School

America’s Failed Spelling Test

Misspelled

America, you have some work to do in the spelling department. Some of you, more so than others!

Wisconsin…I don’t think there is a single excuse for you…too much cheese maybe?

Most of these words are middle school level and should have been learned a long time ago, while others are at worst twelfth grade level.

If you know these words without looking them up in Google, A+ for you!

 

Missing the Good Stuff Sucks

Missing the good stuff in life isn’t something I relish, especially when it involves my kids. I want to be there for the things they do, whether it be sports or drama or choir or a community function or major things like graduation and moving up ceremonies. Those things are important and the support of knowing your parents are there to support you is one of the best things to help your kids feel safe and secure in this world. I know I really appreciated that my parents made it to as many things as possible when I was a kid. I didn’t always express my appreciation like I should have, but it did mean a lot.

Today is tough for me because I am missing something I feel I should be at. Instead, because of my job, I am missing it. So, instead of doing what I should be doing I am taking a moment to vent my frustration. I doubt it will help me feel better, but I just can’t help it. What’s worse about this whole thing is that it is because of my job that I am missing it and it is my profession that makes it more difficult on people, specifically parents.

You see, today my son is “graduating” from the 8th grade. It is really just a moving up ceremony and in the grand scheme of educational things it isn’t that important. BUT, it is important to him! Unfortunately, I am missing it. Missing the good stuff sucks.

Why am I missing it? Well, I am a teacher and work for a completely different school district than both of my school aged children. What that means is that I end up missing many of their school related activities. Parent/teacher conferences, concerts or performances that take place during the school day, celebrations at school, graduations/moving-up ceremonies…you name it, I probably have missed it because I was fulfilling my teacher duties somewhere else. I am not sure why school districts schedule things during the work day. It doesn’t make sense to me and I am sure there are reasons I don’t know of, but either way it is frustrating. I am sure there are many parents who are missing the ceremony today because they have work obligations, that is the unfortunate thing schools do.

Anyway, all that to say I am proud of you, son. You have grown up so much over the last few years and this transition will be a big one for you. You worked hard this year, made some mistakes and grew from them. You worked hard this year, learned some new things about yourself and the subjects you were studying. You worked hard this year and experienced some great successes as well. You have tried new things, some you liked and some you didn’t. You are moving up in this world and I can’t wait to see where life continues to take you.

Congratulations, and I love you.

Those Who Can, Teach

Perhaps there should be at least one prerequisite for becoming a lawmaker: FORMER EDUCATOR.

Perhaps there should be at least one prerequisite for becoming a lawmaker: FORMER EDUCATOR.

Those who have spent little or no time in a classroom, including those with lots of money and “data,” should not be able to tell you how a classroom should function. If one requirement to be a lawmaker was that the person needed to have been a former educator, no matter the level, maybe we wouldn’t have the most asinine education reform movements we have ever seen in the last 20 years.

Anyone agree? Anyone see any problems with this suggestion?

My 2-cents: 33 Problems That All Teachers Will Understand

I don’t normally like to piggyback on someone else’s writing, but there was an article back a week or so and I thought I would add my two cents to the content of that article. It was called “33 Problems That All Teachers Will Understand” and I can understand a bunch of them since I have been a teacher for a while now.

I want to reflect on these problems by relating my own experiences. We are now into the first week of school so now seems like the best time to tackle this task. If you click on the link above, it will open a separate window and you can read my blog along with the original article.

#1

Students are often waiting at my door in the morning (7:00am) because they are looking for extra help or for a quiet place to study before school actually starts. I often consume three cups of coffee on the way to school (I live an hour away from my school and commute each day), so I don’t really have a problem getting caffeinated before I have to address their needs, however there are times that I wish there were no students as I use the beginning of the day as my planning period.

#2

No teacher likes this. Really, there is nothing exciting about curriculum changes unless it is one that you have begged your principal to make so you can teach an elective course (I am a high school teacher) you have always DREAMED of being able to teach. Unless you have a situation like this, most change is not good change. More than likely the change is being mandated by “elected” officials with no classroom experience and no clue about what goes on in a real classroom. Not the stuff that happens on the day of their special visit, but EVERY day in the classroom. Otherwise, you are just an interruption. Quit meddling and leave the education policy to the people who know the kids and know what they are doing!

#3

Can’t say that I have one single kids that falls into this category. I do, however, have a whole class that falls into that category. The district I currently work had the “Class from Hell” graduate in 2008…and we all breathed a sigh of relief when they left!

#4

Yeah, ok. Try it!

#5

Been there, done that. You gotta “love” those parents who start teaching their kids to play the victim early in life rather than teaching them to accept the consequences of their actions. It will only snowball, and we wonder why society is sliding backwards on the evolution scale…

#6

The fun thing about teaching teens is that their sense of humor runs the entire spectrum – from appropriate to inappropriate, from dry to hysterical. If you take yourself, and your class, too seriously then you miss chances to connect with students and build relationships (that leads to rapport) that have an impact on them. After all, kids want the adults in their lives to “be real” with them.

#7

As much as I am aware of what goes on in my room, you can’t compete with all the “inside jokes” and everything else. Just ignore it and move on.

#8

Sounds a lot like a state legislator in every state around the country. Everyone seems to be an expert except the people in the classrooms. It is time for retired teachers to take over the legislature and REALLY get stuff done? Why do I say that? Well because teachers have been doing the best they can with what they are given and always make miracles happen. Who has been doing more with less longer than anyone else? Teachers.

#9

Endless requests…

#10

Weekend? HA! It’s just two more days to get my job done without getting paid for it. 

#11

Yes, yes there are. Not only that, but sometimes kids say the dumbest things! In my classroom I have a thing called the “Stupid Board.” It is a place on my whiteboard where I record the random things kids say that aren’t so smart. I make a point of telling the kids at the beginning of the year that we all have those moments and we can’t take ourselves so seriously that we can’t laugh at ourselves. AND, no one is exempt. I have been on the board many times myself and the kids love it just as much as they see the stupid board as a sort of badge of honor. Have fun in class!

#12

Whut? U must b kiding? LOL. Y wood u say that? My cell fone isn’t to blame 4 how i right. 

#13

I have been lucky to get a few gifts in my years of teaching, but they really haven’t been bad. Unfortunately, as a high school teacher, you really don’t get many. However, the best gift I ever received was a $100 gift certificate to a really fancy restaurant in town. It was from a graduating senior and her family as an appreciation for teaching her for two years (she was a great student too so it was really easy, plus I wasn’t her only teacher to get one!).

#14

Yep, going back after a break sucks. The students show it, we feel it but don’t show it as much as we can.

#15

When it is in your blood, you can’t get it out. It just comes naturally.

#16

This can be a tough one to handle. Some teacher try to BS their way through it. Probably not the best display of professionalism. Others take a more human approach with, “I don’t know but will find out and get back to you.” Teachers, as much as we would like to be, just can’t be a repository of all knowledge. People think we should be but there is just too much to know! Sorry, folks, not gonna happen. I have given the “I don’t know” response in the past and probably will in the future too. There is nothing wrong with not knowing and we have so many resources now available to find out rather quickly. Today’s stumper question: “What exactly does the ebola virus do?” Well, that is a good question so let’s look it up together and find out!

#17

Or mustard from your sandwich.

Or soup from your bowl.

Or chalk on your butt from leaning against the chalk tray.

Or having to go the bathroom for two hours with no break and finally having to run out of the room with no explanation other than “That feels better” when you return back to the room.

#18

Damn internal clock!

#19

Ok, so Victoria Secret really isn’t a problem for me, but just running into student anywhere is always an interesting experience. They always seem so perplexed to see you outside of your “cage.” As if you really don’t have a life beyond the classroom! Yes, I go out to eat, shop at the grocery store, attend movies, visit the park, and all the other things I happen to do when I am not at school. I don’t live there (though it seems like it at times) and actually do things I enjoy other than reading history books.

#20

This is actually one of my pet peeves!! I call them “danglies” and I hate them. I actually spend two minutes talking about them when I go over my syllabus to explain that they make me mad and really make me mad when I see them on the floor and the janitor now has to pick them up. I actually go so far as to not accept homework if they are still on the paper when it is turned in. Fix it, then turn it in!

#21 & #22

Lost cause. You will get sick and there is no avoiding it. What’s worse? Well, it is less work (or hassle) to go to school sick than it is to plan for a sub. Again, no one is better at “grinning and bearing it” than teachers.

#23

Yes, we beg for these too. Living an hour away from my school, I often have to drive THROUGH the worst stuff to get to school because the school hasn’t experienced the worst weather and there is no reason to cancel it. 

#24

This also is a losing battle. The younger they are, maybe the easier it is to control it. However, at some point you may just have to adopt the “college mentality” when it comes to cellphones in the room. That is, keep right on going with the lesson and let them be distracted. If they miss the material it will result in consequences they will have to deal with in the future, like failing a test…I know, I know…that is too real. How dare I? I provide the opportunity to get an education if they choose not to take it, is that my responsibility?

#25

Can’t do nothing fun in school any more…

#26

Sometimes, a sense of humor gets me through the day and then there are those moments where you just can’t say all you want to. A very thin line gets walked at times.

#27

Or Friday mornings at 7:00am.

#28

Early bed time.

Papers to grade.

You just want “to be like broccoli.”

Lack of motivation.

You really do have a headache.

#29

Only Friday? Try every day at 3:00pm!! Where is my nap mat? Oh, there it is, under my desk.

#30 & #31

As a teacher, there are many scenarios that play out in your head in mere seconds. Many of them include totally coming unhinged – throwing books, tossing tables, slamming doors, punching your computer, etc.  Instead, you calmly handle it just like you did the first 23 times you had to deal with it.

#32

The sad things is, I worked in retail management for five years. I made more, per year ($40k), as a rookie store manager for a furniture company than I did after seven years of teaching ($38,600). Now if that isn’t disheartening, I don’t know what it. Why is educating the most important possession you have (your children), not the most important profession? Don’t tell me you think it is and then not pay me accordingly. That is really patronizing!! Our society needs a serious adjustment of values.

#33

Despite all the problems in or with my job, THAT is the reason I get up each day and come back to the classroom.

 

Comments? What do you think? If you are a teacher, which one(s) stand out for you? Leave a comment below.

 

Never Enough

I saw this article going around Facebook yesterday and I have to say that I haven’t seen it put better in any other place. THIS is what is hard about teaching. So, have a look and then maybe start to think of the teachers in your (or, better yet, in your kids’ lives) a little differently.

THE HARDEST PART OF TEACHING

After you read it, go hug a teacher today!

Parental Detention (or, I’m Making a Point for My Child)

 

In thirteen years of teaching, I haven’t ever had what happened on Friday afternoon after school. I had a parent “own” his child’s detention (child stayed too) and he wasn’t apologetic for it either. I am not really sure how I feel about it and I am still trying to process it. How would you take it?

Background

It was the 6th period of the day and there was only an hour left of school. The bell had rung and all the students were in their seats as we started. We had been talking and reading about the origins of the Vietnam War when Student A’s cell phone make a beeping noise, a text alert.

Now, we have a cell phone policy in our school that doesn’t allow for the use of cell phones during class. Generally though, most teachers don’t really follow the policy any longer because we would spend all of our time “policing” cell phone usage and very little time teaching. Plus, getting into conflict over a cell phone generally isn’t a great way to build rapport with a student. It’s an issue, but not one to die over. These days, I have taken the policy of letting them use it (unless blatantly disrupting their learning or someone else’s) because they are responsible for their learning, not me. If they are distracted by it, then it is on them. Plus, I actually require they use them occasionally for taking a survey by text or whatnot. However, I do draw the line when a cell phone becomes audible. Then I confiscate the cell phone for the class period and return it to them as they leave class. This all seems to work fairly well most of the time.

Student A’s cell phone make a sound after receiving a text. I asked her to bring it up. She protested a little with, “But Student B sent me the text!” Everyone in the room laughed because Student B is in the room too and she got her friend in trouble. Student A brought her phone up to me and while she did so I said that Student B needed to bring me her cell phone since she was the one who sent the text. Student B said she wouldn’t bring it to me. So, I went to the back of the room, held out my hand, and asked for it again. Student B flatly refused again saying, “No, I’m not giving it to you. My dad said to never give up my phone.” Now everyone in the room is watching and I’m thinking, “Well, this is interesting. Never would have expected this from her.” (Mostly because she is a GREAT student, straight A’s, always compliant, helpful, and respectful.) I asked again saying, “Come on, give me your phone. Is it really worth getting a detention for?” Student B’s response, “My daddy said to never give up my phone, so yes.” OK. I promptly turned, returned to the front of the room and wrote her name on the board. The class moved on as though it didn’t happen. After class and on her way out of the room she asked, “What time will you be here until today? My dad wants to come talk to you.” I gave her a time and Student B left the room.

The Parent

I was half expecting the riot act when the parent got there. But then again, this is a really nice family and all the kids are great kids so I wasn’t really sure what to think was going to happen. I was pretty sure, however, that I was going to get protestations about how the detention was unfair.

When the parent walked in all he said was, “I’m here for my detention! Where do you want me?” I responded that he could sit anywhere. Then he said, “I just want you to know that I am here to serve the detention since my daughter was following my instructions. With my background in law enforcement, I have instructed all my kids to never give up their phones. We will be dealing with her texting in class when we get home.” I said, “You know this is a bit unusual because I didn’t expect her to say ‘no’. We have a school policy of no cell phone usage in the classroom and if you need to get a hold of your student you can call the office and they will forward a message OR now you can actually call into our classrooms directly if needed.” His response was simply, “I know. that is just our rule for our kids.” Then he turned and chose a seat and sat down with his daughter. They sat there quietly talking for 25 minutes.

The End

There were a few minutes left in their 30 minutes and so I decided I should probably explain why she had gotten a detention a little more plainly that what his daughter had explained to him. So, I addressed Student B as I sat in front of them,” Student B I want to explain why you got the detention and how surprised I was that I had to give you one. The fact is that I like you and you are one of the best students I have in the junior class, that being said, I also can’t treat you differently than I would treat the other students in the room. The fact is, if you refuse to obey the instructions given to you by a teacher, I can’t just let that go. It sets a bad precedent for the others to see. You didn’t get the detention for using the cell phone. The detention was for refusing to give it up.” She said she understood.

Then her dad spoke up, “Listen, I understand why you gave her a detention and I am not happy with her because I had to rearrange my schedule to be here. I am not happy that she was using her cell phone during class and we will deal with that when we get home. But, I have to say, that I am proud of her for sticking up for what she had been instructed by her father to do, even in the face of adversity. We often wonder how our kids will react when they are put in a situation where they have to stand up for what they believe and when there is pressure to conform. She acted as I hoped she would, not in just this situation but hopefully in even greater, more serious situations. I am sorry she violated your policy and refused to give up her phone. That’s on me, but I wouldn’t want her to do it any differently. You did what you had to do and I respect that.”

We exchanged a few pleasantries about the weekend and out the door they went with a, “See you on Monday, Mr. Grenz!” from Student B.

My Questions

How do I take this? Was this a lesson for the child or was this a parent response telling me how ridiculous he thought it was that I gave his daughter a detention?

I am inclined to think it is the former, but there is still a part of me that thinks it is the latter. The words spoken seem to indicate this was a lesson for the student, but the tone in some of the words makes me think it was a lesson for me. I can’t quite put my finger on this and I haven’t quite settled on an answer.

So, tell me what you think? How would you have reacted to the teacher? How would you have taken this whole thing if you were the teacher? You can respond via the poll or in the comments.

How to Reach the 21st Century Student

This one made me giggle this morning! With high school students, it isn’t all that far off the mark.

The Official How To Blog

This post was quest-written by Darlin’, a not-at-all-disgruntled-teacher, from keyandarrow.com

teachersomeecard

On the same degree to which my preteen students often leave me perplexed, they almost simultaneously make it all worth while, and I must take time to ponder the ways to reach these complex creatures.  What I have discovered thus far: 

Step 1:  It’s All in the Name.  Introduce yourself as Ms. or Mr. (Insert last name first initial here).  Anything longer than that will take too long to enter into their smart devices.  Plus, it’s more difficult for them to turn your last name into an insult; i.e., Ms. Wright is Ms. Wrong, Mr. Johnson’s Johnson, and Mrs. Brown makes me frown.  See?  Easy.

Step 2:  It’s All in the Presentation.  Begin class with a video.  Make sure they know how long the video is.  This is the only thing that matters.

Step 3:  What are…

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