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Héroe

Hoy festejamos al indígena zapoteco a quien se le presentó la oportunidad de estudiar y estudió. Celebramos al pastor que con trabajo y dedicación se graduó como abogado y llegó a ser gobernador de su estado primero, y luego Presidente de la Suprema Corte de Justicia. Conmemoramos al mexicano que por casualidades del destino se hizo presidente de un pueblo marginado, explotado e ignorante.

Honramos al mexicano que tomó las decisiones más difíciles desde la independencia de México, y que hoy, creo yo, lo siguen siendo. Por esto es reconocido como el fundador del estado mexicano. Un héroe, que al fin y al cabo es humano con errores y virtudes. Pero México necesita de héroes; los mexicanos necesitamos saber que es posible un México prospero. Necesitamos reconocer el valor inalienable del espíritu humano. Necesitamos vanagloriar las acciones que hacen de nosotros, la nación mexicana, un ser capaz de inculcar los principios de un futuro brillante. No dejes que caudillos se apoderen de tus héroes, aferrate a aquellos personajes que admiras y siéntete orgulloso de ellos y de tu país. Porque México eres tú, y solo nosotros lo hacemos tan grande como queremos.

 

 

 

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Reasons for Not Maturing 2

Have you ever realized how the word childish is so undermined? and, have you ever seen how it seems that in adulthood the word “childish” is treated as a means to undervalue adults and their actions alike?

Sometimes, I feel like I can see people waiting for the right moment in order to point out how childish any adult is behaving in a certain context. They are like childish-like-behavior patrol, and it seems like this kind of behavior is very offensive for these people. Playing on the ground, touching, creating, solving, getting your hands full of dirt, and laughing in the meantime are activities that must be avoided by all means when in among adults.

I completely agree that there are situations, ceremonies, rituals and positions where a specific type of behavior is expected from any person. And it is the best practice because this behavior is a social contract accepted by everyone within their culture, hence the Pope is expected to perform in a specific way, the president is expected to address with such correctness that no one would behold otherwise, brides and grooms are expected to develop their love for each other in rituals only people in love may understand and so on. A teacher is expected to perform and conduct their duties in ways to favor children’s learning. Besides, teachers also have the duty to protect their students and keep them out of danger and because teachers are adults, students expect all that and maybe more from them, even though nobody has ever told anything about this to a child. However, none of these examples have anything to do with the “fact” that an adult must not be childish at all times.

Have you ever been a teacher in a kindergarten? -If you are a parent, it works too. I’m not one though- But I am the coordinator of many things in the school I work, and part of my duties is to oversee my peers, so I have to go to kindergarten classrooms many times and it must be mentioned that I absolutely love it. This is the best place to watch childish actions happening; it always amazes me how a child explores any little thing that appeals to her or him and the awe phase children always experience with that new little thing is what I cherish the most. Once I read that in order to continue learning throughout life is to never stop being in awe; to be amazed by new knowledge is what will make that new information remain stored in our heads, just like a child.

Another childish action that I love is the lack of fear of being wrong, a child will continue on doing or undoing until he or she gets what he or she wants, or the child may speak out his/her mind trying to answer the teacher’s inquiries no matter what. As people get older, people start to think before speaking and that is perfect; I do not like people participating with arguments not worth sharing. But what people must not forget is their capacity to being wrong, and that being wrong is not wrong at all, and that no matter what, people have to explore every possibility in order to be right. As teacher, I sometimes need to teach children that being wrong is right an that it is only an opportunity to learn a little bit more about that fact and about ourselves.

Because a child likes to explore, a child needs to move around and because I am childish I like to move too… a lot. A different responsibility of mine is to give a “lecture” from time to time, so I have to hand the books/copies/booklets out to the rest of the staff and to settle a date and time for the feedback. I always try to make the meetings interesting, motivating and not boring, as a result I move the participants around, change teams, find out more about the others and small activities that would make them to be in awe. Unfortunately, this does not appeal to some and they feel threatened and maybe even disgusted by the idea of moving because they already are “mature” teachers.

I embed an animation that I enjoyed tremendously and the first time I watched it I could not stop laughing. It is an excellent reminder of not getting mature. Enjoy.

 

The Chase from Philippe Gamer on Vimeo.

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A Book I Read: The Element

Just last week I finished reading the book “The Element” by Sir Ken Robinson and this is one of those books that you really need to write what you learned from it, the amount of new ideas you got, the concepts and perceptions that opened a different world and the sentiments that you felt while reading a wonderful text.

 

I first “met” Sir Ken Robinson when I watched his famous video from a TED conference “Schools Kill Creativity” -video below- and I remember I thought if it was possible that a single man was trying to change education paradigms which were around for centuries. As any other youngster I was trying to make my own path and in my field I was expecting to change what I didn’t feel comfortable with or didn’t like but I did not have any idea of how to do it. Now, I do.

I think it is fantastic to read about those great men and women who are trying to change little by little the way education is performed at schools. It is quite interesting to see how these people face problems that many of us would never be able to solve; how, no matter what, they fight with anyone in order to show that we can really change things to make them better. After what I have read I just want to change everything, I know this is impossible but I have found the path to reach it.

The end of the school year is four months away but today I am trying to move the pieces of the puzzle to do something new. Let us wait and see what comes out.

P.S. I am excted, are you?

 

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Reasons for Not Maturing 1

 

It’s been two weeks since I got these thoughts about what the reasons might be for a person to not get mature, which is not the same as growing older. And so they have moved me into writing a post about it.

I’m 27 years old and I’m a teacher, an English teacher, and of course part of my job has always been to teach students to behave properly in certain situations. But to have tolerance towards other people’s ideas and respect to the people expressing them does not have to be the opposite to having fun and learning. I’m not getting married in any time soon and I’m not having children of my own in the near future. I also like to tell jokes with my friends, to make fun at ridiculous things, to laugh at my own disagrace and stupidities and certainly, to have a blast whenever I can. My Facebook page is full of irrational thoughts and jokes which some people may find extremely funny and others not at all, but they understand to whom this “special” page belongs to. All of these situations have made people, at least half of them, think of me as a childish inmature man. Maybe, it is because the society I live in is quite traditional and reserved -if you don’t know where I live, I live in a small city called Pachuca in Mexico.

Then one day wandering the streets of Twitter,I ran into this particular tweet which made me laugh and to rethink the way I carry on with my life, and I realized that even though my life is not as perfect as it could be it is certainly a good one and that I am not as wrong as several people might think. The tweet, in Spanish, was “Un adulto creativo es un niño que ha sobrevivido.” In English, “A creative adult is a child that has survived”. Beautiful, isn’t it?

I am not what you might call an artist, I don’t paint or draw, I don’t play an instrument and obviously I have never compose a piece of music. Although I have a blog, I write when I have the right inspiration to do so; despite all of this I absolutely consider myself a creative person. I like to invent jokes in different and so diverse moments, I try to make new activities for my classes, sometimes, I invent stories to explain something. And on my Facebook page I try to put funny thoughts that had occurred to me a few moments before. Finally, and for me the best of all, after I have finished reading a book about techniques or methods that might be helpful to my classes I immediately try to imagine ways to implement them.

Part of my obligation in the school is to plan events for Christmas, Spelling Bee, and this year for the first time ever, Saint Patrick’s Day. It is my responsability to search and print drawings that will be the decoration used for that day. In three different occasions I have had a discussion with a collegue also in charge of chosing the best theme. The first time the problem was that the elves -Santa’s little helpers- had pointy ears and therefore, they weren’t cute enough. The second time almost the same thing happened; we were chosing a TV family for Family Day and I had chosen the families of Rugrats -a Nickelodeon cartoon- but again, for my coworker they weren’t cute enough. And finally, just last week, we had a problem because she wanted something for the stage and I wanted something slightly different for the gate at the entrance, and my question was that if it was strictly mandatory to have absolutely the same figures in both places. The first time I won, the other two she did. For this paragraph I have no conclusion instead I do have a question: Why?… Can you answer my question?

Yesterday, I watched Tim Brown’s video about creativity and play and I loved a statement he said during his presentation and it was something like this: “A child asks what it is but he also asks what he can do with it”. And if the child is smart he will ask the question to himself and he will try various uses for that object. So the imagination of a child is endless and it will provide him opportunities to discover and to invent but it will come the day when an adult will teach the child the “correct” use and tell him to do so. This is reason number two to not become mature.

In following posts I will try to go deeper into what I think the word “mature” involves and why I think being childish is best. Meanwhile, I’ll keep looking for more reasons to stay as I am: immature.

This is the video I mentioned before, totally worth watching. Enjoy!

 

 

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Attacking Tardiness

This week I asked the principal office permission to hand out some articles about teaching students to arrive on time, or even early, to appointments we have to attend to. Without hesitation the principal agreed and asked me to immediately invite my coworkers to apply some strategies found on such articles.

Unpunctuality among students is not one of my direct responsibilities, but I deeply thought I had to do something to decrease this unfortunate situation of some alumni. Fortunately, it is not a grave problem and the great majority of the students arrive on time. Unfortunately, the students who do have this problem tend to repeat it several times a week. Besides, today March 2nd the winter schedule is over and everybody has to come to school something before 8 a.m. Therefore, something had to be done; this week.

I had been searching for these type of articles since last December as well as translating them, and although one always has a vision of what is right, they were very enlightening and made me understand the principles and consequences of being late. I do hope some teachers may find them as good as I did.

Here you have the links to the articles used in the compendium (in English) :

  1. Forefront Families
  2. The Best Solutions fo the Latest Students
  3. How to Teach Punctuality to Children
  4. Lesson Plan on the Importance of Punctuality
  5. Punctuality Tips and Strategies

Below you can read what was delivered to the teachers. (In Spanish)

Promoviendo Puntualidad

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Lo Más de 2010

Lo sé, este post tiene un mes y medio de retraso; pero como dice el dicho: mejor tarde que nunca. No lo pude hacer antes por todas las razones que ustedes puedan pensar, pero yo me quedo con el síndrome del escritor bloqueado.

Hace un año escribí una entrada parecida a esta la cual acabo de leer para inspirarme un poco, pensar sobre aquellas categorías pero ahora del 2010, si era necesario escribir una nueva o quitar otra. Deben de tener en mente que estas categorías y la entrada en general no necesariamente tienen que ver con mi ámbito profesional, sino también envuelve situaciones familiares o personal que hayan hecho un cambio en mi ser, pensar, sentir o idear.

De igual manera debes de tener en mente que estas categorías abarcan desde enero hasta diciembre del 2010 y que por lo tanto hay dos ciclos escolares en final de 2009 -2010 y el inicio del 2010 – 2011; ambos con alumnos diferentes y muy posiblemente con grados igualmente diferentes.

Sin más preámbulo, aquí están los momentos “más”:

1. Momento más feliz: cuando decidí que era tiempo de cerrar una puerta y una ventana se abrió. Me sentí feliz porque me di cuenta que era lo que yo quería, anhelaba y necesitaba en ese momento; simple y llanamente la vida que llevaba en ese entonces me hacía infeliz y se tenía que terminar de tajo. Desde que me inculcaron en un curso que en una vida profesional atraviesas por tres pasos, siempre he tratado de aplicarlos. El paso uno es conocer tu empresa y que ella te conozca a ti. El siguiente paso es que en tu área puedas ver si estás en acuerdo con las normas, reglas o puntos de vista; si estás en desacuerdo, ver si lo puedes cambiar o innovar. Y el último paso es entender si aquello es para ti, si lo aceptas como está o si lo puedes cambiar; o entender que es mejor irte. Yo decidí: Gracias, pero no gracias.

2. Momento más triste: aquellas personas que deje detrás, aquellas que me apoyaron incondicionalmente, me divertían, me hacían la vida más fácil día con día, se preocupaban por mí y lo más importante, me querían. Gracias por todo.

3. Momento de mayor satisfacción: ver todo lo que se hizo dentro del salón y de los grupos de secundaria. Debo admitir que hubo momentos muy difíciles (los adolescentes son algo especial) pero al final entendimos que aprendimos de ambas partes y se lo reconocimos. Fue la primera vez que aplique el blog como herramienta de publicación de trabajos, y fue la primera vez que mis alumnos se enorgullecieron por lo que sabían hacer con el inglés.

4. Momento de mayor orgullo: Los dos reconocimientos que mis alumnos de secundaria me dieron; me reconocían lo bueno y lo malo, pero por ello mismo, son los reconocimientos que más aprecio. Es cierto, dentro de la escuela es una actividad obligatoria pero no es obligatorio dárselos a todos los maestros, ni es obligatorio que te lo enmarquen.

5. Momento de mayor sorpresa: En agosto regresé a una gran escuela con grandes alumnos, la sorpresa fue ver que con aquellos no se había perdido la amistad, el cariño y familiaridad que ya habíamos construido durante dos años de clases juntos. Ellos me conocían muy bien, yo los conocía mejor, ¿cómo nos llevamos?, de maravilla.

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¿Y ahora qué?

Ante la situación de  “ya cuento con un blog, pero no sé qué escribir” tal vez es necesario un poco de inspiración. Mira afuera de tu ventana, escribe sobre tu niñez, expresa tus ideas y creencias… ¡mira dentro de ti!

Ah, pero qué fácil es escribir todo eso; aún asi es muy difí­cil decidir qué es lo que quieres compartir y sobre todo entender el por qué.

Piensa que ya tienes el primer… bueno, el segundo gran paso en tu vida de blogger: ¡sabes sobre qué vas a escribir! Tienes un blog profesional y por lo tanto compartirás tus momentos como maestro dentro de un aula, o fuera de ella. ¿cómo ves? -para los que no supieron cuál era el primer paso: crear un blog.

Si tú escribes sobre tu vida profesional cuenta con que sabrás entender el entorno en el que te encuentras, y reflexionarás sobre tus prospectos y metas. Lo único que hace falta es que quieras hacerlo.

Te dejo con una pequeña presentación en la que espero puedas ver de una manera general qué puedes hacer en tu blog profesional

 

 Espero que mis compañeros de formula puedan crecer profesionalmente; un saludo para: Alejandra, Iside, Alicia, Elizabeth, Rosario, Cookies&Cream, Karla, Jackie, Ceci, Paco, Janett, Angelica, Genoveva, Norma, Ada, Delia, Susana, Lorena y Rosalinda. Y un abrazo especial a alguien quien parece ha hecho un gran esfuerzo por hacer de su blog un medio de comunicación con los padres. Muchas Felicidades aMary.

El concepto de Red Personal de Aprendizaje fue tomado de Break Down the Walls, Build Up a Community.

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Best/Worst Teacher Ever

Have you ever wondered what makes you the best or worst teacher ever?

I know this is a stupid question for teachers, as we are used to question our work every day in every class; but, what makes the difference? how is it possible that the same teacher is the best during one school year and the worst the next year?

Teachers must know that in order to answer those questions they have to take into account all the variables possible, which most of the times are endless lists of what could go right or wrong. During their time in university teacher trainees should have discussed endless debates of those lists and no one could have reached a final resolution, has anyone?

I’m the Best Teacher Ever! 🙂

Have you ever felt the excitement of having fantastic-to-work-with sponge students?

I know, this is also an stupid question for teachers, as every class is full with students eager to learn -at least that has been my case- but what I want you to think about and feel  is when you’re doing what you’re supposed, and magically all around your class works out perfectly; the students are learning, the parents are grateful, the school praises and the teacher is not working.

I’m the Worst Teacher Ever! 🙁

Have you ever felt the necessity of turning everything around, upside down, over and any other preposition you may think of?

Yes, it is indeed another stupid question for teachers, as we work in the educational context; teachers want to change every single thing they may think should work better in a different way. Nevertheless, teachers cannot change all; even though they know what is affecting their environment and they know how to solve it, teachers most of the times have to cope with huge pink elephants which are impossible to move. The students are not learning, the parents complain, the school pushes and the teacher works.

Viewpoint

The endless list I mentioned before is naworred to four main aspects: students, parents, school and the teacher. However,  the term “school” will be changed to “syllabus” because that is truly the issue. And again, this is MY very personal point of view based on MY very personal experience.

Syllabus

Have you ever felt happy or unhappy with your class contents?

Eureka! That’s not a stupid question; well, I have felt both and both have gave me sorrow and pain, but also gratification and something to write about. 😛

This has been the biggest issue when it comes to perform an excellent job in my teaching years. It appears that when there is a main objective at the top and better yet, there is a method to achieve it: all the variables come together thriving. If a teacher studied to be a teacher, (s)he knows what (s)he is doing in front of the classroom and acknowledges the problems which are arising within the class, therefore the teacher must propose a solution. If the syllabus accepts the solution it is almost certain that the people involved will be satisfied.

If it is considered that the teacher knows how to teach, then it is supposed that (s)he uses the correct techniques and activities to teach what the syllabus asks to teachers and students. Here it is where the problem shows up, under the statement that the teacher will do all possible to achieve the objectives of the syllabus, there should be no problem in any way. But, what if there isn’t any general objective and the syllabus is not intended for the particular social and cultural background of the class? Of course all sorts of problems will  show up throughout the school year, and because students are not able to complete such syllabus, frustrations will grow on the people involved: teachers, parents and worst, students.

As people in Mexico say: “hay de dos moles” -you’ve got two flavors-  whether the teacher follows the syllabus or (him)herself; ok… maybe more than only two.

Students, Parents and Teachers

If there is a general objective, a well established syllabus which is intended for the level, culture and society of the class, besides a trained teacher who likes what (s)he does; I do not think there should be any problem.

Have you ever experienced something like this? -not another stupid question.

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Lo más del 2009

Siempre como maestro te preguntas qué, cómo, cuándo y porqué suceden las cosas en tu salón; la grandísima mayoría de las ocasiones, lo haces al finalizar el año escolar, ya cuando has podido saborear el éxito de ver a tus estudiantes crecer y aprender. Esta evaluación es principalmente profesional y te ayuda mucho en prepararte para el siguiente año.

En esta ocasión, después de leer un post de Larry Ferlazzos’s Blog, me puse a pensar qué es lo que me había pasado a mí como maestro este año 2009, pero que además haya influenciado en mi vida personal debido a la relevancia que tuvo en mi forma de ser, sentir, pensar y enseñar.

Los “más” momentos son los siguientes:

  1. Momento más feliz: cuando mi ex-alumno de primer año de primaria Gabriel me preguntó en septiembre el por qué ya no fui su maestro en cuarto año, cuando se suponía que iba a estar conmigo por segunda vez. Él comenzó “¿Porqué ya no nos dio clase?” -“Pues ya ves cómo son las cosas; te salvaste de estar conmigo otra vez.” le contesté. Acercándose a mí, me dio un abrazo y me dijo: “Ah, yo sí quería”.
  2. Momento más revelador: casi al finalizar el año escolar un alumno de sexto comentaba de cómo había tenido una clase maravillosa en dónde había tenido la oportunidad de escuchar música, utilizar la computadora del maestro y platicar en clase -era una fascinación para él por que deberían de haber estado trabajando- finalizó haciendo hincanpié que aquel maestro había sido un excelente maestro. El compañero con el que hablaba respondió muy seriamente “¡Ese no es un buen maestro! Un buen maestro es el que te enseña.” No se me puede olvidar la manera en qué lo dijo, lo había dicho con muchas ganas de que el otro entendiera que estaba equivocado.
  3. Momento más triste: cuando algunos alumnos se habían lacerado sus brazos con la misma punta del compás por que era “padre”, para estar a la moda y para ganar una apuesta. Al principio pensé que había sido causa por la indiferencia de sus padres; fue increíblemente triste cuando me di cuenta que la verdadera razón era porque sus mamás eran unas “alcahuetas” y la conducta de ellAs (así es, femenino) se justificaba porque estaban en la adolescencia. Por lo tanto decidí hablar solamente con aquellas familias que sabía iban a hablar con sus hijos.
  4. Momento de mayor orgullo: un alumno de primaria a quien siempre le pedía que trabajara, quien siempre sacaba bajas calificaciones, quien siempre le gustaba meterse en problemas, dijo en inglés “horseback riding” entendiendo cuál era su significado, en el momento correcto y contexto correcto. Ahí me di cuenta que sí había aprendido.
  5. Momento de mayor sorpresa: cuando mis alumnos me vitorearon el día de la clase muestra.