Posts Tagged ‘Teacher’

Teach Math Like Its Never Been Taught Before

March 15, 2018


When you begin teaching your 5th or 6th Grade Math class, you often start with a high dose of ego.

You tell yourself that you can easily set any struggling student right by carefully and clearly explaining the skills and processes involved.

And then reality sinks in. It’s clearly not as easy as that.

There is a reason why your struggling students have continued to struggle throughout their first 5 or so years of schooling. It’s not the strength of the teachers they’ve encountered, because chances are, there have been some extremely adept teachers who have used tried and true methods for helping those student bridge the ever widening gaps.

Many teachers have expressed a reluctance of teaching 5th sand 6th Grade Math due to the introduction of concepts and skills which many Primary teachers find difficult. In truth, the major test of a 5th or 6th Grade teacher is not the skills itself, but rather the challenge of helping students learn skills they haven’t been able to grasp from their talented and competent previous teachers.

In order to cut through, teachers are therefore required to change things up. To employ slightly different ways of teaching the same skill. The following are some adjustments that work for me.

  1. Integrate the Skill in a Game – Kids love winning and try to avoid losing at all cost. Game play provides an incentive for children to learn skills that they may have ordinarily have claimed was too difficult. Dice games are the best because it provides a randomness that allows weaker students to often prevail over stronger students. I am constantly blown away by how effective game play is to break through to kids who usually struggle with Math.
  2. Change the wording – The wording of Math is so scientific and technical. Does it have to be? Absolutely not. So change it up. Instead of numerator and denominator, I use top bunk and bottom bunk. It helps. It doesn’t mean I will never teach them the right terminology, it just means I am more focused on the skill that the wording which can often intimidate.
  3. Reinforce the Objectives of Math – There is a reason why Math was invented and kids need to know that to be able to relate to it. I tell my students Math was invented for 2 main purposes. Firstly, to save us time. So instead of having to add 7 +7 a total of 8 times, I can just apply the sum 7×8, which is much quicker and easier. And secondly, for fairness. When I am dividing a birthday cake, everyone wants an equal sized piece. It turns out that children deeply value fairness and relate to the idea of resorting to shortcuts. Why not then explain how the skill of the day fits into one or both of the above categories?
  4. Bite Sized Pieces – I can’t tell you how many students I have confronted in the upper years who weren’t able to read time from an analogue clock. The big mistake, as I eluded to earlier, is to think that a careful and patient demonstration of what the big and little hands tell us will work. Again, you can bet that plenty of highly competent teachers have tried without success. My strategy is to break up the skill into small, bite-sized pieces. I tell them to ignore the hour hand. Pretend it doesn’t exist. Just focus on the minute hand. The next step is to show them the function of the minute hand and not move on until they get it. Only then do I introduce the hour hand. The problem that I have found is that reading an analogue clock involves a level of multitasking which kids (boys especially) find very intimidating. Take it slowly. One skill at a time. They respond better to that.
  5. Use What They Know – Students tend to do much better with currency than decimals. This is quite ironic, as decimals and currency are essentially the same thing. I tell all my students who struggle with decimals to pretend that 0.75 for example, is 75 cents. It helps! Math professors would be irate if they found out I was doing this. They would remind me that students will become unstuck when they encounter a decimal like 0.751, which doesn’t work with the currency technique. So what! Once I have taught them through currency their confidence levels are so high, I have found they are quite receptive to learning the differences that exist between decimals and money.

By the time your students have reached 5th Grade, they already have a sense for whether they like a subject and whether they are proficient at it. It’s so hard to turn the unconfident and unenthusiastic learners around.

But don’t give up. Just do it differently.


Click on the link to read A Maths Quiz That Manages to be Racist and Sexist

Click on the link to read Introducing the 5-Year-Old Math Genius (Video)

Click on the link to read Parents Struggle with Modern Day Math Questions

Click on the link to read Teachers Deserve Blame for Maths Disaster


Good Teachers Are Prepared to Stuff Up

March 6, 2018


So a science teacher causes a fire in the name of a fairly interesting looking scientific demonstration.

The fire department was called and it would have been an utterly humiliating experience for teacher and school alike (not to mention a costly one).

I hope his boss does something very counter intuitive and  congratulates him on his lesson. It’s so easy to conduct a boring, safe and incident free science lesson. Many science teachers go for that option only to find out that their class has lost interest and turned to their mobile phones to pass the time.

All teachers make mistakes, but the good ones are prepared to make them in order to teach in an engaging and enlightening way.

I hope he tried the very same experiment all over again the very next day!


Click on the link to read Teacher Installs Bike Peddles at Student Desks

Click on the link to read How to Begin a Successful Lesson

Click on the link to read Why are So Many Teaching PD’s Dull?

Click on the link to read Teacher Praised after Stripping in Front of Her Students

The Letter that Brought a Teacher to Tears

April 27, 2017

It’s moments like these that gives us perspective for the hard times:


Markus left the incredibly heartwarming note on his teacher, Mr. KJ’s desk, with the proud mentor then deciding to share it on Facebook group ‘Love What Matters’.

Mr. J was obviously taken aback by the compliments in the letter and shared it with the world.

“So I walked in the classroom and found this letter on the desk that one of my kids wrote me and…I tried so hard not to tear up,” he wrote online.


Click on the link to read Students Care About Caring Teachers

Click on the link to read The Inspiring Things Teachers Often Do for Their Students

Click on the link to read Teacher Pens Moving Letter to Autistic Student

Click on the link to read Music Teacher Makes History at the Superbowl

Click on the link to read A Profession that Truly Cares

The Death of a Student

April 18, 2017


I suppose it happens to nearly all teachers at some point and tonight it has happened to me.

At approximately 7pm I got an email to notify me that a student I had taught 2 years ago had passed away.

I am grief stricken. He was only 12 years old!

Words fail me. I had a great connection with this child. I felt I understood him like no other teacher.

And now he’s gone and it will take me a while to get over it.

They tell you not to get emotionally involved but it is absolutely impossible.

Especially with students like him.

Rest in Peace!


Click on the link to read Explaining the Paris Tragedy to Young Children

Click on the link to read Some Kids Are So Brave! (Video)

Click on the link to read Guess What This Map Represents

Click on the link to read Is There a Greater Tragedy than a School Tragedy?

The Epidemic that is Teacher Bullying

December 21, 2015



Some will watch the teacher in the video above and think that he looks soft, weak and defeated. I think he handled the situation brilliantly.

Forget about classroom management gurus and 6 step strategies for classroom control, when a student decides that he detests you enough to blow cigar smoke in your face, there’s nothing you can do about it.

The kid in this video is likely to get in a world of trouble. But if I were the principal, I wouldn’t stop there. I would happily punish the entire class for their laughter and encouragement. Shame on them!


Click on the link to read Teachers Need to Fight Hate With Love

Click on the link to read People Find the Stabbing of a Teacher Funny

Click on the link to read Imagine if Teachers Were Treated Like Sporting Stars

Click on the link to read Exercise Tips for Busy Teachers

The Making of a Great Teacher

October 20, 2015

Embedded image permalink


Love this list!



Click on the link to read The Perfect Teacher According to Students

Click on the link to read How to Praise Students Properly

Click on the link to read Tips for Teachers of ESL Students

Click on the link to read Look What This Teacher Did To His Students’ Doodles

Funniest Teacher Gift Ever!

October 3, 2015



Just brilliant!



Click on the link to read Should Parents Ban Smartphones from Their Kids’ Room at Night?

Click on the link to read Mom Shaming is a Disease that Has to Stop

Click on the link to read Going Overboard for Your Child’s First Day of School

Click on the link to read How This Mother Celebrated Her Son’s Graduation (Photo)

Tips for Making a Parent-Teacher Relationship Work

January 5, 2015

parent-teacher-cartoonThe strength of the parent-teacher relationship is absolutely pivotal to achieving in the classroom. Below are some insightful tips by teacher Toby Sorge:


* Think of what the end goal is. Teachers can tell when the focus is on a specific grade or assessment, whether the communication is by email, phone call or in person. Giving authentic feedback and grading assessments is not an easy task, but remember that the grade that was earned is now in the past.

* Work with the teacher to create a plan. This plan should focus on student engagement and growth. This may take time, so it’s important to trust the process. Maintain open lines of communication, so if you have questions about your role, you can ask and have them answered.

* Trust is one of the core values when it comes to fostering a successful relationship. Trust that the teacher knows what’s best for each student and how to get there.

* Trusting the process of learning is also important. True learning and deep engagement do not happen with one quiz, test or writing assignment. They take time.

* Make sure you work with teachers and not against them. Instead of coming in with an agenda, work on creating a plan with the teacher. The plan should focus on the development, practice and reinforcement of skills.

* Offer suggestions but also take advice. Discussing with teachers ways for students to succeed will help everyone fully understand children and what their capabilities are.


Click on the link to read Sometimes It’s Worth Risking a Fight With a Parent

Click on the link to read 10 Tips for Dealing With Difficult Parents

Click on the link to read 5 Helpful Tips for a Better Parent-Teacher Conference

Click on the link to read The Cafeteria Controversy

Click on the link to read Insensitive ‘Parent Bashers’ Take Aim at Grieving Colorado Parents

Teachers Know How to be Generous

December 25, 2014


You’d be hard pressed to find a teacher that doesn’t spend from her own money to better facilitate the needs of her students. But a donation of $150,000 is well beyond the norm:


One thing’s for sure: Nikki Bollerman believes in her school and the kids who go there. How else to explain Bollerman, 26, giving a $150,000 windfall to the Boston area public charter school where she teaches third grade?

The story comes to us from member station WBUR, which reports that Bollerman’s generosity got the attention of Mayor Marty Walsh, who met with her and some of her students Monday.

“I want to thank Nikki for your kindness and your humility, and you are certainly a shining example of great things to the city of Boston,” Walsh said. “We are grateful for your hard work and generosity. You have inspired lots of people with your selfless act.”

According to WBUR’s Fred Bever, Bollerman was awarded the money after she entered an online contest that called for entrants to make a wish for other people.

“My #WishForOthers is that my vivacious, loving third-grade scholars all took a book home with them over December break,” Bollerman said.

Her entry won three books for her students at UP Academy Dorchester, a 1-year-old school that bills itself as “a tuition-free Boston public school currently serving students in grades K1-5.”

As part of the contest, Bollerman was filmed giving out the books to her students.

“I tried not to cry,” she said. “I really just wanted them to have books of their own.”



Click on the link to read I Just Love it When a Teacher Gets It

Click on the link to read The Teacher as Superhero

Click on the link to read I Wish All Principals Could Be Like This

Click on the link to read The 6 Most Inspiring Teachers of 2013

Click on the link to read Brilliant Teacher Alert! (Video)

Nine-Year-Old Writes a Stunning Letter to Teacher After He Reveals He is Gay

December 16, 2014


No one can exemplify acceptance like a child can!


Click on the link to read What’s in a Name?

Click on the link to read 10 Ways to Move Forward in Teaching as Well as Life in General

Click on the link to read 5 Ways the System Could Better Recognise Teachers

Click on the link to read Teachers, Lay Down Your Guns

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