Sunday, February 27, 2011

Teachers should monitor students for possible home problems

Teaching is not just about preparing a lesson, presenting it, and grading papers. You are also the eyes and ears of possible student problems at home. It is a teacher's duty to be on the look out and recognize trouble. It is not something teachers like doing. But it is part of being a teacher, and in most cases, you are legally obligated to report certain troubling signs. The following is just a handful of troubling signs that may warrant more attention. Teachers should not ignore them.

Probably the first and obvious sign of trouble you can detect is a sleepy student. This is not just a case of a lazy student. Students are young and should be full of life. If they walk into your classroom groggy, listless, and can't stay awake in class, this is trouble.

The second sign of student problems is hygiene. Not just hygiene, but overall student cleanliness. Granted, a lot of students like wearing torn and dirt clothes, but there is a difference. If you notice a student wearing the same shirt day after day, and it gets dirtier, there may be problems. Student showing up with filthy faces and smelling is a sure sign. You see your students on a daily basis. You should be able to tell when they are lacking in basic hygiene.

Teachers need to be on the lookout for changes in behavior. You know your students just about as well as anyone. Do they suddenly change? If they were a polite student, are they now belligerent? Have they stopped doing homework? Are they showing up late to class all of a sudden? Do they now come unprepared to work? Do they look sad and uninterested? Do you notice them crying? Look for sudden and drastic changes in students' behaviors.

You must report child abuse. If you notice any injuries that just don't look like normal childhood injuries, you may need to report it. This can include things like bruises. Teachers do walk a fine line here. It may be hard to tell whether an injury is normal kid stuff, or abuse. However, abusive injuries are probably easier to detect. They just don't look or feel right. If you see injuries and any of the above, the combination may be quite telling.

Here's a couple of other tips for teachers and student problems.

Do they come to school in the winter without a coat?

What do their shoes look like?

Do they seldom have paper, notebook, pencils, or other common school items?

Remember, it's not about getting the parent in trouble. Many cases parents just can't get a handle on things, or cannot afford them. There are agencies that work with families in ways that help them, not punish them.

It is your duty as a teacher to be the eyes and ears of the welfare of your students.

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Teachers are not above the rest

This will step on some toes. But teachers are not above all others. We are not god. We don't have jobs that make us better than anyone else in the world. We are not the most valuable profession. And we need to stop thinking like this.

If you work for a public school, you are a public employee. You are paid by the taxpayers. Don't the taxpayers deserve something for their money? Does walking out of class do your students any good? Where should a teacher be?

If you don't like your pay, or conditions, guess what. You don't need to be a teacher. People do not need to bend over backward for you or treat you as someone special just because you are a teacher. You chose to be a teacher. Nobody forced you. As easy as you became a teacher, you can become an ex-teacher. If you seriously don't like working as a teacher in your current position, quit. You'll do us all a favor.

For 30 years, we have seen the rise of teacher unions. And at the same time, the fall of student achievement.

We will walk off the job so we get a couple of bucks more in our pocket, but continue the status quo of high dropout rates. And when people talk reform, we whine, oh no! You can't do that to us! We're special! We're teachers! Why society just can't live without us.

Wrong. They can. If you are not there for your students first and foremost, then what kind of a teacher are you? You think being paid more makes you a better teacher? So the teachers in New York and California are much better teachers than the ones in North Dakota? Hardly. Have you looked at the achievement scores lately? What kind of a product do you put out? Then you complain about how you should not be held responsible to teach all students.

You complain about teacher tests and student tests. Thinking that somehow education and educators are different than doctors, and even plumbers. Those professions must take tests. And they are judged by the state as to what kind of product they put out. You don't want your student judged by a test, but they can't even get a drivers license without taking a written standardized test. Why should high school be judged looser? Your students need skills. It's up to you to teach them. If you don't want to, or can't, then please leave the profession. If you think paying more for your retirement makes you a worse teacher, quit. Taxpayers are your bosses. It's their money that pays your salary. If you thumb your nose at them, you will suffer the backlashes that are building against teachers and their unions.

Your students should not be left abandoned in school rooms while you picket a state capital.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Teachers, prepare for the month of March!

Teaching can be a rewarding job, but it is also tiring and stressful. While February is one of the best months, March can be one of the most stressful.

This is the middle of the school year. You are probably tired and feeling a little stressful. Because you are fresh, September and October seem to fly by. But March has no holidays and it is a long month. The time stretch between President's Day and Spring Break is quite long. If you are a new or veteran teacher, it can be quite a burnout month. Take a deep breath.

Since there is a week before President's Day, you are now aware that that will be the last good break for a while. Use it wisely. Relax. Do not take home a lot of work during this holiday. You will need it to rest. So, watch the assignments you give out and mark the due dates. Don't let anything interfere with your relaxation in this break!

This is a time to reflect on the teaching year. What has been successful? What has failed? Be determined to work on things that need improving.

Go with the long stretch! This will be a golden opportunity to not have anything get in the way of the continuity of student learning. Many teachers complain that students lose something over the summer. Well, it's the same during holidays and breaks. Be determined to really get your students down to business! You will build momentum and not have it slowed down!

Pat yourself on the back for getting through half the year! This stretch will end, then Spring Break, and boom. Next thing you know, it's Memorial Day and the last days of school!

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Monday, February 7, 2011

February is best month to be an elementary teacher

Except for September, perhaps February is the best month to be an elementary teacher. There is so much going on.

It is the middle of the school year. You have gotten to know and love all of your students. They all know and love you. February is the one month when there is so much going on and full of things to do with your class. There will be cold days, rainy days, and snow days. Just the kind of days that say "school time."

Ground Hog day. This day can be fun. Doing a lesson on winter, spring, and the legend of the ground hog and his shadow.

Black History Month. February is Black History month and no doubt your school will have some activities going on. The perfect time to do a little history on topics that may not be main stream, but certainly worth doing.

Valentine's Day. If ever there was a fun day in school, it has to be Valentine's Day. This can be a better party day than Christmas or Halloween. Crafts and activities are just too many to do! Have fun with it.

Abraham Lincoln's birthday. No doubt Mr. Lincoln may the best known and loved of all presidents. Perfect for stories, coloring, and activities.

George Washington's birthday. Every school kid should know about Washington. The activities are endless.

The federal holiday is now called President's Day, but many state and local districts take off for both Lincoln and Washington on separate days.

What else in February? How about leap year, or non leap year? Give the kids a little calendar history as well!

Being an elementary teacher is one of the most rewarding jobs there are. And the month of February is one of the best months of the school year!

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Art teachers: Google creates virtual art museums

Google has created the google Art Project. For art teachers, this can be an amazing tool.

You can take virtual tours of famous art museums around the world. What makes this unique, is that you can zoom in on famous art, as if you are standing there and wandering around the museums. You can see brush strokes.

Another feature, is that you can create your own virtual collection of your favorite art.

Students and teachers can find detailed information about the art and artists. Search for specific art pieces and artists.

This is a spectacular tool for art teachers and students. Take advantage of it!

Visit at: google Art Project

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