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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in teacher-student relationships

Posted by on in General

 principals office

Stocky kindergartener Leonard was sent to my office on the fourth day of school for hitting another little boy and for refusing to do his work. He was to return several more times that first month of school for similar transgressions. Visits with his mother were somewhat encouraging - and behavior problems subsided - but only temporarily. Before long, the little boy was back in the office lobby waiting for the assistant principal to intervene again.

Free-spirited eighth grader Tony was also a frequent flyer for similar reasons. Couldn't work quietly. Wouldn't keep his hands to himself. Disrupted and distracted in every one of his classes. Tony was a likeable kid - a little goofy, but relatively harmless. After the first month of school, I was a little tired of his presence in my office.

One afternoon, both boys found themselves sitting in my office at the same time. Tony had been sailing paper airplanes across his math classroom. Leonard had been urinating on the outside wall of the kindergarten building. "I told the playground aide I had to go to the bathroom," he explained, "and she said, 'Then just go,' so I did!"        

Tony raised his right hand and little Leonard high-fived him. Too tired to reprimand the older boy, I turned my attention to the kindergartener and asked, "After you went, did you wash your hands?"

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Posted by on in General

race car

Valerie stood in my doorway and quietly tapped. "Here's the file you asked for, Mr. Ramsey," she said. "New boy, Gonzalo Pomelo, eighth grade, Mrs. Duarte's homeroom."

I took the file and thanked my secretary. As I opened to the first page, she added, "By the way, he's here in the lobby waiting to see you."

"Really?" I sighed, slapping my forehead. "He just started this morning!"   Valerie quietly waited for me to tell her what to do with the child waiting for discipline. I exhaled. "Give me a sec," I uttered finally. "I just want to take a look at Mr. Pomelo's file. I'll come get him in a minute."

Quickly, I scanned the first few pages before me. Eighth grade. Last attended school in New Mexico. Parents divorced. Dad given full custody. Son sent to Arizona to live with grandparents temporarily until Dad could sell the Albuquerque home.

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Posted by on in General

statue of liberty

I headed to the District office for the usual Tuesday morning Leadership meeting. I had just heard about the first Tower attack. Like most people across the country, I was in shock.

A television newscast in the board room was replaying the first plane’s assault. A few minutes after my arrival, the Superintendent entered and asked us all to go back to our campuses immediately and bring some semblance of calmness and order to our school community.

At my office, I summoned the counselor and together we sketched out a plan for communicating with and consoling the staff, students and parents. TVs were ordered turned off. Teachers and I spoke only of what we knew and avoided speculation. Parents fearful of other attacks in the country were reassured. Above all, I made sure that I was in every classroom, in the cafeteria and outside at release time.

Students at every age were frightened. But it was the children who made the biggest difference overall during those first few days.

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Posted by on in General

teacher

Throughout my career, I've been asked numerous times, "Why do you teach?" This question is usually followed by one or more comments along the lines of observations of poor pay, crowded classrooms, lack of motivation on the part of students, lack of involvement on the part of parents, and lack of understanding on the part of those who craft school curriculum and policy.

Yes, all of these things exist. They've existed since I started teaching in the early 1980s. I'm sure they existed long before then as well. So with all of that baggage tumbling to the front of my classroom on a daily basis, why do I continue teaching? Why does anyone?

Why do I teach? Because all of those barriers don't matter to me as much as do the living human beings sitting before me. I can deal with all of the junk thrown my way. If necessary, I can dump it out on the sidewalk, close the door and devote my time to reaching the minds and hearts of the youngsters with whom I've been entrusted.

Teaching is so much more than the scattering of information upon youthful heads with the hope that spring assessment scores will be high. Teaching is about strengthening a child's heart as much as his head so that he will be able to function as a compassionate family member, as an empathetic community member, as a visionary architect of his world's future. It is one thing to prepare the minds of students with the information to meet these challenges. It is quite another thing to fortify the hearts of these students to allow them to actually put all the pieces together in a caring, meaningful manner.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

first day of kindergarten

Scores of moms and dads clung to the fence surrounding the kindergarten building shouting, amid tears, last-minute advice and terms of endearment.

“I love you, honey!”

“Be good, my little one!”

“Listen and learn, baby!”

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