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!


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

#8WeeksofSummer Blog Challenge- Week 3-More Student Voice!

This post is week 3 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for educators.” 
What is the biggest change you are considering making for your learners in the coming school year? 


Image result for student voice

Hmmmmmm...
I was slacking. I have no excuse, I just know I need to do something about it. I am a proponent of student voice, always have been. 

My kids have always participated in Skypes, used Classdojo to tell their stories, tweeted from our class account, (Classrooms only),connected during Global Read Aloud with other classes, participated in projects, etc...

But during the school year that just ended, I felt like I did not do enough to get their voices heard beyond our classroom. There weren't many connections made. 

Was it me? Was it this group of kids? I am not sure. I just know I need to get back on track. We did a Mystery Skype, once. We read the book for Global Read Aloud and only made one connection. We rarely tweeted...:(. I could go on.

So next year, I am going to make sure we go back to having our voices heard outside of our classroom. It is important to me that my students not only share their voice, but make connections with others,and hear their voices too. I want them to know that their voice matters, and that our classroom is not the world.I am even thinking about letting them create a weekly podcast. Really excited about this! (Just.have.to.follow.through...)

I am, no we are, going to connect again, so that their learning is not just taking place in Room 5! This upcoming school year, I will make sure they are given multiple opportunities to connect and share with the world!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Impactful Professional Learning? Twitter/Twitter Chats!

Impactful Professional Learning

Share the most important/impactful professional learning in which you have participated, so far.
How did it impact your practice moving forward? 

This post is week 2 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for educators.” 

Whenever I am asked the question about the "best" professional learning format, I think for a minute, but then my response is always the same, Twitter.
Not Twitter, where I tell people what I had for breakfast or where I went on vacation.

I mean, "Educator Twitter", where I have met, online or face to face, so many dedicated people who are all about education in any form.

I can't narrow it down to one experience because there have been so many. Whether it is making connections, learning about resources, connecting my students with a global audience, participating in projects, having experts talk to my kids, sharing my ideas and having others expand on them, and/or just chatting with like-minded people. Not to mention, how Twitter has led me to connect via other modes of social media, like FB groups, Voxer, and Instagram.

The great part about Twitter is it is truly a personalized professional learning experience. You follow who you wish. Block those you don't want to hear from. You can get on at 12 am, 3 am, or 8 pm, it's up to you. You can lurk or insert your voice in every conversation.

The impact of Twitter on my practice has been amazing! Every year I add something new to my teaching repertoire due to the connections I have made on Twitter. Teaching is never a dull experience for me because I embrace the new ideas and apply them to my classroom, which can only enhance learning for my students, my ultimate goal!
@BriteEyes49