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?

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