students

Branching out, er, expanding?

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Just a quick note to have you take a look at the new page on the blog. You’ll find it up there in the top next two “Home,” “About,” and “Contact.” If you can’t figure it out from all the hints, try looking for “Stupid Board: Classroom Quotes.” There is an explanation about what it is and where to look as well.

Happy viewing, and I hope you will be intrigued enough to join me on Instagram as well!

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.

 

A Case for Better Education – Insider Observations

Parents, this is your fault. YOU have failed your children and as a result, they will fail you when you need them most. There, I said it. I wish others would say it too. But we live in a society where the norm is to blame others instead of where it really lies, in ourselves.

You’ve done it again…

The news media is, again, pushing the idea that our schools are the problem. This time they are using the PISA scores ranking U.S. 15 year-olds at 26th in math, 21st in science, and 17th in reading. While not being #1 for U.S. citizens is troubling (mostly because we like to think we should be the best at everything), it isn’t the end of the world and shows the decades of educational reform up to this point isn’t working. Sadly, even now with the Common Core standards, it will continue to fail, though there may be some improvement in scores. However, how we test isn’t what really needs to be fixed.

The parenting grade.

PARENTS/PARENTING = F

  I would argue that scores would increase dramatically if all of us did one thing – pay closer attention to our kids and participate in their education more. Parents are the LARGEST part of the problem. Parents are simply not taking an active role in their children’s education and, because they aren’t paying attention, their children are suffering the consequences. Here is a prime example of what I am talking about that just happened during my recent high school conferences. I teach juniors and seniors. In fact, more than half of my students are seniors and are about to graduate (well, most of them anyway). You would think that now would be a perfect time for parents to check up on their kids and make sure they are on track. So, for conferences the school set aside 21 hours for parents to come talk to their kids’ teachers. I have 112 students that I see nearly every day and I sent out email reminders about conferences. I also tried to set up appointments for some that are struggling and could use a little push from home. During the time set aside for conferences by the school, I only saw the parents of 31 students (and only two of the nine appointments made in advance), or 28%. That is a failing percentage in my book. 

Parents are constantly showing their children (especially the older children) that education isn’t a priority, at least in action that is. Verbally they give it lip service but their actions speak louder than their words. “I have to work and can’t make the time.” LAME. You show it isn’t important by not making the time. If you show it is important, they will think it is important too. “Half day of school? Oh, well, why don’t you just stay home today. They won’t do anything important in class anyway.” LAME. That just shows you are lazy and allows your kids to be lazy. Effort makes it worth it. “We can get some extra days of vacation if we go during school conferences.” LAME. This really shows where your priority is. Sacrifice your child’s education for your leisure. “Poor, *insert name here*, the teacher must be picking on you” or “You must be failing because the teacher is being unfair.” Yep, that’s it. We teachers wake up each morning thinking about how to make our jobs more difficult and despise discipline. FAIL.FAIL.FAIL. These are just a few ways parents undermine the importance of education.

EDUCATIONAL FUNDING (or lack thereof) = F

It would be nice to get paid a wage equivalent to people with similar skills and experience, that isn’t really where the money needs to go (though bashing the profession and poor pay doesn’t help with retention or recruitment of great people). Similarly, more money doesn’t need to go into testing or comparing ourselves to others, we already have too much of that. No, what we really need are newer, tech friendly, and bigger buildings that incorporate more space for more teachers. More teachers would mean fewer students per classroom and many studies/reports (here, here, and here) show that class size does make a difference.  No student should have to sit in a room with more than 15-17 kids in it. Maybe even less would be better, but there doesn’t appear to be a magic number that would make it best. Smaller class sizes would do more for educational reform than any other solution. Small class sizes mean that the students get more attention and individualized instruction. It also can translate into more meaningful lessons, better participation, and greater “buy-in” from the students.

Much like parents, society as a whole has shown that they are only willing to pay lip service to education as well. Teachers are a favorite punching bag. Society says we need better education and instead of focusing on the real problems they blame the people doing the work in the classroom who are trying to make due with less and less resources every year. Education funds continue to get cut, across the board, which just puts us farther in the hole. Teachers do more with less all the time, something the government should maybe learn for itself. Instead of funding for education the government perpetuates HUGE waste, inefficiency, and bureaucracy. Instead of funding education, it gives out money to nations that don’t necessarily need it. The list goes on and I am sure you can name any one of the many places money doesn’t need to go. We, as parents, even complain about paying property taxes that go to the schools. I am lucky to work in a community that has almost never failed a school levy, yet in many places around the U.S. they get failed by voters all the time. How does that logic work out? I am going to vote to fail a levy (which is to make up for what the government isn’t covering in the first place), not pay for education, and cheat my kids out of their education all so that I can have a better retirement/more toys/bigger house/fancier car/etc. Clearly there is a disconnect here. In other words, FAIL, FAIL, FAIL.

Just 1.9%??

There you have it. I am a teacher and proud of it. Yes, there are teachers that shouldn’t be teaching, but it is a minor problem considering all the others. I see these things from the inside, a place many of those who talk about reform have never been since they were in high school themselves. They have no experience in what it takes to be an educator and the challenges that go along with that. Those who should be reforming the schools are the ones that are subject to public whimsy and fantastical schemes that produce results that are largely ineffective. If you want to reform schools, ask the teachers, ask the students, but keep the politicians out of it. This teacher says that from the inside, the two solutions above to very obvious problems will go a long way in making a difference.