Category Archives: teachers

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!

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Today’s child – Maslow and physiological needs…

According to Maslow, a child’s first need is physiological. Children need food, water, clean air, and a safe, warm place to sleep. How can parents and teachers meet these needs?

Parents:

  • Make time to meet these needs in a “family” way – no matter how big or small your family may be.
  • Set the breakfast table together the night before.
  • Ask your child to help you plan a healthy menu while teaching him or her about nutrition.
  • Pack a healthy lunch instead of buying one. Include an “I love you” note for your child to read when the lunchbox is opened.
  • Find time for a home cooked evening meal and eat together around the table to discuss everyone’s day.
  • Keep the air in your home clean. Avoid exposing your child to cigarette smoke, excessive dust, and toxic fumes.
  • Provide a clean, restful slumber environment void of technological distractions.
  • Teach your child to be responsible for his or her own physiological needs over time.

Teachers:

  • Allow time for snack breaks each day. Children can’t learn when hungry.  Ask parents to donate healthy snacks.
  • Allow children to drink water as needed. If no classroom fountain is available, let children bring a water bottle from home.
  • Create a warm and inviting classroom environment.
  • Provide students the opportunity to design and keep up the classroom environment.
  • Classrooms are dusty places. Try a Friday cleaning day and include students in the process. This makes for a great way for all to begin new Monday morning. If needed, bring in an air purifier. Be sure to clean the filter as required.

All of these suggestions are easy to carry out and need very little time. If you have other suggestions, feel free to comment and add to the list.  Thanks!

 

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?

Obama Administration Sends Mixed Messages on Teachers and Testing – – Education Week Teacher

From Education Week Teacher Update

Obama Administration Sends Mixed Messages on Teachers and Testing – – Education Week Teacher.

What are your thoughts?

The greatest teacher gift

ajaylaToday was the last day of school for my kindergarten students.  One child came up and said she had a gift for me, but forgot it. I told her she had already given me a wonderful gift.  Then I thought of Ajayla…

There is a saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”  Sometimes, teachers come in small packages…

 “Open mine, open mine!” they shouted.  The children sat on the floor in front of me – eyes wide, waiting for me to open the gifts they had brought their teacher.  Most children in this very special group of first graders beamed with pride, but I had mixed emotions because some not able to share a gift might be hurt.

There were many gifts this last day of school.  From a multicolored spray of wild flowers in a crystal vase to several teacher books.

 Amid their excitement, giggles, applause, and me thanking the children, one of them anxiously called out.

“Ms. Ellington!” Ajayla said, eyes twinkling with her effervescent smile.

 “I have a gift for you!”

 “You do?” I asked.

“Yes, it’s in my backpack.  Would you like me to get it for you?”  she asked.

“Of course!”  I nodded. Ajayla, for the young age of seven was an old soul, wise beyond her years.  The children looked at each other curiously, some watching her every move as she enthusiastically raced to her backpack for the gift.

Ajayla returned with tightly cupped hands and a radiant look on her face.  She stood before me, her back to the others. A few children leaned to see around her, and then all sat motionless – curious to see what the gift would be.

“Close your eyes and hold out your hands,” she whispered in my ear.  I smiled as the colorful beads, perfectly placed in her braided hair tickled my cheek.

The children giggled.  I closed my eyes and held out my hands.  I waited.

“Can you feel it?”  she asked.

I felt nothing.  Eyes still closed, I moved my hands slightly forward straining to feel.  I shook my head.  “I don’t feel…” I began to say.  Then suddenly, I felt the gentle brush of her warm fingertips resting on mine.

“Do you feel it now?” she whispered.  A rush of emotion went through me.

“Yes, Ajayla, I feel it!”  I said.

I opened my eyes and looked at her.  She was glowing. Her fingers now clutching mine. “It’s a wonderful gift!” I exclaimed.  Ajayla leapt forward and wrapped her arms around me.  It was clear the other children understood.  They broke into a round of applause.

“I’ll never forget you,” she said.  “I’ll love you forever and wherever I go you
will always be here in my heart.”

I held her close.  As I did, the others began to surround us, each reaching to be part of our embrace.

“Boys and girls,” I said, “Ajayla has given us all the greatest gift today. Giving and receiving gifts is wonderful, but the greatest gift you can ever give or receive is not one you can see or touch.”  I paused to hold back my tears.  “You can feel it though.”

The children smiled.

“Where?” I asked.

“In your heart.” was their reply.

Meanwhile these three remain:

faith, hope and love;

and the greatest of these is love.

 Corinthians, 13; 4-7 

Why teachers leave

Teachers enter teaching full of enthusiasm – knowing they have an opportunity to affect the lives of many over their time in the classroom.

Time and circumstance often wreak havoc on these idealistic goals.  The teacher in the following YouTube video (Ellie Rubenstein) eloquently expresses what teachers across the nation are feeling these days.  Her passion for teaching can’t be denied.  Ellie’s video has gone viral – she is enthusiastically supported by hundreds of thousands across the nation.

Readers, what are your thoughts on the state of public education today?  Do you share or not share Ellie’s views?  Why or why not?

Why teachers teach

!cid_3172757604_646320   I recently read an article written by a college student who is reconsidering her decision to become a teacher.  While her heart seems to be in teaching, those around her are persuading her to pursue a more prestigious, higher salaried career.  In other words – a “real profession” that is worthy of the cost of a college degree.

The question then arises – why do teachers teach?  It certainly can’t be for the salary.  Teachers are underpaid and overworked.  It can’t be for respect.  Teachers are often falsely charged as being the “problem” with education.  It can’t be for the prestigious working conditions.  Many teachers work in anything but.  Why then do we see teachers endure these conditions year after year not closing the door on education to pursue a more self-satisfying, lucrative career?  The answer must lie in the altruistic nature of teaching and the strong sense of duty most teachers cite as the reason for choosing a teaching career.

According to the National Education Association the average 2011-2012 starting teacher salary in the United States was $35,672.  Factoring into this salary the state of the economy, the increasing cost of shelter, utilities, food, insurance, and yes – taxes, this amount of money doesn’t support a lavish lifestyle or even a modest lifestyle.

Do teachers deserve more respect?  While teachers bear the brunt of accusations on what’s wrong with education, few outside of education stop to question why most teachers teach a specific way.  With the terms and conditions of No Child Left Behind came a landslide of do’s and don’ts over the years eliminating any autonomy a teacher may have in the classroom.

Working conditions?  Consider a career which pays on average for 37.5 hours of work, but commands on average 50-60 hours plus each week to get the job done.   Add to that career – purchasing books and materials out-of-pocket for students unable to afford them, classroom maintenance, professional development, teacher disrespect, constantly changing expectations, added demands, student behavioral concerns, etc., and answer this – would you teach?

While you may say “no” there are many teachers who would still say “yes.”  When I ask my college students why they chose education, the same answer is given every time – “I want to make a difference.”  Indeed, there are many teachers who have done just that.  This altruistic sense of service to others is best expressed with the story of David Menasche who does not consider his declining health but instead asks “Did I make a difference?”

David Menasche: Did I make a difference?

http://www.nea.org/home/2011-2012-average-starting-teacher-salary.html

Teaching Without Tests

This is teaching as it should be!  Allowing students to have a choice in demonstrating their knowledge is definitely differentiating and acceptance that one size does not fit all – in teaching, learning, or assessment!  Thanks for sharing Nicholas!

Teaching Without Tests.

Remembering Dr. King, Dad, and life lessons from both.

MLK

He sat at the edge of the sofa, glazed eyes fixed on the TV screen, tears streaming down his face. My brother and I watched silently with our father as the body of Martin Luther King was pulled by two mules on a mule cart. Thousands of people marched in tandem. My father wept, not ashamed to cry in front of us. “Why did they kill him?” we asked.

“Come close,” Dad said. “Never judge anyone by the color of their skin. There are good and bad people in every group,” he said. “Look to the person, and not the group they belong to. Consider everyone as an individual – an equal – remember that.”

08-06-2009 11;44;31AM

This would be one of the many life lessons I learned from my Italian father. Like King, Dad sought fairness for all in a time when it was not a popular thing to do. Similar to Dr. King’s life cut short at the hand of an assassin, Dad’s life was cut short in a car accident. I would only realize the meaningful extent of both of their legacy’s through their deaths.

Today, I can see my father on the sofa and the images of King’s funeral procession as if it was yesterday. I take comfort knowing the lessons I learned from both that year are handed down to each new group of students that enter my classroom.

The significance of today – the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and the historical second inauguration of President Obama will be meaningful to some though not all. We have come a long way but the road is long and we still have a way to go.

For the 50th anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech illustrated…

http://abclocal.go.com/wls/video?id=8961639&pid=8961633

“I can’t be president.”

1993 kindergarten classI admit that over the years I have become increasingly enamored of politics and the guiding and misguiding effect it has on us all.  It is no secret then that I woke early today to turn on the news so I wouldn’t miss anything.  Watching a reminiscent clip of past inaugurations – my first kindergarten classroom and one particular student came to mind.  The year was 1993 and I was thrilled to accept a cardboard replica of President Clinton for my classroom.  Of course, I had to take a picture of my students with the president’s replica and share some of the presidential stories I heard.  My favorite story to share with my students that day was the fact that several of President Clinton’s kindergarten friends were serving on his White House staff.

“Look around at your friends,” I enthusiastically said.  “One of you could be president one day and call on some of your kindergarten friends to work with you!”

“I can’t be president,” said Kendrick.

“Why would you say that?”  I naively asked.

He shrugged his shoulders, looked up at me and said, “Black people can’t be president.”

My heart sank and with it the idealistic joy I had for teaching was shadowed by the stark social reality of the time.  I hugged him and said, “You can be anything you want to be if you work hard for it.”

I have thought of Kendrick often over the years, but never as much as I did on the day watching President Obama’s first inauguration with a new generation of students.  I am thinking of Kendrick today – wondering if he remembers that day in 1993 and remaining hopeful that he finds as much joy in this week’s inaugural events as I do.