Wednesday, June 22, 2016

You Are Amazing!

I do not think anyone hears enough that they are amazing, incredible, or even great. When I think about how often our students hear the negative or see the negative in the form of feedback of comments from teachers, students, and family I think that we need to change our behaviors to be more positive.  

I recently read about Operation Beautiful on another blog I read.  The person who writes this blog started Operation Beautiful by leaving positive messages on the mirrors of public restroom (great idea- right?!). She left messages like “You are incredible!” or “You are amazing!" in hopes to end negative self-talk. The way it works is you post anonymous notes in public places for other people to read and find, and then you take a picture to submit to Operational Beautiful for them to post on their blog.  Amazing, right? Yet, why can we not do this for our students.?

 I would love to post random positive messages to students in emails, in the bathroom, slide a note in one's locker, or even on the student's work. This would make a great challenge to one's self or even other teachers- who can do the most positive messages to students, along with who can do the most original positive message and delivery. The challenge would be in hopes that these behaviors would then become more automatic and passed along by others (the whole Pay it Forward effect). 

Thus, I challenge you to begin your own Operation Beautiful and post them to either that site of tweet me at @beal_kara. I would love to see what you are doing!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Classroom Management Reflection

I am in the reminiscing mood this morning, as I sit here and contemplate the end of the school year. It always boggles my mind how when we first arrive in August to begin our time with our students that we cannot fathom June graduation with our middle school students. Yet, that date in June always shows up abruptly at our classroom door. I want to push it back and tell it I am not ready! I am not ready, as I need more time with my students for learning and just for time with them. Yes, I now love them deeply and hate when I have to say goodbye. As I continue my reflection I contemplate my teaching and classroom management. I always have the students do an anonymous survey on what they learned and my teaching for the year. This is to help me with what I should be doing and planning for the following year. This year as I reviewed the survey's I found myself relating my classroom management to quotes and insight of others. The follow are a few to contemplate.

Classroom management is like:
"...a technical manual because it should include everything that happens in your classroom. Just like you can look up any specific problem or topic in a technical manual and find information, you should have a plan, routine, or procedure for everything that happens in your classroom. This will ensure that things run as smoothly as possible."~ Eunice Nickel
"...a romance novel because you want the students to fall in love with you and learning. You will have your up and downs like any relationship but in the end you want yourself and the other person to be happy."~ Samantha Heasty
"...a travel guide because the school year is a journey that takes you many places whether they be smooth easy highways or rough bumpy roads. Like a good travel guide, good classroom management can successfully lead you though the school year. It can show you your destinations along the way, point out the "pit stops" where you need to stop and refuel, and finally help lead you through the school year on the smoothest road possible."~ Conolley August

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

When the Students You Teach Feel Like Family

I have had to deal with an illness this year and missed some school. As many who know me, I hate this. I hate not being with the students every day, teaching them, watching them grow, and having them teach me in some way as well.

I feel that the students I teach become my family for the year, and sometimes for many years. I get to know them personally- their likes, dislikes, how they speak and write, and how they interact with others. This is just like some of my interactions with my own children- the observation and discussions that is. I love eating lunch with the students to see a different aspect of their being, or even being a silent observer in the hallway between classes to see who is dating who, which friends are on the out's, or even which students are struggling with friendships or interactions with others.

It is truly important for me to connect with my students, and one way I do so is by eliciting their stories. I always believe that my students can transform and find themselves, in addition to becoming literate people who will love reading. This is truly the best compliment I received this year- many parents and students have stated to me that they do not know what I did, but they now love reading (or at least have read more books than they ever have before!). This discovery with their own skills and passions, allows the student to further their development and passion to then go onto high school and then college. I always knew each student can do, and now they're doing it. That's why I teach.

 I love middle school kids. I love where they are intellectually and emotionally. I love being able to engage them in the kind of rigorous discussions that they are just getting ready for (with them now understanding sarcasm and irony) and then seeing them watch a Disney movie.

I love teaching. I love learning about and from my students every year. I love just being in the classroom every day with my six different classes that become my little families over the course of our time together. I just love my students.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Power of Language

I am hereby outing myself as a bibliophile + logophile. My house runneth over with books. Words can offer perspective, insight, and understanding. Words can bring encouragement and hope. Words can remove fear and isolation. Words can reconcile and unite. Words can have an influence on how we feel about ourselves and others. Words have the ultimate power in our lives, yet many do not use correct words when speaking or writing. Additionally, my students do not share my love of words. Is this a societal norm now? Is this due to technology one can abbreviate their words or have the piece of technology insert what it thinks you want to say, thus losing one's ability to actually use their own vocabulary? Is technology ruining our vocabulary (not just our spelling!)?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

How to Make Them Do It! or How to Make Them Do It?

My title says it all- I am exasperated and in a conundrum about how to make students actually do what they say they will do. The "doing" goes from what a student says they will do for a club activity (e.g., making a craft or treat for a dance) to doing their school work. I teach at the middle school level and lately, wherever I go, teachers, parents, and community members are stating to me that s/he is having issues with a teen actually doing what they say they will do. "I hear from the student 'Sure! I love that idea and will paint the backdrop to the set on Tuesday.' Yet, when Tuesday comes the student just does not show up. When I confront the student about the issue the next day the student gives me an excuse about suddenly having an appointment" stated one teacher to me last week. This is, unfortunately, the norm not the exception. Therefore, I implore to you- how do we make them do it? How do we make students commit to what they say they will do (their commitment(s))? 

I therefore decided to do a bit of digging, or research. The biggest thing is that the teen needs to see the value of what is being asked to themselves. This means they have to understand what it means for them (selfish anyone?). The obvious answer here is to offer an incentive of sorts. By offering rewards for effort, improvement, or participation, you reinforce in your teenager the values of trying and perseverance, rather than rewarding the act of giving up or resigning. What about school work though, as this can not always be an easy answer. Joseph Shipp states “You have to do what you have to do so you can do what you want to do.” (meaning you have to do your school work in order to go to a higher level of education) The next big thing is letting them have a say. This is where exploratory education comes into play. Letting students have a say as to how they show their learning or even what they need to learn is the big thing right now in education. This is ultimately letting the student have a say. It takes a lot of planning on the teachers part, but in the end it is worth it, as students are really showing their learning and not rote learning, because if it is not shown to meet the standards then the student has to show the learning in a different manner. This, then, helps the student learn from their failures (this is the biggest lesson in my opinion). The last thing I read was that all goals need to be achievable, which means that one needs to differentiate what is being asked. For example, I know that with my two sons I can ask one to vacuum and it will be done properly, but the other will just do it half-heartedly. I therefore have to differentiate the chores based on the skill or effort that I know the person will put into what I am asking. 

To be honest I did not learn anything new with my research, but it did remind me of everything I need to do at once to try to get the student(s) TO DO IT!