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Today’s mission, if I choose to accept

Today’s mission, if I choose to accept it, is to get the kids finishing their CBA in Social Studies. I decided to have them do powerpoints (have to increase technology usage you know) and now I think that may have been a big mistake (kind-of like the time I decided to do watercolors without any paper covering the floor). Hopefully we can focus enough to finish at least 6 slides, with a conclusion and reference slide. Wish me luck!

A Great Morning to Everyone! The play ye

A Great Morning to Everyone! The play yesterday went great, and we’re back in the classroom today hitting the books! Next week is MSP testing, so we’re going to be reviewing MSP style questions most of the day! Try to make it fun by using a Jeapordy type format, or having tghem write out the questions on huge posterboard and putting them up all over the room. One thing that worked well was having students choose a question from the practice book, and deliver it to other students. Whatever works! Keep em interested, keep em moving, Keep “em loving school!

SNOW! Snow in March. March comes in like

SNOW! Snow in March. March comes in like a lion I suppose, but I pictured more blustery days, windy, rainy, etc… Not Snow! We’ve got an inch on the roads!
It really makes me want to have a snow day! I know that would be a guiilty pleasure, but it would be cool. Which makes me think that a mid winter break, around February, would be good. By this time we are starting to get stir crazy (me and the kids) and it’s another month until spring break. It’s not healthy for us. More learning will take place if we have time to go away and process it. The kids need to get out of the classroom and experience life. Go on trips. See things in the outdoors. Then, when we learned about mammals or the life cycle or verbs or whatever, they can think of it in those concepts – in the REAL WORLD. Mid winter break! LEt’s get that started!

School Board

School Board is always great, but getting home to the kids right at bedtime is always a necessary evil. Have to make up for it this weekend. Usually that means something fun anyway!

Staff Meetings are great! They do two th

Staff Meetings are great! They do two things – bring us all together to talk about our collective concern (educating America) and allow us the opportunity to socialize at the same time! Win Win! One of my favorite things about staff meetings, especially when I was a brand new teacher, was the free food. Food does something to us as a group that gives us something to do, gives us a conversation starter, and just makes everyone happy. That’s why it’s easier to tell you that we need volunteers to work late on Friday if you have some strawberries and cream in your mouth at the same time. Win Win! 🙂

Long days

The hours and days of a teacher are sometimes long and stressful. Its become something of a cliche to say that a teacher doesn’t make much money. Is it worth it? I just got to open someones eyes to the world of reading. Saw the recognition spark fly. They will use that skill their whole lives. Oh yea its worth it.

This is going to be a tough one!

What do you do when you have a difficult student to contend with?  That’s a very big problem for teachers, and definitely not an easy fix (they never are, are they?)

I believe every year I have at least one student who commands more attention from me than others.  Sometimes there are three or four (sometimes there are 27!) But every year there are at LEAST one of them.  It’s important to think of them as exciting challenges, like flying down a zip line in the rainforest, or climbing the highest rock wall at REI.  They are a challenge to overcome, and we will feel like superstars when we survive!

It’s normal for there to be challenges, and it’s normal for those challenges to take more of your time.  It’s the nature of teaching.  A police man is in charge of ALL of our safety, but there are certain people in your neighborhood, I”m sure, who get more of his attention than others.  And when a carpenter works on ornate cabnitry they’ll take their time, but will probably breeze thorugh a simple pine bench.  Teachers have projects that take a little more of their time than others, and that’s okay.

What isn’t okay, though, is to short change the pine bench (students who need less guidance).  We need to make sure they are not neglected.  One way to do this is to assign student helpers, who can give assistance for minor problems – usually those students who are done early.  For things they can’t handle, I have a comment/question box.  Students who need something, but I am otherwise engaged, should skip the problem and move on in the questions.  If they still need help (or if it’s something personal or not urgent) they can write it down, and I’ll get to look though the comments/questions later and can make sure everyone is attended to.  Otherwise they might get lost in the shuffle.

But that still doesn’t attend to the difficult student, and there are BOOKS written about that.   One of them that is helpful is “The tough kids toolbox“.  It’s got a lot of resources.  It depends on the situation, but I will say that consistency helps – don’t let him get away with one thing once and then punish it later when you’ve finally “had enough.”  You have to be consistent, or they’ll just play the numbers.  “well, I got punished two times ago, so I figure I can do it once or twice before she blows up again…”  Of course, you’ve also got to pick your battles – just be consistent on the battles you DO pick.

But you’ll go back and forth on this – am I being too stern, not stern enough….you’ll make yourself sick.  Just do what you think is right, and not worry too much about “but he’s not LEARNING anything.”  You’re doing your best, and he or she wouldn’t be getting a better education anywhere else.  Stop the questioning of yourself and you’ll do a lot better. 

So – in short – make sure you don’t neglect the others, but realize they’re not going to get equal time.  Try your best with them, and then let it go.  You only have them for maybe 4 hours a day at most.  You just do what you can.  The rest is up to the PARENTS. 🙂

The Teaching Tightrope

Teaching is a funny occupation.  It’s not a straightforward business where you create a product and the public buys your product.  But in a way, I am a salesman.  I’m selling knowledge, and the kids are the ones buying it.  I have to present it to them in a way they will want to buy it, or they’ll shut down or zone out and not retain anything I’m teaching them.  But at the same time, the ones who are REALLY paying for it are the parents.  And their idea of what good education is – what they actually want to PAY FOR – might be different than what the kids want to buy.  How do you sell to one without alienating the other?  What happens when a parent wants you to teach in a way the kids won’t actually learn?  It’s a tightrope teachers constantly have to walk (not to mention all the additional considerations of legislation) – but as long as we’re TEACHING them, and they are actually LEARNING – you couldn’t ask for anything more.