Teacher Appreciation Week Resource Links!

Happy upcoming Teacher Appreciation Week! Though I am so grateful and delighted for the tidings for teachers everywhere, I do believe hardworking, deserving teachers deserve respect and support year round.

I have taken the liberty of researching a few links about Teacher Appreciation Week. These include travel deals, store deals, and more. Some may overlap and that is fine. Please enjoy and know that from The Educator’s Light, we wish you all the best every day of the year.

“Gimme” some great teacher freebies and deals:

The “Thrillest” Deals yet:

https://www.thrillist.com/news/nation/teacher-appreciation-week-2019-deals-freebies

Offers.com

https://www.offers.com/blog/post/teacher-discounts/

National Educator’s Association Teacher Day:

http://www.nea.org/grants/teacherday.html

Freebies for Teachers:

https://www.wokv.com/news/national/teacher-appreciation-week-2019-here-list-deals-and-freebies-for-the-nation-educators/G8c18adzNyqEtQ0f3VubOJ/

Forbes Travel Deals:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/micheleherrmann/2019/04/28/travel-deals-teacher-appreciation-week/#14b9e46c6311

Year Round Deals for Teachers! Links below.

(Michael’s is one my personal favorites. 15% off every purchase with your teacher ID)

Teacher.org shares some great discounts:

Grandma knows best with these year round discounts:

https://www.giftcardgranny.com/blog/the-complete-list-of-66-teacher-discounts/

Nothing wrong with Living on the Cheap for teachers:

Teachers you rock! Have a wonderful Teacher Appreciation Week. You deserve it!

Teach in the Light–

Kia

Copyright 2019

The Educator’s Light

Links to websites do not constitute endorsement of the deals or sites’ content.

So, When Is It Time To Leave?

It’s that time of year when many teachers begin to ponder their school year. Transfer applications and guidelines are sent out to entire districts, or the teacher may wonder is it time to leave where they are at for various reasons (sometimes having nothing to do with the school or students) home school parents think “survive another year of this?”

I am grateful to be at a campus this school year where I could literally spend the next 10 years…but that is not everyone’s story. In the past, it wasn’t always mine either. Never will I advocate for you to hop from school to school year after year. That’s unstable. I treasure stability and you should too–especially for the kids. However, sometimes our experience is unbearable or does not go the way we thought. Here are a few tips to decide whether or not you need to leave your campus/assignment as a new teacher or veteran educator.

  1. The school is closing.

Yes. This actually happened to a loved one of mine. There are many educational platforms now. No longer is it just the school district and other brick and mortar establishments. Online education is literally changing the way we see education and how we impact our youth. My relative is a high school physics and chemistry (say whooooooaaa) teacher who is very good. When the staff received the notice that due to low enrollment for the next school year they were closing shop, she applied to many schools and even interviewed. Low and behold (and thankfully) the school contacted her and other staff members mid-summer to let her know they had an influx of students register and/or return. Whew, close call.

2. You have been there a very long time.

I have known teachers to stay at a campus for 20 years or more. If you are respected and love the community and adore the kids you work with, by all means enjoy until retirement or for years to come. I personally was in a situation where I was at the same school for 7 years. By today’s standards, that was a very long time. I did not leave hating anyone but the entire dynamic of the school had changed, and in a way, I felt trapped and extremely uncomfortable.

There had been some very negative things happen of which I had no part, but sensing and observing the negative atmosphere at staff meetings, seeing teachers crying, stressed and baffled–it was weighing many staff members down. One teacher even stood up and had an outburst during a meeting to the shock of everyone present. It had turned into a cliquish, fearful, and an oppressed atmosphere of which I did not want to be a part. That, coupled with being there 7 years, was a huge red flag that it was time to go. Had it remained the same inspiring campus when I began, I would have stayed for a number of more years.

For the first time, I got on the transfer list to the surprise of the principal and went to secondary to gain great experience. I wish no harm on anyone there and I have fond memories of my first 6 years there, especially my beautiful students…but when it came to year 7, I didn’t look back.

3. The principal/administration is not supportive.

Here me out. I am pro teacher all the way but I am also somewhat understanding of administrators. I have been on administrative teams outside of the classroom. Administrators make tough calls not weekly but daily. I have seen admin make tough decisions that may not make the teachers happy at the time, but it is detrimental for the students. Decent administrators want to see the students succeed and grow. Great administrators want to see their teachers and students succeed and grow. They are not just worried about their “favorites.”

If you ever have a principal or admin team berate you, verbally or physically abuse you in anyway, file a report with your union and seek their guidance. Why do I say this? It happens more than you know. Ouch. There are many, many good administrators–and there are many who have little teaching experience, a management certification, and a power trip. Don’t let that make you paranoid and critical, just be kindly aware.

Teachers can be non-renewed and unfortunately, some of them need to be. Teaching is a calling and a gift, not a transitional salary position until you get a “better salaried job.” You are responsible for those young lives. Sometimes the principal may support you but you struggled terribly the entire year. It doesn’t mean you are a failure. It just means teaching may not be for you. Accept that, find a new beginning and career, and respectfully move on.

4. You keep getting passed over for a promotion or leadership roles.

If you are a new teacher, have some patience. I consider a new teacher someone who has taught 3 or less years. If you have been a teacher at a campus for a number of years, have a positive record with your kids and professionalism, and are constantly passed over for promotions or leadership roles on that campus, there is nothing wrong with looking at new options.

Do not be bitter and tell half the staff what went wrong. That is messy and unprofessional. Always evaluate yourself and see what you can do to grow. Maybe you were not a good fit for the job. If you feel the pass over was legitimate, quietly start looking for other positions–there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Continue serving your students and though you may be upset, be as professional and respectful as possible, then when the end of the year comes, plan on moving on.

Sometimes your administrator will tell you exactly why you weren’t chosen. Sometimes they are vague or may not say anything at all. Ultimately, it is their decision. Ultimately, you have the right to move on when your contract is fulfilled.

Regardless, keep it respectful.

This a tough topic to write about. Again, I always advocate stability. No campus or education situation is perfect or easy. That doesn’t mean you should jump on the transfer list. However, there are situations, as with any job, that you may need to seek what’s best for you, your health, and your professional future. There is nothing wrong with that.

Teach in the light–

Kia

Copyright 2019 The Educator’s Light

The Myth Of The Super Teacher

Captain Marvel has made its way to theaters everywhere. I hope to see it next week as I have been told I need to see it before Avengers:Endgame graces us in April with another 2 hour-edge-of-your-seat-action-packed Super Hero thriller and plot sequence. I will admit I am a low-key fan of action movies whether it be Jurassic Park, Avengers, or fantasy like The Lord of The Rings–always have been since I was a little girl. I love my Hallmark and Lifetime too, but I’ll save that for Christmas.

Speaking of Super Heroes earlier, teachers are commonly called Super Heroes. Honestly, I don’t have a problem with it (brushing off my shoulder). My colleagues in education seemingly do amazing feats empowered by grace and faith each day for our kids. To me, just waking up and walking into a building and refusing to give up on the future of this nation is a bold stand. I commend you and you deserve a cape. T-Shirts are sold everywhere and are proudly worn by teachers that state they are Super Heroes or teaching is their SUPERPOWER. Wear it with pride and as the common slang goes “WERK…” because you are already working hard enough.

However, what happens when you are deemed as a “strong teacher” or Super Hero? The answer is simple– society and educational systems think you can handle anything and everything. More paperwork, more students, more tests. The reality is you are only human. In my personal life experience, I vehemently understand even the strongest teachers need support and help. Just because you or I do not walk around complaining about our class, email barrages, administration, or personal life does not mean no one needs to check on us.

Sincerely ask, ” hey, I just want to see how you are doing and are you okay with everything?” Those 2 behavior students you just transferred to my class because the other teacher couldn’t” handle” them (true story)? Yes, it is overwhelming on top of the fact they were transferred to my most challenging class period while I am trying to teach these students with low academic levels.

I admonish you to check on a strong teacher today. I am so grateful to be at a school this year with the best staff I have ever worked with. The past teaches us quite a bit, just make sure you learn and move forward. I was that “strong” teacher. I was told many times over my career and I truly loved my students. They were and are my biggest focus in what I do. I was honored, but for so long quite a bit was put on me. I always found a way to do it for the most part, but I learned the hard way. Remember–strong teachers/people can burnout too so show some love.

Find those 1-2 trusted people on campus you can talk to, vent, and laugh with. It can literally propel you for years. Also, take a mental day at least once a semester. Get a massage, facial, or go on a nature hike (one of my favorites), visit and talk with family and close friends, journal, make a vision board, eat healthy, and reprioritize your life if need be. Time and life go by quickly, so make sure you are taking care of yourself.

Teachers are truly remarkable people. Many have given up dreams of corporate stints and jet-setting to boldly walk in a school building with youth and believe in the impossible each day. Enjoy your coffee, tea or water this morning, hold your head up, take care of yourself and oh, don’t forget to straighten your cape…you have work to do. ‘)

Teach in the Light–

Kia

Copyright 2019 The Educator’s Light

How do you uplift other teachers?

Educational Memes: How Much Is Too Much?

I love memes as much as the next person. My sister made a gif of herself for fun. For me, as long as some unsuspecting person is not the center of the joke, I am okay, and as long as it’s in decent taste, I’m cool with it.

In education, we need as many laughs as we can get. I always use to say during a tough day “girl, if I don’t laugh, I’ll cry.” I cannot count the number of hilarious teacher memes that cross my feed on social media everyday. There are very few that I have not identified with. It seems in the human experience we always find common ground in striving and the greater struggle. That can be a beautiful thing.

However, what happens when some of the education memes get a little well…inappropriate or downright hateful? What happens when the beautiful survival and common struggle starts to morph into a huge joke? Here are my thoughts on that.

Memes are fun…as long as they are appropriate.

I am not going to sit here like a Sally-Do-Good and pretend I have not laughed at a brash teacher meme that popped up in my feed that summed up an awful day or teaching experience. We have ALL thought those thoughts about state testing, an awry class, lesson plans, overburdening administrations and districts, salaries and benefits, legislations, sanitization, unsupportive parents and more. We deal with quite a bit.

It’s like that that data analysis packet you have to have done for all of your classes completed in two days for a district assessment that you would rather douse in kerosene on your grandfather’s farm in a metal barrel and drop a lit match in slow motion on the pile? Ah, yes…that packet. We have all had hilarious thoughts about that. Then we complete the packet after staying up all night before it is due only to turn it in the next day and find out “oh, thanks so much! Just keep it for now.” Uh, ouch…on top of the fact you already did your own data analysis for your classes. Double ouch.

I’m sure there may be a meme about that somewhere, but just know it is important to understand that memes should be appropriate. In recent months, I have seen a number of teacher memes with heavy expletives and to be honest, inappropriate, mean jokes about kids. That’s too much. I don’t know about you, but I came into this profession to help kids. I don’t want students scrolling through Instagram seeing multiple teacher memes mocking and cussing about students. Don’t let one bad week or teaching experience make you create or get in agreement with such a joke. That just doesn’t sit right with me…at all. For many kids, we are the closest thing to a stable parent they have. Remember that.

It can really affect the professional stature and view of our profession over time.

We work too hard now, and we worked to hard to earn our degrees and certifications to let memes start to joke about what we do. Every is meme is not bad, I’m not saying that. What I am saying is we work in one of the most honored and respected professions in the world (that sentiment is not always returned here in the U.S., but that is another post for another day.)

People who are not supportive of education whether it be towards teachers or students (If you don’t care about teachers then you really don’t care about students. Period.), falsely use it as ammunition for their own agendas. “See, these teachers are liking and commenting on this post with the f-word all throughout it. Then tomorrow they’ll be protesting all day.”

Yes, teachers have every right to protest unfair treatment and I stand with them, but though valid, it’s harder to prove a point when you have joked hatefully about the very community or people you serve online. Parents and students see these memes too.

I get it. I’ve lived it. Teachers are overwhelmed, but keep it in good taste. Our profession is too awesome to bow down like that. Triple ouch.

Teachers can and must vent.

What we do daily is almost not humanly possible…but we do it. Teachers.need.to.vent. Here’s how you vent–to a trusted colleague, after school within an adult conversation. If it is too bad and a HORRIBLE day, lunch or briefly during your planning quietly away from students is okay.

Many times, a trusted teacher friend, and a good venting session (possibly with chocolate) is just what you need to set things right.

There are some awesome teacher memes, videos, and even comedians out there who joke about the teacher experience…and it is hilarious. Only someone who has taught could understand how we feel. I have screamed and laughed in solidarity with their jokes, posts, and more. Sometimes, it is just what I need to get through a day.

Laughter truly is medicine. Just make sure it doesn’t have a “bitter” taste going down–especially with memes.

Teach in the Light,

Kia

What do you do as a teacher to keep yourself sane during the school year? Share below in the comments!

Setting High Expectations for Your Students and Two Tips on How to Do It!

How do you show you really care about your students? There are many ways but one main way is through setting high expectations! If I don’t care about you, I don’t necessarily set high expectations. My attitude is “oh, bless their heart, they’ll never amount to much anyway, why bother?” No ma’am, no sir.

Regardless of their accommodations, past records, past behavior and mistakes, race, background, and more…welcome to my class. You are capable, your past is not welcome here unless you learn from it, and you will learn today. Check out these tips.

Tip #1: Don’t let them get away with the bare minimum:

A number of years ago, I had a student named Demarcus (not real name). Demarcus was very intelligent but dyslexic. I had compassion for Demarcus but I did not pity him…I had a coworker who pitied him in every way. That was dangerous. Demarcus got away with everything including poor work quality. She doted on him and expected little. I knew Demarcus could do WAY better. Pity was her way of trying to compensate for not really being able to identify with him.

He got away with so much in his other class, he resented me…because I expected his best. I was fully aware of his dyslexia accommodations and followed them, however, I knew what he was capable of. When he halfway completed an assignment and turned it in with a Cheshire cat grin, I just as joyfully handed him the paper back. “No, sir, this is not acceptable in my class and you can do better.”

He looked at me like a rat that fell from the ceiling tile. Why? In his other class, writing his name, and writing a few half-written sentences was acceptable and deserved a back pat. No, that’s unacceptable…and I’m not budging.

Do not let your students do the bare minimum. Why? This sounds extreme but if you do, you are setting them up for failure. Demarcus was bright and I could see Demarcus becoming a doctor or engineer. His other teacher saw a poor kid who was just a victim of his surroundings and would probably end up in the prison system or something else not pleasant. Plluueeezzee.

To me…”Calling Dr. Demarcus!” I expect your best in all you do in this classroom from behavior to grades. You will grow and make mistakes and that’s okay but I am not here to play. I truly believe the best in you.”

Tip #2 YOU set the example:

Do not set high expectations without setting an example. You can’t have a chaotic classroom, lack of classroom management, fake admiration for your kids and expect them to rise to the occasion. They won’t and I won’t blame them one bit.

NO teacher is perfect…not one. I am always learning, but at some point, I need you to understand that you will need to rise to the occasion. Either this is a calling or a paycheck.

If it’s the latter, you need to peacefully rethink your career or rethink your teaching approach. I don’t know how many teachers who almost gave up after a horrible year then ended becoming really good teachers.

Many times, many of my students rose to the occasion because they sensed my sincere passion for their achievement and wellbeing. They saw my Word Wall being updated (most weeks). They saw the setup of the room. They saw me put positive comments on their essays and the board.They saw me stay late and come early. They saw the way I demanded respect AND the respect I gave back to them. They saw me mess up a lesson. They saw my honest effort. Kids can smell fake and lazy a mile away. Don’t say I didn’t tell you.

If you strive in excellence, it is easy to set high expectations. Believe the best in your students no matter what and shoot for the moon. You and your kids just might fall amongst the stars.

Write below ways you set high expectations in your class!

Teach in the Light,

Kia

Copyright 2019 The Educator’s Light

2 Reasons Why Teachers Struggle In the Classroom!

You can know all of the content, write the best lessons, and have access to the best trainings, activities, and units–none of it will ever reach those students’ minds if you do not know how to relate to them and keep a disciplined classroom.

  1. Relating to your students.

If I traveled to Bangkok to teach, at the onset of my arrival it would appear as if my students and I did not have anything in common. I was brought up differently from them. They were brought up differently than me. The language and cuisine is different (but delicious). The attire is different.

The scenery is different…BUT after stepping out to relate to my students, we would find we had more in common than not in common. Bangkok has tremendous pollution. So do many areas in the U.S. They have markets, we have markets. They shop, I shop. We have beautiful landmarks, they have beautiful landmarks. I might even ask the students to suggest to me places to visit. You get the point.

I had someone cry because as she was aging, she was finding she could not relate to her students. Here’s the surprise–she could. Had she searched out what her and her students had in common, and highlighted those similarities, she wouldn’t have stayed so miserable the rest of the year.

She could have also shown interest in things they liked. I have students who are in love with Fortnite. It holds no interest for me whatsoever (still in love with Mario Bros.) They, however, love it. So what did I do last year? I started researching it. I went back to class that next week and started discussing the detailed aspects of the game character. Low and behold, they got excited and thought it was cool I took the time to look it up. Now when kids bring it up, I light up…just a tad.

Relating simply takes a little research and understanding the value of relating to your kids. You may have been born in different neighborhoods, time zones etc., but the love is still there…if you try.

2. Establishing discipline in your class.

I am going to be honest. You have enough responsibility on you. Having a disrespectful, unruly class is a bitter fruit on top of a stress-filled sundae. An undisciplined class can almost make you bitter and feel like a failure…and make you resent your students.

Here is the key to a disciplined class…get ready…CONSISTENCY. You cannot implement a reward system or rules once then never revisit it. The first few weeks of school are exhausting because you are constantly reinforcing, correcting, and guiding students. Where I see teachers’ classes go haywire is when they get “tired” and “distracted” and start slipping on consistency. I’ve seen teachers (not currently) but in years past let students basically roast them.

I had a coworker a number of years ago who allowed the boys in his class to laugh at him quite often (Every blue moon when you all laugh together if fine, I’m talking about mocking you and being disrespectful). One day, they laughed at his head. When one of the boys walked out, one of them called him an expletive. Absolutely unacceptable.

The class was “somewhat” disciplined but this person allowed too much. By the end of the year, if he could have chartered a plane to land on the football field and take him away he would have. He was exhausted, angry and ready to go…and unfortunately, he did.

If you are struggling in this area, it’s okay. We’ve all been there. Just know that no matter how much content you know, how many cute ideas and fun activities you have lining a notebook, how clear your lesson plans are, how many cool apps you have downloaded for them, how much training you had, or how “cool” you are, if your class is not disciplined, nothing, I mean nothing, will work. Whether they admit or not, students respect and love discipline. Real talk.

Relating and discipline are two elements you need balanced to help you rise above the struggle of the classroom. Too many teachers are leaving and not enough are replacing them. I am no better than you, but I truly enjoyed my students. At the end of the year, I was so SAD to see them go. They were truly my babies by the end…no matter how old they were. The hard work of relating and discipline paid off. It will for you too…if you try and stay consistent.

Teach in the Light-

Kia

Copyright 2019 The Educator’s Light

2 Tips for Incorporating Real World Events Into Any Lesson!

                                    

The Super Bowl is behind us (I’m a little disappointed football season is over). I decided to incorporate it into tomorrow’s lesson for my students. It brings up good conversation and will hopefully get the kids energized for tomorrow’s lesson.

We live in a world with events all around us. From local community happenings to international news that matters, sharing these events with our students help foster a sense of community and discussion. Many times, your quietest students will speak on real world events before they speak on anything else. Here are 2 tips for incorporating real world events in to any lesson!

1. Do not incorporate any real world story or news story due to sensitivity.

Use your best teacher discretion, but recognize that some stories may be sensitive to some students. For example, if you have a student who just lost a family member, a local news story about a high school student who was killed or passed away may not be the best story to share with the class.

When I do share stories via YouTube or simply bringing up in discussion, I always screen the story first then make sure it is age appropriate and ties into our lesson or unit. When in doubt, always consult a trusted coworker or administrator.

2. If time permits, allow students to discuss it as a class.

I believe in the effectiveness of pair-share then share out in whole group. This is especially effective for ELL students as well. Once kids share in pairs or a small group, they feel more confident sharing in front of the class. If they have a strong opinion about a particular story/topic, it is interesting if students have friendly debates etc. It makes the lesson meaningful if presented properly.

Here is an example of incorporating the Super Bowl into your lesson regardless of content:

ELA- Have students summarize the game or halftime performance. Point out unnecessary details and the flow of the summary.

Math– Have students find the mean winning score of the last 3 Super Bowls.

Science-Have students analyze the speed of the fastest player.

Social Studies-Compare the first Super Bowl to yesterday’s Super Bowl!

Keep it quick and fun.

Football season may be over for now, but engaging lessons have just begun.

Stay In The Light—

Kia

Copyright 2018

What other ways are you incorporating real world events into your lesson? Comment below!

2 Advantages Of The Novice Teacher

Being a new teacher isn’t easy. Sometimes, it downright scary, intimidating, and exhausting. Other times, it’s downright wonderful, rewarding, joyful, hilarious and nuturing. Welcome to education.

 

Beautiful advantages await those teachers who have insight and refuse to give up the work it takes for not only their students to grow but them to grow as well.

 

  1. Being a new teacher allows you to stay open and stay teachable.

NEVER lose this characteristic. I still find all sorts of ideas and new things I can apply to education and my own personal life. Much of the reason why I have made it as long as I have in education and still have the audacity to  still care about it is because I listened. I didn’t come in blazing and acting like I knew everything. The teachers who taught with me who were novices and acted like they knew everything ended up miserable, deeply humbled or got angry and eventually left the profession.

Those of us who accepted respectful correction with the right intentions and support in our first few years made it and survived. A number went on to be administrators, etc. Whether you want to be administrator or enjoy the beauty and adventure of the classroom is entirely up to you. Neither is better than the other.

I do personally recommend you teach at least 4 -5 years (4 years only if you are strong teacher) before you consider being a school administrator or leadership position on a campus etc. I know many district and other entities say 2 years, but I honestly believe that is NO where near enough experience to lead a campus, district or any other educational organization or department. You may have “potential” but there are certain things you just don’t get until you have taught at least 4 or more years.  Stay teachable until then.

 

2. You tend to value students more and truly treasure their growth.

When I first taught, I marveled at everything they did that was kind, adorable and giving. Their answers made me laugh. When they cried to me about something that hurt them, it almost wanted to make me cry too. Don’t lose this either. As with anything, time can make anything redundant and almost irritating.

Also find new ways to refresh the rapport with your students. You are not their friend, make that clear in the beginning, but they always need to know you care and are proud of every success and growth. As a former, passionate colleague once told me– EVERY.child.has.value. Never forget it.

 

You, my friend, are at an advantage. Remember, the same fire within you when you taught on the first day of school your first year? Stoke the embers and keep the fire blazing.  It will truly inspire you and your students for years to come.

 

Stay in the Light–

Kia

 

© The Educator’s Light 2019

 

 

What are ways you are “stoking the embers” of your teaching experience? Comment below!

 

 

Student Violence Against Teachers

I interrupted my scheduled blog post to discuss this. It is 7:22 am as I type this. Before prepping the blog, I was looking for something else unrelated to education in the news and stumbled across yet another headline of yet another student kicking an older female teacher…while she was down on the ground. I do not want to watch the video at this time. It’s too much and honestly, absolutely appalling and uncalled for.

We have a problem. Anyone who does not think we do is…naïve. I love students. Kids have kept me in this profession for 15 years. Is society changing? Yes. For the better? Not necessarily. Do we standby and tolerate any violence against teachers let alone students in our schools? I don’t even think so.

Teachers are leaving the profession. Fewer and fewer people want to be teachers. Sadly many will say it is not because of the students. They are right. Unfavorable income and benefits, working 1-2 additional jobs to make ends meet with rising costs of living, being blamed for everything wrong in education with little to no support…I understand all too well.

Students Attacking Teachers

I will say this right now. I will not pretend to have all the answers to every ill of modern society but one thing that is making some students believe they can get away with this is lack of discipline…at home and from school system authority. Never in my mind, as a child or teenager, did it cross my mind to willfully stand up, push a teacher on the ground then attack, cuss them out in front of the class then try to punch them or crawl on the teacher’s desk in front of the class, stand over my teacher and taunt him by pretending to kick his face with my foot…you have to be out of your mind (this was a real incident by the way I saw recently online). Any child standing by laughing and pointing is just as guilty.

This stems first from a lack of parenting at home. In my career, I have had wonderful parents with beautiful children. I have also had students making it in spite of their parents. Parents are home (sometimes) but there is little parenting. When a child says or does something disrespectful or rude to a parent, there is little repercussion if any. What you allow at home magnifies at school. What you think is cute may not be cute to a teacher dealing with a classroom of 22-30 or students. It is that simple. It is further magnified with a negative peer group egging a student on.

I, for the most part do NOT blame the teacher in extremely violent attacks against the teacher. Some people will say “If that teacher had proper procedures and techniques in place from the beginning, that student would not have been compelled to act in that manner.” First, take a seat.

Every teacher should have a discipline policy in place. No, behavior should be chaos in a classroom. Teachers are responsible for most (not all) student behavior in class. I have had great teachers growing up—and I had bad ones as well. I also had passive substitutes that read magazines while we worked and yelled at the class. I also had substitutes that were excellent at what they did. Yes, we tried some of the substitutes (passing notes, snickering etc.) and sometimes even a classroom teacher, but it did not mean we shoved them to the ground and kicked them. There are people in life you are not going to like–what they say, the commands they give etc., and they won’t like you either. Welcome to something called “LIFE.” That doesn’t mean I need to start drop kicking you or punching you unconscious.

I stand in solidarity with educators in the U.S. and abroad, however different teachers have different experiences. Some teachers have bubbly classrooms and children (not saying they don’t have their own challenges)–having more freedom for creativity, support and implementing great procedural systems and the like.

That’s cute, but that’s not everybody’s story. Every teacher is not assigned to the sweet elementary or favorable academic middle school or high school on the nice side of town. Some teachers are in borderline war zones. All the dynamic discipline programs in creation can’t prepare them for what they deal with…but they teach and cope beautifully. When a student shouts expletives down the hall at you and a colleague, you don’t have time to remember 7 questions to build rapport with a troubled student. Honey, please.

This is where common sense kicks in. This is where back up disciplinary school action kicks in but unfortunately, the lack thereof is failing our students and teachers. I too have seen it with my own eyes.

About 5 1/2 years ago, I was a team leader. My colleague across the hall had a student who cussed him OUT in class and in the hallway. Her mother thought she could do no wrong and that the school was picking on her child. No ma’am.

If I was able to hear her talking back to her teacher, I would step in to intervene. One day, my colleague had enough after she cussed him out. He sent to her to the office and she was sent back to class…30 minutes later. What did this communicate to the rest of that class when she was sent back? It communicated to that middle school class that it was just fine to attack this teacher and completely disrespect him whenever they got ready. That’s exactly what they did. It communicated to the girl that she could do whatever she wanted in front of the class and get a “wrist slap.”

He ended up walking out on his planning period several months later (after notifying the office) and never came back. He resigned that day. A human can only take so much. Not a professional, a human.

There are very good administrators and school support out there and schools that are being run beautifully… don’t get me wrong. Unfortunately, however, they are not widespread enough.

Social Media

Social media is not the root of every ill of society. Social media can be very positive and I enjoy it myself if it is positive, humorous (without hurting someone), and informative. Animal videos are some of my favorites especially puppy videos (say “awwwww”). This unfortunately is not always the case. It has a dark side and guess who likes to venture on that side without supervision–our students.

Many students idolize fame not understanding the cost and downside of it all. They see fights, violence, videos and everything in between. They don’t understand that the stunt the YouTuber just pulled can literally get them kicked out of school, injured or even killed. Every YouTuber is not bad (I love a good makeup tutorial or opinion vlog), but some however, crave views and are really negative influences…especially to our kids.

To Carry Guns or Not to Carry Guns in School

I say NO. I have had students (secondary level) tell me they do not want to see some of their teachers carry guns…ouch. I didn’t tell them, but I completely agreed. Just because you are okay at teaching students background check and cleared a doesn’t mean you are stable enough to carry a weapon around students. Just saying. I have had past coworkers who have had opinions that were outright disturbing who really did not need to teach kids let alone walk around with a weapon in front of them or in the same classroom. Kids can see through that. They know who is fake and who is not, who pretends to like them and who really loves them.

You don’t fight violence with more violence. It destroys everyone. Tighten security? You betcha. There should be at least two security guards/officers on every campus at all times in addition to other vital safety measures. This could also help create more jobs. I don’t have time to worry if my pistol is loaded properly while trying to devise an innovative new way to teach figurative language in 45 minutes. Help us.

Student Violence Against Teachers? It is a multifaceted issue but one that surprisingly can be solved with common sense and intentional teacher-led and administrator-led school level reform with students at the heart. Our future depends on it.

What are your thoughts on this? Comment below!

The Do’s and Don’ts of Being a Teacher During Holiday Breaks!

Not the biggest fan of winter except for the apparel. So the beach it is!

First…Happy New Year!! I hope this will be your best year yet. 2019 is here!

Now, back to teacher reality. During holiday breaks, some teachers tend to significantly overwhelm themselves in preparation to go back to school. On the other hand, other teachers have the most well-meaning intentions to plan the best semester EVER upon their return– but end up distracted by life itself–thus the tote bag stays in the trunk.

Here is a list of what to DO and what NOT DO to make the most of these wonderful, well-deserved, holiday breaks!

DO NOT:

  1. Start planning every facet of your educational life between now and January 7th. 

Don’t do it. Why? Everything is subject to change the moment you step back on campus or start the New Year. One thing I have had to personally learn is to not stress over constantly trying to figure everything out which is due to me being somewhat of a strategist BUT– I am so proud of my growth in this area!

Like life itself, in education there is a balance…with students…there will be times you will have no choice but to fly off the seat of your pants, however, CONSISTENTLY, you always need to have a plan in place.

 

2. Panic while researching every teacher idea known to mankind. 

I cannot stress the adorable ideas out there from classrooms, lesson plans, activities and more! I always love to see the creativity and ideas other teachers share. It inspires me to be the best teacher I can be!

However, hear me out. Understand–their classroom and their experience is not your experience. Don’t let it make you feel inadequate. You do what is needed for your kids. When you peruse social media platforms, apps and websites for various ideas, set a timer and be specific about what you are looking for. Bookmark the ideas and activities you like, please follow the people you admire but remember, no teacher is a perfect teacher even if it looks that way.

People don’t ( and should never) post fights in the hall, a student returning from alternative school…and not happy about it, the team meeting that did not go well, the data packet the principal needs to have done in 2 days, the student who vomited all over the floor and wall, the parent who cussed out the exhausted assistant principal and is upset with the entire grade level team, the week’s lesson that tanked, the student who just got back from a mental hospital, the pressure because your educational entity said the school’s scores are not up to par, the once sweet class has had an attitude for the past 2 weeks and you don’t know why…you get it. Honey…it’s real in education.

Experience tells us this. I am not a perfect teacher. Those with experience continually learn. I am already thinking of a number of workshops I want to go to inspire me and help put more tools in my toolbox!

DO:

  1. REST

You can’t give anything out of an empty wheel barrow. I hope you are making room for fun, movies, catching up with loved ones and dear friends and even a little after Christmas sale shopping. For the “exquisite,” (ha,ha) maybe even a little massage or facial. Don’t just do this during a holiday break but whenever you get the chance!

Teachers are prone to germs, colds etc. not just from being around so many people but due to extreme stress. You are an adult. Take care of yourself. There is only one you. If you really believe kids are that important, take care of yourself. They need you.

2. Plan and Pace Yourself

What you plan to do with your holiday break is up to you. If you, like me, will still try to catch up on planning, work etc., read below!

Pace Yourself: Commit to 4 hours later this week.

Example:

9 am or 1pm–

Reflect–what went well and not so well? How do you want to approach it?

10 am or 2 pm–Work on lessons (jump ahead) or fine tune activities. How will you welcome the kids back? This is vital especially the first day back. See my blog post https://theeducatorslight.com/2018/11/28/4-ways-to-welcome-your-students-back-from-a-holiday-break/.

This blog post has great ideas for welcoming kids back the effective way! This is a NEW beginning for you and your students…especially after Christmas/New Year’s break.

11 am or 3 pm–

Research activities, ideas, etc. Remember what I mentioned earlier in this post. Don’t get overwhelmed. Get inspired, and learn from some great teachers.

12 pm or 4 pm–

Continue wrapping up from any category (grading if you need too). For more simple, step by step information, download my ebook Plan Your First Year available in the resource store for only $7.00! This ebook will help you spend those 4 hours planning wisely and it helps you get on the journey to become the best teacher you can be. Also enjoy the other free resources as well.

Which road will you choose?

Do’s and Don’ts are simply clear boundaries that you need to set for yourself to increase your longevity as a teacher. This is critical.

Happy New Year 2019 and know I am rooting for you all the way!

Stay in the Light–

Kia

©2019

What are other boundaries you are setting for yourself in the New Year for your classroom or teaching environment? Comment below!