#ReflectiveTeacher Day 13 – edtech tools

reflections, technology

Hm…this is so crazy because I started out in a school that embraced technology and now due to my technology deficit over the past year, I am not even sure if I know what edtech tools are.  Are we talking about technology tools in general or are there particular tools that I should know about that fall under the category “edtech”?

I feel like I am really reiterating myself a lot throughout this blogging experience, but to do it again, as I previously mentioned, last year there was a lack of technology.  This year, I have tons at my finger tips, but I haven’t put it to use yet.  Mainly because I have some classroom management issues that are new to me this year and I would hesitate to trust some of these kids with a pencil, let alone an iPad.  I do however just give them the pencils even though they are high school students and they pretty much just throw them on the floor when they are done with them along with everything else I give them.  It’s nuts.

But none of this is neither here nor there, other than, I am not currently using edtech or anytech tools.  But in the perfect world when things get settled, my favorite technology tools in the Spanish classroom are anything where all the kids can participate or collaborate at once.

I love google docs, presentations, forms, spreadsheets, etc.  I love Voicethread although I am uncertain if I am going to be able to use it at this school because I believe it costs money now.  I used a tool called Socrative at my old district which was neat because the students could compete to finish a short review quiz, etc.  I’d like to get their cellphones loaded with Bakodo or something similar so that they can read barcodes and be led to explore, perhaps for a warmup.  I have some upper level classes that are small so I think I will start small with them and then branch out to my other classes so that everyone can benefit.  I want to try Google Classroom.  It looks simplistic but I am sure it is useful.

So, not sure if this answers the questions but there you have it.


#ReflectiveTeacher Blog Challenge Day 12 Invite change


I think that over the next 5 years my teaching will hopefully invite more use of technology.  I started at a school in Virginia where they were adamant about incorporating technology in the classroom.  There were even random observation days where the tech people would come in and observe.  All of the students had laptops and we had access to a lot of different sites that were useful in teaching world language.

When I moved back to Pittsburgh and returned to Pittsburgh schools where I student taught but they lacked technology big time, especially the school where I was last year.  Now at this different school that so far has proven to be more challenging, I have access to iPad carts and computers and the works.  I want to incorporate technology as much as possible, but I hesitate with this group of kids because they have been a little disrespectful with classroom stuff like pencils and papers and books, just leaving everything everywhere.  I will introduce it in some of the upper level classes first and see if I can also use it with the rest of the classes.

I also hope to grow in this district and take on more leadership opportunities whatever they may be.  I would like to be able to contribute to the improvement of student achievement here and figure out ways to reach some of these kids that have tough lives.  I really want to make a difference no matter how hard it may be.

#ReflectiveTeacher Blog Day #11 – Favorite part of day and why


This year my favorite part of the day is the morning when I arrive because I don’t have a first period.  I like this time because it gives me a few minutes to sit and mentally prepare myself for the challenging day ahead.  My favorite parts of the day last year was when students would stop by during my free periods just to say hi.  I had a student last year who never came to class and eventually ended up failing Spanish.  For some reason though, he would stop by on days that he had skipped just to say hello.  I wrote him up but no one did anything.  Even my least achieving students last year were sweet kids.

#ReflectiveTeacher Blog Challenge Day #10 – facts about me



5 Random things about me:

  1. I was an industrial engineer before I was a teacher.
  2. I lived in LA for 5 years.  Part of that time I was an engineer in organizations where all the factory workers spoke Spanish as their first language.  The other part of that time I lived there, I was an adjustable bed sales trainer.  I traveled to mattress stores in Southern California and parts of the southwestern US and educated mattress sales people on how to grow their sales by adding on an adjustable base to any mattress.  It was supposed to be considered a luxury item, not something for old or sick people.  It was a really fun job and I met a lot of interesting people who poured their hearts out to me about all sorts of things.  I quit and went back to school because I didn’t believe that convincing consumers to spend a few thousand dollars more on their bedroom was necessary, although I did and still do believe that sleep is extremely important to a healthy lifestyle.
  3. When I was the same age as my students, my favorite music genre was rap and hip hop.  One skill I acquired based on that interest is being able to “name that Wutang Clan member” whenever I hear a Wutang song.  I still really enjoy hip hop, but I also like many other kinds of music.
  4. I ran a marathon once in Phoenix, Arizona.  Ran/walked.  I trained through Team in Training, an organization that raises $$$ for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and we trained running/walking.  Ever since then, I can’t run more than 2.5 miles without experiencing knee pain.
  5. My best friend was once a boston terrier named Teedo who was the most interesting and comical creature that I ever met.

4 Random things from my bucket list: 

  1. Visit South America and explore all countries including and especially Brazil.
  2. Become certified to teach yoga.  I hoped to do it this fall but based on my workload I can’t imagine that I would have time to be training all Saturdays and Sundays from the end of September through mid December.  For this reason, sometimes I think it would’ve been ok if I didn’t get rehired after being laid off.
  3. Teach younger sister who is Down Syndrome how to be independent and maybe how to read.  She just turned 30 and might never be able to read but I hope I can teacher her some.  She was learning when she was very young and then went to a public high school where they discontinued teaching her this invaluable skill.  I was too young to know or to care so I didn’t help.
  4. Change the mentality of some students I teach who don’t value their education to believing that it is extremely important and also that knowing Spanish can and will help them in many different ways.

3 things I hope to do this year as a person or educator

  1. See # 4 in the last category.
  2. Determine a topic that I can write about publicly in foreign language education.
  3. Be Distinguished in my district according to our teacher evaluation system.

2 things that have made me laugh or cry as an educator

  1. I’ve cried for feeling totally under-appreciated by my students and not being able to teach them because they won’t stop talking, especially this year and my first year.
  2. Thinking about the students I taught last year who had A’s all year long but would still insist on seeing their grade each day even though I only entered grades once a week.  I think of these kids all the time and it makes me laugh.  It also makes me sad that I won’t see them this year and maybe never again because I am in a different school and they are seniors now.  I really miss my kids from last year.

1 thing that I wish more people knew about me

  1. I wish more of my students had any idea how much work it is to be a teacher and how much I personally care about them and want to help them to learn, grow and be better human beings in general.  I believe in them and I wish more of them believed in themselves or even cared enough to know what that means.  The other day one student was impressed to know that I left engineering to help him and his peers and he thanked me.  This meant a lot, especially since he has already gotten into trouble this year, just goofing off.  He is also only 16 and soon to be a father.  He seemed genuine in his gratitude and I think that was the first time that a student thanked me directly.

#ReflectiveTeacher Blogging challenge day 9 – biggest accomplishments


@Teachthought Last year the school where I worked got two iPad carts for the library.  I found out about them bringing my students to the library for other things and it seemed that no one was really informed that they existed.  I tried to use them with my classes but realized that there were hardly any apps on them at all.  I worked almost the whole year getting permission to be the app lady and acquired the directions of how to do it from an off sight tech person.  I spoke about it in a departmental meeting how teachers would need to fill out a request form through me and I would install the apps if their department head approved.  The principal said she would give the link to the google form in the upcoming week’s newsletter to staff.  She never did.  It never caught on.  Then testing started and we never really got to do anything with the apps.  It felt like a huge accomplishment because the school had very little technology to begin with and lots of security measures to gain access to websites, etc.  However, it never had the opportunity to take off.  Now there is an ipad cart in my classroom.  I hear that security is still an issue but the cart is there and it is the same hoop jumping procedure to install apps.  They have some random ones already that do not appear useful.  I hope to get them up and running and use them as much as possible.  Lately I have had not one extra minute.   

#ReflectiveTeacher Day 8 – blogging challenge: desk drawer observation


Ok, so maybe the desk drawer is where I need to begin to clear out my muddled mind. As I keep mentioning I am at a new school. I actually have two classrooms here. The normal things are in my drawers like pens, pencils, paperclips, files, etc. However, I do not feel completely organized in any sense because I was thrown into this position at the last minute and before I could put my own stuff in the drawers, I had to clean out the last person’s. That is not to say that I was the most organized person to begin with. My disorganized drawers are a reflection of how I feel most days which is disorganized. Because I have to go up and down I am leaving papers all over the place and it has almost brought me to tears on some days because it sometimes feels like the papers are getting up and actually walking away and hiding themselves. Maybe if I start here I can gain a sense of accomplishment and ease. However, I haven’t really had too much time during the school day to do anything other than prepare for the next class because I have 4 preps. I have been at school every day AT LEAST 2 hours late calling parents. I guess I am not meeting my goal of not complaining. I envy you all who are totally paperless. I am working to get Google Classroom set up and I can also try one of the many other classroom websites.

#reflectiveteacher day 7 inspiring colleagues @teachthought


@Teachthought One colleague who inspires me is a new colleague this year. I am having a really difficult transition in a new school and I find myself feeling really negative about it. A teacher in our department I know has a sick mother. He did not share this with me but another colleague mentioned he was visiting her before I started. He has been nothing but positive and helpful and I should think of his situation when I feel like giving up. It is not a terrible situation that I am in. It is just different from where I was, the kids are a little more difficult to control and I have to think positive and try my best.

#ReflectiveTeacher Blogging Day 6. – What does a good mentor do??


Since I am only in my fourth year of teaching I haven’t had the opportunity to be a mentor yet, however I have had a couple of mentors.  One was during my student teaching experience and the other was a colleague at the first school I worked at.  

My mentor from my student teaching experience has actually stayed my mentor ever since.  I always go to her with tough questions and she always gives me good advice.  

I was her student teacher in 2011.  We had in common that teaching was our second career.  She is the same age as my mother and has a son the same age as me.  Her birthday is right around my mom’s – both Virgos.  (Just an interesting fact.)   She was great.  Right after my experience with her, I interviewed at some places and ended up getting a job offer right away in Virginia.  I didn’t want to leave Pittsburgh, hadn’t planned on it at all, but I talked to my mentor and told her about the school, their immersion program, the technology initiative at the district, and she said she doesn’t know why I wouldn’t take it, sounded great and I could always come back to Pittsburgh in two years when she retired.  So I went.  It was a great experience.  The school had very high standards but was also public, just outside of the city.  I learned a lot there because there was actually a way that we had to do things in our department.  What I learned there set me up for going to a school where there was more freedom to do what you want and no set way to do things.  I am pretty indecisive so having a baseline to work from helped me to know how I would want to do things here.  

I met with my mentor two winters ago the year she would retire and she advised me to start applying for her position.  I did so from January through that school year.  She was helpful by talking to the principal, the WL Director and everyone to tell them that I would be a great fit.  I am so thankful for that because I may have never made it back to Pittsburgh if it weren’t for her.  I actually got her exact position, preps, classroom, and some leftover materials.  Some of my activities from student teaching were even left over from two years before in filing cabinets.  It was amazing and I was very lucky to have her on my side routing for me.  It was an easier transition than if I were going to a school that I didn’t already know.  

Then, with the way things work this year over the summer I was furloughed and someone in the district who had more seniority than me and who’s position had been cut slid into my spot.  I interviewed at some other districts, one that is one of the best in the state, but only for a one year long sub.  I got an offer at a different school in my district.  I knew this school was different and more difficult than where I student taught and taught last year.  I consulted with my mentor and asked if I should wait to see about the year long sub in the amazing school district or take this position in a district that I am already a part of.  I knew that I needed to stay but wanted her opinion.  She thought so too, and I accepted it.  So here I am.  Not doing my work and blogging about my amazing mentor.  I am confident that it was the right decision and who knows, I could end up back where I was last year or maybe by the end of this one, I won’t want to go back.  I am sure that if I am faced with that decision I can ask my mentor what she thinks and she will let me know, even though she is retired.  Long story short, a good mentor will always give you a good honest opinion that benefits you and your career whether it is about taking a position or about how to teach something.  

Reflections Day 5 – minha classe

classroom management

Ok so I don’t teach Portuguese but I’ve taken some classes and I love it.  I teach Spanish 2, Spanish 3, Spanish 3 Honors and Spanish 4 mixed levels.  I’ve mentioned previously that I’m in a new school from last year that is same school district but different from where I was.  There are pros and cons but one of the pros is the classroom situation.  We’ll there are actually 2 but the main one has the potential to be pretty amazing and pretty much already is.  The changes I believe that need to be made are on my end really.

I took someone’s place who pretty much left everything (good and bad) and being that I only found out one week before school started where I would even be, there wasn’t as much time as I would’ve liked available to get organized. Not knowing where I would be until last minute and having more preps than I’ve had in the past, and also probably having some summer Portuguese classes on the brain are all elements that have contributed to my disorganization and sense of being overwhelmed.  Therefore, it’s no surprise that some of my classes have not really gone exactly as planned.

I don’t have a picture right now, but the room where I teach 4 out of 5 classes has about 30-some desks, chalkboards (still) two monitors a projector and a smart board and an iPad cart.  It’s nuts.  There were 3 monitors on the desk, but I sent one away.  The teacher from this room was also the tech guy – no surprise.

So chalkboard is useless and messy because the projector screen doesn’t go up right in the middle and the smart board is mounted on the right hand side so the left small portion is the only place I can write.  There’s a left chalkboard  but I forgot to mention – there are six student computers!  Perfect for speaking assessments. And the projector is not hooked up to the second computer right now (it’s in the ceiling).

But…oh gosh this is getting boring.  Anyhow, I need some order.  Objectives on tiny board space – no good. Once everything is running I will prob use the other computer for power points and objectives and the smart board for going over stuff the students can see.  It will be where I ‘write on the board’ and do Elmo stuff, there’s also one of those too if necessary.

Warm ups smart board.  I’ve been having trouble keeping the students on task and from talking, but today I noticed that when I simply wrote answers, or allowed them to write answers on the smart board they weren’t talking over me asking what we were doing or what number we were on to their peers across the room.  Also I realized yesterday that they don’t fully understand the procedures, such as the warm-up.  Last year even though I said it everyday, it took quite some time for the kids to get it, to pick up handouts, or get their missed work, even though I reminded them everyday.

And the discipline procedure is: break rule, you get a warning, call home, then a referral and once you hit referral level, you get another referral each time you break the rule.  I also found out that when you have to ask two or three times they are moving up that ladder, even if in the same class.  That is where you stay until the end of the marking period in which it is reset.  This is school wide.  We have a new principal this year who is working hard to get things in order and if everyone is on board, we will limit the discipline issues for sure.  Some of the main rules are no cell phones, no food, and I guess I better check the rest, but mine are pretty simple, just raise hands, no talking out of turn, no disrespect, come in sit down and get started on the warm up…etc.

So plan is, re-explain the expectations, and the consequences and the few procedures, get the electronics and instructional space organized, make it all consistent and get rolling so that these kids can become proficient because they are all capable.  And year five, maybe I’ll get it right from day one.  (This is my 4th year)

So question to you all, I’ve already written referrals.  Should I re-explain and wipe slate clean, or keep my slate?  I’m sure I mentioned the order of disciplinary action but I forgot about the non reset until end of marking period.  I also didn’t realize I was supposed to let it escalate to referral level in one class period.  In past years I’ve always believed in trying to reach a parent before writing a referral which is probably why I didn’t think it could all happen in one class.  I guess I didn’t listen to everything in the PD first week.  My mind was in my classroom, maybe.



#ReflectiveTeacher Blogging Challenge Day 4 – La creatividad


I am too tired to write a whole post and no one seems to be reading them anyhow, so this will be short.  What I love most about teaching Spanish is that we are able to be as creative as we like.  I like not being tied to a book and being able to try anything and everything in order to see what fits best in the particular classroom setting.