The Clencher

“What to do with my ride of an afternoon?”

The Peanuts movie is out. I heard Snoopy does a mean WWI Flying ace vs the Red Baron. Food courts are nice. Getting a chair massage at the mall while reading could work but maybe not because I have the girls. Fact is, I could do any nuber of things because it’s early dismissal and the teachers go home early today too. Sometimes the ride defines itself as you go along.

In 1997 when I was 27 years old I was offered a job as a 5th grade teacher. It was unexpected because I was only a substitute but they liked that I was bilingual and that I had a Master’s Degree. They grandfathered me in on what is known as an “emergency credential” in California. There was a teacher shortage at the time so if you had a few requirements and you passed fingerprints, you were in like Flynn.

Before I accepted the job that would later become my passion and career, usually it’s reversed for people, they follow their passion and it becomes a career, they took me to the school I would be teaching at. I observed the classes with the Principal and instatly knew this the right job for me.

But there was one clencher. I talked with a teacher, a male, who told me he had a wife and 3 daughters. He said teaching was a great job for raising a family. As I was talking with him, he got a phone call and I oerheard it. He was arranging a meetup with his wife at the local cinema for a matinee … AFTER WORK.

I knew this was the job for me at that moment. Today it continues to  give me the time I need to be with my family and follow my personal dreams alongside teaching.


The Hamburger Method for Writing

Teachers use devices to get kids writing. This is the method I’ve found most useful in my 17 years of teaching. Today’s blog prompt is below.

We all know how to do something well — write a post that teaches readers how to do something you know and/or love to do.

Source: Teach Your (Bloggers) Well | The Daily Post

As a fourth grade teacher, I teach many things in a given year but the most exciting for me is teaching writing. A lot of kids and adults don’t like writing so this presents a special challenge for me. Not only do I want them to have the tools to be able to write but also the enthusiasm and love for writing as I have. Through the years I’ve gathered some excellent teaching tools. The hamburger method is my favorite for teaching writing.

The key element I teach at the get-go is that the title should be written last. That flies in the face of all chronological thinking but there is sound logic behind it. How can you introduce something that doesn’t exist yet? Doing a hamburger outline helps to this end. You come up with your three paragraphs. For example here is an introduction: Mr. Riley is a nice teacher, smart, and helpful. Then each of those becomes a “patty” on the hamburger. You need only to add reasons and details for each of the three paragraphs.

Your introduction is already written. The conclusion is just the intro restated like, “So, as you can see (insert intro here).” With just a little fill in work, you can make a 1-2 page paper out of this hamburger method. Try it with your kids if you like. We all need as many tricks as possible to be productive writers.

Sculpt Me A Union

I’d ask a sculptor to carve a “union Strength” arm to represent my 2015. For #ThrowBackThursday I’m reposting this article from my teaching website I wrote in January 2015.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Immortalized in Stone.” Your personal sculptor is carving a person, thing or event from the last year of your life. What’s the statue of and what makes it so significant?

16414431556_9695483388_zI am involved in my teachers union and I have to say it is a challenging endeavor sometimes. You are sending out the message that your troubles are the fault of the district. As someone who is always trying to not blame, and failing most the time, I sometimes struggle with this. Unions, like any political organization, can fall into the trap of dehumanizing the district employees. In my district, we have over 300 teachers and about 6 district employees making decisions that affect parents, students, and yes, teachers. My goal in my union is not to attach people but rather show the value of a union. Parents in my district value teachers, they show that by their numbers when they come to our meetings and get involved in organizing with us. I want to be a force that helps their families and specifically their children. Name calling and blaming will only get people riled up for a moment. To gain real buy in from parents, we need to show them what’s in it for them. Continue reading “Sculpt Me A Union”