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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in professionalism

Posted by on in General

Moving Day, Saturday June 8, 2019. Boxes and Teachers wearing Jeans, what a combo. 

Let me say this, about that.

Should Teachers wear jeans every day? Hmmm. Hot topic. Never thought much about it.

I never knew this is such a big topic for teachers. I read a great We Are Teachers article by Kristy Louden on June 6, 2019, posted by 'We Are Teachers' on Twitter. "Teachers Should Be Allowed to Wear Jeans Every Day & Here's Why". I thought it was an interesting read, so I shared it. That tweet now, as I conclude my thoughts, has nearly 65,000 impressions (hits), (update, Sunday morning, 84,000 impressions) so I am honored and grateful to have the opportunity to write for us.

The common thread for me, my takeaway goes right back to school culture, and likely, Maslow, basic needs, personal self-care needs being met. Perhaps we can go no further than to recognize a whole lot of teachers want to self-determine what they wear to school every day to perform at their best. Perhaps this whole discussion is really all about teacher autonomy and need for trust in our professionalism and decision making, I'm really not sure.

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

There are lots of problems in education, big systemic problems, governance problems, structural problems that seem unsolvable sometimes because they’re so deeply rooted in the way things have always be done.  And then there are problems that are so darn easy to fix, it’s a wonder they haven’t already been solved.

One of those easy problems is the tall poppy problem (or syndrome).  If you’re not familiar with that expression, it’s one of those fabulously apt British turns of phrase (also popular in Australia).  Wikipedia defines it as describing “aspects of a culture where people of high status are resented, attacked, cut down and/or criticised simply because they have been classified as superior to their peers.”  While I’m not keen on the term “superior” in their definition, I’m sadly all too familiar with the problem itself; virtually every teacher I know who has moved into a leadership role, whether in their school or in their system has experienced it.  When a poppy gets too tall, we cut it down to size.

“Wow, the superintendent is coming to your class again?!?”

“You’re sure out of the school a lot.”

“Why does she get to go to so many conferences?!?”

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

Ok, so those of us who instruct teachers-in-training can identify with emails starting out with, “Hey!,” students arriving late for class, texting while you’re talking, having little regard for anyone but themselves, and no idea what is appropriate to wear in public. These students will someday represent your college or training agency as they go out into workplace.

They will also represent the Early Childhood profession.

There is no time to waste in making the paradigm shift from problematic to professional. But, can it possibly be done? Can we equip these free-range students with the critical “soft skills” they’ll need to get and keep a position in Early Childhood?

Yes, indeed we can.

At a meeting last semester of our Early Childhood faculty, we again lamented the relative unprofessionalism of our students, which paralleled with what employers in the community were seeing. We decided enough was enough. Something needed to be done, if not by the entire college, at least by our program.

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Posted by on in Classroom Management

It’s that bittersweet time of year for teachers everywhere. No matter when you head off to school, you will have to leave your summer days behind. Even if you work a full-time job in the summer months, those sunny days are probably more carefree than when you have to face a room full of lively students with diverse needs and set to work shaping them into a cohesive community of learners.

It’s not easy to make the connections that will make every student become a valued member of the class. Creating those bonds takes time, energy, effort, and serious planning. The result is certainly worth it, however. Positive relationships between student and teacher are often regarded as the most powerful motivational force in any classroom.

Unfortunately, it is very easy to misjudge what it takes to create those positive relationships. Many of us do. It is especially easy to do when you are just beginning your teaching career and are uncertain about the right course of action to take to establish the type of relationships that will help your students be successful. It's not ever easy to make the tough decisions that will help you establish the kinds of positive relatonships that are going to work for you and your students in the long run.

One of the easiest ways to go wrong when trying to connect with students is to become a popular teacher for all of the wrong reasons. In this excerpt from The First-Year Teacher’s Survival Guide, some of the warning signs that any teacher will want to avoid are spelled out for those of us who are already planning how to create the positive classroom environment that we want for our students.

“It is natural to want to be liked. It is a wonderful experience to be in a mall or a restaurant and hear a young voice joyfully calling your name or to look out over a classroom full of students who are hanging on to your every word. The problem with being a well-liked teacher is that it is sometimes such an exhilarating feeling that you are reluctant to give it up, even when you should.

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies


This post was originally inspired by an email conversation with @GuardianTeach earlier this week, about a high school English teacher who said she no longer wanted to teach Shakespeare because she felt it wasn't relevant to her students. Also, she happened personally not to like Shakespeare. I found this latter point more disturbing; considering what is or isn't relevant for our learners is one thing, but picking and choosing curriculum based on our personal preferences is quite another. The teacher's original comments can be found on the Washington Post's The Answer Sheet blog here. There is a response by the blog's editor here, with which I find myself more in agreement with. 

Any teacher will naturally have some sections of their curriculum that they prefer over others. They will also have opinions as to which aspects of their curriculum are more relevant, and those that are less relevant to learners' lives. These opinions, however, may be based on assumptions about learners which turn out to be incorrect. There are also different preferences among learners from year to year. 

As a biology teacher my curriculum encompasses a wide range of topics. Do I like them all equally? No. Do I feel that they are equally relevant to all of my students? No. For example, the thorny issue of teaching botany. (Who said plants aren't fun!) I personally find plants fascinating, but in my experience many learners don't see plants as being particularly relevant to their daily lives. This is not helped by a curriculum which demands a detailed knowledge of the intricate aspects of the reproductive strategies of the four major plant groups (non-vascular, seedless vascular, gymnosperms, and angiosperms). Then there are the pages and pages of dry details about each of the various plant phyla. In a pre-Google world maybe it was worth memorising these discrete facts - it isn't anymore. These sections of the course could usefully be done away with. Fundamental processes on the other hand, such as photosynthesis and transpiration, play an important role in cultivating an understanding of how the natural world operates, and these should remain as part of a high school biology course. 

Many educators will agree that curricula around the world are in need of, or are already undergoing, change to make them more relevant to the current generation of learners. This is clearly a step in the right direction. I would happily see several chunks removed from my curriculum, even those sections that I prefer, if it would give more time and space to what was really useful and relevant to today's learners. However, I don't think that can necessarily be achieved simply by jettisoning what we ourselves happen not to like.  

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