Thursday, November 24, 2011

What I'd Really Like to Say

This is the blog entry from Kim and Karen: 2 Soulful Sisters Blog. I have included the link, (I hope as I am new to adding links)Ok, I can't get it to add as a link so just cut and paste into your address bar to get here or click on the link on my bloglist.

If you want to read it on her blog just hop on over there, they are great.
I wish I had the guts to print this out on my newsletter and send it home to some of my parents.
I have some fantastic parents this year who are very supportive and work with me to achieve the best education for their child and then I have those others who are quite aptly described in the article below. They are the ones who make it difficult to teach!
I hated sitting at conferences hearing "my child has always been an A student and now they have C's or failing grades." You know, I got them this way, so maybe you ought to be questioning the teachers before me and see that I am working my tail off to try to get your kids to grade level. I think some parents just want the A's and if their kids aren't getting them then it is the teacher's fault. I think they should be questioning how their child made honor roll last year when they can't read, write or perform math at grade level. Hmmmm.....

What teachers really want to tell parents
By Ron Clark, Special to CNN
updated 9:12 AM EST, Tue September 6, 2011

Editor's note: Ron Clark, author of "The End of Molasses Classes: Getting Our Kids Unstuck -- 101 Extraordinary Solutions for Parents and Teachers," has been named "American Teacher of the Year" by Disney and was Oprah Winfrey's pick as her "Phenomenal Man." He founded The Ron Clark Academy, which educators from around the world have visited to learn.

(CNN) -- This summer, I met a principal who was recently named as the administrator of the year in her state. She was loved and adored by all, but she told me she was leaving the profession.

I screamed, "You can't leave us," and she quite bluntly replied, "Look, if I get an offer to lead a school system of orphans, I will be all over it, but I just can't deal with parents anymore; they are killing us."

Unfortunately, this sentiment seems to be becoming more and more prevalent. Today, new teachers remain in our profession an average of just 4.5 years, and many of them list "issues with parents" as one of their reasons for throwing in the towel. Word is spreading, and the more negativity teachers receive from parents, the harder it becomes to recruit the best and the brightest out of colleges.

So, what can we do to stem the tide? What do teachers really need parents to understand?

For starters, we are educators, not nannies. We are educated professionals who work with kids every day and often see your child in a different light than you do. If we give you advice, don't fight it. Take it, and digest it in the same way you would consider advice from a doctor or lawyer. I have become used to some parents who just don't want to hear anything negative about their child, but sometimes if you're willing to take early warning advice to heart, it can help you head off an issue that could become much greater in the future.

Trust us. At times when I tell parents that their child has been a behavior problem, I can almost see the hairs rise on their backs. They are ready to fight and defend their child, and it is exhausting. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I tell a mom something her son did and she turns, looks at him and asks, "Is that true?" Well, of course it's true. I just told you. And please don't ask whether a classmate can confirm what happened or whether another teacher might have been present. It only demeans teachers and weakens the partnership between teacher and parent.

Please quit with all the excuses

And if you really want to help your children be successful, stop making excuses for them. I was talking with a parent and her son about his summer reading assignments. He told me he hadn't started, and I let him know I was extremely disappointed because school starts in two weeks.

His mother chimed in and told me that it had been a horrible summer for them because of family issues they'd been through in July. I said I was so sorry, but I couldn't help but point out that the assignments were given in May. She quickly added that she was allowing her child some "fun time" during the summer before getting back to work in July and that it wasn't his fault the work wasn't complete.

Can you feel my pain?

Some parents will make excuses regardless of the situation, and they are raising children who will grow into adults who turn toward excuses and do not create a strong work ethic. If you don't want your child to end up 25 and jobless, sitting on your couch eating potato chips, then stop making excuses for why they aren't succeeding. Instead, focus on finding solutions.

Parents, be a partner instead of a prosecutor

And parents, you know, it's OK for your child to get in trouble sometimes. It builds character and teaches life lessons. As teachers, we are vexed by those parents who stand in the way of those lessons; we call them helicopter parents because they want to swoop in and save their child every time something goes wrong. If we give a child a 79 on a project, then that is what the child deserves. Don't set up a time to meet with me to negotiate extra credit for an 80. It's a 79, regardless of whether you think it should be a B+.

This one may be hard to accept, but you shouldn't assume that because your child makes straight A's that he/she is getting a good education. The truth is, a lot of times it's the bad teachers who give the easiest grades, because they know by giving good grades everyone will leave them alone. Parents will say, "My child has a great teacher! He made all A's this year!"

Wow. Come on now. In all honesty, it's usually the best teachers who are giving the lowest grades, because they are raising expectations. Yet, when your children receive low scores you want to complain and head to the principal's office.

Please, take a step back and get a good look at the landscape. Before you challenge those low grades you feel the teacher has "given" your child, you might need to realize your child "earned" those grades and that the teacher you are complaining about is actually the one that is providing the best education.
And please, be a partner instead of a prosecutor. I had a child cheat on a test, and his parents threatened to call a lawyer because I was labeling him a criminal. I know that sounds crazy, but principals all across the country are telling me that more and more lawyers are accompanying parents for school meetings dealing with their children.

Teachers walking on eggshells

I feel so sorry for administrators and teachers these days whose hands are completely tied. In many ways, we live in fear of what will happen next. We walk on eggshells in a watered-down education system where teachers lack the courage to be honest and speak their minds. If they make a slight mistake, it can become a major disaster.

My mom just told me a child at a local school wrote on his face with a permanent marker. The teacher tried to get it off with a wash cloth, and it left a red mark on the side of his face. The parent called the media, and the teacher lost her job. My mom, my very own mother, said, "Can you believe that woman did that?"

I felt hit in the gut. I honestly would have probably tried to get the mark off as well. To think that we might lose our jobs over something so minor is scary. Why would anyone want to enter our profession? If our teachers continue to feel threatened and scared, you will rob our schools of our best and handcuff our efforts to recruit tomorrow's outstanding educators.

Finally, deal with negative situations in a professional manner.

If your child said something happened in the classroom that concerns you, ask to meet with the teacher and approach the situation by saying, "I wanted to let you know something my child said took place in your class, because I know that children can exaggerate and that there are always two sides to every story. I was hoping you could shed some light for me." If you aren't happy with the result, then take your concerns to the principal, but above all else, never talk negatively about a teacher in front of your child. If he knows you don't respect her, he won't either, and that will lead to a whole host of new problems.

We know you love your children. We love them, too. We just ask -- and beg of you -- to trust us, support us and work with the system, not against it. We need you to have our backs, and we need you to give us the respect we deserve. Lift us up and make us feel appreciated, and we will work even harder to give your child the best education possible.

That's a teacher's promise, from me to you.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Veterans Day

I absolutely love the blog Runde's Room. Jen, the author, puts up such wonderful ideas. I don't know where she gets the time and energy to do all she does! If you have never visited her blog I suggest you drop in and give it a read, you will be hooked! She also has some great things on TPT too. I have several of her items!
She posted a wonderful entry for Canada's Remembrance Day, our Veterans Day. She put this wonderful little video on the entry. It made me cry! I am definitely saving it for next year.

Click on this link to go to Runde's Room and see the blog entry about Remembrance Day.
Runde's Room: Remembering Remembrance Day#comment-form

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I've got to get better at this!

Ok, so one entry a month isn't very good for blogging is it??? I just don't know how to find the time to write down what I do every day like some people do. By the time I get home I am so exhausted and I still have school work to finish, so I just never get around to it. I've got to try harder.

This past week I worked on decimals with my class. Now remember, this group is WAY behind where they should be. I introduced decimals, we made place value charts that were foldables that I had them attach in their notebooks. I also have a huge chart on my bulletin board and most students seemed to use that one instead of the one they made. Oh well! We talked about place and value and we learned to compare and order decimals. I was skeptical about how well they learned all this but when I gave the quiz on Friday, all but 1 passed. So now we get to move on to rounding of decimals. I am not sure how well they can round whole numbers so I think I will start with a pre-assessment to see if they have any rounding skills before I move on to rounding decimals.
I have a step-by-step chart that I will have them put in their notebooks to hopefully help them as they go through the steps. I gave the chart to the 5th grade teacher and she said she taught it to her students so hopefully next year they will come to me already knowing how to round.
After rounding I am hoping that we can get to adding and subtracting decimals. We'll see how long rounding takes!

I started the year using the Connected Math Project curriculum, but I have had to step away from it for a bit as this class was really having trouble with it. Maybe it was how I was teaching it, but no matter what, they weren't doing so well so I have moved back to a more traditional approach to teaching the math concepts. I am adding some of the higher level thinking skills that connected math offers, but I have to be very careful not to overwhelm this group.

Now it is not just in math that this group is behind. Their reading skills are atrocious! If you just want them to regurgitate what you tell them, most can do that. But if you want them to dig deeper and actually answer questions that require them to take the information they have read and then compose their own answer, they can't! This is across the board. I do not have one student that can do this even half the time. They really do not comprehend what they read. So I have to do a lot of reading and stopping to discuss/explain what was just read. I keep hoping that eventually some will start to be able to actually come up with well thought out responses, but it hasn't happened yet.

I gave a social studies test this past Friday and all the students did really well on the multiple choice, fill in the blank and reading the timeline portion of the test, but when they got to the essay and short answer section, they failed miserably. I only had 4 students pass that portion of the test. I just wanted to cry. I gave out the essay question the day before the test, discussed it with them and encouraged them to work on a response at home so they would be prepared when they came in for the test. I only gave the essay portion to about half the class. The other half had short answers. This group was allowed to use the text. Anyone out there feel my pain??????

I have been using the Scott Foresman Reading Street program for my language arts block. I really like to incorporate novels into my program, but I just can't find the time this year. This group requires so much help just grasping the skills that I don't feel comfortable trying to use a longer piece of writing. I think they would just get lost. I wish I had the accelerated reader program at my school. I do have some students that read a number of novels on their own and I would like to see just how well they are comprehending those.

I do assign independent novels to the students that they are required to read and fill out a short form about. I'm not sure they are all actually reading the books though. Some of the responses on the forms are WAY out there!

This week I am taking time to get caught up on some writing skills. We spend so much time focused on our reading skills that I often don't get to our writing block. Now that is really sad!

Well, I promis to try to keep up a bit better with my blog for those few of you out there that actually read it. I am hoping that in the summer when I have a bit more time I can actually add some links to things that I actually have made/do with my students. Till then, I don't know that I'll be able to do much more than just tell you about my day!