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Posts Tagged ‘Teachers’

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?

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Questions to Improve Your Teaching Performance

January 24, 2016

teacher-questions

Courtesy of huffingtonpost.com:

 

  • What gets you excited about going to work at school every day?
  • How do you question old educational standards?
  • How do you make changes based on your educational beliefs?
  • When was the last time you taught a concept without using the textbook?
  • What excuses have you used to not make changes to your teaching or classroom?
  • What have you learned about yourself this past school year?
  • What changes in your teaching are you going to make based on what you learned from last year?
  • What would you do differently in your teaching if you had no state mandated accountability?
  • Can you remember a school lesson from your past?
  • Why do you remember that lesson so vividly?
  • Have you had a recent lesson that you think your students will never forget?
  • Is there any such thing as the perfect lesson?
  • How often do you make educational decisions purely with the students in mind?
  • Should you just do what is right for the students in your class regardless of consequences?
  • If you could mandate a book to be read by all teachers, what would it be?
  • Can you describe your teaching style in one small sentence?
  • What is your best teaching quality?
  • What are your personal teaching goals?
  • How would you describe educational freedom?
  • Do you love to teach? Why?

 

 

Click on the link to read Tricks That Work For Some Teachers But Don’t for Others (Video)

Click on the link to read Tips For Less Talking and Better Teaching

Click on the link to read What Type of Teacher Are You?

Click on the link to read The Making of a Great Teacher

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

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

Things Middle School Students Wish We Knew

December 15, 2014

middle

Courtesy of weareteachers.com via  :

 

1. I was not trying to get attention by falling off the chair. I am approximately infinity inches bigger than I was yesterday and I just lost track of how to balance. I felt like an idiot so I made falling into a joke. Crying was the other choice. And I’d rather cut off my arm than cry in school.

2. I did that homework. I am almost positive I did it. Getting it from done to folder to backpack to school to you is like seven extra homeworks. That is too many. It’s also possible I forgot to do the homework. I honestly have no idea where my planner is. Or maybe the homework was completely confusing and if I asked for help people might think I am stupid now when that used to be my best subject.

3. That time I called you Mom was the most humiliating moment of my life. It’s one thing in second grade but middle school? Ugh. How does this stuff still happen to me?

4. When you force us to get up—do stuff, act it out, test our ideas—it wakes us up and makes the lesson so much more fun and easy to remember.

5. Sometimes I just can’t focus. I’m buzzy, jumpy, pumped with electricity. Somebody suddenly looks distractingly attractive, across the room, which is fully that other person’s fault, not mine. Or I don’t get what we’re discussing and the pain of not understanding is so excruciating I just have to take a break from paying attention.

6. It feels awesome when you notice something special about me. When you value a skill or interest of mine, you give me a route in to subjects I didn’t think I’d like—and make me feel like I have something worth sharing.

7. What you tell me about myself matters way more than I hope you know. When you tell me I am something—smart, brave, kind, stupid, a trouble-maker, creative, a writer, a mathematician, funny, hard-working—I believe you.

8. I like it when you’re sarcastic but not when you’re harsh. When you say something ironically and I get it, I feel smart and mature. But when you’re mocking in a sharper way, it feels mean and a little scary.

9. Respect me. There are lots of things I already know about myself. Some I want to talk about, A LOT, and it means so much to me when you find time to include me (and it) in class. But lots of other things about me, I’m not ready to discuss, and especially not in class.

10. If you call on me and I am flat-out wrong, please don’t humiliate me. I’m already praying for a hole to open up in the floor and swallow me. It’s hard for me to believe that not knowing isn’t shameful but is instead a good starting point for learning. Help me.

And one bonus extra thing: You are suddenly one of the most important adults in my whole world. How you respond to me affects everything. Please be tough. Please be gentle. Especially when I am neither.

 

Click on the link to read Watch a Classic Argument in Action (Video)

Click on the link to read 7 Things a Quiet Student Wishes Their Teacher Knew

Click on the link to read Skills That Aren’t Taught But Should Be: #1 People Skills

Click on the link to read Top 10 Most Unusual School Bans

Click on the link to read Rules that Restrict the Teacher and Enslave the Student

10 Tips for Teachers on how to Improve Their Work/Life Balance

December 10, 2014

 

tired

For most of my working life I have been a full time teacher and primary caregiver for my dear children. The immense workload has forced me to become more organised and has necessitated a high level of routine. Still, striking a fair balance is a problem I have yet to conquer sufficiently.

My number one rule is to avoid doing any planning, marking or reporting while my children are awake. This does mean that I push those things off until very late at night, but it is important to me that my children have my undivided attention.

Here are some other tips courtesy of theguardian.com:

 

Give students word limits to ease marking

When I taught English I found it worked well sometimes to give pupils a word limit. If they couldn’t write at too great a length, they were far more selective and thoughtful about what they included, the quality of their writing went up and my marking load went down – a win-win situation. Also, writing succinctly and within constraints is a good life skill for students to have in the future.

Jill Berry is former headteacher of Dame Alice Harpur school in Bedford and an education consultant.

If you’re fit and healthy you’ll perform better in class

Things like having a hobby or making sure you get a good eight hours’ sleep a night can make the world of difference. What makes teaching unique is that teachers personally invest in their students and the success of their school, which can make it harder to switch off. But we strongly believe that healthier teachers can lead to higher marks. Abesenteeism is costly but presenteeism is also a growing problem. So don’t feel guilty about taking time for yourself. If you are fit and healthy – physically and mentally – you will be able to perform better in the classroom and do the best for your pupils.

– Julian Stanley is chief executive of the Teacher Support Network.

Think about when you work best

Think about the quality of time as well as the quantity available. About 20% of a working day is prime time and, used well, should produce 80% of your best work. The rest of your time will be nowhere near as productive, so it’s worth recognising which part of the day is best for you and maximising it to get something demanding done rather than flogging yourself when you’re tired.

– Sara Bubb works in the Department of Early Years and Primary Education at the Institute of Education.

Change your mindset

Stepping out of the “victim” mindset and being more assertive about what you can and can’t do, and will and won’t do, is one way of achieving a better work-life balance.

The only thing is, there is always something more you can do. You can always put a little bit more effort into supporting a child with special educational needs, trying to close the gap between boys and girls, or pupils on free school meals and others. There is no limit to what you can do and it’s probably that that prevents teachers from switching off after work.

– Agnieszka Karch is a research team leader at The Key for School Leaders.

Don’t take your work home with you

Work professional hours (I get to school at 7am and leave around 4.30pm) and if it’s not done within those hours it cannot be that important. Have a prioritised to-do list and stick with it. Planning for progress and providing feedback to the children should always be at the top of this list. This will lead to improved outcomes for pupils and if your results stack up then the powers-that-be will have nothing to throw at you.

Joe Durham is a qualified secondary teacher and co-founder of the Timemanagement4teachers website.

Make time to socialise

When we feel stressed, anxious or depressed we may shy away from social events. However, connecting with the people around you (your family, friends, colleagues, neighbours) and actively building these relationships/creating a support network is extremely important for your mental health.

– Nicola Kershaw is a mental health and wellbeing advocate working with a number of charities including Mind and Time to Change.

Support others and be supported

Work with the strengths of the people around you and actively seek support from them, if you need it. Actively give support too: someone needs to start a change of direction and you could be the one to do it.

Andrew Staples is a primary teacher working four days a week in school with targeted intervention groups across key stage 1 and 2.

Look at things mathematically

I often look at teacher workloads mathematically. In the US, we see a lot of folks complaining about paperwork because lots of our time is occupied by things that seem unrelated to what’s actually happening in our day-to-day. For example, why have all these meetings to talk about pedagogy when we could easily grade a set of papers so we don’t have to take them home?

Remarks about “spurious data entry and analysis” are critical too; we really have to start looking at what data matters and what information we glean from it. Unfortunately, that gets lost in trying to become data managers.

– José Luis Vilson is a maths teacher for a middle school in New York City.

If you’re struggling speak out

What’s most important is that all teachers feel confident to speak out if they feel overwhelmed. Don’t shy away from showing what you fear might be considered weakness and share your concerns with supportive leaders. We need to be at our best to make a difference.

– Oliver Beach is a 2012 Teach First ambassador and appeared in the BBC documentary Tough Young Teachers.

 

Click on the link to read News Flash: Teachers Make Mistakes!

Click on the link to read Is There a More Undervalued Career than Teaching?

Click on the link to read Tribute to the Fallen Teachers

Click on the link to read  You Can’t Expect Your Students to be Flexible If You Aren’t

Click on the link to read How Many Teachers Does it Take to Change a Light Bulb? (Part 1)

Click on the link to read The Classroom Shouldn’t be a War Zone for Our Teachers

Teachers Deserve Blame for Maths Disaster

December 6, 2014

 

cat

 

Teachers almost always come from a humanities background. It therefore doesn’t surprise that they tend to feel more comfortable teaching English, History and Geography more than Maths and Science.

A very experienced curriculum coordinator recently told me that it is very common for primary teachers to skip fractions because they aren’t confident with the topic to answer some of their own text book questions let alone explain it to their students.

 

TYPICAL student teachers have the maths ability of a 12-year-old child, leaving them ill-equipped to teach the subject — let alone even pass a Year 9 ­NAPLAN test.

The warning comes from leading univer­sity maths lecturer Stephen Norton, who said that half his students would not pass the Year 9 national numeracy test, even after three or four years of tertiary study.

“Every year I test my students and they’ve got the understanding of a Year 7 or Year 8 kid,’’ the senior lecturer in mathematics education at Griffith University told The Weekend Australian. “They struggle with fractions and proportional reasoning and anything to do with algebra. They should have mastered this by the end of primary school. I believe it is our responsibility in univer­sities to make sure we can remediate that.’’

Dr Norton tested the maths ability of all 125 students who enrolled in a Griffith University graduate diploma of education — a one-year course for those who have a bachelor degree in another field — last year and this year, as well as 40 students in the third year of a bachelor of education course in 2013. Barely half the would-be teachers knew how to convert 5.48km into metres — and 17 per cent failed to convert 6kg into grams. Only 16 per cent could convert temperatures from degrees Celsius to Fahrenheit, using a formula written on the test paper. Just one in four knew how to convert a fraction to a percentage.

Barely one in five students could find the highest common factor of the numbers 28 and 70, and just 13 per cent knew the lowest common multiple of the numbers 40 and 140. More than half the students could not answer the question: “If the total cost of three tickets is $5.64, how much will 10 tickets cost?’’

Just one in three students knew how to calculate the areas of rectangles and triangles.

The alarming results of the only publicly available tests of student-teacher numeracy in Australia will fuel calls to reform the teaching of mathematics at schools and universities.

Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne has already flagged the introduction of compulsory literacy and numeracy tests for aspiring teachers. The most recent OECD Program for International Student Assessment test reveals that four out of 10 Australian teenagers lack basic maths skills.

The federal Education Department’s newly released 2013 teacher survey shows that only two-thirds of primary teachers and a quarter of high school teachers were trained at univers­ity to teach maths. Five per cent of the nation’s high schools had at least one ­unfilled vacancy for a maths teacher during 2012.

The official survey found that almost a third of teachers involved in teaching numeracy wanted more professional development on the job.

Queensland’s Auditor-General has found that one in three maths teachers in Years 8 to 10 lack a tertiary qualification in mathematics. Dr Norton said half the students he taught flunked his entry test — although their results improved by 30 per cent after they completed eight weeks of maths study, including 32 hours of face-to-face instruction.

“Most prospective primary teachers struggle with upper primary mathematics upon intake,’’ he said.

“It is interesting that the third and fourth-year undergraduate students were on par with the entry postgraduate students.

“Inability to carry out accurate division and convert a decimal to a percentage, or to carry out basic whole-number problem solving, prior and post learning, was cause for concern.

“Most students found any mathematics associated with fractions, proportional reasoning and algebra challenging and in many instances this was only partly remediated over the study time.’’

Dr Norton — who has a PhD in mathematics education and a master of science, and taught maths and science for a decade at Brisbane high schools — called for more face-to-face maths instruction for all trainee teachers.

He said he believed he was the only academic who tested trainee teachers’ maths ability before and after their maths instruction.

 

Click on the link to read Proof that Maths Can be Cool (Video)

Click on the link to read How Kids Learn Maths

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Click on the link to read Maths is a Very Poorly Taught Subject

Click on the link to read The Obstacle Course that is Teaching Maths

Tips for Tackling the Mental Health Stigma in Your Classroom

December 3, 2014

depression

I must admit that I have never been formally trained on how to teach a child suffering from mental health issues or even how to bring the topic up in the classroom.

Whilst these tips by Martin Williams are all within the realms of common sense, it is good to get the reassurance that you can deal with something effectively even if you were never trained to do so:

 

Talk about mental health

“Mental health was never mentioned at school at all,” says Charlotte Walker, who now writes a blog on mental health issues. “I found out I had depression aged 12 from a teenage health guide.”

Now a mother, Walker is acutely aware that there is still a worrying lack of discussion about mental health in schools. It’s a problem that can not only lead to stigmatisation, but also cause health issues to go undiagnosed. “My son’s experience is that schools focus on the ‘safer’ feeling topics, such as insomnia and exam stress, but don’t dare go into the realms of bipolar or schizophrenia.”

Walker suggests that teachers should tackle the problem by simply trying to be more candid about mental health when chatting to children. “We’ve seen that sex and relationship education doesn’t always work because it’s in dedicated sessions,” she explains. “I think it’s important to have a general spirit of openness.”

It’s also important to talk openly about what support is in place for children who are experiencing difficulties, she says. “It tends to be that you only find out what’s on offer once you’ve declared your child is having problems,” Walker says. “If the information is given out to everyone, no one is singled out for stigma or discrimination.”

But tackle derogatory language

While it’s important to encourage discussion of mental health, research has shown that the use of pejorative terms about mental health problems are common in many children’s everyday language. While this is reflective of a wider societal problem, teachers can do their bit by cracking down on language when it is used in a derogatory or abusive way.

“Discriminatory language needs to be challenged,” says Walker. “Schools have come a long way with this on homophobia, but we need challenge the use derogatory words like ‘psycho’ or ‘schizo’ and the devaluing of clinical terms.”

Consultant psychiatrist Arun Chopra has said previously that misuse of terminology leads to misunderstandings about mental health. “You would never hear it used in relation to a physical condition,” he says. “You wouldn’t hear someone being described as a bit diabetic.”

Importantly, however – as has been pointed out before – language is just the visible surface of a deeper discrimination, so tacking language alone can never be the full solution.

Be aware

Unlike physical problems, some mental illnesses aren’t so obvious. “Only a couple of teachers and a handful of friends knew I was anything other than totally fine because I hid it,” says Lorraine Davies, who suffered from anxiety and depression at school. “If I’d been schizophrenic or suicidal maybe it would have been more noticeable, so, weirdly, I might have found more support and less whispering from friends behind my back as they tried to work out why I was being ‘weird’.”

For teachers, the key is to be on the look out for warning signs, according to Dr Raphael Kelvin, the clinical lead for Minded, a website designed to help pupils and teachers understand mental health issues. He suggests that teachers brush up on their knowledge of symptoms and never ignore a child whose behaviour fluctuates.

“If teachers understand that depression can strike not just when someone is saying they’re depressed, but also with someone who’s concentration and motivation has changed, they might be able to help them.”

Kelvin says teachers need to be alert, but do not need to become psychiatrists to help. If in doubt, he says, share your concerns with parents and other teachers to get to the root of the problem.

Help children tell their story to friends

“It’s very important to have a narrative about these things,” says Dr Kelvin, “people need a story to explain how things are. When kids come to the clinic after a period of difficulty, I often try to encourage them to have a story about their experience to explain what they’ve been through to their peers and friends.

“Often they either want to tell everybody or nobody, and the responses vary. The kid who tells everybody can become the butt of insensitive remarks; but the ones who tell nobody end up feeling very isolated. So how do they talk about it to their friends and how much do they want to say? What words do they need to tell their story in a way that’s not too painful? I think those are the kind of things that teachers can support pupils with. If you hear the story of why someone is behaving in a certain way you get a depth of understanding.”

Don’t alienate them further

A child who is experiencing mental health discrimination is such a delicate issue that approaching it clumsily or ignoring it all together can intensify the problem.

Davies says that a lack of understanding among certain teachers pushed her further outside the protection school should provide. “I was asked never to attend one teacher’s classes ever again as I was often late to his 9am because my anxiety was too high for me to get the school bus. Another went out of his way to provoke me – I think he thought I was a drama queen who needed a firm hand.”

Even teachers who are trying to help need to be careful, says Wilson. They should listen closely to pupils’ social concerns and approach issues with huge sensitivity.

“For instance, there are an awful lot of children who will have nothing to do with their classroom assistant because their friends laugh at them,” he says. “You’ve got to take that on board because their self-esteem is often at such a low ebb that anything will set them off. It’s all very finely balanced.”

 

Click on the link to read A Lack of Proper Sleep Does a World of Damage to a Child’s Attention Span

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Click on the link to read Using Children as Bait is Abhorrent

Click on the link to read The Outrageous Pro-Gun Picture Book for Kids

Click on the link to read Sousa’s Techniques to Build Self-Esteem

 

 

5 Ways to Change the Face of Education

November 26, 2014

game changer

Courtesy of the brilliant Mark Barnes:

 

1-Stop worrying about losing your job

For tenured teachers, this isn’t much of a problem, although there is a growing movement against tenure. Whether you have tenure or not, if you want to be a game changer, you must stop thinking about losing your job. I’ve never heard of a teacher being fired for doing what’s best for kids. Susan B. Anthony risked her life to vote. The least teachers can do is risk temporary unemployment to change children’s lives.

2-Break free from the norm

When the world hears you saying over and over again that you are going to do what is best for children, your voice becomes remarkably powerful.

Steve Jobs never said, “We have to do what everyone else is doing.” Jobs believed in being first, in creating what others couldn’t see. When people said something couldn’t be done, it was usually because no one else was doing it. Jobs saw what established techies didn’t see, and he created it. When people say, “We can’t do that,” jump to a new fishbowl. Those who aspire to greatness will follow.

3-Start all thoughts with “What if. . .”

Hundreds of years ago when teachers were writing directions and examples on individual student slates, James Pillans wondered, What if we built one large slate board, big enough for all students in the room to see? The blackboard was born and classroom instruction worldwide changed. What if you stopped assigning traditional homework? What if you used mobile devices in class? What if you never grade another activity, project or test? Would you be a game changer? Would your students change?

4-Say “No!”

Teachers constantly tell me that their principal says they have to give weekly tests or they have to assign nightly homework or they have to log a grade into an online grade book. How should this be handled, they ask. Simple. Say No! Tell education stakeholders that you intend to do what is in the best interest of every student in your classroom. If they push back, stand your ground. Be persistent and be loud. When the world hears you saying over and over again that you are going to do what is best for children, your voice becomes remarkably powerful. You become a game changer.

5-Never stop fighting

It’s possible that you won’t live to see victory. Susan B. Anthony died decades before women won the right to vote. Without her, though, woman might still be relegated to ankle-length dresses and a life in the kitchen. Someone recently said that a no grades classroom is unrealistic; when I brought up the suffragettes, he said, “look how long that took.” Game changers never think about winning the battle; they fight until it’s won or until they die, knowing someone else will carry the torch when they’re gone.

 

Click on the link to read Some Teachers Never Change … Literally!

Click on the link to read The Ultimate Bad Teaching Checklist

Click here to read my opinion of ‘child centered learning’ vs ‘teacher centered learning’.

Click here to read my opinion on the problem with IT in the classroom.

Click here to read my opinion on the standard of teacher training.

I Just Love it When a Teacher Gets It

November 10, 2014

You’d hope that the brilliant Angela Maiers’ views on teaching was the norm, but unfortunately the modern approach to teaching is quite the opposite. We are taught to concentrate solely on the academic side of teaching – we are to care about what and how we teach rather than whom we teach. We are taught that smiling can be a sign of weakness for a teacher and any interest in the hobbies or interests of our students is a show of friendship (and teachers are not their students’ friends).

I wish all teachers broke away from that thinking and instead converted to the Angela Maiers approach. I love it when teachers express the very ideas that underpin my own teaching philosophy. Please watch this clip and tell me what you think.

 

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)

Click on the link to read Teachers are Better with a Sense of Humour (Photo)


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