Categories
COVID 19

We’re in the thick of it now. . .

It’s not fun any more. (Was it ever?)  March began with students and teachers excited about spring break.  Then spring break was extended for two weeks, then three, then four, and now who knows how long it will be before classes resume?  This pandemic has changed everything.  

Now teachers are charged with providing online, virtual lessons for their students in the hopes that students will engage and continue the learning they were supposed to do for this school year.  We can only hope that students and parents will be conscientious enough to do it.  I have no doubt that responsible, caring, and concerned parents will see to it that their children tend to their lessons.  As a former teacher and administrator of at-risk students I fear many won’t.

Many of my students were in the programs I ran because they did not have supportive homes.  Many parents were too busy with their own lives to be involved with the lives of their children.  Some didn’t even care if their children attended school or not.  

Students of low socioeconomic status may not even have access to the internet.  Their parents may be unable to afford internet service or even computers.  Students in rural areas may not have access to reliable internet service.  With libraries and coffee shops closed, what do these students do?  

Will administrators keep students back who were unable to do the lessons?  Will they be able to discern who couldn’t and who just didn’t want to?  These are questions that will certainly have to be addressed.  I’m glad I don’t have to make those decisions.  I’m glad my children are grown and that their children are too young to be in school right now.

My heart goes out to parents and school personnel.  I pray for the kids, the parents, and the educators, those who are seeking an education and those who are trying to provide education.  I pray God will bring us through this pandemic stronger and braver and more compassionate than we were, and that we will learn the lessons no textbook or computer could ever teach us–love for others.

Stay safe and well, my friends.

XOXO
Categories
teaching

Teacher Tuesday: Establishing a routine

By this time, about the second week of school, you are probably beginning to accumulate papers, notebook or journal entries, memos from different offices or departments, and data that needs to be entered into the computer, such as grades and student information (special education, language learners, etc.).

As a teacher it was difficult to know what to do first.  I would arrive at my classroom, sit down, log on, and immediately there were ten emails from ten different people needing something ASAP.  It helps to create a system to keep you from becoming overwhelmed.
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I’m a “stack” person.  Some people are “file” people, and still others are “pin it” people.  Whatever you prefer, create stacks, files, or pinned stacks of items that need your attention.  I had my students turn in papers in one basket, and during my conference period or down time, I would sort the papers into individual assignments or class periods before beginning to grade them.  
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I had a certain place on my desk where I would keep things that needed to go to the office such as signed papers, things to put in the mail, papers that needed signatures, and assignments for other teachers or in-school-suspension.  Keeping this stack made it easy for me to just grab it and go when I went to the office.  I actually kept these things in a cute folder that was not easily lost in desk clutter.
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Things that only needed my attention once a week were designated a certain day when I would make sure they got done.  For example, when I was responsible for creating lessons for all of the elective courses for all the high school students in the discipline alternative school, I designated Thursdays as the day that I would work on those for the next week.  Starting on Thursday usually ensured that they would be done and ready for the students by Friday afternoon for the next week.

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There is never enough time during one’s conference period to get everything done.  How did that time get the title of “off period,” anyway?  If anything I was busier during that time than almost any other time of the day!  I always kept a running list of things I needed to get done during my conference period so that no time would be wasted when the time came.  I tried to multi-task as much as possible, and I worked with other teachers who taught the same subject as I did so that sometimes we could share duties such as running copies and setting up science labs.

There was something I always made sure I did no matter how late in the afternoon it was getting (unless I had to pick up children, of course).  I always cleared my desk, or at least made neat stacks of what was there.  Leaving your desk in chaos means you greet the next day with chaos.  It’s like getting up to dirty dishes in the sink.  It just starts the day off wrong!  A clean desk greeting you first thing is like starting with a clean slate, and we all need that in the mornings!
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Being a teacher requires so much more than just being able to share information with students.  A major requirement is the ability to organize and make the most of limited resources, including time.
Establishing some kind of routine for yourself will simplify your life a bit, allowing you to be your best in a very demanding, but also very rewarding profession.

What are some of your routines as a teacher?

XOXO
Categories
Uncategorized

TEACHER TUESDAY: That question!

I almost titled this post “That favorite question,” but I was afraid the sarcasm might be lost in the translation, so to speak.  I loved teaching but there was one question that got my hackles up, rubbed me the wrong way, set my teeth on edge, and fried my banana peel.  I bet it is familiar to every school teacher out there.

Here it is:  

“Hey, Miss, what are we doing today?”  

Or its famous cousin:

“Are we doing anything today?”

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Here are some of my gut reactions to that most irritating of questions.  Why so irritating, you may ask.  I’ll address that in a second.  My reactions that I kept to myself:

  • “Nothing.  I just spent all those hours preparing for us to do nothing today.”
  • “No, we’re not doing anything today.  Why would you think we would?”
  • “Uh, biology?”
  • “Why, calculus, of course.”  (It was a biology class.)
  • “Whatever you want to do, of course.”
My list of possible sarcastic responses could go on and on, but I tried to be as professional as possible and to remember that the bodies walking through my door were not mature adults yet.  

It didn’t matter that I had posted the daily agenda on the wall, in a Powerpoint on the Promethean board, AND the students were supposed to have written the week’s lessons on a calendar in their notebooks.  Not to mention of course, that I had given them a preview of coming attractions at the close of the last class period!  

Oh well, no one ever said that teaching was easy. Well, I take that back.  LOTS of people say teaching is easy because teachers only work seven hours a day and get three months “off” in the summer.  Wish that were true!  

And my answer to my favorite question?  “Come on in and you’ll find out!”

XOXO



Categories
Uncategorized

TEACHER TUESDAY: TST

This short week before Thanksgiving holidays can be a nightmare for unsuspecting or unprepared schoolteachers.  I know.  I was one.  No matter how well I had prepared my lessons or how good my intentions were, it was all for naught until I realized one fact.   Whether I liked it or not, agreed with it or not, condoned it or not, students checked out at least one week prior to the holidays, maybe even earlier.  In order to survive the pre-holiday party attitudes and behavior, I had to be smarter than my students, and that is no easy task.

I call today’s post TST:  Teacher Survival Training.  I am no expert, but I think during 30 years in public education I learned a few things.  I will enumerate a few. . .

1) Do not introduce new material.  If students are not receptive to reviews or activities reinforcing what you have already learned, they certainly won’t be receptive to learning new concepts.  New material can wait for the day they return from the holidays.

2)  Don’t throw away the rules.  By this time of the year, you should be able to relax a bit, but don’t stray from your basic rules of class conduct, procedures, and expectations.  You will only be providing a breeding ground for problems.  I found this to be especially true with allowing students out of the classroom.  Even if you aren’t “doing anything” students don’t need to be wandering the halls looking for trouble, even if they are only going to “check on a grade” or “see the nurse.”

3)  Put a little holiday fun in your planned activities.  High student energy can be channeled into games instead of misbehavior.  The internet is a great place to look for holiday activities related to your subject matter.  If nothing else, you can make or find a word search or crossword puzzle using your lesson’s vocabulary.

4)  Give a test the day before the holiday break.  I don’t like this one, but it does keep students quiet.  The downside is that students usually don’t do well and you have to reteach and retest after the holidays.  Also, if all the other teachers have the same idea, students will have a test in every class period.

5) Last, if you can’t fight ’em, join ’em.  Let them have the class period to catch up on missed assignments, but prepare for noise.  Just don’t call it a free day.  Good teachers don’t give free days!
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Good luck, and happy Thanksgiving!

XOXO