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.

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