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Friday, June 22, 2012

Ten Tantamount Commandments Of Teaching!

As I continually reflect on my profession and what to write about to have an impact on all my global colleagues, I remind myself of where I spent the first 19 years of my chosen profession, the classroom!  Many years ago I came across a photocopied list in which was called Ten Terrific Teacher Traits.  It was unsigned and unauthored in the state of receipt. 

     I have held on to this golden piece of literature for years and have shared it with my colleagues in the classroom year in and year out over the last six or seven years.  As I have read and reread these highly commendable if not invaluable pieces of advice,  I have humbly attempted to edit them as well as modify them based on my experiences.  Truthfully, the fundamental gist of each line item remains both relevant and steadfast in its applicability to what happens in classrooms all over the world.  I hope all teachers, especially new and blossoming teachers find these as special as I did while consciously trying to implement them into their practices.  With this said, I do know and realize there have been many articles and similarly books written on the topic, yet I found these as very simple, straightforward and enormously important to being an effective and productive classroom teacher, leader and facilitator regardless of the grade levels or demographics in which you are currently in.  I hope you find them equally as resounding as I did, and I welcome additions to the list (in no particular order of importance);
I.  Always be early, especially before your students arrive.  This demonstrates care, eagerness and enthusiasm...
II.  Learn something new and personal about each of your students as soon as possible.  Do this inconspicuously if at all possible.  This again demonstrates genuine sincerity and caring for your students.
III.  Return assignments, quizzes and tests the next day.  This models and demonstrates to your students that these are learning tools of value, and gives students reasonable instant feedback and reinforcement to evaluate and reevaluate their errs and study habits...
IV.  Do not share personal stories (war stories) unless asked to and reaffirmed by all the students in your class.  Students, whether you want to believe it or not, are basically not interested.  You are not the center of their universe regardless of what you might want to believe.  Do not waste valuable educational and instructional time on unrelated diversions...
V.  Constantly evaluate your effectiveness by always being cognizant and monitoring your student's eyes.  This is the most reliable  indicator of you effectiveness.  If they look confused and or bored, they are!...
VI.  Always be positive and supportive in creating, developing, fostering and nurturing a quality comforting and safe learning climate and environment.  Smile often and never use derogatory or inflammatory comments/remarks toward your students.  Never tell a student to "shut up".  Failing to heed this advice will create both a climate and culture of mistrust which invariably will lead to uncaring and unproductive students under your charge...
VII.  Students do not expect you to be all knowing, so stop worrying about it.  Admit to them frankly and openly when you do not know an answer to their questions.  Tell them you will research it and find out.  Their only true expectations of you is to always be presentable, professional, organized and well prepared...
VIII.  Always exercise equity in your classroom.  Be fair and consistent by laying down fundamental ground rules and expectations.  Stay consistent and clearly and explicitly communicate these often to all stakeholders early and often...
IX.  Do not make assumptions or stereotype any of your students.  Do not scold students for not knowing things in which you would think, and perhaps they should, already know.  It serves no purpose whatsoever and is simply counterproductive.  If ONE does not know, it is likely there is another, if not an entire room full that does not know.  Review when and if necessary in succinct and well organized ways when the need arises.
X.  Always use or attempt to use all available resources at your disposal.  In the likely event it does not exist or is unavailable, make sure you have requested this.  Likewise, regarding commmunication, make yourself available as much as practical and reasonable according to your lifestyle, beyond the normal classroom hours to all stakeholders...
I look forward to my colleagues additions...  PEACE!  

Friday, June 8, 2012

Farewell Franklin


     Well, the school year is finally over and I could not think of a more appropriate time to create my next story.  I have had this on my mind for some time now, considering I will be leaving my first and only Assistant Principal's post after four years to embark on my next new adventure.  Naturally, I am both ecstatic and anxious about my new assignment.  One reason for this is that I will be taking on my first Principal ship, and secondly it will be at a post at an international school.  This, too me, is an opportunity of a lifetime for my family and I both personally and professionally.  The opportunity was simply one that could not be passed upon despite my time , commitment and energy invested in such a wonderful community.  I think most people in education would concur.  However, just as important, the intent of this post was to share and reveal both reflections and thoughts about the past four years.

     To put things in perspective, if we as human beings really consider and reflect upon life in and of itself, our time here on earth is shockingly short.  Essentially, it consists of a myriad and potpourri of phases and stories.  Luckily, to this point in my life and career, I firmly believe I can say by far most of my stories have had positive or good endings.  As a person, each and everyone of us brings to the table a story.  As we go through the natural phases of life our stories unfold and grow longer and more complex if we are fortunate enough.

     This particular story is about my experience the past four years in a rural public high school in the rural mountains of western North Carolina.  The name of the school and exact location is not necessarily important to identify, but what is important are all the people whom are stakeholders of the school.  Most importantly, the teachers, the support staff and KIDS!  I have been extremely fortunate to have been associated with this particular school and community. 

     In departing, it is with bittersweet and mixed emotions for what could have been, yet I will go as I came, in the quiet of the night with the knowledge and resolve in that what I have done and my work here made a difference while being compassionate, passionate and equally genuine in all my efforts.
     I cannot adequately express here in a short story the sincere appreciation to all whom have supported me through thick and thin, and have taught me so much about what it is to serve as an administrator at your school.  This school, this town and this community was and is a wonderful place to have been able to call home.

     With this said, of all the experiences and memories that I will take with me, none will remain permanent and steadfast as part of my story  than those in which I was in a position and opportunity to have both an impact! What will be remembered are my students, as well as my teachers, and all the  authentic, caring and quality relationships in which had developed.

     To this end, I say thank you for the memories, and  I bid goodbye to this small, rural school and community. Another chapter of my story is now complete and comes to a close.  Thank you for all that you do for the children.  As always, yours in the fight and GO PANTHERS!

God Bless and Godspeed.