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Random Thoughts about Students and Teaching

Monday, August 7, I begin my 21st year as a school system employee (19th as a certified educator) and just like in all the years past, I am extremely excited. Education, while taken for granted by many, is a treasured gift. Empowering citizens with literacy is a life changer. Education is a poverty breaker. It's hope given to the hopeless. It's a way out for the trapped. It's sort of a big deal!

Here are some of my random thoughts about teaching:

1. We should always, always make decisions that are best for our students. Always! Identify what is best for students and make it happen...selflessly.

2. If a student doesn't have a pencil, give him one. If he loses it, give him another one. (Stock up on pencils to the nth degree!)

3. Refer to students and groups of students by name. Don't call them the blue group or the green group or the Bluebirds or Level K group or .... Just use their names! (Levels and groupings are for the teacher's knowledge.)

4. Don't make students eat while sitting on the floor. It's unsanitary. It's degrading as a human.

5. Don't take out frustrations you have with the parent on the student. Keep your lips sealed. The child is not the parent.

6. Hall talk is cancerous. Avoid it at all costs.

7. Avoid adults who zap your energy.

8. Do what's best for kids.

9. Draw smiley faces on students' work. Write positive words on their work along with smiley faces. Rather than -5, how about +15?

10. If a child doesn't learn it the first, second, third, fourth, or fifth time, don't give up on her! Dig deep. Never give up on her.

11. Don't critique their writing to the degree that you destroy their spirit. Work with what they give you. Help them make it better.

12. Let students read independently every single day for 20 or more minutes. It's the single most important thing you can do for your students.

13. You won't ever have their attention at one time. Work with it. You will have to repeat yourself a gazillion times. Accept it. It is what it is. Save yourself some stress by accepting it up front.

14. Technology shouldn't override pedagogy. Pedagogy first, then technology to enhance.

15. Choose positive words. Choose positive words with students. Choose positive words with coworkers. Choose positive words with parents. Choose positive words with administration. Be positive.

16. Do what's best for kids.

17. Take the cupcake. Take the piece of gummed up sticky candy. Accept it graciously with a smile.

18. Remember they're children. They will do child-like things. They continually fight an enormous degree of energy just to stay seated. They will be knuckleheads. It's not the end of the world when they are. Grant lots of grace.

19. If you encounter a coworker who says they're in it just for the summers off, stay away from that person. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life, nor do your students need their teacher associating with such a heartless person.

20. Be intuitive. Do they really get it? Is it really ok?

21. Think about what you're doing every single minute of the day. Think about what they're doing. Don't waste your time. Don't waste their time. Make every single moment count.

22. When you go to run the worksheet, don't. There are tens of millions of other activities that are better than what is on the worksheet.

23. Connect learning to real life.

24. Do what's best for students.

25. You only have them for so many minutes a year. Most are already behind when they get to you. Be protective of your instructional time.

26. Your teachers were outstanding, and they taught you as they should have in that era. It's a new era. Which professional book are you reading? What are you trying from the last workshop you attended? What are you throwing out because it's not working? What do you want to learn? Which teacher do you look up to, not because of her personality, but because of her teacher super powers?

27. Don't let Pinterest ideas steal your crucial learning spaces on your classroom walls. The walls should be dedicated to student learning.

28. Are your walls over-stimulating your students? Are they too busy? Are the designs too busy?

29. Your students should be dead tired, but smiling, at the end of the day.

30. Please do what's best for kids.

31. Teach Grammar within the confines of a writing lesson.

(I'm not always successful doing everything from the list. I do, however, strive to be better and keep them as goals.)

Let's serve our students selflessly. Let's respect them as fellow human beings and do everything within our power to cultivate the potential that lies in each of them!

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