Posts Tagged ‘Kindergarten’

Teacher Orders 20 Classmates to Beat Up Bully

June 16, 2012

It’s stories like this that cause me to rethink my idealism. I may believe that teachers sign up for the profession because of a desire to help all children reach their potential. However, when you read stories like this one, you wonder how on earth the teachers involved could have rationalised such a poorly thought out strategy. These are not the actions of proud and passionate teachers:

A Texas teacher will lose her job after ordering more than 20 kindergartners to line up and hit a classmate accused of being a bully, a district spokesman said Friday.

The teacher at a suburban San Antonio school is accused of orchestrating the slugfest after a younger teaching colleague went to her last month seeking suggestions on how to discipline the 6-year-old, according to a police report from the Judson Independent School District.

Both teachers at Salinas Elementary were placed on paid administrative leave, though the one who allegedly arranged the punishment will not work for the district next school year, said district spokesman Steve Linscomb. Prosecutors are reviewing the allegations and will determine whether formal charges will be filed in 30 to 60 days.

The police report alleges the teacher chose to show the child “why bullying is bad” by instructing his peers to “Hit him!” and “Hit him harder!” It also states that the second teacher intervened only after one of the children hit the boy hard on his upper back.

“Twenty-four of those kids hit him and he said that most of them hit him twice,” Amy Neely (pictured above), the mother of 6-year-old Aiden, told KENS-TV. She did not specify what injuries her son may have received.

Neely said her son is not a problem child and that this was the first she’d heard of teachers having issues with him. She said she wants to make sure the teacher who ordered the hitting does not work in a classroom again.

“She doesn’t need to be around any children,” Neely told the television station.

The mother added — and the police report confirmed — that some of Aiden’s classroom friends told him they didn’t want to hit the boy but did so because they were afraid not to.

There is no Need to Sort Out the Gender Imbalance in Teaching

December 26, 2011

There is a disproportionate number of female primary teachers to males and there always will be. Instead of manipulating the numbers and offering incentives for males to join up, how about we look for teachers based on quality rather than gender? As much as it would be nice to have more men taking up primary teaching, I am not certain it is a position which men have an interest in. Many of my friends would sooner collect the dole than sign up to be a teacher. Whilst I love my job very much, most men don’t understand how why I selected my profession over the myriad of alternatives I had to choose from.

I love the position male teacher, Rocco Marchionda, takes on this issue:

Rocco Marchionda is a bit of an oddity.

At a glance, his kindergarten classroom at Merrill Elementary School in Oshkosh looks like any other song-filled, activity-oriented room of 5- and 6-year olds.

The unusual part is Marchionda himself: He’s a man. Teaching kindergarten.

“Pretty much everyone I’ve ever worked with is female. I can’t imagine what it would be like to teach with another male,” he said.

But that doesn’t seem to bother local educators as long as the teacher does a good job.”At the end of the day, the point is how the teaching is getting done and how the students are learning,” said Marchionda, who has been in the profession 13 years.

Marchionda said he became a kindergarten teacher because “in no other grade have I seen children grow so much.”

While educators want better diversity in their schools, Inda said she doesn’t believe the imbalance is a problem.”The most critical piece in a classroom teacher is not whether they’re male or female. It’s their ability to be a great teacher,”Jean Inda (director of professional education programs) said. “The worst thing we could do is encourage more males to go into elementary education if they’re not comfortable there.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Five Signs it is the End of the School Year

December 16, 2011

Teachers find the last weeks of a school year absolutely exhausting. Many of us crawl towards the finishing line amazed that the deadlines have been reached and the seemingly insurmountable boxes have somehow been ticked.

Now that I am both a teacher and a parent of a school aged child, I can see that the end of year poses challenges for parents too.

That’s why I loved this piece by Nancy Davis Kho, whose article about the five telltale signs that the end of the school year has been reached (from a parents perspective) is very insightful and humorous:

1.) You’re Broke. Between the gift for the classroom teacher, the teacher’s aides, the piano teacher, the math tutor, the babysitter graduating high school who wasn’t much for cleanup but at least she could walk home, and the niece graduating college after the five year plan, you are clean out of $20 dollar bills. (Apologies if you are more of $100 dollar bill gifter, I didn’t mean to insult you. Can I please be your babysitter?) It gets so bad that you could almost use a second job. But you can’t do that, because…


2.) Your Productive Workday Has Been Shot to Hell. You have to be up at school to see the end-of-year talent show, of course, and your child would never forgive you for missing out on the end-of-year class picnic. Then the school districts get in on the act, fulfilling some budgetary or union contract obligation by cutting a bunch of June school days in half. Your to-do list becomes an archive, saved in its non-checked-off state for future generations to admire. It’s enough to make you run for comfort to the cookie jar which is full because…

3.) You Have Baker’s Elbow. Brownies for the ballet recital, pound cake for the Little League team party, chocolate chip cookies for the celebration of a completed Social Studies group project; you’re churning them out like your middle name is Poppin’ Fresh. You would like to buy stock in King Arthur Flour and Betty Crocker, but can’t get out of the kitchen long enough to log onto E*trade. And if you’re going anywhere past the stove it’s going to be to the laundry room because….

4.) The Lunch Bags Look Like They’ve Been Beaten. Bruised, torn, bearing tiny flecks of unidentifiable foreign substances that may or may not be mold, the insulated lunchboxes that started off the year in bright primary colors have been reduced, through constant improvised use as seats, soccer balls, and weapons, to an indistinguishable grayish brown.  You weigh running them through the washer one last time. But would it be the cycle that finally separates the strap from the rest of the bag? That would probably make you cry, because…

5.) You Burst Out Crying At Inopportune Times. It’s the inevitable result of being handed concrete evidence, in the form of a graduation certificate or a class council election, that Your Children Are Growing Up. The ultimate example was when the Kindergarten teacher rewrote Eric Carle’s “A Very Hungry Caterpillar” to describe all the knowledge that our children had hungrily gobbled up throughout the year. Then she had them hold up wobbly, colorful pictures they’d drawn of butterflies and said, “And now you are beautiful butterflies who will fly off to First Grade!” Twenty-three moms, 15 dads, and one kindergarten teacher hit the deck sobbing, delaying the children’s American Sign Language performance of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” until we’d (temporarily) recovered our composure.

Students Should be Treated Like People Not Numbers

December 6, 2011

I just read a piece too good to cut into excerpts. It’s written by Sheila French and is about the way she has learnt to approach parent-teacher conferences. She discusses the need to put grades and data to a side and instead, concentrate on talking about the child.

Below is the entire article. It is absolutely worth reading:

In elementary school Parent-Teacher Conferences come and go every year. This year I tried something new with the parents of my third graders at De Laveaga Elementary School. Rather than discussing test scores, grades and assessments I told the families I would like to talk about their child as a PERSON.

There’s no doubt about it, instruction in the kindergarten through high school is data driven. Our students have ID numbers, are assessed at least three times a year, and all of their data is kept on line. Our students are ranked anywhere from far below basic, basic, proficient to advanced.

But how are they as people? 

Are they able to work well with others?

Do they have the skills to make friends and create lasting relationships that will be needed throughout life?

Or our these children little turning into little robots who have “apps” for everything from studying their times tables to practicing for the SAT’s? Do these children of today need to memorize anything when they can run to their laptop and “Google” something?

I say there’s way too much emphasis put on test scores and grades. Let us step back and take a closer look at what our goals are as educators and parents. I don’t think I stand alone when I say that we would like to educate and parent children who have work-ethics, life skills and are well-rounded.

If you go to talk to your child’s teacher, go prepared to talk about your WHOLE child.  Go with a list (just like you’d go to the doctor), ready to ask questions about your child’s social behavior inside the classroom as well as outside on the playground. 

Before your parent-teacher conference, I suggest that you take the time to sit down and talk to your children. Ask them about their favorite classes. Where do they struggle? Do they have friends? Who are they? What do they do at recess? Of course these questions are not limited to pre-conference discussions. They are good conversations to have with your children on an on-going basis.

The playground is just as important as the classroom.

Chances are, the teacher will be more than happy to share some insight about your child as a whole person, not just another test score. Parents, take this opportunity to learn about your child from someone who cares about your child’s social, emotional and education development. This will ensure that our students become GOOD people even in this crazy data-driven world.

Ms. French has echoed many of the points I have made on this blog (although she writes more eloquently). She is absolutely right to point out that the playground is as important as the classroom.

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I have.

Kindergarten Teacher Calms Students During Shootout

June 1, 2011

Experienced teachers always say, “expect the unexpected”, but who could ever expect to be teaching while there is a shootout outside the classroom.  Mexican kindergarten teacher Martha Rivera Alanis, shows us what a fabulous teacher can achieve in the worst of circumstances.  As a shootout takes place outside her window she calmly reassures her young students before engaging them in a sing-a-long.

In the video, the frightened but determined voice of a schoolteacher is heard as she attempts to maintain calm among a group of kindergartners lying on the floor before her, asking them to join her in a singalong as gunfire shatters the air outside.

The teacher refers to the children as “my love,” “precious” and “little ones” during the stirring clip filmed last week in the city of Monterrey, in northern Mexico. It’s gone viral, igniting once more a public debate over the government’s campaign against drug gangs and earning accolades for maestra Martha Rivera Alanis, reports the Associated Press.

The Nuevo Leon state government honored Rivera for “outstanding civic courage” in a ceremony today.

The 33-year-old mother of two said she was frightened, but that her “only thought was to take their minds off that noise.” The song she chose during the ordeal is a Spanish-language version of a tune popularized by the children’s TV program “Barney and Friends,” and makes reference to chocolate droplets falling from the sky.

Rivera filmed the video during a gunfight Friday in which five people were killed at a taxi stand in La Estanzuela, a district in south Monterrey. According to a local news site, Regioblogs, the teacher posted the video to her Facebook account and then was asked permission to have it reproduced on YouTube and linked to the site. So far the original clip has garnered more than 714,000 views.

“We do drills constantly, because the area where we are is a high-risk zone,” Rivera said, according to reports. The children, she added, “behaved in the way we had practiced.”

I hope to never be in the situation Martha Rivera Alanis was in, but should I ever find myself in a delicate or dangerous predicament I can now draw on the example of this fine, selfless, courageous and dedicated teacher.  What a wonderful role we can play in our students’ lives.  What a positive and calming influence we can have on them.

Thank you Martha Rivera Alanis for showing us how it’s done!

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