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General

Voices from the BAM Radio Community sharing their thoughts, insights and teaching strategies.

Posted by on in General

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From that moment on I have done everything in my power to stay close. It is my responsibility to keep her safe and protect her from the world for she is not yet prepared. But she is getting older each day. And it scares me.

What I once could hold with one hand,  I can now barely carry down the stairs. She is growing up and it is beautiful to have a front row seat to such an amazing metamorphosis. I am well aware of the fact that she won’t be mine forever. That I must begin to pull back. Give her space that will soon be hers to create. But it is difficult.

Two years ago we took a family vacation to Disney World. And that is when I, without planning it, allowed for a bit of space to be created. My son and I were leaving the pool in a hurry because he had to use the restroom. I knew she wasn’t far behind us. But she wasn’t with us. Yet, I wasn’t worried. I knew she was capable of gathering her things and meeting us back in the room.

This was space I had never given before. Allowing my daughter to be out of my sight. Away from home. Amongst strangers. But it felt right.

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Posted by on in General

A lot of people give me grief when I tell them I don't watch MSNBC or Fox News.  Where do I most go?  Either NPR or the BBC.  I like NPR because of its neutrality (if there even is such a thing anymore), and I like the BBC because of the global perspective.

A few weeks ago on the BBC Radio 4 program, President Obama was on with Prince Harry.  While it was mostly a candid conversation on transitioning back to citizen Obama, I couldn't help but pay special attention to the dialogue exchanged about  irresponsible social media usage.

If you're reading this, you are well aware of the impact of a blog post, a website, and even the 280-character tweet. President Obama spoke at great length about social media and the power it has.  While you can download the entire episode here, the highlights that are alarming for educators include

President Obama stated that social media can leave people “cocooned” in alternate realities and urged world leaders to promote responsible use of the technology. You can see that clearly today, as a mere social media interactive platform leaves those that love or loathe someone or something on their toes 24/7.

President Obama also said that “all of us in leadership have to find ways in which we can recreate a common space on the internet."  While schools and educators are really pushing the  “think before you tweet” / digital citizenship behaviors, we are seeing that those who do not have any education in the topic are causing the most damage, almost as much as those who are simply uneducated or choose to demonstrate the deplorable behavior and cowardice of hiding behind a screen.

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Posted by on in General

Most of my seventh graders know who Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was, and most have heard at least portions of his “I Have a Dream” speech from 1963. Most know that he fought for the civil rights of African Americans. Most rejoice in the fact that they have no school on the man’s birthday in January.

However, most of my kids do not know much about the Civil Rights movement or any of the other events of the past century. My college students are not much better.

So this year, I took two weeks to delve into this topic. We learned of King - his life story, his ability to speak and to write and to lead change. We analyzed the “dream” speech and also his final “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech. That led us to a discussion of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy who spoke to a group of mourners on the night of King’s assassination. That led us to the story of Kennedy’s presidential campaign and his own assassination immediately after thanking supporters for his California primary win. And this led us to an emotional story of Juan Romero, the 17-year-old Hispanic busboy who held Kennedy’s bleeding head from the cold floor of the reception room as pandemonium erupted all around him.

My school’s population is primarily Hispanic, but other groups are represented as well - Caucasian, African American, Arabic-American, Asian-American - they’re all Americans. Here in the twenty-first century, many are a mixture of two or more races.

I used to say that, as I look out on my classes, I don’t see color, but that is not true. I see the diversity before me, but it doesn’t affect how I see or treat the kids before me. To me, they’re just kids.

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Posted by on in General

Personalized Learning and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) can feel like new initiatives that are just “one more thing.”

When it comes down to it, though, many initiatives fit together nicely, and can help support one another. Through working with schools, districts, and teachers I’ve found that when we look at new ideas as something extra (as opposed to something that can help enrich, or enhance the already great work we are doing) it can hurt our view of whatever that initiative is.

Two very common initiatives I hear a lot about are Personalized Learning and Universal Design for Learning (UDL). (If you need to brush up on either, here are two articles for you: Personalized Learning + UDL). Many times these are discussed as completely separate, but when we look at how they can support each other, they become even more useful to us as teachers.

Here are some things Personalized Learning and UDL have in common and how they lend themselves to supporting one another.

STUDENT CHOICE

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Posted by on in General

After another 11-hour day at school which "ended" with me dragging a box full of four more hours of work to do at home, let me say two things. First, I still love my job. Heck, when I was a young teacher, I worked 15-hour days and 5-hour nights!

More importantly, I want to say, "I'm sorry" to all the teachers who allowed me to be their assistant principal and principal and who still talk to me today.

I am sorry for all of the new initiatives I placed before you, expecting them to be instantly incorporated into your classroom procedures the following day and fully integrated with the new initiatives from the previous week(s).

All this I expected as you complied with ILLPs and IEPs and 504s and behavior contracts and breakfast counts and lunch counts and lesson plans and assessments.

All this while you were learning how to use the new computerized student information system, the new assessment technology and the new scope and sequence technology.

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