When I am sitting in my empty classroom waiting for a parent to come in, I always have just two nagging thoughts in my head: Are these parents happy with me and the amount of improvement their child has made? What am I doing wrong that I will get a stern talking to about?
These thoughts are always unfounded. I think I have been part of twelve odd sets of interviews, and in this time, I have never once had an angry parent, or at least a parent angry with me and how I teach. They are always generally very happy. There is never anything majorly wrong and I have never had to receive stern words from a parent. Yet.
When I reminisce on the types of parents I have had in interviews, I have had a range of parents come through my door. The poor rundown parents that break…
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Yes, I remember: boiling leaves to eat; rubbing leaves on your skin because you have no soap; crushing leaves under your arms so that you don’t smell bad. Leaves and dirt, sticks and rocks: these are the only things a refugee can count on. Even if the exiles go home, the average wage in Liberia is about $1.25 a day. Many people have no clean water or flush toilets. Their lives are hard every day. There is no route to riches. To get money from America is like a blessing from God—bread falling from the sky.
—Louise Troh, writing in Vanity Fair about the death of her longtime love Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who died of Ebola in Dallas. Troh came to America from Liberia in 1998 as a political refugee.
Last year, I taught at a charter school and developed an experimental curriculum in what we termed the “Revolution Lab.” This was a space where students would work independently on laptop computers with the aim of differentiated instruction via technology integration for language arts and math. I taught Writing II, a writing composition class that spiraled in skills from Writing I, a mechanics and syntactic driven class. I taught two sections of this class, each with 50 students. Among the litany of challenges was how to facilitate the technology integration. I was a first year teacher with no technical expertise in the art of teaching or using technology to teach, but I did study and research writing workshops throughout college. I was (and am) a Lucy Calkins(ite), and I believe her writing and reading workshop models are what allow children to feel empowered as writers while honing the craft. I…
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Thinking back on the teacher education courses I took in college and graduate school, I don’t recall a single professor discussing the importance of data-driven instruction or what implementing it looked like in a classroom setting. I can’t recall reading any research-based or pragmatic approaches for what a teacher should do after developing and administering a test, multiple-choice or not.
Analyzing data is certainly not the easiest, most glamorous, or quick endeavor for a teacher. However, it’s the only way to ensure that instruction is relevant and skills that need remediation are retaught in a different way.
I first became familiar with data directing what a teacher teaches when reading excerpts of Driven By Data by Paul Bambrick Santoyo, a text devoted to detailing, explaining, and providing examples of teachers making data central to their daily practice.
I worked at a charter school where we had weekly data meeting that required…
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Looking for free resources for your classroom? Below are some great websites compiled by NEA where you can find printables, books, instructional videos for you and your students, lesson plans, and much more.
The USGS Water Science School
Water is unique and vital to all life on Earth. These resources for K-8 science learners cover water basics, properties, cycle, surface water, groundwater, quality, and use.
Learning math can be challenging. Teaching it? Downright daunting. These multimedia college-level professional development courses can give K-8 teachers a deep conceptual understanding of mathematics, to help students develop strong math skills.
Architect Studio 3D
Students in grades 5-8 design houses and share them with others. They explore architecture and learn about Frank Lloyd Wright’s life and work while gaining practice in subject skills.
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Julie Schon is a primary school teacher at Oak Ridge Elementary School. A veteran educator, Schon taught Kindergarten for 7 years before taking a 1st grade post at Oak Ridge. Her veteran leadership is revered, as record turnover in the Sacramento area school districts takes place. The Department of Education predicts a hiring surge in 2015, as older teachers retire, and the student population increases. Schon speaks on the rewards of her trade and the importance of her educational background.
What does your current job entail?
“I teach first grade in a culturally and linguistically diverse school in Sacramento. I am responsible for teaching multiple subjects that include reading, writing, math, science, social studies, and social-emotional learning.”
What is your favorite part of your daily duties?
“My favorite part of my daily duties happens every morning before my students enter the classroom. Each morning…
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Can you believe there are less than 30 school days left until summer vacation??? One minute I can’t believe how fast this school year flew by, but on the other hand I can’t believe how much has happened in the last 8 months. You know what they say, “time flies when you’re having fun,” and this year was so much more fun for me than when I taught at the high school last year. Don’t get me wrong, I liked teaching Spanish and I enjoy high-schoolers sometimes, but I feel like elementary is the best fit for me as an educator.
When your students come to school with matching hair, you document it of course! ; )
Some of my favorite moments teaching sixth grade this year have had nothing to do with the academics. I’ve loved building relationships with my students, talking to them one on one, seeing them grow up (physically…
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It’s the oldest honor of its kind, and she’s from the panhandle.
Amarillo ISD’s Shanna Peeples today was named the National Teacher of the Year by the Council of Chief State School Officers.
She teaches English at Palo Duro High School where about 85 percent of students live below the poverty line and where more refugee children are enrolled than in any other high school in the 31,000-student district. She’s the first educator from our great state to earn the national honor since 1957!
Peeples said a childhood that exposed her to alcoholism and domestic violence has provided her with empathy for students from Burma, Somalia, Ethiopia, Iraq and Cuba, many of whom are survivors of emotional or physical trauma in their war-torn homelands.
“I want to congratulate Shanna Peeples on this extraordinary honor and express my sincerest gratitude for her dedication to improving the lives of so many young…
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