Posts

Showing posts from 2017

Why This Teacher Needs Jackie Goldberg on the School Board

Image
As I wind up my 24th year of teaching in Los Angeles classrooms , I pause to think of my past lives in different schools and neighborhoods. While presenting to students in Finland I always included a slide of past eras of my life such as growing up in the Eastside, college and adulthood in the Westside, teaching on the Southside, and married life in the Valley. Apart from being a native Angeleno, significant years of my life have been spent living in many parts of town, and teaching in many communities. I love all of them.

Which is why I have no doubt in my mind that what students all over L.A. need more than anything is an ally on the school board. My South Central students need a warrior who recognizes that our teachers’ strike was more than just a salary dispute, but a movement to reclaim our rightful place as agents of change in the profession we love. One that will help us do our jobs serving students. My West Valley students need a fighter who will challenge our legislators to …

FULBRIGHT: It is NOT a vacation

Image
Friday the 15th of December marked the last day of the school semester for me at Los Angeles Academy Middle School in South Central L.A. It also meant that I would not be returning to work until August of 2018.

Goodbye, 8th grade students matriculating to high school.

Goodbye, parents with whom I have collaborated for many years.

Hasta luego, colleagues and friends who will remain on the front to keep pushing our school forward.

It was not an easy farewell. But confoundingly, I was wished a happy vacation by various people. I smiled, and corrected them, but apparently this is a very common misconception encountered by Fulbrighters while on leave.

Imagine having a burning curiosity on a subject related to your work. Mine was the education system in Finland, and whether we could implement some of their best practices in the USA. You wish you had the time and the money to explore this esoteric topic, but everyone thinks you are crazy for even believing it could be possible. Except the F…

FULBRIGHT: I'm Moving to Finland

Image
When I tell people that come January, I will be living in Finland for 5 months, the reactions are shock, wonder, and admiration. "I wish I could get away for 5 months like that!" is a common reaction.

The truth is it is not so easy.
Your Job 

Most teachers who apply for a Fulbright tend to be intricately involved in the management of their schools. They are department chairs, coaches, coordinators, and many times all of the above. Aside from that, we have our own rolls of students we are committed to.

I had the opportunity to leave the classroom this year for the first time in 22 years. My Fulbright award definitely swayed me into the direction of taking on a full time Magnet Program Coordinator role. If I wasn't personally in charge of 150 students, it would make my departure easier to bear.

But no matter your role, knowing you will be leaving your school is a tough decision.  As January approaches, the decision is still a tough one to deal with.
Your Pay
Although Fulbr…

Dino-Mite

Image

FULBRIGHT: The Application; Am I Worthy?

Image
As a classroom teacher, milestones that determine your accomplishments are quite different than in other professions. Managing an unruly department can be an accomplishment. Applying for and earning a school grant is laudable. National Board Certification? Props.

But would these be enough to qualify me for a Fulbright?

The application itself was formidable. You can peruse it here.

The main focus of the application was previous travel experience and qualifications. Moving to a foreign country for 6 months is no joke, and I saw the questions as a way to gauge your sturdiness in adapting to foreign cultures. While  Finland is not dramatically different than the U.S., the climate is. Going from the land of eternal sunshine to 5 hours of daylight upon arrival will take some adjustment.

For my letters of recommendation, all those commissions in which I participated came in handy. I did not hesitate to ask leaders in education for a letter. They not only obliged, but cheered me on.

For my p…

FULBRIGHT: It Was One Year Ago Today

Image
In the midst of my 21st year of teaching, I get the email about applying for a Fulbright. It gave me pause.

When you have worked a career that involves so many moving pieces, it seems impossible to tear yourself away from your work. Who will take care of my Advanced Studies Program? How can I walk away from a school that faces dire challenges due to the surrounding poverty in the neighborhood? How could I afford this opportunity, if an unpaid leave of absence might be required?

Then I remembered that my students and families watch what teachers do, not what they say.

My whole career has been dedicated to affording the best educational practices to my students, regardless of their background. And when you think of the best, you think of Finland.

Maybe you've seen the Michael Moore video on Finnish education.



Maybe you've read Tim Walker's funny and informative posts on moving to Finland and learning about the schools and culture (my favorite was My Amathophobic Finnish Wif…

No to Gangs, Yes to STEM!

Image
Swimming with dolphins. Dissecting squid. Learning about conservation. Visiting a turtle rehabilitation center. Conducting water sampling. Visiting a coral reef. These are just some of the experience we have put together for the students who choose school over all the negative influences in the neighborhood. Would you consider donating and sharing? I THANK YOU IN ADVANCE!!!

No to Gangs, Yes to STEM!

Letters to the President

Image
Our very own alum, Elizabeth Chimalpopoca had her letter to the President published in this book! Congrats, Elizabeth!