May 30, 2010

Classroom Crowding

I hate to get on my soapbox about the olden days, but as teacher positions continue to be cut, classroom sizes continue to increase. I am reminded of my first grade classroom at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School.

There were 20 girls, 20 boys, and Sister Lois Ann.

You didn't mess with Sister Lois Ann.

It was a different world then. Children obeyed their teachers, because they knew they'd get in trouble at home if they did not. Today, parents have been known to cuss out teachers who dare to expect a standard of behavior or academic achievement. As a teacher, I hope I wouldn't take it personally. It's not wrong to raise the bar high.

I've taught classrooms of 38 students. I've had visitors admire my classroom control.

I learned a lot from Sister Lois Ann. Even if I didn't know it at the time.

What, in retrospect, did you learn from your early teachers?

May 27, 2010

Makeup Rules for Small Town Girls

1. Bright red lipstick is just not appropriate unless you're over 40.
2. Put on eyeliner first, then drink coffee.
3. Don't skip the makeup thinking, "It's only Walmart." You WILL run into someone you know.
4. If it's after church on Sunday, be especially mindful of #3.
5. If you go to "Glamor Shots" or a similar photography place on the day of your Senior Prom, thinking you can get your hair & makeup professionally done, be aware that they don't style the back of your head.

May 24, 2010

I'm Invisible to Teens

Teenagers don't see me.

It's true. I stood in front of a classroom door, watching hundreds of kids pass by. I was invisible.

They do not see me, they do not make eye contact, they do not smile, and they do not speak to me. They speak to each other, so I know it's not a physical perception problem. The problem is me. I'm an adult. They don't need me, therefore, they don't see me.

I've instructed my children to be the "Tenth Leper" so to speak. Be the one who is a little different, a little better, than their peers. Be the one who writes a thank you note to the teacher at the end of the term, letting him/her know that you appreciate what you learned. Be the one who makes eye contact in the hallway, perhaps a smile or a nod as you walk by. It costs nothing, but it does something important.

It makes you memorable.

A few years from now, when you want a job reference or a letter of recommendation for a scholarship, who are you going to ask to write one? Your teachers. Don't wait until the last semester of your Senior year to make all nicey-nice and suck up right before you need them. Teachers can smell fake a mile away.

If you have built a reputation for being excellent by starting years ahead of time, the adults in your life will remember that you were the one who was excellent in the sea of mediocrity that fills the school hallways.

You don't build a reputation over night. You build it day, by day, by day, little by little. By doing the little things. Like acknowledging people in your life.

Who are you going to acknowledge today?

May 14, 2010

Undercover Edu-Boss

Yeah, I'm on Twitter. It's a good way to stay on top of breaking news and trending topics. I also have a personal learning network of incredible people who are gracious enough to share amazing resources with me. We often get some good discussions going. Sometimes I get on a roll and cannot confine all my thoughts to a single 140-character tweet.

Having watched the show "Undercover Boss" (and loving it!!!) I got into a series of tweets with another educator about having the Undercover Boss pretend to be an entry level employee in an education setting. He/she wouldn't last a week. My tweets:

I want the undercover edu-boss to teach 2nd grade math with no workbooks. I want the undercover edu-boss to serve 500 meals in the cafeteria & clean up after, minus one worker and no supply budget. I want the undercover edu-boss to teach HS Eng in an inclusion class where no one is able to be quiet for more than 10 seconds.

I want the undercover edu-boss to sit at the receptionist's desk and call 42 subs before he/she can find one to take this class.

I'm just tired of them cutting at the bottom instead of the top. They have no clue.
Baldwin County is getting a new Superintendent. God bless him with wisdom. I hope he starts his new job by spending time at the bottom. He'll learn a lot more there than in the ivory tower.

What are you learning at the bottom today?

May 11, 2010

Tell Me Something Good

There is a young man I see from time to time. Each time I greet him, I ask him to "Tell me something good." He often says he doesn't know anything good. Maybe he thinks I want to hear about good grades, or something like that. Maybe he's not sure what I want to hear, so he claims not to know anything.

What I want to hear is something good.

After many encounters with no satisfactory report, I finally asked him, "Can you not see that the sky is blue? The sun is out? Do you not hear the birds singing? Do you not smell the gardenias wafting on every breeze? Is the earth not still spinning on its axis? There's plenty of good. Open your eyes!"

I'll be curious to learn what good thing he has to report at our next meeting. And how I might respond if he, once again, denies knowing of anything good. Especially now that he knows there is no wrong answer.

There is no wrong answer.

What good things can you talk about today?