Thursday, January 29, 2009

Day Six - New and Old Roles

I went into school yesterday after not having been there for a week and it was......strange. I have been in the same capacity in the same elementary school for a good 10 years. During all that time, I knew my role, I had my own work space (a great little office this year), and I had my own case load of students. I have always disliked the paperwork and the multitude of meetings, but forever loved my students. Yesterday as I walked into school, I was in a completely different role and that was...very strange. My former students just smiled and said, "Hi" as they met me in the hall. No longer am I involved in their daily triumphs and trials hearing about such things as Freddy who might be having a particularly bad day. One trusted staff member told me that one of my favorite students who has always had a difficult home life (father died recently, mother in jail) and school life (frequently in the time-out room) was very sad with my departure and hasn't been able to engage in much work with my replacement. I miss my old job, I miss my colleagues, I miss the connection with my special education students, but I am excited about the challenge my sabbatical presents.

For many reasons, I have always been there for the underdog. For me, for years, that has meant advocating for, working with and teaching the more learning-challenged and/or unique students. But in the last few years I have also become connected to and started to care deeply about gifted students. They truly are the students being left behind now,at least in New Hampshire and in other states that don't fund (even though they might legislate for) gifted education. There is legislation, money, staff, parent organizations, and journals full of research to ensure that students with learning challenges get the education they deserve - they are clearly no longer left behind. But gifted students, our potential future scholars, physicians and leaders, are left behind and on their own in New Hampshire and in a number of other states. It is the reason I am on sabbatical, hoping to develop a program that at least starts to meet the needs of elementary-aged students,in a small New Hampshire town, who are gifted in math.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Day Three - Possibilities of Project M3

Well, another productive day! I found a program that will probably work very well in the after school program and should work equally as well for the mentoring/tutoring sessions. I have a call in to the author of the Project M3 (Mentoring Mathematical Minds) math program at the University of Connecticut. Project M3 was program designed for students who are gifted in mathematics and in grades 3-5. I spoke with Kathy in the author's office for sometime - she was very knowledgable and encouraging. I It seems...perfect! I may go visit how they use the program after school, something they have just started (the program was designed as a curriculum for gifted kids during the school day). I am very excited.

And, tomorrow I get some of my own tutoring on how to build a website. That's exciting,too. And, I have sent an e-mail to the high school about working with the math department to get the tutors. All in all, a great day! And, I found time to workout this morning!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Week 1 Summary - AMPed

Franklin the Robot is AMPed

So, week one, short as it was, is over, done. I feel like I was a little scattered (created 3 new blogs) and didn't work out at all but I was, nonetheless, productive and wrote a lot. I seem to be on the computer frequently (long days, working into the night) but producing a lot, as well. Most importantly, I made a huge outline of what I need to do. This is my guidepost.

I am awaiting e-mails from people across the state and from within my own school district. Next Tuesday I have an appointment to work on a website I'm designing for the accelerated math program (the reason I have my sabbatical).It's with a 5th grade teacher who used to be a computer teacher. In preparation for that meeting, I hopped on my Mac and looked around. Finding a web template, I started creating the "welcome" page. It was much easier that I thought it would be. Click on this, move this there, and voila....a Welcome page. Last year in the after school enrichment program I help run, we built a Lego robot and named him, Franklin. I am including pictures of Franklin on the website. I imagine the website will eventually be run by students, under my supervision. Students will be responsible for articles, photographs and unique/intriguing math activities, facts and wonders. I'm thinking we will publish on a regular basis. I would like to have a hard copy newsletter if that works into the overall plan.

I also came up with a name for all of this madness...AMPed.... Accelerated Math Program. Kind of a clever little acronym, don't you think? Each AMPed student will have an AMPup......Accelerated Math Program unique plan (kind of like and IEP, indiidualized educational program, we create for special education kids). It's catchy. My husband imagines kids wearing t-shirts with AMPed spelled out across the front. I like it. What ever will week 2 bring? Hopefully a plan to get the mentors in place and a form to help profile prospective students. And, at the risk or sounding like a corn dog, I do feel pretty amped up at this point!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Day Two

Day Two! I had dinner with my friend last night. She is in an intensive writing course and has been on sabbatical for some time. She gave me some good advice. One thing she told me was that this will all go by quickly. I know that and am trying to enjoy every moment, be open and present (and all that yoga stuff) each and every day which is why I publish this blog. I know it will keep me in the moment. My husband's ex-sister-in-law has also given me good advice about working at home. She tells me to remember to exercise and wear my tight jeans so I'm not prone to nibbling all day long on chips or cookies :) Got it! And she advises that I be careful of surfing. I get that, too. I actually have some rules for myself. I get up at 6:00 and shower. I can blog for a bit after that but then I get down to work. I am supposed to stop at lunch time for a break (and can blog then or answer e-mails). Then I work again until 3:00 or so. We have a friend who goes to Bequai every winter but continues to work. His strategy is to work all morning and be free from noon on. I want to work more than that but the point is, to be productive, you have to have a plan. I think I do at this point.

Here are the books I've laid out and leafed through. A copy of my sabbatical proposal, articles on gifted education, addendum to the New Hampshire Curriculum Framework. I sent a bunch of e-mails yesterday to people about meeting with me so I can see what kinds of programs are out there. Next week I will contact the other schools in my district and set up appointments to see if they want me to help them out. If not, that's fine, too. I got on the NAGC website (the national gifed association) for guidelines in developing solid programs for kids who are highly capable (gifted - but my district doesn't want me using that term - that's a whole other topic). Turns out Nashua has an exemplary program and I hope to visit!

Off to another day. Exciting, a little overwhelming, full of a lot of sitting. I will make sure and exercise today, wear those tight jeans and work, work, work.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Frist Day!

Dawn, breaking just outside my back door on the first day of my sabbatical! Here I am, at home, at 7:39am. How strange.....On a typical Thursday morning I am either in a meeting, talking with a colleague, planning my day or working on paperwork. Yikes, I think as I sit at my kitchen table staring at my blank computer screen! I have 7 months, including summer, to work on my program for kids who excel in math at the elementary level. How will I construct my time? How can I make this time worthwhile? How can I look back and say, "Great job, Joy!"

My job today is to start the big plan and sketch out the next 5 school months. I am excited and ready to go. I am grateful to my brother for all his support, always, and to my husband who suggested I take the sabbatical in the first place. It took 3 tries but now, here I am. My husband is always there for me, encouraging me, supporting me. I thank both of these men for their faith in me, it inspires me!. " Get up at 6:00am tomorrow morning," my husband told me as we went to bed last night. And I did! Thanks also, to my girlfriends who have been so supportive (especially MIss Celine my teaching buddy)......and, here I go!