Teachers change the school environment

The very thing that upsets teachers about the classroom is something they created by turning a blind eye and saying “It’s not my problem.” When a building is so full of people, it is hard to even know faces much less names; it becomes easier for a teacher to say, “That’s not my problem!” The “personal touch” is no longer effective. Without personal touch – student learning is difficult.

To make an experience personal is the only way to make a caring atmosphere. When rules are sensitively enforced, people feel loved and safe. Without safety, no learning can occur.

The only way to ensure student learning is to make it “my” problem. The heart of the school means: we all care, we all work hard for student success. We are all responsible. Students feel loved and safe – how do they many of them even get to school with the odds so against them? They come back because they are well-liked and cared for by all of the school’s family. Not just a few, not just a couple – we all have to work for the benefit of the student. I BELIEVE and that makes students trust that I have their learning and welfare in my heart. Because where I work – It’s Just Better!

Advertisements

Things your teacher said

I’ll venture to say what some teacher along the way in your education has said something that has shaped your life and/or career choice.

We all remember something that a teacher told us. I have had students come up to me years after they were in my class and say, “I remember you wouldn’t let me write junk in your class. I’m a good writer now because you wouldn’t accept junk. When I write something at work, I ask myself what you would think about it and rewrite if necessary.” It is kind of scary how many students remembered something that I said to them on a personal level.

A few years ago a former student said, “Hi, do you remember me? You saved my life.” OMG! That is a bit much, but evidently it was true. I called CPS and she was able to get out of an abusive situation. This was many years before teachers were required to call and I remember she didn’t want me to. I told her that I had to protect her and had no choice. Wow. She is doing alright in life now all because she was removed from her home.

We forget that something we might think isn’t very important might resonate with a student for life. That is pretty heavy stuff. A teacher or school employee has to be careful with words to students. Those words can shape a life and change a person forever. And we thought that we were just going about our regular day. I make sure that each day I say something to make a student’s day. Sometimes the only smile a student might get is mine.

The other night I was privileged to hear a former student speak in front of a large group. He was so easy and relaxed; nothing like he had been in my classroom! I spoke with him afterward and complimented him on his speech, and he said, “You did that. I am a good speaker today because of you.” Gee, the things students remember.

What about those days that are just regular days for you as a teacher? Your words impact even then. I remember my fourth grade teacher who really hated what she did who said, “You and numbers just don’t mix, do they?” Of course I remembered that my whole life. One day in high school another teacher told me, “See, you can get this math!” Somewhat balanced out what the other had said…

I remember a principal saying, “Remember you put your hand in the river and you touch what floats by, you change lives, and you don’t even know it, so be careful.” That’s what this is about. Be careful someone may forever remember something you said to them and it may just shape who they are. Stay positive, and if you aren’t happy around students, then look for a new job because what you say does matter.

Pollyanna lives

I have always looked on the bright side of the world.  Through the years, students would ask me why I was so happy.  When I was a young girl, my daddy said that it takes as much or more energy to wake up on the wrong side of the bed as it does to wake up on the right side of the bed.  He said that we choose how we are going to feel each morning when we wake up.  From that moment on, I decided to be a “right side of the bed” riser.  I have pretty much lived a positive life and positive things flow my way.  The world has become a bit negative and students seem to be so downtrodden now, that they have a hard time with the concept that we make our own world or environment.

 

I am eager to share books with students, as well as my excitement about life. The students can’t help but catch the “happy” bug when they are around me. I tell them all the time- It’s about the attitude! You will get so much out of life if your attitude is a good one. You will “sell” a lot more books to students if you are excited about them.

I was at a librarians’ meeting today and a few of the librarians were bemoaning Manga as junk instead of a jumping off place for new readers. I had to say, “It doesn’t matter WHAT you read; it only matters that you DO read.” I told them that we rarely read classics and the same is true for our students. I mean, really how many classics have you read in the last few years?
Quite often, life-long readers are created by the “Pollyannas” in the world! We get people all hopped up on reading and they get addicted, and voila! they become life-long readers. Reading is how people become smarter and they don’t even it know it! All of the sudden, a new word makes sense and they hear it everywhere! Or a new idea has formed and they didn’t even know when the seed was planted.

This Pollyanna has to say it again and scream it to the mountaintops across the world – “IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOU READ; IT ONLY MATTERS THAT YOU DO READ!” Can I get a Hell yeah?

Still loving it

I knew in the 4th grade that I was placed on earth to be a teacher.  At the end of the school year, I would carry a box around to all of the elementary teachers and ask for their leftover mimeograph (yeah, the purple stuff) worksheets.  I would tote the box home 2 blocks and have a plethora of worksheets for every grade, every level and every discipline.  I was differentiating back then!  When my mom made us take a nap everyday in the summer, I would open my window, push out the screen and teach all of the children in the neighborhood!  This went on for a long time.  I even taught non-school age children.  One day, my mom caught me and school had to have a new time schedule.

I started getting paid to teach 32 years ago and still love what I do!  My first year in teaching, I was with some really mean, jealous, veteran teachers who made fun of me for smiling all day… “You get a few years in this business and you won’t be smiling like that anymore.”  I told them, “If I’m not smiling, then I will go get a job I love.”  They also made fun of my wearing heels to school, so you can imagine all the other things they said to me.  They were mean bullies and I cried all the way home everyday, but I lived through the first year of teaching with no mentor and no help.  Yes, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger…” plus “I remember that and help newbies as much as possible!”

 

It’s important to not only help the students become readers, but to keep teachers in the loop with new literature. My teachers are really good about taking advice about what they should read next. It’s great that the students see the teachers with “outside” reading material on their desks. That goes back to modeling the positive outcomes that you are trying to reinforce with students.
I also ask teachers what they are teaching next and find new material to help them or take their notes and put them into PowerPoint or Prezi. Things they don’t have time to do.
Ipads are a new teaching tool that our school just received and the teachers are exploring the Apps, so I tell them about ones that will help them with their classes. Whatever I can do to make their teaching world easier, I do it.
Today I am going to leave you with; “If you are not making a positive impact in your school with students and peers, it might be time to retire.”

If you are excited, they will be, too

Getting reluctant, alternative school students into the library is a challenge… This is not a disciplinary school; it is a school where students are behind or off track, and we help them get back on track.  But, still, many don’t read, so how do they ever make the trek to the library?

We get students almost every week, so I asked the counselor; “when you check a student into our school, would you bring them by the library?”  This way (1) they find out where the library is, (2) I introduce myself, (3) I find out if they like reading and if they don’t (4) I ask them to please give me a chance – just 5 minutes to tell them about some books.  Usually they come back!  Yes, they do and usually after 5 minutes they leave with a book and a promise to read at least 20 pages before they decide to like it or hate it.   It is quite pushy, so what?  Call me the pushy librarian.  We have readers at this school now.

It is real strange that teachers forget to include the library and research or free reading into the curriculum.  Well, maybe not so strange – they have so much to cover in so little time!  I ask teachers to come to the library with their classes each 9 weeks, but if they can’t do that (4) times; I ask them to come in each semester (2) times.  Sometimes they only get down to the library with their students for 10 or 15 minutes , but that is long enough to “sell” a few books.  Someone will take a book or two!

In the halls, I see students who haven’t come by the library and go up to them, “Hi, I’m the librarian!  I haven’t seen you in the library yet!  When do you think you can come by and visit?”  Usually that very day the student comes in! 

You may say, “Sure, that’s easy for you to do, you have a small school.”  Even when I had 2 campuses and 3200 students, I did that.  It always gets students in the library because they see that someone cares about them and notices them.

The main way that I have such a large book check out is because I ready Young Adult books through the school year (summers are for adult books).  I book talk like crazy!  If there is a book I haven’t read, I ask the student to come back and tell me about it.  They do that especially if they loved the book and then I tell the next student, “Oh, a girl just read this and loved it!  She said I had to read it, so you might want to try it.”  Simple?  Yep, and they take the book!

Really, to “sell” the books and the library to teachers and students, you HAVE to get out there and advertise!

Books are for kids! Down with book fines.

I am asked by students everyday, “How many books can I check out?” My answer is simple, “How many would you like?” Of course, they are shocked and amazed! “You mean I could take all four of these?”

I don’t put limits on how many books a student checks out, nor do I charge fines. These are things that just keep students out of the library and books wasting on the shelves. What good is that?

I ask the students to bring the books back in three weeks, but I don’t charge fines or hound them about it. I send out reminders about every 6-9 weeks.

I believe that a book in a student’s hand is better than a book getting moldy on the shelf. Other librarians tell me, “Well, I sure don’t get enough money to just throw books out the door!” I explain that I am not throwing books out the door. And yes, a few books get lost in the school year, but they were going to anyway! We never get back all the books that go out the door. So what?! Replace it or buy a new title. Books in hands are still better than books on shelves. If the student loses a book, he has to pay for it; Well, that is in a perfect world.

My students rise to the expectation that I set. They come back in three weeks and either return or recheck a book. I ask them a little about the book. I hate when a student returns a book and I how they liked it and they say, “I never got to read it.” My reply? “Here recheck it! Or let’s get you something you will love!”

Books on a shelf is just a waste of district money, but books in students’ hands can change their lives!