March 13, 2013 — Administrators, Schools, Teachers, Teaching, Violence Tagged administrators, Education, education teaching, education track curriculum chats twitter, teaching
On my desk I keep a brass doorknob and a block of wood from my first school. It reminds me of my start as a teacher and the struggles I faced.
I found that doorknob on the floor in front of a classroom door whose window had been smashed by it. The custodial staff could not keep up with all the broken windows which mostly where broken from the inside. Looking at the school from the outside you saw a lot of boards in place of window panes.
We must all be aware of the struggles classroom teachers face. They need our support, advice and all the help we can give them. They may not get what they really need in their school but thanks to social media they can get it online. Consider yourself very fortunate if you work in a good school environment. But remember not everyone is that lucky. Reach out and support our struggling colleagues.
Looking at that doorknob I will never forget my days as a classroom teacher:
lack of supplies, little support, poor working conditions, revolving door teacher staff, ineffective administrators, little if any parental involvement, violence….
March 2, 2013 — Administrators, Child, Parents, Reading, Schools, Students, Teachers, Teaching, Uncategorized Tagged administrators, Back to School, Education, exercise teaching attendance, parents, parents children students administrators teachers, students
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
I truly enjoyed reading The Cat in the Hat Comes Back by Dr. Seuss to five classes of students in a Google Hangout whose wonderful teachers are:
Amy Pratt @apratt5 – Texas
Paula Naugle @plnaugle – Louisiana
Nancy Carroll @ncarroll24 – Massachusetts
Jennifer Regruth @JennRegruth – Indiana
William Krakower @wkrakower – New Jersey
We were also joined by Sandra Paul @spaul6414 Director of Technology.
Before the show began I had no trouble figuring out which class was from Indiana as one student had a Colt’s sweatshirt on and in another class a young man was wearing a Dallas Cowboy shirt so that must have been the Texas class! The real surprise were the students in Paula Naugle’s class all wearing paper hats just like the Cat in the Hat.
To begin I decided to give the students a little background. Not only did Theodor Seuss Geisel who we know as Dr. Seuss was born (March 2, 1904) in the city of Springfield, Massachusetts so was my wonderful wife Gail. As a child I had visited Springfield to visit my great uncle and cousins. In fact, it was only a couple of blocks away from where Gail grew up. Who would have known Springfield would play such a big role in my life?
I told the students that Dr. Seuss grew up near one of the largest municipal parks in the United States. Yes, Forest Park contains over 700 acres. It now has baseball diamonds, an ice skating rink, one of the first public pools in the country, ponds, lawn bowling, bocci, a rose garden, dinosaur tracks and a zoo. Dr. Seuss’s father was in charge of all of the parks in the city. I am sure his son spent a lot of time at the zoo in the Forest Park. Reading his books he did take a lot from his experiences growing up. The animals at the zoo (elephants…), motorcycle (Indian motorcycles were built in Springfield and yes there is a Mulberry Street.
We used to spend our summers in Springfield at my father-in-law’s home right across the street from Forest Park. Our children went to day camp in the Springfield area. I can remember several years where I can to commute from my summer job in New York to Springfield on weekends. One summer I even got a job at the local college teaching computers in a summer program that my daughter attended.
Since The Cat in the Hat Comes Back was written in 1958 I had to explain that the $10.00 shoes were expensive then. An average price of shoes nowadays would be at least $60.00.
I also told the children about my mischievous grandcat. He is far different from the mild mannered cats that my children grew up with. Yes, during the story The Cat in the Hat sure caused a lot of trouble but lucky he had his little cat friends to restore everything to normal.
I want to compliment all the children and their teachers as my audience was excellent. If you haven’t tried a Google Hangout (My Google Hangout page: http://cybraryman.com/googlehangout.html) I highly recommend them. You can get 10 people or classes at one time.
My Dr. Seuss page contains the YouTube of my reading as well as lot of great activities and lessons.
“Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”
February 9, 2013 — Administrators, ISTE, Schools, Teachers, Teaching Tagged administrators, Back to School, Education, professional development, teachers, teaching
At METC2013 The Midwest Education Technology Conference I am honored to be a “Featured Presenter.” It is quite nice to be singled out to address educators. I have decided that my “presentations” will be in the form of PRESDIs. Yes, I have coined a new term. PRESDI which stands for Presentation-Discussions.
So many times I have attended outstanding presentations where the speakers have prepared excellent slideshows with embedded videos and used great catchy statements that I quickly tweeted out to my followers. I walk away invigorated but that does not last long.
I have also attended many professional development sessions as a teacher. The talk goes on and I leave shaking my head because none of it pertained to my students and could not be adopted for use in my classroom. I yearned for ideas that worked and could be used successfully to engage my students and increase their knowledge base.
I do not have all the answers but I am sure those in the audience can share what has worked and what hasn’t worked in their schools. So, I will give my presentation with practical ideas that have worked for me but then I will open up a discussion and learn from those in attendance. Some of the best curricula that I wrote were done collaboratively. It is great to be able to bounce off ideas and get inspiration from others. Just as we want our students to learn and engage collaboratively we also should use that method in our teaching and presenting.
January 1, 2013 — Administrators, Child, exercise, Health, Parents, Schools, Students, Teachers, Teaching Tagged administrators, Exercise, exercise teaching attendance, parents, students, teachers
Yes, we must prepare our students to be critical thinkers, problem solvers and to be able to collaborate on a global level but I feel more important we want them to learn how to be healthy. Children need to eat properly and exercise in order for their growth and healthy development. This is a lifelong skill that I feel is essential. We, as educators/parents should be modeling ABCDE: Act Boldly to Change Diet and Exercise for our students/children.
I must commend these educators who lead by example in terms of fitness:
David Britten @colonelb, Salome Thomas-EL @Principal_EL, Bob Dillon @ideaguy42, Josh Stumpenhorst @stumpteacher, Joan Young @flourishingkids, JoAnn Jacobs @JoAnnJacobs68, and Philip Cummings @jasontbedell Jason Bedell among others.
It is felt that children who have good nutritional habits and exercise regularly feel better about themselves, perform better in school, and can cope with stress better.
Take a survey of your students and see if they are getting enough exercise and eating properly. Children should be getting at least 60 minutes of exercise on a daily basis and this does not mean playing games on their Xbox, texting or watching TV.
The fact that I exercised regularly and ate properly kept me well, gave me more energy and led to an excellent attendance record. My track teams appreciated the fact that I ran with them. I tried modeling good nutrition yet my students used to laugh at me when I ate a salad for lunch with water as my beverage. When I taught in my school’s health careers program I was very pleased at the end of each year when some of the students would thank me for changing their lives when they followed my preaching of eating properly, exercising and getting enough rest.
My new workout sneakers.
2013 is here and I will soon be eligible for Medicare and I will continue to exercise regularly and be more careful with the foods that I eat.
We all can achieve more if we are healthy as we have more energy. Too many children are not getting enough exercise and eating properly. Please model proper health to your students/children.
Hope everyone has a very Happy and Healthy 2013.
December 23, 2012 — Administrators, Child, Parents, Schools, Students, Teachers, Teaching, Uncategorized, Violence
The recent sad tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut brought back memories of my teaching career in East New York, Brooklyn known as the “Homicide Capital of New York City.”
Here are some excerpts from my school’s Report of Principal’s Suspensions (Five Days) for the attendance period ending January 31, 1972. Of the thirteen students listed on this report seven of their parents did not come for the Principal’s Hearing:
- Seventh grade male student – Hit principal, dean & patrolman (Yes, we had a uniformed New York City police officer in our school every day the school was open.)
- Eighth grade male student – Throwing trees at cars in front of school (I have the newspaper article from four years later when this same student was found guilty in the slaying of 2 teens.)
- Eighth grade female student – Hit secretary.
- Seventh grade female student – Destructive behavior (A few months later this student was killed.)
The students treated these suspensions as a vacation from school and their behavior when they came back to school did not change.
In another case I remember one student suspended for stealing a teacher’s purse. He was suspended, never counseled and a few years later he was arrested during the course of a robbery at a store.
I kept a scrapbook of newspaper articles as well as documents & photographs of our troubled school. Some of the newspaper headlines:
- “Indict 5 Teenagers in Killing of 3 Elderly Men” (2 of the 5 had attended my school)
- “Nab Suspects in 27 Holdups” (2 of the 4 arrested were former students)
- “Youth Slain in IRT holdup” (former student killed after he fired a shot at a patrolman)
- “Three Hurt In Battle at Playground” (gang fight behind our school that listed one of our students)
- “School Administrator Attacked by Gang” (our principal in the middle of school day was beaten in the school yard by a gang of teen-aged youths when he went to the rescue a boy the gang had attacked).
What always bothered me was that no one ever found out the reasons why these children acted out. They were never interviewed by our guidance staff, social worker or school psychologist who could have possibly helped get them the help that they needed. Unfortunately, we have a lot of young people who need help and they do not receive it. There are no easy answers to this but we should at least make an effort to prevent future events like what happened in Connecticut and the daily incidences that happen in many of our schools.
December 20, 2012 — Teachers, Teaching Tagged education teaching, observations, teachers
Today is a sad day for me as I learned my teacher mentor Patrick J. Corr passed on.
I will never forget the first day I started teaching in 1969. The principal told me to go down to the basement to Room B9 and watch a veteran teacher in action. Just walking into his room I was immediately impressed. His classroom was meticulously decorated with that month’s theme.
Observing him teach I quickly realized how he had the complete attention of all of his students. As he walked around the classroom I saw all the students’ eyes follow him. He showed me that a teacher had to be an actor. After that initial observation Pat asked me to join him and several colleagues for lunch in his room. That was the beginning of my first PLN. These three teachers taught me how to teach, design engaging lessons, decorate a classroom and be prepared for any eventualities.
I was crushed in the 1970’s when he was laid off. Here was a teacher whose whole life was devoted to teaching. He was laid off because he had low seniority on the high school level. All the years he taught on the junior high level were not considered. He was never sick and the only day he took off was to attend my father’s funeral. Luckily he was quickly rehired and I am sure he benefited the lives of all of the students he taught.
Pat was the epitomy of a constant learner. He was a voracious history reader and took courses on his own to learn even more
The world is a better place thanks to Patrick J. Corr. I will miss him!
“A teacher takes a hand, opens a mind, and touches a heart”
First PLN 40+ Years Later – Lifelong friends
November 25, 2012 — Administrators, Child, Parents, Students, Teachers, Teaching, Uncategorized Tagged administrators, parents
Years ago I was asked to take part in a community group looking to address the gap in activities for young adults after school in our town. I was quite impressed with the group that was assembled but I noticed a glaring exclusion. I raised my hand and was recognized by the chairperson. I said, “We are missing a very important element here.” She responded, “Jerry, we have the Superintendent, School Board members, all the principals, members of the clergy, the police captain of the local precinct, elected officials, presidents of all the PTA’s, members of the Chamber of Commerce and business community and of course you representing the library (I was the President of the Library Board of Trustees & VP of one of the areas HS PTAs.).” I replied: “How come we do not have any young members of the community here? We are here to make decisions about them and they should be heard.”
A lot of times when we are making important educational decisions we have a tendency to leave out the voices of the students (and parents). We should be listening more to what our children and parents have to say. When making the expectations or rules of your classroom include the students in the formulation of them. Learn to step aside and let the students take more of a role in their learning process. School improvement needs the voices of the students on what they would like to say. Make them a real part of the process.
October 29, 2012 — Uncategorized
There is a lesson to be learned in the San Francisco Giants victory in the World Series.
“What made them special was it was such an unselfish group,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “They love each other, play for each other and had a never-say-die attitude.”
One of the first things we, as teachers along with our students, should do is build community in our classrooms. We need to develop a safe, mutual respect environment where real collaborative learning can take place.
My Building Community in the Classroom page.
We, as the facilitators of learning, should be modeling our passion for being constant learners and the willingness to work hard to meet our goals.
The San Francisco Giants showed that through hard work, determination and heart you can accomplish great things. Let’s instill this same attitude with our students.
October 18, 2012 — Administrators, Child, Parents, Students, Teachers, Teaching
While reminiscing for my book about my teaching experiences and also in a recent discussion on #satchat (School Administrators chat on Twitter – Saturdays 7:30 am and 10:30 am EST) I began thinking of ways that I had recognized students’ good work, behavior and achievements. I was always amazed how my sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth grade students enjoyed seeing their names posted on the walls of my classroom, school library and on certificates.
Early in my teaching career I decided to send home to my students’ parents/guardians some good letters. I wanted the children complimented on their good work and behavior. One student went home and said he had a letter from his teacher. His parent punished him until she found out it was a “good” letter. No other teacher had ever sent a “good” letter home before! I quickly learned to tell the students to say it was a “good” letter from their teacher.
When I taught Social Studies I would put on the chalkboard (I am definitely dating myself) an important event that occurred and I also put the name of any student who celebrated a birthday too. My students enjoyed the attention and really felt special to be recognized on their day. I also listed the birthdays of those students who had weekend or days we were not in school.
Teachers were required by our administration to give homework daily. To encourage students to do their homework I created a fool-proof system that included the following: At the end of each marking quarter I gave the students who had completed all of their homework on time a certificate, a letter to their parent and their names were placed on a chart that hung in the classroom. I could not believe how popular being on that chart was for the students. My 100% Homework Club
When I was asked to take over our school library I decided to post the names of students who had won awards, competitions or made the honor roll for each marking period on the walls of the library. I did this because after the principal announced their accomplishments over the public address system that was the end of it. I wanted other students to see their peers recognized for their deeds. I was also transforming a once dormant library into the focal point of the school. I smiled each time a student came into the library and commented on seeing his or her friend’s names on the charts.
One former student wrote the following to me in a letter: “I think it was really nice of you to put my pictures and a big sign after I became The Heavyweight Champion of the World, in my honor. Even though I never seen it, I want to thank you for doing that.” Yes, I posted the accomplishments of former graduates too.
Looking at the pictures of my library I found that I had posted the names of the PTA (Parent Teacher Association) officers as well as the Student Council officers and honors students had garnered for sports and academic achievement. This included spelling bee champions, Science Fair winners, essay contest winners, etc.
This definitely goes along with my good Twitter friend’s Angela Maiers “#YouMatter” campaign. It is extremely important that we let each student know that they matter to us. And administrators I am not leaving you off the hook so please let the members of your staff and parents know that they matter too. My #YouMatter page
“Delete the negative; accentuate the positive!”
July 16, 2012 — Administrators, Teachers, Teaching Tagged Back to School
Before school starts I highly recommend getting in the best physical shape that you can to endure the first part of the teaching year. I used to make sure during every school break that I re-energized myself. I concentrated on working out and getting into the best possible condition I could. Join us on the #Twitter Exercise Motivation Team #temt My Exercise Page
Plan how you will set up your classroom. First, check with your supervisor and custodian on what the regulations are in your school about decorations and classroom configuration. Some principals only allow a certain desk formation. Some principals do not allow commercial signs and decorations. My Setting Up Your Classroom Page
Work out a potential seating plan system. You can always start with one system and then consult with your students on how they would want the seating. My Seating Plan page.
You can spend the time before school gathering books for your classroom library. Used book stores, library book sales and asking for books from publishers or members of the community can help you gather them. When school starts put your children in charge of the classroom library. My Classroom Libraries page
Remember how you felt when you were a student and a teacher did not know your name or mispronounced it… My LearnYour Students’ Names page
I always found it much easier when I was very organized and I tried to do the same for the students in my classroom. I have collected a lot of great sites to help you be better organized on My Organizing Your Classroom page.
One of your first tasks should be to work together with your students on Building Community in the Classroom. Also work with them on establishing Classroom & Behavior Management
To really get the ball rolling in the right direction check out My Back to School and Icebreakers page
Step outside the normal way of facilitating learning and think about:
Flipping Your Classroom
Student- Centered Learning
I hope you have an awesome year of facilitating the learning of each of your students.