Category Archives: Back to school

“Normal” Classroom Learning in the Age of Covid-19?

I recently received an email from the school board I have been retired from for six years. It relayed the county’s need for one hundred substitute teachers and asked if I’d be interested in completing an application. This prompted my search to see what fulltime instructional needs the county had.  They were plentiful.

We live in a time of low college admissions for future educators. The high school graduates’ desire to become teachers has been in steady decline over the past ten (or more) years.

Recently, despite the rising Covid-19 numbers in 39 states, the White House Administration is calling for in-class instruction to begin in August. “The rule” as Betsy DeVos frequently cites, is to return students to “normal” classroom settings. How unfortunate that these politicians feel better equipped to determine the needs of children than teachers, administrators, and parents.


To be clear – there will be no “normal” classroom setting in the time of Covid-19. No one knows this better than classroom teachers and administrators. No one knows better how much stress children will experience staying seven hours in a classroom under the proposed Covid-19 changes than teachers and parents.

What is happening in your community? How do you feel about it?  How much Russian Roulette are you willing to play with your children’s’ lives and the lives of those, including yourself, that your children will come in contact with throughout the days, weeks, and months to come should they return to school?

Call for articles – points of view…

!cid_3174513477_958480    To all my dedicated readers,

I thought about letting this blog go since I retired and then I decided to include retired teachers to the mix. New to retired teachers all have something to say and want to know what is happening nationwide in public and private education.There is much to be said about our educational system and much might be changed for the good if more people shared their great ideas, views, and great or maybe not so great experiences. Someone somewhere will be listening. So this is a shout out to all of my teaching and retired teaching extended family for experience and/or research backed posts to add to this blog. To this date my blog has had 7,878 hits and 344 followers and I haven’t posted an entry in two years. It’s time to get back on track.  If you’d like to be considered for site publication, you may choose to include your real name or use a pseudonym. There is interest in what you all have to say and bottom line is – children need our help inside and outside the classroom! Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  You can message me with any questions you might have. Hoping to hear from you soon!

1990's 11!

9/11- Feeling safe in the classroom…

Vector - Skyline US NewYork by DragonArtI was with first grade students on 9/11, that tragic morning the Twin Towers went down. Within what seemed like minutes parents were rushing to school to sign their children out early. There sat twenty curious children wondering why everyone was leaving class so early in the day.  I decided to speak with the children about what was happening before they left me. Knowing the time constraints on most parents, I wanted to ease as many fears as I could. I briefly explained the situation. I ended the discussion by telling my students that their parents might be upset. I told them if they were calm and well-behaved it would help their parents. I reassured them they would all be fine and we’d all be back together in the morning. The next day began with further discussion. Most of the children had seen the news and needed to talk more. We did. I felt they all handled the information very well and then one of my students raised her hand. “Yes Jenny?” I asked.

“Ms. Ellington, why do I feel safer here in the classroom than I do at home?”  Other children nodded. This question has played over and over in my mind since, while the world has become increasingly unsafe. For many students – the classroom is their only safe place.

How can teachers make children feel safe in an unsafe world? Communication is key. Being honest with children instills trust. Withholding information creates mistrust. Encourage classroom discussion on current events – tempering topics discussed with age appropriateness. This is easily accomplished by providing social studies curriculum as part of an integrated classroom experience.

There are many other ways to make sure that your classroom is a safe place for students. What strategies do you use in your classroom?

A Teacher’s New Year’s Prayer

The road less traveled...

As the new year begins may we take time to reflect on the past, present, and future – confident in wisdom to guide us through a year of…

Hope for healing

Acceptance without fear

Peaceful days

Patience for positive outcomes

Youthful exuberance

New beginnings

Energy to sustain

Worthy personal experiences

Yearnings that motivate

Enthusiasm and zeal

Amazing grace and

Resplendent conviction for meaningful change

Sincere best wishes for peace and happiness in 2013 and always!


The Secret to Making It a Great School Year | Edutopia

The Secret to Making It a Great School Year | Edutopia.

It’s been too long

It seems like forever since I have posted.  All too often life has a way of sneaking up on us causing us to prioritize and the beginning of school is just such a time.  The classroom is arranged, the dust has settled, and the students have arrived.  Looking forward to re-energizing my creative spirit!  Happy Fall!

Best school supply deals 8/5 – 8/11

Best school supply deals 8/5 – 8/11.

Beyond the classroom | August 2012

Teaching careers in K-12 education…

Beyond the classroom | August 2012.

Time Management/Organizational Styles

Polychronic/Monochronic Organizers

 Are you familiar with polychronic and monochronic organizational styles or high context/low context communication? These styles are culturally based and learning about them may serve to help us better relate to those we live and work with.  The following is a link to one of the most concise articles I’ve found on this…

As for the polychronic organizer the book “A Perfect Mess” may shed some light on why many people (actually 2/3’s of us) organize the way we do.  If you take time to look into this, I encourage you reflect on those students and colleagues who may drive you crazy with their seeming lack of order which is anything but.

On how culture affects communication…

Comparative Time Orientation Chart…


Monochronic (Linear) Time Orientation Polychronic (Circular)Time Orientation
Views time as an entity to be saved, spent, or lost Views time as fluid, flexible 
Completes one task before starting another Works on multiple tasks before finishing any one
Focuses on the task to be completed within a certain time frame Focuses on and nurtures the relationships represented by the tasks
Separates work from family and social life Views work, family and social life as one
Seeks to maintain rigid appointment schedule Reacts as the day’s events evolve 



Low/High Context Chart…


Low Context Culture High Context Culture
Believes in explicit (literal) communication Utilizes figurative and approximate language
Follows the letter of the law Believes laws can be shaped by circumstances
Keeps job tasks separate from relationships Sees task as a function of the relationship
Uses direct style in writing and speaking Prefers indirect style in writing and speaking
Values individual initiative and decision making Expects decision making within the relationship
Relies on verbal communication Relies on nonverbal communication
Becomes uncomfortable with silence Respects and utilizes silence
Presents facts, statistics and other details Subordinates use of detailed information



Mechanistic/Humanistic View of Employee Chart…

Mechanistic Employee Humanistic Employee
Works for employer in exchange for wage sand benefits Thinks of self as group member with personal ties
Changes jobs if better opportunity arises Remains on the job out of loyalty to “family”
Can be dismissed if not performing job satisfactorily Keeps job even if performance is unsatisfactory
Views self as a commodity Views self as part of a “family

CrossTalk: Communicating in a Multicultural Workplace, Sherron B. Kenton and Deborah Valentine, Prentice-Hall, 1997.

As educators, we are much like the cogs of a wheel creating forward motion.  Diverse organizational styles and communication are needed to meet the diverse needs of our students.  Having like organizational styles and communication is akin to all cogs spinning in the same direction going nowhere.

The dichotomy of the educational system is it touts monochronic values while imposing copious polychronic tasks.  This in itself can cause confusion which produces stress, which in turn detracts from effective teaching and learning much like the wearing down of each cog that is not benefiting from the thrust of its opposite.  Having a better understanding of the above styles can help us all in our interactions with each other.

We all have so much to share…

Best school supply deals 7/29-8/4

Reblogged from http://www.Living on the…

We’ve gone through all the sales circulars and picked out the best deals on school supplies for this week. Some items are so cheap that they are free.

via Best school supply deals 7/29-8/4.