What would you as a teacher/ parent do?


TEACHERS are some of the most caring, selfless persons that exist. 

Then there are others, those who just carry the name but don’t embody that true teacher spirit.

When must you cast off the teacher jacket and step forward as a parent? How are you expected to balance your life as a teacher and a parent of a child who attends the same school? Sadly many teacher parents can relate to the fact that their child does not receive the same, fair treatment  as others since educators often want to avoid the ‘ teacher’s child’. 

I clearly understand the difficulties some parents face in making the decision of choice of school. I’ve always believed that a child should be able to attend the school his parent teaches at as it shows confidence in the school and its staff’s competence. Conversely, if one chooses to send their child elsewhere there must be underlying issues- my view.

Personally, I’ve worked HARD at crafting the type of schooling/ environment my 3 boys ought to receive and since I believe that I give my best, I expect no less to be given to them. I’ve made it a point to never direct their teachers simply because I’m also a teacher, even if I’ve noticed errors or misconceptions. I’ve always filled the gap because hey- your mom’s a teacher. 

I’ve never approached another teacher or caused conflict with any of my children’s teachers because I do not try to undermine one’s authority as a teacher. Now, in my 20 + years teaching, I’ve had a parent only once, and VERY recently ( this year) approach me and ( try to) dictate how, what and in what order I should teach because she herself is a teacher. Needless to say, that didn’t go so very well. 

ME:- ‘ smile’ , ‘sure’, ‘fine’ – but at the end of the day YOU don’t get to dictate. 

Fast forward to September 2017- parent role now.

What gives ANY teacher the right to talk down to a child? Shout at them almost like a dog (sorry dog lovers) simply because you don’t care to associate with the parent who happens to be your co-worker? We all have a degree of autonomy over our classrooms and physical space but does any teacher have the right to ‘chase’ a child who simply comes into your doorway to say hi?

I teach my children to respect ALL adults on a school compound. Further, my youngest who is 6, is the most jovial and fun- loving and says hi to even the stranger on the street. So, it is with a GREAT degree of difficulty that I can accept such behaviour from a teacher. I CANNOT. 

Must we not as educators, regardless of the background and social status of a child be accepting of them? Even if the parent is not friends with the teacher? 

What would you as a teacher parent do?

I strongly believe:

– Teachers must be fair to ALL students

– Children must not be belittled

– We as adults must not lie or misrepresent the truth about children ( or anyone else for that matter) 

– MY MANTRA: I teach the child, not his parent. Sorry- not sorry- regardless of who YOU are, ALL children in my class are equal. None is worse than the other. They will be offered the same opportunities.

– One must not discriminate because the child is considered (hyper) active. We all did child psychology at college/ university. MANAGE!

Then there’s the thing called courtesy. I’d look out for the child of a co- worker even if the child is not in my class. Why? Because he/ she is first and foremost a CHILD. We have a responsibility to the child to do the best and be the best! No child deserves to be treated like a hot potato because her parent is a teacher. We need not to act like the children themselves and assume the role of teacher responsibly. 

As we say here in the Caribbean “What ent meet yuh ent pass yuh!” Every dog will have its day. 

We teach a hidden curiculum. Also, how we treat children in their formative years impacts them for years. In some cases it can come back to haunt us. It is better for a “millstone to be hung around the neck ” of one who offends a child, for them to be “cast into the sea”. 

I for one teach with a clear conscience, I’d never do to a child what I would not like to be done to mine. 

What would you do as a teacher/ parent if your child were continuously discriminated at your school?

Advertisements

An open letter to parents: 10 things you should know.

Increasingly over the last few days there have been thoughts on my mind about parent/ teacher relationships.

As I receive my students (the same group from last year) into their final year of primary school, I think about how they have grown and how much we have come to know each other. There is a definite bond which has developed and which undoubtedly most teachers share with their pupils. We are now forever a part of each others’ lives.

Many parents can relate to the fact that what the teachers says in class and how methods are taught take superiority over what they say or how they try to help using their own methods. (“Miss/ Sir wants it done this way!”) -in no way are teachers trying to usurp the authority of parents- this is just a natural occurrence. In a small number of cases, there are competing interests between home and school which affect how teachers function and ultimately the balance in the teaching/learning equation. It is this which has been weighing on my mind.

I’d like the parents of my pupils to know some things.

1. I love your children. I know it sounds like a cliché but we spend so much time together in a closed environment that we come to know each other pretty well. Each one of them comes with something about them that I appreciate. I will miss them when they move on.

2. I spend as much time (or even more) with your children than my own. Count seven hours during the school week, then there are the hours I spend marking scripts/books which I take home and the hours I spend planning for the week. My biological children complain sometimes about not getting to spend fun time with me (beach, etc) because I’m always in teacher mode.

3. I am human. I do make mistakes. Sometimes when marking a bulk of work I may put a tick where there should be an X or vice versa. Don’t crucify me. This does not mean that I do not know what I am doing. I also try to be fair and impartial in all situations which require my intervention between students and I try not to be judgemental.

4. Teaching is not my job. It is my calling. Not everyone is cut out to be a teacher, but I believe that it is what I was meant to do in life and I am very passionate about it!

image

5. It’s a tough job. Teaching requires a lot of planning and implementation and planning and planning and revisiting ideas and planning… it is a time- consuming job! It is also one for which I have trained very hard and had many years of studying and honing my skills.

6. The teacher is not always the one to blame. When things go wrong as they sometimes do, look at all of the factors; is everyone playing their part?

7. I aim to ensure that your child succeeds in school and is prepared for life. Your support in school endeavours is important. Try not to talk about the teacher in the presence of the child if you do not agree with something. Come in to visit me- my doors are always open (within reasonable hours).

8.  You are your child’s first teacher. You have more impact on his/her behaviour, value systems and attitude to work than everyone else.

9. Don’t put so much pressure on your child that he/ she hates learning at school. A child still has to experience the joys of childhood. Create a good balance between fun and schoolwork even in the final years of elementary school to have a well- balanced child. Don’t over emphasise school work or use it as punishment.

10. Education does not end at the end of the physical school day nor at the beginning of the vacation period. It is a continuing process which can be enhanced with fun and enriching activities at home.

Your child will learn! While every child is not necessarily an A student, every child has the capacity to learn and they each WILL move upward under my watch. Let’s continue to work together for the good of our children!

Mrs. Walters.

 Feel free to comment or discuss below.

(Roxy)

 

 

 

Repurposed Covered boxes for book storage- DIY TUTORIAL

One  of the problems we encounter in organising a space be it at school or at home, is storage.

Here in the caribbean, our elementary classrooms are typically small and some of us are even still hosted in schoolhouses which are separated by blackboards. Nevertheless, we all love to make our space comfortable and appealing.

I observe and admire rooms which are well decorated and organised with lots of storage space and utensils for storage. While some persons use baskets, I use mostly covered boxes  along with baskets chiefly because I have many sturdy boxes and I feel like its such a shame to discard them. It is also a cost effective way to add some colour to a classroom.

Here is the tutorial which I promised on my Facebook page Ready Set Class. It is for the box featured above.You may also view other repurposed boxes there.

Material needed:

1 sturdy box                   white paper glue (Elmers)                          1 exacto/ craft knife (optional)            1 pair scissors

3 sheets gift paper or  1 small roll wrapping paper

STEPS:

1. If using gift paper, follow the pattern of the paper and glue two pieces together along the width to form one long sheet. Save the third piece.

image

2. Prepare the box. Depending on the size of books you want to place in the box, turn the box to the desired side, use a plate or any sturdy circle and trace out a semicircle. Cut out this shape. Your box should now look like the one below.

image

image

image

3. Use the box as a pattern, trace and cut out 5 inner pieces ( 3 plus the front curved and bottom) from the patterned paper. NB. Cut the piece for the front as shown in the picture.

image

4. Turn the paper pattern down and measure and draw a line measuring 1 inch (1″) along the length and left side.

image

5. Run a line of glue along the edges of one side of the box and place on the paper as shown in the picture. Leave tfhe 1″ on the left to be later folded to the front. Run your flat palm across the paper to flatten and to push out air pockets.

6. Repeat for the other three sides.

7. Cut out the front (curved side) as shown.

image

8. Glue the flap over the raw edge to form a neat seam.

image

 

9. Turn over and fold in as you would when wrapping a gift.

imageimageimage

10. Turn the box over, curve side down, and draw a line as in the picture.

image

11. Cut along the line with scissors and snip along the curved section at 1/2 ” intervals.

12.  Snip along the 1″ flaps on the two sides and fold over. Run a line of glue along the curved front section and fold over. Repeat for the back flap.

image

 

image

13. At this point the outside of your box is completely covered.

image

14. Glue the 5 inner pieces in place.

image

15. Embellish and label your box!

image

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and that it may point you towards repurposing more boxes for class and home use. Don’t forget to participate in the poll at the top! Enjoy!

Roxy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

11 Signs that your teacher vacation is almost over

I read somewhere that summer is a “social construction”, it functions as an ” imaginary space where there is always more: more time, more pleasure, more sleep”. Sadly this is not the reality for most of us.

As a child I looked forward to the long summer vacation- 8 glorious weeks spent mostly at the beach by my grandmother’s house with cousins,reading lots of comics and novels and watching endless tv. By the seventh week I was longing to go back to school and longing to see my friends- it just seemed to never end!.

As an adult, I also look forward for this period as it feels  like a reward for the long school year of hard work. But, the weeks do not now seem as long- how I long for my vacation as a child again! The myth about ” more time, more pleasure and more sleep” is just that: a myth. I can’t think of any teacher who claims to get more of any of these during that period. I even lament that my own children do not get the magnitude of fun as I did as a child perhaps because I’m almost always in teacher mode.

Er… teacher mode ….Thats the first of the signs.

1. You begin scouting the net, making charts, thinking of classroom decor and planning seating arrangement for your class.

2. Routines are disrupted. That holiday mode that you slipped into is no more, you’ve reverted to early morning waking up (perhaps with an alarm clock). Exercise and all of the other luxuries in which you engaged are no more.

3.  You begin shopping for school supplies for your children and it also includes shopping for school supplies for your class.

4. You begin shopping for a new wardrobe/ shoes /bags especially after realising that you’ve put on weight and most of last year’s wardrobe can no longer fit.

5. Friends ( and the random person almost EVERYWHERE) keep reminding you that its just around the corner. ” You’re ready to go  back yet?” “Just two more weeks left…”

6. Your own children are anxious to reunite with school friends.

7. Almost EVERY billboard or store sign is screaming BACK TO SCHOOL sale.

8. You are increasingly irritable at anyone who mentions back to school or who don’t understand your preoccupation with school -related stuff.

9. You start to recognise the days of the week after blissfully not keeping check for the last 6 weeks AND you’re doing a mental countdown of days left.

10. Your home looks like a cross between a classroom, a bookstore and a craft centre (the way it usually does during the term) after being tidy all summer.

11. You’re trying to fit in all of the chores and entertainment that you didn’t get done into the last 2 weeks of the vacation.

From this imaginary space we must awaken…… If only we could get some “more time, more pleasure, more sleep”. But alas! With two more weeks to go it looks like my vacation is truly over!

Roxy.

 

Is decorating a classroom overrated?

Do you spend a lot of time browsing the net looking for inspiration to decorate your classroom yet often leave feeling overwhelmed or inadequate? Why even consider decorating a classroom anyway?

Sometimes our classroom is the only place (aside from our homes) where we have some creative licence. We spend hours in the classroom and many of us like to put our own stamp since it is somewhat of a haven and second home. I for one like to make my room a space where I can be comfortable for many hours, it must be inviting but not not overwhelming. I want my room to be a place that I love coming to and of which the children can feel a sense of pride and ownership. This is the key to choosing your theme or colour scheme if you are inclined to decorate.

If your classroom is not very large (as most of those in our primary schools) or if you do not have an actual room, your space must first of all serve a purpose. Think about what your purpose is in decorating your space -is it to look fancy or to display anchor charts and student work? If the space is relatively ‘sizeable’ can you find a balance between both? When choosing what to include, consider if it is something that will help in student learning; over time if they are not using it, then it is just decoration and may be unneccesary.

If you are not one for the frills and fancy of classroom decorating don’t allow yourself to feel pressured by what others even in your own school may be doing. It is quite ok to admire from a distance but not be caught up in what others may consider a trend.

I love doing themes -particularly because I am a creative person- and I would usually dedicate part of my summer vacation towards brainstorming and developing a theme for the year. I have found that it make sense for me to do a yearly theme and make seasonal boards as the event arises during the term. Popular themes include but are not limited to: 

Cartoons- Dora, Mickey Mouse, Cars, Under the Sea, Monsters Inc.SpongeBob 

Books- Dr Seuss, Harry Potter

Nature- flowers, fish, animals, trees, ocean, jungle, camping

Vehicles- cars, trains, buses, planes

Superheroes- Spiderman, Batman, Superman…

Travel, circus… the list is ENDLESS!

You may visit some of my favourite sites here for inspiration:

www.pinterest.com

clutterfreeclassroom

clever ways to decorate your classroom

Last school year I decided to go with a pencil theme, with stripes and dots as accents, as I was focusing on Creative Writing. Unfortunately I have no pictures to show except for the curtains which I hung for the first time and which are featured in the photo above, but I will surely include pictures of this year’s room. Find what works for you and helps you be at your best. Be careful not to spend too much time, money and energy as one can easily run the risk of going overboard. It is easy to get caught up in making everything so fancy that one can forget the REAL focus which is teaching and learning. We much strive to ensure that there is not sensory overload. 

There has been much debate lately about whether or not classroom decor is distracting to pupils. Do you think that parents notice the rooms that their children spend their days in? Do children even notice or appreciate the work that was put into the room? Over time I have had both parents and pupils compliment me on my room albeit a small one. It reflects my personality.However, the decor of a classroom does not overtly indicate the quality of the teacher or teaching but it does make an impression on others.

Therefore once you decide to go the way of decorating, the space must not be too distracting, whether you choose bold and vibrant colours ( fuschia pink, yellow orange,etc) or calming colours (blues, light green,cool neutrals). I’m thinking of a ‘Caribbean’ theme this year (steelpan, coconut trees,beach, tropical prints, tied and died fabrics, batik- the possibilities are ENDLESS!) My pupils are in the 10-12 age bracket and I am simply feeling like something vibrant for their final year of Primary School. 

 The ultimate aim though is for creating a positive class climate and culture in the room but it won’t hurt if the way how the classroom is decorated or organised contibutes to these positive feelings.That said, feel free to share your opinions below be they for or against decorating your classroom. 

Roxy.

Tips for making the most of your Teacher Vacation

With many of our colleagues around the world already back in classrooms a few of us are looking back and wondering where the weeks all went; how did we get here so fast? As we prepare to return to school here are a few tips for making the most of the next three weeks.

1. RELAX.  I am particularly guilty of not doing this because as my son says I’m always ‘looking for something to do’. Simply kick back,put up those feet and if possible sleep a few extra hours.  Indulge  in a hobby which you have neglected for a while and which brings you peace of mind.Think of taking up gardening, crafts, sewing or just read a good book.

2. Conversely- EXERCISE. This may seem contrary to the need to relax and may seem challenging at first. A simple brisk walk or jog is fine, at least its a start. If you already indulge you know the benefits to your physical wellbeing.  After heeding my  own advice just a little over a week ago, I’ve found that I am feeling a bit more energised and alert.Try to maintain this habit even after school has re-opened.

3. Communicate with GOD. Just as we need to work on the physical so too we need spititual upliftment;  nothing is as refreshing, motivating and gives peace of mind as having a relationship with God. Indulge in regular prayer and meditation, also, shake out some dresses/suits,  go out  to church and connect with others of like faith. Become involved in church outreach as you now have the time.

4.  HAVE A VACATION inside of your vacation. Yes! We’re on vacation and often don’t act like it with days packed with activities. So, pack up your car, pack some baskets and take a picnic with your family, go to the beach or drive around the island and get a first hand reminder of the beauty of these Caribbean islands we call home. Visit friends and relatives you haven’t seen for a while, plan a barbecue or ‘lime’ as we call it here.

5. REBOOT! A few days before the reopening of schools, revisit the curriculum and outline a plan for your class for the upcoming year. Try not to engage in this too early as you may go out to school exhausted. Set benchmarks and tackle the start of the longest term refreshed.

Remember that this is vacation time that we have earned. Don’t ,if you are one (like me) who usually has school on your mind throughout the vacation, feel guilty for this but make an extra effort to follow points 1-4. If you are one who refuses to do any teacher -related stuff during your vacation time do not feel guilty about this also. Don’t allow yourself to be scrutinized on your time but be sure to go back revitalized!

Roxy.