This morning, Edutopia published my post, “New Teachers: How to Talk to Parents.” I feel uncomfortable giving advice on anything because I certainly don’t consider myself an expert. Even after 26 years of teaching, I know that I have a lot to learn. But I have a few Oprah-ish, What-I-Know-For-Sure truths that I have collected throughout my career – and I can tell you that I Know For Sure that developing a positive relationship with the parents of my students goes a long way toward developing a positive relationship with the students.
In my latest article for Fusion, I give advice to school systems, teachers, and parents to help make education more efficient in ways that will benefit the students as well as all of the stakeholders. Click here to read, “12 Actions to Maximize the Value of a Teacher’s Time.”
And, just in case you missed them, here are my previous articles for Fusion:
- 10 Common Phrases Teachers Should Never Say to Students
- 7 Classroom Management Myths and How to Combat Them
- The 7 E’s of Classroom Design
- 9 Great Ways to Encourage Students to Ask Questions
- 7 Fundamental Pieces of Advice for New Teachers
- 21st Century Skills: 17 Ways to Demonstrate the 4C’s of Hermione Granger
- 10 Signs You Really Are a 21st Century Teacher (And May Not Know)
- 21 Tips to Create a Classroom Culture of Laughter
- 15 Actionable Strategies for Increasing Student Motivation and Engagement
- 25 Creative Ways to Incorporate More Project Based Learning into Your Classroom
Our state has a new appraisal system for teachers, and goals for professional growth are a huge part of it. Within 24 hours on the Twittersphere I came across two great suggestions for helping teachers with this process.
First, I read a post by Jennifer Gonzalez on “Cult of Pedagogy.” Jennifer describes something called a, “Pineapple Chart.” This chart is displayed in a central location at the school such as the lounge, and gets its name from the tradition of pineapples representing hospitality. Each week, a blank chart is hung, and teachers can fill in spots to invite the staff to observe special lessons that they are doing that may be of interest. No one is required to invite, and it isn’t mandatory to attend. If one does choose to (inobtrusively) pop in on one of the lessons, there is no minimum time and no responsibility to take notes. If you think what you are teaching might be of interest, put it on the chart. If you want to learn about something in particular, visit a teacher who can model it for you.
Not quite as casual as the Pineapple Chart is Robert Kaplinsky’s “Observe Me” sign. (H/T to Jodi Harris for sharing this!) Teachers who hang these on their doors are also inviting people into their classrooms, but they are asking for feedback on specific goals they list on the signs. If there isn’t time for enough people to do live observations, there is even a sign version that offers a QR code that links to videos of the teacher’s lessons. Along with the “Observe Me” sign, some teachers even include a clipboard with copies of the rubrics used for appraising the selected goals.
Watching our colleagues teach gives us new ideas for improving our own teaching. Getting feedback from our colleagues is also invaluable. Both of these suggestions are wonderful ways to promote professional growth and are probably far more effective than the traditional staff development model.
Today I want to give a shout-out to a teacher. I’m not going to give his name because I don’t want to inadvertently embarrass the student involved.
Yesterday, my daughter told me about a girl in one of her classes who realized, too late, that she studied for the wrong quiz. Apparently, the teacher alternates Type A quiz and Type B quiz, and she had studied valiantly for Type B on a Type A day.
When the student realized her mistake, she was genuinely horrified and upset.
Before my daughter told me the outcome of the story, I thought about how I would have handled the situation as this student’s teacher.
I’m sorry to say that, as a 5th grade teacher many years ago, I probably would have told the student that she should have checked her agenda and I hope she learned from her mistake.
Inwardly I hoped that my daughter’s teacher was better than the rookie teacher I was 20 years ago.
My daughter told me that the teacher didn’t say anything. However, as the teacher passed out the quizzes to the students, a Type A to each, he silently gave that one girl a Type B quiz instead.
What an awesome teacher. He realized what took me too long to realize – that you never discourage a child’s effort to learn!
Plus, way to be organized and have the other quiz ahead of time 😉
I have a few friends who don’t like their jobs. I mean REALLY. DON’T. LIKE. It seems like it would be really depressing to wake up in the morning and think, “Only 10 more years. I hope I can make it.”
Don’t get me wrong. When I get up in the morning, I think, “Only 10 more minutes. I’m sure I can still make it – maybe if I don’t eat breakfast.” But then I get up and go to work. Usually when my husband starts grumbling about me hitting the snooze button too many times. And some days it’s pretty great, and most days it’s good, and those days usually add up to enough to make me feel like I chose a pretty good career, thank goodness, because teaching stuffed animals wasn’t going to get me as far as I thought when I was five years old.
I read an article the other day about how to fall in love with a job you don’t like. At first I felt guilty. “Why am I reading this?” I thought. “I love my job already – don’t I?” And then I remembered that I do. (It’s totally normal to have to remind yourself of this every once in awhile. Trust me.) But I decided to keep reading so I could see if the advice might help my I. REALLY. DON’T. LIKE. MY. JOB. friends.
And then I had a revelation.
Guess who else gets up every morning and thinks, “Only 10 more years. I hope I can make it.” (If you are a grammar/punctuation Nazi, then perhaps you can tell me if I was supposed to put a question mark somewhere in there. And if so, where would it go?) Kids who hate school. For many kids, school is their job, and they REALLY. DON’T. LIKE.IT.
I scanned David G. Allan’s article again, this time with the perspective of a teacher who has a student who hates school. And I thought, “I. AM. A. GENIUS!” Because every suggestion in the article would probably really help a kid who hates school but has a teacher who wants to help him stop hating school. It’s all about reframing things. And, let’s face it – teachers are good at that.
So, whether you hate your job, know people who hate their jobs, or know kids who hate their going-to-school jobs which don’t even pay minimum wage, I highly recommend you read David G. Allan’s article, “Fall in Love with a Job You Don’t Even Like, In Three Steps.”
In conclusion, I admit that this was a slightly confusing blog post, somewhat stream of conscious-y, so let’s clear everything up with a short review before we do a formative assessment:
- I don’t not like my job.
- I am a genius.
- David G. Allan should be a teacher. Or fall in love with one. Or become a genius.
- D. All of the above.
I want to welcome a new teacher to the profession. I don’t know him. I don’t even know where he teaches. But I know he teaches 4th grade, and I’m pretty sure his students are going to have an awesome year.
Mr. Reed made a special music video to welcome his students to 4th grade, and watching it made me wish I could be in his class. I love that he found a way to combine two of his obvious passions – music and teaching. I also think it’s great that you can download the music track for free here.
You’re incredible, Mr. Reed. To you, and all of the other new teachers beginning their careers this year, I welcome your energy, enthusiasm, and elation. I wish I could make you feel as special as your students must feel. Thank you for committing to this profession and, more importantly, to the students. I don’t have a music video to communicate how great it is to have you join our ranks, but here is a link to my Pinterest Board of Inspirational Video for Teachers to help you out on those days when you start wondering if you made the right decision. (Trust me, you did, Mr. Reed!)
In my latest article for Fusion, I give some advice to new teachers – fully aware that I still feel like a rookie after 25 years in the profession. If you don’t have time to read it all, at least check out the last paragraph where I reveal my favorite teaching/parenting secret that has never once failed me in a quarter of a century 😉