Sunday, December 30, 2018

Happy New Year! Suggestions for a Successful School Year!

Have a Wonderful 2019!

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!
  17. realize our preconceived notions and biases impact the way we treat your students.
  18. Building relationships is key!

photo credit: One Way Stock via photopin cc

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Postcard Exchange:Authentic Learning Through Projects!

I don´t remember if I saw it in an email or on Twitter, but the Postcard Exchange project caught my eye. It was sponsored by @techTOSAGina. This was her first one, as a matter of fact. Each teacher would be responsible for sending out 50 postcards to all the other classes on the list.

Sounded like an interesting way to teach Geography.

I decided we would create a postcard via Vistaprint, and yes the cost was out of pocket, but fortunately,Vistaprint is always having sales. And like a teacher, I  could not  just get the postcards, I added in return labels with our school name and mascot on it.
As a class, we decided what information would be included on our information sheet.

The postcards started trickling, then pouring, in. Meanwhile, I had my kids glue on the information sheets and stick on the return labels. I decided to address our postcards myself because I just felt it would be quicker. Unfortunately, it was not. I am a procrastinator, and ended up addressing them a while after they were due.:( But, I did send them.

As I collected the postcards, I kept trying to think of a way this could be more than a bunch of postcards we glue on the wall. And wouldn´t you know? A teacher shared her idea. She created a Google Slide presentation, and the kids added the info they got from their postcards. If they didn´t get enough info, they did the research and supplied it themselves. Another teacher created a Google Tour
using the addresses of the schools.

My kids are still working on their Google Slide presentation, and they are really enjoying it! They talk about the facts they learned about their states with their peers and I. When they were done, they asked for more cards to fill out another slide. They enjoyed finding out how many miles away they were by car, walking bike, etc...

 I´ve never used Google Tours, but I am going to give it a try.Really doesn´t matter, once I give it to the kids... For example, I told them to add a picture, they found a much more creative way to add images to the slides.
Looking forward to doing this again next year!

Interested in creating your own Postcard Exchange? Here´s some ideas!

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.

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."