Posts tagged Teaching

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)

Children Full of Life


Mr. Kanamori, a teacher of a 4th grade class, teaches his students not only how to be students, but how to live. He gives them lessons on teamwork, community, the importance of openness, how to cope, and the harm caused by bullying.

In the award-winning documentary Children Full of Life, a fourth-grade class in a primary school in Kanazawa, northwest of Tokyo, learn lessons about compassion from their homeroom teacher, Toshiro Kanamori.

He instructs each to write their true inner feelings in a letter, and read it aloud in front of the class. By sharing their lives, the children begin to realize the importance of caring for their classmates.

Toshiro is an amazing example of what all teachers across the world should be like. He truly understands what teaching children is all about and certainly made a positive difference in the lives of these 10 year olds.” 

The documentary can be watched for free at this  link