly it can enrich content and engage students in a wonderful and powerful ways! Here are my ideas on how best to start out with technology in the classroom.
1. Start small.
2. Choose one area to focus on-such as Egyptian Religion, Integers, Prime Numbers, Frogs, Human Body Systems, etc...
3. Seriously, keep it simple.
4. Have one outcome in mind.
5. Choose one tech toy to start with.
-Some easy ideas are; implementing podcasts into your classroom resources, students blogging their classroom journals, or student created video photo stories of an activity.
6. Get help from others-teachers, literacy resource specialists, websites, etc...
7. Do not give up-EVER!

Okay good luck and I hope this helps as a starting point.

Homeless, Angry, and Hungry... for Knowledge

Everyday that I get up, I know I am going to learn something new. Am I going to learn to spell the word "Palestinian", or how to get through the day without eating "too much" chocolate, or discover how to help someone else with a problem far more impending than any of the hundreds I could list off of my own? I want to learn and grow and evolve everyday that I take a breath, but how can I help my students to become lifelong learners themselves? Will I be able to instill in my students a passion for learning, reading, creativity, and personal growth? How can I teach them to be thinkers, creators, future educators and life changers? It is not only my job but my life's desire to create positive change in the lives, minds, and maybe even hearts of the people around me (and yes children are people, just younger).
This is my life as a teacher.

How do I create positive, amazing change in every student I see in a day?

I find it best to start out with a little story...its all makes sense in the end.

I hated school, even though I was really good at it. I was always able to "keep up" with the teachers (which PS is what most teachers ask students to do) but I often did not get along with the teachers or principal. As I grew, my questions, verbally tenacity, and trouble making in school grew worse. I was not supposed to be "acting out", I was a smart little blond haired, blue eyed girl with many friends. Yet, by 6th grade school had become a war zone for me. I talked back to everyone, made fun of teachers, refused to follow dress code, and basically questioned and pushed authority in every way I could think of. I found relief from the tedium of school in my classroom, hallway, and playground antics. I often skipped school and found other "interesting" ways to fill my time. I was suspended for most of 6th and 7th grade, refusing to conform or be calmed. By 8th grade my middle school had had enough, I was sent to an alternative education setting for the remainder of the year. I also lived in a motel and with my friends parents for most of that year, as my family had also become homeless for the 6th time in my young life. I never ran away but was often moved around, living out of a suitcase, and never sure what tomorrow would bring. I often loved the freedom but detested the fear it created.

Then something "snapped" in my mind. At the beginning of 9th grade I was sent to live with my big brother and his girlfriend in a little suburb of the city. I had not had my own bed, closet, or room in over a year and at 13 I was sick of basement floors, cramped motel rooms, friend's couches, and traveling. I was not so happy to be back in school, especially a public high school in what I saw as a very backwards and rural environment, they raised sheep in the back of the school!! I was freshly pierced (remember this is the early 1990's and was not seen on most people, especially suburban kids), cut my hair off, and went to my first day of school. However, I went right back to my jerky behavior and honestly entertained myself and my friends but annoyed the hell out of most teachers and the principals. I was again suspended over and over, got into fights (or tried but no one ever fought me, ha ha, sad), and did anything I could to torture the teachers that I did not like.

Then, I skipped school one day and went back into the city and got arrested. I was only 14 but it was not good. My brother kicked me out and again I was on the streets. I tried to go back to school at my high school but trying to find a place to stay and stay in high school did not go well together.

Then something amazing happened, a teacher offered to change my life. Her name was Mrs. Fitz ( I loved to pronouce it "Misfits", cause I thought I was so cheeky) and she really cared. She (and many other teachers) had found out I was homeless, working, and still attending school. I had only had one class with her since starting Freshman year but had often frustrated her husband who taught astronomy and physics and most other teachers in the building, so she knew my abilities to think and test those around me. Yet, despite my obvious faults, one day, out of the blue she approached me in the hall. I greeted her with my usual sing-song "MISFITS!" and a smile. She asked how I was and how I was doing in school. I told her not very well, that I was having trouble. She said she had heard through a teacher friend of hers and wanted to ask me a question. "OK" I said, not sure what this teacher wanted with me. "I wanted to know if you'd like to stay with Mr. Fitz and I and our children until your parents can find another place? You can have your own room and you can come to school and rest." I thought I had been punched in the gut, the way it took my breath away. "I'll think about it, thank you", was all I managed to mumble. I hugged her and went on my way. I really did like her but was sure it would not go over well with my mother and father. I knew it would mean them giving up custody and living a very different life from one I had ever known, and I knew they would not allow it. So, I did not take her gracious offer, but that very day she changed my life in a million tiny ways just be offering to help me, love me, and show me a better way.

I was sent back to an alternative school in the city and was homeless the rest of the year. I did manage to get straight A's though and was moved up to 10th grade. Luckily, my parents found a home in August of that year and I started 10th grade in a cute suburban home and back at my regular high school. Okay, I still got into a lot of trouble but it was so great to have a home again and I made a ton of amazing friends (all of which I still love, 12 years later). Then in summer following 10th grade, my parents were unable to pay rent again and lost our little home. I was 16 and positively pissed off. I was still getting A's and really did not want to leave my friends and school to go "run a muck" in the streets again. I was allowed to stay in my then boyfriends sister's room but it was tough. I got a job in November, 3 days before my 17th birthday, but was not doing that great in school. I was in the beginning of my Junior year and going to drop out. Then I remember Mrs. Fitz and decided to try harder. I got my own apartment a few months later, got a different after school job, and took a full load of classes to make up for the ones I missed due to my homelessness.

Here comes the amazing part...I was nicer to everyone. I stopped getting into fights, yelling at teachers, refusing to do my assignments, and I liked school. I was able to look at the world a little differently because I knew that some of the teachers actually gave a crap. I had always seen teachers as authoritarian bullies who loved to dictate senseless instruction but refuse to listen or change themselves. Now, I was sure it was not always the case. Then, my senior year I met another amazing teacher, Mr. Thompson. He taught governments and economics and he allowed me to challenge his teachings, praised my thoughts, and really helped me to fall in love with social studies. I was also a third year writer on the high school newspaper and when the editor quit in the beginning of October of that year, I and another student took over as co editors of the paper. It was great to finally have a positive outlet for my creativity and passion. I was officially hooked, I knew then that I wanted to help others like these teachers helped me.

Flash forward...I am now starting my second year of teaching and although my road has been hard, I have learned a lot along the way. I have lobbied US and regional congress, I have traveled all over America, had two awesome children, obtained a Master's Degree and my dream job (all in the same year) and still want to do more.

Here is where my journey begins... How can I create the change I want to see in the world? Can I be the catalyst for someone else transformation into a life-long learner? Can I help to ensure all students find a connection, relevance, and passion in schools? Can I show other teachers that the students that question, annoy, or otherwise "disrupt" the classroom are not the ones with "no future" but the ones who need us the most, who can be helped the most, and who education is already failing. How can I use my gifts and the awesome tools of technology to "turn more students on" to education?

I will be the catalyst, just give me time, just give me time.

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