Life in the Classroom

The Best Part – STORIES FROM SCHOOL AZ – Education Article

Teaching is a difficult job full of tough days and challenging students, so I try to focus on the good stuff: the lesson I planned that went perfectly, the student who says that I am their favorite teacher, the moment I see something click in a struggling student’s brain. The bad stuff weighs down my week, but the good stuff is what I always remember when I think back to my first few years of teaching. On Friday, I get…

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My Fond Farewell – STORIES FROM SCHOOL AZ – Education Article

The day teachers and students have been waiting for is finally here – the last day of school. Normally I cannot get out of my classroom fast enough, eager as can be to begin a much-needed summer break. I will be back in 2 short months and will deal with whatever needs attention (read: mess) when I return. This year, however, I am taking my time as I get ready for summer break. I will not return to this classroom…

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Sawabona: I See You – STORIES FROM SCHOOL AZ – Education Article

Tribes in South Africa traditionally greet each other with “Sawabona,” which means “I see you.” The response is “Sikhona,” which translates to “I’m here.”  As I watch my students finish up this busy school year, I’m making sure they feel that I know they are here at school and here in my life. At the beginning of the year, I ask my students’ parents or caregivers to write me a letter or email telling me what they think I should…

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The Limits of Labels – STORIES FROM SCHOOL AZ – Education Article

“When it says Libby’s, Libby’s, Libby’s on the label, label, label, nothing’s better, better, better, on the table, table, table.” So went the 1970’s jingle promoting Libby’s canned goods. It’s catchy. Try getting it out of your head. But what if Libby is a student in one of my classes and I want to build a strong professional relationship with her? How much weight should I give to the labels she carries? They’ll include, but not be limited to, labels…

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Survey Says – STORIES FROM SCHOOL AZ – Education Article

This semester I have written about my huge ego, seeking help from peers, learning from podcasts, and bringing in experience from previous jobs. This time, I want to focus on who matters most: my students. As a new teacher, I am seeking feedback and guidance everywhere. Last year, I had my students fill out an anonymous survey about my performance. I wanted my own report card. Last year, I wanted to know if the students thought I did a good…

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Trust, but Verify – STORIES FROM SCHOOL AZ – Education Article

I am alternately hopeful, terrified, and jubilant.  I check Twitter obsessively.  My anxiety is easily triggered.  It must be time for the Arizona legislative session.  Even in a state known for wacky and colorful political antics, it promises to be a doozy.  We’ve already seen blatant attacks on our profession as punishment for taking a stand for our students last year. On the other hand, we’re seeing school funding bills coming from unexpected sources.  I’ve heard policymakers using words I…

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Too Much Rigor? – STORIES FROM SCHOOL AZ – Education Article

Rigor: A popular buzz word in education today, this word is packed with meaning. It pops up in staff meetings, school mission statements, and parent conversations about school choice. Everyone seems to think that “rigor” is what kids need. But what does this word even mean? Let’s start with the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition: Rigor (a) Harsh inflexibility in temper, opinion, or judgment; (b) the quality of being unyielding and inflexible; (c) severity of life A tremor caused by a chill…

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Building Blocks that Won’t Tumble: Positive Student and Teacher Relationships – Education Article

As I restart my engines for a new semester, I get so excited about continuing this journey with my scholars. I find myself sitting at my desk contemplating about what is working, but I also reflect on what I may need to do differently. If I am being honest with myself, sometimes my thoughts become very overwhelming. For teachers, reflecting over the previous semester can be quite daunting, especially if we struggled this first semester to build and maintain positive…

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My To-Do List: A Peek Into a Teacher Leader’s Week – Education Article

The simple fact that this is my second “list” blog post in a row should tell you something. No matter how many hours I am putting in at home right now, there do not seem to be enough. Teaching is always busy, and balance elusive, but between designing and implementing new programs at school, and managing extra projects (both meant to supplement income as well as realize pet ideas of mine), this was my teacher-leader to-do list as of last…

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