Friday, January 23, 2015

What is It Like to Commute with Colleagues? Teachers, Have You Considered It? 5 Reasons Why You Should




Do you live more than twenty minutes from school? Thirty? I live fifty minutes away.

When I started teaching at my school, I only lived eleven miles away. I love working there. In 2009, my husband and I bought a house thirty-five miles away. We wanted to live in the town we both grew up in so our children could go to our schools.

There are many staff members who live a distance. According to the 2010 United States Census, almost 10% of Americans commute for 60 minutes. That's 120 minutes a day! For those of us who commute, we all talk about where we live and how great it is that we typically do not run into our students at food stores, Walmart, the mall, the beach (which is really awkward!).

To alleviate the long drive and spending money on gas I wanted to commute with someone. Three years ago, I started commuting with Dana. She is a business teacher in my school and lives within a few minutes from my house. We met at 6:15 AM and alternated who drove. We usually mapped out the week.

Then two years ago, we added a third commuting member. Laura is a special education math teacher and also lives really close to both of us.

Do you think this sounds like something you can pull off? This is what you'll need:
1. Collaborate with a reliable person
2. If you live in Northern United States or Canada, driving with four wheel or all wheel drive is best. So find a partner with it! Better yet, find a partner that maintains their vehicle.
3. Similar schedules are helpful but not required. If someone has a meeting or commitment that person will drive separate.
4. You'll need a meeting place that is safe and consistent to leave a car. You might have to get permission of the parking lot owner. There are many places that have commuter lots. You have to inquire about parking stickers and permits. We meet at someone's house so this is not a concern. 


Does this sound good so far? Here is why you should consider it:
1. Save money on gas and car maintenance. Now that I drive with a commuting group I only fill my SUV's gas tank every ten days or so.
2. Save miles! This is awesome if you lease your car. If I was driving 70 miles round trip five days a week, that's 350 miles a week! Drive twice a week with a commuting group you'll only drive 140 miles.
3. Less stress! There are days I am a passenger and I can take a snooze, surf the web, answer emails, and look up dinner recipes.
4. The trip seems much faster. While driving with a colleague you can get some laughs, vent, or get some feedback. 
5. I feel safe with others in the car. This is especially true while we commute home from conferences, parents night, or some evening event.

Here is a picture of us from the first day of school in September, 2014. We've been lovingly nicknamed by a colleague, "the BLONDEtourage." And, I have to admit, I really like it. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Ways to Bring Black History Month Into Your Secondary Classroom

What? Another holiday? Yes, but this year is different. Shift your thinking from it being a holiday to an integral part of your curriculum - Black History Month.

I was giving my students a "preview," of what is coming up after our present novel study, "We have PARCC practice, then we are starting Romeo and Juliet, and, oh yeah, Martin Luther King and Black History Month." My students responded with, "we always do that speech. We do it every year. Ugh, do we have to write?"

My answer, "really? What speech? What do you do every year? And, you'll write, but not the way you have in the past..." I quickly realized my students have a good knowledge of why we celebrate black history, but perhaps they have not been engaged in a broad range of activities.  

This year, on January 19th, we will observe the national holiday for Martin Luther King's birthday. Mrs. Knight's classes are going cross curricular! 

  • Bring in a modern song (music/arts)
  • Analyzing lyrics (reading)
  • Watch a music video (viewing literacy)
  • Depict the historical images (social studies)
  • constructed prompts (writing)
Try my- Martin Luther King, Jr., U2's "Pride, In the Name of Love," Lesson & Activities
There are four Friday's in February. A great time to implement four activities that tie in with Black History Month. These activities will give you the opportunity to get your students on the internet to access links for answering questions and putting together some cool creative images. I allow my students to use their own technology device or use the desktop computers in the classroom. I also have access to two Dell laptops.
Looking for more creative ways to teach Black History Month lessons?  Enjoy this link up for Black History Month!