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Three Reasons Why You SHOULD Attend Parent/Teacher Conferences--Even If You Are Happy With Your Student's Grade

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Why do I need to go to parent/teacher conferences?  My son/daughter has an acceptable grade.  I've never heard anything negative from his/her teacher, so why bother?  It can be a hassle to show up and stand in line. It's another evening that I have to sacrifice away from home after a long day's work.

You'd rather just check off tonight as a "pass," but as your student's teacher, I have some very good reasons for you to attend, so here's some food for thought:

1) What IS your child learning?
Even if your student is performing well, what does that performance mean?  You need to attend your student's conference and find out what curriculum is the driving force behind your student's progress.  What content is involved with this performance? How is your student being assessed? What did your student's teacher learn about your student and his/her skill sets during the process? THESE are significant questions that should be addressed during confe…

How Hard Could It Be Anyway? (And Other Observations About Teaching)

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This post is inspired by two comments that rocked my day today.  I have at least four hours of work ahead of me as I write this, but THIS cannot wait.  It just cannot wait.  (I'll add my wit and needed details HERE!)

Comment number one came from a site council meeting held after school.  These meetings are attended by parents and teachers who discuss issues and address goals for the school.  We were discussing our desire to expand course offerings in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) without funds (the ongoing issue in education).  New laws allow us to hire anyone with a degree in these areas to teach such courses even if they don't have a background in education. We had an interesting and engaging discussion with valid points being raised on all sides. One of the parents m the group mentioned that she had considered teaching such courses at one point. "You would be great at it," I said. (And she would.  She is that kind of individual.) Then it…

My Five Big "Ah-Ha" Revelations After 30 Years in Teaching

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This year will be my thirtieth year in teaching.  Thirty years.  When I began teaching there wasn't internet, cell phones, or Miley Cyrus.  Hard to believe, I know. I entered the professions with a preconceived set of beliefs that have been chiseled and modified by experience.  I thought I would share the BIGGEST revelations with you here.  There have been many, but these are the most moving.

1)  Content is not as significant as delivery of content.
I know I will raise some eyebrows with this little gem.  No matter how well you know your content, if you don't take the learner into account, that content will remain with you.  I had a GREAT education, but my most useful experiences came from learning about student engagement techniques. I also learned to trust my gut.  I learned to know my students and what could reach them.  I think we all know people who know their content, but do not know how to share that content. That is the key to great teaching:  engagement AND content.  …

Why Being a Good Teacher Just Isn't Good Enough--A Conversation Concerning Tenure Laws

Dear Friends,

During my very first year of teaching, I ventured into the girls' restroom rather than using the teacher's rest room. It was a random choice that almost resulted in the end of my teaching career. In the restroom was one of my students. She had tried to harm herself after an abusive act by a parent. (She showed me the physical scars on her back from a beating and shared her account of the abuse.) I carried her from the restroom (since passing period was approaching) and took her to the school's office. Since she had confided in me the abuse, it was my legal responsibility to report the event, and in doing so, began the battle. The parents denied the abuse, and openly attacked me for reporting it.

I am a good teacher. I am a better teacher today than I was in 1986 when this event occurred.

However, I would NOT be a teacher today had it not been for tenure laws that protected me during my first year of teaching, and that continued to protect me up until thi…

The Climate of Fear and How It's Crippling Education

Pretty strong opening, eh?

When FDR delivered his first inaugural address, our nation was gripped by an economic stranglehold. Fear and desperation permeated our very culture. Doubt and paralysis infected our banks, our businesses, and the American psyche. FDR's famous "We have nothing to fear but fear itself" was both insightful and prophetic. While change did overcome fear, it was change through radical policy shifts. Only by embracing new policies, new methods, and science did we transform fear and paralysis to growth.

Are we brave enough to do the same today?

I wonder. The model we trained ourselves in is antiquated. The generations we educate do not learn, function, or exist in a world that we knew and worked within. How are we changing our educational practices to meet these changes and are we doing so in a timely manner to prepare for WHERE our students are going?

I don't think we are; furthermore, we are not doing so fast enough.

There. I said…

The Importance of What Your Librarian Taught You

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I remember Mrs. Jira, my freshmen English teacher/librarian.  You do remember librarians, right?  Those unicorn-like creatures that are being eliminated from school systems because ALL they do is check out books....

Okay.  So I'm bitter.  I am a former librarian....turned technology teacher....turned consultant.  I love my job, but I have to poke with my stick every now and then.  BACK to topic.

Your librarian taught you some great stuff, and you might not have even noticed.  Librarians have been finding things no one else can find for years.  So here we are in the Twenty-first Century (living in a world with more information before), and we don't teach people how to FIND things on the Internet.  Logical.

Here's a few things EVERYONE should know about finding things on the Internet.  Most people "google" information.  They type a few things into the Google search engine and peek at the results.  Most people only access information they find on the FIRST page of m…

Core Curriculum IS Like Going To War

So did that title catch your attention?

I bet it did. It's rather like beginning an essay with the word "sex" or anything connected to the word "sex." So, using this heading is for a reason. I want to talk about "Core Curriculum." You've heard about it. Your administrators have been tossing it your way, and you've been examining it in your professional learning communities. You either have a grasp of the changes heading your way, or you don't. I am one of those in the first category. Hence the title. Core Curriculum will change the way we teach. If it doesn't, we're not doing it correctly. That's why it's like war. Tell a large group of committed stakeholders that all of their lives must change and there will be chaos, pure and simple. Some are excited, others are fearful. Some are angry, others simply plan to do nothing at all. So for those of you who know nothing of the changes to come, here are my thought…