Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Today shall be a new day.

 I will not be grouchy. 

I will wipe the slate clean, for students,for other adults and for myself. 

GO FORTH and SMILE and have a great day. The choice is yours, really... it is!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Some days it seems more like a circus than a school here. Today was definitely one of those days. 

We started at 7:50 with a staff meeting where we were told we weren't filling out minor office referrals like we should. OK, point taken. Minors are for infractions the teacher deals with. Majors are when you send a student to principal for 'harsher' consequences. 

I have probably filled out 2 yellow minors all year... until today. Not because my kids are that on task. Not because I have that kind of perfect classroom management. Nope. Simply because I do not have time. If I honestly filled out a yellow slip for EVERY time I deal with student behavior, every time I ask a student to remove a hat, to get on task, every time I deal with disrespect, insubordination... filling out slips is all I would do. 

Part of the issue with me is that teaching special ed, I deal with some pretty high impact kids, with some fairly intense behavior issues. Some of their 'yellow slip infractions' are to be expected. Maybe not tolerated... but expected. Do I really need to write them up for EVERY instance?

But back to the beginning.. we all left the staff meeting a bit bristled and frustrated, and late for first period. 

The tone for the day was set. We were crabby which set the kids off, which set the snowball storming down the path, gathering steam as it plowed down the halls.

One was sick and wanted to go home but there was no one at home to get in touch with. 

Another was angry because his computer didn't come back from the repair shop today.

Another did get her computer back so all she wanted to do was get onto Skype and Spotify and enjoy her computer.. forget the assignments she had to do on it.

Another was mad at me because my sub yesterday left her name as being disruptive.

Another is being removed from her 2nd foster home since Christmas to be moved, this time to a different school district.

Another is upset because his mother is talking about taking a job several hundred miles away. 

and.. and.. and... 

so the day unfolds.... 

Friday, February 22, 2013

“The educated differ from the uneducated as much as the living differ from the dead.” ~Aristotle
Education should level the playing field. It should give students who grow up with uneducated parents, barely scraping out an existence, a chance to have more, to be more, and to give more. Education should break the generational struggles of dead-end jobs, bleak futures, and hopeless poverty.

Does it?

Teaching in a high poverty area, I see a wide spectrum of students, in demographics, abilities, and attitudes. Some of my students live in homes with no running water or indoor plumbing. Others live in beautiful new homes situated on lakefront properties. In my classes, I work with students with IQ’s as low as 60, to those in the above average range. Some come to school each day with a positive attitude, a can-do, will-do work ethic. Others, regardless of the task, put forth as little effort as humanly possible.
Our goal in education is to smooth out the hills and valleys of what was handed these children, and send them out into the world with the same skill sets, the same intrinsic drive, creating the same opportunities for adult success. Is that truly possible?

The defining difference in student success ultimately is their attitude, not their ability, and not their demographic background.  This attitude is built with a variety of tools, at home and at school. Students must see the purpose in education and seek their own path for learning and success. As educators, we can try to instill this need, this craving, this want for knowledge by providing a caring, engaging school environment, where all students feel success is possible. We can build upon the individual strengths of our students, scaffold their successes to create independent learners. We can develop programs which service the whole child, not just academically, but emotionally as well. We can be their role models and their confidants, their coaches and their guides.

Will that be enough to overcome generational school avoidance? Will it convince students that education is a priority?

For some students, yes, a caring adult can make all the difference and change the course of their personal journey.

For others, it seems the path is already set in stone, unable to be changed. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

I've just finished two online classes. I realized my teaching certificate expires next year, and with the chaos my life has been the past year, I have no idea if I have enough credits or even where to begin to gather them. So.. I signed up through Learner's Edge and Marygrove for 6 grad credits. 

Interesting to say the least. 

The materials for the classes were great. I loved the readings for both classes. I dove in headfirst, diligently completing assignments and whipping them off to be 'evaluated'.

Imagine my disappointment when the comments were things like:
"I'm excited to read your thoughts! Keep up the good work!"

"I hope you are able to apply some of what you are learning to your own classroom."

Comments that were easily written by someone who probably had at MOST scanned my laborious answers. 

This is what gives online learning a bad name. Did I learn stuff? Probably... but could I have just as easily blown off the classes and still earned the credits? Absolutely. 

The credits were relatively inexpensive and will meet the requirements to renew my certificate. No harm no foul I guess. I just feel like my investment didn't exactly net me any long lasting personal growth.