Falling Down the Rabbit Hole

Dear Parents, 

Over the past few weeks, your child and I have been working towards establishing a collaborative community. A community that allows one to remain autonomous while contributing to common understandings and goals. 

As many of you have likely heard from your child, Alice in Wonderland is a favorite novel of mine. I believe the middle school years are a Wonderland of sorts that one has to learn to navigate while not really understanding who you are; a tough terrain to traverse for certain. Throughout this tumultuous journey, it is my hope that we not only support each other through the bumps, but also push each other to attain heights we thought were not possible.

Below is my educational philosophy inspired by Alice and the residents of Wonderland. I apologize to the parents that viewed this post last year.

I look forward to meeting you at Open House.

Warmly,

Sharon 

Alice

 

Many know Lewis Carroll’s Alice. As a youngster, I lay in bed, stealing a peek into her strange world. A world in which white rabbits ran about stressing over time, mad hatters hosted crazy tea parties, cheshire cats grinned impishly, and queens threatened to cut off your head. No wonder Alice had trouble making sense of herself in this odd universe.

Alice’s resizing and struggle with her identity symbolizes the difficulties associated with growing up. Her identity displaced as she searches for her niche in a strange world.

Middle school students, like Alice, fall down the rabbit hole, and emerge in a strange world, a world in which they struggle to define their autonomy in an increasingly academic world. This is not an easy world for adolescents or their educators.

As an educator of twenty plus years, I believe it is important to help students feel efficacious in their efforts to succeed in the Wonderland of school. Efficacy requires a set of strategies that encourages students to tap into and make use of internal resources which allow them to develop and implement a plan to succeed. I believe a collaborative classroom that nurtures students to become independent, critical thinkers is integral to student success.

I believe cultivating collaboration empowers students to not only find their own voice but also find the voices of others. When the classroom environment is designed to build a sense of community in which students seek resources within the group and value collective work, it is understood that collective effort is more effective than individual effort. Such an environment fosters flexible thinking; students know when to integrate and when to assert their ideas and opinions thus creating a cohesive community.

Falling down the rabbit hole for most middle schoolers involves their struggle with asserting their individuality in an environment where social conformity seems to be the norm. It is important that students feel independent yet are part of a greater community.

Alice’s curiosity was a catalyst for her many questions. She certainly was not afraid to point out the idiosyncrasies of Wonderland; in fact she was willing to risk beheading to state the absurdities of the Queen’s laws.

Like Alice, middle schoolers require a curriculum that sparks curiosity and begs analysis; although without the risk of losing one’s head. I believe it is important to promote critical thinking in the classroom. As educators, it is imperative we create an environment that cultivates qualities such as questioning, gathering and assessing information, interpretation, open-mindedness, and effective communication in solving intricate problems.

Teaching is a challenging profession that requires passion, patience and perseverance. I readily accept the challenge of providing students with a safe, collaborative environment that encourages independence of thought and introduces tools to help them articulate their thinking because I know it will help them thrive in the adolescent wonderland of education.

I am excited to begin another year of wonder and discovery with my students!

 

Kaleidoscope Year

Dear Parents,

Yet another year has raced by leaving me breathless with nothing but an empty classroom and ruminations. Reflecting over the past months, thoughts of a kaleidoscope linger in my mind.

Many of us can recall gingerly raising a kaleidoscope to our eye with eager anticipation of the beauty that would be revealed with each slight turn. Fascination held us in its grip as we tirelessly tested the infinite delicate patterns of color bursts – wondering if the next rotation would create a pattern of even greater beauty.

Kaleidoscope literally means “observer of beautiful forms” reigning from Greek roots kalos meaning “beautiful” and eidos meaning “shape” plus skopein “to examine, or look at”.  While looking at objects at the end of two mirrors, Scottish scientist, David Brewster (1781-1868) , discovered that patterns and colors were altered and refashioned into beautiful new designs and thus the world was gifted with kaleidoscopes in 1816.

And so I am reminded of my year with your children. No matter the twists and turns middle school presented to your children, they never stopped refashioning these challenges into beautiful new designs. And I, was fortunate enough to be the observer of these beautiful forms.

My hope is that your children recognize that they are the creators of such beauty and continue to refashion themselves into confident, caring young adults. I wish the following for your children…

I wish they believe their voice is important and valued and should be shared with the world, as the world needs multiple voices to effect change.

I wish they understand that mistakes are necessary in shaping who we are and who we want to become.

I wish they value all, understanding community helps create greatness.

I wish they see the beauty in themselves and allow this beauty to help them persevere through and rise above life’s challenges.

I wish they develop confidence to share with the world who they are and what they believe in – to share the beauty I have observed within them.

Although I am sad our time has come to an end, I understand that it is time others receive the opportunity to observe the continued beauty your children will create with a new rotation.

Thank you for your support this year, and most importantly, thank you for sharing your beautiful child with me. It was indeed a kaleidoscope year!

Yours truly,

Sharon

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I was unable to capture all the conferences; I missed a few while conferencing with others. My apologies.

Building a Community of Collaboration & Curiosity

Image

Many of us know Lewis Carroll’s Alice. As a child, we lay in bed, stealing a peek into her strange world. A world in which white rabbits run about stressing over time, mad hatters host crazy tea parties, cheshire cats grin impishly, and queens threaten to cut off your head. No wonder Alice had trouble making sense of herself in this odd universe. Alice’s resizing and struggle with her identity symbolizes the difficulties associated with growing up. Her identity displaced as she searches for her niche in a strange world.

Middle school students, like Alice, fall down the rabbit hole, and emerge in a strange world, a world in which they struggle to define their autonomy in an increasingly academic world. This is not an easy world for adolescents or their educators. As an educator of twenty plus years, I believe it is important to help students feel efficacious in their efforts to succeed in the wonderland of school. Efficacy requires a set of strategies that encourages students to tap into and make use of internal resources which allow them to develop and implement a plan to succeed. I believe a collaborative classroom that nurtures students to become independent, critical thinkers is integral to student success.

I believe cultivating collaboration empowers students to not only find their own voice but also find the voices of others. When the classroom environment is designed to build a sense of community in which students seek resources within the group and value collective work, it is understood that collective effort is more effective than individual effort. Such an environment fosters flexible thinking; students know when to integrate and when to assert their ideas and opinions thus creating a cohesive community.

Falling down the rabbit hole for most middle schoolers involves their struggle with asserting their individuality in an environment where social conformity seems to be the norm. It is important that students feel independent yet are part of a greater community.

Alice’s curiosity was a catalyst for her many questions. She certainly was not afraid to point out the idiosyncrasies of Wonderland; in fact she was willing to risk beheading to state the absurdities of the Queen’s laws. Like Alice, middle schoolers require a curriculum that sparks curiosity and begs analysis; although without the risk of losing one’s head. I believe it is important to promote critical thinking in the classroom. As educators, it is imperative we create an environment that cultivates qualities such as questioning, gathering and assessing information, interpretation, open-mindedness, and effective communication in solving intricate problems.

Teaching is a challenging profession that requires passion, patience and perseverance. I readily accept the challenge of providing students with a safe, collaborative environment that encourages independence of thought and introduces tools to help them articulate their thinking because I know it will help them thrive in the adolescent wonderland of education.

I am excited to begin another year of wonder and discovery with my students!