Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Where Have I Been and Where Am I Going?


Yes, it is me - Susan Slocum Dyer.  I am finally making a post here at my blog, The Moveable Alphabet.  I have been busy. Very busy.  I moved back to Alaska a year ago this August 1st. I accepted a position with the Annette Island School District in Metlakatla, Alaska, a Federal Reserve located on a tiny island in the Pacific Ocean.

I was hired to work as a Public Montessori Pre-School/ Kindergarten teacher (my students were aged 3 to almost 7 years) in the R.J. Elementary School. The school received a large grant to bring Montessori to the district; a district which is part of the Alaska Public Schools. So, in fact, I worked and still work for the State of Alaska.

Initially, I found it very challenging to weave together public testing (AIMSweb), running records, formative / performative / summative assessments for my lesson plans and Montessori methodology. Too, I had to study and sit for the PRAXIS I Reading Test, Writing Test and Math Test - separate tests based on public school content. In addition, I had to pass the PRAXIS II Content Exam - Early Elementary Education : Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment. Also, I had to apply and be accepted into an MAT (Masters in Education Program) - which I did, and was accepted into the University of Alaska Southeast's program this past January, 2016.

As a distance learner, I completed a full time load of preliminary courses for the Fall Semester of 2015 and the Spring Semester of 2016 (while teaching full time). I learned so much this past year and I cried much also. It was so challenging and so rewarding. My students were all Tsimshian natives. My memories from that classroom community will remain with me for the rest of my life. I still have so much to reflect upon and write about. I have several posts to add here about that experience and hope to began doing that soon.

Metlakatla, Alaska


 Metalkatla, AK is located on a small island in the Pacific Ocean. 


 Above: This beach was just down from the house I rented.

 

 Photo of me above: I often took  a float plane to get to Ketchikan to do my shopping or to get outside of Alaska via the international airport located there. 


Above: My good friend Jennifer, a Tsimshian native, who taught right across the hall from me. She is a Public School teacher who became a Montessori teacher - a Public Montessori teacher. We were both changing and evolving our teaching methods simultaneously. She helped me greatly and I hope I helped her. She belongs to a Tsimshian tribal dance group which performs locally and internationally.

Now, I am preparing for my next position with the State of Alaska. I have been hired as a kindergarten teacher for the North Slope Borough School District in Barrow, Alaska - the top of the world. It is hundreds of miles above the Arctic Circle.

Barrow, Alaska
Where I have been and where I am going - 

Above image: 
Barrow is located at the farthest point North and Metlakatla is pretty much the farthest point South in Alaska.  In the photo/map on the right above, Metlakatla is the small, nameless island south / below Ketchikan, which is located in Southeast Region of Alaska. Barrow is located in the Far North region.

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Above: Fred Ipalook Elementary School in Barrow, where I will work starting August 1, 2016.


 The above photo: This is a photo of the tribal practice of the blanket toss that continues to this day. I hope I get to experience it!

I am nervous and excited. I have sent my crates of personal and teaching items earlier this week. I will be a kindergarten teacher; public, not Montessori. I may have 5 and 6 year olds in my class, but no 3 and 4 year olds. There is another Montessori teacher already there and she is going through all that I have begun. I have another year till I complete my Master's program and will sit for PRAXIS II exams when that concludes.

I am a teacher, like so many of you. It is an amazing adventure. There are children all over the world hoping that one of us will arrive and be their teacher.  Stay posted and I will post much more often.

4 comments:

María said...

Hi Susan! I am impressed to hear of all your adventures and your courage to do new things and grow. Wow! Above the Polar Circle! The children of Alaska have won a high quality Montessori teacher in a public school.
I have learned so much through your blog for my work in Sweden.

Elda said...

WOW ! Amazing story !! So Happy for you !! Continue enjoying your journey and I look forward to reading to upcoming posts.

Harmoni Wallace said...

i just wanted to let you know i was SOOOO happy to see this post. I've been following your blog and have received so much inspiration from it. I was sad to think there would be no more! I am so curious as to what your teaching method will be like in a public kindergarten. Are you going to try to continue the Montessori philosophy in your new classroom?

Susan Slocum Dyer said...

I will always be a Montessori teacher! Always! As some one said to me one day, "It is in my blood." I will be posting about how to integrate Montessori and Public methods - even in a Public School setting that is missing the M word in their title. Various work stations in the classroom are great opportunities for Montessori materials to be placed and explored! More later...oh, and look for my post, "What is so scary about assessments: formative, performative and summative?" It will really open up this conversation!