Monday, May 27, 2013

Teachers and Rock Stars...More in Common Than You Think

If you want to make a teacher feel great, call them a “Rock Star”.  Lately this is what I have been hearing outstanding teachers referred to as.  There have even been numerous articles written and blogs posted about what makes a teacher reach this elite status. (Julie Adams from Adams Educational Consulting is one of my favorites  This week I decided to take light-hearted and perhaps even a little nostalgic look at the two seemingly very different career paths one might choose and examine what they have in common.

If you are a “Rock Star” or a “Teacher”…

  • You are adored by your audience (See the Beatles arriving to the United States on February 7, 1964)
  • You don’t get better overnight, you practice (Stevie Wonder started playing when he was 4 years old)
  • You use whatever instruments you have available to create something unique (More cowbell!)
  • You collaborate, sometimes even with the most unlikely partner (David Bowie and Bing Crosby singing Peace on Earth)
  • You become a strong voice in your field and advocate for others (Who could ever forget We are the World?)
  • You are having fun when you are doing your thing (If you’ve ever seen Bruce Springsteen in concert you know what I mean)
  • You are recognized when you go to the local supermarket (Is that why Kiss wore makeup in the 70’s?)
  • You do things that are revolutionary (Bob Dylan went electric in 1965)
  • You don’t get too down when faced with setbacks (Does anyone else remember U2’s 1997 release Pop? Yeah, me neither!)
  • You provide others with memories that will last a lifetime (Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan Show)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

10 Reasons You Remember THAT Teacher

  • That teacher cared about you
  • That teacher smiled a lot
  • That teacher prepared lessons that were engaging and relevant
  • That teacher wanted you to succeed
  • That teacher worked really hard
  • That teacher was honest
  • That teacher was creative and tried different ways to reach you
  • That teacher made you feel like the most important person in the world
  • That teacher gave you many chances
  • That teacher was always happy to see you

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Truths to Remember When Having a Bad Day

We call them “Bad Days”, and we all have them.  Maybe you spilled a bottle of paint all over yourself in front of the class, accidentally released a dozen live crickets in your classroom, or hit “reply all” on an email meant for an individual parent (yes, these all happened to me!).  Maybe it was having a difficult conversation with a colleague, a student breaking his arm during recess, or perhaps it was just a lesson that went terribly wrong.  In reality so many things happen around us in the course of a school day it would be impossible (and useless) to categorize them all as “good” or “bad”.   Nevertheless, no matter how hard we try, it is in our nature to dwell on the negatives and brush over the positives. With that in mind, I submit to you 10 truths to remember after a not so pleasant school experience.

  • You are not alone.  Whether it’s your district, school, grade level, or trusted colleagues, you are part of a network of professionals that are there to support you.
  • At times it may not seem possible, but if you think about your day, you will no doubt be able to take away a positive or two.
  • Students want to learn.  Sometimes it just takes a while to figure out how to reach them. 
  • When students misbehave, it’s not personal.
  • Remind yourself of all the reason you chose this profession.
  • At the risk of sounding like a bumper sticker, remember that what you do will make the world a better place.
  • Next time you face a similar situation, you will be better prepared to deal with it.
  • Parents and teachers both want what’s best for the student.
  • There are many things about teaching that are out of your hands (budgets, technology, class size, meetings, assessments…), but you alone can determine the nature of the relationships you have.
  • It may take hard work, perseverance, or even an apology, but you will have the opportunity to right a wrong

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Ten Relationships Every Teacher Should Foster

Chapter 4 of Michael Fullan’s book Leading in a Culture of Change is called Relationships, Relationships, Relationships. In it he describes that when people’s souls are linked to the organization they feel a deeper connection and want to be a part of it and make a difference.  There is no denying that the ability to establish and maintain healthy relationships is important in any profession and is especially true in education.  Teachers assume many different roles daily that require careful consideration for the relationships involved.  Here are some examples of things to keep in mind as we interact with these individuals and facets of our work.

·         Students- They are the reason we do what we do.  Each minute you spend with your students is precious and should be treated as such.  Use that time wisely to educate, enrich, and enlighten their lives with authentic and engaging learning opportunities.

·         Administrators- Whomever you consider your supervisor has earned that position.  Whether you are in awe of the amazing leadership skills they bring to your school, or vehemently disagree with every decision they make, it behooves you to maintain your professionalism with them at all times.

·         Colleagues- No one will understand your triumphs and troubles as much as a colleague will.  Strive to learn from and with each other daily.  Healthy, professional relationships among peers will greatly influence the entire learning community.

·         Parents- The foundation of this relationship can be summed up in a single word, communication.  It is vital to establish a respectful dialogue with the parents of your students.  The sooner you are able to do this, the longer you will reap the benefits.

·         School Committee- This is an important and often overlooked group of individuals.  They are an essential part of the entire system.  Know the names of the members, what they stand for, and try to stay informed about topics on their agenda.

·         Self- Perhaps the most difficult relationship to cultivate is the one with your own self.  To do so successfully takes time, honesty, and most importantly, courage.  The first step towards realizing this goal is reflection. (

·         Research and Data- A strong relationship with these will go a long way towards improving practice and providing insight to your student’s learning needs.  Unfortunately they can often be underutilized during times of stress and chaos.

·         Support staff- Recognize and appreciate the network of amazing and dedicated individuals that help an organization run smoothly.  As you pull into the parking lot of your school tomorrow and walk to your classroom or office, take note of the efforts made by so many people that allow you to do what you do. 

·         Family and friends- Yes, you are an educator, but you are also a parent, sibling, son, daughter, spouse, aunt, uncle, friend…remember these relationships are part of what make you who you are and therefor balance must be exercised.

·         Technology- By now we all recognize that today’s students are growing up in a world that is very different than the one we lived in.  We mustn’t be intimidated or fear the technologies they enjoy, but rather become better acquainted with them and perhaps (gulp) even embrace them!