A Neighboring Teacher’s Noisy Class

This post was published first on Damien at the Speed of Life.

It doesn’t happen that often and in fact hasn’t happened in a long time but as a teacher, I cringe when I hear another teacher lose control of their class. I’ve been in this line of work since 1997 so I completely understand the frustration children can cause when they are breaking the rules on purpose. Especially, of course, when they “won’t shut up.” However, when I hear a teacher yelling, not just raising her/his voice, it makes me cringe. A part of me even feels the urge to step in and assist them with their probably unruly class. I never do though. Each classroom is the sole responsibility of its teacher and stepping in is, to me, a bit of a sacrilege. I’ve had many cringe-worthy moments on the job throughout my career. It is indeed hard to see a fellow professional do something regretful. The following example happened to me when I taught down South years ago.

One year I was occasional exposed to another class where the teacher literally had no control. When we were in a certain room on occasion the kids would bang against the wall we shared. It took everything in me to not go over there. A couple times it was unavoidable. I remember once going in there and seeing kids standing on desks. I asked the teacher to speak with her/his class because the noise level was affecting my class. I actually couldn’t blame my kids for laughing the sounds were so outrageous. You can’t help but cringe when you see another teacher who has lost control of her/his classroom. The worst part of that particular moment was after I spoke to the teacher, he/she said they were sorry could “I” speak to them. Wow, a cry for help and I only a second year teacher at the time. Then one of the kids looked at me and said “Cand ‘YOU’ be our teacher?” That was harsh. I made sure to talk to the teacher later offering my support. It was definitely a cringe-worthy moment but I learned a lot. To this day, I only step in for the most serious of reasons.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Cringe-Worthy.”

pingback test

So You’re #Teaching #AVID Are You Gellin’ ?

Me at Laguna Beach Daring to Gel
I just got back from a training on AVID. If you work with kids from a low socioeconomic strata, you either have or will have heard of it. AVID focuses on college readiness and habits. It boasts of graduating a number of seniors to colleges every year. For that reason, AVID is good in my opinion.

Where AVID falls into suspicion with me is when it starts putting extra expectations on kids who are already struggling academically.

As teachers, we should pay attention to this so our kids dont get overwhelmed. This requires ALL our sensitivity, wit, and candor. One way to be true to that and sensitive to the way AVID is presented is to pay attention to our own level of stress as well as our students. How can we be sensitive to the needs of others, nsmely our students, until we are in touch with and fortifying our own?

Its important to practice stress relieving activities if you have medical issues. For example, if you have TMJ you are grinding your teeth too much. If you have high blood pressure you need to get yourself to a doctor and get it down. What good is a “type A” personality teacher to any child if she/he has a stroke.

I have grown to love the idea of relaxation as a teacher as well as to despise with a passion the type A trainers like the ones I had at AVID and that school districts seem to praise the most.

The question is not how many things you can train a child to do but rather are the ghings you train a chold to do relevant to a tranquil, happy, real life?

I’m asking YOU teachers out there, are you taking time for you? Perhaps you have lost track of how you once did it. You are not a year round contracted employee. You work about 185 days a year. That leaves a lot if time to relax and “gel.”

As you take time to relax, you become stronger for your students and thereby stronger for your boss, bosses, State, and the tax paying families that are all expecting things from you, like AVID.

You’ll do way more with any program if your physical body feels good. So you dare to be a psycho type A, big deal. I dare you to gel Ms/Mrs/Mr Teacher.

Kids Getting to You?

When it comes to teaching, there are a couple disparate popular opinions. Some say teachers have it easy “playing with kids all day.” The other one holds that teachers have it worse than most jobs in that kids drive them crazy all day. Where do you fall along the spectrum? We should in fact be thankful to work with the citizens of tomorrow. That basis along is enough to inspire respect, in my opinion. At the same time, many teachers suffer ailments as a result of their job. The kids truly are “getting to” many out there in the occupation. I think every teacher I know gets frustrated and at the end of their rope sometimes. Here’s a few simple things you can do when the kids are getting to you:

  • breathe. I have found that many times when I am getting frustrated I am taking shallow breaths. Oxygen feeds the blood and the blood feeds the brain so make sure you are taking fairly deep breaths in between teaching.
  • imagine them as grownups. I don’t mean to expect more from them than what kids can do. I simply mean to gain empathy for them when you imagine what they’ll be when they grow up. This can also help motivate you knowing you are entrusted with such a calling.
  • find the humor. Let them be kids, and laugh at the things they do. Laughter is the best medicine sometimes.

Of course there are many other ways to “check your head.” Remember to be aware of when the kids are getting to you. Whether it is the quality of life you have at home or the doctor’s measures, you need to pay attention to the signs. In order to best serve the kids, you must make sure that you are happy and healthy first. The students will thank you for making the effort to be a “whole” teacher.

Sports as Incentive in the Elementary Classroom

Classroom management and academics are the cornerstone of the elementary school classroom. For this reason, knowing ways to encourage and provide incentives is crucial. One way is to have a day in the week when you play a game with the kids who earn it.

We are currently trying something like this we call “Fun Friday.” Basically, all three homeroom classes have the opportunity play a game with me outside at the end of the week. To be part of it, they must have good behavior. This means they have not had any warnings or consequences the entire week It is working very well so far. The usual offenders are even coming to the fence and bragging when they are allowed to participate.

I have done three games so far: soccer, basketball, and dodgeball. So far, dodgeball is the most popular sport. The students always have an inside option to make a craft with another teacher. So far it’s been about 50/50. Not since I started teaching and leading them in dodgeball though. Continue reading “Sports as Incentive in the Elementary Classroom”

Team Tables Configuration

IMG_2544.JPGI’ve made a few significant changes to the way I run my classroom teams. I’ve added an element that is quite innovative, shared with me by teacher and Adelanto board candidate Carlos Mendoza. We had a great visit sipping Starbucks and telling teacher war stories when he suggested something unique with the help of a pencil and napkin. I started implementing it today. My classroom runs on the concept of competition. I have the kids seated at u shaped tables instead of desks. This is in hopes they will be more collaborative.

Continue reading “Team Tables Configuration”

Advice for Making an Edublog

dlpI started writing this blog in 2007. I’d been a personal blogger for a couple years but I knew very little about edublogs and what goes into them.

I did my best to scour the web and find samples through blogrolls, which are now all but extinct, and I found a few edubloggers I copied and branched ideas from. Blogrolls once made it very easy to hone in on a “niche” of blogs. If you happen to find one now, don’t get too excited until you’ve checked the links for which have gone dead. It’s likely to be many. In 2007, blogrolls and the blogger movement was beginning to die out itself. Well, I take that back, you still can connect with a lot of people on Twitter. Edublogging on social media is alive and well.

I insist there must be pockets of edubloggers out there doing what I do, which is primarily blogging, but the searches don’t yield them quite as easily as back then. If you are an edublogger, I implore and beg you to connect with me via comments and twitter. I am @cre8nnov8

I started this blog with a blogroll axis. That is, I read and commented on as many “cool” blogs I could find in education and hoped they would visit and comment on mine as well. It worked well at first. You might try a Twitter access? Just a suggestion. Hashtags are powerful as are searches for keywords.

When I check back through my early years of posting, I see many reciprocal comments as compared to now. So that leads up to my suggestions for you about starting a blog: network.  That got my edublog off the ground. If you want to stick around and get paid for your ads, you’ll HAVE TO study and use social media. It’s the table at which networking bloggers 2017 eat. Continue reading “Advice for Making an Edublog”

What Might Have Been and What Can Be

imageIn education, things are contantly changing. Some methods show up as new ones but they’re really just renewed from times past. We have to be comfortable with change. This isn’t just about technology, though it is true with that as well. Rather, it refers to Common Core and Madeline Hunter’s lesson plan and every other trendy style that has come down the pike with mixed results. We need to synthesize old and new based on the needs of the students. This is what makes us valuable. If we couldn’t do this, anybody could step into the classroom and pretend to teach. When things change a lot, there is bound to be a lot of failed attempts. We rely on those failures to learn what works. The key is to not give up. Keep your eyes on the prize. Continue reading “What Might Have Been and What Can Be”

Back to School Night: Ten Positives

  One tradition of school I really like is Back to School Night. It’s a time for parents to come in and see how the teacher runs things. It’s a time for the families to start a connection with the school and the teacher. With non traditional activities running wild in education, this is one tradition worth keeping. Here are ten positives:

  1. Parents see the classroom as their kids do.
  2. Teachers get to hang out informally with parents and their students’ siblings.
  3. It’s a reminder to teachers that their walls are a gallery to be presented.
  4. Kids get to show their parents their space (desk, table …)
  5. Principals get to address a large set of parents.
  6. Families are made a priority by the school.
  7. Treats.
  8. Extra curricular booths can get exposure.
  9. Teachers get insight into the home life of their students.
  10. Teachers get to address their students’ families.

How My Inspiration to Teach Just Got a Reboot

homeboyRecently I interviewed for a transfer to a new school where state of the art technology and parent choice are the manner of the day. When I wasn’t selected, I began to question why I teach and more importantly what is the concept for teaching at the school I am at. I think any working person ca relate with this because we all get into our chosen fields for one reason and that reason often gets blurred over time.

I was talking to a friend about my blur at work. I started there in 2002 and along the way I have had mammoth success. Along with that though has come an abundance of questions, most still unanswered. The school I work at is in a a low socio-economic strata and the kids, while grateful and rewarding at the same time, can present challenges not present in schools of other stratum. I used to thrive on the fact that my students are like sponges and that they were thankful for anything because most of them had nothing. This has been the case for so many years but lately I have sort of dwelled on the challenges and the rewards have been harder to acquire.

I thought the transfer to a school where parents choose the school, rather than proximity to address, and technology is the mainstay K-6. I thought the kids might be more responsible. My friend reminded me of what I already knew: kids are kids more or less wherever you go. There is a lot of good work to do on any socio-economic level. The same day he told me that, one of my most porrly behaved students wrote me a very touching note, thanking me for being his teacher. The next day, he had moved away from the high desert and students informed me he wasn’t going to return. This impacted me greatly. The adage “You don’t know what you got until it’s gone” came to mind.

There is much work to be done where I am. My friend reminded me of the work Homeboys is doing in LA. One priest has made a difference in the gang-ridden inner city by getting troubles youths a place to work, learn, rehabilitate themselves, and find spiritual truth. Wow. I went online and read all about this ministry/business. How can I create something similar to improve the behavior of my 4th graders? Moreover, how can I inspire them for success in the real world. They must see the future ad long and boring. How can I light a fire in them? Make them eager to learn the lessons that I have to give?

After 16 years of teaching, I was feeling burnout. Fortunately, the words of my friend reminded me of Homeboys and how my life needs a ministry “reboot” of sorts. If I am going to make a change for my students, I have to create and innovate. I need to always be finding ways to inspire my students in the real world. Yesterday I got an email stating that the techy school where the parents choose to send their kids had reopened it’s hiring and I had been encouraged to apply again in my rejection email. The funny thing is that although I really wanted that job and the new school, I see my work as cut out for me right where I am. I’m going to remember the image of the Homeboys and bloom where I am planted. This is my book of dreams and I know where I’m going, again.