Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Seniors Rule!

Today was the last day for seniors at Novi High School.

In the proud tradtion of Novi High School the seniors were "clapped out." Both to honor the seniors for their work and, truth be told, to encourage them to leave the building.

Congratulations Seniors! Enjoy the next few days. Life will intrude on your celebration soon enough.

But today I was told by a junior, who believes that she is a newly minted senior, was the first day for the senior class of 2015!

Welcome 2015 Seniors!

Time, it seems, stops for no one.

Monday, May 12, 2014

So you want to be a teacher . . .

How hard can teaching be?

After all, what is there to know?

As a college graduate you know your subject. All you have to do is teach what you know to your students.

But, what if a student doesn't get it the first time through?

Do you know enough explain it in a different way?

And what happens when the student still doesn't get it? Do you know it well enough to explain it a third or fourth different way?

Teaching is not only about knowing your subject - although that is important. Teaching is also about knowing why your students don't know. It is about understanding their misconceptions, the holes in their thinking.

Knowing your subject well is critical if you want to be a teacher. But knowing how to help someone else know the content is equally important.

But teaching doesn't stop there.

Teaching is also about building relationships, engaging students so that they will be willing to work hard.

How do you build relationships?

Here's an example.

Teachers find ways to connect with students, to demonstrate to students that you care about them, that you want them to succeed. Many times those relationships are built outside of the school day. Teachers attend events - plays, concerts, athletic events. Teachers chaperon field trips, dances, academic and athletic competitions - all without complaint because they understand that it is important. It is part of the job.

Teachers stand in the hall and say hello to students.

Teachers stroll through the lunch room and see what students are doing.

Teachers listen as students talk.

If you want to be a successful teacher you will be willing to invest the time it takes to reach students.

If you want to be a teacher I applaud you. But recognize that teaching is more than you think it is.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

For teachers

"There are two kinds of teachers in the world . . ." reads a passage in Matthew Dicks novel Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend.

"There are teachers who play school and teachers who teach school."

Buda, the imaginary friend of Max, is reflecting on the power of teachers in the lives of students.

In his way of reasoning, some teachers have a profound impact because they are real and honest and truthful. They care for kids. And every kid knows it.

Other teachers like the look of school and the idea of school. But they don't really like students.

Buda, the imaginary friend, understands and appreciates the power of teachers who care for kids, who communicate to the students in their classrooms that they are safe and loved and respected. These teachers challenge and push and encourage students. It is in those classrooms, the classrooms of teachers who teach school, that students learn and grow and mature.

Today is Teacher Appreciation Day. It is a day set aside to thank teachers for what they do for all of us.

I agree with Buda - teachers who really teach school have a dramatic, lasting impact on their students. These teachers fill students with passion, curiousity, compassion, enthusiasm, and wonder.

I hope that you have had "teachers who teach school" in your lifetime.

I have.

And to Miss Harriger, 2nd grade at Inez Elementary School in Albuquerque, NM; Miss Hixenbaugh, 4th grade at Inez Elementary; Mrs. Chapman, 5th grade at Inez Elementary; Mr. Robbins, 6th grade at Inez Elementary; Miss Getz, 8th grade Language Arts at Monroe Middle School in Albuquerque, NM; Miss Ely, 10th grade English at Sandia High School in Albuquerque, NM; and Coach Braig, Latin at Sandia HS . .

I say thank you.

Friday, May 2, 2014

I would be grateful if you put in a zoo!

Unless I'm mistaken the world is not ending tomorrow.

But, of course, it could.

As I ponder the fate of the world on this Friday afternoon, I wonder if the world did end tomorrow, would I be satisfied?

Probably not.

I enjoy life. I enjoy the smell of fresh cut grass. I enjoy watching the seasons change. I enjoy baseball. I enjoy so many things.

But most of all I enjoy people.

Oh, don't get me wrong. People can be frustrating, maddening, ornery, cantankerous, rude, spiteful, mean . . . I think you get the idea.

People are not always pleasant.

But I work in schools. Schools are full of people who make you believe that people are good. Mostly schools are full of students. And students send me letters like this:

A first grader sent me this letter this week. It had been a rather long week. At times it seemed like the world was going to end.

But this young first grader reminded me of why I am here.

Life is full of really wonderful things. Most importantly, life is full of people like this young first grader. A person who still sees wonder in the world. A person who is excited about life.

May I always be so full of wonder and so full of life.

Until the world really does end!