Writing my way through the school year!

Archive for September, 2010

Parent Accountability! Letter to a parent.

Let’s think about this…. I have sent at least 5 Missing Homework letters home with your child and she has only been in school for about 6 weeks.  I called you, emailed you, and you did not respond.  Today you send  a letter asking me, not only to keep your child in from recess, but to send home extra work!  Ha, ha, ha!!!! All I could do is laugh! Your daughter than tried to convince me to send home extra “worksheets.”  Although I have given you the link, not once, twice, but three times, where I have provided access to a multitude of links and resources that your child can access at home. I post the homework EVERY DAY, so if you just took one minute, one minute, out of your busy day, you would know what homework your child has, and maybe,just maybe, you could make her do it! She doesn’t need extra work, how about it if she does the work I send home? Am I asking too much? I can not be the teacher at school and home, I have children too.  I make my child do his work, that is my job as a parent! Step up to the plate, parents, take back the responsibility of raising your child, I can’t do it all!



I was sitting at the hairdresser, exhausted.  After a week of dealing with other people’s children, I was weary.  My head lay backwards in the bowl, almost drifting off, when something made my ears perk up.  It was the voice of a  non-educator on the Oprah show talking about how horrible the schools are, how we are failing our students, and how we should run the schools like a business.  Is he serious?  Oprah, as all laymen, seemed to concur. Neither one of them would last a day in a classroom, much less a week.

Fast forward to home, reading the NEA site, where they posted a letter from a teacher to Oprah, blasting her for her education show, which did not include one educator!!! How can that be?  I believe we are the only profession where no one listens to the ones in the trenches. Everyone would rather whine about how we get summers off, our elaborate planning periods, our benefits, and tenure. We deal with children who want to be entertained, parents who see us as a babysitting service, and condone their children’s disrespect, principals who are non-supportive(not mine), and the new ideas, flung at us every day by people who have never taught a day in their life!    Don’t get me wrong, I love teaching, and I wouldn’t do anything else, but gee whiz, could we get a little respect?

The Teacher’s Lounge

I eat lunch  in my classroom.  I sit with a good book, and the lamp on my desk I eat in my room for a reason. I can not tolerate eating in the Teacher’s Lounge.  Sometimes, I felt sorry for a new teacher who entered the lounge, what must they think?  After a half hour of  listening to seasoned teachers disparaging parents and students alike, are they ready to leave the profession, or do they join in, believing it’s normal? It’s wasn’t all the teachers, it’s a core group, and they were merciless.  We all gripe from time to time, but they were vicious. Comments about parents on drugs or drinking, all unproven accusations. Calling the children stupid or questioning why the parents are still “breeding.” Day after day, they’d gather together around the table , spewing their venom, regardless of who was around them.  Once, we had a substitute complain to the principal, and refuse to return to our school after spending her lunchtime in our Teacher’s Lounge.  We need to be mindful of how we talk about our kids and their parents , no matter how often they annoy us. Keep in mind, it has to be difficult to go back to the classroom, and leave that attitiude behind.  Remember why you’re there!

Praise! The Power of Positive Reinforcement!

I have a mousepad on my desk that lists  “101 Ways to Praise a Child”, it’s a wonderful tool. More than anything, I’ve found praise works wonders. Does it always work? Of course not, some children, you praise, and they get worse! But this year, I have a group of students who respond well to praise. I am in my third week of school, and all the behaviors are gone, they have magically disappeared! What magic is this, you ask?  The magic of praise! A few double high-fives, a dozen, “Wow, you’ve done a great job today”, and “It’s been a pleasure having you in my class today”, along with some self-rewarding pats on the back, has given me a roomful of children who glow in the warmth of my praise. I am loving it!  No rewards, no incentives, just a good old, “Yes, you’ve had a good day” that brings a smile that’s akin to a thousand suns on the face of a child who had originally irked me.So yes, my mousepad sits beneath my mouse, and with a quick glance, I bestow upon an unsuspecting child a word of praise.   If only it could be that simple every year. 🙂

Protect Yourself!

Today, I allowed  the little boy in my class who has been extremely disrespectful to me,push my button!  I asked the students to take out their homework, and as usual, he didn’t have his.  Instead of admitting he didn’t have it, he decided to play the , “I have it, but I have to look for it” game.  I always tell my students, “Stop looking for your nonexistent homework.”  Most of them get a laugh out of it, not him. He stormed to his locker, grabbed his book bag, and slammed it into his chair, all while I was teaching. I told my class, “Excuse me!”. I grabbed his book bag and told him to follow me into the hallway.  I bent down towards him and told him that his behavior is unacceptable and he needs to get himself together.  I went in the room, and he stayed. I sent a student to get him, he said, “No.” I told him to come in, he said, “No.” My principal came and got him. He returned an hour later, pleased with himself. At lunchtime, I had a note in my box written by the child with a note at the bottom from my principal that said, “Please see me about __________________.”  The child’s note said, “I got mad because I was looking to see if I broung(sic) my homework, and Mrs.M threw my bookbag in the hallway.”   Luckily for me, the teacher across the hall was having small group in the back of his room, and he saw the whole thing.  I didn’t speak to my principal yet, so I really don’t know what he wants.  He is usually very supportive, so I think he’s just trying to find out what happened.  But it made me think about what could have happened, or the spin this child could put on what happened, if this teacher didn’t witness my interaction with him.  I’ll keep that in mind the next time, and there will be a next time, he pushes my button! By the way, he didn’t have his homework.:)

Happy Labor Day Teachers! Keep Doing What You Do!

“Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country.”

A special Labor Day shout-out to all the teachers out there!  On my day off, I will be working , trolling for new ideas, sharing, reading blogs and ideas shared by my PLN. Just like a teacher, always working, always learning, always thinking of new and innovative things we can do in our classrooms to promote learning!

I am very proud of my chosen career, and I know there are millions of us out there who feel the same way. Don’t let the naysayers who let test scores determine our worth, our value, bring you down, just keep doing what you do best, teach! So, to all those teachers who are a number of careers rolled into one every single day: social worker/psychologist/mother/father/custodian/secretary/artist/tech specialist… I could go on and on.

Happy Labor Day to you!

Very interesting article : The Teachers Are All Right — In These Times.

No Medication Required!

A few years ago when my son was in the second grade, a teacher told me that I had to medicate him. “He needs medication!”  This same teacher also demonstrated to me how she had my son’s chair pushed up against a blackboard, and then pulled a standing chart behind him so the other students wouldn’t see him. I left the conference, went back to my job, faxed a letter to her principal detailing what was said, and my child was removed from her class.  My son is now a successful student in high school, never medicated, ever! Most parents don’t know that a teacher can not advise you to medicate their child.  Most parents don’t realize that, legally, teachers can not tell a parent that their child needs medication. I have spoken to more than one teacher who is angry, yes angry, that a parent refuses to place their child on medication.  Every child does not need medication, as in the case of my son.  What he had throughout the years were teachers who were willing to use different strategies for my child who found it difficult to sit still. As a teacher, I have done the same thing for the children of others. They are children, and all children are different. “She doesn’t pay attention!”  “He is easily distracted!”  “He won’t stay in his seat!” Why are these reasons to medicate a child? I am not naive, I know there are times when medication might work for a child.  But, it should not be used to create a room full of zombies for a teacher who lacks classroom management or doesn’t want to develop strategies to enable a child to learn. We all  know students who are medicated, and nothing changes, except the dosage. Or the students who are so drugged, they just sit, not able to function.  I have had those students that teachers felt should be medicated, one of them is a senior in high school, an Honor student, never medicated.  I am scared about the future of these children we are drugging. When a child looks at you and says, “I didn’t take my medication today, that’s why I’m acting like this”, it’s scary.  Where is the sense of responsibility we are supposed to be teaching?  When teachers constantly say, “I can’t teach him today, he is off his meds!” Where is our sense of responsibility?  Once, a colleague of mine suggested one of her former students needed medication.  I told her, “He doesn’t need medication, he needs someone to make him sit down and do his work!” And that’s what I did, no medication required.

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