Sunday, September 15, 2013

10 Bruce Springsteen Songs that could have been about Teachers

Bruce Springsteen is perhaps the most prolific songwriter of our generation.  His music and lyrics speak to people of all ages around the world.  To my knowledge, he has never written a song about teachers, but some of his song titles could certainly be interpreted as educational anthems.

Tougher than the Rest (Tunnel of Love)
Teachers are faced with challenges every day, many of which are beyond our control.  For the sake of students we need to remain strong and carry on.

Jack of All Trades (Wrecking Ball)
What do your students need from you today?  Whatever it is you will provide it.

We Take Care of Our Own (Wrecking Ball)
The definition of “our own” has certainly evolved over time.  Whereas it once meant a single classroom its definition is now much broader.

Working on a Dream (Working on a Dream)
Our students have dreams, and it is our responsibility to provide the learning opportunities that will help to achieve them.

Living in the Future (Magic)
The future is now, we are living in a time without limits.  Classrooms are no longer confined to a single room or school.

Better Days (Lucky Town)
As professionals we have the choice to believe that these are better days in education, and if we don’t it is our obligation to advocate for change.

Growin Up (Greetings from Asbury Park)
Students are not the only ones growing, through quality professional development and reflection teachers grow also.

Leap of Faith (Lucky Town)
Teachers and students alike will thrive when encouraged to take risks and given the opportunity to think outside the box.

Reason to Believe (Nebraska)
Sometimes you may have to search, but your students will give you reasons to believe in them every day.

Talk to Me (The Promise)
Communication is crucial to a school’s success. Between administrators, parents, teachers, students, or any other stakeholder, keeping one another informed and in the know helps create a culture of trust.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sights and Sounds that can make any Teacher Smile

Having been “on the road” as an Induction Coach the past two years there were many things about being in one school every day that I didn’t know I missed.   It doesn’t matter what or where you teach, there are just some sights and sounds unique to schools that simply remind us that we chose the right profession.

  • Academic conversations among students
  • The buzz as students enter the building
  • Youngsters lost in books
  • Children on the playground using their imagination
  • Taking part in a morning meeting
  • Learning alongside your students
  • The magic moment that a student “gets it”
  • The genuine excitement and curiosity when a new topic is introduced
  • Collaboration amongst students and colleagues
  • Meeting involved and supportive parents

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Advice to get you over the “Humps” of the First Weeks of a New School Year

I am not exactly sure what it is about a camel walking through an office asking, “What day is it?” that makes me laugh whenever I see it, but it does.  Of course from now until the end of time, every Wednesday, someone, somewhere, will shout, “Hump Daaaay Whoo Whoo!” 

The first weeks of school inevitably bring challenges to teachers and there will certainly be many “humps” to overcome.  The sooner you get over these humps, the more relaxed, happy, and productive you will be.

The Curriculum Hump:  Chances are that if you are reading this your school or district is implementing a new program, system, or curriculum.  This is a hump you can overcome with your colleagues.  Utilize the resources that are made available and collaborate.

The Personnel Hump: Each year there are bound to be new additions to your staff.  The importance of collaboration cannot be overstated, but it begins by forming professional relationships based on mutual trust.  You won’t know what others can offer to your practice if you don’t take the time to get to know them.   

The Balance Hump: The initial days of a new school year are usually described as overwhelming and all consuming.  It is sometimes easy to forget the other parts of your life in the midst of the chaos.  Once things are under control, make time for yourself to do what you love, it will make you a much more effective teacher.

The Relationship Hump:  Spend time early in the year finding out as much as you can about the learners in your charge.  This investment of time will yield dividends throughout the year.

The Parent Hump:  Make the effort to reach out to the families of your students before they reach out to you.   This may be via a phone call, email, meet and greet, or a ten minute conference.  It is extremely important to establish that you are accessible and approachable.

The Evaluation Hump:  Probably the most controversial hump to get over.  It is important to educate yourself with the process and become knowledgeable of the standards you are being evaluated on.   If you regard the entire process as an opportunity to reflect and grow you will find it far less daunting.  

The Planning Hump:  You don’t need every detail of every lesson planned out weeks in advance.  In fact, you will want to wait and let your formative assessments and student interests guide parts of your instruction.
The Technology Hump:  Don’t be intimidated by technology.  The more you use it the more comfortable you will become.  Spending time just mucking around with technology is the best way to practice and learn.

The Scheduling Hump: The need to be flexible is essential! School scheduling is a myriad of moving parts that involves room availability, contractual consideration, service providers, and student needs.   The sooner you come to terms with the fact that your original schedule may change, the quicker you will get over this hump.

The Procedures Hump:  Keeping our students safe is a responsibility that falls upon us and must be taken seriously.  Yes, it is sad and unfortunate that we have to prepare for the unthinkable.  Lock downs, buzzers, evacuations, and drills can be inconvenient, but reminding yourself you could be saving a life will help get you over this hump.