Thursday, June 30, 2011

I prefer reading shorter blog posts; That's just the way it is with me.

Most of my favourite blog posts are short. Seth Godin and Joe Bower write excellent short posts. I love short posts; Much more so than long posts. Why? I like brevity; I like things to the point; Just tell me what you think. Write it short and I will read it; Write a long post and, unless you are an amazing writer, my mind wanders off. In the end I only skim. I know you don’t want me to skim your post so just give me the juice. That’s just the way it is with me.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Give Me Respect

I always thought that I would automatically get respect from students when I walked the coridoors of a school because I was a teacher. That was not the case. You have to work hard to get respect. You have to say "hi" and get to know names of kids. You have to pay attention. You have to stop and talk to students during recess or any chance you get. Don't be an authoritarian. Respect will come. Things become easier.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My shortest post on motivation.

Rewarding students and punishing students can be exhausting and counterproductive. Focus on the intrinsic, not the extrinsic motivators. Building relationships and discovering what motivates students is the best “classroom management” I can think of. Just imagine the growth.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Is teaching all about Control?

“Do you have control over your class?” “ She does not have control over her class.” “ He does not control his class at all.” “ You need control over your students.” I have heard questions and statements like these a lot in my teaching career. It would appear that teaching is all about control, control, control. It is not. It is about building relationships with students. Learning follows. Get away from the “mind set” of control. Then sit back and watch the results.

For more on this topic see Beyond Discipline: From Compliance to Community, Alfie Kohn, as recommended by Scott McLeod below. @mcleod

A Short Conversation With...Greta Sandler @gret

How long have you been teaching?
I’ve been an English as a second language teacher for about 8 years. I used to teach young adults at the university level and then moved into elementary education. Teaching kids has made a huge difference for me. It’s such a gift to be able to reach out for them and help them flourish!

Has your educational philosophy changed since you began teaching?
Yes, a lot! I’ve always believed that connecting with our students was really important to build a safe learning environment in the class. I’ve always thought that teaching was way more than just following a curriculum. However, it wasn’t until I was really able to reach out for a kid that I felt the power of being a teacher for the first time. Since then, I’ve been way more focused on bringing out the best in each of my students.
I also used to think technology wasn’t important in the classroom. To be honest, I was totally clueless about the amazing things we could do with it. The world has changed and it keeps changing. I’ve become aware that we need to connect our students’ learning with the world in which we live in and technology can help us bring the world into the classroom and expand our classroom walls. Thanks to technology, we can recreate the world in our classroom and create meaningful learning opportunities for our students. What’s more, technology can also help us connect with our students in a stronger way and it can help us build a better learning environment.

Has Twitter played a role in your evolution as a teacher? If so, how?
Yes! It has! Thanks to Twitter, I’ve built my PLN. My PLN has had an essential role in my professional and personal growth.
I started tweeting actively about a year ago. I was too shy to get involved in conversations at first, so I just lurked. I spent a lot of time reading blogs and I slowly began commenting on them. This led to conversations on twitter and soon after, I began participating on twitter chats such as #elemchat, #ntchat, #edchat and #eltchat. I have also taken part in great online educational conferences and webinars. I always find out about these amazing opportunities on Twitter.
I have learned about the wonderful things we can do with technology in our classrooms, I have connected with incredibly inspiring educators from all over the world and I ended up writing my own blog. What’s more, I got my students blogging and skyping with experts and other classes. Let me tell you, these have been the most amazing experiences in my teaching career.
My PLN keeps challenging and inspiring me to reflect on my teaching. I keep learning and growing thanks to it. I interact with the people in my PLN mostly on Twitter. That’s why I feel Twitter is my staff room; a place where learning takes place 24/7.

What's the best advice you have received as a teacher (or can give to a new teacher)?
My first year as an elementary school teacher, I heard a teacher say we should love our students before actually meeting them. To be honest, I didn’t really understand what she meant at first. It was at the end of that school year that I became aware of how powerful what I had heard was. I had a student who had been a victim of sexual abuse and he was about to be kicked out from school. His behavior was really bad and his performance wasn’t exactly the best. All I heard about him were awful comments. That boy became my favorite student right away. When I met him, I felt he had always been my student. I showed him how much I cared and we connected right away. At the end of the year he was a total different kid. Not only did his behavior improve, but also his performance.
Our job is so powerful! I seriously believe we can make a difference for our students and help them flourish. It’s way easier to reach out for our kids, if we have a strong connection with them. The key to a successful connection with our students is to love them before we know them.

Greta Blogs here

Monday, June 6, 2011

Are we just here to bore each other?

Meetings, presentations, speeches, ceremonies, etc. can be interesting; Most, however, not so much. I know that not everything can be exciting all the time. That is a given. However, I often wonder why we, as humans, continue to bore each other with long ceremonies, drawn out meetings, and uninteresting speeches/presentations. Can we at least question the value of how we do many of these things? Can we change some of these things or are we just here to bore each other?