How to Confront a Colleague

Seriously-face-meme-all-funny A colleague confronted me today about something I’d written in a closed teacher forum. I had been venting about how teachers at my school should use their “educated brain” to figure certain relevant issues out between our union and the district. It wasn’t worded the best way and I sort of forgot about the non-intended audience: my colleagues. I was writing shoulder to shoulder with other union reps who have shared with me similar frustrations. In a way I made a boo boo as a leader, but in another way her confrontation was a worse mistake. What I have learned in education and probably dealing with all people is that you shouldn’t confront someone unless you respect and support them. Letting them know that at the onset is a huge help to both you and them. If you don’t, then don’t confront. Forget it or report it. Continue reading “How to Confront a Colleague”

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.

Creative Teaching Must Return

ccss-sbacIt doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel. It lives in the minds of those who want to teach kids more effectively. You can do this browsing the shelves at a teacher store and you can also do it by sitting in a jacuzzi and thinking about solutions with an open mind. Most of us have accumulated massive piles of teaching materials that we rarely use. Most of us also use the curriculum our district browsed and found and told us was the “holy” usage material. I am no knocking that by the way, I treasure my pacing guide handed down from the district office.

peanuts-comic-1ixwv2b-e1365293844540The challenges of Common Core in 2014-2015 are real. They are daunting on some levels. The time of rote delivery of uniform materials is long gone. We are the goal setters, we are the guides. Time online practicing emulation tests is non-negotiable. Beyond that, we must come up with daily routines that embed problem solving IN GROUPS. An illustration might be the way most people do their actual work in our world. Do policemen do work in a vacuum? Are they lone rangers? No. The same is true for butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers. No man is an island. The way there is not well lit but one thing is sure, the most creative teachers have the greatest assets. Follow them, be them.

Ten Ways to Say Good Job!

As teachers we often focus on the constructive words like “change that and turn it in again.” We are often guilty of not building our students up enough. Here are just ten ways to say good job. I invite you to put your ideas in the comments. Thanks for being positive with learners!

“1. Rock on! 2. That’s awesome! 3. I can tell you’ve been practicing. 4. That’s very colorful. 5. I like how neatly you’re working. 6. You really followed directions. 7. Way to show what you can do! 8. Bravo! 9. That’s fantastic. 10. Great work”.

The W.I.N. Philosophy

A memorable post written Aug 17, 2008. I bring it back once in a while because the W.I.N. philosophy is so valuable to me. I like to share it.

Well, I start back teaching tomorrow. It’s been an incredible summer with a trip to Vegas, to Magic Mountain, and several other small awesome places that my wife and I adore. My kids were out by the pool all summer which was really gratifying to watch. It makes all the hard work really worth it when you see your kids lost in the fun of it.

I’m going back to work (well, I did teach summer school for 6 weeks so it’s not like I was 100% off) tomorrow with a mantra and the W.I.N. philosophy. It stands for “What’s Important Now.” In teaching one is constantly bombarded with new demands and deadlines and sometimes it gets downright overwhelming. By focusing on the “WIN,” you are more effective over the course of a year. This could apply to anyone anywhere but it really helps me as a teacher. I use it in my blogging work as well.