Friday, November 23, 2012

The Bullying Teacher:Can the Damage They Cause Be Fixed?

My car was hit the other day. I'm not worried about it. I was fine. My insurance will cover the damages and my car will be fixed.

The damage to my car caused an "education connection". It made me think about that kid who is being bullied by their teacher or teachers and no one knows. We have all seen videos of the extreme cases where teachers are bullying kids.

But what about the student who is bullied every day and it's not recorded? These poor kids are subject to whatever abuse that the small minded,big bully, teacher can throw at them.

I knew a team of bullying teachers. You know how it is when a group of students seem to feed off each other? That's what it was like with these teachers. They would sit around the table like witches around a cauldron, their mean-spiritedness providing the ingredients for their potion of mean. They would discuss how they would treat particular students,(You know bullies always know who to pick on), with unbelievable relish. They didn't hit them, or get in their face, they were just mean. It seemed like they were vying with each other to see who could make that child's life more miserable.

Their poor students couldn't catch a break, because whatever class they were switched to, that team teacher was ready to dish out her own brand of bully. The sad part was that when one of the teachers was replaced in the hope of breaking up the Bully Dream Team, the replacement seemed to drink from the Kool-Aid.

The parents would complain. Teachers would complain, but nothing really seemed to change.

Teachers bully. I am sure you know one, two, or three. It doesn't have to be physical, it doesn't have to be that intense. But that day in, day out, ridicule, non-supportive, demeaning attitude can damage a child. It can leave them feeling powerless, hopeless, and suffering from low self-esteem. Can the damage be fixed? Do these students carry that scar around with them forever? Does it become baggage, hidden away , but heavy nonetheless?

What can we do when our colleagues are bullies? What can we do to prevent the damage that may be done to our students?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Teacher Accused!:When He Said/She Said Turns Ugly!

I learned about it by accident. I approached my principal about another child and she asked me not to get upset. I wondered why a simple response to a question about a situation with a student, could possibly upset me. And that's when she told me what a student had accused me of. I really think I was in shock, because I nodded, said, "What?", listened to what she was saying, and returned to the workshop I was attending.

As the day went on, what she said began to sink in. By the time I got home, and shared what was said with my husband, I was furious! How could this not be taken seriously? How could she not let me know? Why would this child say this? I immediately emailed my principal and told her that this would have to be handled.

That Monday, I was told that my computer would be confiscated, and scanned by the district and the police. You can't hide anything on computers. I told them to take it, clear my name. Do anything they had to do to prove that what he said wasn't true. And then I burst into tears. This could not be happening. After 28 years, this could not be happening! The words of a vindictive child had turned my life into a nightmare.They tried to comfort me by saying that they knew this was making me uncomfortable, but I wasn't uncomfortable, I was angry!

His grandparents went to the police. They said they knew he was lying, but "just in case". Everyone said they knew he was lying, but there was nothing that could be done. They had to follow protocol.

Every day I kept wondering if I would leave my building, and find a horde of reporters standing outside the school door, making me the latest victim of "Guilty, until proven innocent." Wondering if my career would be ruined, or if I could possibly go to jail because this...child, thought his words were a great tool to use against me. I worried that he would tell the other students, they would tell their parents, and what would they think of me?

The worst part was my "visit" to the precinct for my statement. I sat in that room of stark, blank, walls, wondering how I could possibly be there, and not in my classroom. I thought of all the shows my husband watches, and tried not to look scared or shaken, for fear that I would be mistaken for a criminal.

Knowing that there was a camera recording my every move, was terrifying, and I held my hands clasped tightly on the table, waiting for the detective's return. When the detective stated, "This is a criminal investigation", my heart stopped. During the interview, I burst into tears, praying that it wouldn't be mistaken as an admission of guilt.

It's over. I was exonerated. His lies were not well thought-out, and were easily proven  false. The sad part is that he is back in the school, although not in my class. Nothing has changed with him. If anything, he is more arrogant than ever.

I think I did very well going on with life as usual. Knowing I was innocent had a lot to do with that. My students didn't have a clue, or at least never said anything to me.

I needed to share this.

I am truly blessed to have had so many people who never doubted me. The district people I dealt with, my colleagues, and my friends. So many people said, "I am sorry you have to go through this", letting me know they cared. This is an experience I would not wish on any innocent person, and I am glad it is over.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I Symbaloo, Do You?

I have always heard people talk about it, but never really bothered to check it out.
Our presenter at a tech workshop, John Kuglin, introduced it to me, and I LOVE it!
Here's one that  I started. Still have a lot more sites to add to it!
I also have one that I embedded on my Class web page with the tech sites we use in the classroom. You can add videos, documents, forms, whatever your heart desires. AND, it's all in one place!
Imagine the possibilities!:)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Top Three Popular Posts of October 2012!

Top Three Popular Post from October 2012! Enjoy!

Ain't Too Proud to Beg? Parent/Teacher Communication!

I attend the same church as one of  my students' parents. I know her mom very well.  After service she made, I guess what she thought was a joke, and said, "I have never had a teacher email the parents as much as you do! I asked my mom if you have a life?"
I didn't think it was funny...

Morning Meeting Moments Create Critical Thinkers!

I use two sites that promote critical thinking: BrainPop andWonderopolis

Every morning we begin our day with Morning Meeting. I have really come to enjoy Morning Meeting, it gives me a chance to bond with my students...

Some "Truths" About Teaching!

Since I'm not at work because of Hurricane Sandy, it gave me some time to peruse Pinterest, and I came across this poster. I think it's funny.:)
It also made me think about some of the "truths" about teaching, especially if someone is choosing to go into this profession now. So, here are my "truths." ...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Hey AR,(Accelerated Reader):I Have A Bone to Pick With You!

Dear Accelerated Reader,

Can I call you AR?

I have a bone to pick with you!
I don't know about other schools, or classrooms, but you are sucking the joy out of reading in my classroom.
Ok, well, it's not really you, but it's what you stand for. It's also what others have made of you. So, I guess it's not all your fault.

I get it. You want our students to read, and you want them to read on their level. You want them to read so much that they become better readers. You do this by making them take a test, which then decides what books they are able to read. And once they read the book, they take a quiz.

In our school, they read to get points. They get points to get in a Club. When they get in the Club, they get recognized, and they get the chance to attend ice cream socials, parties, etc.... The class with the most points or the highest average wins a pizza party. Hey if it gets them to read, right?

Not really. You know what I have noticed year after year?  The same kids attend ice cream socials, parties, etc...  The same kids end up in the Platinum Club, or they get to be the ones to smash the pie in a teachers' face. Last year, my students said, "What's the use Mrs.M? We know K is going to win." Of course, I tried to change their minds, but you know who won last year.

And the worst part?
Student: Mrs. M, I need you to have a lady to lady talk with Ms.L.
Me: Why?
Student: She is not letting me go out to Recess until I am in an AR Club.
Come on! I know we all like to win, but making kids miss Recess so they can get in the club, and your class can win the pizza party? See what you've driven our teachers to?

Trust me, AR, my goal and yours are the same. We both want our children to read. We want our children to enjoy reading, we just have different methods. I prefer events like The Global Read Aloud, which embraces the joy of reading, but also connects students all over the world, who share that joy.

I also send home a notebook and ask my students to read at least 15 minutes a day, and respond in writing 3 days out of the week. Listening to some of them share their responses, I have seen how much they have grown, how they are relating to the books they are reading. How much they enjoy reading them.

Of course, if there is an AR quiz, they are allowed to take it. Win-win, right? :)

I'm sorry AR, I am not a big fan. One of my students has read three chapter books and somehow feels it was a waste of time. You know why? There wasn't a matching AR quiz for any of them. So, I ask you, is this any way to get kids to love  reading?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Problem of the Week(POTW):It's Not Just Math!

He ran across the room and yelled, "I got it!
Poking at his head, he said, "I used my brain and I got it!"
What did he get?
He had just solved the Problem of the Week. :)

I decided to use the Problem of the Week (POTW) more diligently this year, and it's a decision I do not regret.  At least once or twice a week, my students form groups, (it changes between assigned and random), and they attempt to solve the POTW. Sometimes they get it, and sometimes they don't. But, that's not what matters.

What matters is what comes from the attempt to solve this problem.  Of course, the Math is important. It's not a bunch of numbers on a worksheet. It's a problem, with real world applications that they have to solve. You want to talk about rigor? There's lots of "brain hurt" going on in my classroom as my students attempt to solve the problem.They have to read, and understand, what the problem is asking them. They have to decide what mathematical skills they are going to use to solve the problem.  They have to work together, listen to, and respect, each other's ideas. They learn the meaning of the adage, "If at first you don't succeed...

I get great joy walking around my room and listening in on the conversations. I am serious, joy. It is wonderful to walk around, by the video chairs, at the back table, (the lucky person ensconced in the "teacher's" chair), the area by the sink and lockers, (I have carpet squares), and listen to them work on the problem. They have learned to use me as a guide, not the person with the answers. Their mission is to solve this problem, and they are serious!

Here's a little history about Problem of the week:(provided byJohn Galbraith)
POTW started in January 2011.  The Centre for Education in Mathematics
and Computing (CEMC) out of the Faculty of Mathematics at the University
of Waterloo has long been known for providing excellent contests and
supporting resources.  But there was a belief that we could involve more
students in regular problem solving (whether or not they participate in
of our contests).  So part of our mandate is to provide resources for
teachers and students that promote mathematics and problem solving.

The great part is that any student or teacher can subscribe to the Problem of the Week. Take advantage of this wonderfully, powerful, resource!

I receive an email once a week with two attached documents. One is the answer to the previous POTW. And one is the latest POTW. My colleagues and I have a good time trying to figure them out ourselves before the answers arrive.

That student I mentioned above, he is a kid with low self-esteem. He's bright, but was not working to potential.Somewhere along the way, he was allowed to believe that minimum effort is all that is required, and if it's hard, quit. Not in my room!:)

 The day he solved the POTW, he proclaimed his news to  teachers in the hallway, the lunchroom, the office, he was so proud!  The Problem of the Week, it's not just math.