Sunday, September 29, 2013

Saying No:Sometimes It Has to Be Said!

Many Sundays, I go to church and watch some of the little kids in our church behave however they wish. They wander down the aisle, stand on the pew, and the parent says nothing. Now, don't get me wrong, I love little kids in church, sometimes they lead to grown folk in church, which is nice.  However, I think there is a point when the parents should say no, this is not acceptable.

When I go to the supermarket, I watch children run through the store. The parent calmly continues shopping, calling out the names of their little, (or big), ones as if playing Marco Polo. Meanwhile, caring adults keep them from harm's way.

Sitting in a restaurant, a little one practically climbs over the booth onto your back. The parents smile, as if they are helpless to control the behavior of their child.

I know some of us had it rough growing up, and we don't want our children to go through what we went through, but you know what? Someone's going to have to disappoint a child once or twice in their life and tell them no, tell them this is not going to work.

No, you have to stay in the pew.  No, you can not stand on the bench. No, you can not run around the store. And, no, you have to stay on our side of the booth. And, if an explanation is deemed necessary by the adult, by all means do so.

When the children of "Yes" attend school, it's a shock to their system.
"Oh,no he/she didn't just tell me I couldn't..."
Or, they want a lengthy explanation as to why they can't or they think it's up for debate. I'm sorry, I don't have that kind of time, and I have way too many students. (I find that establishing rules, routines, and procedures helps eliminate the need for an explanation.)

When raising my own children, there were times when I gave in, and times when I said no, There were times I explained, and times when I went to the tried and true method, "because I said so."

As adults, we have to learn to say no to others as well, not just children. No, I am not attending that workshop. No, I choose not to use this in my classroom. No, I am not giving the test on the deadline date, my students are not ready. No, I am not willing to accept your evaluation of my teaching skills. And in an adult to adult case, I would definitely explain why.

Here's the thing with "no" though. It's a lot harder than "yes." When you say no, you have to be able to back it up. If you say no, you can't stand on the bench, and you give a full explanation for why, chances are that kids is still going to stand on the bench. When you say you are not attending another meeting, or doing another "thing", chances are you might experience retribution. "No" is not easy.

It's okay to say No. If we're going to create responsible adults, and/or maintain our sanity, sometimes "No" has to be said.

photo credit: nathangibbs via photopin cc

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Happy Teacher!

Teacher Happy's Class

 I am going to share something about myself that I am not proud of. However, in the interest of this post, it has to be shared.

Many, many, years ago when I was in my 3 or 4th year of teaching, I worked with a woman who was always happy. She got on my nerves. Actually, she got on the nerves of a friend/colleague of mine as well. Oh, she was so cheery. Every day, she was sooooo cheery, we couldn't stand it!

So we came up with a plan. She taught in the grade above us, so as we set up next year's class, we placed some of the worst behaved kids in her class. She wasn't as happy after that. Years later, I have become this teacher. I now understand where she was coming from.

She didn't feel the need to be miserable with the rest of us. She didn't feel the need to be bogged down every day with the negativity the rest of us carried on our shoulders. She loved her job, her students, and had a passion for teaching which we could not understand, and thus, we became haters.

I am her now. I truly enjoy my job. And no, I am not living in some fantasy world where the students are angels, administration grants my every wish, parents are 100% supportive, and the public loves me. And yet, I am not deterred from going into work with a smile, a cheery good morning(even if the recipient does not reply), and a pretty,darn, good attitude. As I walk through the hallways, I smile and say hello to students who are not mine. I shout "Good Morning" at my students during Morning Meeting and they yell back at me. I hang out in the Teacher's Lounge with the new teacher and my peers, laughing, not over the misfortunes of others,(although we are not exempt from gossip now and again), but at our own silliness. I enjoy this feeling, and I will not part with it.

I see no point in whining and complaining all day. Do I whine at times? Yes. Do I complain once in a while? Of course! But I spend most of my days at work having a good time with my students and colleagues.

And you know what I have noticed over the years? My happiness makes my students happy. My ability to laugh, joke, and provide them with opportunities to have a good time, helps to produce students who are much more willing to learn. Happiness has its merits. :)

I wish I could find that teacher and apologize for my behavior. But knowing that I can't, I will continue being what she was, a happy teacher. :)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

We Can't All Be the Principal!

I attended a Panamanian reunion a few years ago, and my Aunt Katherine introduced me to some of her friends. She introduced me as her niece, the principal. I laughed and told her that I was not a principal. She said, "Oh, an assistant principal." No, not that either. "Well, you will be one some day." I told her that I wouldn't because I enjoyed being a classroom teacher. I don't think she believed me.:)

I had a first year teachwe tell me that her husband said he doesn't see her being a "classroom teacher" for 30+ years. It wasn't what she said, it was the disdain with which she said "classroom teacher,"

I enjoy being a classroom teacher. I enjoy being with the students, as exhausting as that may be. I love the interaction with my students, the planning, the engagement, I would miss it if I left the classroom. When I entered the profession, this was what other teachers loved as well. Unfortunately, too many people are entering our profession with their sights set on what the future holds outside the classroom, and not what's in the classroom, our kids. 

I don't know how many times I have heard teachers, just entering the profession, letting everyone know how soon they will leave the classroom. I knew a teacher who had a 5 year plan.  I had a TFA'er tell me that she was going to be a lawyer. As we speak, she is in law school, after spending 2 years "teaching."Too many times the classroom is regarded as a stepping stone to being an administrator or to another career.

I don't have a problem with people becoming administrators, resource teachers, etc... We need those people just as much as we need teachers in the classroom. But I question what happened to experience being a good thing? What happened to learning the ropes, becoming good in one thing before moving on to the next? What happened to spending the first year focused on teaching instead of how many committees you can join so you meet the "right" people?

I don't want a principal who has taught for only 3 years. I want an administrator who actually knows what it feels like to be in the classroom. I wouldn't want  my child taught by someone whose sole ambition is to be "anything but a teacher in the classroom", in X number of years.

A friend of mine recounted the story of a running into a woman who was currently working at her former school. She told the woman she had also been a teacher at the school. The woman haughtily replied, "I am not a teacher, I am the vice principal." Well... excuuuuusssse me! When one profession is thought to be "better", no wonder getting out of the classroom is a goal.

I think I would be a pretty good administrator if all I had to do was deal with the kids. But I know it is so much more than that. I know it is a difficult job that has demands from the students, parents, staff, administrators, I became exhausted just thinking about it. I think people crave the title and the salary, and don't realize the work they have to put in.

There's nothing wrong with looking beyond the classroom. But if you're stepping on the heads of our children in order to see the road ahead, there's definitely something wrong with that. And as wonderful as the title sounds, we can't all be the principal.

photo credit: cliff1066™ via photopin cc

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Digital Citizenship : A Presentation for Your Students

In June, I read a wonderful idea created by Comfortably 2.0.  He took simple objects, put them in a bag, and created the Digital Citizenship Survival Kit. Well, I didn't feel like getting those things together, so I made a digital presentation based on his survival kit.

Today I read Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension's, "Why the Internet is like the Mall". I loved the analogy she made between being safe in the mall and being safe online. So I added that to the presentation as well. I am going to present it to my students again, making sure we discuss the Mall-Internet analogy.

Great ideas to keep our kiddies safe online!

photo credit: Enokson via photopin cc