Monday, October 15, 2018

Sometimes the Technology Doesn't Work!

Yesterday was our first Mystery Skype of the year.
My class was hyped!
Earlier, I tested my webcam, and everything was in order.
It did cross my mind to contact the teacher and do a practice run, but that thought went out of my head as quickly as it went in. (Note to self:Always do a practice run!)

The Skype was scheduled for 2 p.m.
So much talking, movement, excitement!
The video call begins.(I laugh when I think about how excited they got!)
We say hello, and the teacher says, "We can't hear you."

All I can think of as we try this,that, and the other, is how disappointed my kids will be if we don't get this to work.
Press things, hang up,call back, nothing is working.

We messaged each other back and forth and decided to do it anyway.
Both of our classes were first timers, the teacher was also a first timer, but we did it.
We could see and hear them.
They could see us.
I typed.
My kids used signals.
One finger for "Yes."
Two fingers for "No."

It worked.
We guessed each other's state, had fun, learned geography, and we will hook up again with a working microphone.

Sometimes the technology doesn't work. And that's ok.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Happy New Year! Suggestions for a Successful School Year!

Have a Wonderful 2018!

I share these ideas twice a year. At the beginning of the school year, and the beginning of the year. I've made some changes to my list.

Some suggestions for the new year:

  1. treat all students fairly, regardless of race, gender, age, behavior, a parent's nasty attitude, the comments from last year's teachers, or a seemingly lack of interest in learning 
  2. to realize that all children can learn, but not always at the same pace.
  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 only option. (It never is!)
  5. "sticks and stones...but words"... Words can hurt worse than "sticks and stones." Please be careful of the words you use with a child.
  6.  realize that you might be the only good thing that happens in a student's day 
  7. try to meet all deadlines(With all the burdens placed on teachers these days, this one is VERY difficult)
  8. stop gossiping about other teachers, parents, students, administration...! (Difficult at times, I know)
  9. if you don't know, say you don't know (But find out or teach others how to find out)
  10. make mistakes, it's OK. But admit to them and then learn from them.
  11. challenge your students! Challenge yourself!
  12. share with colleagues, we are not in competition with each other. 
  13. use technology as a tool to excite, engage, and empower students. Technology is not a subject!
  14. be involved in fighting what is happening in, and to, the public education system! (Standardized testing, education "reform", merit pay)
  15. be a lifelong learner 
  16. continue to be passionate about the job, it really is about the kids!

photo credit: One Way Stock via photopin cc

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

"Cause I Ain't Got No Pencil" - Why We Shouldn't Sweat the Little Things!

I read the background story of Mr.Dickerson, the author of this poem, and it made me want to cry. The teacher made the student give her his shoe as collateral for a pencil. He had on dirty socks and all the kids started laughing at him.

I've done it, not the shoe part. Never collateral. But I have shaken my head and said things like, "Why don't you ever have a pencil?" I don't even pay for my pencils, my district does. So why did I feel the need to address it? I should have just given the kid the pencil.
After I read this poem a few years ago, I became more aware of my attitude towards my students regarding circumstances like these.

It's similar to the wake-up call I got years and years ago when I used to fuss, roll my eyes, or make comments regarding the late ELEMENTARY student. They don't drive! How are they going to control what time they get to school or IF they get to school? Now I just smile and say, "I am glad you are here." with absolutely no sarcasm. It makes a difference.

Do you know that educator that picks and picks and picks? Yeah, you know who I'm talking about. They have to make a case about every little thing.

Don't be that educator.

I remember I used to fuss at a little girl who never had her HW done.(That's when HW used to be an issue for me.) I found out at the end of the year that the little girl was homeless and staying in a shelter. I don't think HW was high on her list of priorities.

In the article, Mr.Dickerson wants us to pay attention to what happened before this student came to school with no pencil. Pay attention to what the student did in order to come to school! That is what is important, how this child overcame their morning hardships and made it to school WITH their baby sister.

And here we are, worrying about a pencil. Give the kid the pencil! Stop sweating the little things.

Friday, July 27, 2018

"Wellll...You Chose this Profession..."

One of my best friends and I were sitting around talking and the conversation turned to IEPs. Let me put this in perspective. My friend is a Spec.Ed supervisor and I am a 5th grade teacher. I was discussing how overwhelming IEPs are and the work Spec Ed teachers have, not only writing them, but following through on them, etc...

Well, let's just say we had differing points of view on various details and  just as the conversation was about to end, before it became violent(jk), she said, "Well just keep in mind, you chose this profession..." She said it more than once!

No, I did not start screaming and my head did not spin around three times, I just ended the conversation.You see, this is something I have heard from my husband on various occasions when I guess he feels I am over-venting. This is something I see in the Comments section on Facebook from non-educators. This is not something I expected to hear from my friend.

But, here's what many people don't understand, once you leave the classroom your perspective changes. You forget the day to day grind of giving your heart and soul to and for these kids, that feeling fades.

And I know there are admin who still try to place themselves in the shoes of classroom teachers and those who still work directly with our children, but it's difficult. They have so much going on, and so many other people they have to answer to, sometimes they forget, or could care less, what is required of us as educators.

But the words, "You chose this profession..." make me angry. Those four words imply that, because we choose to teach,we are supposed to put up with everything and anything that is placed before us, whether we like it or not.

Because we chose this profession we should write IEPS for half our class at school, at home, and anywhere else we can find time to write them and not ask for more time. Then still bust our butts finding a way to meet the needs of our students with IEPs in the classroom.

Because we chose this profession we should be happy when we have a class size of 25 and over, even though research has proven that class size matters. Yeah, because good teachers can handle 30 or more kids.

Because we chose this profession  we should be delighted that instead of letting us teach using the skills we have honed, we are required to follow every "new thing" or new book, that is thrown at us once,twice, or three times a year.

Because we chose this profession  we should forget that we are professionals and should have control over our Professional Development. No, better we waste countless hours at PD that is forced upon us.

Because we chose this profession we should have no problem taking money out of our own pockets and buying supplies, books, and all the other things educators pay for to make sure their students have what they need.

I chose this profession because I wanted to make a difference in a child's life.

But let's not get it twisted, just because we chose this profession, doesn't mean we shouldn't be treated with anything other than the respect we deserve. It doesn't mean that we should be seen and not heard. It doesn't mean that someone gets to say that we should put up with things that stand in the way of making us the type of educator that is doing the best for our kids. 

What should be said is, "I thank you for choosing this profession and I will do whatever I can to help you work in an environment where you will thrive, along with your students."

"You chose this profession..." Sheesh! smh 🤦

Watch the video below and tell me if these Oklahoma educators deserve what happened to them because "they chose this profession."

Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Value of Veteran Educators... There is No Expiration Date.

When did years of experience become a negative?

Category:Things that expire...

One of the concerns brought up at the NEA RA, ( National Education Association Representative Assembly), this year, was the reprehensible treatment of veteran educators. All over the United States, it seems veteran educators are under attack.

The Modus Operandi does not differ from state to state. An effective teacher, of a certain age, suddenly becomes "ineffective." Admin picks, picks, and picks until said teacher cannot take it anymore and resigns. Or, said teacher is moved from grade to grade to grade, with the same result, they quit. Once the teacher has resigned, admin is now able to hire one or two new teachers at a lower salary, who they are then able to mold.

If a veteran educator is doing their job effectively, why you ask, would they be harassed until they quit? Their high salary, they won't put up with too much nonsense, they do not follow blindly, they speak their mind, and they can't be fired on a whim. 

I know a number of excellent educators who would still be teaching now if they weren't hounded out of the classroom. It's amusing that you can be an admin of any age, but educators seem to have an expiration date.

Here are a number of reasons veteran educators should be valued:

  • They have been teaching a long time. That's not a bad thing, especially if they have taught in the same school. That educator knows the parents, and the kids of their former students who end up sending their kids there. They are a valued member of that community.

  • They have been teaching a long time. Yes, I know I repeated myself:) Veteran educators have been through every "new thing" that has come out and and gone back in again. They know what works and what doesn't. They have found a way to teach using the old and the new.

  • They are life-long learners. Many of the conferences I attend, especially edtech, are populated by veteran educators. They will be the ones voluntarily sitting in after school or Saturday workshops. They are ready and willing to add whatever strategies they can to reach our ever changing student population. They realize you can't teach these students the way they used to.

  • They can be a mentor, especially to the younger teachers. Every veteran educator is not the stereotypical old lady or man spewing poison in the Teacher's Lounge. A lot can be learned from them.
Too many times veteran educators are dismissed for the simple fact that they have reached the age of 50 and beyond. As long as a veteran teacher can do their job effectively, take advantage of what they offer. Brand new is not always better than tried and true!