Candid Teacher's Classroom

The view from the other side of the desk.

Spring Break: A Great Perk of Teaching March 30, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — candidteacher @ 2:16 pm

Candid Teacher Admits: I think I’m more excited about spring break than my students.

In Kindergarten, usually the students love school and are upset when they don’t get to go.  At 3:15 this past Friday, every teacher was thrilled knowing we get to sleep in, have personal lives, and do whatever we need during this week off.

I must admit I do get bored during time off, but as it is only my second day off and I spent much of yesterday with family, I have not been bored yet.  I have a lot of work to do for graduate school courses (English as a Second Language certification) and some lesson planning to complete, but otherwise I plan to shop and see my friends.  I am so excited to shirk some adult responsibilities for the week!

As for my students, I have given them a “journal” assignment to keep them occupied.  In this journal, they must write an “entry” each day over break.  I hope the parents have their children do this diligently so they do not regress over break.

Spring break is absolutely a great perk of being a teacher!

Yours,

Candid Teacher

 

A Boost From an Unexpected Place March 26, 2010

Filed under: education,Kindergarten,teaching,Uncategorized — candidteacher @ 12:46 am

Candid Teacher Admits: I feel validated after my parent-teacher meeting today.

Today I had a meeting that I have been dreading for a week.  I had to meet with a particularly testy (putting it gently) parent who thinks everyone else needs to fix her son but her.  Let’s not mention that she lets him have the run of the house and is unwilling to try any suggested strategy for a substantial amount of time.  No no, everyone else is to blame.  Of course.

This parent went over my head to the director of the Child Study Team (CST) to have her son evaluated for ADHD and told us that he needs to be in a smaller class with teachers who are used to teaching children with ADHD.  He has not been diagnosed or treated for this disorder, and he does not appear to have it (though I cannot legally diagnose this, as  I am not a doctor).

The first ten minutes of the meeting the parent attacked the school and me for not doing enough for her son.  After her tirade, the guidance counselor, three members of the CST, behaviorist, and myself explained that we do not see severe behavioral or academics difficulty.  Though there are concerning behaviors and her son is struggling with the curriculum, he has made significant improvement.  Two of the CST members and the behaviorist observed her son and they agreed that he did not seem to have any overwhelmingly concerning behaviors that would merit their involvement at this time.

After the meeting, the CST members and behaviorist told me I did so well staying clam and presenting myself professionally; especially considering this particluar parent.  When a reader commented on a previous blog post that working with parents could bring great motivation, I dismissed it with a, “Yeah, right.”  But now I get it.  I will continue to do my utmost with this child, knowing that I’m giving him all I can, regardless of whether or not his parent sees it.

I will not take this parent’s attacks personally, and I will become a better teacher because of it, as I already have.

Yours,

Candid Teacher

 

Parents Are Worse Than Students March 23, 2010

Filed under: education,Kindergarten,teaching,Uncategorized — candidteacher @ 10:45 pm

Candid Teacher Admits: I wish someone had given me techniques for handling parents.

On days like this, what I dread more than a student melt-down is parent meetings.  Some parents are confrontational, over-assertive, think they have all the answers, and are completely and utterly inflexible.  In college, I was not taught a single strategy for talking to parents.

When I began teaching last year, I was very straight forward and well, candid, with parents.  It was hard for me to put myself in their shoes.  I have learned that before speaking with parents I must remind myself that their child is their little prince/princess, angel, pride and joy; whatever you want to call it.  I have to tell myself, “I am giving these parents news about their 5 or 6 year old child,”  Repeating this to myself helps me speak to parents in a professional yet understanding manner.

Here is what I’ve learned regarding parent-teacher relationships so far:

1. Don’t take it personally.
Parents are worse than your peers sometimes.  Once a parent told me they felt my tone was rude and I lacked concern.  At first I nearly cried (I was so proud of myself for keeping the tears reined in!), but then I realized that from their perspective, I may have seemed cold.  Don’t let parent negativity affect how you feel about teaching or about their child.
2. Be confident in yourself.
Parents quickly pick up if you’re waffling or seem unsure of yourself.
3. Don’t be afraid to admit to a mistake.
For example, you call home to say their child hit another and they say their child did not do it but you insist they did, and later you find out the hit was an accident; or if you are accidentally “rude” as I was called in the example above.  Don’t be afraid to apologize and say you misunderstood the situation.  They will respect you for it.
4. Try to put yourself in their shoes. If this was your child, how would you want to hear the news you’re about to give them?

It’s easier to say these words than practice them.  I hope I don’t let parents ruin the joy of teaching for me.

Yours,

Candid Teacher

 

Quirky Kids March 22, 2010

Filed under: education,just for fun,teaching,Uncategorized — candidteacher @ 10:42 pm

Candid Teacher Admits: I forget how funny, insightful, and just plain wonderful kids can be.

It’s so easy to become jaded and allow each day to fade together without realizing how much life there is in my students and in children in general.  They say amazing things every day but I often forget those things rather quickly.  Instead I worry about meetings after school, a parent I have to get back to, or how to raise a child’s reading level.

On the first day of school this year, a student’s mother was late.  To help him keep from worrying, I joked around with him and said, “If you stay here, you’re going to have to make me dinner!”  Instead of giving me a weird look or ignoring the statement altogether, he enthusiastically chimed, “Okay! What should we make?”  He went on to tell me that his favorite foods were chicken and macaroni and cheese, and decided we should make both.  As we walked to the office to wait for his mother, he saw the other students remaining in the school and declared we should make enough food for the entire school.  “We have a lot of work to do!”  he exclaimed.

I know if I make a conscious effort to remember these moments and treasure them, I will be able to enjoy my profession and my students more.

These moments are precious.  At the close of each week, I will strive to step back and note more than just my teaching practice, but my students and their quirky personalities as well.

Yours,

Candid Teacher

 

Budget, Budget, Budget! March 20, 2010

Filed under: Budget,Uncategorized — candidteacher @ 12:13 am

Candid Teacher Admits: Wait, I love my job!

Budgets are being slashed and anyone in the district is at risk of losing their job.  I may not be able to blog under the title of “Candid Teacher” much more.

This week I finally felt comfortable with my job.  This whole week, I have been happy with my profession and felt as though I was truly doing what I should be.  And now, of course, is the perfect time for me to get laid off.  Though it hasn’t happened yet, I know it’s lurking in the shadows and I am not safe.

The budget cuts are effecting teachers and students, as class sizes soar and conditions get worse.  What are we to do?  We are worried, tired, and above all, grumpy.

Yours,

Candid Teacher

 

Everything Green! March 17, 2010

Filed under: education,just for fun,Kindergarten,St. Patrick's Day,teaching,Uncategorized — candidteacher @ 11:57 pm

Candid Teacher Admits: I do not like doing “crafts” for holidays I do not identify with or enjoy myself.

Last year was my first year of teaching, and I shirked responsibility for teaching holidays I don’t personally identify with or enjoy.  One of them was St. Patrick’s day.  I honestly did not know how to go about teaching such a religious holiday to kindergarten students.  However, I teach in a very diverse district and this year I felt up for the challenge, though I was not looking forward to it.

Worried that I would under-plan for the day I dreaded, I designed a multitude of activities: rainbow hand-prints, pots of gold, leprechaun searches, letter writing, St. Patrick’s day books, counting coins, shamrock investigations, and so forth.  I wanted to face my “enemy” (yes, a holiday) head-on.

The day began with a buzz; as the students entered they received a pattern for a “hat” with a shamrock on it.  They colored and cut, I fitted and stapled.

I absolutely dreaded the day.

We continued with our usual morning routine, only celebrating St. Patrick’s day by reading a book that gave the students an overview about the importance of the day.  I was thrilled to find this book, which I admit I did not pre-read before reading aloud to the class, did not contain any real religious references.  Yes, I know I should have read it first, but nobody’s perfect.

After the students returned from lunch, they found that a “leprechaun” (a grumpy teacher) had messed up the room.  Where this characteristic of leprechauns began, I do not know.  I do not think it’s fair that they have earned such a reputation.  But that’s neither here nor there.  The students were ecstatic to clean the mess and read the note left by said “leprechaun”, which informed them that he was looking for his pot of gold in the classroom.

I planned to have the students make “coins” from foil and glue it on to “pots” (paper with a pot drawn on it).  However, when I first introduced the idea I made the mistake of asking, “Do you think the leprechaun would like this?” and they said NO!  They did not feel a fake pot of coins was good enough for the leprechaun.  I wished to say, “Well too bad! This is what I have planned and we’re going to do it!”

I managed to bite my tongue and after some coercing, I convinced the students the pots would suffice and they got to work.  (Phewf, good thing I’m not a politician.)  After completing the project, it was off to gym.  The “leprechaun” got busy in the classroom once again, leaving a new note apologizing for the mess and giving the class a “green treat” (cookies and green icing)  as a thank you for the coins.  As the students returned to the classroom, I said in the most professional way I could, “Ha! I told you the leprechaun would like our fake pots of gold!”  The green frosting and glue must have been getting to me at this point, as I was mentally gloating about a silly project.

Anyway, when all was said and done, the kids announced, “This is my best day ever!” and “I love the leprechaun!  He’s nice!”  I have concluded that I will be brave again next year and tackle this holiday head on.  For now, I am content to dread the arrival of Cinco De Mayo.

Yours,

Candid Teacher

 

Welcome to my Classroom March 16, 2010

Filed under: education,just for fun,Kindergarten,teaching,Uncategorized — candidteacher @ 9:13 pm

Hello, and welcome to my classroom!

First, allow my to introduce myself.  I am a second-year kindergarten teacher.  I have been wrestling with whether or not I love or hate my profession.  There are days I find teaching incredibly fulfilling and would not trade it for the world.  On the other hand, there are days that parents are complaining non-stop, new rules and budget restraints are being enforced, students seem to have eaten enough sugar to fuel a jet, and the world just seems genuinely against me.

The purpose of my blog is to allow parents, other teachers, and the general public a candid glimpse into what it is truly like to be a teacher.  Some feel we are over paid and under worked, though of course there are critics for everything.  The consensus among teachers is, of course, that we are underpaid and over worked.  (You’re not surprised, I’m sure.)  I must say I have felt both ways.  Some days when there are no emergencies with students, parents are praising instead of criticizing, and I’m lucky enough to leave by 3:45 PM (school ends at 3:15), I can’t believe I get paid to teach.   Some days when I am in grueling meetings with parents, students are testing the rules in every possible way, and another budget cut has been announced, I go home and search for new jobs.

By joining me in my experiences, you will see the truthful ups and downs of teaching.  I promise not to give you the simplified answer of, “I love my job!  Children are great!”.  I will be honest and upfront, no matter how hairy things may get.

So, I look forward to this journey together and I hope you’ll step into my classroom for the ride.

Yours,

Candid Teacher