Tallying

​The year ends in a flurry of graduations and celebrations and hugs and a million little things. And then, suddenly, it's summer and it's quiet, and all the data gets entered and the numbers reckoned and the results tallied.  As we start the new year, with it's own flurries and millions of little things, we're also looking back to se...
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Welcoming

Welcome. And welcome back. To our teachers, our students, our colleagues and (especially) our volunteers. (And to this poor, neglected blog) ((I promise I'll be better about writing. It's my new school year resolution)) We're starting this year with volunteers at each of five programs. (This makes me happy)They're helping w...
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Working

​I found myself talking to a colleague this week, about what was working and not working in our programs, and what we were wanting to do about that. And the things that worked and didn't work in her program, with similar enough volunteers and similar enough classes, were not all that similar to the things that were working and not working in our pr...
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Changing

​Let me get to the point: HTM will start the new year with a new organizational home. For the past 20+ years we've been affiliated with the Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce. In January 2019, we'll join MassHire Holyoke (aka CareerPoint). I'm excited to be part of  their team. I've always thought it spoke well of the Chamber that t...
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Thoughtful v.15: Learning

Thoughtful, a small collection of links to inspire your thinking. V.15. How learning ​really​ happens: Telling You the Answer Isn't the Answer "    "And do you know what's really awesome? That moment when students realize they don't really need me and they know the answer and they know WHY they know the answer.​​"How Can We Amplify S...
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Thanking

I love Thanksgiving as a holiday about stuffing and pie and family and a full table. I have the pile of dishes and the fridge full of leftovers to prove it. But, I also appreciate a calendar reminder to be thankful. This time last year, I thought about our students, and counted some blessings in my life: reading and math and English and d...
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Calculating

We all know that the true benefits of education are incalculable. As a teacher, having a student tell me at the end of the year "I learned I'm smarter than I thought I was" is worth more than any score on any standardized test, or any outcome measure the Dept. of Education can invent.And, yet. Not everyone has had that heart-melting exper...
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Star-ing

​Maybe I'm being a classic, recognition-seeking millennial. But I think the world needs more gold stars. And high fives.And positive reinforcement.I love the big celebration with certificates and flowers and press release for our students and tutors of the year. But that's a long way away, and while I may bend my own rules and celebrate two student...
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Changing

Every term, I have students, who teachers excitedly promote to the next level, and who arrive at their new class looking slightly whiplashed and off balance by the change. And then I go through a change of my own, and remember why. Last spring, one of our programs closed. (Farewell, HolyokeWorks, we'll miss you!) This meant many things for collea...
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Welcoming (Back)

It's (almost) back to school time. For kids, certainly and, gratifyingly for our adult learners too (although their break was often a little longer, and generally a lot less like a vacation). But also, for volunteers coming back to HTM. For many, the break was the summer. Classes ended in June, they'll be back. in September; it's the rhythm of the...
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Thoughtful v.14: Helping

Thoughtful, a small collection of links to inspire your thinking. V.14. It's national volunteer week. In honor of all the people who help our communities, a few stories about the power of stepping up to make an impactOne man plants a forest  (National Geographic, Short film showcase)  From Syria with Love (Modern Love, NY Times) Ci...
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Speaking

I've been gathering some information about our students and our volunteers lately. I'll be sharing more of it later, but first up ... the languages we speakPerks of my job?  Opportunities to google new-to-me languages -- Brazilero (A Spanish/Portuguese dialect from the Uruguay/Brazil border region) and Sonike (which is spoken in Mali and ...
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Thoughtful v.13: Math

Thoughtful, a small collection of links to inspire your thinking. V. 13. It's math week here at HTM. Or at least, a math training has put my mind on math, and the process of learning it:Stop destroying mathematical genius (Stories of accomplished mathematicians, such as "Hermann Grassmann, one of the founding fathers of Linear Algebra, did not...
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Questioning

Things on my mind, and popping up in conversations with volunteers and with colleagues....​When a student asks a question, say, 'What's 3 + 8 ?" (To give a simple example. For imaginative purposes, substitute the appropriate question for your subject - ​What punctuation do I use? What's the main idea? What's the hypothesis? What's the answer to #3?...
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Staying (pt. 2)

Last week, I was firmly in my data-loving mode. Our volunteers are staying with the program longer. This is great. (and I got to make graphs) But this week, the story side. I asked our volunteers why they keep coming back every week. The consensus was clear: "The students!"  (wrote two volunteers from completely different corner...
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Staying (pt.1)

Volunteer retention is the kind of stat only a volunteer coordinator could love. But, it's also the kind of unflashy measure that makes everything else possible. As volunteers stay and gain experience they build closer connections with teachers and students, and build skills for their role. On the other hand, turn over is disruptive to cl...
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Observing

I'm spending much of this month observing our new-er tutors in action. (And I'm spending much of this spring meeting with other ABE staff to talk about observing and coaching)  So I've been thinking about what it is I hope I see, when I watch a volunteer in action.  Which leads me to google "the difference between simple and easy" &n...
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Thoughtful v.12: Supporting

Thoughtful, a small collection of links to inspire your thinking. V.12. This week, I'm thinking about our graduates, and their next steps, and how important it is to continue supporting them (and others like them) as they move forward in their education. (With a nod of respect to our colleagues who make supporting these students their focus) F...
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Collaborating, pt. 2

Last week (now known as Collaborating, pt 1) I wrote about who does what in a sort of big picture way. This week, Collaborating, pt. 2, I'm thinking about what collaborating means on the ground, in the day. I think there are two answers: 1. We have different roles, tasks, responsibilities... but a common mission, goal, aim. 2. O...
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Collaborating

​HTM volunteers work with 30+ class sessions each week. But HTM runs - precisely - none of those classes. We're a collaborative with six other organizations, and they run the classes. This is one of the unique (read: cool, powerful, kind of complicated, occasionally confusing) features of HTM. Collaborating in this way means I can match v...
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