Friday, November 30, 2007

Useful Information for In and Out of the Classroom 11/30/07

Here are some interesting sites that I’ve found interesting this week. 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!

50 Classroom Management Tips I Have Learned This Month by Soyouwanttoteach. I read this blog daily and learn a lot of things from this.

Autistic girl, age 3 is selling paintings – article from the Palm Beach Post. Do we encourage our students to be creative enough and work with their strengths?

21st Century Literacies – Teacher resources from Noodle Tools. Thanks Angela for the link to this!

Child Studies May Ease Fears on Misbehavior - NYTimes article. Do you agree or disagree with this article?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Answering Personal Questions Asked By Students

A few years ago a new teacher came to me upset because the students wanted to know if she drank alcohol and if she believed in sex before marriage. I have heard the students talking about these kinds of things before. I believe in “honesty is the best policy” but I also believe that if I don’t feel comfortable answering the question that I tell them this also. I have admitted to drinking alcohol but that I believe in moderation. From this, we have had a lesson on alcohol abuse and drinking and driving. I never wanted to lie to them and then have them see me buying beer in the grocery store because then I would have no credibility with them at all. In the same fashion, I state from day one that I will not discuss sex or anything illegal with them and I stick to this. I do not want them to talk about sex issues among themselves in my class unless it is in a specific planned lesson. By doing this I feel that I am teaching them that there are appropriate places to have certain discussions. I guess I’m a conservative but I was brought up to not discuss certain things in mixed company. Many of us older teachers learned this from our parents but when students are growing up in a home where 2 parents are working, possibly in 2 jobs, sometimes the finer points of social skills go untaught. As teachers, we need be good role models for our students by teaching them honesty as well as handling tough situations appropriately and that it is okay to not answer personal questions.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Teaching Social Skills

Many times teachers are expected to teach their students social skills. I am not saying it is fair or right but unfortunately we are put in the position to teach our students these skills. Sometimes I’m able to incorporate reading into the lesson and sometimes the students learn some history about social skills from earlier times which they find interesting.

Here are some skills that I have taught in my class.
 "Manners" & positive interaction with others
-approaching others in social acceptable ways
-how to asking for permission
-how to make friends and how to be a good friend
-sharing toys/materials
 Appropriate classroom behavior
-work habits/academic survival skills
-attending to task
-following directions
-seeking attention properly
-accepting the consequences of one's behavior
 Better ways to handle frustration/anger
-counting to 10 before reacting
-positive pep talks to yourself
-reflecting on your behavior and your feelings through writing
 Acceptable ways to resolve conflict with others
-using words instead of physical contact
-seeking the assistance of the teacher

These are some strategies I use to teach these skills.
 Put students in small groups. Small groups give students a chance to observe others, practice with peers, and receive feedback.
 Close the classroom door and turn off TV and radios to remove distractions.
 Explain the lesson and how it will benefit them (this may help them obtain and keep a job, result in less trouble with teachers/parents, impress their boyfriend's/girlfriend's parents when they meet them, be able to convince the police to let them go when stopped).
 Identify expectations of behaviors by all students
 Tell them what behavior is being taught or practiced in this lesson
 Show them by modeling this behavior with another student or adult.
 With the steps provided on a handout, have them:
-discuss when the behavior could be used
-role play showing the right and wrong way to handle the situation using the skill.
 Provide feedback (with lots of encouragement and specific praise)
 Practice, practice, practice through homework assignments, review sessions, assignment
to real life settings, and surprise "tests"
 Encourage parents and family members to help your students practice at home.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Successful Math Lessons

My favorite math lessons involve money but of course I taught teenagers so this always caught their interest too. If you can relate a lesson to how they will use the skill with money, you will usually have them engaged in learning. The skills I taught depended on the ability level of the student. Once I taught the student the skill, I would make up a list of steps they would follow. Then I would show them how I used these steps by modeling the behavior. Sometimes I would have them tell me what step I needed to follow before I actually did it. After I modeled the skill, I would have them practice it as I guided them through each step. Once I monitored that they understood the skill, I would have a game for them to play using this skill. My students loved games especially if I promised a prize (this could be a free homework pass, free 3 min. break pass for bathroom or water, pencil, pencil eraser, highlighter, etc.). I tried to make the games with answer keys so they could either self correct or check each other’s answers. After the game stage, I would give them simulated “real life” situations for them to use the skill. Since I followed the same procedures for every new skill, learning something new was not so overwhelming or intimidating. I hope this helps make your lessons more successful.

Here is a “recipe” that I used for each lesson:
 1. A list of steps
 2. Teacher Modeling of the Strategy Steps
 3. Guided Practice
 4. Independent Student Practice
 5. Opportunities for Generalization

Monday, November 26, 2007

My Ideal Classroom

If you could create the ideal classroom, what would it be like?

If I could have the ideal classroom, I would have no more than 15 high school students and a full time assistant to help me. There would be a computer with internet access for every student. I would also have Adobe Photoshop on each computer so students could learn to do digital scrapbooking. Of course it would have Microsoft Office on them also for word processing and PowerPoint presentations. I would also have the WYNN program and Test Talker program on computers for students with severe reading problems. My classroom would have a Promethean Board installed (like a smart board) which would be an interactive board for my lessons. I would also have a large TV for showing movies that go with my lessons (United Streaming has a great selection). I would also have a large kitchen unit with sink, stove, oven, microwave, washer, dryer and dishwasher to teach life skills. There would also be an attached bathroom so students didn’t have to wander the halls in order to use the bathroom. My classroom would also have a phone in it to use to call parents if there are any behavior problems. I would have individualized lessons for each student according to their needs. This hopefully would keep them engaged in order to prevent behavior problems.

Of course, this is an ideal classroom and would never happen but it is nice to dream. What would your ideal classroom be like?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Networking is Important for All Teachers

I recently attended my reunion at Furman University and was thrilled to speak to the Career Services Director, John Barker. I mentioned how this department was very important to me as a student and after speaking to another person in his department, how surprised I was to find out that most education majors were not taking advantage of this resource. He mentioned that there is a national trend that most students in all fields are not taking advantage of the career services department at colleges and universities. He sent me a chart and brief article that he found on a “professional association website (NACE) that speaks to the way that students today prefer to conduct their job search. This came from a survey of graduating seniors nationwide. As you will see, their preferred mode of job searching is via the Internet. The percentage of students that use Career Services Office-sponsored placement programs (Career Fair, On-Campus Interviewing, etc) is only about 28-35%.” What a shame to waste such a valuable resource as the Career Services Office and the services they have to offer!

Earlier in the year, this department sponsored a wonderful networking event that involved business people and educators meeting students majoring in different fields. I was a little disappointed to find out that none of the education majors showed up but I did talk to some people majoring in psychology. This was a wonderful opportunity for students to get first hand information about the career they are interested in. I know we can get a lot of information off the internet but nothing beats a face to face meeting with someone already in that career.

When you network, there are so many opportunities that could help your career that it is a shame to waste this chance. You never know what contacts you will make and what connections that will occur. You might also get information that you could use for future lessons or find offers for speakers. By developing relationships with people already in the field, you might even develop a support system when things are not going well in your career. You might meet someone who would be willing to be your mentor who is not at the school you teach at. This would be invaluable because they don’t have a biased opinion of the school or students you teach. You could get an objective opinion that could help you be more successful. I once met someone who offered to sponsor my class for a field trip and another offered to speak to my class. I attend conferences and seminars if I can afford it but if there is a free event like this being offered, I don’t see how anyone could afford not to attend.

I am hoping to co-present at a state convention on survival tips for new teachers but the conversation I had about this issue really had me thinking. There is also a national trend of teacher shortages in all subject areas. Many teachers don’t stay in the field for more than 5 years and many say it is because the career was much different than they imagined. I wonder how many of these people passed up networking opportunities to talk to other teachers. Maybe if future teachers would take advantage of networking opportunities, then they might feel encouraged to stay in the field longer. We all had to do student teaching but what about an event that lets you talk to teachers at other schools and other grades. I never thought I would teach high school when I graduated but I ended up teaching 23 years in high school and loved every minute of it. I wish I had the opportunity before I graduated to talk to someone about the different levels and what to expect when I got out in the real world. Short classroom observations and talking to your supervising teacher during student teaching just doesn’t give you enough information and support you need to survive as a teacher.

I encourage everyone, even if you are already a teacher, to look for networking opportunities that are available. I know Furman is planning a couple in the future and I hope they will ask me to attend. You could also contact the Career Services office at your alma mater or a local college or university to see if they have any events coming up. Please don’t let this opportunity pass you by!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

How to Match Your Teaching Style with the Student’s Learning Style

In earlier posts, I gave suggestions for teaching to different students’ learning styles. I feel it is very important for the teacher to try to teach according to the student’s learning style as much as possible. It will not be possible at all times but I tried to as often as I could. Since I am such a visual learner, I taught in a very visual style and realized that I was not reaching all of my students. When I realized this, I had to change my teaching technique which was very hard for me. First, I wrote out my lesson as a list of separate steps or procedures. I even listed what I would say or do. Beside each step, I wrote V if it would work for the visual learner, A for the auditory learner, and T for the tactile-kinesthetic learner. I realized that most of my steps had a V beside them. In fact I was shocked because I had thought I was meeting everyone’s needs and apparently I wasn’t. This might explain why some of my student continually had low test grades or didn’t retain the concepts that I was teaching them. Then I consciously had to think about what I needed to do to meet the A and T learners. At first this was time consuming but the results really paid off. The more I did this, the more I started to do things naturally and eventually I didn’t even need to write out the steps any more. My students were performing better on tests and understanding the concepts better. If I referred to a previous lesson, I had more students offering to refresh the class’s memory about the concepts learned. By changing the way I taught I had more students engaged in active learning which in turn had me more excited and willing to try new things. It gave me such a thrill when I saw the students learn something new, remember it later, and actually used this information. I guess this is another reason I love teaching!

Monday, November 19, 2007

How to teach the Tactile-Kinesthetic Learner

Tactile – Kinesthetic learners learn better by touching and moving. As a visual learner and teacher, this is one of the hardest learner styles I have had to teach.

Here are some strategies that might work with tactile-kinesthetic learners:

• Response mode – student writes answers down. The instructor could write the response down and let the student copy it. By writing, the actual movements will help this learner remember the information

• Students use post it notes. By physically moving information around on a page, it will be easier for this learner to learn new information.

• Student is active and in motion – Learning games that involve movement will help this type of learner. If I asked true or false questions, all the people who think it is true, I would have them stand up. Then we would discuss the correct answer. Sometimes I would put choices on the board and have students come up to physically touch the answer. Sometimes I would write answers down on index cards and the questions on different index cards. After passing out the cards with the answers on them, I would post the question on the board. The student with the answer would come up and tape the answer card to the question. Later the students could use these cards to study for tests. (I would put matching numbers on the backs so the students could self check when studying,)

• Chew gum while studying: many students need to have some kind of movement to help them concentrate. I tell my students they can chew the gum as long as I don’t find it under the desks, on the floors, or anywhere else besides their mouths.

• Take frequent breaks – sometimes they may need to go get a drink of water, use the bathroom, or just get up and stretch

• Flat cake pans filled with rice or sand – by writing information in this medium with their fingers helps the student remember or learn new information

These are just some suggestions that might help. If you have any other suggestions, please let me know because I love to add more to my list!

Friday, November 16, 2007

How to Teach the Auditory Learner

Auditory learners learn better by hearing information. As a visual learner, I was most comfortable teaching to the visual learner and had to make sure that I also reached learners with other learning styles. I was lucky because my husband is an auditory learner so I was able to try lessons on him to see if it worked for auditory learners.

Here are some techniques that worked well with my auditory learners.
• When presenting reading material to the class, have the material read aloud whenever possible.
• Use of tape recorder to prerecord material so the student can use headphones and hear it while the rest of the class is reading it silently.
– Use service learning students at local high school
– Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts
• Books on tape/CD: if students are reading books independently, offer this option whenever possible.
• Block out extraneous stimuli: have headphones available to block out background noises. The headphones were not plugged into anything but helped muffle noises from the class.
• Highlight essential information: use highlighters to highlight essential information and then read what is highlighted out loud.
• Present a small amount of work: give assignments in small chunks so it is not so overwhelming to the student.
• Glue 2 elbow pieces of PVC pipe. Have students hold one end to their ear and one end to their mouth. They can read aloud whatever they have written to hear if it sounds like what they wanted to say. This helps their reading and writing skills also.
• Read aloud any written directions.
• Have a student repeat or explain the directions.
• Mnemonic Devices – teach students mnemonic devices to help them learn new material (ex. ROYGBIV = the colors of the rainbows; HOMES= names of the Great Lakes; Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally = order of operations) or have students come up with their own.
• Musical jingles – let students make up a song to help remember information and allow them to perform it in class.
• Story telling – have them retell a story in their own words.
• Response modes can be done orally – instead of writing answers down, allow them to answer test questions aloud in a tape recorder.

These are just some suggestions that might help. If you have any other suggestions, please let me know because I love to add more to my list!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

How to Teach the Visual Learner

Visual learners learn better by seeing information. I am a visual learner so that is the way I am most comfortable teaching. I have had to be very careful that this did not style did not dominate my teaching because then I did not reach my auditory and tactile-kinesthetic learners. Here are some techniques that have worked with visual learners in my classroom.
• Use Graphic Organizers: Inspiration software helps you make these graphic organizers and I think there is a free demo download at their site. I have also drawn my own. They can be used for some of the following:
– Main idea and details
– Compare and contrast
– Sequential order
– Plot
– Cause and Effect
– Drawing Conclusions
• Writing key points or words: have the students write down what the key points or words are in what they are reading or what you are saying. This helps them actually see visually what is important. It also teaches them how to write notes when you are not always with them.
• Response mode can be done by having instructor write down the response: students can answer questions and an instructor can write down what the student says. The student would then read back what the instructor has written. This reinforces the information plus improves reading skills. It connects reading and writing to a real life situation.
• Instructor use of post-it notes: key words or information could be written on post it notes and given to the student. Students could categorize this information in a way that would help them remember it.
• Highlighters of different colors: use different color highlighters to mark key words or points. For example, use blue to highlight places, red for people, green for dates, and yellow for important ideas.
• Illustrate ideas or stories: have students illustrate scenes from what they have read to help them remember the story, make a comic book version of stories, make posters for a movie version of the story including what famous people would play the characters.
• Multimedia – computers (make PowerPoint presentations about the topic, create digital scrapbook pages, create new book covers for a book), cameras (take photos that would symbolize events in the story)
• Illustrated books: read comic book versions of the classics (these were very effective in my low level classes. They especially loved reading the Scarlet Letter).
• Schedules – have a written agenda for the day or the week for this learner to refer to whenever needed. I wrote my plan for the day on the board each morning and explained to the students that sometimes it may change if there are unforeseen things that happen like a fire drill or a visitor for example. This helped me stay on task as well as the students since they knew what was expected of them in advance.
These are just some suggestions that might help. If you have any other suggestions, please let me know because I love to add more to my list!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Showing Gratitude Can Help You Live Longer

I am reading a great book called thanks! How the new science of gratitude can make you happier by Robert A. Emmons. He talks about how keeping a gratitude journal for as little as three weeks can help you sleep better and help you have more energy. I can’t believe I have finally found a book that reinforces what I have always believed in. The author states that “if we consciously remind ourselves of our blessings, it should become harder to take them for granted and adapt to them. “

I made my students write in a journal every day and I didn’t stress punctuation and spelling. For this type of journal I felt that the content was more important. Of course they fussed about doing this at first but when I remained adamant about the assignment, they did it without complaining. I told them that one day a week they had to write things that they were grateful for and why. After lengthy discussions, I realized what a negative attitude my students had. In this book it states, “Gratitude is an attitude” and I believe that is so true. By doing this activity, I hoped to change their attitudes.

All year long, we kept a journal and I was really thrilled how the kids would come up with different things they were grateful for. It even opened up some very insightful discussions about their lives. By sharing some of these things, many students found out that they had a lot more in common that they thought. This actually helped build some bonds between the students and myself which made the class feel much like a small family. Behavior issues decreased and teamwork actually increased.

This activity didn’t cost extra money, got the kids involved in writing which in turn helped their reading skills, built teamwork skills, and improved behavior. I couldn’t ask for a better lesson to serve different purposes.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Useful Information for In and Out of the Classroom 11/9/07

It is Friday again and I would like to share some interesting sites that I’ve found. 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. If you have any sites you would like for me to check out, please let me know.

Netsmartz: internet safety
Kidsmart is an award winning practical internet safety program website for schools, young people, parents, and agencies, produced by the children's internet charity

Childnet International is another site that talks about internet safety
The Tempered Radical has handouts that go with the Trailfire site:

Participate: is a growing community of film lovers and activists who are dedicated to engaging their minds, sharing their passions, and improving the world around them. You have to register for the site but when you click on certain movies, there are educator resources available for them. Participant productions produced Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth and there are other movies coming out.

Sharp Brains: there are many brain exercises that are fun to try.

BBC Schools : has great science clips you can use in the classroom

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Carnival of Education 11/7/07

Check out the the midway of the Carnival of Education sponsored by Right Wing Nation. If you don't know what a blog carnival is: Blog Carnivals typically collect together links pointing to blog articles on a particular topic. A Blog Carnival is like a magazine. I have really found a lot of fascinating information from these!

Every Child’s A Star

I first heard this song at the national Council for Exceptional Children convention’s Yes I Can awards ceremony sung by Danny O’Flaherty. Songwriter and balladeer Danny O’Flaherty wrote the song in honor of CEC’s Yes I Can! winners. I was so moved by the words that I was in tears at the end and so was most of the audience. Each year the Council for Exceptional Children honors 27 students who have excelled despite their disability. This song is featured on Danny O’Flaherty’s Heroes CD. According to Danny O’Flaherty’s website, “In addition, the Council's Yes, I Can program served as the inspiration for Danny's song, "Yes, I Can" which emphasizes the importance of believing in oneself and fostering the determination to attain ones highest potential.” This song can be found on his Secret Garden CD. Thanks for taking time to read his words.

Every Child’s A Star
Written by Khaelidawne Quirk/Danny O’Flaherty

Each milestone is a victory; every child’s a star
Each is born a miracle, just the way they are.
And every one can understand the meaning of a smile;
Around the world a hug means love to every single child.

So with love we watch them as they play their games.
Every child is different; no one is the same.
Some can learn easily to run, jump, and play.
While others face a challenge every single day.

Every child is special; they are one of a kind.
They come in every color as everyone will find.
Whether they are “perfect”, healthy, strong, and bright,
Or if they come with special needs; they’re precious in our sight.

“You are my inspiration”, each mother tells her child
As she sends them off to play with a tender smile.
“How brave you are!”, each mother says as she hugs them tight.
Every child’s a miracle; precious in our sight

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Preparing for the Teacher Evaluation

This year, I was asked to be one of the evaluators of new teachers in the district. I like this because I get to use my experience to help others and also to make sure that we have quality (not just qualified) teachers in my field. After doing this I realized that maybe someone should tell new teachers how to prepare for an evaluation. There is a general meeting to discuss what is expected but I think more specifics need to be given. This evaluation is important because it determines whether this new teacher gets a contract to return so it is in their best interest to look their best. Here are some things that I would suggest:

1. If you get an email or phone call from your evaluator, respond promptly.
2. If you are given a time frame of when you are going to be observed, treat every day as if it might be the day an evaluator shows up.
3. Plan a place for the evaluator to sit in case you are asked where the best place is.
4. Be on time for every class. (You do not want the first impression to be that you are often late to class and the class is left unattended.)
5. Prepare your class that an evaluator may show up and what you expect from the class.
6. Look your best. (When you feel you look great, this will show confidence during your observation.)
7. Have your lesson plans and grade book filled out correctly and available for the evaluator.
8. Have several extra activities available in case your lesson ends early (whenever I was observed, I was so nervous that my lessons went faster than I expected.)
9. If you are expected to present a portfolio, make sure you have as much of the information required in it and ready to show the evaluator. Don’t make excuses that you are still working on it because this evaluation should be a priority.
10. Go over your evaluation form to make sure that you are covering each item in your lessons. (I have gone so far as to actually prepare a script for my lessons to hit these points until it becomes second nature.)
11. Connect your lesson to a real life situation for your students so they will see how they will use this skill.
12. Use a variety of teaching strategies. Don’t lecture the whole time or have a class discussion the whole time. They may work sometimes in your class but the evaluator wants to see a variety of teaching strategies during this time.
13. Don’t worry about bad behavior in your class as long as you show that you can handle it. The evaluator knows that kids might act up with a stranger in the room. This is your chance to show how well you handle discipline.
14. Give frequent feedback to the students to let them know how they are doing.
15. Ask for feedback so you know that they understand how to do the assignment.

I hope these suggestions will help you pass your evaluations with flying colors!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Is Assigned Seating Necessary?

I believe it is important in a classroom. I use assigned seating the first day of class because I think this sends a message to the students that I am the person in charge. Have you ever gone to a gathering that is chaotic and you didn’t know if anyone is in charge? I believe students feel that way in many classrooms. It also opens the door when I need to move students around because of personality conflicts or too much socialization going on during my lessons. I sometimes assign seats according to ability levels (the higher ones can help the lower ones if I am busy with someone else). Now this might cause you some concern but it is real life. If I’m having a problem on the job, I sometimes might go to a colleague for help rather than the boss so why not start this in the classroom. Sometimes their peers are able to explain things better to them than I can. I also learn a lot by listening to those conversations so I can tweak the lesson for a future class. As I’ve said before, I believe the students need to know what their limits are and will respect you for doing this. I feel it also sets the tone of the classroom and students feel safer if they know someone is in charge. Have you ever gone to a gathering that is chaotic and you didn’t know if anyone is in charge? I believe students feel that way in many classrooms.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Teachers Accused of Sex Crimes

Court Papers Reveal Teacher’s Relationship With Students
Teacher Sex Scandal on Dr. Phil
About 1 in 4 disciplined teachers accused of sex-related offenses

Maybe I live in a bubble but I was unaware of how bad this has gotten. Or is the media just reporting more of this? It feels like every day I read or hear on the news about another teacher who is accused of a sex crime. This has got to stop but I don’t know what it is going to take to stop it. I am frustrated because I have racked my brains trying to think of some way that the government could prevent this. These sexual predators are giving teachers a bad name so no wonder no one wants to go into teaching! Of course my husband told me to calm down and keep in mind that many teachers are accused who aren’t guilty so I felt like I needed to come up with a list that could help good teachers from being accused of this. All it takes is one student to be mad at you and they can accuse you of anything. Even if you are innocent, these accusations can ruin your reputation and career.

1. Never be alone with a student in a room with the door closed. I talk to students out in the hallway if there is a problem. If a student comes to my room during my planning period, I always leave the door open. If I hold any student for detention, I usually join up with another teacher and we hold our students together in one room.
2. Never drive a student anywhere in your personal car. I have seen teachers offering rides to students who are waiting for parents or can’t reach anyone at home. Let an administrator handle this situation.
3. Never be in a vehicle alone with a student. On field trips, I have seen teachers take a discipline problem to the bus to wait on the class. I would not suggest this.
4. Be very wary of touching a student. My special ed students got a light pat on the shoulder (I used to give hugs but in this day and time you have to be careful).
5. Do not tolerate any sexual jokes or comments in your presence. If a student acts inappropriate by talking about sex, drawing pictures about sex, joking about sex or anything like this, immediate tell them to stop it. Report it the next time it happens. If you don’t, you could be accused of encouraging it or not doing anything about it.
6. Be very careful about the clothes you wear. I see too many young female teachers wearing low cut blouses and tight pants. It may pass the teacher dress code but is this really the message you want to send to your students?
7. Be very aware of any student who may show signs of having a crush on you. When this happened, I mentioned my husband and family a lot and encouraged them to visit and meet my class. This usually helped.
8. Last, don’t put yourself in any position where a student could accuse you of something.

It’s sad that we have to even think this way but unfortunately it is the way the world is. We can rant and rage that this isn’t fair and teachers shouldn’t have to do these things, but is it worth the risk to your career?

Friday, November 2, 2007

Useful Information for In and Out of the Classroom 11/02/07

It is Friday again and I would like to share some interesting sites that I’ve found. 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. If you have any sites you would like for me to check out, please let me know.

CyberGuides are supplementary, standards-based, web-delivered units of instruction centered on core works of literature.

Stossel in the Classroom: co-anchor of 20/20 offers FREE 34-minute DVD, which includes six segments from 20/20, chosen and edited specifically for the classroom. FREE downloadable and printable Teacher Guide with suggested discussion topics and activities for your classroom to supplement your Hype and Consequences video segments.

Our Kids Reading Recommendations: Our Kids is devoted to raising special kids with special needs and the books that are recommended are great!

abcteach: This is the place for kids, parents, student teachers, and teachers that offers free printable pages. Why reinvent the wheel? I hope you can use some of these or at least adapt the ones that are there.

NASAexplores provides free weekly K-12 educational articles and lesson plans on current NASA projects. Printable and downloadable, these supplemental curriculum resources meet national education standards.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Personality Conflicts

All through life, you are going to meet someone who just grates on your nerves! Even in your classroom this happens. For a long time I felt guilty if I didn’t like a particular student because I thought it meant that I wasn’t a good teacher. Then I suddenly realized that Hey! I didn’t have to like all of my students!

As long as I was consistent and fair with all of my students, it was alright not to like every single one of my students. As long as I teach equally to all of the students, even the ones I don’t particularly like, it is okay to feel this way. Students are pretty smart in picking up these vibes and followed my lead. It is not okay for me to pick on student, ridicule them, or encourage others to ridicule them. It is not okay if I don’t let this student have an equal chance to participate in the lessons as the others do. When this happens, it is time to reevaluate my motives for teaching. If my motive is only to work with people I like, then teaching is not the career for me.

In the same respect, it is also okay not to be liked by all of my students. Many times I have had a student tell me they hate me or draw pictures of me as a monster (they hated getting homework every night!). I believe that God put me on this earth to teach these students and not necessarily be their friend. They have enough friends but not enough teachers and I have enough friends that if they aren’t one of them, I’ll live.

As long as they are learning, I don’t care if they like me. Many years later many students have come back to me and thanked me for setting limits, demanding respect, and expecting them to give their best. They admitted to not liking me at the time but later realized how much they learned in my class compared to classes where the teacher cared more about being their friend than whether they were learning or not. It is times like this that make me glad I'm a teacher!