In a reflection on the first two weeks of school, Fred the Fish of Are We Doing Anything Today? notes that she made some beginning-of-the-year phone calls to the parents of students who had neglected an early assignment. Her husband, she shares, then formulated a helpful taxonomy of parent types: After describing the calls to my husband he commented that, to him, there appear to be two classes of parents. Those who side with the teacher to support the kid, and those who side with the kid against the teacher. One could argue there is a third group of parents ...


Despite her enthusiasm for her new school, Sam of Clean Up On Aisle Life says that, a couple of days ago, she had what we imagine is a fairly typical teacher-anxiety dream for this time of year: [I] woke up from a nightmare about the first day of school in which I got into a huge argument with another teacher in front of my students AND lost my hyper-organized First Day Folder. Later she wonders: “Will I always have this anxiety the night before the first day back?” To judge from the experiences of Mrs. Ris of Mentor Matters, a ...


Sam of Clean Up On Aisle Life is almost beside herself with joy and disbelief about the school where she's landed: There is a procedure for everything, and it is spelled out for you in efficiently run meetings, then followed up with real action. Whenever I speak with a teacher, they say, "This school is so great because of the administration." Whenever I speak with an administrator, they say, "This school is so great because of the teachers." I feel as if I have entered an education fantasy land of mutual respect, genuine concern for student goals that leads to ...


Joanne Jacobs takes a look at a newly published book, The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids, thoughtfully left on her kitchen table by her daughter, "a classic overachiever." According to a review of the book posted on amazon.com, author Alexandra Robbins follows the lives of students from a Bethesda, Md., high school as they navigate the SAT and college application process. These students are obsessed with success, contending with illness, physical deterioration ... cheating ... obsessed parents. (Publishers' Weekly) Sounds like the stuff neuroses are made of. "The book paints a true picture for a few students," Jacobs writes, ...


Vicki A. Davis at Cool Cat Teacher reports on her six-week odyssey moving from a manual system to an automated one: the PowerSchool system. It was a long six weeks. But, says Ms. Davis: Moving from manual systems to PowerSchool has gone relatively smoothly largely because of the amazing leadership from administration. Ms. Davis outlines some detailed lessons she learned along the way, including reflections about ownership, communication, and empathy. And, the proof is in the pudding. When the teachers opened up the gradebook and already had rosters with parent names and phone numbers, squeals of delight filled the classroom! ...


Polski3, a middle-school teacher who blogs at Polski's View From Here, ventures into his classroom for a quick look-see before school starts. He has a brief chat with the principal, who says that ... he wants all the teachers in lock-step; everyone teaching the same thing on the same day, being on the "SAME PAGE" at the same time, including testing the students with the SAME TEST on the SAME DAY ... Polski3 isn't sure that's quite the right approach. He adds: Our opening day inservice is "Step Up to Writing." We've done some of this before, but I don't know of ...


Administrators in Mei Flower's district, having decided that teachers needed just half a day of classroom preparation before the onslaught of classes, planned a half-day inservice "pep rally" for the afternoon. The program included such standards as the Pledge of Allegiance ("This went well. We all knew the words.") and an address by the local union president, plus "special" fare like a slideshow from the previous year ("I already lived through last year, thanks, let's move on.") and local kids singing a medley of Broadway show tunes ("I don't understand why we had a concert forced upon us when we ...


It’s that time of year when many, if not most, teachers may be wondering: “Where’d the summer go?” Hobo Teacher, indulging his inner conspiracy theorist, has even taken to speculating that there may be a secret plot to gradually eliminate teachers’ summers entirely: Conspiracy Hobo Teacher is thinking that the district is shaving off days of summer break ever so discretely. There's a day knocked off the beginning, one dropped from the end, little by little, until BAM--no more summer break. I half expect that the administration will slip a mickey into the punch bowl at the next ...


Entering her 10th year in teaching this fall, Junior High School Teacher is starting to think about the future—i.e., does she see herself being a teacher for the next 10 years? On the pro side, she views teaching as “the most important contribution I’ve made so far in my life. … I’ve made a difference as a teacher.” But there’s a major con: She feels she’s being worn down by the “political climate of teaching”—which, for her, primarily takes the form of mandated, one-size-fits all curricula: Last year I threw out almost every thing ...


California ELL teacher TMAO posts his goals for his recent South American jaunt to Peru, along with the outcomes of each. (You read that right: TMAO had goals for his vacation.) One of which, to ride an alpaca, was not as easy as it sounded: "They are, however, delicious. Much like veal without that guilty feeling." But what teacher travels without bringing back the goods for the kids? To wit, goal #4: Return with Incan artifacts suitable for use in 6th and 7th grade social studies classrooms. Not so much. I did learn that "Inca" referred only to the individual ...


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