Category: teaching

Unfinished Business?

Unfinished Business?

I retired from teaching about seven years ago. I was lucky because I still enjoyed the kids and coming to school each day, but there were other things I wanted to do and after thirty years in education, I thought now was the time. I was a pet photographer for a few years, I wrote a book, and I subbed off and on. I was also able to do some traveling abroad, which I love, and was enjoying setting my own schedule, especially when it came to using the bathroom. It’s the little things, I guess, and as much as I enjoyed the kids, I didn’t miss correcting papers or filling out report cards. Now at our house in Maine, where we’ll spend quite a bit of our time, I visited a local school to ask about subbing. That’s when it happened. I was asked whether I’d consider filling in as a classroom teacher for the year.

You’d think that, with plans to enjoy time with my wife, who had just retired from teaching, as well as spending time in New York with our kids and family, and traveling, any sane person would’ve immediately dismissed the idea. Not to mention that bathroom thing. Unfortunately,¬†I’m one of those people that gets caught up in the moment. You might even say I’m weak-minded. I immediately began thinking of setting up my new classroom and the excitement of meeting my new students that first day. I even had activities set for that first week. Then, reality set in. Although I love the idea of having a new class, there’s still correcting, report cards, planning around a school day and calendar, … and masking tape. I swore I wouldn’t use masking tape ever again. So I’ll just wait and see how this plays out. In the meantime, I went on my morning bike ride along the ocean and we’re going to the beach later. I can do what I want and when I want to do it. At least until I change my mind.

Jim

Today’s Title Is… Classroom Priorities

Today’s Title Is… Classroom Priorities

Teachers have so many decisions to make each day regarding instruction and classroom management. I found over the years that there were “smaller” specific issues that I could deal with quickly so that they didn’t take up a lot of time and didn’t have a lasting affect on my instruction. It’s not that they didn’t matter, it’s that, in the scheme of things, they were not as big a priority. Here are 5 issues that can and should be handled quickly and then moved on from.

  1. Swearing: Yes, we all know that there are certain words that aren’t appropriate for school. That being said, if one of my students came up to tell me that a classmate swore, I usually asked what they said. Sometimes they’d share and sometimes they were embarrassed. Then I asked them to spell it. In the end, I’d remind the offending student that we didn’t use that language in school. That was it. I don’t remember ever having a repeat offender.
  2. Head lice: When head lice showed up in our school, we’d get a notice to bring our class to the nurse for “head checks”. I simply let the kids know that it’s a common problem, anyone can get them, and we’d all be getting our heads looked at- me included.
  3. Cheating: My kids knew from Day 1 that honesty was a priority for me. If I suspected a kid of cheating I just reminded everyone¬†about the importance of doing your own work, etc. and that I didn’t want to single out someone for cheating, in part because of the embarrassment it would bring, but I would if necessary.
  4. Kids w/o pencils, etc.: It did bother me when a student ran out of every day supplies like pencils, but it was never worth making a big deal out of it. I either gave him/her an extra or a classmate would. Other than expecting a thank you, that’s all there was to it.
  5. Leaving the classroom for extra help: Whether for academic reasons, counseling, etc. I never made it a big deal. If it came up, I just used the analogy of a professional athlete, singer, etc. having a coach and reminded kids that we all need help or guidance to improve.