FEATURES FOR TEACHERS
Features For New Teachers
Volume 4, Issue 10
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A look at Lesson Plan Hoop
I've been teaching at the secondary level for 15 years and have written and turned in weekly lesson plans each year. I have received absolutely no feedback from my building Principal. What is your opinion on the value or worth of written plans?
Maggie, Minneapolis, MN
This is an easy letter to address. The value or worth in lesson plans are not to please your Principal or fulfill contract requirements (this maybe a district mandate). Their value lies in being a road map or guideline to your daily instruction. It doesn't matter if you are a new teacher or one with 30 plus years, lesson plans are important and vital to effective teaching.
Picture yourself trying to build a house with no plan or guide, where do you start, what do you do when you hit an obstacle? How do you measure whether you are proceeding in a correct and accurate manner? An effective plan guides you through the process and enables you to measure and assess as you proceed. How else will you know learning is taking place!
Each year the dynamics of your classroom changes and effective teachers know that their plans will change also. You may also want to try new or innovative teaching strategies based on your professional development activities.
It is a shame that your building administrator has not provided you feedback. Usually that means your plans are being collected and not looked at. That is really too bad as your plans can provide your Principal with a wealth of knowledge about your teaching style and whether or not you are following the district curriculum. That information can usually lead to productive dialog between teacher and administrator. So, regardless of your circumstances continue to write effective plans and your students will reap the benefits. Good luck and good teaching!
Coaching and teaching are the same thing in reality. To distinguish them as separate entities would be a mistake. After thirty some years in the classroom, I can honestly say that starting out as a young teacher/coach was very difficult. What I didn’t know and couldn’t know was that my Quarterback would some day be my realtor, my Guard would be my dentist, and one of my Centers would be a car dealer/owner I would buy two cars from. A star Defensive Back would make the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List and a Defensive End would become the warden of the Watergate prison.
I say ‘my’ because of the energy invested in each
and all of these youngsters as students and athletes. The oilman who
visits two weeks per year at his million-dollar condo near my apartment
was my manager. I never should have yelled at him that much! When my
children were small and the school secretary would say to me, “You
just wait until your children are in high school.”
How come I wasn’t told that success in future life has
only one statistically significant correlation. And that is involvement
in co-curricular or extra curricular activities. I assumed future
success was related to academics and grades!
A zero-tolerance policy is a policy of having very little tolerance for transgressions: any infraction of existing laws and regulations will be punished, no matter how small. The term may be used in general or with reference to a particular category of transgressions, e.g. a zero-tolerance policy towards alcohol use.
It is typically enacted by an organization (usually a school) against a particular action, or possession of something on organization-controlled property. Many schools have a zero-tolerance policy concerning drugs or weapons. For example, a student possessing or caught using drugs on school property governed by a zero-tolerance policy could immediately suffer the highest possible consequence for their actions. Many organizations avoid these policies because it binds those in authority to an action, regardless of circumstances. The policy must be written extremely explicitly or it may have negative consequences.
As of 2004 many publicized cases have sparked slight controversy with regards to (at least what some perceive as) irrationality of the policies. These cases include students being suspended or expelled for transgressions such as carrying Advil (a legal, non-prescription drug) in backpacks, keeping pocketknives (small utility knife) in cars, and carrying sharp tools outside of a "wood shop" classroom (where they are often required materials). In some jurisdictions, zero-tolerance policies have come into conflict with freedom of religion rules already in place allowing students to carry, for example, kirpans.
Most policies were enacted after the shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. One well documented case took place in the Ashland, Oregon School district.
Supporters of zero tolerance policies claim that such policies are required to create an appropriate environment. They also point to examples of persons in authority providing lax discipline in the past, with a resulting breakdown in order (for example, in a school environment).
Some supporters also argue that the mass publicizing of examples of unfairness serves the schools' purpose by frightening students into conformity. They point to the millions of student acts and omissions each and every school day, only a small percentage of which prove to be unfairly penalized.
The utilitarian policy assumption is that inflexibility is a deterrent because, no matter how or why the rule was broken, the fact that the rule was broken is the basis for the imposition of the penalty. This is intended as a behavior modification strategy, i.e. because those at risk know that it may operate unfairly, they may be induced to take even unreasonable steps to avoid breaking the rule. This is a standard policy in rule- and law-based systems around the world on "offenses" as minor as traffic violations to major health and safety legislation for the protection of employees, those living nearby and the environment.
Critics of zero tolerance policies frequently refer to cases where minor offenses have resulted in severe punishments (see above and , for example, Zero Tolerance Nightmares. Typical examples include the honor-roll student being expelled from school under a "no weapons" policy while in possession of nail clippers; or a distinguished longtime employee at a company who, despite an impeccable work record and compiling many honors, losing his job because he made a seemingly innocent remark to a female co-worker (e.g., "You look nice today").
However, some view zero tolerance policies as a tool to fight corruption. Under this argument, if subjective judgment is not allowed, most attempts by the authority person to encourage bribes and/or other favors in exchange for leniency are clearly visible.
Some might argue that having a set of rigid rules serves as a way to limit the powers of the person doing enforcement, ensuring equal treatment for everyone. However, the evidence is that minority children are the most likely to suffer the negative consequences of zero tolerance.
Such policies could conceivably be established to allow unchecked freedom for officers; in such cases the rules could be intentionally self-contradicting, unclear and/or otherwise impossible or implausible to obey.
There are many questions you'll want to pose to yourself far in advance of your student teaching experience. It is important to think carefully about them, as they will help to guide the actions and decisions you make. What kind of teacher do you want to become? Are there other teachers who have been a positive influence on you? Who have been your role models? Are there teachers you've had whose style you want to emulate? Are there teachers you know you don't want to be like? What has worked for some teachers that you want to implement in your own practice?
Who do you see yourself as? What style will you create for your own teaching? How will you balance the subject matter with the care for kids? How do you want the students to see you? How do you want your students to remember you five, ten, or twenty years later on? Will they remember you as a positive influence on them? Could you potentially change their lives?
Create a plan to become your dream. Do it now. Talk with teachers you admire and respect: those you want to model yourself after. Discuss the techniques and ideas that work for them, and use or adapt what you feel is useful. You can also check out the FREE teacher "Who I Want To Be" inventory available on our website. It gives ideas, provides guidance, and helps to create a plan for starting out on your teaching career.
Click here for the "Who I Want To Be" plan: http://www.starteaching.com/studentteachers.htm
Meeting your mentor teacher as early as possible is very important. The two of you must form a bond, a cohesive unit in the classroom. Your co-op teacher will become the most important contact for this point in your career. They provide you not only with support, guidance, and structure, but also critique. Your co-op teacher's evaluation and recommendation is vital to your resume and to interviewing.
Planning will become very important to every aspect of your life, from school to your personal life. One huge difference is planning for class. Not anymore are you just setting up an activity or a day's lesson plan. Now you must think in terms of the long haul. It becomes a campaign where you must have an overall picture of what you'll cover with your students.
Also within this overall framework, you must have weekly and then daily plans. You'll also have to reflect daily and adjust and (re- adjust) your plans depending upon how each lesson or activity goes (or doesn't go!) The daily grind is often interrupted by school-wide activities, fire drills, and those 'teachable moments' that happen on the spur of the moment. You'll need to be flexible and able to adapt on a daily (or even hourly) basis. But that's a part of teaching!
Another concern many new teachers and student teachers have is becoming involved in extra-curricular activities. There are several ways to look at this. First, it is a good idea to become involved in extra-curriculars at your school. These are good resume' builders, and your involvement shows potential employers you are a team player and willing to go the extra mile for your school and job. Extra curriculars also set you up in a new and different relationship with those students. They are able to see you in a different role too, and many times you're able to create in-roads with students whom you might not otherwise make a connection. Of course, taking part in extra-curriculars means more time and efforts put in, especially when you're already pulled in all directions. However, it is in your best interest to find an activity you can join, even if just as an assistant.
You will also need to carefully plan your personal time while student teaching. In addition to the increased teaching and planning load, your time will be further divided by your college, which undoubtedly has course work or projects for you to accomplish. There are always hoops to jump through. If you have a family, you'll be pulled in even more directions as you find the new balance between home and work.
Our next articles will focus on the duties of student teachers, including observing, team teaching, and flying solo. We'll get you started in becoming accustomed to your class and school, and what specific steps you can take right now and this summer to prepare.
Be sure to check out our website for the FREE teacher Who-I-Want-To- Be plan and other great Freebies for new teachers. Simply click the following link: http://www.starteaching.com/free.htm
Interested in FREE writing activities you can print out and use immediately in your classroom? Simply click the following link to our writing page: http://www.starteaching.com/writing.htm
The moneylender, who was an awful, mean man, fancied the farmer's beautiful daughter. Since the farmer was unable to pay the debt, the moneylender proposed a deal.
He said he would forgo the farmer's debt if he could marry his daughter. Both the farmer and his daughter were horrified by the proposal. So the cunning money-lender suggested that they let providence decide the matter. He told them that he would put a black pebble and a white pebble into an empty money bag.
Then the girl would have to pick one pebble from the bag.
Now, imagine that you were standing in the field.
What would you have done if you were the girl?
If you had to advise her, what would you have told her?
Careful analysis would produce three possibilities:
What would you recommend to the Girl to do?
Well, here is what she did . . . .
The girl put her hand into the moneybag and drew out a pebble. Without looking at it, she fumbled and let it fall onto the pebble-strewn path where it immediately became lost among all the other pebbles.
"Oh, how clumsy of me," she said. "But never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked."
Since the remaining pebble is black, it is reasonable to assumed that she had picked the white one. And since the money-lender dared not admit his dishonesty, the girl changed what seemed an impossible situation into an extremely favorable one for herself and her father.
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Preparing for Student Teaching
Technology & Teaching: Seamless Integration into Curriculum
Getting Ready for Next Year
Setting Up Your Classroom
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