Posted in Teaching

Dear Students,

Finals week brings out both the best and worst in you.  It makes your realize that you have not had your shit together all semester, and somehow you need to get it together in three days.  It also make that my problem somehow.  Guess what?  As much as I want you to be successful, I can’t go back and make you come to class or do those assignments for you.

So here is some quick advice for you.  If you are going to go see your professor to discuss your grades, make sure you are taking what you need with you.  No teacher or professor is going to give you points because you say you did something.  Also, teachers are pretty fair people.  If they take points off there is a reason.  Arguing with them about a few point when you have a pretty good grade is really pointless.

It helps if you have been in class regularly and been ON TIME!  I know that I am way more likely to round a grade up if you have been here ad given me some effort.  If you skip class and don’t hand things in, well, chances are I am not going to take your late work.  I am going to stick to my syllabus and say “sorry about your luck.”

Check your grades before finals week.  That way you know what you are missing or what you need to be doing.  Instructors are not nearly as likely to give late grades the week of finals when you have known all semester that something was missing.  Keep on top of your grades.  You are a big kid now and you need to be responsible for yourself.

This week is one that has the ability to make or break your semester if you have not been on top of your classes.

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Posted in Teaching

What happens after the PLC?

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This is resonating with me this morning after I reflect on the events of this week.  It is so true that teachers should and need to collaborate and learn from one another.  None of us have all the answers.  Some of us have great lessons for one thing and others have a great lesson for other things.  Where one struggles to teach commas, maybe your co-teacher has a great idea that will help you.

While none of us can take someone else’s lesson and carbon copy it (wow that makes me look old), we can take it and make it fit our needs and our teaching style.  We can and need to learn from each other.

What we need to stop doing is forcing the mentality upon our colleagues that “this is the way we do it, and it is the only way.”  Just because it works for one teacher, doesn’t mean it works for the person next door.

This one size fits all way of thinking and assessing student learning does not work for education.  It does not work for our students, it is not what is best for them and it is not what is best for teachers.

Teachers who have the ability to think outside the box are often ridiculed for not fitting into the mold that was created for them by some antiquated ideal of what a teacher should be.  These same teachers have students who are in their classes who are engaged in the learning process and are learning.  Those two things should speak volumes about the teacher.  Not what some ideal of what a teacher should look like.

I certainly do not fit into any mold anywhere.  I can’t even find the box.  Yet, my students are learning.  They are becoming better readers and writers.   I know my content area like the back of my hand.  Why, because I am passionate about English.  I am a giant nerd.  I read all the time.  I spend hours trying to figure out how hone my craft.  Not only that, but I want to know my content inside and out so I can be a better teacher.

This also gives me the ability to figure out how to reach the students that may seem un reachable.  I want them to learn.  I want to know what they know.  I want to know how I can help them get there.  Sometimes the process is just as important as the outcome.  Sometimes it is more important.

As teachers, we need to learn to collaborate in a positive way.  We need to support each other.  Enough of the world is against us and tearing us down. There must be a friendship build amongst us that enables us to share our thoughts and ideas with each other in a meaningful way.   It is beyond time.