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The teaching of children should not be sacrificed in favor of paperwork - ever!

Thursday, July 02, 2015

The Water in Which We Swim - Guest blog post on Think Inclusive

As those of us in higher education prepare new teachers, we focus some of that preparation on the cultivation of positive attitudes and beliefs about working with students in inclusive classrooms. Although the environment in which our students experience including students with disabilities is meaningful and robust, it is just one setting from which our new teachers learn. They do well and believe in the ability of all children, but sometimes when they leave the calm waters of their university and enter the unpredictable waters of the ocean of their internships or first jobs, their perspectives shift – and not for the better of our students. It seems we become like the water in which we swim. - See more at:

Monday, June 29, 2015

Teachers, It's Time to Recharge. Are you "ready"?

No one will argue that teachers need the break in the summer - at least I hope no one will argue about that. This is the time to focus on yourself for maybe the first time in a year. Yes, you may have a spouse or family at home to focus on as well, but if I had to assign a warning label to the teacher in summer, it would say "Warning: Operating below 100% is detrimental to this unit."

You're not the Energizer Bunny who keeps going and going and going. . . until you don't.

You're more like a rechargeable battery that once it falls below optimum levels is returned to the charging station - it's source of power - to be ready to teach another day.

Everyone has a different power source. The trick is to plug yourself into the power source from which you're most compatible and know will recharge you.

Here are 5 ways to recharge before getting back to the action in August or September:

  1. Close your eyes and bring to mind that which makes you the most happy - and do that!
  2. Identify a place where you feel most refreshed - and go there!
  3. Practice acts of gratitude - and remember those!
  4. Practice acts of mercy - and be kind to yourself!
  5. Be mindful of those around you - and love them!

Okay, so I didn't give you a list of summer conferences to go to, summer reading to engage in, or spa retreats you can't afford and then will feel bad about not being able to go to. I don't know what your particular power source is, so it would be ill-advised for me to suggest any particular activity or place for you to recharge. You are a teacher, but you are a person first. Take care of that person, so that when August or September comes, you are fully charged to take care of those children thrust into your care.

What is your power source?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Biggest Social Ills in a Child's Life: Is School the Answer?

The Achievement Gap is widening my friends. Although initiatives like No Child Left Behind and even the Common Core were developed to narrow this gap, it has only widened like a sink hole in Florida!

A recent report produced by the Economic Policy Institute (June 10, 2015) outlined 5 social disadvantages that children experience that schools cannot fix, nor should they be expected to fix:

  • Parenting practices that impede social and behavioral development
  • Single parenthood
  • Parents' irregular work schedules
  • Inadequate access to primary and preventative health care, and
  • Exposure to and absorption of lead in the blood
Click here to read the full report.

This is not a finger-pointing exercise; it is, however, a wake-up call. One that teachers have only been able to speak about in hushed voices - until now. 

Every year there is a new proposal, and sometimes a new mandate, for schools to take on more of the role of parents. As much as some groups blast schools for doing this, others sue schools if they don't. Just so you know, teachers and schools have no desire to take the place of parents - but sometimes they have no choice. Just as if someone left a newborn baby on your doorstep - would you close the door and walk away?

A great piece appeared in the L.A. School Report revealing the details of this report. It's a comprehensive read that I suggest you review.

For example, a recent lawsuit filed against a district in California asserted that schools should have counseling in place to help kids deal with PTSD as a result of any childhood trauma they may have experienced. Since PTSD gets in the way of their learning, it is naturally assumed that schools will find a way to deal with it. After all, this is why we have a school breakfast program because research showed that children who are hungry do not learn as well.

The more social disadvantages schools are charged to mitigate, the less they are able to do what they were both called and hired to do - teach. Social disadvantages were caused by and in society - society needs to step up to address them. And who do I mean by "society"? Probably the same people Jesus meant by "your neighbor."