Sunday, January 27, 2013

I'm Not That Super Teacher: When Teaching Takes Its Toll!

My eyes are burning.
My blood pressure is high for the first time in 53 years.
My doctor swears that I have mild arthritis in my knees.

"Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound"

Nope, not me, I'm not that Super Teacher. 

I think it's all getting to me.

No, I am not quitting. Withstanding all the crap stuff that comes with the job, I still love teaching.

But, I wonder...

Do my eyes burn from all the paperwork I have to fill out? The research I do in order to make sure I am complying with Common Core?  Lesson plans? Grading endless papers? Compiling and studying data? And of course, Twitter chats, this blog, and all the articles I read regarding education? (Okay, this one is my fault)

Is my blood pressure high from trying to keep up with the demands that have been placed on me by the principal, the district, the state, the federal government? Dealing with children with an unwarranted sense of entitlement? Having to keep a tight leash on a class that could explode if I didn't snuff out the little things day after day? Parents who don't seem to think that they have a role in the education of their children? (Not all of them, but every year, the percentage of non supportive caretakers increases)My archenemy, Standardized Testing?(Which holds me hostage, accountable)

Is the arthritis from standing most of the day? (Can you get arthritis from standing most of the day?) Standing so that I can roam my room, and make sure everyone is engaged. Standing so that I don't become one of those teachers glued to the desk or my computer. Standing so that I can teach and learn with my students, and not at them.

I'm not that Super Teacher. 
I'm way slower than a speeding bullet
My strength is nowhere near comparable to a locomotive
And able to leap tall buildings, much less in a single bound? Ha!

These things that have become an integral part of who I am as an educator, may be taking a toll on my body. My hubby laughingly says I am falling apart.

Here's to hoping it's just old age, and not signs that I may have to give up what I love!:(

Friday, January 25, 2013

Photobiographies: Research with Photos!

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Photobiography on PhotoPeach

This would work with any biography your students are working on. Each student can have their own Photopeach account or you can pay for a Class Premium account. (I won mine in a contest sponsored by DiscoveryEducation.)

All they have to do is upload the images onto Photopeach and voila! I made sure my students researched the topic first. After they wrote the events about Dr.King in sequential order, including dates, they were allowed to find images that matched their event.

They had a great time working on these! This is an example of one of them, Many of the students are still working on theirs and they will be embedded on their blogs.

Here's another tip. They can also turn their photoslides into quizzes, and they can be commented on if the slideshow is public.

Thinglink and Meogaph are two other interactive resources that would help engage and excite your students.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Student Goals = Growth in Test Scores? Is This the New Normal?

The staff discussed the goals our students need to meet in order to be successful by the end of the year.
The goals we are trying to get our children to achieve.
The goals we are striving for and want our students to attain.
You know what the goals are?


I am supposed to sit down with my students and push them to reach their goal.
And what is that goal?


I am supposed to sit down and talk to each student about the score they received in the first round of testing
Then I should discuss how many points they need to get on the 2nd round in order to demonstrate success. (Mine or theirs? I am not really sure)
                          Is that the measure of success now?

I refuse to make that the goal for my students! There are so many other ways to demonstrate success !
None of them involve a standardized test!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Paper,Pencil,Crayons, Learning and Fun Projects Without a Computer!

Cause and Effect Board Game

Not an original idea, but a good one, nonetheless!

It was one of the ideas that was suggested for the "Green" group in the Harcourt Storytown series. I think it is a marvelous way to extend thinking!

The students chose events from the selection, "Stormalong." Each event(cause) was written in a space with a matching effect.  For example; "You win a fight against the octopus, move ahead two spaces." The middle of the board game has an illustration of a scene from the story.  Some of my students got creative, and made sailing ship pieces, how cool!

You can use this idea with any selection, and I am sure it would work with any strategy or subject you are teaching.

It was an enjoyable break from the usual tech projects we complete. (I want to make sure my students realize we don't have to do everything on a computer.) The kids had a good time completing it and
now the fun part ,playing it! :)

Fraction, the Snowman

I wanted to give my kids a mini-project to do with fractions. So, we made these wonderful snowmen! His/her head has a fraction and percent equivalent. The middle demonstrates equivalent fractions. And the bottom is a word problem created with the fraction of their choice. They also had to solve the problem. We looked for things that had the shape of a circle, and passed it around.

The students had to do the work before they were allowed to transfer it to their snowmen. They liked it so much, most of them took it home and finished it!:)

I am a tech nut, but sometimes I just like to go "old-school!"

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Bill Gates:Experienced Educator!($50 Million Dollars Doesn't Lie)

Oh, wait a minute. He doesn't hold a degree in education? My bad.
Well, then, he must have taken a few education courses? No? Not that either?
He has traveled all over the world and visited different types of schools? Talked to educators all over the country? No?
I know! He had a teacher relative, when he was young, who would regal him with quirky stories of what it was like to be an educator. Strike!

Given all the evidence above, I have to believe that Bill Gates knows nothing about education, nothing! Yet, this man has been allowed to shape what education should look like.

I truly believe that one day Bill, yes I will call him Bill, was bored out of his mind. Hence, he thought of a magical place where he could invest millions of dollars, change the world, and in the process, have millions of people revere him for his magnificent work. He brushed off the fact that he knew nothing about education, because, after all, he has millions of dollars!

So he picked up his Louis Vuitton gauntlet, and, began his quest to change the world of education in his image.

His latest educational feat, fiasco, is his $50 million dollar study that states, and I'm paraphrasing here, "You can stick a good teacher anywhere and she/he will be "successful." Of course, you need to understand that "successful" is synonomous with "high test scores." As an educator of 28 years, can I give a resounding "bull...!?" (Excuse my language) Standardized testing should be abolished! And tying whether or not I can teach, to a students' test score, is equally ludircous!

I'm not going to waste any more of my time discussing his study, because $50 million dollars has already been wasted. I can't tell you how to spend your money Bill, (although you have no problem telling educators how to do their job), but I would like to make a few suggestions about what you could have done with that money.

  • Purchase books: Not textbooks so that multimillionaire companies could make a profit. Books. Novels, chapter books, picture books. Give us a way to instill a love of reading that doesn't require filling in a bubble.
  • Food and clothing: A warm, well-fed child, is so much more productive than a child who comes to school wondering where their next meal is coming from.
  • Computers: Ipad, laptop, software, smartphones. All the items we can use to integrate technology into our classrooms and engage students who see life through their telephones and video games.
  • Training: Provide training for teachers so that they are able to use these items in their classrooms.
  • Basic building essentials and supplies Because there are so many schools that are lacking paper, notebooks, pencils, desks, etc...
The list is endless...

Bill, if you really want to help. Climb out of your multimillion tower of "all-knowing". Visit real schools, not faux "celebrity" schools. Schools where teachers, wonderful, hard-working, teachers, have dedicated their lives. Ask them what's best for the kids. They won't all be right, but at least they have the experience to know what they're talking about.

Cmon' Bill. Put you money where your mouth is. Make your money mean something.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The "Disrespectful Student" Dilemna!

I'm trying.
I am really trying.
I am trying not to let one kid ruin my enjoyment of my class.
I refuse to let this student get on my last nerve to the point where I lose my cool.
But, it is hard.
And everyday, it gets more difficult.

I understand where it comes from.
When you live in a household where you are king in a house of two, and then come into a classroom of 24, things change.
When the teacher does not treat you the way Mama does at home, it makes the relationship in the classroom difficult.
When Mama thinks you are a "lover" and what you do is cute, the relationship in our room becomes even more difficult, because I don't think it's cute.

I ask my students to be part of our classroom, have fun, be safe, meet my expectations, learn.
There are certain rules that are followed in our classroom, and they need to be followed so that we can continue to thrive the way we do, every day.
I think what bothers me most is the disrespect.
The utter disrespect.
I raised two boys,and I have never had them speak to me the way this child speaks to me.
I love my kids, even the most difficult ones, I have loved the difficult ones. I have difficult ones now, and every day we find a way to make it through the day and enjoy being around each other.
But this one...

Yes, I try to find positive things about him, because there are one or two things.
Yes, I have had conferences with his parent.
Yes, I use my buddy teacher.
Yes, I pick my battles.
Yes, I have used positive reinforcement.
Yes, yes, yes!

I don't really need advice.(But I am willing to accept any.) I just needed to vent. :)

Maybe he will change. Maybe my magic teacher mojo will prevail. :)

We'll see.

photo credit: Wendy Copley via photopin cc

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Recipe for a Tasty Teacher! Not to Be Consumed!

I attended my sorority meeting, the National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa Inc, Rho Chapter today. At the end of the meeting, we always have food and fellowship. One of the sorors brought in 16 bean soup, It was muy delicioso! 
She shared the recipe, but when I arrived home I still Googled it. There are soooooo many different ways to make 16 bean soup, but I noticed that they all shared core ingredients.

Of course, I started thinking about the education aspect of a recipe. What "ingredients" can we put together to create a good teacher? What ingredients are a "must have" to "serve up" a wonderful educator?

Here's my list of ingredients (The amounts are arbitrary, it sounded better with measurements):

10 gallons of patience
1 clove of empathy
6 gallons of humor
3/4  cup of willingness to admit mistakes
2/3 cups of humility
5 lbs. of life long learning
7 dashes of flexibility
1/4 pound of love of reading
3 cups of desire to help others
2/3 cups of high expectations
4 teaspoons of kindness (a little goes a long way)
generous amounts of knowledge
1/2 tsp of aversion to worksheet only lessons
1/4 cup of non "teach to the test" spices

Let it simmer. After ______ years, he/she should be ready. What ingredients am I missing?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sometimes They Need to Let Us Know, That They Know...

Sometimes they need to know, that we know, that they are capable. Sometimes they need to know, that we know, that they are capable of so much more than what they might exhibit.

We switch classes for Literature Circles (Book Club), whatever you want to call it. I call it, "Let them read, and enjoy  a book time." The kids in one group were asked to write a brief prediction about their story before they started.

With no prompting from me, they politely shared what each had written. I looked in one little girl's book and she wrote her prediction in giant letters, sloppily written all over the page. Now, I'm all for giving my students ownership, but I have rules about some things. I quietly let her know that it wasn't acceptable, and she wrote it over, beautifully.

As they left to return to their classrooms, I pulled her aside, and gave her my heartfelt speech. "These are my expectations for you, (hand raised high in the air), they are not here", (hand close to the floor.), I know you can meet them." She nodded affirmatively, and walked to her class. (Now mind you, this is one of "those" students teachers tend to gossip about).

I say all this because at 7:38p.m., she emailed me a three paragraph essay about her winter break. We are now a Google school and we use Google docs. This little girl, at home, wrote a three paragraph essay, looked up my email, and shared it with me!!!!! Wow! I am blown away!

 I read it and left a comment. Nothing about spelling, grammar. I praised her for the excellent work and thanked her for sharing her winter break with me.

She is making a statement, "I have no problem meeting your standards Mrs. M. Look what I can do! Look what I am capable of!" Hey, sometimes they need to let us know, that they know, that they are capable of so much more, and I love it!