Archive for the ‘Community Service’ Category

Participating in Democracy

I had the opportunity to attend and be a part of an in district meeting with Larry Bliss and MPA. My wife is interning at MPA and invited me. Before I get to the meeting itself I have to say that Jennie was very impressive with her knowledge of the healthcare issues going on in Maine now and her succictanty in discussing it. I asked about increasing state revenue, especially in the face of cuts to education and social services. These two areas receive the bulk of the state budget (as they should) and are the first to go up to the chopping block when money needs to be ‘saved’. Anyway it was a very interesting experience that I have my wife to thank for including me in. Thanks wife!


Oooooohh – Socialism!

Did I scare you?

I love language. It is a powerful tool and can be a devastating weapon, when used correctly and by one skilled in its use. If you have been listening to the Obama critics, the word they are using to stir up fear is “Socialism”. The problem is twofold: First, the definition:

Socialism:–noun 1. a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.

To me this puts power into the hands of the populus, isn’t that one of the cornerstones of the Republican party? Less government? The reasoning tactic behind this is simple, socialism conjures up images of the former Soviet Union, our arch-enemies of days gone past. The actual definition of the word and, theoretically, the practice of Socialism seems like something the R’s should be for. Am I wrong on that?

Fear is another powerful tool and weapon, often used by the weak and those with no real solid argument to make. Sad really, even sadder is the people who just blindly follow party line and don’t think about what they are saying or have any means to back up what they think or say.

Day one of Lead Teaching – BTCS & Speak

Yikes it’s been awhile since I posted last. I’ve been busy with planning for lead teaching, designing a course, and creating a webquest.
Today was the first day of my lead teaching. I did not see two of the classes because of BTCS [Bettering yourself Through Community Service,Ii think], the students leave the building and walk to a location that is related to a social service and help out in whatever way they are needed. I had my own group today [for the first time] and we went to Garry’s House. This is a place for family to stay when a loved one is in the hospital. Each time the kids come here [where they go rotates] they make some kine of baked good. Today they made cookies, brownies, and cake. The nine students split into groups of three and went to work. The young men who were making the cookies had a very good time. The dough was very thick. Another student tried to help mix with a wooden spoon that snapped – half in her hand and half in the dough. It was entertainment for all!

Back at school. . .
The first class I had went exactly as I planned. I told them the plan for the class and began. I had them write the reading assignment in their agenda as I passed out the handout. I explained the hand out and how it related to the book we are starting. As they fill out the handout I pass out books, taking note of book number and student. We discuss the handout and make predictions based on the cover of the book, which I have projected on the wall. We go to lunch and come back for the rest of the class [a weird scheduling occurrence I know] during which I play the audio book as they read along. My supervisor arrives for my formal observation early and sees 18 kids reading along intently to the audio.

Class two, and the subject of my supervisors observation, does not go as planned.
That is not to say it went bad. I began the same way, however, I was only able to pass out about 6-8 books before everyone was done. I thought, and said to the class, I’ll finish
while you’re listening to the audio version. We then spent until five minutes before the end of class talking about half of the handout. The conversation was great, and during the post conference with my supervisor I realized I had heard from every student. They were totally fired up about the discussion and when I moved to the next item on the handout with 5-6 hands still up a collective “awww’ was heard. I explained [again] that we would see all of these topics in the book. The faces on the kids faces at that moment was priceless, and I knew they were hooked! I didn’t get all the books handed out in time, a student stayed and helped get books out to the rest of the class.

Last block today was a study hall. I had 7 kids come in from classes that hadn’t met today and ask if they could get the book. Word had spread!

It will be interesting how the other two classes go.

Honor the Role

Homework Club/Detention. Students can voluntarily come for help, each teacher has a day that they stay after school specifically for this, I suppose these kids are part of the HW club. Other kids are made to stay after school when they do not have their homework done so that they can complete it, these kids are in detention. I think that it is a weird dichotomy to have. My mentor says that some kids use the time as a quiet time to get work done. Whether kids are in detention or members of the elite HWC the result is the same, kids are getting work done. This was in evidence when, during a house meeting, High Honors ( all grades above 93), Honors (above 85), and effort/conduct (a 1 in every class, one teacher prefaced the distribution of these by saying that it was a great achievement and in some ways more impressive than the ‘honors’) certificates. A large percentage of kids received at least one of these certificates to the applause of their York house-mates.

During the house meeting (just the teachers) Progress reports came up. It was mentioned that many of the students who were on the honor roll were not at the moment. Particular kids were discussed. At this point the Special Education teacher interjected a reminder of a students learning disability and what that meant for the work load of that student, particularly work involving reading. My mentor and the SE teacher discussed possible accommodations, including my mentor volunteering to read aloud to the student after school, to help keep the student up to date.

It is really amazing to see the comradery of the teachers. They support each other in many ways and all seem very invested in the kids, their colleagues , the school, and what the school stands for.

Building a Sense of Community

Today is the third Tuesday of the month, that means Community Service at KMS. The entire house participates. In groups of seven or so, along with a teacher, they were bussed to PROP, Preble Street Resource Center, Ronald McDonald House, Nathan Clifford School, Reiche School, to help out in whatever way they were needed. I think that it is fantastic that the school fosters this sort of community service.
The group I was with went to Preble street and helped organize the clothing ‘store’. They have a room that is filled with unsorted donations and another that is set up like a big walk-in closet with donations that have been sorted. We helped to straighten up and organize the closet portion, this is where clients come to pick out clothes: shirts, pants, coats, hats, gloves, shoes, etc. The kids did a great job, one in particular was really motivated and worked at motivating his classmates too. He and two others tackled the mountain of shoes, matching them up and organized them on the shelves. He stepped up and made sure it was being done right and called out those who were not doing a good job. I was very impressed by this seventh graders involvement in what we were doing.

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