Teacher Professor

April 19, 2016

Growth in the Classroom

Filed under: Uncategorized — Teacher Professor @ 3:15 am

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Friends and colleagues! Please participate in/pass on this survey I am doing as part of my Fulbright- The goal of this project is to determine how educational psychological growth principles are translated by educators and to determine what educators perceive as the context for these principles in their schools- in a cross-cultural comparison (higher ed professors welcome as well!). Your participation and the participation of your colleagues is voluntary but incredibly valuable to educator training and professional development! It takes about 20-30 minutes… I SO appreciate your help… 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/growthprinciples

April 14, 2016

“Blue” is not a Greek word (although everything else is!)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Teacher Professor @ 2:56 am

Despite having seas this color

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And skies THIS color

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apparently, the ancient Greeks did not have a word for “blue”.  In fact, there is some evidence that they did not even perceive blue, despite working with lapis lazuli, turquoise and the aforementioned seas and skies.   Homer mentions the “wine-dark sea” and refers to the “bronze sky”.  Sheep were bronze as well, and honey was green. In fact, “blue” was not a word in ancient China, Japan, Hebrew or other ancient cultures.  Only the Egyptians had a color for “blue” and they were the only ones for centuries with the ability to create the color through dye.  What the Greeks had were words for “light” and “dark”.  Color was less important than the depth.

Which is FASCINATING to me, because the ancient Greeks had a word for EVERYTHING!  One of the phrases that travelers will share with each other with great humor is the Greek tendency to tell you, “_____ is Greek word.  You know this word?  Is Greek!”

Click here for Youtube clip of My Big Fat Greek Wedding- I show you how the root is Greek.  

The pride with which the Greeks inform you that your language, your perceptions, your way of thinking, started HERE is palpable.  A phrase from Mary Stewart’s book “My Brother Michael” that I recently read had a phrase that says, “There’s your own country, and then there’s Greece“.

A short listing of words gives you an idea:

anarchist, ambidextrous, anatomy, androgynous, archaic, architect, autograph, ancient, amphitheater, antiseptic... and that is just the As!

Their legends, their concepts, their ideas of things have formed the foundation of our language and our way of understanding the world.  Our sense of ourselves as individuals, not parts of a collective;  our belief in “one person/ one vote”; our aesthetic sense of balance and justice- these are rooted in Greece.

The impact of Greece is far bigger than the country itself.  In land mass (50,000 square miles), it’s smaller than Louisiana (51,000), but slightly bigger than Mississippi (49,000).  Much smaller than my home state of Georgia (59,000).  Yet, Alexander the Great was the first empire to dominate the world, and he was the last (the LAST) person to conquer Afghanistan.

Greece is studied by third graders in Georgia as part of the “Ancient Greece and Rome” unit where they study the impact on our design, our language and our democracy.  Kids made models of the Acropolis, dress in togas, and get a vague understanding that we are where we are because of the works and thoughts of people long ago past.  They read Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series with a vague understanding that it’s based on ancient stories.  For most American children and adults, Ancient Greece is a story, a backdrop- along with fairy tales and nursery rhymes.

But here, it’s personal.  They see themselves in all aspects of the world.  They see how their culture is so much larger than their country.  There is a significant pride in their past, their art, their poetry and their impact.  They see themselves as a treasure and the source of all that is Western.  Their thoughts formed how we think.

Which is why is was such a shock that they did not have “blue”. did not know “blue”.  For a country whose FLAG is blue and white…

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In an article about “Blue“, Wikipedia notes that blue was a word from Middle English derived from the Germanic tries, who would paint their faces blue in war.  It became the color of Christianity when the Byzantine Muslims world chose green as their “Color” and Christians had to wear the color blue to identify themselves.  Blue became a war color again and was adopted by the Greeks in their centuries-long battle against the Ottoman Turks.

So- blue is not a Greek word- and apparently, wasn’t even a Greek concept.  I had no idea of the history and cultural references that a single color, one that pervades this country, could have.

 

April 12, 2016

Amazing Teachers Everywhere

Filed under: Uncategorized — Teacher Professor @ 8:25 am

“Hello, I’m the crazy teacher.”

“Oh?  What grade do you teach?”

“Sixth.”

“Oh well, that explains why you’re crazy!”

And with this exchange, I established an immediate connection with a fellow teacher here in Greece and had a wonderful laugh that only people who have taught sixth grade can share.

I had the great joy of visiting two schools today- a school for preK-elementary aged children with special needs and a general education public elementary school.  In both schools, I was welcomed and reminded of how universal good teaching is- and how kids are kids no matter the language or the culture.  My most sincere thanks to Dr. Ioannis Dimakos who toured me around, providing translations and explanations and who shares a deep love of children.

I was welcomed by the principal of the special school and was reminded once again how important it is to have a strong, visionary principal.  She showed me around and I got a chance to hug children, and see all of the various therapies that are offered with an emphasis on real-world skills, even with very little ones.

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I shared my pain of writing the Greek alphabet with one child and observed how teachers would adapt reading instruction for the varying levels of the children.  These are children who, despite having limited legal protections, have strong advocates in their teachers and administrators.  A school is only as good as their teachers- and I saw the dedication, strength and humor that is the hallmark of strong educators.  The school had a very small student-teacher ratio, and I never saw a child “lost” in the melee of the classroom.  All were engaged either in small groups or directly with an adult.  Except for the one child who was having a melt down, and even he was in a pile of pillows and sponges where he could see and hear the rest of the classroom.  Alone, but not isolated.

What is your name?

Where are you from?

How are you?

Questions I was asked when I was mobbed by a group of seven-year olds who wanted to welcome me and to try out their English.   I was vastly entertained because my Greek extends to the same questions they asked me:

Πως σε λενε;

Απο που εισαι;

Τí κανεις;

Do you feel famous?”  asked my guide- Anastacia, 7 years old, who speaks English very fluently and was a student in Ms. Resvani’s classroom.  Vasiliki Resvani is a second grade teacher who is one of the most amazing teachers I’ve seen (and she happens to be married to Dr. Dimakos!).  She helped her students learn English, practice handwriting, and prepared for an upcoming field trip to the main Plaza of Patra by having students prepare a “Welcome book” for me.  The children were to practice their English writing and include their drawing of what they wanted to share about Patra.

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I am pretty sure I did an exact copy of this picture when I was seven… complete with hearts.

IMG_5401I particularly love how the rain clouds look like the octopi in the sea.

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This kid likes flags.  I love the inclusion of the US and Greek flags… although I’m not certain what flag the boat is flying.  Ghana? Ethiopia? Mozambique?

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What I love about this one is that his/her work was included as well.  This work was just as valued and appreciated as everyone else’s.

Good teachers everywhere love their children.  Great teachers everywhere work to include and value every child.  I was humbled and honored to be able to be reminded that great teaching is not limited to a particular culture, a particular socio-economic level or even a particular language.  I was reminded that great teaching focuses on helping a child communicate to a broadening world.

I will treasure my book.  It will remind me that while so much can be different, great teachers are universal.  Even if they’re “crazy”!

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