Happy Monday

iheartcoffee

Today is Day One of our accreditation visit. Better have some coffee…and some extra for the meetings this week. Happy Monday.

Attitude Matters

cant do this

I try not to get upset when students do not fulfill their potential. I try not to take it personally when they make poor decisions. But not many things irk me more than a student who is perfectly capable of doing an assignment who gives up and does not even try. My own children are not allowed to say “can’t.” Really, they get punished for saying those words. Attitude matters.

Olympic Singles Whining

whining

I was thinking: what sport should be added to the Olympics that my students could do well — even medal — in? If whining were an Olympic sport, high school students would dominate. Of course, I would probably qualify, too.

Do Your Job

how can i do my jon

What if you worked at a company that designed, produced, and distributed software? The company would have designers, engineers, manufacturers, a distribution chain, etc. What would happen if the designers didn’t submit a design? Or the engineers didn’t bother to write the code? What if the manufacturer didn’t feel like manufacturing the product, or someone along the distribution chain had a bad day? People would get fired, or the company would fail and everyone would lose their job.

A teacher is paid to teach. If a teacher requires students to read so they can do a lesson the next day, like a discussion or activity, then what should the teacher do if the students don’t read? Many people would say, just read it to them. The argument is that students are not capable of reading on their own — they won’t do it, they can’t understand it on their own, or it won’t interest them. (Better just to let the benevolent rulers interpret the laws and rules because the common people lack the education and expertise to understand on their own. We will just tell you what it says and means, don’t hurt yourself trying to think!) Even if the teacher did do this, it takes a long time to read a book aloud.

Well, maybe the teacher can “dumb it down” without calling it “dumbing it down.” Here are some chapter summaries, or here is an important passage to read, or — here, let me tell you what happened so you don’t need to do anything on your own. That’s kind of like college where you never had to read the homework because the professor just summarized it all and gave you organized notes on it the next day. I’ve tried to entice students into reading by giving them part of the story in class and leaving off at a point of great interest or climax to try to build up suspense, but the next day no one ended up looking in the book; they just wanted me to tell them the answer.

How about quizzes or cloze activities or a graphic organizer? How about working with a partner or a team? How about an open-book assignment so they can just look up the section in class? The bottom line is, no matter what you plan for the next day, you won’t be able to do the activity if it depends on students reading. Or maybe it’s just me…

Grow Up

mad dog

I guess comics are like jokes in that if you don’t “get it,” you lose the humor when it is explained. Whenever my husband doesn’t immediately “get it,” I write out an explanation in case others are confused, too. Here’s what’s supposed to be happening in today’s comic: The teacher in purple has taken a student into the hallway to discuss his “mad-dogging” in class. (“Mad-dogging” is staring aggressively at others to intimidate them or instigate a fight. It is a blatant show of disrespect meant to humiliate the other person.) She explains, “You’re growing up now. Adults don’t ‘mad-dog.'” As she is speaking to the student, another teacher (whom she obviously doesn’t care for) passes by and stares at her and the student. The teacher in purple confronts the one in red and asks, “What do you think you’re looking at?” and the other teacher challenges her by saying, “Not much.”

I wanted to illustrate the power we have as teachers of living as role models. If we tell students that adults don’t do certain things, then we should show them that adults don’t do those things. Students often ask me if teachers all like each other and I say, “HECK NO! But we must work together so even though we don’t always like each other, we do show respect for one another.”

Good Riddance!

new student

When you are a teacher, much of your day depends on other people’s choices. Guidance coordinators, parents, and other teachers must place and remove students from your class as they need to, so you don’t have much choice in who your students are. Some students you can’t stand are suddenly on your roll book, while others you adore disappear without warning. Often you will celebrate when a problematic student is removed from the roster, only to be replaced by one much worse. That’s teaching, though. The only thing you can do is be a source of light for all students, so they will remember you fondly. And not shank you when you turn around.