Posts

Who is AvalonSensei?

Image
Who is AvalonSensei? A teacher dedicated to her students, devoted 100%.
In 2009 I joined Twitter as a way to call attention to the disproportionate affect that the teacher layoffs would have on communities in South Central L.A. By connecting with other teachers and the public I hoped to somehow shield my school and others from the tragedy to come. I implored the school board to “Don’t Forget South Central” and began to write in earnest about what it means to be a teacher in a hard to staff school.
Avalon Boulevard is where my school, Los Angeles Academy, was located and because teaching is my identity, I called myself AvalonSensei.
I suppose before that I was BroadwaySensei when I worked at Bethune Middle School, and BaldwinHillsSensei before that. But now, I have ended my tenure at L.A. Academy. Am I still AvalonSensei?
Students and parents of mine know when I teach at a school, it is more than just a job. It is a profession in which I embrace with zeal and affection. Those are MY…

Leaving Finland

Image
I have never lived anywhere for 5 months other than Jyvaskyla, Finland. As my Fulbright journey concludes, there is so much to still digest. It will take months, if not years, to truly assimilate all the learning.

Before I left Southern California, I wrote about the what I would miss the most from home and what I  looked forward to experiencing in Finland. It is safe to say I met my goals.

Top 7 Goals
1. Discussing Education
Through professional development programs, Fulbright Finland connected teachers with scholars and researchers, for the purpose of putting inquisitive minds together. The Making Democracies Resilient to Modern Threats seminar provided participants with fascinating research and presentations.

2. Nordic Model

What does an efficient and earnest country look like?  It looks like Finland. Yes, people pay higher taxes, but get so much in return. I for one appreciated the well-maintained roads, clean and timely public transportation, and the work-life balance.


3. Nature


The People who Make Fulbright Happen

Image
As I conclude my Fulbright project, it goes without saying that I could not have done this alone. The help I’ve received along the way has been heartwarming and supportive. I am so proud to have been able to represent teachers and my community in Finland. Jose Govea This unceasing advocate for teachers is my area union rep. When he heard I was awarded my Fulbright grant, he went into action to make sure I received some type of compensation from the hard to navigate district I work in. We realized the deadline had passed for the correct leave of absence to make this happen, but he said, “I’m willing to do battle for a Fulbrighter.” Thanks to Jose, I was able to receive financial support from my district while away on leave. The IIE
The International Institute for Education manages the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching program which sent me to Finland. This first-class organization supported me each step of the way, from the orientation in August to departure in January. While…

When Typical Means Outstanding

Image
With only a few weeks left on my Finnish Fulbright learning experience, I was eager to set a date to visit the other 2018 Finnish Fulbrighter's school near Tampere, FI. Sanna Leinonen is a well-known educational leader with over 20 years of experience teaching at Ylojarven Lukio, and a Fulbright teacher.

Every minute of every school visit is a learning experience.
Location

Ylojarven is a town west of Tampere, and as such, it is the only local high school (Lukio) in the area. Students commute from rather long distances to get to the school. I was always tickled to see tractors in the parking lot belonging to those from a more rural background, but more often than not, I saw motor bikes and bicycles in the parking lot.
Staggered Arrivals and Flexible Schedules for Teachers
Because each student's schedule is so customized, some students did not arrive to school until 10:00 am, or sometimes they had to leave class 20-30 minutes early. This always happened quietly and unobtrusivel…

A Castle, a Fulbrighter, and Funny Questions

Image
Part of being a Fulbrighter is that you get to join a network of scholars, teachers, professionals, students, and artists. Fortunately for me, I met two dynamic Finnish teachers in Washington DC, the summer before my trip. This allowed me the possibility to visit their schools, much in the same way they did when they were in the United States. My visit to Ahveniston Koulu in Hameenlinna, was truly a treat. Emilia is an English teacher and travel blogger, and has maintained her own blog about her Fulbright experience at Emilia-ontheroad.com. In many school visits, I do a general presentation about California, and then have a Q and A period afterwards. Many Finnish students are shy, and at first, I thought I was bombing my presentations. Teachers assured me that if the students were quiet it meant they were engaged.
Visit https://www.dropbox.com/s/8cfsq4xhl81gnx5/california.pdf?dl=0 for the presentation.
Nonetheless, I gave students many ways they could ask questions: ·Verbally-this was…