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Real Life and Education

I have come to the conclusion that this blog needs to change. I don’t have a lot of new information on SL to report, but I do have plenty to say about the state of education; education in this country and the education taking place in my classroom, district, and state.

Reading an Education Week article about President Obama’s stimulus package, I came upon this tidbit:

“Every school district throughout the United States will benefit from this increase in special education funding,” Sen. Collins said. “That, in turn, will help communities retain support staff and teachers in the classroom because, after all, they cannot cut back on funding for special education because [of federal law].”

But Sen. Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming, the top Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, worried that the bill wouldn’t do much to jump-start the economy.

The legislation “spends everything we have on nothing we are sure about,” he said during floor debate. And he worried that the spending hikes would be difficult to trim down the road.

“Lawmakers [will] simply come back to the well in a few months and exert even more pressure to maintain the new programs and keep these new jobs and keep the bloated spending that supports them. There is nothing temporary about that kind of spending,” Sen. Enzi said.

What the ????? No wonder our education system is BROKEN! Why can’t these fools understand that education in this country has been woefully neglected in lieu of mandated (and expensive) testing that serves to destroy the kinds of real constructivist learning our students need? And that is just a tiny part of what is wrong.

There is no more “fat” to cut! Programs that were mandated by NCLB were underfunded or not funded at all, district and site programs and PD have been eliminated, teachers are losing their jobs at the expense of our childrens’ education, and our districts (in California) are facing multi-million dollar deficits.

I am over the politics, lies, and B.S, sick of administrators and politicians playing games at the expense of the good teaching and learning that needs to happen. I have also come to the sad conclusion that one person cannot make a difference given these restraints. The best I can do is shut-up and give-up trying to change anything outside of my own classroom. All I can do is to be the very best learner and teacher I can be for my students.

Unfortunately, a recent poll on the Google Certified Teacher blog by KJ, exemplifies the fact that I am not alone, and that there are brilliant teachers out there doing everything they can to uplift teaching and learning just to be ignored, cut off, and shut down. We pay for our own PD and trips to conferences, volunteer to deliver PD at our sites, and when professional educational associations accept or request our presentations, our administrators discourage us and/or do not give props or credit for the excellence we exhibit. Someone please, tell me what more we as individuals can do?

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Dear President-Elect Obama,

Congratulations on your win! I, like many others are excited about the changes we hope to see. But we want more. No matter how strong your resolution to change may be, you are a politician, and we, your people need a voice.

I am a middle school language arts and social studies teacher in Temecula, California. I attended the University of Southern California where I earned a BFA in Performing arts in drama, and while I knew when I graduated that I was not destined to perform, I did not know what I could or should do.

I spent the next ten years in various sales and management jobs, all the while friends and family saying, “You should be a teacher.” I discounted that out of hand because my mother was a teacher, and I wanted to be different. Silly me, after being laid off in an industry down-turn in the early 1990’s, I was forced to move home and reconsider my options. After multiple tests and questionnaires, I was left with a page-long list of careers, which I dutifully researched and crossed-off until the only thing that was left was teaching.

I went to graduate school at the University of San Diego, and then pursued my new career. About three years into the profession, I had an epiphany. I realized that for me, teaching was not just a career; teaching is not what I do, it is who I am. It matters not one bit if I ever make a living from teaching, because I am a teacher in everything I do.

Without going into a protracted story, I ended up realizing, due in part to an EETT grant, and a great teacher, that technology was not going to be another new toy, but was going to be an indispensable and mandatory skill for my students. I enrolled in a masters program, and turned into an ed-tech crusader. After the program, I followed my last instructor into Second Life to help him do research for a grant he received from the university. That one twist of fate has turned me into learning machine.

All teachers proclaim themselves to be “life-long learners” but this is not necessarily so. We learn in district-led in-servicing, and if we are lucky to have the funding, occasional conferences, but few seek out new learning opportunities for the sake of learning alone. That is a tragedy that needs to be remedied. Learning should be an integral part of every educators’ life, and every school district’s mission statement, and that will take a paradigm shift in our entire education system.

I have spent the last two years learning with a vengeance, and have, in the process, developed a remarkable Personal Learning Network (PLN) of ed-tech leaders on twitter (https://twitter.com/clarelane) and on other web 2.0 sites.

This leads me to your current nomination for Education Secretary, Arne Duncan. I know very little about the man or his past with regard to innovation, but I do know that he is also working within the construct of his own history with politics, and as such, cannot effect REAL change  When did he last teach full time in a classroom? The fact that your team sat down with ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) leadership was a good start, and I am heavily involved with them in Second Life and  in real life. However they too, are confined by their funding and support from corporations, many of which sell gizmos, gadgets, and programs, that may NOT be the best pedagogically, or may be hampered by their myopia and penchant for looking at what has been, not what can and should be.

Now I ask you, PLEASE talk and walk with teachers! And not just classroom teachers, but those who have stepped out and put all on the line for their belief in students and authentic learning.

My recommendation as the single best event you (or Arne and your team) should see is:

Educon 2.1
January 23 – 25, 2009
Science Leadership Academy
55 N. 22nd St.
Philadelphia, PA

This on-site/on-line conference includes the most engaged teachers and the best minds in ed-tech, as well as students. They, more than any other group or constituency, need a voice in their future; and Edu-Con is hosted by the most forward-thinking administrator I have seen or heard, Chris Lehmann.

The greatest gift you can give educators and students is a voice in their respective futures. Please consider speaking to them personally. Thank you.

Respectfully,

Mrs. Lisa Linn M.S. Ed.                                                https://secondlifelinguine.wordpress.com

Please note, the above was submitted on Obama’s website change.gov December 17, 2008. Please consider adding your story. Together, we can make a difference http://change.gov/page/s/yourstory

Learners and Friends

I have been blessed and inspired. Blessed by having a PLN of remarkably talented and dedicated teachers and learners, and inspired by their insights.

This is the first very short post, of what will be numerous longer posts. Since I tend to be verbose anyway, I will spare you the tedium of trying to read too many pages at once.

I have not written anything in a very long time. My life has taken some tremendous twists and turn over the last eight months, and the whole notion of writing has seemed a Sisyphean task. That said, it’s time to be more thoughtful and more proactive about what I am doing, where I am going, and how I will get there. For now, I’d like to extend my love and gratitude to friends Kevin Jarrett and Bernajean Porter whose shared thoughts, insights, and depth of spirit has led me to this new beginning.

Inspiration

As I garner my thoughts and energies into actions, I will share the procees with you, and hope that you will join in the conversation, and help me take the steps to inspire others to become active learners and teachers by virtue of same.

“Tagged”

Well, I’ve been hit with Geeky Momma’s Wordle meme thanks to friend Kevin Jarrett! I guess it’s time to start writing again. Until, I have the time to sit-n-write, here’s what my feed looks like from Wordle. Why not make one of your own?

Second Life Linguine wordle

Quote of the Day…

…Goes well with convos about Scholarship and Blogging as action research.

Measured objectively, what a man can wrest from Truth by passionate striving is utterly infinitesimal. But the striving frees us from the bonds of the self and makes us comrades of those who are the best and the greatest.

                                                                 ~Albert Einstein

Nekked Troll at CSI Sim              KJ as Tree Topper           

  Nekked Troll                             KJ as Tree Topper

austin-city-limits.jpg             byu-students-visit.jpg   

Austin City Limits                       BYU Student Visit

Meet Bernajean Porter            Sitting on Kayi Laa

Meet Bernajean Porter              Sitting on Kayi Laa 

It has been a very long time since I posted -I am painfully aware, and every time I acknowledge the fact, I feel more guilty than the time before. I wonder why that is so? I have come to the conclusion that I am better at replying to other people than sharing on my own, which is really in opposition to my real life M.O. What does that say about me?

I’m not sure, except that I always think that I don’t have anything novel worth sharing. Why read my blog when KJ and Vic and countless others have such a commanding handle on the blogosphere? Perhaps it is because I am so reflective by nature (obsessively so), that by the time I have intellectually and emotionally digested whatever situation I would write about, that I am done with it. And those things that hang on the back of my consciousness, may be better left un-written.

The last six months have been very hard, and very exhilarating. I have learned much about myself, and about others -some of which I would like to give back, but alas, time  marches inexorably forward. Does this mean that I have changed, or will change? Intrinsically -no, but my words and actions have become more circumspect. A fact that may make my life easier, but on some level, I despair for the loss of complete openness of mind and heart that has always been who I am. I have lost a friend and maybe a half of two others, but it is what it is, whether I understand or not, and however I feel about the matter.

Song lyrics seem to roll around in my head sometimes -not the same as when you hear a few notes  and then the tune is *stuck* in your head, but more in relation to what I’m thinking or feeling. Just now a lyric from an Anna Nalick song popped in:

If I get it all down on paper, it’s no longer inside of me,
Threatening the life it belongs to”

I’ve considered writing poetry again, but that is a path that I do not wish to walk down right now. My aura is bright red and extends  a great distance, I am a very *old soul*-or so I am told, and who cares after all? It all reminds me of a quote from Shakespeare:

“It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”

A bunch of maudlin BS is more like it!! Ironically that was the first Shakespeare monologue I ever memorized -at the University of London in the summer of 1977 -two months before I was to enter USC as a drama major.

This blog was born 10 months ago, and I have made 16 posts -better than one per month, but hardly worth calling blogging in my book. Victoria has commented many times about the lack of validity of most blogs as not worthy of being considered scholarship, (see Long Time in Many Ways…) and frankly I agree with that.

However, what is that the real function of blogging? At EduBloggerCon West the day before the CUE conference, Sylvia Martinez said something that was most profound, “I see blogging as action research by teachers.” Whoa! What a novel thought! But then she is correct as well. The people, like me who reflect (ad nauseum) in their writing or speaking with “I think, “I feel”, and “I believe” should not be invalidated because we’ve based our understanding on what we’ve experienced, but rather, it takes people like us to “think,” “feel,” and “believe” in order for true scholarship to proceed. Nothing great was ever learned or invented without someone first being curious, reflecting, and acting upon their own questions.

So what is this all leading to? Well, while many bloggers write as reporters of events in which they’ve been involved from a relatively objective point of view, I reflect and report from my gut; I am in fact, getting better at listening to the Universe (eg. my gut). So my writing is colored by my thoughts and emotions -in much the same way that all of written history is biased, because no matter how objective a person tries to be, or how much scholarship their work is based upon, they are still subject to the human condition -as messy as it is sometimes. For some of us it is messier than others.  Thus my wild ramblings today. :-/

All of this leads to my decision to post all of the things I have started to write and then abandoned for lack of time, or for other reasons not remembered -or deliberately forgotten. They will be posted in the order in which they were conceived so as to not confuse anymore than I have already done above!