Thursday, January 27, 2022

Taking Responsibility

In Your responsibility preference from Seth Godin's Blog, Seth Godin,

“Like our control preference, responsibility is a learned skill.”

Years ago, when I was the new head of our department, I learned that a teacher sent a letter home with her students that had erroneous information about our special education students staying home during exams. A parent had called to complain and I was called into the principal’s office and asked to investigate the situation. When I reported that the letter was sent home, I expected my principal to try to sweep it under the rug like some administrators of previous schools where I had worked. Since I had little experience with being an administrator, I didn’t know how to handle this situation. Instead, this principal told me to compose a letter of apology for him to send home with those students. He just wanted us to admit it was an error and it would be corrected. He didn’t give excuses or rationals for what happened. Instead, he said what we would do to correct this problem.

He was truly a role model of what I always thought an administrator should be.

Whenever I faced a problem after that, I would ask myself what my principal would do and it was usually the right thing to do. I learned that it was important to accept responsibility and face up to my errors.

As a child, I was taught to face up to my mistakes and do what is right but it is different when you are in the workplace and supervisors above you have a different opinion. New teachers face this dilemma often. How do new teachers reconcile the two different values? My answer is that if your administration doesn’t have the same values as you, it is time to move on.

Every school that I left usually involved a difference of values. My first Principal wanted me to lie so that we could avoid a conflict. My second Principal want me to lie to a group because he was put into a difficult situation and didn’t want to look like the bad guy. The third Principal I had wanted me to lie in court so I could support his disciplinary actions towards a student. I left all of those positions because my values are important to me. My last position was with an administration that had the same values as me and I was extremely happy teaching there.

There is no shame in leaving a position to find a better position. Don’t stay in a place where you are not happy. Life is too short to do this.

Have you left a position that didn’t have the same values as you? Please share.

Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Nurturer or Naysayer

In Nurturing Voices, Sioux share,

“Several of my students discovered their person had been told they shouldn't have the dream they dreamed.”

My husband is a nurturer. Whenever I have a crazy idea that I want to try, he always encourages me to give it a try. He never thinks of reasons why I shouldn’t try it. Of course, he is more logical than I am and when I bounce ideas off of him, he will come up with great questions to help me get the details right. When I try something and it doesn’t work out, he doesn’t say I told you so and instead tries to help me see what went wrong and how to do it better next time.

I confess that I’m not always a nurturer and tend to be more of a naysayer. I think of all the obstacles and reasons why something might not work. All my life I have been afraid of risk.

I do not want to instill my fear onto my students. I want them willing to take risks (that don’t harm anyone or anything). I want them to dream big and work towards their dreams.

My parents always said that if there was a want, there was a way. They were nurturers. They never thought that there was any reason we couldn’t achieve what we set out to do.

My parents couldn’t afford to send me to the college that I wanted to go and they let me know this when I first started talking about college. I wanted to go to a private out of state college since I was in elementary school. I knew that if I wanted to achieve my dream I had to keep my grades up and get scholarships. They encouraged me to do what I needed to do instead of squashing my dream and telling me that I couldn’t go there.

When my students share their dreams with me, I ask them questions. I try to be like my husband and encourage them to explain in more detail. I help them discover ways that they can work towards their dreams. Instead of throwing obstacles in their way, I think of ways to help them overcome their obstacles. I help prepare them to face obstacles that may occur so they can be ready to find their ways around them.

How do you nurture your students so they can work towards their dream? Please share.

Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

A Triple Win

“The NVIV (Next Vista Inspiring Video) series of posts are written by Rushton Hurley and designed to provide students and teachers with fascinating discussion prompts.”

In A Triple Win, Rushton features a unique school where students pay school fees with plastic waste and they recycle the plastic into things like eco-bricks.

He gives the following prompts to accompany this video:

“What are some challenges in your community that seem quite different, but perhaps could be brought together in some creative way?”

What a unique way to get students invested in their education! I love the ways that older students are teaching and mentoring younger students. All of the students seemed to enjoy preparing the plastic bottles for future uses. After watching this video I wanted to know more. How were they paying the older students? Were there any behavior problems and how were they handled? How many students were in this school? What do the parents think about this?

Please check out the video and think of other prompts you might come up with. Please share.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Learning to Work Together

Working as a team is not something that comes naturally to most people. This is a skill that has to be taught. As we move into a world where many students are learning remotely from home, this skill becomes harder to learn. Specific lessons need to be planned where teamwork is expected and encouraged. Group projects should be planned where each person has a specific role to complete the project.

The teacher can group students according to unique strengths, common interests, or ability levels. Each group should be carefully formed and can be changed for different projects. Groups should be 3 - 4 people.

Projects should be carefully planned where there are specific tasks to be completed by different members of the group. The final goal should be clearly stated so students will know what is expected of them. In addition to the specific tasks for each member, there needs to be a Leader of the group to bring everyone together at the beginning and the end. There should also be a Timekeeper to make sure everyone is keeping on track according to the time allotted. In addition to those roles, there needs to be a Presenter who will present the final product to the class. If a fourth person is in the group, this person could be the Organizer who puts all of the parts together in order.

Students need to be taught how to come together and check on the progress of the project. They need to learn how to brainstorm and support each other when obstacles are encountered. They also need to learn how to give constructive criticism to each team member without offending the person. Then they need to learn how to bring all of their parts together to make the final product.

Rubrics work well for evaluating group projects and individual members of the group. I like to have each student self-evaluate using the rubric in addition to my own evaluation. This teaches students to look carefully at their own work and the group’s work as a whole.

How do you teach teamwork? Please share.

Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash

Friday, January 21, 2022

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 1/21//22

Here are some interesting sites that I’ve found this week, thanks to my PLN. As a teacher, I feel we have to keep up to date concerning research in our field and current issues in the education system. I hope some of these inspire you, inform you, and even have you asking questions. Thank you for coming by and visiting!

Note: Each resource is labeled with a level and subject area to make it easier to use.

Levels: E: Elementary; M: Middle; H: High; G: General, all levels; SN: Special Needs; T: Teachers

Subject Areas: LA: Language Arts, English, Reading, Writing; M: Math; S: Science; Health; SS: Social Studies, Current Events; FA: Fine Arts; Music, Art, Drama; FL: Foreign Language; PE: Physical Ed; C: Career; A: All

National Jukebox - “The Library of Congress presents the National Jukebox, which makes historical sound recordings available to the public free of charge. The Jukebox includes recordings from the extraordinary collections of the Library of Congress National Audio-Visual Conservation Center and other contributing libraries and archives. Recordings in the Jukebox were issued on record labels now owned by Sony Music Entertainment, which has granted the Library of Congress a gratis license to stream acoustical recordings.” (L:G;SA:A)

Timelines of Mathematics - “Travel through time and explore the greatest mathematicians and biggest mathematical discoveries in history.” (L:H;SA:M, SS)

Volley - “Volley is asynchronous. This means we take turns, but they don’t need to happen at the same time. Each turn is added to the timeline as the conversation continues.” (L:T;SA:A)

Forest - a chrome extension mentioned on Free Technology for Teachers; “​​Forest lets you specify the websites that you want to block yourself from visiting while your timer is running. For example, with Forest installed I can set a timer for fifteen minutes and the timer goes off I can't visit Twitter, Facebook, or any other site that I choose to block. The "reward" for working until the timer goes off is a digital tree that is planted in my digital forest (there's also the satisfaction of completing a task without getting distracted).” (L:G;SA:A)

Science of the Winter Olympics - Bobsledding - “The winter games in Vancouver provide a chance for the United States' four-man bobsled team to win its first gold medal in more than 60 years. And with the help of Paul Doherty, senior scientist at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, Deborah King, associate professor in the Department of Exercise and Sports Sciences at Ithaca College, physicist George Tuthill of Plymouth State University, and bobsled designer Bob Cuneo, the team explains how they hope to accomplish this feat.” (L:G;SA:S)

Original photo by Pat Hensley