Posts tagged Teaching

An Example of the Power of Student-Teacher Relationships

Some of you that have been around for a few years may remember that when I moved to Florida, it was because I had been hired to teach 2nd grade.  I had been so excited and did so much to prepare for teaching 2nd grade.  We had an extended school year that year, so school started 5 weeks early with a week off and then restarting when the rest of the district was starting.

The extended year decision didn’t sit well with everyone, and many families used the school choice option (only extended because of the extended year) and after 5 weeks of teaching 2nd grade, my admin decided we didn’t have enough 2nd graders and I was moved down to prek.

I have never bonded with a class so quickly as I did those 2nd graders.  They are now in 5th grade and still stop me in the hallway for a hug and to complain that they wanted me to stay their 2nd grade teacher and that they wished I didn’t have to leave them.

One kid in particular has enjoyed making appearances in my classroom, at my lunch table, behind me at dismissal, just about any time he could find to come see me.  It tapered off a little in 4th grade, but still more often than any of the other kids.  He’s always been a little impulsive and much too talkative, but he has quite a vibrant personality and great character.

Now that 5th grade has started, the 5th grade boys hormones have begun to kick in, they have realized they are the oldest students in the building, and vulgar language, disrespectful actions, and physically fighting has sprung up everywhere.  Unfortunately, my friend has been one of the ring leaders and I was shocked at what I was told he had said and done.

One day during rainy dismissal, all my kids were done and I saw him sitting with his class.  I asked his teacher if it was ok for me to have a little chat with him.  I took him away from his peers and told him how I’ve described him over the years to other people, how proud I have always been of him, and how confident I have been that he will grow up to not only be successful but someone who is kind and a role model.  I told him what I had heard about him this past month and how very sad I was to find out he was doing this.  Then I told him how much I cared and how much I wanted him to still be the kid I had always known him to be.  Sure, more mature and interested in other things.  But always a gentleman who helped others and worked hard.

I’ve been told he’s been much better.  When he started to put a toe out of line, another staff member who knows about my relationship with him (but not my recent chat), said, “You know, I can go get Ms. PPT and send her to you and I will cover her class.  If you want to keep doing that, then you should be able to explain why to her.”  I was told he looked shocked and was an angel for the rest of the day.

This kid was in my classroom for 5 weeks over 3 yrs ago.  But I never stopped being one of his teachers or one of the people in his life who cares about him.

Want to support #education? Donate to Tumblr Teachers’ Classrooms!

Dear Tumblrverse,

Before the explanation part of this post, I need to say this so it will be in posts that are shortened by a reblog: More than anything I ask that you reblog this post so that kind millionaires  more people will see it and more support can be given.   All the Amazon wishlists and blogs are linked below the read more link!

As the new school year approaches, we are obviously in denial teachers are mentally figuring out what materials we need for the school year, what will be provided by the school or families, and what we will buy with our own money as we shop sales (if it is in our budget).  Several members of our #education community on tumblr dealt with unexpected family deaths, weather disasters, or more happy (but expensive) life achievements like getting married or having a baby.  Our pockets have been hit hard, and I think you’d be surprised how much of our own money we spend on classrooms each year.

Many of us teach in areas where our students’ families cannot help with school supplies.  In fact, as I began working on this project, every teacher I contacted to include that came from a more affluent community declined being included so that classrooms in greater need could be helped.  I am in awe of the teachers in this community.  After the jump is a list of teachers and their classroom wish lists for the upcoming year.  If you are able to, please consider supporting a teacher via their wishlist.  If you’d rather make a donation to their supply fund or send a gift card, I’m sure you could contact them and they wouldn’t turn you down.   

So after the jump are the blogs and corresponding wishlists from Tumblr’s teachers — most of the educators on this list I have personally interacted with and know them to be dedicated to their students.

Read More

I am working on my summer project for work that I assigned myself.

I am organizing our Science standards, putting the examples for meeting the standards under the standards (our standards are online and you have to go to new windows to see the examples are really annoying), then pulling from the Galileo and Zula curriculum to match up what activities go with what plus finding/organizing extension/supplemental activities (or just activities that might be better than what we have).   All I can think of is, “I should have started this sooner!”


Reflection time!

As the school year ends, it is time to reflect.  These are the reflection questions I have going in my mind.  I’ve love to hear your answers via a reblog with responses:

1. What surprised you about this year?

2. What will you do differently at the beginning of this year?

3. What made you feel the most proud of yourself?

4.  When did you feel proud of your students?

5.  What were good resources for you to grow professionally?

6. What do you need to do this coming year to build up PD hours or college credit to renew your license (I had a friend who forgot to stay on top of this, so I worry about it every year)?

7.  What educational issue impacted you the most this year?  What are you doing about it?

8.  Which unit/topic/etc. do you think is your weakest area?  How can you make it better?

9.  What worked for you as far as dealing with stress and your workload?

10.  What will you do in this coming school year to improve or maintain your health?

Translation: Happy

The majority of my students’ parents speak Spanish.  Some speak a lesser-known dialect.  While my Spanish improves every year, it is not nearly good enough to conduct an entire parent teacher conference.  However, I think it is important for me to say what I can to the parent in Spanish directly.  Using a translator, sometimes makes it feel like another wall of separation between the family and myself.  Since we do home visits twice a year and we have a high number of regular parent volunteers, it feels distant to then have to go through a translator.   My assistant is a native Spanish speaker, and she sits in on all of my parent conferences with Spanish speaking parents.  She translates and is also able to check to make sure I’m not telling the parents something I don’t mean when I do use Spanish.   My assistant is not 100% fluent in English, but really does fabulous.  However, I think between the dialect a family speaks, her Spanish and knowledge of English, and difficulty in translating Spanish expressions, some things are lost.

This past week we met with both the mother and father of one of my students.  At the beginning of the year, when we met with mom she cried because her son was doing so well and she thought he would struggle in school.  So it was an honor to tell both parents that not only did her meet every Pre-K goal, he has begun working on Kindergarten skills and knows 35 Kindergarten sight words.  He is reading full sentences.  He is hard working and helpful in the classroom.  Learning excites him.

As we walked them out, the mom said something to my assistant that I am sure didn’t translate perfectly.  My assistant said, “She said this year made her happy with you.”  

Me too.  Me too.

The Lies We Tell

"The something beautiful you brought me was confetti!?  I love how you decorated my desk with it."

"I called your mom.  She told me she did not tell you that you didn’t have to do your letter work."

"I want your mom to do my hair like that!"

"I love exercise!"

"Pumpkin pudding is delicious."

"That noise?  Oh, it’s just the elephants dancing upstairs."

"I am SOOOOOOOOOO surprised!"

"Quiet, the babies are sleeping."

"I live at school.  My bed is upstairs."

"Farts are not funny."


Dear America,

It feels strange to hear your voice praising teachers for their selflessness, dedication, and love for their students. We’re listening to what you’re saying, but we must admit that we are listening with tilted head and quizzical eye. Why? Because we’ve become accustomed to hearing a very different voice from you.

For the past few years, you’ve been certain that most of society’s problems stem from our schools, more specifically the teachers in those schools. We are lazy and useless, we are only in it for the money, we only teach for the vacation time, we don’t possess the intelligence to teach anyone much of anything, our demands for a respectable wage are selfish, we don’t teach students respect, we are leeches sucking the blood from State coffers, we don’t even work a full day like everyone else, and the most hurtful one of all - we don’t care about our students. Concerned citizens have even documented these ills in grossly successful movies that take the worst of us and use it to convince the public that teachers are deserving of nothing but disdain.

Yet, in one weekend, with one horrific tragedy, your voice has changed. The general indictment that has been assigned to us has seemingly been lifted. All of the sudden, America is looking to us with respect, admiration, trust, and something that looks a bit like… awe. It’s puzzling, really. We are the same people we were last Friday morning, doing the same job we’ve diligently done since choosing our career.

Of course, we do realize what has happened. Something horrific occurred last Friday, and as a result, America saw the uncensored soul that resides in the vast majority of teachers. There were no special interest groups telling you what teachers are really like, no businessmen or women proffering data-driven solutions that will fix every instructional problem, no politicians pontificating about the grading of teachers based on the value they add to students. No, what you saw was the real thing, teachers who love America’s children so much that they dedicate their all to their welfare.

No, for most of us, our all does not include a sacrificial death, but it does include a sacrificial life. It means working a full day at school then continuing that work at home well into the evening as we grade papers and prepare materials that will lead to authentic learning in the classroom. That’s our surface work. At a deeper level, however, we also do the following:


To America from a Teacher «

(Click the link to read the entire post).  This rings oh so very true, and I have to wonder just how soon the public’s mindset will swing back to where it was.


I forgot to mention this when the subject of rewards came up.

I had a class clown when I taught 2nd grade.  He was in no way disrespectful or mean and did not purposely misbehave (most of the time).  But he loved getting the class’s attention, and it was not easy to keep them on track in the first few weeks of school.

I gave the student a sticky note, and I told him that when I go like this (modeled making a tally mark with my finger in the air) to make a tally mark on his sticky note. I told him I would do this every time he was talking out of turn, that it would be between the two of us, and there were no consequences tied to it.  By the end of the first day of doing this, his sticky note was covered and he was in tears (which was not my intention).  He had written “Bad” at the top.  I told him it did not mean he was bad and that the only reason I did this was him was because I didn’t think he knew how much he interrupted his classmates and me.  I said that I knew if he was aware of how much it was happening he would do his best to stop.  I erased bad and wrote “Room for Improvement.”  I told him that tomorrow, we’d do the same thing, but his goal was to have less tally marks.  No specific tally mark count, just “less.”  I said if he could do this, I would let him pick 2 jokes out of the joke books I had to tell the class at the end of the day.

This was the best solution to any problem I may have ever had.

Each day, the goal was to have less than the day before.  It whittled down to a much more manageable number.  He was proud of himself, and the other kids loved the jokes.

Favorite teaching moments

I used to keep a word file of my favorite quotes from my students.

Here is what I have left of the file (I had more, but I don’t know what happened).

This was when I taught K-1 Special Ed 

"I was here tomorrow." -T.

"Look!  I’m a dad!" - J.

"He just needs to wash his tongue." -T. about a kid who sticks his fingers in his mouth so we make him wash his hands a lot.

"I am going to name the frog Junior.  That’s my tribute to Martin Luther King Junior!  The KING!" -M.

"I got money cash.  I’m rich baby, I’m rich." -M.

"Miss ——-!  my hands are wobbly, they keep on messing me up"- J. about his handwriting.

"Hey red head!  Do you know why I called you that?  It’s because you have red hair!!!"- M.

"Miss ———, what time is your bedtime?" -J

"About 9 o’clock these days."-Me

"That’s my bedtime too!"-J

"I have a really strong tongue." -T.

"I have a good memory card in my brain." -R.

"I am clapping for my own self." –M.    

"I like you as a teacher.  You’re nice." -A.

"I’m not a very big fan of yours anymore."-T. after getting in trouble

Someone asked about my breast cancer bracelet

"I got this bracelet to help people who are sick." -me

"Aww.  Miss ———— are you sick?"- S.

"If I were your teacher, I would let you do whatever you wanted.  Except cuss.  And I would give you nickles all the time." -T.

The martial arts teacher and I are “jousting” with those pool noodles.  As a natural response, I am flinching.

"I don’t think Miss M——- likes that.  I think you should stop." -G. 

"Polly, if you keep ignoring me I’m going to have to feed you to the crew."-S. to the paper parrot pinned to his shirt on Pirate Day

"And then there’s this animal, it’s worse than a snake.  It crawls down your throat and eats your heart."

"My brain got sleepy, and it almost made me go to sleep.  So my brain forgot to tell me to open my eyes when I was walking.  So I ran into a door!  And I almost bleeded."-T,

I wear a necklace with a heart on it to work.

"Miss M———, do you wear that necklace because you love us?"- S.

"Yes." - Me

For my birthday I gave my kids Browns lunch bags filled with favors.

"I can’t believe it.  I can’t believe it.  This is the best day ever.  It’s YOUR birthday and you gave ME a present!" -M.

Later… after showing his sister what he got and pulling out a peppermint patty

"A breath mint!  I’ve GOT A BREATH MINT!"

J. and I are playing Chutes and Ladders (no one else is playing).  J randomly looks at me and says:

"We can’t  get mad though, because it’s just a game.  You can’t get mad at games because they don’t really matter that much."

"Miss ———, you’re my white chocolate." - M. (this and the following comment were meant innocently… there’s a story behind it that maybe one day I will tell).

"Maybe you could help A. think of a way to make it up."-Me

"Be nice to people A.  Be nice to all the people."-J.

"Miss ——-, you’re the cream in my coffee.  And I LOVE coffee." -M.

"Miss ———, I’m going to stay with you forever."-S.

"I can’t go home yet, I forgot  my breath mint!" -M.

"That was me.  I just farted." -T. (when no one asked)

"Go Browns and I wish you a Merry Christmas." - J. to my dad

"How did you know I like guitars so much?" -M.

"Because we love you and we just know everything that you like." - Me


"I can come home with you if you want." - B.

Our principal walks into the gym dressed for mismatch day.  D. says this in a sing-songy, but serious voice — not loud enough for anyone other than me and him to hear: “Oh Mr. P. I like your shirt.  It is cool.  What a handsome man you are.”

While making tally marks and graphs of the people who are right-handed and left-handed, John who is left-handed had this discussion with me, a righty.

"Miss ————, it is MUCH easier to use your left hand."-J.

"For some people, for other people its easier to use your right.  That’s why we have left-handed people and right-handed people."-me

"But right hands are bear hands."-J

"Bear hands?" - Me

"Yeah, like the animals." -J

"Who told you that?" - Me

"I saw it on a thing on tv about baseball." - J

So because they used the term BARE handed, J thinks right hands are bear hands which makes it harder for people to use them.

Mrs. L. was saying that my clothes for mismatch day were still color-coordinated.  I was disagreeing with her.

"I agree with Miss _____." -D.

"Thanks for having my back D." -Me

"You’re welcome.  Don’t worry, I will always be here for you Miss ————." -D

"OWWWW.  You just cracked my NIPPLES!" - D.  (he meant knuckles)

"You’re wearing glasses!?" -D.

"Yeah, they are new." - me

"Oh.  You’re going blind?!" -D

"Can we do the matrix as part of our dance?" -M. about our spring performance to Hannah Montanna

"You have to use the toilet when you’re in there." -Me

"I did use the toilet."-T.

"No you didn’t.  You don’t pee  in your pants when you use the toilet." - Me

"Oh.  I didn’t know that." -T

"I have an exercise ball, Adam tells me to do some stomach crunches but I never do." - Miss L. (my work best friend) to me while walking behind my class

"Its ok!  I will remind you to do it in music!!!" -Tyler

"That Titus.  He’s my dog man." -J. about one of the 6th graders

"You can’t eat me Miss ——-.  Then you would have two hearts and you would throw up." -J.

"It’s not Miss ————-’s FART!" - JB (she meant fault) speaking about the computer not working

"That is a BIG BUTT!" - B (meaning bus)