Showing posts from November, 2016

Thank You For the People That Helped Me Along the Way

       Now in my 29th year of education, I'm so thankful for the people who have helped me to improve and to grow into the educator I've become so far.

Thank you to my colleagues who have taught me through the experiences that they have been willing to share.Thank you to my students who have smiled with me and frowned with me; questioned me and responded to my questions.Thank you to the parents who have worked with me and worked against me.  I've adjusted my actions with every contact I've ever made with a parent.  And (I hope) I've become a better parent to my own children through these interactions as well.Thank you to my superiors that have guided along the way.  Some were strong leaders and some were less strong.  I appreciate your efforts and continue to appreciate the difficult job you have had and continue to have.Thank you to those who have complimented me for my efforts.  Sometimes I deserved it and sometimes I didn't.  Compliments are never necessary …

A Few Laughs is Always a Good Thing

       Ok.  I'm constantly seeing posters in teachers classrooms that make me laugh.  So here's my post from the lighter side of education--filled with cute, funny, maybe inspirational posters and sayings that keep me grounded and remind me that education is (of course) important, but it's OK to laugh and chuckle and even laugh at myself from time to time.
       What are your favorite education posters?  What makes you laugh?  What do you want your students to see in your classroom (when--perhaps--they should be listening to you)?

(When the World Can Seem Scary,) School is a Place to Feel Safe

       Sometimes the world can be a scary place for children.
       Teachers understand that their students come from a multitude of home experiences.  While many students come from safe, loving, supportive homes; an increasing amount of our students come from households that are stressful, intimidating, and maybe even dangerous.  Single-parent households have risen from 16% in 1980 to 26% in 2014.  Five percent of households have no parent.  (source)  Child abuse (including child sexual abuse) unfortunately continues to plague our nation with 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys being sexually abused before they turn 18 years old.  16 million adults and nearly 700,000 children (12 - 17 years old) have Alcohol Use Disorder.  3400 children are killed or injured in 2015 due to a gun crime.
       When our students walk into our schools, we want them to know that school is a safe place.  We will do everything we can to keep you safe.  School safety is at the top of every principal's list an…

Always Looking Toward the Future

       School is about learning.

       Although we "do" a lot of things in school: sitting, listening, following rules, writing, reading, playing sports, eating lunch, seeing our friends, joining clubs; the primary goal of school is learning.  If we're not learning, we're wasting time and we're losing an opportunity.  If we're not learning, we're planting the seeds of lifelong struggles to support ourselves and our families; we're risking our dreams.

       This is why schools are always looking toward the future.  Elementary teachers are preparing their students to be successful in middle school.  Middle school teachers are preparing their students to be successful in high school.  And high school teachers are preparing their students to be successful in college or in a career.  There is always a "next step"; another mountain to climb; another goal to achieve.  Schools understand this and teachers understand this.

       Pre-K to grade 12 …

High School Students are Learning Much More Today

       High school students are learning much more today than they did in past generations.  So often we hear about students who are not succeeding--and we certainly have too many students who struggle to succeed in our high schools.  But compared to past generations, our schools have done a good job at increasing student achievement.  Here's my short list of some of these accomplishments:

Course taking in high school for math and science has been rising from 1990 to 2009 according to the Condition of Education from the National Center for Educational Statistics.76% of HS students took Algebra 2 in 2009 compared to only 54% in 1990.70% of HS students took Chemistry in 2009 compared to only 49% in 1990.taking Physics and Calculus have also increased dramatically in this timeframe.People in the Millennial generation (born from 1981 to 1996) have a higher percentage of earning college degrees than people in the Baby Boomer generation (born from 1946 to 1964).For men this number went u…

Math Problems with Lots of Paths from A to B: Open Middle

Directions:  Fill in the boxes using the whole numbers 1 through 6 to make the largest (or smallest) possible number. Use each digit at most once.Who ever said that there is only one way to get the answer in a math problem?        OK...(unfortunately) lots of people say this.  But, guess what, the best math questions don't have just one way to be solved.  Because the best math problems don't have the simplistic goal of merely following the steps you are told to follow and getting an answer.  The best math problems have much broader goals: Thinking, Reasoning, Problem Solving, Perseverance
       I've recently been introduced to a great source of these math problems called Open Middle.  Open Middle math problems start the same and end the same (with one particular correct answer), but they have an "open middle"; there are many ways to approach and to ultimately solve the problem.  The above problem is a sample of an Open Middle problem.  
       Open Middle has mat…

Students, Teachers, and Parents: Working Together to Improve Education

       Education, as with most things in life, works best when everyone works together.

       Of course, parents and students and teachers don't always agree about what's best for education.  So I've devised a plan for systemic improvement:
Concentrate solely on the school that your children attend.
      You see, we view education in the entire United States differently than we view education in the schools our children attend.  For years Gallop has polled parents about their views of education; and for years they have received essentially the same results:

We are not happy with the state of schools in the United States.We are happy with the state of the school in our community.        It happened again this year.  In 2016, only 43% of those polled said that they are Completely Satisfied or Very Satisfied with quality of education in the United States.  Of these same people (same poll; same year), 76% said that they are Completely Satisfied or Very Satisfied with qualit…