Saturday, May 22, 2010

Roosevelt Franklin!

hmm... need to work on the sizing issues. Sorry.

Thanks to One Album a Day for this blast from the past!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

One of those days...

I know they're just 6th graders, but do they have to be such... 6th graders?!?!?

I was looking forward today too -- the boys' school, Science and English periods, figurative language  (onomatopoeia! alliteration!) -- but it's so hard to teach while repeatedly saying "Shhhh!"

Monday, May 17, 2010

Be Less Helpful

Got in trouble last night for waking up with The Wife with a way too late in the evening "Hallelujah!" due to checking out Teacherninja's post of Dan Meyer's video on "How to Teach..." -- all evening I had been slightly nervous about starting a week-long job, but this got me all fired up!

I'm not a Math person and he lost me on the ski slopes, but I am totally into the "be less helpful" angle* and I consider my absolute number 1 priority as a teacher (and parent/coach/adult) to prepare students for what comes next for the rest of their lives: solving problems.  I don't consider not having all the correct answers penciled in on a workbook page or turning in a certain amount of homework assignments to be problems; more often than not I see students simply copying off others, filling in the answers during review, or completely tuning out the lesson and discussion until the quick 'n easy how do I jump through the next hoop solution is presented.  It looks like Dan Meyer's blog tackles similar issues, plus he and his shopping cart were on Good Morning America!

*My sons will recognize this in the form of one of my mantras: "Look it up!"

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Reasons To Hire Me

where was I, number 7?

7.  Don't let my "visible experience" from point #6 mislead, I am not a doddering retiree embarking on a second career -- I'm still (relatively) young and (fairly) active.  We walk, hike, racquetball, skateboard, challenge any number of sons plus neighborhood children to basketball, football, or dodgeball, and spend a majority of the summer at the beach.  I feel an active, healthy lifestyle is beneficial on mental and scholarly levels and want my students to see me practicing what I preach -- eating fruit and veggies, getting outside and walking around during breaks, classroom stretching every once in a while to get our blood flowing... and on the middle school hoops, I can still dunk.

8. I am active in the community -- several different communities, actually.  We do Cub Scouts near home, sports near the former home, and the boys' school is in a separate part if town entirely.  I've coached Pop Warner football teams, taught Art lessons, made signs and hung banners, and picked up trash and folded chairs after many an event.  I remember hearing a teacher complain about seeing a student and family while grocery shopping, but I think it's so cool when I hear "Coach Joel!" or "Mr. Nauton!" and see one of my kids around town.  Although it's probably like the All-Star giving autographs, it gets old after a while...?

9.  I have three sons, one each in high/middle/elementary school. They were my inspiration for taking this leap, my encouragement and tutors during the return to school, and my connections as I enter the world of 8-15 year olds ("what is a justin beiber again?").  Mostly through the use of the word "no" I am able to stay in touch with the modern student's world, as in "No, you may not see that movie/watch that show/play that song one more time/wear your pants like that/have a girlfriend" etc, etc.  I also have a constant supply of book recommendations, pop culture questions, technology upgrade requests, and a captive audience when I want to experiment try out a new lesson plan or classroom behavior strategy.

Application Time!

I'm not sure what is worse: this line from a local school district:

"We received over 400 applications and only hired 10 new teachers."

...or the dreaded "Tell us about yourself" introduction letter?

I was never good at self-evaluations at work, either too critical or too much the braggart -- but "I really didn't do much of anything" won't get one a raise, and "This place would collapse into rubble without me" doesn't endear one to immediate supervisors.  Now I need to tell principals why they should hire me to work in one of their classrooms, and I'm out on the tightrope, balancing between the feeling that I have no idea what I'm doing and announcing myself as the second coming of Socrates.

So why should a principal hire me?  Let me count the ways...

  1. I enjoy kids.  They amaze me when they learn, inspire me when they create, crack me up just by walking in the door and saying good morning.
  2. I love learning.  Through reading, hearing, watching, doing -- even trying to do but messing things up can be some learning. I love learning about new things I've never heard of before and learning something new about things I thought I knew all about.  I love sharing the "Wow, that was cool!" moment with others when we learn together.
  3. I think it is very important to set a good example, to walk the walk after (and sometimes during) talking the talk -- teachers/parents/adults should do the same things we tell children they should do, such as read a book, get out in the fresh air, visit a museum, make friends with a bully, sit up straight...
  4. I enjoy what I do.  If we have to work or do a task, might as well do it with a smile, do it well, do it right the first time.  It sounds corny, but I cannot wait to have a job I am really going to look forward to going to each morning!
  5. I know how to listen to and talk with a wide variety of people, even unhappy ones.  I was in retail sales for 20 years and have heard every complaint, excuse, and con in the book.  I will be able to efficiently communicate and cooperate with parents and co-workers, and be able to calmly handle any difficulties that might arise.
  6. Speaking of years, I have lived a few more than most rookie teachers, which means not only do I have a bit of that distinguished, professorial gray, but I'm definitely in this job for life.  I plan on spending at least the next 30 years (just enough to pay off the student loans!) as a teacher.  It is who I am, it is what I want to do.