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Showing posts from May, 2014

Veteran Teachers

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     Every public school and every public school district has teachers who are well know by the staff and the parents because of their longevity.  These gems of the school have typically been teaching for over 30 years and sometimes for over 40 years.  They love what they do and everyone looks to them for advice and ideas.

     People who don't teach are appreciative of teachers because they feel that it is hard to be around children or teenagers all day and everyday.  But people who do teach actually like to be around children and teenagers.  People who teach a long time are very good at what they do and they enjoy what they are doing.

     It is fun when every child in a family has the same teacher over the years.  Sometimes, if you teach long enough, you might teach the children of former students.  My school system has a teacher who has been teaching for over 40 years.  He is a legend to the staff and the students in his class are proud to have him as their teacher.

     Vetera…

Great Math Resources online

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     I’ve just had my 50th birthday and I am completing my 26th year in the education field.  The differences between today and when I began teaching are certainly many.  One of these is the vast amount of great math resources available to teachers online.  Of course, along with the “great” resources, there are also other resources that may (shall we say) fall into the “ho-hum” category.  I would like to offer a few tips for finding great resources online; and then would like to share some of my favorites.

Tips to Find Great Online Resources
Does the resource promote and/or encourage student thinking?Is the resource available to students outside of school (web-based)?Does the resource do more than what can be done with the resources you have in your school?Is the resource engaging for students?Online resources that cause students to ask questions and to try different scenarios are great because real learning comes not from “doing-what-the-teacher-tells-you-to-do”, but from discovery on…

First Year Teachers

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     We are quickly approaching the end of May.  If you haven't already done so, please be sure to show some appreciation to any first-year teachers in your building.

     Prior to this year, first-year teachers completed a college program (or some alternate teacher preparation program).  It probably took somewhere between three and six years for them to get their degree and to earn their teaching certificate.  They worked hard, they interviewed for a position, they were hired; and they were ready.

     But teaching isn't the sort of job where you expect a person to know everything when they start the job.  I always encourage new teachers to ask a lot of questions.  It shows that you want to learn and you want to improve.  I think that in the business world, a new person asking questions is seen as a signal that they don't know what they are doing.  But I think it is the opposite for teaching.

     There are a lot of lists that you can find that give new teachers tips for…

So Many Stories - So Write a Book

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     So often, I hear teachers say, "I could write a book..."; as in "Given all of the things I've heard students say and seen students do...I could write a book."

     Well I want to encourage teachers to DO IT.  Write a book; start a blog; keep a journal; send a letter to the editor.  You can do it--I did, and I'm a math guy.

     I am one of those "I could write a book" guys. About six months ago I started this blog and I'm still going.  Who would have known that I have that much to say??

     Mostly, I want to encourage people to write, because I enjoy reading about the experiences of other teachers.  Teaching doesn't come with an instruction manual.  You have to learn from others if you really want to improve.  And today it is just as easy to learn from a teacher who works 3000 miles away from you as it is to learn from the teacher who works across the hall from you.

     Find your medium and do it--write.

     I'm listening.

Public Schools Outperform Private Schools

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     A recent  article in Education Week discussed issues about the comparison with public and private schools.  This article talked about a recently published book entitled The Public School Advantage by Christopher Lubienski and Sarah Lubienski.  The authors of the book used NAEP data (National Assessment of Educational Progress) to justify statements about public vs. private schools in terms of student outcomes.


       The book talked about the difficulty in making comparisons because private school students tend to come from families of a higher socioeconomic level than the average public school student.  So statistical methods were employed to allow for these differences.  The article also included reactions from both sides of the debate--which I appreciated seeing and reading about.

     I am a public school employee--currently in my 26th year.  I attended public schools K-12 as a child.  I'm not rich and I've never been rich.  Clearly, I have had very little experience …

The Middle School Principal Everyone Wants to Have

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  The following was written by my daughter's middle school principal in the school's newsletter:

       I’m not sure when it happened exactly, but recently I realized I’ve reached a point in
my life when I find myself looking backward as often as I find myself looking ahead. When
you’re young, life is all about making plans and dreaming of the future, but the past is starting
to comprise a bigger and bigger chunk of the years I’ve been allotted. One of the benefits of
getting older, is the years tend to give one perspective. Recently, I found a tidbit attributed to
an “Author Unknown” that makes the point:

       Someone asked me the other day, if I had my life to live over, would I change anything?
“No,” I answered, but then I began to think . . .

       If I had my life to live over, I would have talked less and listened more. I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth. I would have never insisted that the car windows be rolled up on a summ…

Summertime (and school)

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     Once we get into the month of May, students and teachers start to think about summertime.  Warm weather, schools out, vacation, camp.  Everyone says, "I can't believe the school year has gone by so fast."  Seniors graduate, elementary students "graduate" to middle school--a very big deal--, final exams, sign my yearbook, tears, and joy.

     For teachers, summertime can be a time of relaxation, gardening, swimming, sleeping late, and forgetting what day of the week it is.  However, for teachers, summertime is also the time for doing many professional activities that help them to improve and to advance in their field.


     Teachers take classes to increase their knowledge of teaching strategies and to learn more about the teaching of their subject.  Teachers also take classes to work toward future degrees and certifications.  Teachers may take part in curriculum work during the summer with their school district.  This may include writing assessments, creat…