Showing posts from April, 2011

Parents Are Our Allies

Tonight's #edchat topic inspired me to write this post. Thanks to everyone who participated in this great conversation. I came away with so much.

I am in my 5th year of teaching and if I have learned anything, I have learned that parents are teachers' best allies. I firmly believe that teachers should develop and nurture the relationships they have with every student. I now see how developing and nurturing relationships with parents is just as important.

I teach middle school and all I hear is how my students go home and their parents ask, "What did you do in school?" and they reply with "Nothing." This is the message that goes home to parents... we do "nothing" in school. This message can cause tension between parents and teachers.

I care about all of my students and all I want is to see them succeed. I need to make sure parents get that message. To do this, I send an email home within the first few weeks of school to introduce myself and say som…

Will You Take The Challenge?

For the last 30 days, I have been answering one reflection question each day and I have learned so much about myself as an educator. Whether you are a veteran blogger or brand new to blogging, I invite you to take this challenge. Video tape or write your answers to each of the reflection questions and share it with your PLN. Here are the questions that I came up with. Are you ready to take the challenge?

30-Day Blog Challenge

Day 1:  How did you decide to become a teacher?
Day 2:  What do you believe is your greatest strength as a teacher?
Day 3:  In which area do you think you can improve the most?
Day 4:  What were you most worried about as you approached your first day as a teacher?
Day 5:  How do you keep your classroom organized?
Day 6:  What have you observed of other teachers that might work in your own classroom?
Day 7:  How can you best promote responsibility in your students?
Day 8:  How do you connect with your students?
Day 9:  What do you want out of the “Staff Room”?
Day …

What Blogging Has Done For Me

I created my 30 Day Blog Challenge to get me back in the swing of blogging. I can't believe how fast those 30 days have gone. I have re-connected with my passion for teaching and I have become more confident. I decided to use videos because I thought of this as my introduction to readers and I wanted to be as transparent as possible. I wanted readers to see how I answered these questions. I would even say that I have shared more on my blog than I have to my co-workers. That is a fact that I am looking to change.

I realize that I can be a positive voice for education in my own community. I know that I have said this before, but I will say it again: I wish all of the educators could be as pumped about professional development as the ones in my professional learning network.

Thank you for viewing my posts and I hope you feel like you know me a bit better. I will continue to post about education and I will continue to have some videos for you to watch. I hope you continue to read, ref…

Day 30

Crazy how fast 30 days go by. I am extremely glad that I started this blog challenge. Today's question: What kind of teacher do you want to be in 10 years?

Day 29

I really can't believe that it is day 29, wow! Today's question is: What is your preferred learning style and how does it affect how you teach?

Day 28

Today's question was: How do you create a classroom where every student feels included and valuable? I can't tell you how important building relationships are in education.

Day 27

Today's question was: What is one thing you want to accomplish before you are done teaching?  My answer has been a private goal of mine for quite some time now.  I guess it isn't so private anymore.

Day 26

It is crazy to think that it is already Day 26... where did the month go?  Today I get to talk about Professional Development.  I thought it was neat that it was the topic for #edchat on twitter tonight as well. 

Day 25

Today I was able to reflect on how I was taught in middle school.  It is so weird that I can remember certain aspects so clearly while others I don't recall at all.

Day 24

Today's question is: What is easiest about teaching?  My answer was all about my students, what would your answer be?

Day 23

Today's question is about what I am excited for in education.  I am not sure why the video is kind of blurry, but you will see that my yellow lab, Haddie, wanted to be in the video so she is hanging out in the background.

Day 22

Today's question was about things that I didn't expect from my career.  There are a few that are obvious and one that was way out of the blue.  I live in Wisconsin and in the last month and a half education has been a big political issue.  I am not saying what side I am on or not on, but I was shocked by what came of all of it.

Day 21

Today's question: What was your most enjoyable moment as a teacher?  I didn't have to think twice about this one.  I really hope that I answer this question the same way for the rest of my career.

Day 20

Today's question has me reflecting on what I was like during my first year of teaching and how I have grown since then.

Living the 1:1 Laptop Life

Today I took part in an #edchat on Twitter about what I would build if my school was bulldozed.  I wasn't really interested in this topic (meaning it wasn't the one I voted for), but I wanted to see what others would say.  After reading other people's input, I quickly realized that I should be pretty thankful for what I have.

I am in my fifth year of teaching at a middle school (7th & 8th grades) in Pewaukee, WI.  We are a small suburban community where the whole district is on one campus.  The middle school has had a 1:1 laptop program for the last two years.  This means that I have taught in both environments.

Before the 1:1 laptop program I had a bank of 11 desktop computers in my classroom.  There was always at least one that was not working and I would have given anything to have a printer in my room.  All of my computers would print to the classroom across the hall.  I can only imagine the disruption that was.  I also remember being mad that I only had 11 compute…

Day 19

I can't believe it is already day 19.  Weird how time flies.  Well today's question is "How would your co-workers describe you."

Day 18

I am pretty sure that we all have something that frustrates us about education.  My answer came to me very easy and I am posititve that I wouldn't be the only one with this answer.

Day 17

Today's question is about the most important thing I learned in school... funny how my answer was not content based. 

What the School of Ed Should Have Taught

I have been teaching for five years and I realized that there are a lot of things that my college's School of Education did not prepare me for.  So here is my advice to colleges out there that are training those bright-eyed and bushy-tailed college students to become the best educators that they can be.

Have a class on:

1. How to be in the "staff room" and not get cynical. 

2. How to hear other teachers talk negatively about their jobs and not let it affect you.

3. How to handle administration when you don't agree with them.

4. How to make connections with your students that show them that you really care.

5. How to deal with parents and work as a team for the benefit of the students.

6. How to get students to think about learning beyond the school walls.

7. How to foster your passion for education.

8. How to collaborate with colleagues.

9. How to balance your life with your career.

10. How to handle the politics of education.

I am sure that this list will keep grow…

Day 16

What is my biggest regret as an educator? I have learned from all of my experiences as a teacher and my one quick answer to this question is that I didn't trust my gut. 

Day 15

I can't believe that I am half way done with my challenge.  When I started this (15 days ago), I wanted to get into blogging and sharing with other educators.  I didn't expect to grow throughout this process.  This is my fifth year teaching and I know that I have grown so much during that time, but I am amazed to see how writing this blog has changed me.  I have gained confidence that I didn't have before, I am reflecting more, and I am realizing that I really want to help others and be an active member in the "global education community".  Thank you very much for watching and I can't wait to do the last fifteen videos.

Day 14

I think it is pretty funny that today's question is "Who do you turn to for teaching advice?" and I just (10 minutes ago) got advice about teaching and everything that goes along with it.  We should all be thankful for the ones that help us when we need it. 

Day 13

I don't think teachers are trained on how to build relationships with parents.  I would like to have taken a class on the importance of a good relationship between teacher and parent.  I view parents are my partners in their students' education.  I rely on them to help me get to know their student.  No one knows you better than your parents. I also need them to be on the same page with me when it is regarding expectations in education.  I have made many mistakes in this area, but I have learned from every one of them.

Why can't I pick out the "bad" kids in my class?

Okay - let me explain.  There are a couple students I have in class that are, let's say, known trouble makers.  I know that I have heard these students names, but you wouldn't guess them if you saw them in my class.  I didn't really realize that these students don't act up for me until last week.  My school's guidance counselor contacted me and ask if I could be a part of a meeting with a student because she wanted that student to have a teacher who has a good relationship with them at that meeting.  That got me thinking about so-called "bad" kids and how I wouldn't even be able to tell they were "bad".

I currently have a student whose name I heard for two straight years.  As I have mentioned in a previous post, I had every student write me a letter in the beginning of the year and share whatever they want.  This particular student, who I will call Henry, wrote me all about how he can be lazy and off task, but he would try hard not to.  His…

The 60 Second PhD in Leadership

I saw this picture and thought it was pretty funny.  Who knew being a great leader was so easy?

Day 12

Today's question asked what strategies I use to keep up with grading.  I have recently been researching standards based grading and I think it is the right direction to head in.  I could also talk for hours on how teachers should look at all of their assignments and toss the ones that are not meaningful.  I am guilty of this, but I have been reflecting and tossing a lot of things as well.  Hey... we are all learning.

Day 11

Today is about my thoughts on always teaching like you are being observed.

Day 10

Have you ever thought about what an ideal administrator would be like?  Administrators can set the tone for the building and their leadership abilities are very important.

Day 9

Today is about the "staff room"... lunch is my only time in the day when I get to know more about my co-workers on a personal level.

Building Relationships

This is a very important part of education. I hope people are realizing that content is not the only thing that teachers need to work on during the school day. I work in a 7-8 middle school and I see how important relationships are. My students are very much aware of the fact that some adults don't seem to care about them. I make sure that they know I care.

The best thing I have ever done to get to know my students was to have them write me an email on the first day of school. At this point we didn't really know each other so I told them that they need to tell me anything that they would want their teacher to know about them.

You wouldn't believe what I got. Some students told me about how they can't stand their sisters. Some confessed that they are a bit lazy, but they would try not to be for me. Some even told me their real feelings about being lonely at school because they don't have any real connections.

I was completely floored. I was expecting people to tell …

Day 8

Day eight asks "How do you connect with your students?"  I feel like I could talk forever on this subject... it is that important.