It’s so strange being on the other end of teaching, I checked in with a coworker about contacting parents for a parent teacher conference he mentioned something about being strapped for time, the scheduling system saving him 6 hours but I would know since I didn’t have a “reference point”. I have 2 years worth of many points sure enough to make a circle but I know the teacher experience. (I was just reading the Together Teacher : a time management bible –to analogize : Together Teacher is to Time management as Teach Like a Champion is to behavior management and exceptional instruction. Neither the Together Teacher nor Brass tacks constitute a panacea,( my new favorite word thanks to Diane Ravitch’s Death and Life of the Great American School System) but it is a start. All this talk about time management, that was such a huge buzz word at my last job as teacher and program coordinator- oh yea, I should mention I started my new job about 2 weeks ago.Its quite a different atmosphere, we serve a different population, family engagement actually lives up to its name. Whereas in Newark we would be lucky to see 5 families come out to either a potluck, family game night or even parent teacher conference here parents are beyond proactive and involved in the minutia of their child’s academic experience. As parents came in to set goals with teachers for the upcoming school year a parent remarks ” Oh, yes she has really taken a liking to the stables this summer.” Wow, I thought, horse-back riding lessons are not exactly cheap, neither are gymnastic lessons,the same student’s Mom tried to switch her PE for study hall since she already ” trains 16 hours per week for the gymnastics team”. Other families, had recently returned from a picturesque family vacation either from Yemen and France. My students from NJ were lucky to make it across town to the park or maybe a beach trip once for the entire summer, our kids hung out no more than a 5 block radius from the school… it just really hit me how deep the “opportunity gap” ran, it saddened me that these other students, some of them, would never have such an experience- they would appreciate so much and I know they would value it. I took comfort in knowing that the program I was part of was able to give them some of these experiences. These students may never have been on a horse but they could paint…so it made me miss our spunky kids from the past two years!
Here are a few shots from one of my favorite apprenticeship: I was involved from the onset my recruiting this super sweet local artist, she was a graduate assistant in a university art gallery and created some wonderful mixed media pieces. My colleague and I helped her develop a basic intro to painting and media curriculum for the hands on learning project all the apprenticeships were to produce. Students learned color theory,painting techniques and besides producing many smaller pieces created a mural shown below. Apprentices did gallery-walks and practiced speaking skills,they were on track “WOW! prep”. Part of my role was noting observations to provide support for the volunteer both in terms of curriculum development and student engagement so our kids could demonstrate at least the foundation of a particular 21st century skill at the “WOW!” a semi-annual community showcase. They really impressed everyone that Spring of 2011, the mural even hung at the lobby for a bit, (strange to think that same school closed down a year later) 1..2..3… NICE! to Express Yourself!