Writing my way through the school year!

Posts tagged ‘teacher’

Operation Feedback! Just Give Me 30 Minutes a Week, and You Too Will Be an Amazing Teacher!

 I should have know something was wrong when the faculty meeting started with a video of Bill Gates EEE (Education Expert Extraordinaire) talking about what teachers need.
What does Bill think we need more than anything in the world? Feedback! I don’t see anything wrong with feedback, but on a Top 10 list of things teachers need, this is not it.

 

Ain’t Too Proud to Beg? Parent/Teacher Communication!

I attend the same church as one of  my students’ parents. I know her mom very well.  After service she made, I guess what she thought was a joke, and said, “I have never had a teacher email the parents as much as you do! I asked my mom if you have a life?”
I didn’t think it was funny.READ MORE…

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!

Teacher Appreciation:From the Mouths of Babes!

Some of my students wrote  a letter for the state department’s Teacher Appreciation Day contest. After reading the letters, it gave me some insight as to what my students appreciate about me. I chose to use the letters as an informal evaluation  tool to see what I am doing right,(or wrong). I found some of the responses quite amusing.:)

  • I bustle (Vocabulary word) around on Twitter looking for people to Skype with.
  • I am a cool teacher, even with my corny jokes.
  • Even if one of the students make me angry, I don’t show my bad emotions out loud.
  • I am the best motivator ever!
  • I am nice, because if I won the Mega Millions, I would give every student a million dollars. (I did promise that-LOL)
  • I always have a smile when I walk in, and it means to have a great day.
  • If someone gets an answer wrong, I don’t pout.
  • When they have a question, I always have an answer. (Hmmm…I think it just seems that way.:)
  • I’m overprotective. (Yeah, those are MY babies, don’t mess with them!)
  • I am very fun.
  • I help with 5th grade drama. (This particular student added, “I’m not a part of it, but she always has great solutions.”)
  • I care for them all the time.
  • I am super cool. 🙂 
  • My effort shows to them.
  • I make hard things easy, and easy things awesome!
  • I don’t keep them outside when it drizzles, because I don’t want them to get sick. (Also, because I don’t want to get my hair wet!)
  • I have a lot of cool websites.
  • I taught them to never give up on themselves and never be scared to ask a question.
  • I always repeat myself so that they can understand. (I thought it was because they weren’t listening to me. 🙂 
  • I have “rocking” teacher skills! Woo hoo! (I added the “Woo,hoo”part)
  • I love all my students. (I really do)
  • And most of all, I take my job seriously.

The World “Because of” Standardized Testing!(A Little Teacher Humor!:)

I hate standardized testing.  I hate what standardized testing has done to teaching. SMH 😦      This is what it has driven me to!

  

1.  A guy goes in for a job as a bubble filler.

He lets the boss know how he meets the requirements for the job.

“I can fill in bubbles really well. ”

” I’ve been taking standardized tests since I was in kindergarten.”

“I make sure the circle is filled in, no white showing, and no stray marks.”

The boss says, “You sound like just the person we need!”

The guy reaches over to shake the bosses’ hand, “I think this is going to work out just great!”

The boss pulls his hand back, “Did you say think?” “I’m sorry, we can’t use you.”

2.  Bunch of guys sitting in an office.

“We have a huge order of scantron forms that need filling in!”

“OMG, how are we going to fill that order?!”

They put their heads together.

A woman shouts, “I got it!”, and picks up the phone.

Ring! Ring!

The person answers on the other side, “Hello, Dumbdown Elementary, how can I help you?”

3.  A principal walks into a classroom unannounced.

The students quickly try to stuff their lined paper in their desks.

He looks at the teacher. “What’s going on here Ms.Cannolongerteach?”

She stammers, “The kids wanted to see what it was like to use lined paper, they were tired of using grid paper or scantron forms.”

Kid starts crying. “Ms.Cannolongerteach was just giving us a break, Mr.Bringthescoresup! She didn’t mean any harm!”

“I’m sorry kids, but Ms. Cannolongerteach knew the rules. Pack your stuff and come with me Ms.Cannolongerteach.”

4.The students in the new teacher’s class, Mr.Icannolongerbecreative’s ,eagerly turn on their laptops.

“Okay everyone, we are going to create a video about WWII. Please go to the Photopeach site.”

As students click on the site, bells begin to sound on each laptop.

“Warning! Warning!” Creative learning taking place! Creative Learning taking place!”

School security bursts into the room.

Mr.Icannolongerbecreative stands pale and shaken.

“What’s going on?”, he shouts.

They put handcuffs on and drag him out.

“These laptops are for test-taking skills only!”, they yell vehemently.

“I didn’t know!”, he yells as they drag him down the hall, “I didn’t know!”

Work as Play! Kids Just Want to Have Fun!

My team teacher and I were standing in the hallway this morning when she walked over and whispered, “If I were a kid with all this testing, testing, testing, I wouldn’t want to come to school either.” Gasp! No, actually, I know exactly what she means, school has become the most boring place  in the universe for these poor kids.

A large percentage of our students are bored with school.   Standardized testing is a huge culprit, along with its accomplice, data.  When this is the focus of your classroom, hmmm… how can I say this politely? Your classroom is a huge yawn! And you can’t fully blame the teachers, by any means, their jobs are on the line, if they don’t tow the line. What are we to do?!

I just finished teaching a unit on Addition and Subtraction with large numbers, and I did not want to provide the students with a handout with 25-30 problems on it. Instead, I said to them, “I am giving you $5,000, and you can buy whatever you want!”

First reaction, “Are you really giving us $5,000?” 🙂 Um, no.

“I am going to let you shop on the Internet with $5,000. Use the exact amount, or as much of it as you can.”

We grabbed our pencils and notebooks and headed to the computer lab.  They were so excited, they didn’t even realize I was  actually checking out how much they had learned during the unit.  We got to the computer lab and I let them loose! They collaborated w/o being told and it was amazing to watch and listen to them use their knowledge.   The great part is (besides being tons of fun), was that it applied to many other standards that connect to real life.

“What sites can we go on?” (Appropriate sites)

“Should I buy the one with the sale?” (Making financial decisions)

“Mrs.M, I went over!” (Sticking to a budget)

AND, all the adding and subtracting you could ever need! I also let them use calculators to check their work.  Of course, you don’t need a computer, newspaper advertisements would work just as well. The other 5th grade teachers loved my idea, (it’s not original), and they are going to use it tomorrow. Fun is infectious!:)

All this is to say, school should be a place students want to come .  No,  school doesn’t have to be  fun all the time, but can’t it be fun sometimes?

Let Students Own, Not Rent! Making it “Our Classroom”

The other day, I don’t remember why, we moved our desks. Instead of 6 groups of four, we ended up in two groups of 12. At some point during the day, my students asked me to leave the tables in two groups of 12. I took their request lightly, and began to dismiss it. But they pleaded, because they really enjoyed the new  layout of the room.  They began to support their request with strong reasons, and I relented. The desks stayed where they were, and have been like that for the last couple of days.

It’s their room too. I came to that realization that it  can’t always be my way, I had to let them own their classroom. When I speak to my students, I make sure that  I say “our classroom”, but I believe my words speak louder than my actions. I am certainly not a dictator, but I know now that I could loosen the reins a little more.

We have to allow our students the chance to make decisions.  As difficult as it may be in this time of standardized testing. We have to allow them the chance to be part of the decision-making process. As the school year progresses, I am going to make a conscious effort to truly make it “our classroom.”Letting them decide the layout of the room was a big step for me, but I am loving it. They were  right, there is more space.:)

“What’s Love Got to do with It?” Ask Your Students!

     Once upon a time there was a little 2nd grade boy. He was new to a school, and he brought with him, all his problems and issues.  Sent to live with dad after mom “couldn’t take it any more”, a pre-primer reading level, an evil stepmother, and siblings who did not like him, he didn’t stand a chance.

After a couple of weeks, it became apparent that this child was a “problem”. Inappropriate language, bullying, no work, etc…His teacher (not me) knew this, but she also realized that he came from a place of trouble. So, instead of scolding him constantly, she decided to love him. Instead of throwing up her hands in despair, she found ways to get him the help he needed. And most of all, she loved him, and he knew it. He was disciplined, and he had consequences, but, she loved him nonetheless.

While she struggled to help him, “they” began to plan how they would get him out of their school. They had his teacher attend meetings, and asked her about his aggressive nature. She refused to go along with their program, and forced them to help him, instead of making him “someone else’s problem.” And he changed. Little by little, he changed. By the end of the year, he wasn’t a brand new child, but he wasn’t the child that had entered that school. And as difficult as it was,  his teacher made a decision to retain him because he wasn’t ready.

Fast forward. His dad is in jail for a while, so he has no buffer between himself, stepmom, and siblings. But  saddest of all, he has no place to be loved. His new teacher sees him as a problem. She recounts stories of how she disciplines his every little transgression to his former teacher with relish. Where is her humanity? She resents the fact that every morning, yes, every morning, he visits his former teacher. Where else can he get love? Where else can he  have someone listen to his stories of a  life that would be difficult for most adults? Unfortunately, I have no idea how this story ends, maybe his former teacher is enough to buffer the negativity in his life, and allow him to change for the better, maybe not.

I think of those two words Angela Maiers promotes, “You Matter.”  I am blessed, I know I matter. I have many people in my lives who let me know that. Others are not so fortunate, especially our students.  We have to remember that we may be the only good thing that happens to them all day. We have to care. Sometimes we have to overlook their negatives and try to find a positive.  We have to let them know they matter.

“What the #@*%? Did You Just Hit Me?” When Students Hit Teachers!

And no, those four marks represent the word “H-E- Two sticks”, not the other word. Although I have to admit, I  don’t know what word that teacher was thinking at that moment it happened. She was slapped. Slapped hard.  By a first grader. Seriously?

I remember 7th grade, George Gershwin JHS in East New York, Brooklyn, Felicia hit our teacher. No, I can’t remember the teacher’s name, but I remember hers.  We were shocked, but suffice to say, what followed next, shocked us even more. The teacher hit her back! It turned into an all-out, hair-pulling brawl! All the students were screaming, the librarian was yelling for help, it was total and complete chaos!

I had a student in another class elbow me, hard, when we were on a class trip. I allowed my class to get on the ferry first, and he didn’t appreciate that. (The teacher and I had decided to alternate) I couldn’t do what I wanted to do to him, so I told my principal when we returned. My principal at the time, arranged a meeting with the boy and his parent. He was made to apologize, and was suspended for two days.

What do you do when a student hits you? Even more importantly, what can you do? What are your options?  I know hitting a student back is not a viable solution. (Even though laymen I have shared this story with beg to differ). BYOG (Bring Your Own Gun) is such a scary option, you would think I made it up.

What message is being conveyed to the other students?  Does it affect the way the students view you in the classroom?  I guess it would depend on the how the teacher and administration handle the situation.

My friend’s husband told her if a student hits her again, she should go straight to the principal’s office and put in for medical leave.  But another friend pooh-poohed that solution. She said it would leave the other students, the ones that don’t hit, without a teacher, and I agree.

Thank goodness this was a first grader, but I know there are situations where older students hit their teachers. I’m sure the consequences are more serious, and the damage  done to the teacher is more serious than a red mark on the cheek. How many teachers return to work after being hit by a student?

In a society where violence is depicted on television and video games as fun and games, how hard is it to get our students to understand, life is not a video game. When you hit someone in “real life”, it hurts!

And the bigger question is, what can be done to protect teachers from being the recipient of this behavior?

Happy New (School) Year! I Resolve…

I wrote this post in January 2011, but I believe it fits for the new school year as well! I think I will post them in my room near my desk as a reminder. Sometimes after a day with some of these kids, you forget your resolutions! 🙂 Have a wonderful 2011-2012!

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 that all children can learn, even if I have taught the same material 55 different ways.(It’s going to click at some point)
  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. (It never is!)
  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 though their test scores may make me question my teaching ability.
  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… (Especially with a new principal this year!)
  9. share with my colleagues, we are not in competition with each other. (Using a PLC, I have become so much better at sharing))
  10. use technology to engage my 21st century students
  11. continue to be passionate about my job, and if I’m not retire.:)

Are there any resolutions you would add?

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