Posts Tagged ‘Teacher’

I Once Had a Gun Put to My Head Whilst Teaching

February 13, 2020

 

 

In my first year as a teacher, I had a nasty experience.

As I was teaching a 6th Grade class, an 8th grader stormed into my classroom looking angry, adorning a vicious look and immediately approached me, put a gun to my head and pulled the trigger.

I flinched in pure, unadulterated fear.

Turns out the gun was a plastic toy. Albeit, a lifelike plastic toy.

The kid involved thought the nasty trick was hilarious. So did the entire 6th Grade class.

I was stunned that after I described the event to my Principal and the enormous negative effect it had on my mental state, the best he could do was give the kid in question an in-house suspension.

That’s right, the kid wasn’t even sent home! The parents weren’t even called in!

So, you can imagine that I am very sensitive about threats against teachers, especially when they involve guns.

But, even after recounting my brush with gun violence at the hands of a student, I find this story absolutely rediculous and an extraordinary case of overreach:

 

A Pennsylvania elementary school called the police after a kindergartner with Down syndrome made a finger gun at her teacher. Officials concluded there wasn’t a threat, but the girl’s mother said they went too far.

Maggie Gaines called on the Tredyffrin-Easttown School District to update its threat assessment policy after her 6-year-old daughter Margot was questioned by administrators for making a gun gesture at her elementary school teacher and pretended to shoot her.
Gaines said it was a harmless expression of anger. But Margot’s school in southeast Pennsylvania determined her actions appeared threatening, so they conducted a threat assessment

THANK YOU!:

I recently donated 100% of the royalties of my #1 bestselling new children’s book (Amazon.com.au bestsellers list), My Favourite Comedian, from the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. Thank you for your support! This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

The Scariest Day of the Year for a Teacher

January 30, 2020

 

Tomorrow is my first day of the new school year and I am petrified.

It’s nothing new. This day torments me every year.

Whilst you can lose your students any day during the year, if you lose them on the very first day you are in a world of trouble.

I’ve done it all. Nailed my first day and botched it.

And there’s no script that one can follow to guarantee success. Every class is different, just as every individual is different. This uniqueness gives us great variety in our job but also challenges us to make a quick determination of what their needs are and how they want to be taught. Some are looking for more room to grow creatively whilst others want a more uniform approach.

And this determination has to be worked out on the first day.

In the first lesson, actually!

Wish me luck.

 

Becoming an Adult Starts in Primary School

January 28, 2020

adulting

A good Primary school invests in more than just the academic progress of the child. It also fosters an ability for each student to gain thinking skills, coping strategies and proficiency in life skills.

That’s why I’m stunned that a college would have to open a course on basic life skills. Seems 12 years late:

 

U.C. Berkeley is offering a class in “adulting,” basic life skills young people may have missed until college provided a wake-up call.

The class is so popular it’s turning students away.

“I want to feel prepared like I know what I’m doing and I know how to be an adult,” said Allegra Estrada, 21, who is a pre-med junior at Cal.

“You can know as much as you want about physics or biology or English but that doesn’t help you when you need to do taxes or figure out what to eat.”
Monday night, a new eight-week session in “adulting” began.

“We’re going to have guest speakers,” said instructor Belle Lau, laying out the topics: managing time and money, and improving relationships

“That can be a relationship with yourself or others, like family, friends,” said Lau.

Other areas include fitness, nutrition and mental health.

“Self-care, self-love and sleep,” Lau continued.

Many students admit they struggle making the transition to self-reliance in college.

 

Special Announcement:

I am donating 100% of the royalties of my hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, during the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. Please leave a comment to indicate your purchase. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

The Essential Skill That No Teacher is Taught

January 15, 2020

A crazed student initiates a physical altercation with a teacher.

Unfortunately, it is not an uncommon occurrence.

But even still, after all my years of experience, I have no idea what the best way to handle such a situation is. Early in my teaching journey, I refused to defend myself against an emotional young boy who delivered a tirade of punches aimed at my ribs. I decided I would rather take the punishment than risk losing my career.

Interestingly, teachers update their first aid and anaphylaxis skills yearly so that their response will be informed, calm and conducted with a duty of care.

Surely, helping teachers navigate a scenario like the one in Miami would be beneficial. 

Video of the violent altercation was posted to social media after the student and the teacher were filmed brawling inside a classroom at Miami Central Senior High School on Monday. The teacher is seen pulling on the girl’s long hair and putting her into a headlock while pressing her onto a desk. She then loses her hold on the student, who charges the teacher and slams her to the ground as her classmates can be heard screaming, ‘Oh! Oh!’ A male student is seen pulling the schoolgirl off of the substitute teacher, who gets on top of the teenager and pins her to the ground.

The footage, which is approximately ninety seconds long, does not show how the fight began, although Miami-Dade Public Schools officials said the student was not supposed to be in the classroom. Other students at the school identified the teacher as ‘Ms Ferguson’ and said she is known as a nice teacher, according to WSVN.

For those who questioned my decision to let the child strike me, please refer to the official response by the school district which, even after the video went viral, referred to the well-being of the student before the safety of the teacher.

In a statement on Monday, school district spokesperson Daisy Gonzalez-Diego said: ‘Miami-Dade County Public Schools does not tolerate incidents that jeopardize the safety and well-being of students and staff members. We are deeply troubled by the behavior exhibited on this video.’

 

Special Announcement:

I am donating 100% of the royalties of my hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, during the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. Please leave a comment to indicate your purchase. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

 

Teachers and the Christmas Bonus

December 11, 2019

 

We are obviously in the wrong profession.

How great would it be if scenes like this in Baltimore was replicated for teachers and nurses?

 

St. John Properties, a Baltimore-based commercial real estate property management and development company, provided a $10 million bonus for its 198 employees to split at its annual holiday party on Dec. 7.

“The [bonus] distribution was based solely on years of service. It had nothing to do with a person’s position in the company,” Larry Maykrantz, president of St. John Properties, told Yahoo Finance in a phone interview. “We spent a little bit of time discussing it and believe me, once we made that decision, we realized that was the only fair and equitable way of handling this.”

Individual employee bonuses ranged from $100 to $270,000, according to the company’s LinkedIn post. On average, each employee received about $50,000.

 

Michael Grossman is the author of the hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian. You can download a free ebook copy by clicking here or buy a copy by clicking on this link.

What Teachers Really Want for Christmas

November 24, 2019

Brilliant said by Polly Dunning:

.. What teachers and schools really want for Christmas is some real recognition and support.

Teachers in Australia work some of the longest hours in the profession across the OECD. And they’re getting longer. And we spend far longer on “adminsitrivia” and non-teaching tasks than our colleagues in other countries,  taking us out of the classrooms we love. We collect and collate endless data and samples to appease the rhetoric about “falling standards” that suggests our schools and our teachers are failing (we’re not, in fact, I see teachers and their students doing amazing things everywhere).

We work an average of about 45 hours per week, and it’s not uncommon for us to work more than 50, which the Australian Bureau of Statistics considers “very long hours”. Recent research also revealed that we experience both anxiety and depression at significantly higher rates than the general population. We work in poorly resourced schools and classrooms (which are also often boiling hot) and frequently use our own money to buy supplies for our classrooms and food for our students.

We love our job and we love our students. We love creating lessons and programs that get kids excited about learning, seeing the look on a child’s face when they finally “get it”, watching them grow into smart, funny, kind young people, sharing their joy and triumph, and picking them up when they stumble. It is our great privilege to be a part of your children’s lives. But we are exhausted, and the schools we work in are stretched thin.

So, this Christmas, if you want to do something great for your child’s school, why not contact the principal and ask them what they need? You could even get the whole class or year group of parents to go in on a gift. Could the school use some new sport equipment or some comfy bean bags for the library? Maybe a data projecto
Michael Grossman is the author of the children’s book, My Favourite Comedian. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

 

My World Famous Teaching Brain Fart

August 12, 2019

You know those times when you think you have worked out the solution to a nagging problem?

You think you are a genius. If only everyone was as creative as you.

But then you discover that there is a great reason why no one else would tackle the problem the way you did – because it is a horrible solution, one that will end up biting you on the proverbial.

And that’s exactly what happened to me.

My students, like every other kid their age, have no control over their bowels. Farts are a common fixture of my classroom. One fart I can tolerate. Two is unlucky. Then there are those days where the farts roll along in a continuous tirade. Death by a thousand squeaks.

Worse than the smell, is the ensuing laughter and embarrassment from the custodian of the said fart. And then there’s the sweater over the nose ritual and the exaggerated, “that stinks something awful!” It is a very disruptive force for the the teacher and it is very hard to get the kids back on task.

The worst are the quiet ones.  That’s when the self-appointed CSI forensic squad feel they have to investigate the owner of the smell and lay as much blame as possible. This turns into Law and Order as the accused always denies the claims and calls for a lie detector to back them up. This scene always finishes in tears.

After a number of these incidents in the one calendar year, I had reached the end of my tether. I couldn’t do it anymore. It was time to take control.

So I did.

Kind of …

I told my students that passing wind is normal and natural and everyone does it. I advised them that this shouldn’t be disrupting class and that the investigations were unnecessary. I suggested that from now on, whenever someone farted they could just blame it on me. They can pretend I did it and have a small chuckle at my expense. They all liked the idea.

This wasn’t an easy thing for me to try. There are 2 nightmare scenarios I have in teaching. I am not in the least bit embarrassed about making a spelling mistake or mucking up a math sum in front of the students. It doesn’t worry me if I can’t answer a student’s question. The only two things that would cause me immense shame is farting or vomiting in front of my class.  But I was desperate and was prepared to give it a go.

And what would you know, it worked like a charm. A kid would let one go and they would all turn to me and say “Mr. G! You did it!”

Then they would quickly calm down, no formal investigation, no feelings hurt and carry on with the lesson.

How could this brilliant idea go wrong?

A few months later, my class, together with a number of other classes and their teachers met in the music room for a meditation lesson conducted by a visiting expert. I was impressed how well the instructor got the kids quiet and they seemed to be following her directions without cynicism or immaturity.

The room was completely silent. That was, until one child let the trumpet out of the bag.

Without hesitation, my class turned to me in front of a number of my colleagues and half the primary school and shouted. “That was Mr. G! Mr. G farted!”

All I could do was squirm in my seat. Red as a beetroot.

From then on, I happily allowed my students to blame each other all they wanted for any farts that surfaced. Go for your life. I am staying out of it!

Teach Math Like Its Never Been Taught Before

March 15, 2018

math-problem

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.

Michael Grossman is the author of the hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian. You can download a free ebook copy by clicking here or buy a copy by clicking on this link.

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


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