Monthly Archives: October 2012

Technology – Great Tool and Terrible Master

I’ve just signed up for Remind 101, a service that allows me to text parents and/or students about homework assignments that are up and coming.  I’ll be attaching the directions to an email I send home tomorrow during the day so that my students’ parents will be in the loop.  I set up an email group for each of my classes so that I can email parents about assignments, tests, projects, etc.  They relish the information because at times their students are laconic at best.  It is also a valued good mark on my annual appraisal because I keep up communication with parents.  It is one of my strengths.

I love my smartphone and the free apps I find. There are too many to shake a stick at, so to speak.  I just have to make sure that I’m not staring at the unblinking eye of a phone screen to the point that I miss conversations with my family.  At times, I rue the day I connected my work email to my smartphone.  Other days, life and its circumstances necessitate the ability to shoot off a quick email response.  You just have to keep it balanced.

As you can probably tell, I’m not constantly blogging every day right now.  There are times when it will be necessary to write, yet there are other times when silence is golden, especially as I near the end of a marking period and am grading like mad.  I am keeping it short and sweet. ¡Ciao!

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Step Back a Moment

You have taught your first eight or so weeks of school, and the pressures at times seem insurmountable.  You have to meet the requirements for your state’s education standards; in Texas, they are the TEKS or Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. You have to make sure you are covering the curriculum.  You have to monitor the IEP or Individual Education Plan for each student who is classified in either SPED (Special Education) or a Section 504 category.  Their accommodations must be met.  Documentation must be kept. Lesson plans must be filed regularly. Meetings must be attended.  Grades must be submitted by their deadline. In some cases, websites must be updated.  New or new-to-you educational expectations and strategies must be followed.  Parent conferences have begun to fill your conference or teaming period to work collaboratively with the parents of your students towards the goal of their students’ success.  Faculty, department, and committee meetings occur around the same week each month when you find yourself saying, “WHOA!”

Now it is time to change gears. This last Friday found me feeling as though I had my nose and mouth above water with my toes grasping silt on a slippery slope. The night before I engaged in my favorite therapy—baking.  I had already made dinner for my family and had a warm oven, so I pulled out the ingredients to make brownies.  I don’t use mixes when I bake normally.  They are too salty for my tastes.  Back to Friday morning: I set my gradebook and papers aside, grabbed my jacket, and turned off the lights in my classroom.  I walked outside of the building and sat on one of the concrete benches near the bus lane. It was just the right thing to do. I felt the wind tangling my hair as it untangled my mind. Just being outside for a few minutes to see the blue sky, white clouds, not-so-green grass, the rainbow assortment of cars and trucks, and a few birds overhead lifted my energy level so much so that I could go back inside and attack my pile of papers with gusto.  By the day’s end on Friday, I had everything ready for Monday.  I left with a lightened heart and spring in my step because I took the time to step back a moment, breathe, and then get right back to it.

This is my eighteenth year of teaching, and I have the need to be encouraged just as much as a first-year teacher.  I have the need to pause and take a breath.  I have the need to hear positive things instead of how many umpteen ways teachers (in general) aren’t doing anything to help the kids. The notion that someone like me with a real passion for student success is given a negative label or bad rap because of some legitimate bad eggs out there is maddening. I will tackle that topic one day, but today is not that day.

Since it’s Sunday, and marching season for band has drawn to a conclusion, my family and I will be worshipping at our church home on this LORD’s Day. I plan to enjoy some football with my guys, wash some laundry, and just recharge/reflect on/renew my soul.  Make it a great day. ¡Ciao!

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My Expectations

When my students enter my classroom, my expectation is that they sit down in their seats, copy their agenda from the front board, begin the initial assignment, and await further instruction.

I expect them to wait in a line to enter my classroom.  When they enter, it should be in a respectful manner; there is no running, pushing, etc. as you come in.

I expect them to raise their hands to speak in class.  I don’t wear a dog collar.

I expect them to say, “Yes, ma’am.” or “No, ma’am.” I extend this same courtesy to them when I address my students’ questions.

I expect them to tell me the truth even if it’s bad. I have even said, “If you tell the truth all of the time, you usually don’t have to remember what you said.”

I expect to use all of the class time I’m given to cover the day’s lesson.  If I don’t get my time, then you will have more homework simply because you keep talking during transitions.

I expect transitions from one activity to the next to be done quietly except for the sound of papers being snapped into binders.

I expect to finish my sentences when I am explaining something new.  Please give me a chance to go over the whole concept before you fold your arms, roll your eyes, and quip, “I don’t get it.”

I expect to answer actual questions and not statements. “I don’t get it.” is a statement.  When you have a question, ask it.

I expect to give directions/instructions/information one time because I want you to be better listeners.

I expect that you don’t need a personal invitation to get working.  “Jimmy Badboy, you need to start your assignment.” This being said after Jimmy sits there for a few minutes while everyone else is working.

I expect you to be on time.  I am on time when I begin class; please follow my example.

I know this doesn’t cover everything, and I will revisit with more expectations as I go along my blog journey.  Please note that Jimmy Badboy is a fictional student who I use as a sterling example of what not to do in my class.  His girlfriend’s name is Jilly Badgirl for those wondering.  She will appear in future installments as well.  Thank you for taking a few moments to stop by my little blog.

¡Ciao!

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