The Sub Aftermath and How to Deal With It

hes-just-mr-danza-to-the-students-of-philadelphias-northeast-high-schoolEvery teacher has to be out sometimes and for me that was true recently. While out, I understand the sub had one of the toughest times a sub could have. His nte he left, the mess on the floor and my desk showed me that sometime in the day things went terribly wrong . As a teacher of 16 years I’ve experience this sort of “sub aftermath” quite a few times but this one was particularly bad. I could barely walk a foot across campus without someone stopping me to tell me how bad my kids were. It was most certainly a bummer start to my day. Still, I was determined to deliver consequences that would assure me and the school this would not happen again.

After hearing about various wrong things the sub did, I began to assign a little blame. Nonetheless, these are my students who know better. I did what I thought was best and first of all have them clean up the class to a normal standard. There was paper all over the room. Second, I listed when the expectations of them are when the sub was here and got their agreement they had broken those rules. Because it was an intense day, I wrote a short note home explaining to parents the students had made poor choices and listed the correct actions and behaviors when there is a sub. The students stayed in at recess and lunch, which I must say is also hard on me but worth it for next time. If your consequences and threats have no teeth, there is no power when you say them. If you hold strong, your students will respect you for it. Now my hope is that I won’t have to be out again this calendar year to test the theory!

Teaching With Dropbox and Evernote

Some technology used by teachers you hear about but never try because you don’t immediately “get” what it does. I recently tried what I’ve been reading teachers use for a while now: Evernote and Dropbox. It allows you to do more planning and prep on the fly, including at home, and you can readily drag multimedia and text materials into your lessons from wherever you are. It gives you seamless access to your materials right at your teaching area. Images, video, websites you put in your notes, audio, it’s all there for you with minimal trouble. Below is a screenshot of what I see when using these to teach. You can click on it to see full size.IMG_2497.JPG Continue reading “Teaching With Dropbox and Evernote”

What Does it Take to be a Teacher?

We know cops went into their job because they appreciated justice. Graphic designers enjoy seeing a project through. But what about teachers? What is the impetus (in general) that drives people to pursue a career teaching?

My School DeskBeing a teacher, we often get mixed reviews in our cultures. Sometimes, we are seen as “world changers” and other times not as highly. I think a lot of people think they know because everyone has had an experience with teachers. This brings up the question: What does it take to be a teacher? Let me give you a few of my observations:

Teachers are people who use their education.

Some of my friends I run across did not put their excellent education to work. Others did and went into various trades but in most cases, teachers used it to keep getting educated. All teachers have at least a Bachelor’s degree. At this point in time, most districts require an advanced degree or they won’t consider hiring you. Continue reading “What Does it Take to be a Teacher?”

Tips to Survive a Professional Evaluation

ELA HomeworkThis one is for my colleagues who are just starting out and maybe a little (or a lot) nervous about being evaluated. Don’t worry, you get used to it. Here are a few tips from my journey. Most teachers fall to pieces when it comes to their periodic evaluation. As a required part of this process, the principal usually comes in formally to observe a lesson. I have asked veteran teachers of more than 30 years if this makes them nervous and they have answered, “Yes, I go to pieces.” The reasons are pretty obvious but unless you’ve been observed for an evaluation you may not realize why it is one of the most nerve-wracking tests you face as a teacher. You could be an excellent teacher and still have a bad observation. It happens and you should do all you can to make sure it does not. There is also a good chance the evaluation will go well. As long as you plan little by little before the lesson and then “show them you came to play” (in a professional sports sense) in the actual lesson, you can be victorious and show your principal, as well as the district, that you have a purpose and a calling to do this that makes you worth your salt. Continue reading “Tips to Survive a Professional Evaluation”

Unions – Can’t Live Without Them

16414431556_9695483388_zI am involved in my teachers union and I have to say it is a challenging endeavor sometimes. You are sending out the message that your troubles are the fault of the district. As someone who is always trying to not blame, and failing most the time, I sometimes struggle with this. Unions, like any political organization, can fall into the trap of dehumanizing the district employees. In my district, we have over 300 teachers and about 6 district employees making decisions that affect parents, students, and yes, teachers. My goal in my union is not to attach people but rather show the value of a union. Parents in my district value teachers, they show that by their numbers when they come to our meetings and get involved in organizing with us. I want to be a force that helps their families and specifically their children. Name calling and blaming will only get people riled up for a moment. To gain real buy in from parents, we need to show them what’s in it for them. Continue reading “Unions – Can’t Live Without Them”

One on One Attention for Difficult Students

In our intellectual search for the right approach to difficult students, we should remember the value of one on one attention.

Students with a short attention span often act out. We, as the ones with teaching degrees in the room, usually have to come up with plans to hold their attention and keep their behavior in line. There are so many ways to go with this, it can get overwhelming. As a teacher, I am sure you are with me here. So what do we do? Whatever it is, after our intellectual search for the right approach to difficult students, we should remember the value of one on one attention. Then, after we see the value, we should make sure and do it because it can make all the difference in the world to a child at a formative time of life.

Establish a connection. Difficult students are often disconnected at home and with peers. If you take them aside away from the class, you have the opportunity to make a special connection. It can be as simple as a checkers game to take down the affective filter and build trust or it can be as complicated as going through a questionnaire that shows concerns for why they are having the problems at issue. This is what I call “on the job” classroom management training. I have even used puppets to get them laughing. If you can establish a connection, you have all but won the war.

Work at developing trust. In class, recognize and accentuate their successes. Let the class know repeatedly it is o.k. to say a wrong answer. You are simply there to get them to “try.” Redirect as you know how to do when they are wrong but never scold them when you get a wrong answer. If students feel comfortable taking risks you are one step closer to home. Remember that developing trust usually takes time. Continue reading “One on One Attention for Difficult Students”

Focus and the Dynamite Lesson Plan

It really doesn’t matter what your focus is when teaching as long as you have one. It?s been said if you aim at nothing you will surely hit it. On the other hand, if you aim at something you might miss but you will surely be closer.

I should make this post part one because there is so much to say about focus in delivering a dynamite lesson plan.  For now, I will say that focus is something teachers and institutions have sought to find for decades in the educational transaction.  At the risk of sounding gauche, I will say that it really doesn’t matter what your focus is when teaching as long as you have one.  It’s been said if you aim at nothing you will surely hit it.

So have focus.  Write it in a lesson plan book, on the board.  Call it a learning objective.  When I was an undergraduate, I used to write my class schedule on a 3×5 card and carry it around in my wallet.  Later, it became a PDA.  The same habit is needed for a teacher.  As you roam around the metaphor of a new college that is your classroom year, you need that 3×5, you need that PDA.  A final thought: kids will learn more and show more results when you’ve narrowed your focus. We all have a huge amount of standards to cover in a year.  Breaking them down bit by bit and lesson by lesson will get you there in style.  Don’t overwhelm yourself or your kids.

Effective Time Management To Balance School, Family And Work

When a person decides to go back to school to further their education and career opportunities, creating a good, effective balance between school, family and work can seem overwhelming. Being able to manage time wisely is the key to success in these areas. Earning a Master of Arts in Teaching degree like the online degree offered by Nova Southeastern University can be done with some simple, but effective time management tips.

One of the most important things to realize is that not everything will be done to perfection. Many students try too hard to do everything perfectly, which can cause feelings of frustration. It helps to relax one’s standards when it comes to smaller, less significant things like housework. The benefits received by earning a Master’s degree far outweigh any temporary inconveniences.

Creating A Balance

With family, it’s best to talk to everyone in the family and explain to them that time will be needed to take classes and to study. Let them know that there will be times when you’ll be temporarily unavailable. Set clear and precise reasons for acceptable interruptions. Also be sure to let them know that you’ll set aside time dedicated just for them. This will help to ease any fears of not being able to get attention on demand. If you also let them know how much earning an advanced degree will make a difference to the well-being of the family and that these inconveniences are only temporary, that also helps.

When it comes to work obligations, it’s good to let the employer know that you are in the process of furthering your education. This lets them know that you are focused on improving your skills, with the goal of becoming a more valuable employee. There may be times when you’ll need to be absent from work for school reasons, like for school registration dates and special meetings. But, with most course work being available online, these times will probably be rare.

Earning Your Advanced Degree Is Worthwhile

Keeping an eye on the worthwhile goal of earning a Master of Arts degree will help any student successfully complete their education. When one is able to get family, supervisors and co-workers on board with the decision to further advance education, everything goes more smoothly. When everyone is on the same page, it becomes easier to achieve goals.

Fully Immersed Intensive English Programs

Fully Immersed Intensive English Programs

An intensive English language program benefits students by refining and improving their English skills, enabling a smooth transition into a university or business environment. Full immersion in an English language program allows students to cultivate the devices necessary to prepare for scholastic success. The intensive ESL program helps non-native English speakers acquire the communication expertise and finesse essential for achieving their professional, academic, and individual objectives. An intensive curriculum produces a supportive learning setting for fostering intercultural recognition by focusing on three main areas: vocabulary and communication, composition and grammar, and reading strategies. In addition, dividing such programs into beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels ensures faster advancement of English language skills.

Program Requirements and Placement Testing

Registrants for an English language program usually need to hold a high school diploma (or the equivalent). Additionally, prior to registering for the program, they must take an English evaluation test. For example, the ESL Compass test, a standardized, computer-adaptive, college-level placement test, evaluates skills in grammar usage, listening, and reading. Depending on the score, placement results in beginner, intermediate, or advanced level courses.

Vocabulary and Communication

In the classes, students practice communication skills in everyday situations to build a larger vocabulary through speaking, listening, writing, reading, and grammar activities. The goal centers on promoting English language proficiency for social, personal, educational, and professional purposes. Basic communication skills qualify learners for vocational instruction and employment, along with the elementary study skills needed for success in the classroom. Courses focused on listening and speaking skills permit communication in English with added confidence. A diversity of captivating topics serves to expand listening tactics, provide enhanced exposure to high frequency vocabulary, and engaging, critical thinking activities to ignite spontaneous conversation.

Composition and Grammar

Learning how to access information efficiently and evaluate it critically requires exploring and examining media messages and tools. Functioning successfully in a higher-learning culture promotes the growth of conversational skills by utilizing an integration of a grammar-based approach with communicative methodologies. For that reason, English language program enrollees gain specific, hands-on knowledge on how to conduct research and use communication and networking mechanisms to locate, maintain, and organize information. The use of communicative practices enables meaningful engagement. Students interact with the spoken language in an assortment of environments from informal, everyday conversations to formal classroom lectures focusing on syntax relating to real life situations. Courses concentrate on sharpening the tools needed for academic success. They provide the practice needed in different aspects of writing, including articles, essays, reviews, reports, and additional scholarly requirements.

 Reading Strategies

Structured English language programs boost comprehension skills through enhanced vocabulary building and reading strategies. These programs build reading comprehension, speed, and vocabulary skills. Students may discuss and react to facts and ideas from various cultural viewpoints, which could prove invaluable when taking college entrance exams.

English language programs aid non-native English speakers in improving their skills whether the goals are for educational, business, or personal reasons. Even more, immersion ensures that they learn English efficiently. The variety of practical language courses gives students active involvement while studying English. It provides learners with many opportunities to interact with teachers, classmates, and local residents, and helps them develop all of their language skills while participating in engaging, enjoyable, and useful activities.

Conflict Resolution in the Classroom


Conflict Resolution in the Classroom

Teachers don’t just instruct students or impart information regarding history, math or science. Teachers are also instrumental in modeling behavior and imparting essential life skills for coping socially. As a teacher, you’ve inevitably seen conflict brewing between students or have had ongoing issues with particular students yourself. Conflict resolution can be an important tool in the classroom, not just for keeping the peace and making an optimal learning environment, but as a skill that students can learn and apply to their own lives.

Conflicts between Students
If you have two students were working peacefully on a project together one moment, and the next, you hear arguing, you have several options as a teacher. For the sake of peace and quiet, it might be tempting to jump in and try to quiet the controversy immediately, but it may be better to allow students to work out the problem among themselves and try to find their own solutions. This approach helps them to develop conflict resolution skills without depending on an outside party. As long as the argument is not becoming too acrimonious or disruptive, you could allow the students to try to work it out on their own. If this doesn’t work, you can serve as a mediator.

As a third party, both sides need to see you as fair and impartial. If one party feels that you have a bias, whether this suspicion warranted or not, it may be a good idea to have another party come in and serve as a mediator. In a regular school, the ideal person for this role is a guidance counselor or a substitute teacher.

Teacher and Student Conflicts
It may not be pleasant to admit it, but if you’ve been teaching for any length of time, it is likely that you have had ongoing conflict with a particular student. Before discussing your issues with the principal, you can try conflict resolution techniques to try to nip the problem in the bud. A number of educators recommend learning something about conflict resolution to deal with these kinds of problems. You may pursue ACU’s conflict resolution degree or take some online classes in conflict resolution from Case Western. With or without a degree, you can apply the principles of conflict resolution to your own situation.

First of all, direct communication is important. Make sure that this communication stays respectful and does not dissolve into the student calling you names. You may feel able to handle some unpleasantness, but it is not productive to allow the students get away with the verbal abuse. Both parties should express their positions clearly and be allowed to be heard for an equal amount time. You can then brainstorm solutions that would be advantageous for you and the students. It is important that you accept responsibility if you’ve done something wrong. This does not undermine your authority, but can enhance the respect your students have for you. If the conflicts cannot be resolved by the parties themselves, speak to someone in the administration for third-party assistance between you and the student or a guidance counselor.