Monday, August 30, 2010


Have you ever seen or used a 3 x 5 index card? I'm willing to bet if you've ever been to school you have. My dad used to joke that I should buy stock in them because I used them for every single subject to study... they held my organic chemistry compounds and equations, my english vocabulary words, my life cycle sequences and my Bible study memory verses.

As a teacher this really hasn't changed much. I still really enjoy organizing my thoughts in a defined, pre-lined space (preferably with a Sharpie in hand).

As I began my home visits this summer for my pre-k students I made up a card for each one of them. Their names where written at the top (in orange Sharpie) then their parents/guardians names on the other side with an address and phone number.

That's it.

That's all I knew about these children before I met them.

I was struck today by how much more I could write on those cards. I now know and have had the privilege of meeting parents, grandparents, guardians, aunts, siblings, and several pet fish. Some of these details-- who lives at home and who else goes to our school-- have been added to the cards.

But I could add that K is the best helper in my class-- he is always showing someone how to open their milk or where to sit at circle. I could add a running narrative of funny conversations between R and S, two half sisters I have in my class. I could start a diagram of who should and should not sit next to who if you want anyone to listen. Who can tie shoes and who has yet to conquer those pesky laces. Who goes to the bathroom 20 times a day. One child sings at nap time in full voice... in Spanish. One child seeks my attention-- and needs it-- almost constantly.

At the end of the year, I doubt much more will be written on those notecards, because my favorite way of organizing information is insufficient to hold the streams of information I learn about these 16 children on a daily basis. I could group and re-group them by ten different attributes a day. At the end of the year I think I will be overwhelmed by how much I have learned about them. What a privilege.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Opening Ceremonies

A few days ago we had our Opening Ceremonies for Charlottesville City Schools... all the teachers from the 11 schools packed into the CHS auditorium wearing our various school t-shirts and the dust from our classrooms.

The vice superintendent Gertrude Ivory spoke (where was Superintendent of the Year Rosa Atkins? No one knows). But Ms. Ivory is an incredible speaker. She is sincere, inspirational, and honest. While listing CCS's accomplishments, she also mentioned that we have all too many non-proficient readers graduating from our schools. She mentioned test scores and diversity, growing ESL populations and creative innovations.

She led into her speech with this statement (or close to it):

We need our schools to be filled with both excellence and equity. Because excellence without equity is privilege. And equity without excellence will lead our students to mediocrity that serves no one.

Here we go...