education

Dear Mr. Negativity

When two parties cannot get along, it becomes necessary to separate. Mr, Negativity, you have been chasing me around way too long.   We are done.

You have been haunting my brain with your negative attitude. You have been stalking me and encouraging me to say hurtful comments and think negative thoughts that destroy my spirit and soul. You have taught me to look at the glass as half empty instead of half full. Why? What joy do you get out of it? The more you are around, the more depressed I feel about my job and my peers.  You even encourage me to look at the negative actions of my friends. I feel like you are suffocating me in a cesspool of anger, arrogance, self-pity, self-denial, and pride.

Well, today, Mr. Negativity, is the last day for you. Today I am breaking up with you. I will start my life fresh. I will embrace a positive attitude, look on the bright side, see the cup as full and running over. I will look at my peers with renewed joy and  understand that we all have “moments.”  Good luck, Mr. Negativity. You can bully someone else. Today, I start fresh!

Sincerely,

Me

Have you ever felt this way? If so, what (who) do you need to break up with?  Write your own letter and flush the negative out of your life. 

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Reading/Writing

The Home Stretch

img_0442With the end of the school year approaching, you might need some stress relief.  Take this opportunity to make some changes:
1. Wake up a little early to start your day right. Do not hit snooze. Going back to sleep makes it harder to get up.

2. Drink water. According to health experts, we should drink water first in the morning. Grab some water to rehydrate your body.

3. Exercise or stretch. Keeping those cranky old joints and muscles in good condition is important for flexibility and movement now and in years to come.

4. Meditate, read, or pray. Get your mental and emotional mindset on track.

5. Eat a healthy breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

6. Get to work a little early so you don’t stress about being late.

7. Always prepare for the following day before you leave so you are not fighting for the copier, or running around looking for a copier that works.

By following these steps, you can have a great beginning of your day. Remember to take care of yourself first so that you can give your students your best. If you have any good suggestions on how to relieve stress, comment below. Most importantly, remember to be the best YOU you can be.

 

 

 

Reading/Writing

Why God Created Teachers

For those of you who are starting the school year on Monday, I wanted to share this poem I found. So many times we forget, that besides a parent, we have one of the most important jobs in the world. It is our job to inspire learning in our students for the future. We are creating the next generation of scientists, doctors, lawyers, and more. Not only are we helping create a better future, we are building relationships with children. Sometimes, we are their only friend. They even watch our every move and learn how to be better people.

So, as you start teaching this year, take time to take care of yourself. The better you are, the better your students are. Don’t let yourself get stressed, keep open communication with your peers, be honest, and always do your best. Oh, and never ever forget–You got this.

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Reading/Writing

Bookstore Tour

Snuggled in the great little town square of Zebulon, Georgia, I visited another great indie bookstore this week called A Novel Experience.  When I entered, I was amazed at how spacious it was.  Some of the great features besides the books were the coffee area where you could make your own coffee, an area for book clubs to meet, and a designated and decorated children’s area.  Another great feature was their dedication to help local artists by displaying and selling their artwork.  The sales clerk was very friendly and created great conversation about the owners and their dedication to this bookstore.  She told me of the various book clubs and other groups that met there and how active this bookstore is in the community.  It appeared to me that this bookstore was staying around because of its owners’ desire to build solid relationships with the community.  So, if you are ever in Zebulon, Georgia, take a quick minute to stop buy and browse.  I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed.

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Reading/Writing

A little bit of Americana…

I have always been intrigued by the musty odor of old books and old crooks and crannies in the speakeasy1vintage bookstores.  Strolling down their aisles makes me think about a time when life was simple and troubles were few.

Although many of them have been replaced with the big box stores, I still don’t get the feeling of nostalgia like I do when I enter a quaint little corner bookstore in the town square. Sadly, it makes me feel like America has lost just a little of its “Americana.”

In my hometown of Hampton, Georgia, we have one such store — Speakeasy Book Store.  When you enter, it is filled with the smell of fresh roasted coffee coming from its nostalgic espresso bar in the middle of the store. Surrounding the espresso bar are wall-to-wall books of all types.  Down below the store, they are renovating an old speakeasy from the 1920s that they would like to turn into a wine bar. The store owners are very knowledgeable, have many years experience in rare and antique books, and will give appraisals.  And, even for you Walking Dead fans, Speakeasy Book Store hosts zombie tours to show you around one of the towns where the Walking Dead films.  

As another era passes in our great history of America, it makes me feel hope that these small stores can keep their doors open. I will continue my book store tour throughout Georgia, and will continue to update you through the summer. If you know of any great used book stores, please let me know. Let’s not let this American tradition go by the wayside. Don’t let technology destroy a place we can gather, have good conversation and coffee, and read a good book.
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education

The I-generation

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They grew up in some of the worst “bad” times in American history. They witnessed 911 and terrorism, violence all over the media, economic debt that their grandchildren can’t even repay, insurmountable debt from college, no chance for retirement, a recession, income gaps and class division, and a shrinking middle class . They have been growing up in a world of changing values with headlines such as LGBT rights, abortion, Black Lives Matter…

Who is Generation Z?  They were born around 1995 through 2010 and, for the most part, they are the children of Generation X.  They have been commonly known as the IGeneration because they were the first generation to grow up with technology in their hands.  GenZ’s were also the first generation to see the first black president and were a major part of the largest technological, scientific, and medical booms of the 21st Century.

So how do these children shore up in the classroom?  According to many researchers, GenZ students are resilient, conservative, and cautious. They are responsible determined, loyal, compassionate, thoughtful, open-minded, money-oriented and more entrepreneurial than the millenials, or GenY.  As a classroom teacher today, I don’t agree completely with the researchers. I agree they are resilient, conservative, and cautious. I can also agree that they are are determined, loyal, open-minded, and compassionate. These are great traits that we should all have. You could say they have “good bones.” Yet, I struggle to see responsible, thoughtful, and entrepreneurial. Maybe they have these traits but they need to be fostered.

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Unfortunately, I worry about this generation.  In the classroom…

  • I see students who cannot take risks, lack the confidence to think for themselves, who are so dependent and so scared that they do not get a a driver’s license or  job, or who depend on me/others to think for them and hold their hands.
  • I see students who are so insecure and have so little self-worth that they must continually take selfies, worry constantly about how many followers they have on social media, need instant gratification or they fall apart with anxiety, who focus on appearances by begging their parents to buy labels–American Eagle, Abercrombie, and $200 Jordans, and insist on smart phones with no regard to cost to ensure their status in the school.  
  • I see students who lack creativity and imagination.
  • I see children who don’t read and write much, and therefore, lack vocabulary to aid in reading comprehension and social conversations.
  • I see students who lack basic grammar skills to write coherently, and I wonder if they can ever make it past their first semester in college.
  • I see students who are so absorbed in social media, You Tube, Instagram, video games, music and movies that they consider education a distraction to their social life.
  • I see students who are so demotivated that they don’t seem to care about their future.
  • I see students who have no regard for respect or authority.

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Even though I see all of these negatives, I also see the positives in our students.  Again, these students have the foundation of resiliency, conservatism, cautiousness, determination, loyalty, open-mindedness, and compassion. The question is: How can we use these traits to build risk taking, confidence, independence, creativity and imagination, reading and writing skills, motivation, accountability, and respect? I wish I knew.  This is my struggle in the classroom.  This, I believe, is why teachers are “burning out” at record levels.  As we continue to educate for the 21st Century, teaching children skills and traits they need for jobs that do not even exist yet, we need to keep in mind what these children have grown up with in today’s American culture.  We also need to remember the traits and skills that we think will be needed in the 21st Century. So it looks like the skills and traits we need to work on are:

  • Responsibility
  • Thoughtfulness
  • Entrepreneurial/Leadership
  • Risk-taking
  • Confidence
  • Independence
  • Creativity/Imagination
  • Reading/Writing Skills
  • Motivation
  • Accountability
  • Respect
  • Social skills
  • Global awareness

I added the last two because they were not mentioned in my research.  What are your thoughts about Generation Z? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas.


Reading/Writing

Going retro..

Several years ago, it seems that “the education gods” told teachers that we didn’t need to teach grammar anymore.  We could teach it individually in the papers that the students wrote.  Unfortunately, the students have proven that they aren’t learning that way.  There are several problems with this method:  1.  Teachers can’t get the papers back in a timely manner with so many students in the class and so many papers to grade.  2.  Unless it is a grade, most students won’t correct a paper.  Heck, they won’t usually correct the paper even if it is a grade.  3.  Even if they correct the paper, the student won’t study the mistakes and commit them to memory. So this week I decided to go retro…go old school.

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This week, I had one of my classes study the parts of the sentence.  My class is a 10th grade English class (World Literature).  We divided the basic simple sentence between the subject and predicate, and then we circled the simple subject (noun) and the simple verb.  My students struggled but were slowly starting to get the hang of it.  Ladies and Gentlemen, these 15 year olds struggled.  At the end of the week, they told me that they appreciated us stepping back in time to understand the sentence.

Next week, we will start on compound sentences, and the following week, we will focus on the complex sentence.  I will teach them commas, semicolons, dependent clauses, coordinate conjunctions, subordinate conjunctions, and conjunctive adverbs.  By the end of the next two weeks, they will know the basic parts of a sentence, how to punctuate it, and certainly how to write one.

We will also be writing a persuasive essay over the next several weeks.  I will keep you updated on my class’s writing progress with basic grammar instruction.  Tell me what you think. Should we go retro?