The back story

rebellious student

The student who is rebellious, distant, not engaged… The student who fools around, doesn’t care, distracts others… The student who’s always on his phone and never brings a pen and paper… That student has a back story of pain.

Now we can justify ourselves for cracking down on him, bemoaning him, wishing he weren’t there because he ruins the rest.

Or we can try to find out the background. Did his parents just divorce? Was he bullied last year? Did he get beaten up?

If you can help kids quantify and deal with pain, you can give them tools to succeed in life. Teachers are more than relaters of information or preparers for standardized tests. Teachers are helpers of humans.

Never underestimate the value of your work. Your troubled kids may not score highest on the standardized test. But if you help them to not be a drug addict, you have not failed the system. You are a success and should feel proud of yourself.

His behavior comes from his hurt, not any malice towards you.

Bearer of bad news

teacher giving bad news to parents

I hate notifying parents of deficiencies of my students. I hate scheduling parent-teacher conferences.

In antiquity, the bearer of bad news was often killed. Sometimes parents accuse you as a teacher, and you have to document everything — this is not teaching! It is gathering evidence, police work, deputy district attorney work! I loathe adversarial relations with parents.

Sometimes, the parents turn red in the face and fire on the child. I don’t like this any better. I feel for the kid. Rarely does a parent find the right balance.

I’d much rather give good news. I love to see positives in the kids, to see parents glow as I extoll their son/daughter. How do you deal with being the bearer of bad news?

Filling out the written composition (part 4)

A FIVE-PAGE paper??? How am I going to fill the pages?

writing papers

I remember the dilemma in high school. If you don’t know how to meat on your skeleton, don’t panic.

  • Don’t cut and paste from internet.
  • Don’t enlarge your font size.
  • Don’t alter margins.

Here’s what you fill your paper with:

  1. Summarize. When you refer to parts of the story, it is fair game for you to use one or two sentences to summarize the part of the story of particular importance. Of course, your teacher knows the story, but you are highlighting to her the part that you want to make a point about.
  2. Quote the book. Use quotes sparingly and limit only to truly significant or moving quotes. Don’t quote back-and-forth dialogue between characters; if it is important, just paraphrase. Sum up the build-up, quote the zinger.
  3. Quote experts. What have others said about the topic/ work? What does the Bible say? What have famous personalities said about your subject? Incorporating quotes seasons your paper with wisdom and knowledge. You can do this seamlessly if the expert says what you have been saying. A quote should be one or two sentences. Don’t think you can just quote entire paragraphs to fill your paper.
  4. Explain. Never assume your opinion is obvious. Use deductive or inductive reasoning. But make sure to explain thoroughly every step in logic. Inexperienced writers frequently skip steps in logic, assuming they are obvious. They may not be and can fill your paper with good material.
  5. Answer the opposition. Usually, you can write a whole paragraph on this. What is the opposite opinion to your own? Show why they are wrong. Respect your opponents; don’t mock them with bombastic charges. The opposing opinion has adherents, so there must be some good reason why people follow that view. You are naive if you assert that yours is the only logical position.
  6. Cite statistics. Numbers are powerful to prove your point. Do a little research and compliment your paper with some survey material.
  7. Make comparisons. Though they tend to get discredited under a microscope for “false analogy,” still they are powerful and everybody uses them. Unless your paper is a debate assignment or a very rigorously-graded persuasion essay, use comparisons. Just try to make sure they apply as best as you can.
  8. Consult. After you have written everything you can think of, have a friend or parent read it and suggest missing points. The inexperienced writer is unaware of these “holes” in his paper. A friend often will pick up on something you didn’t fully explain. You need to fill all the holes.

Writing used to be absolutely miserable for me. Because I wanted to write, I learned the tricks of the trade.

Part 1 of the series.

Education is for everybody

no racism in education

No racism in school. Source: Pinterest

As teachers we cannot favor those who enjoy the advantages of a united family and plenty of resources to give a strong context of support to education. We must work to help the disadvantaged.

It burns me to hear people with a “it’s your own fault” mentality. The poor and minority students are not playing on a level field. It is the job to educators to encourage and open the doors of education to them. We must show them that they can make it, even if they have more ground to cover than rich and white students.

A wash-your-hands policy is tantamount to racism. We are excluding people from the American Dream. Of course, it is much more subtle than the old “separate but equal” maxim of the South of years gone by.

The teacher plays a pivotal roll in helping those who may not have gotten much help at home.

Violence against the teacher

violence against teachersA friend of mine, a good teacher, quit when a student threw a desk at him. The principal, feeling powerless in a system that insanely favors “rights” over responsibilities, refused to discipline the student.

And so the educational system lost another splendid, dynamic teacher. Will the pendulum swing back?

My friend felt his life was in jeopardy. He now runs a business. Who took over the public post in his stead? Maybe it was somebody who didn’t buzz with passion to foster the scientific spirit. Maybe it was somebody who was just clocking hours for a decent pay check. Maybe it was somebody willing to endure threats to his well-being for the state-financed benefits.

Another good teacher leaves, another bad teacher takes his place.