The Challenge of Making Your Not-so-Favorites Your Favorites

20130401-170518.jpgThere are 30 some odd kids in your class as a teacher. It is so easy to gravitate and focus on the needs of your favorites. They are as such because they fit in to your paradigm. Disclaimer: No teacher should have “favorites” but I am using the term to simply make a point we always need to keep an open mind to all our students. For the purposes of this article, by “favorite” I simply mean ones that are easier to understand and reach. That is m goal with every student. Thank you for understanding my disclaimer. Favorites are natural to your style of teaching and personality. You “get” them and so they often are easier to reach and teach. These are not the students that challenge you to be great. I challenge you to pay more attention to the difficult ones, those who are more difficult to understand. When you reach them, it’s a huge win for you and they.

We shun things we aren’t familiar with. A kid may seem annoying on purpose when her/him is only operating under their home paradigm. Not only can you offer them academic help but they can teach you more about how students perceive and survive in the world. Ring any bells? Please comment.

It is one of my top values for my blog here to host comments. I promise to give you my posts until my dying day but I covet YOUR comments more. Teachers, parents, administrators, edubloggers, and anyone interested. PLEASE leave me a comment. I promise to reply.

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My Word of the Year 2016: Peace

Courtyard at the Ayers Mission Viejo

Reading through the #MondayMusings hashtag posts I ran across a blog post regarding a Word of the Year for 2016. The author, a blog friend of mine Corinne Rodrigues, was explaining her word of the year for last year and she offered a link to a worksheet for finding ones own Word of the Year. I thought it sounded cool and since New Years Day is fast approaching, I downloaded the worksheet pdf by Christine Kane and checked it out. I wrote out my responses in my journal and came up with my word of the year:

Peace

It is certainly something I have currently but want to be intentional inwardly about it in hopes of increasing the peace of others as well in the new year 2016. It will look like many things different from now but most are personal so I will choose to keep them off my online diary. Have you chosen your word of the year yet?

Parent Conferences Tip – Listen to Parents About Their Child


Every year about Thanksgiving time, the parent conference occurs. I’ve been scheduling and hosting them for 14 years. These can be fluid and helpful to both parent and teacher but without this tip, they can be useless. You can offer positive parenting tips You may think you know the student very well because you have seen them every day in class since August.

Face the reality however that the parent knows them much better than you. In most cases, they were there with the child at birth. If you have kids of your own, you know the significance of the parent/child relationship. Even if you don’t have kids you can recall your relationship with your own parents. Should a teacher assume to know as much about one of their 25-35 students? I say no. It can be tempting to want to give educational tips for parents but remember a balance.

In my school, there is usually only one mandated conference and then peppered parent/teacher meetings as needed. I have always thought there should be at least three mandated conferences throughout the year and I always try to meet with parents regularly throughout the year. Unfortunately, the business of our culture doesn’t always make that possible.

Anything you can get from the parents about the student is valuable. Unfortunately, sometimes parents get silent in conferences, here are a few ways to encourage parents to talk about their child. Once they start talking, be sure and take note and/or just listen. Note: Most the time, parents will be hesitant at first to share. They will be skeptical so explain hos information about a child can greatly help you as you teach them in the year.

  1. Give the parent a short questionnaire. Just like the doctor’s office, put in some harmless questions about things you want to know to better serve their child. You should send this home before the conference and ask them to bring it. That way it doesn’t take up valuable conference time.
  2. LISTEN. Many parents respect the teacher as a part of their lives. Some don’t and others are reserving judgement. Use this time to show them respect. Encourage them to talk about their child. Don’t bring up anything. Ask them to share everything they think of about their child. I personally am a very bad listener but I plan to “shut up” and hear the parent before my part of the conference begins. How long to listen? As much as possible.
  3. Thank them profusely for sharing. Even if they only share the minimum, this will convey mutual respect and vulnerability. Don’t be afraid of silence, give them time to answer.

Of course parent conferences should include many things including your feedback on a child’s progress toward goals. You should also give teaching tips for parents if they seem to be open to it. Give feedback but remember the child is comparatively new to you so be more of a listener. In the long term, your ability to teach the child will greatly increase when you listen to parents about their child. Here’s a sample questionnaire you can use or modify to suit your needs (docx) format: Conference Questionnaire

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Online Diary 12.21.2015

I wrapped 3 presentsHere I am at the end of the first Monday of Christmas break and it feels awesome. These are some of the things I’ve been seeing and doing in the time since I left work Friday. I wrote yesterday about how I wrapped 3 presents. My wife was a maniacal animal and she wrapped 28 at my last count. I can’t remember when there were so many gifts in the house. 

UntitledI make sure we always have fresh ground Starbucks coffee on hand. We were getting low so I just bought this new pack. My wife tells me she prefers the way I make coffee to buying it at Starbucks. That’s a huge and kind compliment. When I was 26 I worked as a barista while in grad school. I learned a lot about all the espresso drinks as well as the subtle secrets of brewing great coffee. We use a French Press and a Melitta pour through method usually.

UntitledLast night I ate sardines with cheddar cheese and Ritz crackers. Perrier is so good with snacks like this so I bought a 4 pack and I’ve almost drank all 4 in only 24 hours. Good drink I say! 0 carbs too.

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I’m spending a lot of time with my girls. Actually, they are playing and reading and drawing and I just watch in wonder. We’ve seen a couple movies together on Netflix and gone out a few times for some yummy fast food. I haven’t seen a whole lot of my 17 year old son since he’s working a lot but we did watch “Dumb and Dumber to” today before he ran off for work.

UntitledThis is a photo of some of my cord outside. I have been really enjoying making fires all day, into the evening.

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Here’s what it looks like burning. It heats up the house so well. Christmas break is going great and Monday has officially rocked!

#ROW80 Late Goals Post With Much Ambition

Hi #ROW80 folks. I’m checking in over a month late this round … I really hope to keep it up to the end though. Here are my goals for this round. The first hashtag represents the corresponding category on my blog. It may seem like a lot of stuff but I am actually in the habit of doing it already.

    1. #postaday A Daily Post or #NaBloPoMo writing prompt daily.
    2. #Journal tumblr paper & pen journal prompt daily.
    3. #Diary daily #Blog entry.
    4. #ROW80 Checkins Wed and Sun
    5. #Blog Mama Kat’s Weekly writing prompt.
    6. #SoCS Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt.
    7. #PhotoBlog #MySundayPhoto challenge.
    8. #PhotoBlog The Daily Post Weekly Photo challenge.

As you can see, I have my blogging laid out for me. I hope to visit a lot of your blogs and see how your doing. You support as well is much appreciated.

Photoblog Focus: More Fun, Less Text

These check in posts for #ROW80 are great for me because I can make a line to start something new. I’m going to try photoblogging with minimal text for a while and see where that goes.

I really enjoy Flickr and Instagram so I’ve rigged it to where those host the images I make photoblogs of on WordPress. I’m setting out to do 3/day. That will push me to take more photos.

Words aren’t dead just way less important to my posts. I feel like nobody has time to read blogs anyway.

Public schools gear up for new standards | standards, victorville, gear – Victorville Daily Press

“This is going to be my restaurant,” the fifth-grader said proudly, without breaking her focus. “All my tables are different shapes.”

Ulloa, who attends Eagle Ranch Elementary in Victorville, created detailed plans for a pizza restaurant, which was just one of many group assignments that she and her peers have been tasked with doing in their GATE class.

According to Eagle Ranch Principal Peter Livingston, the school has started to implement the Common Core State Standards, an instruction method designed to teach students to develop higher-level thinking skills, especially in English, language arts and math. Livingston said that group-work is one of the trademarks of the new Common Core standards.

via Public schools gear up for new standards | standards, victorville, gear – Victorville Daily Press.

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Discovering Type with Teens (Book Review)

If your school is like mine, you are struggling to keep classroom control at this stage in the year. We have just finished our state testing and the kids are thinking about Summer vacation every day. I am integrating Science more into the curriculum which is helping a lot. Weaving many different objectives into the day can help when the kids are “done” with their year, mentally anyway. We need a special ingredient to keep our lessons effective.

As with objectives and subject matter, psychological type is an important thing to weave into your plans. A new book just released, Discovering Type with Teens, is an amazing resource when looking into the different ways your students process information. Mollie Allen, Claire Hayman, and Kay Abella are the authors. They offer excelling assessment guides on learning exactly what “type” of kids you are teaching. Knowing this information can help through all parts of the year but certainly the last few weeks.

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