01 November 2013



I am so excited to be a part of SUECON 2013 as both a committee member and a presenter. I will be presenting three different sessions, so if you are in the Southern Utah area, stop by today or tomorrow for some great educational sessions about how to be a better educator with or without technology, although I prefer with whenever possible!

I will be presenting the following sessions and would love to see you there!

  • Promethean Starter Tips
    • http://sched.co/15FZr4j
    • Are you new to the Promethean interactive white board (IWB) system? Do you want to learn how to use it more effectively in your classroom? Are you interested in using a Student Response System (SRS) to assist you in teaching and assessments? If you answered yes to any of the previous questions, this class is for you. This class is designed to help with the basic skills in using and understanding your Promethean IWB system. We will also look at using the ActivExpression SRS "clickers" to assess your students in both summative and formative use cases. Learn where and how to find pre-made "flipcharts" and assessments as well as how to create your own. The Promethean IWB and SRS systems are incredibly useful and this class will help you gain a better understanding of how to make them work for you and your teaching.
  • 6 Technology Tools Every Teacher Should Be Using
    • http://sched.co/15FZsFk
    • Whether you are a techie teacher or a techno-novice, there are a number of online tools available to help you increase your productivity and perfect your computer skills. This session will cover five main technology areas: storage solutions, password management, bookmarking, information gathering and information sharing. Each of the five areas include multiple options to help allow for both flexibility of choice and availability of assortment. The different areas contain multiple tools, including; online flash drives, applications to help you remember your different passwords, the ability to save your Internet bookmarks to multiple web browsers and computers, sharing your bookmarks with others, RSS feeds, blogs, wikis, Twitter, and URL shorteners. Each of the areas contain both free and paid versions of tools allowing everyone the opportunity to use the products regardless of funding and finances.
  • RSS In a Post Google Reader World
    • http://sched.co/15FZq0k
    • Do you check multiple websites a day to keep up with the latest educational trends, music/movies news, funny comics, or just to check on family members' blogs? If you answered yes to any of the above, STOP right now! There is an easier way using RSS and having the websites tell you when they have any updates. With the recent closure of Google Reader there have been a number of newer and better RSS readers available. Come find out about some of the best both free and paid and find out how to put the Internet to work for you!
If you do come out, please feel free to come and say Hi! I would love to meet you. Happy learning!

08 May 2013

Patience and Apologies

I recently participated in some religious service when I relearned a valuable lesson in making sure that I was being kind with others no matter what was happening around me.

I was assisted by an older gentleman who was obviously struggling with his assignment of helping as well as with some health issues and I had a major attitude problem. After being bothered and upset I realized I was missing the whole point of the religious service and I needed to step back and calm down. I needed to be more patient. Once I calmed down and was able to recognize the service this man was giving, the rest of the time that morning was so much nicer and so much more enjoyable.

I often wonder if I'm doing the same thing with my students at school. Am I being impatient with them and treating them poorly because they don't necessarily want to be at school anymore? Do I always want to be at school? We need to make sure we give our kids a break every once in a while because they are as real of people as we are, just a little (lot) younger.

John Spencer of Education Rethink recently wrote about losing patience and yelling at his students and then feeling incredibly bad about it. He then goes on to say that the next day he had a number of important educational people (my words not his) recognize his ability to teach and present and he felt vindicated in his role as a good teacher (again, my words not his). Even though he messed up the day before and lost his cool, he's not a bad person, nor are his students bad kids, they were all just people having a bad day. The most important part of this lesson, he apologized to the students and knew that they would forgive him (or at least hoped they would). What an incredible example of a wonderful human being! Thanks John for the being a role model of what an exceptional teacher should be.

We need to remember the importance of being patient with those around us because we are the only person in the world who can decide what kind of say we are going to have. I know patience is one of the areas I struggle with the most as a teacher, especially this late in the year!

06 May 2013

Need for Cursive

Source: Evelyn Saenz

The Utah State Office of Education is looking at adding to their writing standards and have been looking for input from teachers and community members here. As a teacher in Utah I felt the need to share my thoughts about the subject of cursive instruction. Below is what I submitted:
"Cursive writing, old-fashioned as it may appear, is a valuable part of our societal structure. We are required to sign our names in cursive for important legal documentation as well as formal writing. Without the proper instruction and practice in the early years of writing education, students won't be able to successfully use cursive, both in reading and writing, for their own societal responsibilities and duties. As an educator, I have felt very strongly of this importance. I teach 4th grade and we complete a cursive packet at the start of every year and upon its completion, I require the students to do all their writing, except for Spelling activities and tests, in cursive. By requiring the daily practice of cursive writing, most of my students improve their cursive writing skills to very high levels of proficiency. Not every child will leave my class with beautiful cursive writing skills, but not every adult has beautiful writing skills either, cursive or print. I plan to continue my teaching of cursive and requiring its use in my classroom as long as I teach, regardless of what the State Core requires."
I know there has been a lot of debate about handwriting and especially cursive, but I feel it is still a needed skill. In the future I can see the need for cursive to change as identification technologies advance and then see it become more of an art form. When that day occurs, I will treat cursive as a part of the arts, but I will still teach it.

What are your thoughts on the handwriting and cursive debate? Should we still be teaching handwriting or should we just leave it behind?

05 April 2013

DIY Weather Stations

Do you teach weather in the classroom? Do you wish you had more accurate weather data for you or your students to use? Are you a weather junkie who loves to have the latest super-local weather information at your fingertips?

If you answered "Yes!" to any of the above questions then I have just the idea for you, build a DIY Weather Kit! I have recently found two of the most amazing new tools for gathering hyper-local weather data for your classroom (or yourself if you're a closet meteorologist), but you may need to act kind of fast. Both of the items are on Kickstarter, I think I may have a new obsession/problem, and they both finish their backing periods this month. They are both fully funded and are guaranteed to fulfill their orders so you don't have to worry, you have nothing to loose. I have already backed both and am now just waiting patiently for my loot to arrive.

First up is Thermodo, a "Tiny Thermometer for Mobile Devices." This is a device you plug into your mobile device and will then have access to hyper-local temperature readings. How hyper-local? Stand in your house and it will give you the inside temperature. Walk outside and it will change to give you the outside temperature. Do you have a giant walk-in freezer? Go in there and it will give you the temperature of that location as well!

This is going to be such an amazing tool for teaching about temperature and having students gather data. No more wondering if the closest weather station is actually accurate for where you are physically located. You can send a couple of students outside with a mobile device (I'll be using iPads) and Thermodo and they'll come back with hyper-local temperature data for your exact location. I haven't even gone into ideas of using it to compare temperatures inside the building verses outside. Or how about when you know your classroom is hotter than the district mandated 75 degrees your thermostat is pre-programmed to? You can actually have proof without having to call the district maintenance crew to come out and check. This device is worth it's weight in gold.

Great, but what's it cost? As long as you back the project before Tuesday, April 9th at 12:00pm MDT, you can pick one up for as low as $25 and choose either a black, white or red Thermodo device. If you would prefer a premium anodized aluminum one, it'll cost you $39. After that you can select any number of combinations of Thermodo devices and other accessories. My advice, get what I selected and go for the Thermodo set where you get 1 black, white or red device AND 1 premium anodized aluminum device for $64, so I for sure have two devices right around the start of next school year.

What if you either don't want to back the Kickstarter campaign or you miss the chance because you are reading this after the project has ended? Seeing the popularity of this product, 818% funded as of writing this, I am pretty sure the Robocat, the makers of Thermodo, will offer it for sale after they have caught up on fulfilling their Kickstarter campaign. Keep an eye out for it, and I will try to let you know if I hear of anything.

For the second part of the DIY Weather Station, how about a Wireless Wind Meter that plugs into your mobile device's headphone jack, yet contains no electronics? I am really excited for this product from Vaavud (read the story about their name because it's a pretty cool story) because I teach in an incredibly windy area of town that is always more windy than any weather station shows. There are times when recording weather data from the Internet and it shows 0 mph, yet if you look out the window it's near hurricane winds out there. I am excited for my students to have a chance to have accurate wind speeds for their data collection. This will also come in handy as we are on field trips away from the school to compare different areas of town against our windy neck of the woods.

I'm also excited for the ability to use this device when I vacation and travel. They talk about the desire to track wind speeds for wind surfing, but what about flying kites with your kids? You don't want to be out there if it's too windy, so now you don't have to worry about it. This is going to be one handy little tool.

How does it work without electronics? One word, magnets! You just found another area to use this great device in the classroom when you study about magnets and what they are used for in the world.

Have I sold you yet? If so, this project isn't as much of a rush as the Thermodo is because the Vaavud Wind Meter has until Monday, April 22nd @ 4:40pm MDT to be fulfilled. It is currently sitting pretty with 112% funding as of this writing, so it too will also be completed. Whats the cost of this one? They have limited their number of pieces to be built to make sure they don't end up back-ordered, so they have about 250 left at a price of £30 (about $46) and then about 100 left of a special edition "Kickstarter Green" Wind Meter for £40 (about $61). A little expensive, but the cost includes the Wind Meter and a practical carrying case. The estimated ship date is June 2013, just in time for next school year!

Again, I have backed the standard edition and am considering getting a second one so I could have 2 DIY Weather Stations for my students to go out with a Thermodo temperature device and a Vaavud Wind Meter device with their iPads and return with actual local weather. I am so excited for these two projects I can hardly wait for next year to begin!

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and back a few amazing projects on Kickstarter and start building your very own DIY Weather Station. If you decide to back either project, let me know how you plan to use them in your classroom.

** An interesting side note **
Both companies are located in Denmark. Interesting that the Danish people are so into weather devices. I personally love it, but it's pretty interesting.

03 April 2013

Welcome to the Future of Shopping

I'm not sure how new this idea is, but I recently discovered it and have been blown away. Have you ever tried to redeem and iTunes Gift Card and been annoyed with the different letters and numbers involved? I know I have, but I thought that was the only way. I recently discovered that if you are on a Mac you can redeem an iTunes Gift Card via your built in camera. Not sure what I mean, here are some screen shots I took while redeeming a couple of gift cards last night.

Step 1: Open iTunes and click on the "Store Button" in the top left corner.

Step 2: Click on "Redeem" over to the left of the screen below the "Quick Links" section.

Step 3: On the "Redeem Code" screen, click the "Use Camera" button in the center of the screen.

Step 4: Get your iTunes Gift Card ready by removing the sticker on the back and exposing the redemption code. Once the sticker is removed, align the Gift Card so you can see it on the image in the center of the screen. You will see a "lighted" box appear around the redemption code and it will start to glow. You should then also see your redemption code auto-fill in the box below. This is where it started to get real "futuristic" to me!

Step 5: You will see a message that says it is "Checking Code…" Holy cow, we are living in the future!

Step 6: You should see the reception code, the box around it, and wording glow in green. This is the step where your Apple ID has actually been credited with the funds from the Gift Card.

Step 7: "You've successfully redeemed your code." This is where you choose whether or not you are done redeeming gift cards or if you would like to "Redeem Another Code." Both the buttons are located on the left side of the screen below the pictures of the iTunes Gift Cards.

And that is how you redeem an iTunes Gift Card without typing a single redemption code. I'm sure Apple isn't the only company to do this, but this was my first experience with it. Welcome to the future of shopping!

** Note: I used a great app called Skitch, which is owned by Evernote, to edit my screenshots. It's a great app, especially if you are already an Evernote user. One of the best features of Skitch and Evernote are that both are available on most platforms and are based on the Freemium model, meaning they are $FREE to use, but you can pay for additional functions. I was able to add the arrows and boxes as well as edit out my Apple ID information using the scrambler tool. It was super easy to use and I think it turned out quite nicely. Go check them both out and let me know what you think.

02 April 2013

Easter & World Backup Day

Image Source: LDS.org

Two very important things happened on Sunday and I was too busy enjoying them to post about them, so here is the recap.

Sunday, March 31st was one of my favorite and most important holidays ever, Easter. As a Christian I am forever grateful for what Easter represents to me and the fact that I am able to celebrate it is perfect. I am loved by Jesus Christ and I am thankful for Easter to help me remember His atoning sacrifice for me.

Image Source: World Backup Day

The other major thing to happen on Sunday, March 31st was World Backup Day. According to the events official website,
You might think your computer, phone or tablet is pretty reliable, but in reality, it's not. Everything (yes, everything) fails, and once it does, all the important information you've stored on that device can be destroyed. In fact, it's not a question of if a piece of technology will fail - it's when. 
More than 60 million computers will fail worldwide in 2013. Only 1 in 4 people back up their information regularly - that's roughly 45 million times this year where files will be lost forever. Even worse - 113 cell phones are lost or stolen every minute in the United States alone. That's hundreds of photos, conversations, calendars and more, gone in an instant.
It is so incredibly important that we remember to backup because as it says, "it's not a matter of if … it's when." We are becoming more and more reliant on our technology and yet many of us are playing "russian roulette" with our data by not backing it up. I could go on and on about the merits of backing up, but I feel that's not the point, instead, I will send you to The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW for short) and editor Steve Sande's coverage of how to back up your different devices in his article Don't Be an April Fool. Take a few minutes and read through their tips and tricks. You might enjoy it enough you may add it to your regular reading list, I know I have.

One last thing about backing up, it doesn't have to be difficult or expensive. Some of you, hopefully all of you, are using the service Dropbox to store files in the cloud. By using Dropbox you are actually creating a backup of whatever you choose to store there. If you aren't already using it, use this link to sign up and you will get an additional amount of free space. If you already have Dropbox, consider looking into SugarSync or Box for additional online storage of your files, both of those links are also referral codes where you will get additional free storage. The way I see it, the more places you are storing your files the better chance you have to not lose them.

Even though World Backup Day is gone and over for 2013, it's never too late to find a backup solution. If you look on their site you will find additional suggestions for how to backup your data. Please take a few minutes this week and read over their site and find a backup solution that works for you. Be safe out there and guard your data!

27 March 2013

Daddy, Can You Fix It?

Image Source: Here

I recently flew with my daughter on a solo flight to El Paso, TX to visit my paternal grandfather for his 80th birthday. It was a wonderful trip where we met up with my parents, who had made the long drive to be there as well. This trip had many learning opportunities for me, but the one I'd like to focus on involved a souvenir my daughter received from my mom that didn't last nearly as long as it should have.

While in El Paso, we visited a store called The El Paso Saddle Blanket Company, which if you are ever remotely near El Paso is worth a visit. This place has a little bit of everything, including beautifully beaded jewelry. My mom decided she wanted to buy my 3 year old a necklace and my daughter was very excited to have the present, so much so that she then wore it for the rest of the trip.

Skip ahead a few weeks and we are back home and my daughter is still loving the necklace and keeps telling us it was a present from grandma. However, due to her "extreme" love for the necklace, my daughter decided to try and wear it as a belt and while sliding in over her shoulders the beaded necklace shattered. Then the tears began. "Daddy," she pleaded, "can you fix it?" And like a dagger the words hit me because I knew that beadwork wasn't one of my talents. I'm not sure who was more crushed, my daughter because her beautiful beaded necklace was destroyed, or me because my little girl mistakenly thought I could fix it.

Just then it hit me, I may not have the skills needed to fix this shattered memory, but I did know someone who could, a mother of one of my students. I got in touch with her as soon as possible and explained the situation and she agreed to take a look, while informing me she could make no promises. After looking over the wreckage, she agreed to fix the necklace, but let me know it would look different since she had no idea what the original design was like. My main request was that it be made of a stretchy string.

I had no way of fixing the necklace, but I knew someone who could and was able to get in contact with them. As teachers, we don't know all the answers, and we don't have to as long as we know where to find them. We need to make sure we have trusted confidants with whom we can go in times of need and struggle. By having a strong Professional Learning Network (PLN) who can help us, we become even better teachers and our students do nothing more than benefit from the influence of others. We shouldn't be embarrassed or afraid that we don't know all the answers, unless we aren't willing to look for them.

What happened with the necklace? This parent came through and delivered not only one, but two beautiful necklaces that are very much 3 year old proof with stretchy string and all!

Cross posted on Teacher-Dad.blogspot.com.

26 March 2013

I'm Sorry

I think two of the most powerful words in the entire English language are "I'm sorry." I'm not a perfect person and nor do I believe one such person exists today but I have learned that when I mess up, when I make a mistake, I need to apologize as quickly as possible.

Recently while planning out some events with my grade level team in our weekly PLC meeting, I was mistaken about the events of a particular presentation happening in our future. I didn't realize my mistake until well past the end of the meeting as I was going back over the calendar. I felt horrible! The first thing I did once I realized I was wrong was send out an email to my grade level colleagues and made sure I apologized for my inaccuracies, as well as my snippy and rude mannerisms during the meeting.

The next day I went to find the colleague I had been particularly snippy with to apologize in person and she was in talking to my other teammates. I was shocked when the first thing out of both of their mouse was, "Thank you for being humble and recognizing that you were wrong. And even more for apologizing for it, that's an important skill many people don't seem to have or want." I was shocked! Here I was coming to apologize and try and make amends and I was being told that I had done the right thing by being willing to apologize so quickly.

I don't hide that I have goals and aspirations to end up in educational leadership, in fact I'll be starting an educational administrative endorsement this fall. I feel that recognizing when you are wrong and being willing to apologize is one of the most valuable skills that anyone in education, especially those educational leadership, should have. It seems that some of the best administrators I have worked with all share that trait and are willing to go out of their way to make their wrongs into rights. I only hope that I will be able to keep up this skill I have when I become an administrator one day.

As I started this post, I don't believe I'm perfect and I don't believe I'm anywhere near being perfect. I mess up on a daily basis but one thing that I feel like I'm good at is recognizing my mess ups and being willing to apologize.

22 March 2013

Music Education Rocks!

I just came across the amazing music video of 2 then-teens playing one of my all-time favorite songs, "Let It Be" by The Beatles on a violin and cello. This is a perfect example of why it is important to keep music in the classroom because without it, life would be horribly boring! Please enjoy the amazing string rendition of "Let It Be" below. Please support music in your classrooms any chance you get!

I found this video at I Waste So Much Time, which is one of my guilty pleasures. I love all the crazy stuff there.

20 March 2013

Reaching for Success

Image Source: 70Decibels.com

Not too long ago I wrote about my love of podcasts and some of my favorite shows that I listen to. It so happens that the majority these podcasts belong to the 70Decibels Network which has recently been acquired by another favorite podcast network, the 5by5 Network full of awesome shows! I am so happy for the fellas over at 70Decibels and especially for Myke Hurley one of the co-founders and current Executive Producer of the network and all its shows. iMyke, as he is known on the interwebs, has worked hard to create a wide assortment of incredible shows on the network and has done the whole thing in his "spare time" since he has a day job. Hopefully this latest step of being acquired by 5by5 will allow him the opportunity to finally go full time with podcasting so he can continue to create even more great content. Maybe he might even help to create an education-themed podcast for all of us educators. (hint, hint)

Image Source: 5by5.tv
Why would I bring this news up on an education-themed website? Because in order for Myke to achieve his goal of going full-time with podcasting, he must make sacrifices and work hard. He has to continue learning and keep informed of the latest trends in podcasting to be able to continue bringing his listeners high quality shows. Myke is a great example for anyone who has a dream and a goal. As educators we need to have as many different examples of hard working, successful people to share with our students so they can see the benefit of being a continual learner. We can't be the only example for our students of this way of life.

The other reason, and maybe the more important reason I bring up Myke and 70Decibel's story is that I love what he is doing and think all my readers should go ahead and take a listen. I can almost guarantee you will find something you enjoy. I am currently subscribed to and listen to every show on the network, it's all that good! So go ahead and take a few minutes to see if there is anything on the current 70Decibels Network, soon to be 5by5 Network, that makes you want to listen. I bet there's at least one or two shows.

08 March 2013

UCET 2013 Conference

As this post goes live, I will be getting ready to attend the 2013 UCET Conference in Sandy, Utah. UCET is the Utah Coalition for Educational Technology and is the Utah affiliate for ISTE.

If you are ever in the Salt Lake City area in early March, you should definitely try to attend this wonderful conference on education and technology. I have been attending this conference since 2011 and I don't see any end in sight for my regular attendance. This is one of my favorite ways to spend my professional development time because I am able to meet new friends, see old friends, learn great education and technology tricks, and recharge my batteries for the tail end of the school year. I wrote about an experience I had at a previous conference not long ago and have to admit, those one-on-one discussions I have at UCET are one of the main reasons I keep coming back.

If you ever find yourself in need of a recharge and are willing and/or able to get to Salt Lake City, Utah, I can guarantee this is a great conference to attend. If you will be attending UCET 2013, come find me and say hello, I'll be presenting 2 different presentations amongst 3 different times and will be spending some time at the SUECON booth in between attending interesting sessions, so come and say hello. I'd love to connect with you and get to know you a little better. Hopefully, I'll see you at UCET 2013!

06 March 2013

Funding Your Dream

I recently came across what looks to be an extremely helpful app for grading student writing papers. The app is called Markup and it's coming from the San Kim, one of the creators of the ever popular ShowMe App which is currently ranked #62 on the Apple iOS Education AppStore. ShowMe is a great app that allows users to "record voice-over whiteboard tutorials and share them online." While I haven't used ShowMe as frequently as I should, this new app Markup sounds very interesting.

The idea behind the app is to help create paperless classrooms where students can submit writing assignments to their teachers digitally and yet still allow teachers to correct and mark their paper as though it were on paper. Their video from Kickstarter is below.

As interesting as this project is, I think what is more interesting is the way in which the San Kim and crew are going about to create and fund it. Kickstarter is a website where people can create a webpage about a project they are either working on or wanting to create and then ask the regular human being to help fund their idea. If you find the idea interesting and wish to contribute, you can choose to "back" the project. By backing the project, you decide a dollar amount you wish to pay to the developer/creator and then if the funding goal is met, you pay the amount you decided upon. If the funding goal is not met, then you don't pay a penny. It's an all or nothing game, and I find it incredibly awesome. Each creator establishes certain dollar amounts they hope to receive and then create reward tiers based on dollar amounts contributed. And did I mention that each project only gets up to 60 days to be funded, although they recommend keeping it around 30 days.

If you have never been on the site I suggest you look around and see what is out there. I guarantee you will find at least one project that interests you. If you create an account you can star projects to more easily find them later.

So take a few minutes and get to know a fun, and possibly expensive, site where you can help aspiring creators achieve their dreams all while getting a little something for yourself. And if you think the idea of the Markup App is interesting, why not help out San Kim and crew and make a pledge to help them get funded, they only have until Wednesday, March 20th to see their dream come true.

Disclosure: I have not yet decided to fund the Markup app, but will probably do so before the March 20th deadline.

05 March 2013

To This Day

I just came across this amazing video on the ever funny site I Waste So Much Time discussing the horrors of school violence and bullying. I don't know how prevalent this video has become on the inter-webs, but I want it to blow up! Please take a few minutes (about 7.5) and then continue reading.

Pretty impressive huh? After watching that video I feel like I want to single-handedly take on bullying in my school. There are so many amazing things said, but I think the most important part is that we can never really understand the power our words have on others. We think the things we say are harmless and no big deal, but we couldn't be more wrong. I'm not sure if I'll show this to my 4th graders, but part of my is thinking they may see it before the year is over. I will definitely share it with my faculty and colleagues.

The author of the poem, Shane Koyczan wrote a post about how you can get involved by using the hashtag #ToThisDay to share ideas about stopping the bullying.

Please help me help Shane and blanket the world over with this amazing message. We may never end bullying, but we can certainly try and maybe even take a few bullies down with us!

04 March 2013

Daddy, Come Play with Me!

Come play with me Daddy!
"Daddy, come play with me" is a phrase I hear all the time and I love it! I have a 3 year old daughter who is so sweet and loving and yet, I don't always give her the time and attention she deserves because I have "obligations" that must be fulfilled. Now, there are certainly things I do that must be done like going to school, work, or religious duties, but there are also a number of other things I let get in the way of that valuable time with my daughter.

How many times do I come home to an anxious daughter, she literally runs to the door everyday to unlock it so I can come in, only to allow technology or work get in the way? I have found that she is only excited for the first 5-10 minutes and then she loses interest if I'm not able to devout some time to her. It is incredibly sad how frequently I let those crucial moments pass with without playing and enjoying her sweet kindness and love.

How frequently do we allow ourselves the opportunity to "play" with our students at recess? Are we too "busy" to go out and play? Now, I recognize that we can't always go outside and play at recess because as teachers, we legitimately have to use that recess time to prepare for lessons, talk with a colleague, or heaven forbid we need to use the restroom during the day! The question though, do we really need to do those things every recess break?

I am in my 5th year as a classroom teacher and I am embarrassed how infrequently I allow myself to play while at recess! I go out for my recess duty rotation as needed, one time you shouldn't play, but actually be vigilant for safety and concerns of the students, but do I go out and play? Not really and that bothers me. In my first year teaching, I went out to play at least once per week. Once a week! I haven't been outside to play at all this year, we are in March just in case you forgot. We are ⅔ of the way through our school year and I have yet to go out and play. I need to change that ASAP!

I think one of the best thing we can do as teachers is go out and play with our students. Show them we are not just there to teach them academics, but also how to have fun. We should spend time running and playing to show them physical exercise is good for us all, especially as adults! I am going to set a goal of returning to my once a week recess play time with my students for the remainder of the school year so they can see how much fun I really am!

Even more important than the play time at school, is the play time at home with my kids. I think the best thing to do in this case is to make sure when I walk in my lovingly unlocked front door that I am ready to give my sweetheart daughter a couple of my first moments home so she can see how much Daddy loves her!

"Come play with me Daddy" needs to be a phrase I continue to hear for many, many years from this little girl and the only way to make sure that happens is to actually do just that. Drop the work, the electronics, everything and just spend some time playing with my little girl!

Cross posted on Teacher-Dad.blogspot.com

01 March 2013

Principal Term Limits?

While reading the great blog of Pernille Ripp, I came across a post she wrote back in December about whether or not principals should have term limits and it really made me think. It caused me to think so much that I am just now getting around to responding some 3 months later.

Before I entered the world of education I was a Business major who was ready to take over a family run business as the 3rd generation owner. My parents were proud but my grandparents were even prouder, especially my grandmother. So you can only imagine their disappointment when I told them I wasn't going into the family business but instead going into education. They were heartbroken and my grandmother, well, I don't think she talked to me for a few days, maybe even weeks after she found out.

Before my change of heart, I had worked with the family business for a number of years and had spent time in each and every position within the company. Why would I have done that, other than the fact that I was the child who lived with the boss and had to do EVERYTHING that was asked of me because I couldn't get fired, just grounded? I worked in every position within the company so I would know exactly what it was like for my employees to work for the company. I had to know what they were doing so they couldn't pull one over on me. I had to know what was required of them before I could ask them to do their jobs.

I feel that a principal is kind of that same position. They need to know what their teachers are doing so that when s/he asks them to do something/teach something, they know what the teachers are doing. The principal is the Lead Teacher of a school, meaning, they had better be able to teach the faculty as effectively, if not more so than the teachers teach their classes.

Pernille suggests that a being a principal should be a 4-5 year job with the principal then having to spend at least a year back in the classroom to "remember" what it's like to be a full-time teacher. If they decide to go back into the administrative office, they would have to re-apply for an open position. While I agree to some extent with Pernille, I like the idea of having a principal spend a year in the classroom every 4-5 years, I don't agree with the re-application process. I think there is a better solution that can actually have some collaboration and training built in.

Every 4-5 years, all principals must spend 1 year back in the regular classroom, but not in their own school. They should trade classrooms/offices with a teacher who has admirations to become a principal someday, a teacher who has their administrative endorsement and is waiting for a principal job to open up. By switching with that teacher, the principal gets to spend a year back in the classroom with students, at a different school, and have the ability to collaborate with the principal of the new school to help with training or guidance. Meanwhile, the teacher spends a year in the role of principal working with a different staff, at a different school, learning firsthand what it means to be a principal.

I realize the logistics of this plan might be a little hairy to work out, but I think it could be a win-win situation for both the principal (spending time back in the classroom remembering what it's actually like) and the teacher (real-life on the job training and practice where they can see first hand if an administrative position is really what they want). I would love to see something like this go into effect, but I don't know that I would want to manage the situations.

Another idea, what if principals had to spend X number of days in the classroom as a substitute teacher for the day? Meaning, the principal spends the entire day in a classroom while the regular teacher is able to work on other projects like observing other teachers or working on something for the school. What about something like that? Could that idea be more possible and reasonable? I would love to have my principal spend a day in my classroom as a substitute while I spent some time going around and helping the rest of my colleagues with technology issues and questions. I like it so much, that I might just suggest it to him tomorrow and see what he says.

No matter the scenario, I think having principals back in the classroom every so often is a good thing for the entire education system.

28 February 2013

Math Class Humor

I don't know about you, but after a long day at school, there are days when I could use a good laugh. When I arrived at school yesterday morning, I had a video link in my inbox from a colleague who said that it was a hilarious video that shared what it was like to teach 1st grade math. Wait, something "educational" and funny, is that possible? I'm not really sure about the educational aspect, but it is definitely one funny YouTube video. It was so good, I subscribed to the makers in hopes of being wowed again.

Without further ado, here is "Kid Snippets - Math Class." Go ahead, watch the funny and then come on back, I'll wait.

So, was I right or what? I laughed so hard I had to show my students at the end of the day. They loved it! In fact, some of them had already seen it and were asking for others in the collection. If you have some time, go ahead and head over to the BoredShorts TV account at YouTube and enjoy a good laugh.

25 February 2013

Parent Teacher Conferences

Image Source: Here

Today starts Parent Teacher Conferences in my district and I am a little confused as to how I should feel about such duties. Many of the teachers in my district despise meeting with parents and will only hold their conference times during regular school hours (our district releases the students 2+ hours earlier so teachers can starts their conferences while still within their "contract hours") and won't make any exceptions for parents.  And yet, they act bothered when some parents can't attend because they are working and can't get away. I find that horribly wrong!

Now, I'm not judging, but I find it selfish of the teachers to only offer times when the normal school day is in session  and then get upset because a parent is working to take care of their family. I realize parents need to be involved in their child's education, but shouldn't they also be involved in their child's physical well-being?

I grew up in a household where both of my parents worked and they worked very hard to provide for my brothers and me. They couldn't always attend an S.E.P. Conference during the workday, yet they always found a way to meet with our teachers either before or after school. Because I grew up with that example, I always try to have at least one day where I stay later and allow parents to come in the evening. My view is that I WANT to meet with every parent and I don't care what I have to do in order to meet with EVERY parent. I have been known to hold conferences at 8:00pm or the following week. I know that by making the opportunity for parents to meet with me, they will see my level of dedication to their children as well as my desire to be on their team in regards to their child's education.

How do Parent Teacher Conferences work with you in your district? Are they seen as a nuisance or as a privilege?

22 February 2013

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

Image Source: Woody Hibbard

I have a neighbor (I'll call him Steve) who was recently arrested on some serious criminal charges. I was very saddened because he is a good man who made a mistake. According to the police report, what he did sounds much worse than what actually happened. Even still, he committed a crime and is currently in jail awaiting trial. I feel bad for him because he is a good man who messed up.

Steve had only been in our neighborhood for a couple of years, but had become a very dear neighbor and friend. He had some trouble a while back and lost his job, yet he stayed busy with looking for work as well as serving his neighbors. He helped others with their yard work, was always one of the first on the scene to help families move in or out of the neighborhood, or any other need someone might have. Steve was a great neighbor who did many good things for many different people. He was a hard worker and yet was never too busy to be helpful.

I live in a good neighborhood with good people, but many of these "good people" started talking and gossiping about Steve, yet they didn't have the full story. In talking without the full details, they caused more trouble for Steve and his family than was necessary. Instead of going and getting the full story, they assumed the worst and forgot about all the good Steve had accomplished in his short time with us.

How often do we have students like Steve, students who are good kids, yet they make silly mistakes and are "branded" as troublemakers or issues? How often do we talk with our neighbor-teachers and not the students or their parents about the issues? Have you ever received your new class list and immediately gone to the previous grade teachers to get the "scoop" on your new students? If we are doing any of the above items, we are as bad as my nosy neighbors.

I have a professional goal to make sure each one of my students receives a true "clean-slate" when they start in my class. I try to never talk with past teachers at the beginning of the school year because I don't want their baggage and left-over issues from the previous year. After school has been in session for a little while and I have come to my own conclusions, I may then go and talk with past teachers to see how they had handled certain issues with students, but never in the first few weeks of school. Besides, maybe the student had issues with that particular teacher and won't have the same issues with you, you might be the best thing for that student to succeed, but not if you start the year by judging them for past transgressions.

You never know what kind of diamond in the rough you have in your classroom if you only look at the unpolished edges. Take your time to get to know your students before you cast any judgements that may end up causing educational damage.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...