Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fabulous Phone Call!: Go Ahead, Make Their Day!

While attending the 2011 PLC summit, one of the presenters told us about an experience he had while watching Family Feud. The question was, “What is the reason your child’s teacher is calling your house?” Not one of the “right” answers were positive, not one! Two of the answers were, “Your kid is failing” and "Your kid skipped school”. These answers only served to reinforce the stereotype of parent/teacher communication; we’re the bearers of bad news. 

About two years ago, we had an idea forced on us by our former principal. An idea I actually grew to like. We were required, every Friday, to call a parent or two, and let them know something fabulous about their child. It was called "Fabulous Phone Call". It wasn't time-consuming, and there was no out-of pocket expense.

It’s exactly what the title implies,  a phone call to a parent, telling them how wonderful their child had been at some point during the week. I always tried to choose a child who was always fabulous, they deserved praise too, and a child who might have been struggling to be fabulous. The great part is that it’s not only about academics. Maybe the student showed improvement in behavior, grasped a concept, or helped a friend. There are so many benefits to the Fabulous Phone call, the most important being that it provides teachers a chance to positively communicate with our parents.

I usually began my phone calls like this, “Hello, this is Mrs.M; your child is not in trouble.” I try to get that in before, “What did he/she do?” Afterwards, we have an enjoyable conversation about their child, and it usually ends with many, many, thanks from the parent. I kept the phone call positive at all times. 

On Monday Morning, I would place a “Fabulous Phone Call” coupon on the child’s desk. The coupon stated, “Congratulations, you have received a Fabulous Phone Call!” Who knew a simple phone call could bring such joy?

I have to admit that since I first wrote this post in March 2011, later in the school year, I had become remiss in making my phone calls. However, last week, while digging in my desk, I found my Fabulous Phone Call Coupons. I am going to make sure, starting this week, that I begin making  my Fabulous Phone Calls again. We make time for so many other things, why not something with such a positive impact on our parents and students?

Pick a day, any day, and make a Fabulous Phone call to one of your students’ parents, and make their day! 

Scan to get file of coupon, or create your own!

Great article! : Power of Positivity: The Friday 5 - A principal documents the power of a positive phone call!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Discovering "Discovery Education! It's Not Just Videos Anymore!"

I remember when I began using Discovery Education. It was years ago, and I was excited because they had great videos per United Streaming,  that I could show my students!
Well, Discovery Ed has come a long way baby, and it's not just about videos anymore!
As a matter of fact, there is so much more to Discovery,that I couldn't possibly cover it in this post!
Yeah, they still do videos, tons and tons of video,on every subject. You can sort the videos by grade,subject,media type, and even curriculum standards. They have full videos, segments, that can be watched right away or downloaded.Many of the videos come with a Blackline Master guide and/or a Teacher's Guide. Why reinvent the wheel? And once you've found the resource you need, you can save it in your own personal folder.
And they are not just about videos, You can also download images,songs, articles, and writing prompts.. If you or your students are putting together a presentation via a web2.0 tool, such as, Nearpod, Sliderocket, Animoto, or Thinglink, this is a one stop shopping website!
Builder tools allow you to create assignments, quizzes, and writing prompts. Teachers can also set up student accounts which can be accessed at school or at home using the Classroom Manager.The Teacher Center provides tools and resources , calendar, STEM,, library, and much more.
Are you a lifelong learner? Discovery Ed is here for you. They offer many opportunities for professional development.  Youtube channel, webinars, in person workshops, blogs, they even offer a community on Edmodo! Their goal is to provide you with all the tools you will need to meet the needs of your students.
Trust me, I am a big fan of free, but there are some things worth paying for.When the district decided to stop paying for Discovery Ed, my principal questioned whether we still needed it. There was no question in my mind.

Click the link and discover the hidden treasures in Discovery Education!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

There's No Crying WHILE Teaching!

I am offline until Friday, so I am posting some of my older blog posts from my Wordpress account.

I was watching a Geico commercial where  a psychiatrist told his patient to "Man up!".  Well, not in those words, but that's what he meant. I laughed when he offered the patient the tissue box, and as the sniffling patient reached for the box, instead of handing it to him, he threw it.

 I know, that's cruel, and what type of person must I be to find that funny? But I hold firm to this belief. Do not, under any circumstances, (except sad or happy occasions), cry in front of your students!

This is the scenario: The class is out of control, and you are extremely frustrated. You cry, they feel sorry for you, straighten up, and behave for the remainder of the school year. This is a fairy tale. Instead, you have just demonstrated weakness and they will pounce like lions on a carcass!

Remember the bus monitor Karen Klein? One of the kids asked was she sweating. She replied, "No, I am crying", and my first thought was "Oh,oh." Some of you are fortunate enough not to work with students who would treat you this way, lucky you. But for those of us who are not, please take my advice.

Have I cried because of my frustration with my students? Yes, during my early years of teaching, but never in front of them. If it's that bad, get an adult  to watch your class, run to the nearest bathroom, bawl your eyes out, and go back to your room. After school, find teachers, articles, or videos,online and/or, off who can help with classroom management.

 I recently read a cartoon where a boy says to his friend, "I've made teachers cry before, but this was the first time I made one sob!":) Once they make you cry, because of them, you are theirs for the rest of the year.  (I know there are always exceptions)

I end with words of compassionate advice, "Man up, and wait until you get home to cry!" :)
What are your thoughts?

Monday, August 13, 2012

"Humiliation is Not a Classroom Management Technique!"


 My youngest son is no angel, not in any way, shape, or form. He had been getting in  "trouble" since preschool. I would go to pick him up and he would wave and grin from the timeout area. He didn't know any better, he was just one of those kids that was always up and about. Back then, if you were that kid, you ended up in timeout.

 When he was in the second grade, I had a conference with his teacher. She couldn't wait for me to sit down as she proclaimed, "He needs to be on medication! You need to put him on medication!" (We won't go into the fact that legally a teacher cannot tell a parent to put their child on medication.) She then proceeded to show me what she did because he could not " behave."

She took his chair, put it facing the blackboard in the front of the room, and then if that wasn't enough, she rolled the hanging chart behind him "so he wouldn't distract the other kids." I saw red! What a humiliating experience for my child! She seemed quite pleased with herself. Needless to say, I contacted the principal immediately and had my child removed from her class.He was placed in a classroom where the teachers practiced strategies that allowed them to deal with kids like my son.

 Last Sunday, I was talking to a parent who has a son in one of the new charter schools in my state. She informed me that her son had to wear the "yellow shirt." The yellow shirt states, "Do not talk to me, I am in isolation." My jaw dropped, and I told her, "Get your child out of that school immediately. She responded, "Oh, it's ok, the shirt is normal."

 Normal? What's normal about having anyone's child walk around with a shirt saying "Don't talk to me"? Using Color coded student ID's according to your test scores?  Showing the class a student's work and mocking them  in front of the class? What's normal about a teacher humiliating a child in the hope that they will behave better? How could this possibly work?  The natural reaction to humiliation is to either shut down, or to become aggressive. The child no longer trusts the teacher and it creates an intolerable situation in the classroom. It can also lead to bullying. If the teacher is allowed to bully a student, why shouldn't the other students?

 I know they "take us there" sometimes. I was one of those teachers who had to stop using sarcasm as a classroom management technique, especially when I had a difficult group of kids. But now, I always think of how I would feel in that situation.  I think about how my sons would feel.

You know the adage, "Treat others the way you want to be treated!"  Now that's a good classroom management technique!

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Blog You Have Reached Has Been Disconnected!

Beep..Beep...Beep... Don't panic, it’s only temporary. As a matter of fact it will only be 6 days, 2 hours, and 43 seconds.:) I made the hours and seconds part up.:)

I am going on vacation with my BFF, (that would be hubby), to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary. I do not intend to be online on this trip, my hubby expressly forbid it. And forget about "sneaking", each minute on the Net cost $35!

So, of course, I was a little worried about my "babies". My blog, my FB page,Twitter, chats, things I would miss. It's not like I am making money from any of these ventures. Ok, that's not entirely true, I have made approximately $3.00 from my blogs. :) I just love all that comes with it, the writing, the connections, chatting, receiving, and sharing, loads of great information about my passion, teaching.

But today,as I sat under the hairdryer,(have to look cute for the cruise), I came across a post on Zite called, "Catching Moments" , and it gave me pause. 

You know what? I love my hubby more than all that other stuff combined. He is going to have my undivided attention for the next 6 days. And you know what else? I am going to have one or two days out of each week where I disconnect. It's not going to be easy, I know that, but it is necessary.  I will give my undivided attention to my hubby and son. (although he may act like he doesn't need it). 

After I tweeted Chris's post,@dubioseducator responded, “Getting caught up in daily routines, needs & wants we forget to Stop and smell the roses! Whoever & whatever they may be"

I am going to Stop, smell the roses in my "garden", not only for  6 days, 2 hours, and 43 seconds, but for as long as I can!

photo credit: Paul Mayne via photo pin cc
 photo credit: Fierce Fab via photo pin cc

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Thinking Out Loud! If I Don't Tweet and/or Blog, Does That Make Me a "Bad" Teacher?

Yeah! It's Connected Educator Month!

After reading numerous articles and tweets over the past year, I am getting an idea. An idea, that may be a misconception on my part. Is there a belief that teachers who are passionate about tweeting and/or blogging, are considered "better" teachers??? Are we considered "better" than the ones who don't?

I know I am passionate about tweeting and blogging. I am on Twitter every day, I post on my blog once or twice a week, and I maintain my blog's Facebook page. Whew! I am exhausted just reading this!  But, I do this because I want to. I do this because of the benefits I acquire that help me grow professionally. I do this because I love writing and connecting with other educators. But every educator is not like me.

As a matter of fact, I am not like every educator.  When I  read what some of my connections are involved in, it makes my head spin!:) I wonder where they find the time? Do they have to give up huge chunks of their day? But, that really doesn't matter! That is their passion, and they choose to do it.
And the great part is, they share that knowledge and that passion with the rest of us. They are our power strip, and they plug us into their connections, and that's a wonderful thing!

My girlfriend calls me a "teacher's teacher." On our once a week trip to the beach,  she is reading fiction. I, on the other hand,  read tweets, emails, blog posts, comments on my blog, and/or Zite., before I settle into my novel of the week. It's likely that she will never Tweet. She will not add the Zite app to her Ipad,  and she will not add education sites to her FB page. But, she is a great librarian! If I find something out in my travels through the educational Twitterverse, I share it with her, and she uses it.

There are educators who are not going to Tweet,blog,or even open a Facebook account for so many reasons. They may not enjoy being on the computer for hours. (And you know we can look up and 3 hours have flown by.) They have young children or elders they care for.  When push comes to shove, fixing dinner and putting the kids to bed, takes priority over a Twitter#chat. They might not feel comfortable writing for an audience. Maybe, they don't feel like sitting down and blogging to the world about a lesson that worked. Or maybe, they just don't have that passion for this, the educational tweeting and blogging, maybe their passion lies elsewhere.

Do I believe they are a committing a disservice to their students because they won't tweet and/or blog? No! That is where we, the connected educators, step in. Just as I get my information from those educators who are even more intense then I am,  I feel it is my duty to pass on my collected knowledge to my peers. My peers know I tweet and blog, but they have not chosen that path. But I use my connections, through Twitter, Facebook, and blogging, to make sure that they stay connected.  When I find something new, I share it with tweeters, bloggers, facebookers, and those who choose not to partake of any of the above. And vice versa, I learn new things from them, by word of mouth, or observations, and share it online.

Would it be fantastic if a greater number of teachers joined #chats, or began blogging? Yes, it would. Would it open up a whole new world to them? Yes, it would. But in the meantime, I am not going to judge them. I am going to use my connections to help them see into my world. Maybe if I share enough, they will join me, with no arm-twisting, on my journey.

photo credit: minifig via photo pin cc

131 Tips for New Teachers/36 Interesting Ways to Get to Know Your New Class!(2 Slideshows)

Two slideshows that were posted on Free Technology for Teachers!

Friday, August 3, 2012

"Getting to Know You Game" and "Fotobabble!" More "Getting to Know You" Activities!

I found FotoBabble in The Alice Mercer Daily. The one I made below will be embedded on our class blog and Edmodo. My students will create one as well. I will use their Fotobabbles to produce a slideshow. They can also post them on their blogs on Kidblog. A great way to get my students feet wet with the tech I will be using in my classroom!

 This is not mine, but I think it is a fantastic idea! I found it on the blog,  Finding Joy in 6th Grade. It's called the Getting to Know You Game!