Writing my way through the school year!

Posts tagged ‘educators’

Buffalo Wild Wings and Teaching!

Buffalo Wild Wings introduced a 15 minute lunch guarantee:

“BUFFALO WILD WINGS, INC. (NASDAQ: BWLD) TODAY INTRODUCED A LIMITED-TIME, 15-MINUTE LUNCH GUARANTEE ACROSS NEARLY 900 U.S. RESTAURANTS, DESIGNED TO SHOW TIME-STRAPPED GUESTS THAT THEY DON’T HAVE TO SACRIFICE QUALITY, VALUE OR VARIETY FOR SPEED AT LUNCH TIME.

“We want to prove to our Guests that they can get the Buffalo Wild Wings experience they have come to know and love within the limited time they have for a traditional lunch break,” said Todd Kronebusch, vice president of food and beverage for Buffalo Wild Wings. “Our standard was already to deliver Fast Break meals within 15 minutes, but the new guarantee adds a promise to our Guests, and some fun, friendly competition.”

“Servers will start a timer when they leave the table and stop the timer when the food is delivered. Any Guest who doesn’t get their meal in 15 minutes gets their entire meal and any fountain soda for free.”

 
Every time I hear this commercial I cringe….READ MORE

Popular Posts of August 2012!

 

And the top 5 are:

Fabulous Phone Call!: Go Ahead, Make Their Day!

While attending the 2011 PLC summit, one of the presenters told us about an experience he had while watching Family Feud. The question was, “What is the reason your child’s teacher is calling your house?” Not one of the “right” answers were positive, not one! Two of the answers were, “Your kid is failing” and “Your kid skipped school”. These answers only served to reinforce the stereotype of parent/teacher communication; we’re the bearers of bad news. 

 
After reading numerous articles and tweets over the past year, I am getting an idea. An idea, that may be a misconception on my part. Is there a belief that teachers who are passionate about tweeting and/or blogging, are considered “better” teachers??? Are we considered “better” than the ones who don’t?
 
I resolve to:
  1. treat all students fairly, regardless of race, gender, age, behavior, a parent’s nasty attitude, the comments from last year’s teachers, or seemingly lack of interest in learning 
  2. to realize that all children can learn, but not always at the same pace
  3. stop using sarcasm as a disciplinary tool, no matter how effective it may seem. 
I remember when I began using Discovery Education. It was years ago, and I was excited because they had great videos per United Streaming,  that I could show my students!
Well, Discovery Ed has come a long way baby, and it’s not just about videos anymore! 
 
 
I found FotoBabble in The Alice Mercer Daily. The one I made below will be embedded on our class blog and Edmodo. My students will create one as well. I will use their Fotobabbles to produce a slideshow. They can also post them on their blogs on Kidblog. A great way to get my students feet wet with the tech I will be using in my classroom!
 

 

Burned-Out? Please Reignite the Flame Or Get Out the Kitchen!

Usually what happens on Linkedin, stays on Linkedin, but this discussion topic warranted a post.  A teacher started a discussion regarding 50+ educators and survival tips. Many, many 50+ educators responded with wonderful, positive, ideas and comments about what they do in order to “survive” teaching. As a matter of fact, the responses weren’t even those of educators who are just “surviving”. Most of the teachers who responded, like me, are still passionate about teaching.

Somewhere along the line of reading the comments, one of the comments really bothered me, and this was my general response:

I think, as a teacher, when you reach the point where you can’t stand your job, you should find something else to do. I know it sounds harsh, but we are dealing with children…Read More

AND….I’M OFF! ( Summer “Vacation?”)

Today was the last day for the 2011 – 2012 school year! Yeah! Boo! As always, it was bittersweet. I will miss this group, their laughter, creativity,and  goodwill. I won’t miss all the testing, micromanaging, etc…, although I know it awaits me in the near future.

BUT… what will I do with my time off? A colleague told me to do things that I enjoy, no work!  But it is so hard for me to abide by that, because I will be “working”, at least by her standards. I will be involved in things that have to do with school, and I can’t help myself. I ENJOY learning new ways to teach, especially edtech,  and introduce the curriculum to my students. (So, I guess I am abiding partially).

I LOVE discussing and sharing ideas with my wonderful PLN on Twitter, Linkedin, my blog Facebook page, any place, anywhere, anything education.

I anticipate growing my PLN, and learning innovative ideas that I can now take my time and explore. I will read Zite, blogs, education articles, and Facebook pages, and share on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. I will post my teacher thoughts, opinions, and lessons throughout the summer.

A  friend of mine described me as a “teacher’s teacher” after we attended an education conference on a Saturday. Yes, (gasp), a Saturday! But, she loved it, and we learned so much.

I already have two webinars scheduled for tomorrow. One is for Nearpod, an Ipad app for interactive multimedia presentations. The other is Edmodo, a secure social learning network for teachers and students. Nearpod is new to me. However, I have used  Edmodo in my classroom for two years, but they keep adding stuff, and I don’t want to miss anything! I know these won’t be the last two for the summer. 🙂 Lifelong learner!

There are so many teachers like me, who “work” during the summer. The “work” is a way to leisurely explore new ways to engage our students. Tons of teachers don’t see it as a chore, but as something fun!

I do enjoy my summer. I don’t do summer school, and I do not attend any district workshops.  My summertime is my time, and I want to be able to delve deeply into what I choose, not the mandated stuff. (Except this year I will check  out Common Core). I travel, go to the beach, work on my novel, have barbeques, hang out with friends and family, and even enjoy a glass or two of wine on my deck.  But I am not going to feel guilty about indulging my passion for teaching, even when I’m supposed to be off! 🙂

Merit Pay for Teachers? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Bribe!

COMING SOON?

And you know they would! 🙂 Merit pay, how realistic is it that our pay could actually be tied to test scores? Very realistic!

What is merit pay?  Noun :extra pay awarded to an employee on the basis of merit (especially to school teachers)

What “think tank” thought up this idea, maybe the same one that stated that smaller class size doesn’t matter? I am amazed by what people (non-educators) come up with in order to hold teachers “accountable.” Or is it to make sure that the “better” teachers get what they deserve? No matter the reasoning behind this premise, it is ridiculous!   I know it probably sounded like a good idea, but it is difficult to come up with criteria in the education field that would allow this idea to work.

Tie our pay to test scores? Are all students equal? I don’t think so. If that was the case, why would we need differentiated instruction? If Teacher A works  in a school with struggling students and Teacher B works in a school with high achievers, does that make Teacher B a teacher who is deserving of merit pay, and Teacher A is not?

If Teacher A and B engage their students, and provide ample opportunities for their students to learn, but Teacher B has enough students that pass the test, does this mean Teacher B is a better teacher?

Or what if Teacher B does nothing but teach to the test, while Teacher A works to establish a well-rounded student?  Is Teacher B going to get paid more if more of his/her students pass?

I believe that most teachers are dedicated, hard-working people, who don’t need to be “bribed” to do their job. Teachers don’t do what they do for money, that is obvious from the salaries we make.  I partially agree with Arne Duncan, teachers should be paid up to $150,00. But pay them for all that they do, not because their students scored high enough on a test!

“If Teachers Were Treated Like Celebrities!” 2012 Version

Can you imagine what it would be like if teachers were treated like actors, athletes, singers, or even “reality tv “stars?”  Wow!

Mrs.Smith, Celebrity Teacher

“Mrs.Smith, Mrs.Smith, can I get your autograph?” She turned and smiled brightly at the young woman running towards her.

“Mrs.Smith”, the young woman gasped, “I have been following your career for years!  I’m about to start teaching myself, and I would be honored if you signed my copy of your book.”

“Are you ready to teach, young lady?’ she asked as she scribbled her signature, “This is a difficult job.”

“I know it is, but I’ve been reading your books,watching your videos, and  listening to your podcasts, I know I’m ready!”

“Good luck”, she says as she handed her the book. “Take care, you have quite a journey ahead of you.”

Mrs.Smith and her husband  entered the Four Seasons and were immediately seated at the best table. The maitre d’ smiled, and thanked Mrs.Smith, again, for teaching his son when she taught at Tower Hill.

“Anything you need Mr. and Mrs.Smith, just ask.”

After dinner, Mr. and Mrs.Smith hopped into their  Mercedes and drove home to their ten bedroom house up in the hills.  They entered  their  home, and stopped to pick  up one of the cameras left by the crew from MTV Cribs-Teachers.

“Time to mark some papers honey, I’ll be upstairs in a bit.”

She sat down, stared out at the ocean, and began grading.  The phone rang, and her assistant teacher, Marjorie spoke excitedly.

” Mrs. Smith,  Oprah wants another  interview, she’s doing another special on teachers, it’s called “Teachers are Tenacious!” She’s going to give away prizes to every school where the teachers in the audience work!”

“Oh, that Oprah, she is something else! Set it up please, Marjorie.”

She hung up and the phone rung again.

“Oh, my gosh, Mrs.Smith, you’ve  been nominated for a Thackeray!” (Named after Sidney Poitier’s character in , “To Sir, With Love”)

“A Thackeray?! Are you kidding? Oh my gosh, I’ve always dreamed…!  What category?”

” Best Lesson Taught During an Unannounced Observation.”

The Thackerays

As teachers walked down the red carpet, former students and teachers screamed their names. Reporters rushed up to interview each teacher as they strode down the carpet.

“Mrs.Smith, what are you wearing?”

She  waved, “This is not about me, it’s about all those kids I’ve helped!”

And the Winner Is…

And the winner of the “Best Lesson Taught During an Unannounced Observation” is… Mrs.Smith!”

She ran on the stage, “First I’d like to thank God.” Next I want to thank all those students who gave me the opportunity to teach. I’d also like to thank my mentor teacher, Mr.Wilson. He made me the teacher I am today! And most of all, my Mom and Dad, who gave me the chance to go to college and become what I am today, a teacher!”

The applause filled the room, and everyone stood, chanting “Teachers, teachers, teachers!”

 I know we all don’t need a Mercedes, a ten-bedroom home, to be filmed by MTV, or have an overrated awards show.  But wouldn’t it be great if teachers were  respected as much as actors, athletes, singers, and yes, even “reality” tv stars?

HAPPY TEACHER APPRECIATION!!!!

Self Fulfilling Prophecy!(Gloom and Doom)

I remember when I was in college a LONG time ago, we learned about the self-fulfilling prophecy. I don’t recall the professor who taught it, but somehow it has managed to stay in my head after all these years.  If you believe it, it could happen, good or bad, positive or negative, our expectations influence those around us. When the professor introduced this concept, he wanted to emphasize the damage we could do to our students if we had preconceived notions about them and what they were capable of.

In the education field this is particularly true.  We have a huge impact on what happens to the hundreds of lives who sit in our classrooms, year after year.  How many times have we heard successful people credit a teacher who believed in them? Teachers who refused to believe that  a particular student would amount to nothing?

Too many times I have heard comments about what “the population” of a school is,or is not, capable of.  Seen students who were judged by the behavior that they exhibited in prior years. Trying to get teachers to incorporate technology in their classrooms, and  being told that the younger students “can’t” do it. Determining the intelligence of  a child based on the behavior of a parent or sibling.

I have always had high expectations for my students, I refuse to lower my standards to fit a mold others think they fit in.  I hold them responsible for their education and believe that they are capable of so much. And I have found, repeatedly, that most of my students rise to my expectations. The new term  is “rigor.” Why is it new? Why isn’t this something we should have always expected from our students? From all of our students?  If we continue to teach students according to our expectations of them, and our expectations are low, what will the results be? If the Robins are challenged every day, and the Sparrows aren’t, when do the Sparrows get a chance to spread their wings, to fly beyond our enforced limits?

I have a student who was truant last school year.  When he arrived in my class, the pattern began again.   He would show up for school twice a week, if that.  According to statistics, the general consensus is that he will eventually drop out of school, and his life will be pretty bleak. He might, he’s 13 in the 5th grade. But now, I am not going to worry about that prophecy, right now I am going to believe that he can, and will, succeed.   He’s only missed one day in weeks. His grades have improved, he is willing to share his thoughts and his work. He raises his hand and participates in discussions. He High 5’s me every morning and afternoon. (The afternoon High 5 is accompanied by the word, “tomorrow.”) He’s so much more than a statistic to me.

I know, it’s pretty idealistic. “I believe, and if I believe , it can happen.” I realize this is not always the case. But wouldn’t it be great if our prophecies were positive, and most of them were fulfilled?

“Humiliation is Not a Classroom Management Technique!”

My youngest son is no angel, not in any way, shape, or form. He had been getting in  “trouble” since preschool. I would go to pick him up and he would wave, and grin, at me from the timeout area. He didn’t know any better, he was just one of those kids that was always up and about. Back then, if you were that kid, you ended up in timeout.

When he was in the second grade, I had a conference with his teacher. She couldn’t wait for me to sit down as she proclaimed, “He needs to be on medication! You need to put him on medication!” (We won’t go into the fact that legally a teacher cannot tell a parent to put their child on medication.) She then proceeded to show me what she did because he could not ” behave.” She took his chair, put it facing the blackboard in the front of the room, and then if that wasn’t enough, she rolled the hanging chart behind him “so he wouldn’t distract the other kids.” I saw red! What a humiliating experience for my child! She seemed quite pleased with herself. Needless to say, I contacted the principal immediately and had my child removed from her class.He was placed in a classroom where the teachers practiced strategies that allowed them to deal with kids like my son.

Last Sunday, I was talking to a parent who has a son in one of the new charter schools in my state. She informed me that her son had to wear the “yellow shirt.” The yellow shirt states, “Do not talk to me, I am in isolation.” My mouth fell open, and I told her, “Get your child out of that school immediately. She responded, “Oh, it’s ok, the shirt is normal.”

Normal? What’s normal about having anyone’s child walk around with a shirt saying “Don’t talk to me”? Using Color coded student ID’s according to your test scores?  Showing the class a student’s work and mocking them  in front of the class? What’s normal about a teacher humiliating a child in the hope that they will behave better? How could this possibly work?  The natural reaction to humiliation is to either shut down, or to become aggressive. The child no longer trusts the teacher and it has created an intolerable situation in the classroom for the student and/or the teacher. It can also lead to bullying. If the teacher is allowed to bully a student, why shouldn’t the other students?

I know they “take us there” sometimes. I was one of those teachers who had to stop using sarcasm as a classroom management technique, especially when I had a difficult group of kids. But now, I always think of how I would feel in that situation.  I think about how my sons would feel.  You know the adage, “Treat others the way you want to be treated!”  Now that’s a good classroom management technique!

The Cheerful Teacher -Staying Away from the Dark Side!

The Cheerful Teacher!

I am ashamed to write this. Ashamed that I behaved in this manner years ago.

Back in the 80’s, we had a teacher in our school who was always smiling. She smiled all the time.  I always wondered why she was  so cheerful. Didn’t she realize how annoying she was? Didn’t she realize that people had problems? To put an end to her everlasting cheerfulness,  a colleague and I decided we were going to “get her.” We were in the grade below her, and we decided we were going to put the worst kids in her class, and force her to stop being so cheerful.

Well, our plan didn’t work, she still smiled, and she continued to annoy me until she moved out of the state.

Fast forward twenty + years. I am now the cheerful teacher.  I am the teacher who is always smiling, no matter how “bad” my kids are.  I am the positive, (most of the time), one who tries to make the best of a bad situation. I am the one greeting students and staff alike with a cheerful “Good Morning”, even if I don’t receive a response.

I am not the only cheerful one in my school, there are a few of us. I am sure there are teachers who find us annoying, as I did that teacher from long ago. We have been asked why we are so cheerful. They have tried repeatedly to drag us to the dark side, but we continue to go towards the light.:)

I can’t tell you when my attitude changed. I just know that noone wants to spend 6 1/2 hours a day with a miserable person. I thought about my own children being stuck with a teacher like that.  In this climate of teacher-bashing, it can be difficult to remain positive.

In the years that I have been teaching I have had my share of personal problems, but I have not let them affect the way I treat my students.  I have experienced divorce, death of a parent, and illness. I have not allowed any of these issues to treat my students with any less respect and love than I was used to giving.  As a matter of fact, being around my students caused me to be sucked into their world, and to forget about mine for a little while.

Am I perfect? No! Do I have a grin plastered on my face all day? No!

But I do laugh, smile, and compliment our kids every chance I get. Wherever that teacher is from long ago, I hope she is still smiling.  I wish I could tell her I have joined the ranks of the cheerful teacher and that I am never going over to the dark side again! 🙂

The School Year Will End on June ____, 2011! The School Year Will End on June ____, 2011!

It has begun. The comments.

 “I hate teachers, you guys get the entire summer off.” 

“I wish I could sit home for three months and do nothing.”

“Do you get paid when you’re off?”

And the one that really ticks me off, “You all have it easy.” HA!

What people don’t realize is that after spending 177 days, (doesn’t seem like much does it), with other people’s children, you are ready to take a year off, not just two to three months. We are drained, physically and emotionally. When you are all things to 25-30+ students, day in and day out, you are wiped out.  If teachers did not get this break, we might go ” teachal”.  Doesn’t quite have the same ring as “postal” does it?   But, you get what I mean. And I would be remiss if I did not mention the  parents, administrators, district policies, standardized testing, every single day, a new day of challenges. I am ready.

I am down to the last two weeks of teaching this group, it’s been an experience. Is it more difficult because I am getting older?  Is it  the difference in the students, many parents’ inablility or refusal to “raise” their children, micromanaging of teachers in the classroom, standardized testing, and the latest trend, teacher bashing, that has me longing for this break more than I ever have before? I don’t know. But,  I am ready.

During the summer, I will enjoy my break. I will sit on the deck and enjoy a good book. I will vacation with my family. I will work on my novel, which will make me famous. 🙂   But I will also do what so many teachers do, continue to teach and/or continue to learn. I will stay in touch with my PLNs. Catching up on all the blogs and newsletters I subscribe to, but rarely get a chance to read,  will also be one of my tasks.   I will take classes on and offline, continuing my goal to be a lifelong learner. Most of all, I will allow myself a chance to exhale, so that I can start again.

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