Saturday, August 22, 2009

Back to School with a Glass Half Full

This August marks my third year writing this blog. In the previous two years, I’ve shared some back to school tips and ideas for classroom lessons to kick off the year, and those concepts serve me in good stead year after year. During our “back to school” hoopla this year, however, the heavy weight of intense state budget cuts, increased class sizes, and H1N1 fears blanketed all the meetings, and I realized I’d like to use this blog as a kind of teacher meditation space. I don’t plan to get annoyingly metaphysical, but I may indulge a little more of my teacher Pollyanna. Honestly, I don’t have answers for what confronts public education lately. I’m not great at my yoga practice (my son can be heard chirping, “Mommy, that’s not what the lady on TV is doing with her body!”), and I may need to vent in this venue from time to time, but for the most part, my plans involve some rose colored glasses. I think I’m really going to need that kind of focus this year, and I hope my readers will find discussions here that lift the teaching spirit more often than depress it.

With that in mind, I’d like to welcome the 09-10 school year with a Top Ten List of the Best Pieces of Teaching Advice I’ve gotten so far. Every new school year, I flip through my memories of past First Days of School. So many wonderful educators have shaped my growth as a teacher, and so I’d like to pass along these pearls of wisdom in the digital faculty room we share here:

10 Take the Winter Holidays Off—Truly

9 Take the Free Training a School System has to Offer

8 Don’t Limit How Much Students Write to How Much can be Graded

7 Be Sure to have a Major Writing Assignment Graded before Mid-Term

6 Actually, Our Students are not Our Kids

5 Plan the Quiet Parts of a Lesson

4 Sometimes, It’s Okay to be My Own Substitute

3 Greet Students as They Enter the Classroom Every Day

2 Give Students a Genuine Chance to Make a Different Choice Every Day

1 “Be Yourself, K. J.”

co-posted on Between Classes: Living a Balanced Life as a Quality Teacher


Anonymous said...

I always enjoy your writing. This is a particularly inspiring way to start the coming new school year. As a young at heart (though not in years)teacher, I can identify with your top 10. In the coming days, I will certainly pass on your words to others in my school district.
Thanks...and looking forward to 09-10 blog.

Kate Kellen said...

Rosco, I'm touched by your thoughtful comment. Thank you. I hope you have a great year, too...

Take care,

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