Please, Please, Please, for the Love of God– Dare to Be a Strict Teacher

I am a strict teacher.

If your child is in my class I have certain expectations for him or her. I expect him to be on time; I expect him to have his materials with him—no, he will not have time to visit his locker for paper and a pen; I expect him to be respectful and say “please” and “thank you”; I expect him to stay seated and quiet during my lesson—yes, I have a seating plan; I expect him to raise his hand when he wishes to speak—I would like to hear him speak; I expect him to have his homework done—yes, I assign and check homework; I expect him to clean up after himself; I expect him to never trash talk any student in my care; I expect him to put his cell phone away or kiss it goodbye;  I expect him not to whine, but to work.

I expect a lot from him.

Because I am a strict teacher, I have a lot of expectations.

Because I am a strict teacher, my expectations are often met.

Because I am a strict teacher, my students, in the process of meeting expectations, become better.

 All of this because I am strict.

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7 Tips for Beating End-Of-Year Teacher Burnout

It’s that time of the year when a dry erase marker that won’t work or first block without your morning coffee is enough to flip your normally jovial, light-hearted self into a snarling, spitting cat.

Welcome to the end of the school year, where the survivors are few and the wounded many. You have made it through the morass of the school year—avoided the grenades, crouched low, staked out your territory—and made it to the other side of the trenches. This is no man’s land, but you—and a few other teachers who remain relatively sane—have nearly made it.

Now what?

Any armchair psychologist need only survey your wrinkled teacher garb and your matted, knotted hair to identify your condition: end-of-year teacher burnout. But it takes a teacher who has been there and done that, one who has gained a degree in armchair psychology from The School of Life to advise a burnt-out teacher what to do about it.

While I may not hold a master’s or PhD, I do hold that precious degree from The School of Life, and here is what I know about end-of-year teacher burnout. 

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14 tips for surviving the first year of teaching– a letter to my first year teacher self

When I was a first year teacher now nearly five years ago, I knew as much about teaching as I do about the types of clouds or the kinds of rocks: I had a vague recollection of learning facts about these things in school long, long ago, but put me in a rock museum or ask me to describe the clouds above my eyeballs, and I’d be stumped.

As a first year teacher, my knowledge of teaching was academic. In teachers’ college, I had been fed from a trough of fun, impractical theories; I had viewed classroom simulations comprised of perfectly behaved adults who playfully mimicked rebellious teenagers; I drank Starbucks lattes and sucked on bonbons as my professors talked about creativity, fun, and social justice.  In short, I had no idea what hell awaited me.

Here is my practical advice for first year teachers.

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How to be the best student teacher ever

HOW TO BE THE BEST STUDENT TEACHER EVER

Four years. I cannot believe it has been four years since I wrote a blog post.

A lot has happened in my teaching career over the past four years. I moved schools. I now primarily teach English. I’ve read some transformative teaching books. and I’ve recently been inspired by a teacher Youtuber and a great teacher blogger. But none of this compares to having the whole circle of life turned upside down and belly up when I  became a mentor teacher to two student teachers.

Two student teachers!

Two days ago was the last day with my second student teacher, who was a pleasure to have in my classroom. For all of you education majors gearing up for student teaching, let me tell you what my latest student teacher did to be the best student teacher ever.

MY TOP 10 TIPS FOR STUDENT TEACHERS

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I’m an Ontario Certified Teacher!

An old post from when I first graduated from teachers’ college.

Two weeks ago, I graduated from teachers’ college. Since then, I’ve been thinking of something inspirational to write, but I realized I’ve already written what I want to say.

Us teachers lookin' regal on graduation day.
Us teachers lookin’ regal on graduation day.

My first blog post ever explained why I want to be a teacher. It still captures best why I went to OISE.  It also explains what kind of teacher I want to be.

So, I’ve posted it below for you to read.

I have only one thing to add… a big ‘THANK YOU’ to all those people who stood by me during my studies! To start with, I thank my boss, Gilbert, for keeping me teaching part-time and tolerating my ‘pedagogical experiments’ in the classroom (Baroque music & other oddities…but they work).

I also owe a lot to friends, family, and teacher associates who:  drove me to bus stations, bought me Timmies, shared inspirational stories, or just understood when I disappeared under a pile of tests.

You guys are the best. Continue reading

Why I’m a teacher (revisited post-graduation)

This is me.
This is me.

 Fresh out of teachers’ college, I still find this old post  about why I teach rings true…

WHY I’M A TEACHER

People react to my telling them I’m a teacher in predictable ways. They all seem to assume the same things: I must enjoy spending time with children, living vicariously through teenagers, teaching a pet subject, or lounging about during summer vacations. In small part, these reasons are true. Alone, though, these reasons are insufficient: I’ve only nodded along with these people’s ideas about my choice of profession because I haven’t the time to explain my reasons. It’s complicated. It’s too much to explain in one sitting to a stranger who asks the inevitable: “Whatcha do?” and “Why you doin’ it?” expecting a few words wrapped in a smile. Let me explain now: Teaching is like being a stream in a forest. I want to be that stream.

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Building self-esteem in students– have we gone too far?

Are your children spoiled? Quite possibly.

Our nation- wide, well-intentioned “grow self-esteem in students” movement has gone too far. Before you hurl stones, let me preface this by saying I’m a teacher committed to building strong self-concepts in students,  especially body-conscious girls. And I don’t think praising students is bad.

But I think some praise is bad.

Some praise is downright destructive.

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Every teacher & parent should watch this!

An old post I wrote while studying to become a teacher.

Activist, author, and child prodigy  Adora Svitak  makes the case for childish thinking in her compelling TED talk.

She’s 16-years-old but eloquent as my 40-year-old aunt…and that’s eloquent.

I’ve taken the quotes that really stuck out to me and pasted them for you below.

“WHAT ADULTS CAN LEARN FROM CHILDREN”

[by Adora Svitak]

Straight from Svitak:

‘irrational’ thinking

“The traits the word ‘childish’ addresses are seen so often in adults that we should abolish this age-discriminatory word when it comes to criticizing behavior associated with irresponsibility and irrational thinking.”

“…who’s to say that certain types of irrational thinking aren’t exactly what the world needs?”

optimism & dreams

“For better or worse, we kids aren’t hampered as much when it comes to thinking about reasons why not to do things.”

“…we kids still dream about perfection. And that’s a good thing, because in order to make anything a reality, you have to dream about it first.”

control & care

“Now, what’s even worse than restriction is that adults often underestimate kids abilities. We love challenges, but when expectations are low, trust me, we will sink to them.”

“…to show that you truly care, you listen.”

legacy

“But there’s a problem with this rosy picture of kids being so much better than adults. Kids grow up and become adults just like you. Or just like you, really? The goal is not to turn kids into your kind of adult, but rather better adults than you have been.”

my two cents…

I agree with Svitak about everything, except  for one thing; as a student, I don’t think she fully appreciates classroom control. It’s necessary.  No classroom can function well without some rules and guidelines. I know, because I once set very little rules or guidelines (not my thing, anyway), and my students were less focused and less successful because of it. It’s a fine balance. We teachers need to give as much freedom as possible so long as learning is not impeded.

one more thought…

Svitak paints an accurate picture of kids who “still dream about perfection.”Listening to her, I remembered a situation that captures the child mentality perfectly.

Once, I left my black handbag in a classroom over lunch break. I returned to the empty room to find a one of my grade 5 students, Emma, hunched over my bag. “Oh no!” I immediately thought. I’m ashamed to admit it now, but I though to myself, “she must be taking something from my bag.”

Rushing over to Emily to “catch her” red-handed, I soon became embarrassed. I saw that she was holding a mop of soggy tissue papers, cleaning my bag from the grit it picked up from the floor. “What are you doing?” I asked. And then she looked up at me, a small mess of freckles,  and said in her slow, deliberate way, “Cleaning…your bag…” I thought she had been stealing, when she had just been helping me behind my back.

Kids do really think a different way, see the world differently. It’s a shame that we grow up.

Do you think you’re childish enough? Or, have you become too serious and narrow-minded to the see the big, bright picture? Have you lost your rose-coloured glasses?

Something to think about…

Every teacher & parent should watch this!

An old post I wrote while studying to become a teacher.

Activist, author, and child prodigy  Adora Svitak  makes the case for childish thinking in her compelling TED talk.

She’s 16-years-old but eloquent as my 40-year-old aunt…and that’s eloquent.

I’ve taken the quotes that really stuck out to me and pasted them for you below.

“WHAT ADULTS CAN LEARN FROM CHILDREN”

[by Adora Svitak]

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Why do we un-teach intuition?

[I wrote this post when I was studying to become a teacher]

Last Sunday, fate arranged for me to eat burrito across from Ian, creative strategist, business owner, and writer. He taught me something in this school of life, and he can teach you. He taught me the value of intuition.

He came dressed in a sock

His sweater was a over-sized sock— trendy these days, I guessed. A pair of aviator glasses hid his bright green eyes. Despite his youthful look, I sensed his depth.

I wanted to know how he became a success reaching the top of every hipster’s dream, Mount Everest, Holy Grail – the advertising industry.

Ian had found his inspiration in some classroom, I was sure, or in some lecture hall, in some teacher. Armed with knowledge, he’d rough-housed in the creative marketplace.

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