Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

NCTE Reflections and more January 4, 2015

I’ve been wanting to write for what feels like forever, but time keeps running out. This evening, as my children work on their homework, my husband coaches basketball, and the dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer are all full and running, I’m choosing to write.

That also means I’m choosing NOT to: read, knit, walk the dogs, answer e-mails, sweep, etc… Doing, not doing, it’s always a choice.

NCTE was a wonderful learning opportunity. The sessions, the learning, the reading, the BOOKS, the former and new professional colleagues I met and talked with, all of it. Such a great way to recharge the professional battery. Exhausting, but so great.

Listening to my professional heroes, such as Lucy CalkinsHearing new (to me) amazing speakers such as:

  • Sonia Nazario

Have you read Enrique’s Journey? No? Go buy it NOW and start reading. The timeliness of the book in relation to the national conversation about immigration could not be more perfect.

  • Marian Wright Edelberg-Children’s Defense Fund

“America, we have work to do. Our children can’t wait any longer!”

“If teaching is not a calling and a mission for you, go do something else!”

“The U.S. Government spends 3x more money per prisoner than per pupil.”

Seeing my graduate school advisor Dr. Evie Freeman and THE amazing Rudine Sims Bishop from the wonderful Children’s Literature program at The Ohio State University.

Sitting next to someone with a name tag from the Ouagadougou–not only knowing where it is, how to pronounce it, but having hosted students in a WAIASL (West African International Activities School League) athletic meet when we lived in Dakar, Senegal. Had colleagues at ISD who used to work at the school he is currently working in Burkina Faso.

Passing a friend from high school-we edited the High School Literary Magazine together-on the escalator bright and early in the morning–he lives on the west coast and is a professor of education

Having the opportunity to talk with current graduate students from Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, while waiting in line for an autograph from Christopher Paul Curtis.

 

In the past all the ARCs (Advanced Review Copies) and books that I’ve gotten from NCTE I would try to read and post a review. I would then pass them onto to teachers to have in their classrooms. I LOVE BOOKS! I LOVE READING!

I HAVE AN ADDICTION!

This time, I have set aside four or five that I have a chance of getting read in the next month or two prior to their publishing date. Those I hope to read and blog about. All the others I have separated by age group and have started delivering to classrooms in the very poor county I work in.

Tonight I came home and cried. I told my family about the first classroom’s reaction. There are only two teachers who teach reading at this grade level. This fall when I first walked in with some books that my son had out-grown, I became recognizable to the students. Not just some other adult who is in and out of their classroom and building. The second time when I delivered a bigger bag of books from a Facebook friend’s hand-me-down donation, I became somewhat of a rock star in their minds. As I find books, buy books at Half-price books and auctions, or have books donated to me, I put them in the classrooms of students, the majority of whom have very few books of their own. At the beginning of the year, students from multiple classes were sharing the same book with different bookmarks marking their spots. No one could take the book home since so many students were all wanting to read it.

A couple of the students helped me carry the books in for their classroom and I was instantly surrounded by the students, exclaiming over the books-showing each other, showing their teacher, authors, series or titles they recognized. Once I explained that some of the books were autographed to their class and others were advanced review copies which meant THEY HAD NOT EVEN BEEN PUBLISHED YET and that THEY HAD THEM BEFORE ANYONE ELSE DID IN THE COUNTRY and that THEIR REVIEWS WOULD BE HELPFUL, the excitement went up even another notch!

That’s not what made me teary. A student came up to me and asked “Is there any way you could get Rick Riordan’s autograph? I’ve read all his Percy Jackson books and now am reading….”. He was SO earnest.I turned around and another boy, in a huge over-sized man sweatshirt, slightly dirty, known- but not for his reading habits, just as eagerly asked if I could try to find some graphic novels. He went on to tell me how he loves graphic novels but there aren’t very many in the school and he has read them all already.

Such small things.

So, @ArneDuncan, #imagineif, the money that has been spent of assessments, PARCC, and privatizing public education, was spent on helping children out of poverty.

 

By the way, what is an International School? February 22, 2012

Hi Readers,

I’ve accepted a position as the head of Curriculum for the International School of Dakar. It’s located in Senegal, West Africa. The school is Preschool through grade 12, housed on one campus, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. I’m including some general information about International Schools and specifically ISD.

International Schools are loosely defined as “schools that promotes international education, in an international environment, either by adopting an international curriculum such as that of the International Baccalaureate, or by following a national curriculum different from that of the country the school is located in” (specifically American in this case).

Here’s criteria used by many to ‘describe’ international schools:

  • Transferability of the student’s education across international schools.
  • Multinational and multilingual student body and teacher population
  • An international curriculum.( e.g. IB – DP, MYP, PYP)
  • International accreditation
  •  English as the language of instruction

These schools cater mainly to students who are not nationals of the host country, such as the children of the staff of international businesses, international organizations, foreign embassies, missions, or missionary programs.

 

Here’s information about the specific school from their website :  

The International School of Dakar

The International School of Dakar is a growing, vital, vibrant learning community which serves the needs of Dakar-based expatriates seeking a western-style education in English. Our graduates have gone on to top universities in both the US and Europe. ISD provides an excellent core educational program augmented with a diverse range of special subjects and extra-curricular activities. French, PE, Art and Music are a part of each elementary student’s schedule. AP classes and other enriching courses are offered for high school students.

ISD is not just about classwork, though, it provides opportunities to educate the whole child, and students at ISD will be involved in service learning, athletics competitions, clubs and other activities. ISD provides an impressive array of ways to get involved in the school and community.

A key word at ISD, ‘community.’ ISD is a community as much as a school; membership in the community provides many benefits. Nurturing, challenging, and enriching are just a few words that describe this special place

 

The International School of Dakar ISD) is an independent English-medium international school which offers, in a nurturing environment, a rigorous, US-based, PK-12 curriculum enriched to reflect the needs and diversity of its international student body and faculty. ISD inspires students to become lifelong learners and responsible global citizens in a rapidly-changing world.

PHILOSOPHY

The International School of Dakar (ISD) believes that offering the best possible education program, curriculum, and instruction based on the highest standards will provide students the opportunity to maximize their potential. ISD believes quality education is attainable when students are valued as individuals in a community, prepared to think globally, and challenged to act responsibly.

OBJECTIVES

To:

  • provide a well-rounded program of instruction using best educational practices appropriate to the diverse cultural, intellectual, and social needs of our international student body
  • provide a US-based, non-sectarian, college preparatory, PK-12 curriculum with English as the language of instruction
  • provide educational resources for a safe, challenging, tolerant, and supportive environment in which students are actively encouraged to participate
  • prepare students to be independent thinkers, skillful communicators, and lifelong learners
  • foster a sense of individual responsibility, self-discipline, self-reliance, and respect for self and others
  • promote a creative, active lifestyle
  • orient students to the world of technology and media, developing familiarity, competence, and awareness of the tools they will need as they continue their learning process beyond high school
  • encourage students, teachers, school administrators, parents, and board members to play an active role in promoting educational excellence at ISD
  • recruit highly-qualified and motivated faculty and staff and provide opportunities to foster their professional development
  • provide opportunities for families and friends of ISD to strengthen community bonds through a range of inclusive activities and programs
  • encourage acceptance and tolerance of the diversity of moral, traditional, and religious values

 

 

 

So I’ve Got Some News… February 11, 2012

Filed under: international school — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:39 am
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I have accepted a new position for next year at the International School of Dakar.

That’s in Senegal.

In West Africa.

(as Director of Curriculum–You probably won’t even pay attention to that part-you’re still back on International School (not Granville) )

or Senegal (Where the heck is that?)

or Africa (Is this a joke? Did someone hack your account?)

Here’s the link to the school.

We are pretty darn excited!

We’ll be Jaguars (as well as Blue Aces) at the school.

It’s a PreSchool-grade 12 campus that allows the kids and I to all be on one campus. The “American style curriculum’ is ‘enriched to reflect the needs and diversity of its international student body and faculty’ and hopes to ‘inspire students to become lifelong learners and responsible global citizens in a rapidly-changing world.”

Oh, and it’s on four acres overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

My son’s biggest concern is whether they have basketball.

Once I got my daughter over the “CNN Effect” (If you go to Africa, you will be killed-either by disease, famine, wild animal, bomb, or machete), she has been on cloud nine. The learning that all of us have done this past month has been amazing.

There is a good video that the staff has put together.

I plan on sharing more as the rest of this year goes by as we get ready to go in August and will have new school stories to share in the next several years.

Stay Tuned.

 

So I’m a Little Sad December 23, 2011

 

I am in my fourth year of my current position and it officially will not exist next year. This makes me a little sad (okay-more than a little). I usually have a very positive outlook on most things, but I’m having difficulty with this one. I hate to say I knew it was inevitable, but I did. I might say more on that some other time.

So what am I doing next year? I’m trying to figure that out every day. Here’s what I do know:

  • I do have a position within the district I’ve worked in for nineteen years (good news), even if it means bumping one of the new teachers I’ve mentored the past several years out of their position (super yucky news).
  • I do have a licensure as a principal ages 3-14 now (good news)
  • I have been accepted by an international educationn search organization for educators as an administrative candidate (good news)
  • I had a Skype interview with a school in Asia this week (good news) (oh, by the way-I started my career in an International School in Luxembourg and am considering returning to international school education-more on this later)
  • Filling out job applications is a full-time job (bad news)
  • Getting ‘ding’ letters is no more fun at my age than it was when I was waiting on college acceptances (yucky 😦 )
  • I’d really like to be spending my time reading books and cleaning my house, but am a little hyperfocused on what I’m going to be doing next year (bad news)
  • There are very few blogs out there about educators in international education, at least that I can find. I have met several great international educators through twitter, NCTE, and more and they have been very helpful.
  • I could refocus on writing the professional book I’ve been outlining for the past several years (good news)
  • I am partially finished with coursework for my superintendent licensure (good news)
  • I have enough reading material from NCTE to keep me busy for the first half of 2012 (good news)

Holiday Break goal-get a good idea of first steps, second, etc.

 

What’s Up??!?! November 12, 2011

Filed under: ALAN,books,NCTE — bestbookihavenotread @ 5:40 pm
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Where do I start?

I could start with the pile of books that I bought last week at the middle school…

13 Gifts by Wendy Mass

Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch (book commercial)

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko

 

Or how about a blog that is new to me that I am enjoying?

The Thinking Stick

 

Or how about the countless hours I’ve been spending finishing up elementary principal certification, due at the end of the month?

 

Or about all the rest of the hours I am putting in on tweaking my cover letter and resume as I apply to international schools around the world in my quest for a principal position?

Or the search for the bottom of the dirty laundry pile so I can pack for NCTE/ALAN-leaving Thursday

That’s mainly what’s up….