Category Archives: Uncategorized

What are YOU teaching and learning these days?

I don’t know if this will work, but I really hope it will. I spent about 4 hours today writing about my teaching for National Boards. I planned on coming home and writing an entry detailing all I’ve learned about Socratic Seminars this year, but I was sick of it after 4 sentences. I will finish soon, but for now, I’m tired of talking about what I’m doing.

So I’m wondering, what are YOU teaching? What are YOU learning? About your students? About instructional strategies? Curriculum? School politics? Life? Everything?

I know you’re out there, readers. My blog stats promise me you are there reading or at least clicking on this entry. Don’t be shy.


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An Adolescent’s View of School

I have been grading and grading and grading today until I felt like I was in some kind of grading nightmare. I seriously questioned whether or not I was awake at one point, and maybe I wasn’t. But during a waking moment, I came across a gem that I just had to share.

This isn’t the most amazing writing in the world. The grammar isn’t perfect. In fact, the assignment was to use personification like Steinbeck used in The Pearl to describe the town, and this student used similes and a metaphor. Clearly, I am not a perfect teacher.

I wanted to share this because it reminded me that we teachers are doing something that matters. I still firmly believe that I need to continually be focused on my own professional development and on the development of my school. I am not a perfect teacher, and I never will be, but that I still need to work towards that. But sometimes we all need to remind ourselves of the importance of the role we play in kids’ lives. This is real, not just some numbers game we play with test scores and teacher evaluations and rubrics. We create the environment for one of, if not the most important places in our kids’ lives. Read on, and be reminded.

“MV School is like a dictionary giving us information 5 days a week. It is also a future teller saying what we should do or have in our future. School is like a clinic, it takes care of all their children. Our school is a good educational and fun school to learn at. It is also a specialty building, where it takes our talent out so everyone could see. To meet new friends, school is the best place to come, especially MV. GO HAWKS!!”

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Student Led Parent-Teacher Conferences

It’s almost that time again! The emotional roller coaster of parent-teacher conferences. I actually enjoy parent-teacher conferences quite a bit, but they are draining! I’m preparing for our conferences next week by going to bed early tonight. 🙂 But I also prepared with my students yesterday.

My team uses student-led conferences. Students come with their parents, sit with their teachers (one at a time), and they proceed to talk about their grades, behavior, reading level, etc. to their parents. Teachers are there to support and add any information that’s omitted or that students have trouble explaining (like what a Lexile is).

How does this happen? Through simple, easy preparation. Today, I printed detailed progress reports from  my gradebook for 1st quarter. I handed them out and gave students a reflection sheet. They answered 5 questions:
1.  What was your grade in language arts?
2.  How do you feel about your grade?
3.  What did you do to earn your grade?
4.  What will you do to improve/maintain your grade?
5.  What have you accomplished this year that you are proud of?

I also include a space for additional comments/ points of discussion. I glanced through and students wrote they wanted to talk to their parents about their behavior, about how to improve their Lexiles, about how they are “off task in class” (Yes, students do take responsibility for their actions if you push them to!) Other students wrote things like “Tell my parents they should take me to McDonald’s for getting an A”. Either way, it’s nice to give kids a voice.

I love student-led conferences because they are so meaningful. Even if some of your students’ parents through no fault of their own are so overwhelmed with everything else in their lives, the students take responsibility for their grade and behavior in front of you and other significant adults in their lives. This also makes life easier for teachers because parents hear about their kids’ shortcomings and successes from their kids. So the blame and the praise go where they belong … with the students!

I’d love to hear about what you do for parent-teacher conferences … succcesses and challenges!

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