Monday, August 17, 2015

Teacher summers

If I said it once I've said it twice. I am not a fan of summer time. I feel lost. Adjusting to this down time is foreign. From August to May my life is non-stop and then summer hits and everything halts. I forced myself to actually rest this summer. Truly enjoy resting. I know this sounds odd, but I have never been a fan of assigned vacation time. Well, the time has come to rejoin the "adult" world and I could not be happier. So long teacher summer. I will see you again soon. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Classroom decor advice

I am not one to re-decorate my whole classroom year after year nor do I want to pour unlimited amount of money into my classroom. So here is a list of what to do with your classroom.
1. Lighting: I really hate ceiling lights. IKEA is the place to go for classroom lighting.
2. Colors: Have them, but select a few. There is no need to incorporate the entire rainbow in your classroom...a tad bit too much stimulation.
3. Smell: I know this really does not have to do with the look of the classroom, but you would be surprised to how much a pleasant scent can add to your rooms appeal.
4. Organization: Have a system that is functional. Both you and your students will appreciate this. 
5. Personal touches: Picture frames, banners, globes. Decorate your classroom like your home. People will notice and appreciate how your room feels like a home and not a classroom.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

I do what I want

I do what I want.

There is a select group of students who think they can do what they want. In fact these words have even escaped their lips. My coteacher and I are a little confused to how they came to this conclusion. Did someone tell them that the rules do not apply to them. Were they given a get out of consequences pass that we are unaware of. It's a nice idea to think that we all could do what we want at any given time but we can't because we are members of society. We are not characters in South Park and Cartmen is a fictional character. So, even though you "think" you can do what you want; you might not like what happens after you follow through with what you say. 

Monday, August 3, 2015


There is no denying that student teacher relationship is a vital component to classroom success. Ignoring this fact would be foolish. I know I am able to get more out of a student if I have a positive relationship with them. Now this being said it is not always easy to build these positive relationship with all students. We all have our "difficult clients". There have been students that I am less than a fan of. Regardless this is not the NFL draft and I cannot trade a student for another. We have to work with what we have and bring out the best in our students even if some take a little more loving kindness than others. It's worth the challenge. I'd rather celebrate a students positive attributes than negative ones. 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Figurative Language Stories

I love teaching figurative language. I could spend a entire year diving into figurative language goodness. Well that might be an exaggeration. 
Hello Hyperbole.
 This year I kicked off figurative language with a goold ole' foldable. Where students defined each term and wrote a sentence example. Next we jumped into reading short stories that used figurative language and they had to identify examples as they read.
Then I unrolled their assessment for figurative language. They were going to write their own figurative language story (3 paragraphs). I gave them a variety of settings they could base their story off of (the beach, grocery store, school, bookstore and so on). They were required to write an example of each figurative language in a separate sentence in their story.  Students began this project by writing one sentence for each figurative language that would fit within their story. They were given a graphic organizer for this portion of the assignment. Each figurative language was assigned a different color to underline within their story. They provided a colored key and drew a picture to go along with their story. Loved this project and I am looking forward to doing this again next year.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

All about those numbers

Testing is not teaching
Testing is not learning
A student is more than a test score
A teacher is more than a test score
Unfortunately politicians only care about those numbers.
I should just start video chatting my lessons. Why bother with actual teaching when numbers is what I need to obtain. Why impact a life when a test score measures how effective I am as an educator. Better yet my own test scores now play a role in in my effectiveness. Yes, my ACT or SAT scores determine if I am eligible for a scholarship (a.k.a. bonus). I am a highly effective teacher based on Florida standards but due to this new policy I may not qualify for this bonus. I would need to rank in the 80th percentile on my own ACT or SAT scores that I took over a decade ago in order to qualify. This policy which happens to be called Florida's Best and Brightest "Scholarship" gives teachers with highly effective ratings and their own high achieving ACT or SAT test scores up to $10,000. The thinking behind this policy is that the brightest teachers get the most out of their students. I am one of Florida's best teachers but I know that I am not one of their brightest stars.

When I first heard about this policy I thought it was a joke, nope it actually went through. Who would of thought that a test I took over ten years ago would play apart of me receiving a bonus. I was just taking these test to get into college...or so I thought. I never thought these scores would play any role in my adult life, but no here they are again. It's like a bad sunburn. Which is exactly what I had the day I took the ACT that bright and early Saturday morning in 2002.

Here is the official explanation of the "scholarship" from the state of Florida's website:
Beginning in 2015-2016 school year the scholarship program shall provide funding for scholarships to be awarded to teachers who have demonstrated a high level of academic achievement. To be eligible for a scholarship, a teacher must have scored at or above the 80th percentile on either the SAT or ACT based upon the percentile ranks in effect when the teacher took the assessment and also have been evaluated as highly effective pursuant to. s. 1012.34,F.S.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The done and not done

Keeping track of who did and who did not write an essay can become quite a chore. I created this board in the back of the classroom. Each student was given a magnetic strip with their name on it.
Once their assignment was complete their name would go from the not done side to the done side.

They were sort of funny when they were able to move their name from one side to another. It was a sense of accomplishment for them.

This was a helpful tool for students to stay accountable for what they still need to accomplish. They were given an essay or project to complete within a months time and this board was a huge help in keeping count on who did and who did not complete various assignments. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

The social tango.

Social media plays a key role in today's society. It's the new form of communication. By now everything has been given a hashtag. Even my dog has one. #ruethedachshund And yet utter the thought of social media in front of teachers bank stare and shudders will surely happen. This not so new form of communication is uncharted territory for educators. We are warned of the dangers that such socializing online might bring on our career. Staff meeting are held outlining social media policies that teachers must abide by for their private lives.

Although we are aware of how tricky social media is we still embrace it in our teacherish way.  We have students edit celebrity Tweets, create Facebook accounts for literary characters and post an Instagram wall in our classroom. Social media is a breeze when it comes to decorations but actually using this resource in the classroom becomes a different challenge.

Social media can be used in one of two ways: communication and instruction.
Students are constantly using their phones to connect with others around them. So why are we avoiding this popular way of communicating? There is no denying the impact educators play in their students lives. We may be the only adult that cares for them or even takes time to ask how they are doing. Building positive relationships with our students is part of the job descriptions. Students are extremely aware when they are liked or disliked by their teachers. When we have positive relationships with out students we are able to get more out of them. There is a level of trust and respect when positive communication is involved. Social media could be used to enhance positive relationships with our students. An Instagram account can be created to highlight classroom happenings. You could assign a student for each class to take over the account and have them capture what they are learning that day. A classroom Facebook group account can be used to keep communication going not only with students but parents as well. I am not saying this form of communication should be constant but it's another avenue to explore when communication is discussed.
A cell phone is always within in reach when students are awake and even asleep it's never far from them. I'm pretty sure they might stop breathing if they are without it. If this device is always by their side than why not use it for our advantage. Set up a Twitter account and have students lead a discussion about a book they are reading in class. Teachers can send SnapChats to their students reminding them of various assignments or assessments that are coming.

The education world must find its place in the buzzing Social Media world before we get left behind. I think it would be foolish of us to be scared away from all the red tape and dangers that this new way of interacting with others offers.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

ESE Friendly

Towards the end of the year I was in an IEP meeting. We were discussing a student's success in all of their classes when someone said, "The reason why their grade is so poor is because that teacher is not ESE friendly." That statement made me pause and ponder such an idea.
ESE friendly. 
I should add this to my resume as it appears to be a desired characteristic trait in today's classroom.
 I cannot deny this need to find ESE friendly teachers as I have too considered whose class to place an ESE student in. Honestly, it's a struggle to find teachers that will accept ESE students for who they are and will become an advocate in order to help them experience success in the classroom. 

All teachers should be ESE friendly especially since more and more ESE students will flood the general education classroom. There is no denying the power an ESE friendly teacher can be on campus. They will become a beacon for ESE students.  A place of refuge. Where a student's disability will not be a problem, but a hurdle to jump over. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

First Class ticket

Send me to the principals office 
I heard this phrase one too many times over the past year. This phrase can change to:
Just write me a referral
Can you just send me to ISR/ISS

Students are actually asking to get punished. When I was in school this was the last item on my to-do list; in fact I made it a habit to avoid trouble at all cost. 

Sadly, things have changed. Going to the principals office or being sent out of class is not a real punishment. In some cases it's a mini vacation a way for them to escape a struggle.

I have had students ask me to actually write them a referral so they could be sent out of the classroom. The look on my face must be priceless each time this demand is made. I ignore the requests and carry on. One student even threatened to throw a globe across the room. He was doing this as a courtesy for me you see. This way I would have something to write on the referral.
Pre-threat: student asked for a referral to be written for him
Post-threat: student threw a globe across the room so he could be sent out of the classroom
Thankfully, after a day passed this student realized his blunder and wrote an apology note.

One of my 8th graders, who tends to shut down when they are overwhelmed, asked me to email the principal in order for them to get out of class. Mind you this was during a group project.
I lost it.
I asked her if I could be sent to the principal's office and she replied with a no. I proceeded with, "Then why can students ask to be sent out and adults can't? I received a blank stare. By now I had an audience of listeners. "Do you know the adult translation of 'can I be sent to the principal's office is?' Jail, there is no adult principal's office. I can be fired from my job, I can become a burden to society because I do not want to take any responsibilities for myself. That is what happens when adults get sent to the principal's office. So do you still want to go or are you going to finish your work?"
No response, but work was quickly resumed and I was never asked that question again. 

This trend of requesting punishment concerns me. It concerns me that they want a quick escape from any challenging situation. That they are avoiding something that is outside of their comfort zone. And that they lack the skills to properly communicate what is truly bothering them. I am not sure there is a cure to this growing trend other than honest conversations.

{For those wondering}
ISR: in suspension room
ISS: in school suspension 

Friday, July 17, 2015

There Their They're

I have an irrational fear when it comes to homophones. I have mistaken your vs. you're a few too many times I care to admit. Scanning texts and email for these pesky mistake could become a hobby for me. Thankfully, I am not the only one guilty of writing the wrong homophone. I know this because I have edited my fair share of essays riddled with homophone blunders.

 Prior to our state writing test I wanted to address this ever so easy mistake to fix through comic strips. A list of homophones were on the board for them to pick from in order to create their comic strips. They had to write one sentence for each word within the homophone (were, where & we're). Each student picked three sets of homophones and created a comic strip for each set. I have to say this little activity seemed to have opened their eyes to the wonderful world of homophones.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Those test scores

Test scores are funny. Especially state tests. You work all year for these tests and then once you are done taking them you have to wait months on end to find out your score. This was the first year I administered the FAIR test which is taken several times throughout the year. Unlike state tests the results are automatic which seems to motivate students to out perform their last test scores. 

On the last FAIR test a student did so well that he wanted to document a job well done so he could show others. I enjoyed watching his excitement towards his test results. I rarely see this type of reaction with tests; mostly because I do not hand out high stakes test scores. 

 I believe when students are automatically given their scores there is a deeper meaning to tests. When there is a prolonged waiting period when receiving test scores the test is long forgotten once they arrive in the mail. 

If tests are taken online shouldn't the results be automatic? Just wondering. 
The fact of the matter is a test score will not define your fate.

Monday, July 13, 2015


This past year I had a pottery reading from a mimic poem that they wrote. A mimic poem is when students are influence by a previously written poem. The goal is to match the rhythm and general tone of the selected poem.  We were using Julio Noboa Palanco's Identity poem. This poem focuses on a positive and negative image from beginning to end. Students had to pick their own positive and negative image to incorporate into their poem. They also had to provide an illustration for their poem. For their final grade they were required to present their poem to the class. I was impressed by how professional they took this poetry reading. Some of the poems were serious and others were humorous in nature. And to top it all off they were respectful when their peers were reading. Snaps all around.

Friday, July 10, 2015


The day that Apple rolled out the new emoji keyboard created quiet a buzz in the classroom. 🐝So much so that we may have downloaded the new keyboard while we worked on writing stories. Some teachers might have flipped out with allowing this activity to occur, but lets face it you can either allow them to download the new improvement or they will do it behind your back. Plus you can teach them how to multitask. There is no need to stare at the screen while it downloads, it will not make it go faster. So while you wait let us get to finishing your stories. I may have downloaded the new emojis while they did too. Why not?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Cell phone meeting

This past year was the year the cell phone invaded the classroom. I have never had so much cell phone activity than this past year. One thing is for sure is that students are absolutely horrible when it comes to hiding their phones. 
Umm hello, your face is glowing.
 I tried to give them tips and pointers as to how to better conceal their phones, but they still were lousy at hiding cell phone activity.
 Someone needs to teach these kids cell phone manners. 
A majority of the time I just ignored them "trying" to not be seen using their phone. I picked my battles with cell phones. One such battle is when a parent is texting their child during school. I understand if it's an emergency, but you should probably call the office and not text your child when they are in class. Is this too much to ask for?

Monday, July 6, 2015

Surviving tests

I really do not like tests. I did not like taking tests when I was in school. I do not like proctoring tests. I do not like grading tests. In fact, I hardly give traditional tests in my classroom. A little piece of me dies whenever standardized state test season rolls around. Two months of on again off again testing is not much fun and drains every ounce of energy from everyone on campus. It's the worst. After a three hour tests students are spent and have no desire to accomplish anything academic. For the math test we actually pulled out I SPY books in order to unwind and relax our brain. 
I really do not think people outside of education realize how dreadful these tests are. Has anyone watched a plant actually grow for hours upon hours? Well this is similar to watching students take multiple tests. Pure entertainment I tell ya. John Oliver did a brilliant job explaining the joy of standardized testing. It's all too true and I encourage you to watch his clip

Friday, July 3, 2015

My corner

I tend to be a little OCD by nature. Everything has a place. My classroom is neat and orderly. I find that when you have ESE students in your classroom it helps to have a place for everything. Now this being said things do get messy. Papers may not be in a neat pile all the time. A bin of markers may look a mess. But for the most part everything has a place in the classroom.

 Thankfully my students appreciate my neatness. Although some do find it amusing. I have this corner on my desk that is student free. No student is allowed to touch any aspect of this corner. I realize this may be a bit odd. But in order to stay healthy I prefer not to use the same supplies the students use. Oddly enough students gravitate towards this corner and ask to use such and such colored marker. My response is always no. They have hundreds upon hundreds of crayons, colored pencils, markers, glue sticks and scissors at their disposal. All I have is this little bin on the corner of my desk. 
I do enlist students to clean everything  that students may have touched at the end of the year in order to prepare the supplies for the upcoming year. It only makes sense

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Overflowing decor

Classroom decor took a back seat this past school year. Documenting the classroom decor barely happened. These few pictures are all that I have for what the classroom looked like and I am okay with that. The attention that is put on how a classroom looks is a tad bit's a classroom people. Desk, chairs, books, people, not much has changed unless you factor in technology. 

As you can see in the picture I do not keep my lights on, but light my classroom with lamps placed around the room. Lights make a major difference. Lower lights create a calm and welcoming environment. 

If I am going to focus on one aspect of classroom decor I will focus on organization and words of advice. Since I spend so much time in my classroom I want it to feel like home. The words of encouragement are a nice reminder for students as well as myself to be kind and take risks. The bulletin boards were covered using a geographical dictionary pages and that's it. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

The unbelievable

Students often question why I take pictures of what happens in the classroom and my response is because no one will believe these types of things happen in a classroom. Therefore I need to gather evidence to prove that such shenanigans occur in today's classroom. Case in point. A student did not have a normal size pencil so he decided to pull out this jumbo pencil and complete his work with. Might I add that this pencil required him to use a pair of scissors to sharpen. You see these are the things that people outside of school will not believe.  Here I am teaching a normal lesson about the Dust Bowl and what do I see from the corner of my eye but an enormous pencil being used. For those that are wondering the student did proceed to use this larger than life pencil to complete this assignment even though he was offered multiple normal size pencils. In fact, he continued to use this jumbo pencil for the next few weeks. I do not blame him, this pencil will most likely see him through high school. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

A year in review

Year six is in the books. This year was a nice change from the first five years of teaching. I taught two 8th grade English classes filled with a mix of gen. ed. and ESE students. I was given the opportunity to co-teach 7th grade English this year which was a wonderful experience. Co-teaching is a lot like parenting. Instead of two parents you have two teachers in the classroom. Students are interesting when they are trying to figure out this way of teaching. They often ask who is the actual teacher. For some odd reason they find it strange that there needs to be two teachers instead of one. We never really told them the real reason for why there must be two teachers. One is for the general education students and the other one is for the special education students. A couple students take having two teachers as an advantage. For example, if I say you cannot use the restroom they will wait two minutes (or two seconds) to ask Ms. C if they can use the restroom. Both of our responses are the same. This scenario is depicted in the picture. I just told a student no for getting a drink and then once I turn around he decides to ask Ms. C for a drink...the response was also no. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Pass the papers

My least favorite classroom chore is passing back student papers. It's time consuming and half the contents get thrown in the trash once they reach the owner's hands. I devised a system that is working quite well, much to my delight. It's simple and quick. 
Here is the breakdown to painless paper pass out
1. assign each student a number
2. collect student's graded work in a bin (not pictured)
3. when a student is done early have them sort through graded papers 
4. student uses chart that goes with the numbers
5. student files paper in bin
6. presto student's work are neatly filed for them to look at

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Know your audience

The time is approaching when black square hats will fly through the air. Numerous countdowns have surely begun. For graduation day is sooner than it appears. Oh what nerves and excitement emerge on this glorious day. Whether you are about to enter the Ivy League or step foot down a career path here is one piece of advice I would offer you: 
Know your audience. 
Being aware of your potential employer's or professor's take on life  will come in handy. Be an observer and a listener. Notice the words and actions that occur regularly. If you pick up that they are a positive person and stay away from criticism; perhaps you should lower your dosage of negativity. Even if you are complaining about who got kicked off of American Idol. I guess you can say starting a new career or education is like dating. Ease into the relationship. Get to know who you will now start to spend the majority of your time with. Do you have to become their clone? Absolutely not. Be your own person. Just be aware of your new surrounding and watch your Ps & Qs. I will leave you with something I tell my students on repeat: Act like a decent human being.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The outcomes of no change

I came across this quote a while ago and it made me stop and think. 
"If you focus on outcomes you will never change. If you focus on change you will get outcomes." 

Outcomes come slowly to begin with. But they will never come if we do not change. As a teacher I wait for those numbers to start pouring in over the summer. Ah standardized test scores. How glorious and nerve wrecking at the same time. Will the outcomes be what we aimed for all year? There are always let downs and surprises that come out of this discovery.

What I have been wrestling with this year is the quote above. The outcomes of these new common core state test scores seem to be a mystery not to mention how they will affect teachers and students is relatively unknown. Because these two factors are not chiseled out in stone the outcomes are taking a back seat this year. It's not that I'm ignoring potential outcomes; I just do not know what these outcomes are nor how they will affect others.

 Change has played a major role in teaching this year. The old test has retired and a new kid is on the block. Hello Florida State Assessment. Our song and dance for the FCAT is out dated. Causing us to develop new tricks in order to impress Mr. FSA.

 It's like going on a blind date. I am unaware what this person will find admirable. So what do you do in this type of situation? You change because quite frankly there is nothing else you can do. Change your clothes, jewelry and slap on a fresh color of polish because you have a boy to impress. Unfortunately this so called boy comes in the form of a test and could care less what you look like. Unless you are clumsy and some how mess up this computer based test by exiting before you were told to. So here's to the year of change. May the outcomes be ever in our favor. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The correct way to say NO

This is the exact response I received from a student when asked to complete a classroom assignment. I believe the typical teacher would of been irritated by this refusal. I on the other hand was impressed by their creativity. There is a part of me that should of been annoyed that they misused paper and tape, but all I could do was sit back and be amazed. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

For the love of smart phones

Allow or not to allow that is the question when cell phones enter the classroom. Until recently I was not a huge fan of using cell phones in the classroom. Perhaps it was the group of students I was teaching, but this year these little devices have come in handy in more ways than one. 

Every student has access to a free agenda at the beginning of the year to record important tests, projects and assignments. I have yet to come across a student who actually uses their agenda for the purpose they were designed for. At the end of the day they are a glorified hall pass. Teaching students to use their agenda appropriately can be compared to teaching them a foreign language. 

Part of each classes routine is to fill in the lessons objective in their agenda for the day. To be honest having them write the lessons objective is insurance on my behalf. First of all I can skip the silly lesson objective opener that educators are supposed to include each day. "Now today students the objective is to comprehend the stories theme..." Second of all I can go back and show them that they were in fact taught figurative language even though they claim they were not taught this concept. Sure they grumble about filling in their agendas, but it is part of the education game so we play along. 

I do not make them write their homework in their agenda because I know and they know that they will not remember to complete their homework by writing in their agendas. Instead I have resorted to them taking a picture of their homework and making it their lock screen on their phone or tablet. And you want to know something. They remember to complete their homework when it is plastered to the front of their phone compared to hidden in their agenda. I believe the good ole' fashioned agenda days are numbered. 

Not only do smart phones ease the pain of remembering homework, but writing essays as well. It was only a matter of time before a student turned in their essay on a phone and not an actual piece of paper. To make this even better this argumentative essay was on if cell phones should be allowed in the classroom. Oh the irony. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Fearless fighter

A classroom consists of two main objects: teacher(s) and students
Day in and day out these two objects work hand in hand
 The schedule rarely changes
Students walk through a doorway on an hourly basis
Papers shuffle
Dull pencils are replaced with sharp points
The fearless fighter takes the stage 
 A performance is about to begin that their audience must comprehend

Hiding all worries and stress the fearless fighter lays out what is before them
Throughout the performance it is clear that things aren't going according to the plan 
The projector stops working
There's not enough copies
The amount of blank stares indicates there needs to be a swift change
Forever fearless the fighter marches on 

With an untrained eye this might go unnoticed for the fearless fighter is a master 
Not wavering with what their audience brings into the classroom 
They stay true to the course for they know what is at stake
Futures are built and molded within these walls
The fearless fighter will never give up
Defeat is not an option
Fighting for their audience is where their passion lies
For they are fearless

These daily performances are rarely seen by a majority of the world and yet we have all sat in these seats. No stage is needed and adoring fans do not ask for our autographs. There will be no write up in the local newspaper about how marvelous the act was. 
A small handful of individuals are its daily audience. 
Day in and day out the routine is nearly the same. 
Teachers and students working hand in hand. 
For they too are fearless fighters.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Looking in the mirror

I've always been perplexed by the double standard of being a teacher. There seems to be a microscope that pops out and examines various aspects of our lives at any given moment. If we say or do something that is less than teacherish we get our hand slapped. There is very little room for errors because we live our lives in the spotlight whether we like to admit it or not. I've been told on numerous occasions to not be seen in local bars or to be walking into a certain movie at a theater, looking at a type of book in a bookstore and even watch what I write about. You never know how people will interpret words, what eyes will see or what ears will hear.

To make matters worse we are expected to act like good little soldiers. New mandates and latest trends in education flood our classrooms on a yearly basis with little input from educators regarding these changes. You will hear very few teacher complain about these new standards as a whole, but behind closed doors eyes are rolling.

For the most part I don't mind being held to higher standards. I'm a rule follower. I put my students first and know what is best for them. Sometimes I just wish I was treated like an adult and not a student.

Know that I write my post in an honest manner. I am not here to offend anyone or any institution. I am just exercising my freedom of speech. After all that's the beauty of teaching in America.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Broken essays

A couple of weeks ago I was leading up to students writing an essay on a story's theme based on Gary Soto's memoir one last time. The end result of all this work would have them write their own memoir where they would have to pick a them for their own life.

We were in the process of analyzing Soto's memoir, breaking down the plot line discussing possible themes and providing evidence that back up what they were saying. 

I was asking a lot of them. Each day I would reveal a new assignment that would cause them to go deeper into Soto's memoir. For the most part students were going along with the plan. But there was this small group of students that we're starting to grumble.

Their grumbling would intensify each day as a new challenging assignment was given. Until one day a student's head was slowly lowered and stayed there the entire class period. A complete system shut down occurred with this student. I observed from afar until it came time to see if I could intervene in any way. Turns out I couldn't. The class ended and this student went on the merry little way.

The next day I investigated as to why this student completely shut their door on me. You want to know why they decided to lay their head on the desk? I was giving them too much work to complete. I like to call this scenario 'earning my paycheck' I love when students ask why I make things so challenging.  That's part of the job description to challenge their brains.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Unicorn student

You know those students that are beyond amazing. The ones that complete an assignment before it is even given. They catch mistakes and serve as a second teacher in the classroom. Earning anything less than an A is out of the picture. You know the type. They don't come around often but when they do its a sight to see. These students are about as common as a unicorn.

 I have had the privilege of having such students in my class. I marvel at their unbelievable talent to make anything they do look effortless. The funny thing is, they don't brag about their amazingness and the other students don't despise them for being overwhelmingly awesome. How can anyone not gaze in amazement when a unicorn is in their presence. 

I will admit there are times when these unicorn students should just teach the class and I will play student for the day. I do not hesitate to have them assist other students who are having difficulty. Perhaps a small percentage of my paycheck should go to them.

I want to be them when I grow up.
Yes, I know this is not a unicorn. 
It's a miniature elephant. 
Also as rare as a unicorn

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Losing Focus

It's easy to lose focus in the classroom. From state assessments, data collection, formal observations and common core curriculum. With everything that is shoved our direction educators can lose focus on why we entered the classroom in the first place. 

To regain our true purpose in the classroom perhaps we need to examine those that warm our desks on a daily basis. I know when I become overwhelmed with my ever growing to do list I literally glance across my room and all the noise in the background disappear as I am reminded that I am in the classroom for my students. 

I am not a teacher so I can perfectly administer a state test, put on a dog and pony show for an observation, get caught up with all the latest technology trends, create a perfect IEP, earn a highly effective rating on my evaluation or collect never ending data. I am in the classroom for my students and that's it.

I believe when students are put first in the classroom everything else falls into place. Does this always work, no. But I'd rather put them first then put them last. When we lose focus on who our students are and who they are becoming then the joy of teaching vanishes. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

The year of change

Impending doom greeted me the morning of 2014. I affectionately gave 2014 a name "the year of change." A great deal of shifting occurred in my life this past year; more so than in all the other past years. 2014 brought on a change in scenery which proved to be a breathe of fresh air. It brought me back to the city I love, refreshed my walk with the Lord and introduced me to new relationships. As each month of 2014 passed the doom slowly faded into hope as I was once again reminded that I worship a God that never leaves me and prepares a path for me. There is no name for 2015 thus far. Only time will tell what this year will unfold.

Two things I am not fond of:
1. Talking about myself 
2. Getting sentimental. 
The fact that I was able to peck out these couple of sentences is a tiny miracle