In teaching, it’s easy to get caught up in the demands of the day and the district, and your principal, and the pacing guide … it can feel like too much sometimes. If you feel like that, as an educated adult, imaging how it must feel for your students. I think it’s important for a teacher to know how to have fun. I know teachers who do it through giving out MnMs. I know others who show a science video once in a while and have their kids write about it. I know a few games I like to play with my students to help them learn their multiplication, and then of course, there’s kickball. The point is, these little guys don’t know how to have proper fun. They look to you to not only educated them but expand their thinking through play. Continue reading Teach How to Play
A colleague confronted me today about something I’d written in a closed teacher forum. I had been venting about how teachers at my school should use their “educated brain” to figure certain relevant issues out between our union and the district. It wasn’t worded the best way and I sort of forgot about the non-intended audience: my colleagues. I was writing shoulder to shoulder with other union reps who have shared with me similar frustrations. In a way I made a boo boo as a leader, but in another way her confrontation was a worse mistake. What I have learned in education and probably dealing with all people is that you shouldn’t confront someone unless you respect and support them. Letting them know that at the onset is a huge help to both you and them. If you don’t, then don’t confront. Forget it or report it. Continue reading How to Confront a Colleague
In our middle to lower class majority, one rarely sees someone buy a large item like a car with cash. Kids don’t have a concept of what it means to “make payments.” Furthermore, most don’t remember what layaway is and all have a hard time deferring gratification and saving for a large ticket item. One way to teach these things is through marbles in jars. Each jar can be labeled the item or reward they get when it’s filled. If it’s an expensive one for me, I make it a large jar. When the kids do something well and receive a reward, the class can vote or one person who earned the marbles can decide what reward to save for. By making payments to that jar, they invest in that reward. Continue reading Teaching Responsibility and Patience with Marbles
Every class is different in the morning, even when the daily schedule is the same. While teachers and classes may vary, the needs of schoolchildren are the same. Over time I have found that in the morning you should:
Take attendance. If you don’t the secretary gets annoyed. Plus, it’s how we get paid.
Greet as many kids as you can with a kind smile that says, “I’m glad you are here and that I have a chance to be your teacher. If you miss a few kids, make sure they at least hear you greet a student. This lowers their affective filter and tells them you’re not in a bad mood.
Preview the day. Most teachers do this on the board but I’ve found a pep talk about the day gets the kids more dialed in. Continue reading What You Should do in the Morning
Leafleting the parking lot with the parents of our Adelanto students was a miracle treat for me. As a public school teacher since 1997, I’ve always appreciated parents but most teachers sometimes wonder how parents really feel about teachers. My school is akin to an inner city one but not exactly like it. Thought it’s suburban, the closest grocery store is about 10+ miles away. We did just get a new Family Dollar right by my school but some families whose students attend my school are struggling below the poverty line. In short … it’s not a wealthy neighborhood. Nonetheless I have more respect for some of our families than I do for those in Beverly Hills by far. They prove they have integrity. Today was Valentines day and my teachers union’s struggle with the Adelanto school district continued throughout the day and remains still unresolved as I type this. Nonetheless I feel lighter about it because of the parents, remember the ones in the families I just talked about who have high integrity? They heard our call to action and came out to the parking lots without being asked to inform the public about the struggle that is going on. It made my heart soar to see these families coming out on a holiday when they should be with their families having fun, eating, drinking, and being merry and instead standing strong with us sharing our message with the community. Continue reading Love Connects Us All
I am involved in my teachers union and I have to say it is a challenging endeavor sometimes. You are sending out the message that your troubles are the fault of the district. As someone who is always trying to not blame, and failing most the time, I sometimes struggle with this. Unions, like any political organization, can fall into the trap of dehumanizing the district employees. In my district, we have over 300 teachers and about 6 district employees making decisions that affect parents, students, and yes, teachers. My goal in my union is not to attach people but rather show the value of a union. Parents in my district value teachers, they show that by their numbers when they come to our meetings and get involved in organizing with us. I want to be a force that helps their families and specifically their children. Name calling and blaming will only get people riled up for a moment. To gain real buy in from parents, we need to show them what’s in it for them. Continue reading Unions – Can’t Live Without Them
There has been a lot of talk about “merit pay” for teachers. I’m not here to debate the idea but I can tell you it has existed for years. I know because I have received it. You might wonder just how much I got. Well, it hasn’t been monetary. I hope this post is a bit more colorful than bragging about incentive money. For me, merit pay comes through watching kids “get it.” Let me elaborate. This is my audio visual desk where I do most of my teaching from. I also use a Mobi to travel around the classroom and control the laptop as well as the LCD projector remotely. These are all great tools but without a lesson plan strategy like EDI and a daily plan of what I plan to teach and assess, the fancy gadgets mean nothing. Continue reading Satisfaction as Merit Pay
Every weekend, after the laundry and wrestling with the pool safety net, I am faced once again with the same professional challenge: making a weekly lesson plan schedule. The obvious reason for this is to have a backbone for the activities and learning that go on in my classroom all week. The other reason is to ensure to myself and others that I am not just “winging it” without a plan. Good teachers make weekly plans. I have been at this for 13 years and I won’t say I am a “good teacher” I will let others say that if they wish. I have found that making weekly plans yields the high score returns from my students. Finding the weaknesses of my students’ scores as well as the way I have taught up to this point is the goal of my weekend planning time. Here’s a very broad presentation of how I do it.
NOTE: In this field, while I seek only to help teachers from a peer-to-peer perspective, there are an abundance of snooty types who seek to criticize and devour ideas different from their own. I would like it known that this is a very personal sharing post and is certainly not meant to be perfect nor the “only” way one can prepare for a powerful week of teaching. For you to get something out of it, you may have to do a bit of “read between the lines.” having said that, I would not be as excited to share this with you were I not extremely excited about what I do and they way I do it in this particular situation. Thank you for having an open mind as you continue. Now for: “How to Make a Weekly Lesson Plan Schedule.”
I Start with a rolling cart. I put a minimum of books and TE’s I need into the rolling cart so I have the access I need at home on the weekend. You may not be sure what to bring. In that case, let me give you my choices as an example: a math TE, the district pacing guide, ELA curriculum (Mine is a PDF so is always at home with me), a Google Calendar printout from the week below (read about how I make the Google calendar printouts here), the state standards blueprint, the state standards released test questions, and finally a printout of my students’ most recent assessment scores.
I start with their assessment scores. 1) I identify the lowest standards and write them daily into the lessons. This is often called “backward mapping,” whatever they tested low in, teach again. 2) Then I find matching curriculum and write that into the Google Calendar lesson plan. The former is pretty simply since I have access to Oars.net. This is a great online program that aggregates assessment data for teachers. I can see in an instant what standards are high and need only be spiraled and I can also see the low stuff needing intervention. The way I go through my day teaching these lessons in in almost constant evolution. Having said that, watch for a post in the next week or two where I will share how the weekly lesson plan looks in a given teaching day. What do you think about my art of planning a teaching week? Have you anything to add? That would be great.
Teachers can get very stressed in their tasks and often feel as if their back is against the wall. As we attempt to mold the minds of the future, we must deal with other demands from our own evaluation by principals, parents, the community, and elsewhere. In the midst of all that, we are supposed to care. Depending on the teacher and the environment, this stress can be downright debilitating. I have good news though, you can do simple, quick relaxation techniques during lunch right at your desk to help tackle tension. Being responsible to keeping yourself relaxed and whole will translate in you being a better teacher and person. In being less stressed, you will have a more positive impact on the kids. In short:
You don’t have to put your hectic classroom on hold to chill out.
Here are a few methods of relaxation you can use in the day at your desk during lunch or even as you teach throughout the day:
Practice yoga “lite.” Moving your arms and body slowly and meditating on your space can have a calming effect before the kids come back.
Take off your shoes and do toe scrunches under your desk. This is great and the minimal aspect of it carries great relaxation rewards.
Fake a smile. Studies have shown that the positive effects of smiling occur whether it is fake or real. “Fake it til you make it” in terms of merriment may lead to real smiles and laughter. Continue reading Some Relaxation Methods