Tag Archives: high school

Mini-Memories

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Talking to my students brings so much insight to my life. They’re always so inquisitive and curious about what brought me to their school and how my life has turned out. 

This last week, I had them writing mini-memoirs. As is to be expected many students just looked at me and were like, “We don’t have anything to tell”. Which is obviously untrue. 

So I dug into my experiences to give them ideas. I told them about the video tape my dad made of my two older sisters waiting for me to be born. My mother was in the bedroom with the midwife and they were in the other room. There was a whiteboard on the wall with a few names scribbled on it in Arabic. One of those names was خلود Khuloud. And even though they were still deciding on what my name would be, they kept calling me by the name they eventually gave me. I like to believe that that was when my family started our tradition of all of us having a hand in deciding the name for the next baby. 

Or like the time I almost drowned when I jumped into the deep end of the swimming pool as a little kid. Or feeling like I was drowning when we were at the beach in Malaysia and my father kept throwing me into the salty ocean and scooping me back up again while everyone laughed and enjoyed the warmth and beauty of the day.

Or the time when I was hit by a motorcycle as my sister, our friend and I were crossing the road heading home. I remember coming to this road, looking both ways and noticing a lone motorcycle in the distance. It was a warm and sunny day and our friend had her bike with her. We decided it was safe to cross. And this is when everything gets hazy. I don’t know if I tripped and fell or if the motorcycle just hit me and then I fell. All I knew was that my face was smashed into the hard concrete and gravel ground. I was crying and the motorcycle was on top of me and then it was gone. I don’t remember hurting- my body was numb. My sister and friend lifted me up onto the bike and each grabbed one side of the handlebars, keeping me balanced between them as they ran to our house. I remember not being able to see infront of me. The tears made everything blurry. For some reason that is beyond my comprehension, I felt bad that they were pushing me and so I tried to use the peddle to help. I think my sister yelled at me to stop. 

In no time at all, we were home and I was lying on the floor of the living room. I think my mother decided to change my clothes, but I can’t be too sure. I swear I was above my body watching everything happen in a blur. Everyone was screaming but they were all muffled. My sister was telling them what happened. I don’t remember where our friend went. My father lifted me and put me in the back seat of the car and raced me to the hospital. 

I don’t think I broke anything, I was badly bruised and needed stitches and a cast on my leg. I don’t know how long it took for me to heal. The last thing I remember is being in the car going to the hospital. Everything after is a black void in my memory. I could easily have misremembered the details, I was only five or so years old. 

How did we get off topic? The point was to get my students to write about themselves. The point wasn’t so that I could captivate them with my own stories. But sometimes it is important to go somewhat off topic. To make yourself human in front of your students. To captivate them with your stories. I like to believe my honesty and opennes helps them trust me and open up to me. 

It’s difficult to ask students who lead rough lives to share their stories with us. They often don’t want to share their truths even if I’m the only one reading it. I believe building a relationship of trust and honesty helps make it easier. 

Reliving my experiences helps me appreciate the life I’ve lead and who I have become because of my unique encounters. It also reminds me that my students are currently experiencing encounters and events that will forever shape who they will become. And I pray everyday that the time they spend with me are timrs that have a lasting and positive effect on who they grow up to become. 

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The Problem With Technology

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My high school used technology (computers, word processors, and Blackboard) extensively. I couldn’t turn in any hand written essays, I received all my assignments online and communicated with all my teachers via email. Yes, not many schools were doing this back in the early 2000s, but it worked for my small public high school of 400 in California.

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Today, I see many schools trying to integrate technology within the classroom, but they’re doing it all wrong. Every school I’ve worked at (4 so far) has made technology an “event” during the school week. You’re allowed to use the laptops, iPads or computer lab only so many days a week and for only such and such programs. That isn’t incorporating technology within a classroom that’s just making technology a visitor, a delicacy, a change from the normal routine.

My high school incorporated technology to the point it was part of the everyday routine. They didn’t make a big deal about the use of technology like schools do today (“Today we’re doing Achieve3000 on our laptops so put away your books!”) and not a single assignment could be completed without using technology (whether it was to look up the assignment, to research, to actually complete the assignment or to communicate about clarification regarding the assignment).

Though we live in the age of technology and all our students have smartphones and tablets and maybe even the occasional laptop/desktop, students have a difficult time maneuvering the use of technology within the classroom. Because schools are using technology as an “event” students come to high school not knowing simple actions like proper typing or even logging off instead of shutting down.

On days we use technology, my students get so excited that they’ll be on laptops instead of the routine. This saddens me. They should be using technology seamlessly in their classes. Students should not be excited; this excitement shows how much of a novelty using technology to learn really is.

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As a teacher, (and now that it’s winter break) I will be searching for ways to incorporate technology into every day use so that my students start to really explore the reality of the times. We don’t know what jobs they’ll hold in the future or what life will be like 10, 20, even 30 years from now. But I’ll bet that technology will continue to be a big part of life then. And that is why students should not view technology in the classroom as a novelty, but as a routine.

Disclaimer: I’m sure there are schools out there that have successfully incorporated technology within the school culture however, I have yet to experience it myself (obviously besides the high school I attended as a teenager).