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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in commuity of learners

Posted by on in Early Childhood

When my daughter was in second grade, in the ‘80s, the second-grade teachers started the morning with a piano, a teacher who played, and children sitting on the floor around, singing. The interactive song, The Cat Came Back, by Fred Penner, was much requested. Where are the routines that involve singing for the pure joy of it, now?

At the center in which I worked recently, “Singing Circle” was a non-negotiable part in the school routine. It came right before lunch. Children would call out, as lunch was being brought up from the kitchen, “Lunch is here!”, smelling the meatloaf and sweet potatoes. But keeping to the schedule, the teacher leading that day would say, “We have five minutes! Let’s sing another song”. Each teacher was able to plan her/his own ideas for singing circle, but children quickly found out who was leading each day and put in requests, which were usually put in the schedule. Aiken Drum, and Tooty-ta were popular. But so was Laurie Berkner’s The Story of My Feelings (usually sung along to the CD), and Puff the Magic Dragon! Singing sweetly, leaning on teachers, or sitting in laps, the children and teachers partook of one of the oldest traditions of humankind: Singing together as a community.

There are centers that use YouTube videos, and other recorded music, for their programs. "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" is a staple, along with "Going on a Bear Hunt.: But where is the individualized, personal song sharing? Who sings to children so that, eventually, they will learn the song and join in? The more nuanced, slightly more difficult songs get short shrift because teachers fear the children will not “get” them, or that they themselves will look bad. Searching your heart for those songs that move you, or excite you, may be where you will find a gem that children look forward to singing.

The songs you choose needn’t be educational (not that I’m against that). I knew a teacher who asked her threes to lay down while she dimmed the lights and sang Peter, Paul and Mary’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane”, right before they went home! These threes learned every word of the lyrics, and sang along. Another teacher sang old American folk songs, finding the lyrics from internet searches, such as Tingalayo (without the cute YouTube video!), Old Susanna, This Land is Your Land, and Bought me a Cat. Often using a drum for attention getting, I did scat with the children, introducing it to them with Scat Like That (are you in for a treat, if you teach them to scat), sang the Abiyoyo song while I recited the story, and loved to do Girl and Boy Scout songs (‘My Mom, she gave me a penny, and Oh, I wish I were a little round orange). A teacher, who happened to be African-American, brought delightful game/songs to our somewhat Lilly-white school, such as Little Johnny Brown. Her instrument? A tambourine!

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Posted by on in General

crocus3

It's been awhile since I wrote for you and I apologize for that. The good news is I'm still here. I seriously doubted I could get out of the mess I was in, no fault of my own. Life happens.

This is not a blog about my illness, and what happened to me, but it does play a major part in my transformation. Only thing is, I'm not done yet. I remain a work in progress. In fact, I will probably send this blog post out in draft. My hands are still kind of shaky, so the very act of writing this is an act of love.

Being on Twitter and Facebook has been a revelation. After my husband died six years ago, I finished my last book "Reading Champs", a how-to skills guide. Then instead of marketing it, I let it sit on Amazon. I started writing again, left my historic home and property in Northern Calif. to move to Eugene. Unreal, for a nester, I moved three times, volunteered, then taught at the preschool. 

 Family and teaching, the constants in my life. Like breathing. My passion. My gift. Servant leader for more than forty -six years.

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

letter to Santa2

Dear Santa,

All we want for Christmas is for our staffs to learn to know and love Twitter like we do! How can we bestow this gift to our staffs this year in a way that would be meaningful?

As leaders we are faced each day with the task of helping teachers be better, better for our kids and better for each other.  There is no better gift that we can give our students than a skilled, innovative, loving and connected teacher in front of them everyday. How can we, as model leaders, gently lead teachers to a wealth of resources that will make them better, faster?

The answer to this, we believe, is helping teachers build a Professional Learning Network in Twitter.  In 140 characters they can get connected with like minded (or maybe not so like minded) educators going through some of the same struggles that they share.  They can find resources, ideas, and learn about positive trends in education today. How can principals accomplish this?  Principals can lead teachers to this understanding by building their own PLN and sharing the value of this wealth of knowledge with the staff.  

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Posted by on in Professional Development

Are you sick of “professional development experts” that are flown into your district at an exorbitant price tag to deliver long sit and get trainings that are often over before the expert gets back home? Who has the money or the patience for this antiquated practice? Not me! Who are the professionals/experts in your building? You are! Who knows your students and school wide needs better than you do? No one!

Leverage the talent within your building through a formalized peer observation process that puts you, the teachers, in charge of your own professional development. Questions you should ask yourselves are:

Are we getting the results that we want? If so, what are we doing to provide sustainability for these practices as teachers come and go?

If we are not getting the results that we want, what are we doing to change the tide?

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Posted by on in Classroom Management

stencil.twitter post 99

1. Be moderate in your approach. You do not have to be the world’s best teacher all the time. You just have to be a very good one.

2. Spend your energy on large problems first and allot less of your energy for the small ones. Choose to deal with the problems that will give you the greatest benefit right away.

3. Problems can move you forward when you choose to work to solve them. Use your creative strengths to make your classroom well-disciplined and productive.

4. Make room for more emotional energy. Ask for help when you have a problem.

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