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Spoiled Teacher

Good Teacher. Gone Bad.

You have to read this first.

So I decided to pick up my virtual pen again.  That’s the announcement.

My latest ebook is “I’m a Principal’s Target, Now What” and I’ve already begun research for Version 2.0 as well begun the planning for an Educator Abuse Story ebook…I need your support to do so.  As the daughter of a hard-working nurse and construction-laborer, I know the value of hard work. In order to continue this work, I will need your support. If you can comment or re-share anything that I write or otherwise share your generosity, I am truly appreciative and will help you in return any way that I can.


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After taking care of my 3 year old, my greatest passion is my company This Teacher Speaks, LLC. We’re focused on helping schools and community-based organizations strategically develop their social media presence in ways of maximum impact.  This company was born out of the suffocating silence I felt that teachers like myself had to endure underneath the absolute, corrupt, and unethical power of those who we trust with the reigns of our career.  Right now I play an integral role in meaningful projects via my daughter company, #SocialPatois:  Shout-out to uftsolidarity.org, #uftsolidarity, #kamanient, and #thelastpews!

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If Rigor was a man, what would he look like?

Once upon a time, I was a wise fool of a teacher. In Washington, DC working as a High School English Teacher at an Alternative High School, I was asked to “make the lesson more rigorous”. I was then told to go on Classroom Visits to other classrooms to see this Rigor. Still, I could not find the elusive Rigor, SO I innocently asked the Principal (who was fired – after 4 teacher resignations that year – by the Board of Directors for incompetence) what was Rigor. And had to sit and listen to a bunch of mumbo jumbo. SMH at this particular charter school. Don’t drink the blue juice.

Race from Axe

Like Teacher Rubrics? Try Principal Ones

Thank you again RACE TO THE TOP for your madness and your baby the Common Core.  Which I called “bullshit” on as soon as it dropped, but who listens to me anyway.

It’s okay, really.  I’m always laughing last.

If you like rubrics, and Danielson warms your toes at night, there’s no need to be faithful.

There’s more out there:  http://usny.nysed.gov/rttt/teachers-leaders/practicerubrics/

But I do try to lay off Danielson.  Many people try to attack her as though it was her fault that her work became what it is today.  I was on a live Webinar call with her on which she explained her framework in depth, and you know, it’s not her fault they took her rubric and ran away with it.  She never intended for it to be attached to evaluations.  She actually came up with this tool for teachers to aspire to…or at least embody.  The pressure was really put on her to try to make her framework fit teacher evaluations because the Race to the Top hounds really had no systemic means or methods of implementing the government mandate, but they sure as hell wanted that $$$$$.

If you look at the framework now, it’s been chopped up and cut up so many times, it doesn’t even look human.

The Fish Rots From the Head

I thought a lil’ saying would sum up everything nice and tidy.

But the question is:  But suppose the head’s been chopped off already?

HERE I AM pouring out my heart to Chancellor ‘Rina…and the chick couldn’t even throw an eyelash in my direction.  Over HERE Chancellor…you know the teacher you said you cared about?  Remember all that bull-shit you and your predecessors said  — and post-puppets will say — about “caring about teachers”??  I was in the room when you said that.  And I used to believe you!  Lol.

I don’t even take this madness personal anymore.  To me, it is very serious business, but at the same time it’s a contemporary Shakespearan comedy–er tragedy.

Have you READ “The Carmen Farina Nobody Knows” by Jesse Harris?  This article is the vetting Carmen Farina never got before her appointment as Schools Chancellor.

…and the cold Regents cheating and cover-up case that haunts her, the Department of Education, and the Special Commissioner of Investigation of the of the New York City School Districy

by Philip Nobile

“UFT SHOULD SPREAD FARIÑA’S WORDS ON ASTERISKS FOR TEACHER RATINGS EVERYWHERE”

Re-blog:

UFT SHOULD SPREAD FARIÑA’S WORDS ON ASTERISKS FOR TEACHER RATINGS EVERYWHERE by ICEUFT Blog

My two cents:  This is a very informative post.  This is the problem with government initiatives that are out of touch with reality and don’t include a plan for implementation.  Race to the Top sought to “balance the playing field” and gave birth to Common Core.  Then NYC took Common Core to the next “level” by scooping up Danielson because they wanted some method to hold teachers accountable.  Finally, they sought to “enforce” these changes via teacher ratings.  Of course Education is a monkey-in-the-middle game where parents, teachers, students, and anyone with common sense are stuck in the middle, jumping for the ball.  I re-blogged this page on my lil’ ol’ blog at thisteacherspeaks.wordpress.org aka @spoiledteacher.

 

 

Laurie Gabriel’s “Heal Our Schools” May Be Coming to Your City: Watch It if You Can

Spoiled Teacher:

Found Laurie’s trailer videos on Vimeo. Resonated very well.

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Laurie Gabriel, a teacher with nearly three decades experience, decided that she had to do something to fight back against the absurd attacks on teachers.

The first thing she did was to create a documentary to explore the critical issues of the day. It is called “Heal Our Schools,” and it offers practical advice that most teachers would vigorously agree with. In her video, she interviews teachers, students, and a few outsiders (like me). The people she spoke to talked about what matters most in teaching and learning, which she would say is to encourage students to find their passions and pursue them. Her first recommendation, by the way, is to reduce class size so children can get individual attention when they need it.

The high point of the film, in my estimation, was when she spoke to some vocal critics of teachers. She invited them to teach a list…

View original 348 more words

The #1 Overlooked App for Busy Teachers: ColorNote

colornoteSean

Okay. So there’s this motto, “Never let them see you sweat.”  And then there’s my motto, “Never let them see you sweat even when you feel like a hot mess.”  This motto applies in a plethora of situations.  Trust and believe.

TeachTees, how do you keep your demeanor calm, cool, and collected even when you have a million things to do on your to-do list?  And remember, you are not just a teacher…you have a big, complicated, meaningful life that you have to live and contend with.

The answer:  Colornote.

Yes tried and true. This very simple app (and I promise the creators don’t even know me, though after this post I think I’ll introduce myself) is the best app since app (yes I said the best “app since app”).

It’s simple. There are two ways to create lists:

  1. Text – Type away your random thoughts, poems, songs, favorite quotes you hear or read, information people say to you while you are on a call, information you need handy (since your phone is always with you), lesson plan ideas, drafts, etc. etc.
  2. Checklist – Make your grocery list, kid list, classroom list, bulletin board list, data list, wish list, household chores list, etc. etc. and tick them off once they get done.

I’m a lot ocd so I have to do lists or else my brain will explode (hyperbole hyperbole)…I don’t know what your situation is…but chances are if you want to reduce your stress level and just be a little more collected…make lists until your thumbs hurt.

You can also color code your list and sort your list by created time, modified time, alphabetically, or color.

There’s calendar syncing and backup with gmail, reminders, sharing options, lock, web search, and the list goes on and on.  Just check out the ColorNote website or your Google Play Store.

There’s something magical about lists.  And I promise this is true.  Once you write it down, it gets done.  You’ll surprise yourself by the stuff you get done simply because you wrote it down.  It may not be today or by someone else’s bogus or insanely improbable (impossible) deadline, but it’ll get done.

And remember, you are only human, not a machine.

If anyone treats you like you are a machine, you know what they can really do, right?

P.S. IPhone users, you are on your own with this one. I believe ColorNote has an IOS version, but I’m strictly talking about the ColorNote app on Android.



Later TeachTees.

5 Amazing Things That Only Happen to Teachers During the First Week of School

back-to-schoolpicmonkey

1.  You are the most interesting person in the room.

Savor the first week of school as students size you up and down.  They are determining which teacher will be the weak fence they will jump on and shake for the rest of the year.  They are determining which teacher will be strict and which teacher will be fun.  Forget about the icebreakers.  Double-down on who you want to be known as for the rest of the year!  First impressions matter and first impressions stick.

Tip#1:  Do not try to be the fun and/or cool teacher.  You’ll be chasing your tail all year if that’s not true to who you are.  Slap them in the face with school work (metaphorically speaking of course)!

2.  You don’t have much grading to do.

You get to go home with some short paragraphs or essays about who students are..or you could simply have them fill out a flash card.  If you are like me, you’d skip the paper trail and have them tweet or post on Edmodo their personal introductions.

Tip#2:  Avoid the paper trail.  It will follow you to your grave.  If paper is a must, have students grade and or give each other feedback on their work.  The paper does no good sitting on your desk, under a paper clip, or in a file.

 3.  Your administrators throw you the keys to the supply closet.

Need bulletin board paper?  Need dry erase markers?  Need post-its?  Chart paper?  Now’s the time to ask.  (And steal a few while they aren’t looking.)  They all want you to have a great first week so your wish is their command.

Tip#3:  If they are already being stingy, go to my TeachTee Deals page to find out how you can snag some free resources.  Otherwise you’ll be coming (bleeding) out your pocket the whole year.

4.  You bring your lunch to school.

Over the weekend you cooked a fantastic 10-course meal and then cut up the leftovers to make a gourmet wrap alongside your fresh squeezed green juice since you are trying to lose weight.  Pump your brakes, how long will you keep that up??  Soon you’ll be throwing chalk and erasers into your mouth as a snack.

Tip#4:  Get a microwave and a fridge in your classroom.  Stock up on healthy frozen meals..  Grocery shop during the middle of the week (research says Wednesdays) for the best deals.  Stock up on fruits and vegetables.  Keep your weight and stress in check by setting yourself up for success.

5.  You talk to other teachers about non-school related issues.

How’s your son?  How’s your back?  How was vacation?  Can I see the pictures?  Soon these questions will be replaced with:  How long will you be at the copy machine?  I’m so tired of these kids.  What do they want us to put up on the board again?  Common Core what?  When is the bulletin board due?

Tip#5:  Teachers are people first!  Treat each other with respect and kindness.  You don’t know what lies behind each other’s demeanor.  Help each other when you can and avoid throwing each other under the bus.  Don’t lose yourself in the mumbo-jumbo.

Follow me on twitter @ttrspks https://twitter.com/ttrspks and like my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/thisteacherspeaks

 

Later, TeachTees.  I love you :0)

 

3wonderingsyouhaveabouttheshommonshoreerrcommoncore

3 Wonderings You Have About the Shommon Shore err Common Core

What a great article published on the New York Times The Opinion Pages, “The Common Core and the Common Good” in support of the Common Core by Charles M. Blow.

1.  At first, you certainly thought the Common Core was just some more mumbo jumbo for the education soup!  LOL.

But seriously, you think anything that seeks to unify standards across the board (the United States) has to be good right?  The sheer effort it took to have almost all states agree to them has to be applauded.

2.  However, you wonder if this solution is really the answer to the problem at all?  In other words, are the nation’s children lagging behind, as Charles so eloquently reminded us, because of some standards?

Ummm.  You don’t really think so.  Because you use the standards to teach, and really the language of the standards or what the standards are asking you to teach kids is really THE SAME THING AS BEFORE.  Really.

And if you are not a teacher…you don’t get it.  We’re still teaching the same concepts and skills as before.

Sooooo…

3.  About that problem…can we consider the cultural differences and thus influences involved which cause other countries to surpass our nation’s “work ethics”?

What is the new-new motivation going to be for America’s children?  They certainly don’t lack intelligence, what a teacher will tell you is that they lack the motivation to pursue knowledge because the students don’t really “see” what the point of it is.

I could go on but,…aaah…another post another day.

By TeachTees!!

2012 Education Nation Teacher Town Hall

Brian Williams Announces 2012 Education Nation Teacher Town Hall from NBC News on Vimeo.

Chaos vs. Flow: “10 Steps to Better Student Engagement”

 

No I’m not talking about two rap “beefs”.  I’ll leave that to 2 Chains or 2 Chain or 2 Chainz…whatever.

Tristan de Frondeville, in his article, “10 Steps to Student Engagement” wrote about how project-based learning strategies can improve your everyday classroom experience.

He also said, and I quote, “As a teacher, my goal was to go home at the end of each day with more energy than I had at the beginning of the day. Seriously.”

Well, as a new mom, going to school part-time, teaching-by-day, tutoring-by-evening, and being involved in my school, I couldn’t help but to continue reading.

His Top 10 are as follows:

1.  Create an Emotionally Safe Classroom

2.  Create an Intellectually Safe Classroom

3.  Cultivate Your Engagement Meter

4.  Create Appropriate Intermediate Steps

5.  Practice Journal or Blog Writing to Communicate with Students

6.  Create a Culture of Explanation Instead of a Culture of the Right Answer

7.  Teach Self-Awareness About Knowledge

8.  Use Questioning Strategies That Make All Students Think and Answer

9.  Practice Using the Design Process to Increase the Quality of Work

10.  Market Your Projects

OOOOOOOhhhhh – This is great.  My 4 top “Take-Aways” from his article:

A.  “The Muddiest Point and the Clearest Point: What was most confusing about the work you did today, and what new thing was the most clear?”

B. 

C.  You can ask students to put a finger up when they’re ready to answer, and once they all do, ask them to whisper the answer at the count of three. They can answer yes, no, or maybe with a thumbs-up, thumbs-down, or thumbs-sideways gesture. That also works for “I agree,” “I disagree,” or “I’m not sure.”

D.  The Partnership for 21st Century Skills

 

The #1 Worst Thing That Happened to Education

 

Congress.

The #1 Worst Thing That Happened to Education is Congress.

AP Interview: Duncan on reform and back to school (Where would we be without the Associated Press creating news and trickle-down talking points?)
Yep, that’s right.  I’m amazed at how a body of elected officials can screw things up–well no, not amazed, actually.

“Here you go squirrels, here’s some more nuts!”

Squirrels = us

Nuts = some more teacher jargon

That’s right, I’m calling the Common Core Standards some more teacher jargon I have to learn and become skilled in if I want to keep my job.

Common Core = A new set of dentures I have to put in my mouth so when I smile folks can tell I’m a “good” teacher who “cares”.

I just want to know where was Common Core over 100 years ago, before “The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America” commenced…and kids could read James Joyce before they hit puberty?

And what about, BEFORE integration (yes when schools were segregated) and so-called “low-income” and “minority” children were getting a stellar education DESPITE the lack of separate but equal resources?

Please read the following so you learn what I’m talking about:

1.  The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861 A History of the Education of the Colored People of the United States from the Beginning of Slavery to the Civil War by Carter Godwin Woodson (May 17, 2012) FREE on your KINDLE

or 2.  Click here to get the FREE PDF Download:  The_Education_Of_The_Negro_P

Since laws are what solve problems…can somebody just pass an Education Continuity Law which hereby states that Congress shall not enact any more laws, herein and heretofore, that will make any more further changes to education to waste all our time and distract from the real problems in education (which have nothing to do with money and eh, hem, standards)?

My favorite lines from the article (If I have to tell you why, then you are not thinking):

1.  In an interview with The Associated Press, Duncan said he believes students will see the concrete effects of those changes when they head back to class.

2.  Duncan said these state plans could help guide Congress in coming up with a comprehensive plan to fix the No Child Left Behind law, which Republicans and Democrats alike say is broken.

3.  “Many, many states are emphasizing again not just the basics but a world class education,” he said.

4.  Duncan said the transition to the standards might be “a little bumpy or choppy, but it’s a huge step in the right direction.”

 

Top 10: The Don’ts and Don’ts of Teaching

Image

Gary Rubinstein so eloquently explains what I wish every new teacher knew before writing a lesson plan.  Spot on, spot on.  I had to re-post.  Click here to read it.

Here’s his top ten with a Student-Teacher spin:

1.  Don’t try to teach too much in one day.

Teacher:  What!!  Tell me about it.  Hours spent planning the best lesson in the world, only for the worst student in the world to turn it to s&^*.

2.  Don’t teach a lesson without a student activity.

Student:  Yawwwwn.  Texting, texting, texting.  When will she tell me what to do?  Oh my god, I hate this class.  Let me break this pencil in half.  Let me rip up this paper.  Let me throw the back of an eraser at someone’s head.  If I don’t look at her and look uncomfortable, maybe she’ll stop.

3.  Don’t send kids to the office.

Student:  Hallelujah.  I’ve been acting up just because I can’t stand this class.  I’d rather go sit In Mr. Blank’s office–he gives me food and I get to eavesdrop on all the drama.  DEUCES!!  Let me secretly let my friends know how happy I am to be leaving.

4.  Don’t allow students to shout out answers.

Teacher:  Who do I listen to?  Who do I pick?  How do I control all these kids calling out, and then getting into arguments with each other?

5.  Don’t make tests too hard.

Student:  This teacher is retarded.  She didn’t teach us this!!!  So what I wasn’t paying attention.  I’m going to fail this class so I’m not even going to bother try to pass.

6.  Don’t be indecisive.

Teacher:  Ummmm, well.  Why?  Oh.  Well, yea, go ahead.

7.  Don’t tell a student you are calling home.

Student:  CALL MY HOUSE.  I don’t care.  My momma ain’t gonna do nothin’ anyway.  She didn’t do nothin’ the last time.  She ain’t even home.  She didn’t pay the bill and the phone is cut off.  I’m not even staying with her right now.

8.  Don’t try to be a buddy.

Teacher:  Tell me all your problems.  I will pretend to care.  Sure, you can comb my hair into a ponytail!

9.  Don’t dress too casually.

Teacher:  If I’m hip, the kids will like me.  Oops, didn’t have time to do the laundry–spent too much time on the lesson plan.  These kids look a mess anyway, why am I dressing up?

10.  Don’t babble.

Teacher:  When I was in Russia, I told him, “Stop, stop.  You can’t do this thing.  Let me tell you.”  So you see, when I say “stop” and you “stop” then we can do the thing.

All tongue-in-cheek of course!  Read his explanations by clicking here.

5 Things Parenting and Teaching Have in Common

 

It seems clear that there are a few commonalities between motherhood and teaching.  And it is worth it to highlight them since excellent mothering and teaching are or at least should be positively correlated.

1. Routine. Every parenting book or blog out there drills parents on the necessity of a consistent routine. Consistency breeds a calm and happy child and thus calm and happy parents. It supports the healthy development of the child and it builds trust between parent and child. In the classroom, routine builds a classroom whose participants work well together and progress smoothly from one learning activity to the next. Students trust the teacher‘s instruction, and thus relax into being well-behaved and eager students.

2. Patience. Ever wince at a parent telling a child to “shut the f#$% up”? What is probably more shocking than a parent acting this way in public is what is said (or done) in the home. Parenting requires patience every step of the way for simple reasons such as teaching a child how to ride a bike to complicated ones such as allowing a child to learn from his or her mistakes. As a teacher, particularly of young children, it goes without saying that kids will be kids. Shouting at a class will only breed resentment. But firmly redirecting and – a student (sometimes the same student over and over again) does wonders for obtaining a desired behavior.

3. Time. Parents complain that they don’t have time for themselves. They are tied to their young ones 24/7. Especially when a child is young, there is very little time to take care of one’s personal, household, and work needs. To get it all done, parents need to set priorities, create schedules, and rely on the help of caretakers, friends, and family members. When the child is able, he or she can also be involved in the process by completing chores. Teachers must mirror the same set of principles and have students take part in the grunt work. For example, since the most time-consuming element of teaching is grading, students can get involved by creating rubrics to score each other’s work. Technology has also lent a hand to teachers by way of document sharing and online grading which can allow a teacher to use precious time more effectively.

4. Organization. Parents have to keep track of their things and their child’s things. These things vary from diapers to school supplies to asthma pumps. To be unprepared for a child’s need is an unwelcome feeling to a parent. Parents need to keep appointments for the doctor, the daycare, and the little league basketball game. Parents need to keep the fridge stocked and the laundry laundered. A home without organization lacks something vital, but is certainly rich in stress. Teachers must also keep track of their responsibilities to support their careers. They must keep an orderly classroom and teach students how to take part in maintaining this order. From lesson plans to photocopies, a place for everything and everything in its place.

5. Fulfillment. This goes without saying. The sheer joy of parenting, of looking at a set of eyes looking back at you, can not be beat. Teachers also share the same satisfaction throughout the year as students achieve milestones in their education and personal development.

What other things does parenting and teaching have in common?

 

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