Archive for December, 2012

2013

Tomorrow will be the first day of 2013.  Wow, it seems like just yesterday that I was saying this about 2012.  This past year has been a wild ride, to say the least.  There have been some good times as well as some bad times, but all in all, there were more good than bad.  So I will focus on the good and put the bad behind me.  That’s what I try to do … I try to look for the positives in all things.  Sometimes it’s really hard, while other times it is really easy to see.  But when it comes right down to it, it is a choice.  You can dwell on the negative or you can dwell on the positive.

I am choosing to make 2013 a positive year.  I will focus on positive things.  I will surround myself with positive people.  I will distance myself from the negative.

I have had a lot of personal and professional growth during 2012.  There were some times when the negative far outweighed the positive, but I really tried not to show it.  I was not trying to be fake … I just tried to keep everything inside and not show just how much the negativity was affecting me.  It was tough and somewhat affected my health, but in the end, positivity won out.  And I do feel better now.

2013 will be a good year.  I will grow more professionally.  I will be a better administrator.  I will grow more personally.  I will be a better father and husband.  I will grow more spiritually.  I will be a better Christian.  I am choosing to do this.  I know there will be trials and tribulations, but I will keep my focus and make the best out of these situations.   In the end, I will be better.

College Days

Thinking back to when I was in high school, I remember that if we wanted any information on college, we went down this hallway to a bookshelf that had many college catalogs that we could read. We could look at the book right there, but we couldn’t take it and really go through it and study it. Keep in mind that this was back in the day before we had the internet.

Yesterday we had thirteen colleges represented at this year’s College Day. Most colleges are already out for Christmas Break, so reps from thirteen is good. I was really impressed with the information they presented to our students. They talked about dorm life, cafeterias, student activities, student parking, in addition to presenting academic information.

career days

Today we had speakers representing twenty different occupations. One of the things we wanted was to offer a wide range of different career choices. We had a lawyer, firefighter, police investigators, a nurse, air conditioner service specialist, a chemist, photographer, a Justice of the Peace, an emergency dispatcher, barber, paramedic, a professional football player, car salesman, real estate agent, infrared technician, Hot Shot driver, President of an oil & gas company, banker, public relations officer, pharmaceutical rep, social worker, owner of a trucking company, sales rep, recruitment specialist for a wireless carrier, and a welder.

For the last two days, we tried to give the students a lot of information about colleges and universities, as well as, a wide variety of career opportunities. This year we brought up our 8th graders and included them so that they may begin thinking about all the different opportunities there are for them.

I was talking to my son last night about colleges and careers. He asked me when I was his age, if I knew what I wanted to do when I grew up. That reminded me about when I was in high school. I didn’t have this kind of opportunity and exposure to many different possibilities with colleges and careers, so I hope these last two days helps these students by opening their eyes to just part of the world that is out there.

good teacher 1

High quality instruction is vital to student success.  Sure, there are students who will “get it” no matter what the teacher does.  There are also those students who really struggle in their classes.  With both of these types of students, a great teacher will make it where student achievement and student learning goes above and beyond.

What do students think about what makes a great teacher?  Recently,  I talked to a few students and asked them this question.  Here are their responses:

  • It takes patience.  A good teacher is one who is determined to help the students understand what it is they need to learn.  It doesn’t matter how long, they’ll take their time.
  • Some teachers seem not to care if a student is successful or not, but a great teacher cares.  Students know this and will give more in class if they know the teacher cares.
  • A great teacher makes class fun. They make the students want to learn.
  • When a student needs help, a good teacher will work one on one if the student needs it.
  • Students will work hard when a teacher is fair.
  • A good teacher takes something that is hard and makes it easy.  They find more than one way to get the points across to the students.
  • Good teachers don’t expect the same from each student.  They know their students, and their limitations, and they will make the students work to their individual potential.
  • They make class interesting … not boring.
  • A good teacher does not show favoritism.  They know that this would create dissension between the students and the teacher.
  • Great teachers do not yell, use sarcasm, and are not disrespectful to the students.  If a teacher is like this, then students will not try.
  • A good teacher is a good motivator.
  • Teachers with a positive, upbeat attitude make learning fun and make me want to go to class.
  • Teachers understand students are in so many activities outside of class and sometimes need help with an extension.
  • Some teachers just tell you stuff and don’t try to explain, but a good teacher really attempts to explain things in different ways.
  • Good teachers enforce the rules and don’t let students disrupt the class.

Students are honest.  These responses are honest.

good teachers 2

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We are stressing good, high quality instruction this year, and last week we had an early release day so we could have staff development in an effort for teachers to get together and work to improve their teaching practice.  Earlier in the week, I posted a question to my teachers asking them for their opinions as to what makes a great teacher.  Here are some their comments:

I’m not quite sure what constitutes great teaching, but I know what isn’t.  Doing worksheets and book work does not make a teacher. I feel a great teacher looks for ways to excite the students by using whatever it takes to get their attention.

GREAT teaching comes from teachers who aren’t scared or apprehensive about LEARNING themselves.  Teachers must be students as well.  Period.  The end.

I think it’s more than the content of the subject.  Its how the teacher has the ability to connect with a student on an individual level.  They are the ones that students remember 30 years down the road.

I think great teaching requires wisdom and caring. It also benefits greatly from experience and involves a willingness to change as necessary to help students to learn.

When your students “get” the concept–whatever it takes for them to accomplish that is great teaching.

I think that great teaching starts with caring about your students, regardless of any behavioral or emotional baggage that a student brings with them. Before a teacher can accomplish great teaching, they must first love their job and strive to grow every day.

Great teaching involves not making excuses for the reasons your classes aren’t “getting it”, rather than making excuses, I think that great teachers adapt to their situation and find different ways to teach.

Great teaching happens when the lessons are relevant – students can make a connection between what is being taught and how they can use the information ” in real life”.

Great teaching happens when the teacher is knowledgeable and prepared, is in the Power Zone, and is positive toward students.

When the needs of all learning styles are considered and incorporated into the lesson with variety throughout the lesson to keep interest, motivation, and challenge for all students at an appropriate level.

It’d be a lot easier to answer this question in terms of what great teaching is NOT!!

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Back during my coaching days, before I got into administration, I was fortunate enough to coach some great teams…some championship teams.   In the last couple of weeks I have run into some of my former players who are now grown with families of their own.  It was good seeing them and talking about the good times we had.  It got me to thinking about those teams and the players that I had coached over the years.  It didn’t matter whether it was Jr. High teams or Varsity teams, the same formula for success was present in each one.

Obviously having players with talent is a big plus.  I was blessed to have players with a lot of talent.  That made my job a lot easier.  Many of them ended up with scholarships and playing at the college level.  Talent was a big part of our success, but it wasn’t the only factor.

Another characteristic of these players that helped make our teams successful was that they had a desire to win.  Sure it was fun to play, but if you are going to play the game, you play to win.  That’s why you keep score, right?

Because of the desire to win, we worked hard.  We didn’t just go through the motions.  We practiced hard.  We played hard.  We had a plan and we practiced according to that plan.  Sometimes during our practices or in our games something came up that wasn’t a part of the plan.  We made adjustments and took the opportunity —  whatever it was — and made the best of it.

Talent, a desire to win, and hard work doesn’t mean much if you can’t play together as a team.  This is very important.  Teams are made up of players who all have individual jobs and responsibilities.  One person cannot do it all.  Each player relies on the other players.  When they believe in each other, when they trust that their teammates will take care of their responsibilities, the team will thrive.  The team will be successful.

When you have talent, a desire to win, work hard, and can work together, you have the potential to be a great team.  Come to think of it, these are the same components of a great faculty.  It may be a different kind of team and a different kind of game, but if we all have these same attributes we can be a successful team as well.