Category Archives: Uncategorized

Resolutions

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Alright, friends. I’m out of excuses. My “baby” is actually a toddler, he is consistently sleeping through the night at last, and a new year has just started…it’s time to start working toward another one of my resolutions for the year: to start taking care of myself. I think most of us have a tendency to put our own needs aside with the good intentions of giving their best to their families…but are we able to give our best when we’re constantly depleted? I know I’m not, so this year, I’m prioritizing self-care.

This means several things to me, starting with getting enough sleep. I have always had night owl tendencies, and now that my son is sleeping, I justify my staying up late by saying, “I’m still getting more sleep than I used to, even if I stay up till 2a.m.” The evenings are when I recharge my batteries and have “me”…

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3 Assumptions We Shouldn’t Make About Educators (Re-Post)

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This article was shared with me by a former principal. I totally agree with what it says and had to share it with you. It was originally posted December 4, 2014 on Connected Principal. http://connectedprincipals.com

3 Assumptions We Shouldn’t Make About Educators

by George Couros • December 4, 2014

I haven’t had my own classroom of students for a few years, but I always try to remember what it was like to be a teacher, and always try to start from that viewpoint. It bothers me when I see posts or videos talking about how so many teachers are not willing to do something better for their kids, when every single person that has “embraced change” was at some point doing things previously that they would question now.

I talk a lot about the importance of using technology to enhance learning and relationships, but I didn’t always believe it was important. It took a lot of suggestions and support from others before I started doing things differently in my practice; it did not happen overnight. That being said, just like so many other educators, I still have a lot of room to grow in so many areas. There are so many aspects of education that are important to the development of our kids, and teachers are juggling so many things that they have to do, many of which have little to do with teaching in a classroom, but are admin tasks. Instead of wondering “why aren’t people moving faster?”, we have to take a step back and get rid of some of the assumptions that people make about educators. Below are a few that stick out in my mind.

1. Educators are not willing to embrace change.

I think for many educational leaders, this is an easy way out. It puts the blame others instead of looking at something internal. Simply telling someone that they should change their practice, and it reminds me of how sometimes people are just bad at selling change in the first place. I have seen a lot of people talk about the importance of change, but by the end of listening to them, you feel terrible about what you haven’t done as opposed to inspired to do something better.

\Making people feel like crap is not the key to getting them to do something different and will not lead to sustainable change. What is important is that people experience something different themselves, but also that they are valued for what they do. If an educator knows that the change is something that will be better for kids, they are more likely to start doing something different.

There are so many things that an educator has to do, so I think it is actually good that many of them are critical about what they put their efforts into. Have you ever had an initiative in your school that has come and gone and shown no impact on students? Not all change is good, but I believe if an educator can see the value in it for their students, they are more likely to embrace it.

2. Educators don’t want what is best for kids.

Educators know that they are going into a very giving profession, where the pay is traditionally not that great. The majority of them want to make a difference. It is cool when some students get opportunities like Innovation Week, but sometimes kids show up with no food in their stomachs, and making it through their day is a huge accomplishment. Doing the “innovative ideas” might not be possible for that kid. There are so many variables to our day as educators, and teachers are rarely ever just teachers. They take care of kids in so many different ways because of they didn’t, there is no way some kids would be successful in any aspect of their lives. If every classroom and group of students looked exactly the same, teaching would be easy, although in my opinion, not very rewarding. The diversity is what makes education so great. That being said, most educators are doing what they believe is best for their kids. No one wakes up in the morning wanting to be terrible at their job. We need to always remember that.

3. That all educators do is teach.

It disheartened me to see an educator friend, who is brilliant and I would want teaching my own children, talk about how they had to get another job to make ends meet. I have heard this from several people. To think that a person who would have to work two jobs (one of them serving children all day) would not only have the time or the energy to learn new things, is pretty presumptuous. Just being a teacher, takes a lot out of you. We can’t assume that all of our efforts go simply into teaching. There are so many other aspects of our lives.

It is not only the cases where teachers are juggling another job, but also other aspects of their life. Many people have so many things going on in their lives, yet we assume that so many should put all of their time and energy into becoming the greatest teacher of all time. Some people are lucky if they can make it through the day because of whatever is going on in their lives. This is not only in education, but in all professions. We want to be great friends, partners, parents, siblings, or whatever, and sometimes teaching needs to take a little bit of a backseat to the other things in life. Does this mean a teacher doesn’t care about what they do? Not at all. But I am firm believer that I would rather have a teacher that is focused on being a whole person, than simply focusing on being a teacher. Personally, some days it is/was hard for me to get up and do my job because of other things going on in my life. We always have to remember that there is more to a teacher than being a teacher.

Do some teachers not fall in line with what I have shared? Absolutely. There are bad people in every profession. I guess my point is that when we make generalized assumptions about others in our profession we are already starting in a deficit. Trusting someone is doing the best they can before they prove it to you, is an important part of leadership. We have to give trust before we earn trust in many cases. Assuming the worst of others will not get us to grow as a profession.

Inflatable Education

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Good Read!

Consistently Contradictory

I rambled my way through a discussion of grade inflation in my last post. Spurred by an article in the San Antonio Express News that argued our “consumer-based” culture has turned university classrooms into the proverbial easy A, I spent about 1000 words almost making a point. The issue, I argued, wasn’t necessarily economic so much as a pervasive cultural rhetoric where grades are so de-valued in favor of standardized testing that we might as well hand out A’s and avoid the hassle of upset students.

At least, that’s what I think I wanted to say.

As we hurtle toward another school year and I consider what I want my students to learn this semester, I necessarily have to think about how I will measure their success (or failure) by December. Grading, for better or worse, is always on my mind and I want to beat this dead horse one more…

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Five Minute Friday

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A writer was created within me when I was very young. I was told by a teacher to “share my story, put it on paper” and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since. I’m not a “good writer.” I can’t spell to save my life and grammar was never my thing. I constantly feel a need to defend my intelligence due to a lack of these skills and often get embarrassed by my stupid, careless mistakes. Never the less, I am a writer.

There’s something freeing about putting my thoughts on paper. Maybe it’s the therapy I need, or just the fact that it makes me feel like someone’s listening. I can’t explain why I choose to spend time writing a blog or in my journal instead of watching TV, reading a book or sometime even interacting with the people around me, but the fact is, I just do… That’s part of who I am.

The point of putting this on my educational blog, instead of in my journal, is that teachers can create writers. They can create in a student whatever they want. Early in my educational career a teacher encouraged me to write, and it’s something that has stayed with me. It’s a great reminder to me of the impact you, as a teacher, have on the lives of the children in your classroom.

My five minutes is almost up, so I’ll wrap-up with this, encourage your students. Tell them to write, read, explain, challenge and question everything around them. These skills carry through life. You can create stronger students, even writers.

This post was written in response to Lisa Jo Baker’s writing prompt “writer” for “Five Minute Friday.” You can check out Lisa Jo’s blog and all the other 5 minute Friday submissions here.

Every little bit counts-even the laundry!

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With my job I travel quite a bit. I was recently out-of-town for four nights. On the way home I started anticipating the disaster area my house would resemble. I walked through the front door and immediately notice the smell, looked at the sink and saw dishes with mold on them. I was grossed out to say the least! I set off cleaning the mess without stopping to notice the state of the rest of the house. If I had been a bit more observant I would have seen that ALL of the laundry was done. This is a big deal in my house where we tend to fill very traditional male/female roles. My husband had washed, dried, folded and put away all of our laundry. But I was so caught up on the dishes that I didn’t notice the laundry.

This is often the case in our classrooms. We get a kid in on day one who can’t read, write, do math, sit still, etc. As educators we are focused on the BIG picture. The massive number of standards we must meet. The BROAD skills we are required to cover. At semester we assess and find that they still can’t do these skills. Then at the end of the year we feel they still have not accomplished these major skills. But are we overlooking the small skills. Do we always take time to notice the narrow skills that aren’t always measured by the standards?

I’m challenging you; don’t miss the laundry because you’re focused on the dishes. ☺

Here’s to a Fresh Start!

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appleSummer is almost over. Some are anxious to get back to school, back to the routine that they so comfortably fall into. Teachers ready to teacher, parents ready for kids to learn and yes some kids are even ready to get back to the pace of the school day. But some, teachers/parents/kids, don’t look at the school year with great expectations. There are many barriers that could kill a successful school year before it even starts.

1. Transition: Not everyone transitions smoothly into the school year. I’m not just talking about student either. Let’s start with teachers. Some teachers don’t even look at their classroom until the first day of in service. While others are up there weeks in advance preparing their rooms. It all depends on what makes them most comfortable. Parents, consider transition with your students. Some students may need to go visit the school a few times before the first day. Have a calendar on the frig counting down the days. Also, consider starting the routine of getting up earlier a few days before the BIG FIRST DAY. Then sometimes the transition issues are all with the parent. A good example of this is my sister who is sending her son to preschool for the first time. This is causing her some anxiety. The same transition strategies can be effect for adults. Put the big day on a calendar and count down, go see the classroom or school ahead of time and talk to the teachers, practice the change in routine.

2. Teachers: Get to know your students ASAP. (I mean before they even set foot in your room!) Find out who is in Special Ed, 504, RTI, GT, ELL, etc… so you can start a plan for your classroom. Talk to the teachers from last year, pull their permanent file, do some digging. Remember, when thinking about accommodations and modifications, accommodations are meant to level the playing field and modifications change the game. Accommodations do NOT change content, only make it more accessible. Modifications DO change content and MUST be aligned with IEPs. The IEP team or ARD committee make these decisions.

3. Parents: Get to know your child’s teacher. Keep up with what’s going on in class. Make sure your child is doing their homework and getting the help they need. Be friendly to the teacher. Remember they have a WHOLE class of kids. If you have an issue, start by discussing it with the teacher first.

A new school year is a time for new beginnings. Start fresh, with a fresh outlook and a fresh attitude. Good luck and have a great year!

Who says teachers don’t know how to ROCK?

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500 teachers, paraprofessionals, therapist, counselors administrators and parents attended the 15th annual Academy for Teachers of Young Children, July 10th-12th. This year’s academy was hosted by Region 15 ESC in San Angelo, TX. For two days participants had access to more than 30 different breakout sessions covering a variety of topics that support the development of young children.

It kicked off Wednesday with keynote presentations by Dr. Pam Shiller, who discussed social emotional development and school readiness; and Elizabeth Montero-Cefalo, who discussed conscious discipline and how the brain develops.

While the academy is geared for age’s birth to 5, much of the information was applicable to students of all ages. Attendees reported that the sessions were informative and fun. Presenters focused on supplying teachers with new ideas as well as inspiring and praising them for their work with children.

The conference wrapped up Friday with the last keynote speaker Nina Rodriguez.Drumming with Nina Her amazing presentations used music and rhythm to captivate and inspire. The diverse population of participates drummed in harmony, sang and danced. Even the most skeptical (that would be me) got involved and enjoyed the high energy, very engaging presentation.

NOTE: I wanted to post HILARIOUS video footage of teachers “getting down”, but I couldn’t get it to upload. So imagine 500 educations doing the Cumbia like it’s Saturday night at the club and you’ll get the idea 🙂

The Monday Blues :(

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kids-funThe weekend is over and it’s time to get back to work.  It’s a bummer for everyone.  When you walk into school on Monday remember you aren’t the only one who wants the weekend to continue.  You set the tone; so put on your happy face, smile and greet your students.  Make them feel welcomed.  Give them a minute to tell you about their weekend.  This is a great chance to make a connection.  Here are some ideas for fun Monday morning activities.

Check out Jumpstart.com for fun activities at every level.

Check out ClassroomConfection for fun, free printables.

Check out objectiveanalyst.com for word games, puzzles and more.

Check out ESLkids for fun games and activities, great for low language kids!

And as always you can turn to Pinterest, twitter or facebook for good ideas.  Just take a minute to have some fun.  It can still be educational, but a minute or two to be a kid will help relieve stress for you and your students.  Start the week off right!

 

Guest Bloggers

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As summer comes to an end I’m slowly coming to the realization of how busy I will be this year.  I’m taking on a new position at a new school and will likely be consumed with learning my role for several months to come.  My goal is to maintain my blog and post at least once a week, but realistically this falls at the bottom of my list of priorities.  But there are many intelligent, opinionated people out there who have been waiting for the right forum to discuss their feelings and share information on educational issues.  So if you’re a teacher, parent, student or concerned individual who would like to give an opinion or open a discussion on a topic pertaining to education please type up your thoughts and email them to me.

kari.calcote@gmail.com

I’m going to start a new category called “Guest Blogger”.  Your post will appear with your byline.

Whether it’s something you just learned, or something you’ve known for years, it may be new helpful information to someone else.  The more people discussing topics the more we can learn from each other.  It can be long or short, for parents or teachers; just share your thoughts.  So if you have something to say then be heard (or read) here first.

Hello world!

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This is my first post!  I’m hoping to use this blog as a way to communicate and share ideas about educational topics.  I will be posting information on accommodations/modifications, RTI, Cross Battery Assessment,  the Special Ed referral process, academic and behavior interventions and more.   I hope to get good feed back from other educational professionals and parents so that we can discuss issues, and find solutions to problems.  I also want this to be a resource for teachers and parents when it comes to finding information on a Special Ed. related issue.  That sounds like a really big task once a put it out there.  Please remember this is my first blog, so be patient and hopefully this will be a great experience!