Writing my way through the school year!

Posts tagged ‘effective’

“They Did Not Choose Their Parents”

These words were spoken at the 2011 PLC Summit I attended in Arizona last week.  “They didn’t choose their genetic pool”. “They couldn’t say I want two college-educated parents who love me, care for me, and make education my priority.”  

 I realized after hearing this statement,  that many times, I get frustrated with my students  about things over which they have no control.  When they come to school without school supplies,  their parent doesn’t sign a form,or  misses a scheduled appointment, or has made the child stay home to babysit, again.  These are things that the student can not control, but yet, year after year, my frustration is placed on a  child, who is probably just as frustrated as I am!  How many times has the child walked in the day after parent-teacher conferences, and I’ve said, “Your mother scheduled an appointment and didn’t come”  The child stands there wide-eyed, not knowing how to reply. Maybe they know why, maybe they don’t,but  that’s not the issue.

We need to work around the parents who are not supportive, the ones who just don’t have the time.  We need to tell our children, “You do you.”  “You do what you need to do to succeed.”  Let’s not hold them accountable for the mistakes, or neglect, of their parents and guardians.  Let’s not make them bear the weight of their parents’ transgressions.  Why say to a child who is late every day, “You’re late again.” Knowing  the only way the child can get to school is if their parent drives them.

So, I’m taking a new outlook, and it began yesterday.  I have a student who is out every Monday.   I would fuss at him every Tuesday about the work he had to make up or didn’t understand.

 “Well”, I would say sternly, you need to be here on Mondays.”

 He was in school yesterday and instead of a  “Glad you could make it”, I smiled and said, “I am so glad that you are able to be here today.”  A smile lit up his face and he said, sincerely, “So, am I.” The next time he’s out, I will work with him and help him catch up. Am I a” bad” teacher? I don’t think so, but I’m certainly not the best I can be. I’m learning though, and I’m willing to take a good, hard, look in the mirror, and correct my mistakes.

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PLC- “Please,Let’s Collaborate!”

That’s not what it means, it means Professional Learning Community, but it’s  the essence of this concept.  Teachers collaborating, working as a team for the better of our students.  I am in Phoenix, Arizona, attending the Solution Tree PLC Summit 2011, and boy has it changed the way I think. I honestly thought we were implementing PLC in our school, but, we aren’t there just yet. It was good to see that we are on our way though.  The biggest obstacle is CHANGE!  A lot of teachers resist it, and it makes it difficult to get them to see it for the good that  it can do.  However, my  colleagues and I  are going to try our best to persuade them to see the  benefits for our students.In future posts,  I will  share the concepts I learned from this workshop. For now, I’m hungry, and I’m going to go out and enjoy Phoenix! 🙂

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Professional(?) Development

I attended a professional development workshop today.  I spent  three hours with  a roomful of 4th and 5th grade teachers who were being taught strategies from people who work with math, not with  students, math.  They are not teachers.  Yes, they go into classrooms and try out their ideas, but they do not teach.  I and my colleagues sat for three hours in a room, listening to  something we  could have been told  in an half-hour.  And let’s not  forget, the forced collaborative activities, just to liven things up!   They lost us in the first half hour. Have you ever been to a workshop in which teachers have no interest? Hushed, some not so hushed, conversations, doodlings scrawled all over agendas, eye rolling, and blank stares are witnessed all over  the room. Rude? Yes, I agree, but having been stuck in countless situations like these, I empathize.

Why not let teachers choose what they would like as professional development?  I would think that we would know what we need.  I am fortunate to be in a school where my principal values our opinion, however, that is not always true of the district. Not only is attendance mandatory, but then, you are forced to use what you are taught, good or bad.

I have to admit, the first half-hour of the workshop was beneficial,  but the entire workshop would have been even more beneficial and effective  if  the teachers in attendance from various  schools were able to  sit together and share ideas.  Who better to learn from, then another teacher who is successful?  Here’s another idea, why not let us work in our classrooms?  Three hours of classroom time in the middle of the school year?  Manna from heaven, seriously! Why are these options not available to us?  My colleagues and I have come to the conclusion that ” they” are afraid we are going to goof off.  So  like children, our time is monitored.

I’m not saying all district professional development workshops are horrible.  There have been some really good ones, where, I not only learned a lot, but I used what I learned in my classroom.  I would just like to see teachers treated professionally more often, and have our opinion count in the developing of our professionalism.

Happy New Year!A Teacher’s Resolutions…

New Year’s resolutions, who really keeps them? I make them every year, in a list,mentally, verbally to others, and I never, ok, rarely keep them. But here are some resolutions I think all teachers should keep:

I resolve to:

  1.  treat all  students fairly, regardless of race, gender, age,  behavior, parent’s nasty attitude, desire to be educated, or lack of interest in learning
  2.  believe all children can learn, no matter how many ways you have taught it, and they still don’t get it.
  3. stop using sarcasm as a disciplinary tool, no matter how effective it may seem.
  4.  speak in a quiet, even,tone, even when yelling seems to be the best option.
  5. realize that I could be the only good thing that happens in a student’s day
  6. grade papers in a timely manner, even if it makes you question whether anyone is actually learning anything in your room.
  7.  meet all deadlines, and if I’m late, don’t make any sorry  excuses.
  8. not gossip about my colleagues, the students, administration,etc… (This one is going to be really difficult)
  9. share with my colleagues, we are not in competition with each other. (Ok, this is another difficult one)
  10. use technology to engage my 21st century students
  11. continue to be passionate about my job, and if I’m not retire.:)

“Effective or Highly Effective? That is the Question!

I read an article in our union newspaper about student growth ,multiple measures , and labels.  Aaaargh! It made me so… argghhh!Teachers will be labeled Effective or Highly Effective based on what? And yes, I mean on what, because “they” still have not determined what the “multiple measures” will be.  Is this ridiculous or what? I have an idea, why don’t you just let us teach, like we used to do? “Multiple measures!” When will “they” learn that so many factors go into whether a child learns or not. If Charlie did not have breakfast this morning, he can’t hear you over the grumbling of his stomach! If Tannai had no electricity because her Mom beat up the neighbor they were stealing electricity from, she doesn’t really care about the difference between a prime number and composite. All of these factors have to be taken into consideration before we are labeled and “rewarded”. What an unfair, sucky, system!

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