Direction: Write a six-word sentence, a mini-memoir, of your teacher life. Response: I'm always learning, can't help it. Teacher Magazine is asking teachers to participate in this project. If you haven't read the responses yet, you should. Read "The Short Happy Lives of Teachers", then add your own sentence. I think we're writing a poem of the teacher experience. It's an epic poem. This is my week of professional development for the summer. I'm attending the Maryland Artist/Teacher Institute (MATI). This week I have created a puppet and an artist book and several poems and a dance and a ...


I spent a year with middle school students. I taught an 8th grade science and social studies class first quarter then moved to a 7th grade language arts class. I also led a 6th grade advisory class all year. So I directly interacted with all three classes. Sixth grade entered in August like the elementary students they knew how to be. Excited about school, eager to begin, and respectful of teachers. The students came in wearing curiosity on their faces. Curiosity is a blessing for teachers. Eighth graders entered with the cockiness of upperclassmen. They knew the ropes, the administration's ...


I hear so many voices every day. I hear students calling loudly to friends in the hall, and students whispering confidentially to me in class when they need help. I hear teachers complain and celebrate. I hear administrators express exhaustion, and in the next breath, explain plans for the move to excellence. Sometimes I hear myself in the cacophony, but it’s all too rare. I’ve been reading the other blogs. Jessica Shyu let her voice express her guilt over leaving the classroom. Then, listening to herself, she was convinced she had made the right decision. She has the ...


I'm sorry I haven't contributed anything worthwhile to the Teacher Blogs recently. All the immediate concerns of special education take up each day, and suddenly a couple of weeks have gone by and I haven't had time to step back and look at the big picture. I have a little time now, so let me look. I'm thinking about the power of the written word. What a great thing it is to communicate ideas, information, or images through words.. I worked with students this week on a poetry assignment. The assignment was quite simple, and asked them to create a ...


I've been working with middle school students for five months now. We're at the end of the second quarter. It is evaluation time. As a classroom teacher I assess student academic progress and assign a grade. This is done with my co-teacher. We look at scores on tests and quizzes, award points for homework turned in, and measure class participation. Standard procedure for every teacher. As a special educator, I also prepare quarterly reports that measure progress on IEP goals and objectives. This is not as concrete a process. Although an IEP is written with goals that are supposed to ...


New Year's is, of course, a time to reflect on Self. Formal resolutions aren't required, but time to look back and the willingness to look ahead are. Last year I wrote about using a notebook to keep track of all my "to-do's". That system has worked well for me. Everyone at my new school knows that I carry a red notebook -- and if they ask me to do something, they ask me to write it in the notebook. That way they know I'll see it again, and remember to actually do the task. I'm spending time today looking through ...


I have been sluggish recently. Like a slug, in a slump, for about the last month. I am slumpish. I think my mind is trying to go into hibernation. Each day has become a long list of to-do’s and meetings. Each day’s class follows the same routine. My lunch is boring. I climb into bed the same time each night, and rise around the same time. I don’t want to do much at home. I’m in an early winter cave. No creativity. I knew I was in trouble when someone said “Good Morning” to me last ...


I had an unexpected blessing a couple of weeks ago. My home computer was broken. I shouldn’t use the passive tense – actually I tripped on the power cord and yanked it onto the floor. For some reason, it won’t work anymore. This has been a problem. Since I am a special ed department chair, a lot of my work involves the internet. We use an online IEP program; I can write documents, schedule meetings, and contact parents or staff members from home. I can work ten hours at school, then come home and do another hour or two. ...


The day after my last posting, I was asked to cover another teacher's class for 45 minutes. She was absent, and no substitute teacher was available. I agreed easily, because I am a team player. I actually like going into another teacher's class. Since I only teach one class of one subject of one grade, it's a way for me to meet more students in my new school. I went into that classroom, relieving another teacher who had covered the first half. I introduced myself as a regular teacher in the school. The students had their work, and knew it ...


The first quarter is almost over. The teachers now know which students are "problems" or "challenges" or "high-flyers" -- the ones who will need a lot of teacher time to handle attitude issues. One of our school administrators said to me (with a very loud sigh), "I guess the honeymoon's over". She was referring to discipline. The teachers use positive reinforcement techniques, with praise for a job well done, and reward slips given out generously. But the teachers also use progressive dscipline, meaning that there is a tier of response to behavior. First we try talking to the student privately ...


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