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The True Meaning of Success

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A Simple Request

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Today, I took a job at a school for a 4th grade class – no big deal.

However, when I got to the classroom, I didn’t see any plans for the day. Looked on the desk, the reading table, etc., and not a guideline or directive in sight. By then, the class arrived, and after settling in, I buzzed the office, asking for emergency plans. The reply was that there weren’t any. Okaaaay……no plans in the room, no emergency plans, no posted schedule, no colleague teacher support.  Quickly going through my mental file cabinet, I came up with something creative that got us through the day, but here’s my open letter:

Dear  Teachers:
1. PLEASE PLEASE prepare for any possible absences by having emergency plans available. Make sure that they’re not just time-wasters of word searches, and quick fill in the blanks. I’ve known many administrators to require a week’s worth of resources , just in case.

2. If  you don’t have that ready, be willing to e-mail and/or fax the school something that will ensure a productive day(s), keeping with your original plans.  Once, I had  a teacher  e-mail his plan for that day, plus he sent worksheet and activity attachments to be copied.

3. Supply clear instructions, along with what students to rely on, and whom to be aware of questionable behavior. If allowed, phone numbers are welcome, too. Don’t hesitate to share the reward and discipline procedures.

4. You may know your routine in your head, but I don’t. Please post it somewhere handy. It’s easier to get through the day, especially when a 1st grader doesn’t know when it’s actually time for lunch or washroom break. 

Sure, it’s common sense, but sometimes in the wake of unplanned absences, this aspect gets lost in the shuffle. As a guest teacher, it’s my job to maintain your routine as closely as possible, not create more upset. Seeing a different face is stressful enough for the kids, but adding in no plans is a downward spiral.

The next worst thing – NO scheduled prep, too!

Works For Me….

As a long-time guest teacher, I’ve developed a huge collection of tips and hacks for a smoother running classroom when the regular teacher is away. Feel free to copy and use the above image as an incentive when all scheduled classwork is completed [and you’ve checked, too]. I let the kids work in partners, and you can set a timer if you like. This activity works best for me with grades 2 – 6.

Endangered species?

cursive writing

This is a re-post, as I believe in the power of cursive……..

The above image of the alphabet is something I hardly see taught anymore—writing in cursive style. The kids that I work with  daily overwhelmingly do not posses the handwriting skills that had been drilled into me as an elementary student. Taking this practice away because of keyboards is like taking away math computation because of calculators. Therefore, the over-emphasis on electronics and social make writing by hand seem obsolete.

But the good news is—it’s NOT. Being equipped with this skills helps the kids have a better handle on written expression, and critical thinking, skills which extend beyond the classroom.

I’m told that we “don’t have time” because the focus of the day is on literacy and math primarily, and something like cursive handwriting skills are considered hardly necessary.

I’m making the case for families to help out more at home by:
investing ust 10-15 minutes a day to help your child in proper letter
formation, and the best posture for comfortable, more legible handwriting.

It doesn’t have to be  Palmer Method perfect, but with consistent practice, patience, and gentle praise along the way, there can be a difference made.

Endangered species?

cursive writing

This is a re-post, as I believe in its importance….

The above image of the alphabet is something I hardly see taught anymore—writing in cursive style. The kids that I work with  daily overwhelmingly do not posses the handwriting skills that had been drilled into me as an elementary student. Taking this practice away because of keyboards is like taking away math computation because of calculators. Therefore, the over-emphasis on electronics and social make writing by hand seem obsolete.

But the good news is—it’s NOT. Being equipped with this skills helps the kids have a better handle on written expression, and critical thinking, skills which extend beyond the classroom.

I’m told that we “don’t have time” because the focus of the day is on literacy and math primarily, and something like cursive handwriting skills are considered hardly necessary.

I’m making the case for families to help out more at home by:
investing ust 10-15 minutes a day to help your child in proper letter
formation, and the best posture for comfortable, more legible handwriting.

It doesn’t have to be  Palmer Method perfect, but with consistent practice, patience, and gentle praise along the way, there can be a difference made.

The REAL Reason

education-purpose

The above image show WHY I go out every day and teach such a wide variety of students every week—to know that I can  reach even one or two is awesome goal.

English Language Arts–Urban Classroom

Today, I covered a 2nd grade classroom during their language arts time. Now, these kids know me , so we’re past the “getting acquainted” stage. The teacher left their activity on using new words in original, oral  sentences.

Our first word was “police”. One student said, without missing a beat—“I saw that ‘police’ shoot somebody.”  Just like that. An 8 year old knows about shooting just like watching Niktoons everyday. Similar sentences followed from two other students. We finally decided on something a bit more Officer Friendly-type.

The next example used the word “life.”  Several hands went up, and the one student I picked said forlornly, “I have a bad ‘life’.” I felt compelled to ask her why. She responded matter-of-fact, “That’s because somebody’s always shooting and fighting by my house, and I don’t sleep.”

Sad, sad commentary, isn’t it? Where is the lightheartedness of early childhood? Of course, nothing is TV perfect, but when a violence lifestyle is accepted as norm in our yung, what does the future hold?