7 Tips for New Teachers

It’s that time of year again! Time when the backpacks are full of fresh school supplies, the desks are clean, and the bulletin boards eagerly awaiting student work.

More importantly, a newly minted group of teachers is welcoming their students, ready to change the world. With all of my recent graduates in mind, I share these words of wisdom for the new teachers out there: {…}

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Whole Food, Whole Student

When I was a student teacher, the school I was assigned to had received a large chunk of cash as the result of scoring in the top ranks on a state assessment. There was quite a bit of controversy happening in the school over which employees should receive bonuses as a result of this influx of cash. The teachers, by and large, felt that they should be the sole recipients of the merit pay; after all, their jobs were the “front lines” positions, involving working directly with students on a variety of academic skills.

There was, however, a vocal opposition from the custodians, the lunchroom workers, and other support staff. They argued that their roles in the school were contributing to a healthy school environment, which also had an impact on students’ success. I’m inclined to agree with them, with one exception; the lunches. Oh, how horrible these lunches were. Without exception, every single school where I have worked, volunteered, collected data, or observed has served its students food that I wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole. {…}

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Beautiful Moments in the Extended Classroom

There’s a unique aspect, however, to this type of classroom. In a brick and mortar classroom, my room extends to the walls, and whatever the students can see or hear outside. In the virtual, video based classroom, though, my classroom now extends into each of their homes. Their sofas, desks, posters, cats, and children all become part of the classroom. Some professors fight this tooth and nail. They inform students that pets and children need to remain off camera, and they warn against eating or smoking (yes, smoking!) in class.

I take a different perspective. I think that, as educators, we need to embrace the elements of this extended classroom. We need to balance professionalism and comfort. Acceptance and distraction.
So how do I do this? I let students know that I have a few guidelines for online behavior: {…}

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Unprocessed Education

In San Francisco at the end of April, I had the opportunity to hear James Paul Gee speak a couple of times about learning and new media literacy. Gee has done a lot of great work in the field of video games and learning and new media literacies, but what struck me the most was a topic that he kept coming back to; the problems with processed food. He drew parallels more than once between the nation’s consumption of processed foods leading to illness and death and the nation’s educational problems. My ears perked up as soon as he began talking about the dangers of processed foods, since with the last year I’ve read a couple of Michael Pollan’s books, and subsequently purged almost all of the processed foods from my fridge and pantry. Gee’s words really stuck with me over the last couple of weeks, and I finally realized why. What we have right now in the United States is Processed Education, and it’s killing learning. {…}

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Reflections on AERA: Where Do I Fit?

I’m in the air right now on my way from San Francisco, to Dallas, and then home to Louisiana, after 4 days at the American Educational Research Association conference, and my brain is full. I experienced (and live tweeted!) many great sessions, spoke with a number of very interesting people researching important questions, presented my own research findings with a colleague, and did a little sightseeing. However, throughout my trip, I kept returning to one thought over and over. What is my role in all of this educational chaos? {…}

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5 Tech Tools for the Newly Connected Educator

This one is for the teaching with technology newbies. I know there are lots of you out there; I find myself teaching you quite often. Sometimes those of us whose lives are threaded through with technology in every possible way forget that somewhere out there, there is a teacher who doesn’t understand the difference between a tweet and a status update. If the extent of your online activity is looking at pictures of your grandkids on Facebook, this post is for you! As you go through this post, you’ll see words and phrases that are underlined. Click on those for more resources related to that word or phrase. {…}

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