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General

Voices from the BAM Radio Community sharing their thoughts, insights and teaching strategies.

Subcategories from this category: running shoes

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Building relationships with kids takes time and commitment on both sides of the equation.  A solid connection can be encouraged or fortified by a grand event – an open house evening, a “Donuts for Dad” or “Muffins for Mom” celebration, or a campus carnival – but such an event alone cannot create long and meaningful relationships.  The daily interactions of teachers with their students, with ongoing discourse between the two, is the only thing that I have found to be most effective in developing and nurturing lasting connections. 

Sometimes you just have to listen to each other’s stories of pain and sadness, joy and gladness, and everything in-between. 

By the end of the first month of school, I know quite a bit about a child’s life just from the continuous conversation he/she and I have had.  Tiny bits of information from numerous simple conversations while lining up, while turning in papers, while waiting for lunch, while passing each other on the sidewalk at the end of the day all help to bring us closer together. 

All of that dialogue has informed me of the child’s family situation – parents together or separated, number of brothers and sisters, favorite subject in school, type of pets, names of school friends, fears and worries at home and at school.  

I know each student’s favorite type of music, favorite football team, favorite color, favorite candy, favorite brand of shoe.  I know a little bit about each child’s interests and each child’s goal for the future.  All of these seemingly trivial pieces of information help me to carry on more conversations with each child and help me to further forge the bond between me and them. 

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 Our country truly needs to re-examine the way it views education. 

A boy in my homeroom class was packing up at the end of the day. He walked up to me and asked quite bluntly, in pure seventh grade manner, "Mr. Ramsey, was your father ashamed of you for becoming a teacher?" 

I was truly taken aback and hurt a bit by this question. But, in true seventh grade teacher manner, I remained calm and asked, "Why would you even think that?" 

"Well, like he was in the Marines..." 

"Air Force," I corrected. "So?" 

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Celebrate your freedom to read. Read a banned book! That's right, celebrate your freedom to read. It's an important freedom, and it's protected by the First Amendment. Celebrate the right to read which books we choose. Censorship is censorship. There's a fine line between challenged and banned books. Sometimes it's fine and, sometimes not.

Banned Books Week, promoted by the American Library Association and Amnesty International reminds us freedom is not easily maintained. We must retain our ability to think, reason and have access to thoughts different from our own.

Banned Books Week, Sept. 23-29 '18, is really about perspective. What you think is offensive, may not offend me, and vice-versa; who decides? I mean, who decides what we can read, as children and later as adults?

Books are still being banned. In 2018! Really. As of this writing, I have not been able to find a simple definitive figure for the number of books challenged and banned this year, on the ALA website, which I find disappointing. 

Well, in truth, the law actually already decided this very issue. Based on the First Amendment, librarians may not restrict any materials; in regard to children, only parents may do so. In Texas v. Johnson, ('89) Justice William J. Brennan gave this opinion: "If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea solely because society finds that the idea itself is offensive or disagreeable..."  

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At school, we have a new program that allows teachers to monitor students as they work online.  One cool feature allows us to simply shut down a student if he is not on the assigned site for the day.  It is fun watching their reactions to being instantly blocked.

Another great feature allows me to go directly into the document that a student is creating and to join the student in the writing process.  I can add feedback, and I can also help guide a student’s writing in real time.

“Joaquin” is one of my best writers.  I’ve known that since he was a little kid in my fifth grade class.  One of his stories that year was about having a superpower.  The boy wrote about being able to capture all the terrorists in the world and then making them all work at McDonald’s.  After a few days of working the fryer, they all surrender and promise to go home.  Joaquin, the superhero, is celebrated as his neighbors throw a party with ponies and pinatas

Much to the boy’s dismay, I think I shared that story with every teacher at the school.  At the start of this year, I asked him if I could read his story to the class.

He looked at me in disbelief.  “No!” he squeaked.  “You still have it?”

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I had an extraordinary day yesterday. Did you? And I can hardly wait to tell you what happened. You be the judge. 

Here in America, the Labor Day holiday weekend is an end of summer opportunity to reflect and make observations about past and future. Lessons always surround us when we watch, listen and learn. That proved to be so true for me yesterday. Here's how it happened.

We go through phases and stages in life where it seems like stuff is just rolling downhill faster than we can keep up. So I needed a break. A pause to savor life's beauties, feel the joys of each moment and relish my 'happy'. I spent most of the summer getting healthy, and figuring out the next phase in my life post cancer. I also had some heartache and disappointments, don't we all?

A time of mindfulness, dance, watching sunsets and listening to rapids. A summer of promises made- some met, some not, some hurt, some joy. Best ever, notably the day I learned I am finally cancer free, with unmet life yet to be fulfilled. Still here, giving new promise to my legacy. Let's start with a lesson in love.

My kids created an end of summer family weekend activity. It was tough to plan for camping with unexpected road closures, questionable day to day air quality from the wildfires and restricted burning, which meant no marshmallow campfires. (Overcome by a last minute switch to propane).

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