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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in parents as partners

Posted by on in Teens and Tweens

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It’s a disgustingly hot and humid September afternoon at Palmer Trinity School in Palmetto Bay, Florida, where I teach history and coach varsity cross country. The weather doesn’t deter one of my top runners—an eighth grader who runs 3.1 miles in 18:36 minutes—from giving everything his has on his last four-mile repeat. As he makes the final turn and sweat beads off his grit-determined face, I yell one simple command—“Enjoy the pain.”

To become stronger and faster, pain is necessary. Muscles must be broken down and rebuilt in response to heightened physical demand. Capillary capacity must improve to ease the flow of oxygen into cells. Bones must become denser and the heart stronger, more efficient. Only through experiencing this process, however painful, can runners hope to reach their fullest potential.

As I read Dr. Wendy Mogel’s most recent book, The Blessings of a B Minus: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Resilient Teenagers, I consider a more profound idea. Outside of running, adolescents must experience pain to blossom into healthy-functioning adults.

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Posted by on in School Culture
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From Carina, a former student who is now a supply chain analyst for a global company

I received two very special emails over the weekend. The first came from a student I had ten years ago and just landed her first full-time job as a teacher. The second was from a student who was in a building where I was an administrator. He wrote me to say he's enjoying high school and that he was thankful for his experience. Both were equally cool, and both are equally appreciated in ways they will never imagine.

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From Kirsten, one of the best ELA teachers I have ever hired

This may sound corny, but I have kept various  thank-you notes over the years. It's hard to explain how such a few words on paper or typed mean.

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From various students from 2006 when they were in 9th grade

It started in East Brunswick, where students got one card to send a thank you to a teacher. You got about two sentences. Students got to do them for grades 5, 7, 9, and 12. I got 41 my first year (I taught 162 kids that year). I was so proud of them, I hung them in my classroom. I repeated the practice every year that I was at CJHS. I ran out of wall space to hang them. I wanted my students to see them; it was motivation to them. They liked pointing to them and me telling them a story about the student... or finding their siblings. Students even came back and pointed their cards out.

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From Sarah, currently a merchandising assistant for a Fortune 500 company

Thank yous can come in a myriad of forms; post-it notes, formal letters from parents, even a coloring page from a book. Those little things matter most.

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From a former student who just began her first year as an elementary teacher

When I made the switch to administration, I thought these days were sure;y going to be over. I was waiting for the barrage of angry emails, phone calls, and disagreements.  To my surprise, it was not as daily as I expected... AND... when the tough came along, thank you notes came along with it.

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Posted by on in Special Education

Special Ed

Demanding. Annoying. Angry. Unrealistic. Unreasonable. Every teacher, principal, and school district administrator knows *that* parent. In special education, there are much greater numbers of *that* parent, and I'm sure school systems feel irritated and challenged by the threats of law suits and seemingly endless fights over Individualized Education Plan (IEP) goals. But do they realize their role in creating *that* parent?

In an earlier post, I begged teachers not to force parents to become *that* parent, explaining that all parents, and especially those of children with special needs, want to be liked and work in partnership with their children's teachers. The incident I cited was the failure of a special education teacher to communicate with the parents of a non-verbal child, or even to answer their emails asking about the child spending time in a "quiet room" and the lack of a behavior plan for its use.

After five emails, the teacher responded and offered to meet. The meeting consisted of her pulling the child's mother aside during pick up time to reassure her that the room was actually more of a closet with a door that didn't lock, that the child chose to go to the room, and that it helped to regulate his behavior.

These parents are so polite and accommodating that they accepted the explanation and decided to wait a few days before requesting a more formal meeting. They had arranged for a visit from a specialist in teaching reading to non-verbal children, and she was coming that week to train the special education classroom teacher. These trainings were part of the child's IEP. Except the training didn't happen because the school failed to arrange for a sub. Instead, the school district special education department suggested a classroom aide could be trained. But it is not legal for anyone other then a special education teacher to carry out the instructional minutes mandated by the IEP. So no, that didn't happen.

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