Congratulations to the following students for earning Honor Roll accolades for the first quarter.
This is a great list, but it's pretty small; I hope we see more on the list for the remaining three quarters.
I love this paragraph from Teach Like a PIRATE:
That's the way I like my educational gurus: I love to see them as humans, facing the same challenges as I do. When Dave Burgess wrote this book, he had 16 years under his teacher belt. I can tell him that, at 30 years, the struggle remains real. I just as easily could have written many of these words myself; in fact, in my own book, There's No Busyness Like School Busyness, I start out with a brutally honest account of an encounter with the ugliness of burnout. I entered that book with the intention of letting teachers know that there is a fight-through - that there is a survivor at the end of the challenge.
I like when Burgess lists his downfalls and then trumps them all with one thing: enthusiasm. If we could each trump our deficiencies with one thing, we would each list a different strength. Enthusiasm is definitely a good one though, and one to strive for in my own daily walk.
When I participated in July's teacher institute at Fort Ticonderoga, I was struck with the amount of historical accuracy at the fort. Director of Interpretation, Nick Spadone, spoke with our group about some of the methods for interpreting the era and the details of everyday objects we may otherwise take for granted.
The staff is very conscious of the details. On a particular French uniform, for example, existing uniforms are examined carefully, as well as drawings and paintings from the time period in question. The buttons and lace are matched to exacting details, and even the particular ways in which the material is stitched is followed. The drums must be painted with appropriate patterns, and the heads must be tightened in the same manner as their 18th century counterparts. Spadone demonstrated some of the methodology for research in such manners, showing us rosters, maps, and paintings, and reducing them to their smallest details and even searching in the shadows for answers to age-old questions.
Later in the week, we had the chance to learn directly from the reenactors at the fort, as we learned some stitches, shoe making techniques, ox team control, and bateau construction. More photos from that experience will arrive here on the website soon.
Read more about this incredible experience on my Fort Ticonderoga page.
I don't know what you expected when you signed on to do this job, dear teacher. You had to know that kids are all different. You have to know that kids come from all kinds of backgrounds, with all kinds of extremely different lives at home. You had to know that everybody is not as refined, as trained, as decent, as sober as you are. It should come as no surprise to you that a student in your class is not as well-behaved as you would like. That gives you no excuse for excluding that student from your presence. In fact, that's the student who needs your attention the most.
OK, so you've probably accepted that fact, and you've undoubtedly heard that last line:
That's the kid who needs you the most.
But it's hard, isn't it?
This year, I've had to become a champion for certain kids. I've had to be more positive with some kids than I am used to. They just don't get a good feeling from peers, from teachers, from adults, from parents, from people.
They just don't get it from school, from home...
You get the idea. By their own admission, "nobody" shows them love.
They don't win awards. They don't earn rewards. They don't get complimented by other teachers.
So where does a teacher begin? Not by sending them into the hallway. Not by writing office referrals. Not by putting them in the corner and ignoring them. Where does a teacher begin? That's an internal question. It's one I have to ask myself this year, when I have a class that puts me to the test.
Don't get me wrong: every class is a challenge...and every class in recent years seems to have a distinct shortcoming and personality. A couple of years ago, I had a class of kids who were easily offended: it was not a group that an adult could tease and play with as openly as others. Another year, it was a group who thought they were entitled to something extra: there were kids at every level of economic backgrounds in that group, some who thought society owed them a break, and others who felt like they had earned respect simply because of their status.
This year is full of some very sweet and lovable children, but unfortunately a few do not think they deserve to feel good about school, their families, or themselves. For thirty years, I have seen these children consistently beat themselves up. They give me comments like, "My life is awful," "I'm not having a good day," or "Nobody cares about me." I have found myself emptying my heart to them to assure them they are loved - if not by anyone else, at least by me. I have found myself being the only positive adult role model for them to look to for support. Sometimes I feel like they don't hear "I love you" from anyone else.
I realize that's not all true, because I know these kids. Perhaps their attitudes and their outlooks on life are blatantly negative because they have been conditioned to expect nothing but negativity in their lives. They have positioned themselves in front of the cannon of depression for a few years now, and their perception of life is an open wound.
That said, it's high time someone convinced them otherwise. Too many teachers fail to see this. Too many fall into the trap of adding to their funk instead. They are too quick to multiply the negativity in students lives. They zone in on these "trouble" children and expect them to be trouble.
Our principal shared this (below) with me, last week, and it went perfectly with what I had already written in this article. I really like the thoughts here, as it includes the honesty of frustration at the end.
We get upset when our students aren't perfect. We take it personally when students don't respond in just the expected manner. We want to throw our hands up and walk out. But there is a particular satisfaction when I positively affect that one student who needs a positive role model. It's almost a sacred mission. Teacher becomes mentor, coach, and superhero to a real life human being, and maybe - just maybe - teacher affects the future as well.
Standing out from the crowd is the only way to guarantee your message is received in a culture that is increasingly distracted and where attention spans are plummeting.
Too many schools are filled with brown cow classes that blend into the background. I am relentlessly focused and immersed in the orchestrated effort to be the antithesis of the brown cow. I want entering my room to feel like entering another world.
Our room starts to change in October. We are now displaying our new JOIN or DIE flag, designed by Benjamin Franklin, and it fits perfectly over the interactive white board.
Other decor includes a few discreet pieces to reflect the season - namely a few rats, skeletons, and spiders (along with their webs).
Pretty soon, Hoggatt Cave will make its debut, and tours will begin with other classes. Hoggatteers are looking forward to spending some time in the dark cave.
Following Montcalm's victory against the British in July of 1758, the general erected a cross as a statement of his faith and proclamation of humility. The cross and monument in the photos below stand as a memorial to the event.
Along with the cross, General Montcalm posted a plaque saying these words, expressed in French and in English:
Chretien! Ce ne fut point Montcalm et la prudence,
Read more about my participation in the 2019 teacher institute on my Fort Ticonderoga page.
It's easy for me. Really? So with four words she dismissed sixteen years of had work!...Sixteen years of failures and lessons that blew up in my face. Sixteen years of fine-tuning ideas and making adjustments because what I thought were great ideas went completely wrong. Sixteen years of having to abandon lessons part way through the day in order to salvage something useful.
Burgess goes on to describe how the next two words are also misinformed. "You're creative" implies that creativity is inborn, but the author does not accept that theory. I must say that I disagree. I do think there is a certain amount of inborn character that supports creativity. I believe some students learn certain areas of the curricula more naturally than others. Just as some are more naturally drawn to music or math, and others are attracted to visual art or writing, some teachers are more naturally drawn to small groupings, while others use video with success, and still others effectively use traditional methods.
Still, the author accurately espouses that creativity can be developed, and solely depending on provided script is not the way to develop it.
The general public may not think it's the most exciting part of the Fort Ticonderoga experience (They likely came to the fort to see...the fort.), but with the fort owning some 2,000 acres of land here, there is more to the complete story of the area.
The trees were not thick here; in fact, most would have been razed to allow more visibility surrounding the fort. A plan was developed, using geometric lines of embanked earth upon which large logs were stacked to form "walls" behind which soldiers would defend the fort against 16,000 British soldiers. With an abatis (sharpened and entangled trees facing outward) in front of these lines, the advancing enemy were killed by the hundreds, and eventually many were left entangled, either dead or soon-to-be dead.
Interestingly, the majority of the battlefield is unexamined archaeologically speaking, and guests are reminded that it is against the law to bring metal detectors to the property. With nearly 20,000 soldiers firing on each other, there is much to explore here, though to do it correctly would be costly, and no one wants it done incorrectly.
Check out our entire collection of Music Appreciation videos.
Well, here's what I say: At some point in your career you have to decide if you care more about teaching to tests or teaching kids. My decision was made a long time ago. I teach kids. Don't let the current overemphasis on standardized test scores lead to the loss of the teachable moment. Having the right structure and using your time in the classroom effectively allows you the flexibility to let "the moment" happen without any sense of guilt. Sometimes we need to just "be" with our students and take the figurative walk through the canyons with them.
While I do monitor data, my answer to the data always seems to be to work on behaviors, empathy, motivation, growth mindset, and self-respect. The by-product of the relationships that develop is academic improvement.
I wanted Hoggatteers to get to know Missouri's native peoples a little more intimately. They did so by observing pen-and-ink sketches of tribal representatives and then reproducing the images with drawings of their own. I wanted them to wonder about these individuals, their stories.
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