Entries Tagged 'For Teachers, By Teachers' ↓
May 14th, 2013 — Book Thoughts, For Teachers, By Teachers
Chip Gordon, Math Teacher
Rohanen Middle School, Rockingham, NC
Generosity and humility have taken Rohanen Middle School by storm. We have improved school climate and teacher attitudes by making “Staff Member of the Month” awards. This new tradition has had a profound effect on the whole school.
It all started in a School Improvement Team meeting. We decided to do something to show appreciation for teachers who are going above and beyond the call of duty.
The monthly award goes to the staff members we want to recognize for their hard work and generosity. Receiving this award one time was a humbling experience – knowing that others saw my efforts and wanted to show their appreciation.
Since we started this tradition, my coworkers and I are more humble as we see the good that many staff are doing. And we are more generous as we recognize the efforts that improve the school for everybody.
May 14th, 2013 — Book Thoughts, For Teachers, By Teachers
Danielle Cairns, Instructional Coach
We all aspire to have courage, and many people think they have it. If asked, many would say, “Yeah — I have courage, who doesn’t?” But many people do not possess courage, and they don’t realize it until they are faced with a challenge.
This year a teacher in my school was on the verge of an action plan, due to personal circumstances that occurred last year. Before then, she was an excellent teacher.
I asked my principal to let me work with this teacher. I wanted to see if she could overcome the difficulties of the past and return to the virtuous teacher she had been. This teacher showed courage by admitting she needed help. We worked side by side, day after day, and now she is back.
Admitting something is wrong and accepting help takes courage and humility. The teacher is benefiting from the virtues she demonstrated and her students are benefiting, too. After all, that is why we teach — to benefit the students.
May 13th, 2013 — Book Thoughts, For Teachers, By Teachers
Victoria Bradsher, Algebra Teacher, Vance Charter School
As a teacher you want to help your students develop the characteristics that enable them to grow into citizens who are willing to look out for others as they travel through life’s journey. My classes always begin with an invitation to discuss “What’s new in your world?” Topics range from the presidential elections to atomic weapons in North Korea to the latest performances on the lacrosse field. As the year progresses, students become more and more comfortable discussing anything with me “behind the closed classroom door.” Our chats have become a safety valve, a way to build community and a way to explore subjects that sometimes are a bit uncomfortable. But they have also become something more. They have also opened conversations that allow students to determine appropriate actions they could take to handle situations in their own lives.
Pre-teen boys seem to be totally self-absorbed. This is especially true for one of my classes where almost every male is a high achiever — both in academics and athletics. I was especially surprised one day to have a particularly gregarious young man ask how to tell a classmate, “They stink.” Needless to say, the classroom dissolved into the expected fits of middle school giggles with each student eager to describe the offending person and the issue. We chatted a minute about what might be possible including the potential that this could be a problem over which the young person had no control. Students became thoughtful and appeared to understand.
The following week I sensed that our discussion of how to approach issues while maintaining an attitude of understanding and caring had made a mark. During “sharing” time, the subject of the “stinky” student arose, but this time the students had some ideas. They said they did not want to do anything that would overtly call attention to the student, but they did want to help. We talked about imaginative ways to address the issue, and they came up with the following idea.
They want to do a service-learning project that involves preparing eighth graders for high school. One of the sessions will be on hygiene, and it will be conducted by two of our former students. The plan is to hold this particular discussion on the day we get out for Easter break. The class decided to provide Easter baskets for ALL 8th grade students. Not only will the basket include Easter candy, but one of our local industries, Revlon, will donate deodorant and talcum powder. One of our parents, who owns a chain of drug stores, will donate toothbrushes, toothpaste and mouth wash. Baskets will also include breath mints and chewing gum.
The students are excited about this project, not only because it has been fun for them, but also because they have taken an imaginative action to help solve a problem in a way that does not offend anybody. I am excited too. This is not an Algebra topic, but it is a life lesson, which I hope I also model. The conversations, the thinking, the actions have all helped bring these students closer. It also helped them look inside themselves for ways to address sticky issues. They impress me with their understanding of several virtues.
April 26th, 2013 — Book Thoughts, For Teachers, By Teachers
Brad Warren, Physical Fitness Teacher, Eastern Alamance HS
Every year our school conducts a “Toys for Tots” campaign. Around Christmas time teachers, students, and staff donate new or used toys for children who are less fortunate in our community. After all toys are collected, students deliver them to churches, homes, and shelters to be distributed to the children in the community. This teaches students a valuable lesson in generosity.
The children who receive the toys are touched by the generosity shown by our students. The participating teachers, students also benefit, realizing the positive effects of their generosity.
April 23rd, 2013 — Book Thoughts, For Teachers, By Teachers
Shawn Watson, Social Studies Teacher, Eastern Alamance HS
When considering how the six virtues have affected my school, I am led to the story of one of our students from a few years back. This young man was full of life. He always had a smile on his face — just a great kid to be around.
He loved athletics and was a member of our football and lacrosse teams. He was not the most talented player, but he loved being around classmates and coaches.
During his junior year the young man had a severe seizure and became extremely sick. He was in and out of the hospital, but the doctors could not figure out what was wrong. He eventually fell gravely ill and died. During the entire time he and his family never lost their love for our school and community. They were the epitome of dedication.
The bill for their son’s treatments was huge. It was at this time that generosity went in motion. Our school and community set up countless drives and donation centers to raise money for the family. Our students sold wrist bands at ball games, had charity walks, cupcake sales, and so forth.
I am not sure if the family was able to pay the whole debt, but I am sure the efforts of our students helped. That is what generosity is all about. The community rallied around a family that needed help. Generosity is a key virtue.
April 20th, 2013 — Book Thoughts, For Teachers, By Teachers
Ryan D. Moody, Marketing Teacher, Ragsdale High School, Jamestown, NC
In today’s school climate of fear and mistrust, it is difficult to teach students about marketing and promotion. Decision makers are wary of allowing students too much leeway in activities. This story, however, is about my principal showing the courage and imagination that enabled my students to engage in meaningful activities.
I was frustrated with just showing my students examples of college webpages promoting their sports teams and programs. I wanted their learning to go beyond collegiate advertising and branding on the internet.
Therefore, I asked my principal for permission to have our Sports and Entertainment II students take over web page design for our school’s athletic teams. After some consideration she agreed to take the risk.
Since taking over, the students look forward to their weekly update sessions, when they apply their understanding of successful web page design and imagine new ways to promote the teams. The principal’s willingness to trust the students and treat them as budding “professionals” allowed them to show their true abilities and maturity.
January 7th, 2013 — Book Thoughts, For Teachers, By Teachers
By Joseph Warren, Fifth Grade Teacher
A few years ago, a student of mine (I’ll call him Brad) lost his father to suicide. This difficult situation was made worse by local coverage in the newspaper and television. For lack of a better way to describe Brad, I would say he was “different.” He sometimes had difficulty relating to other students.
I was not sure how to deal with this situation in the classroom, but I knew I had to talk with the class about helping Brad, when he returned. He was absent for about two weeks. During that time, the class and I discussed what we could do to support Brad.
I was amazed by my students’ generosity. Their ideas displayed maturity I had not expected from fifth graders. First, they made cards, which I delivered to Brad’s home. Then they decided they should give Brad space when he returned. They wanted him to have time to begin to feel “normal.” They wouldn’t shower Brad with attention or pity, but they would tell him they were sorry for his loss and they were glad he was back in class.
A small group of students approached me about giving Brad a gift, and we talked about what would be appropriate. They said Brad was interested in martial arts, and he liked to read. They decided to give him a book on that topic. I searched and found a book, and purchased it so it would be waiting for Brad, when he came back to school.
When Brad returned, students showed great generosity. They made more of an effort to include him in conversations and activities, but they were not pushy or intrusive. For fifth graders, they showed great sensitivity. Their generosity made a difficult time easier for Brad.
January 2nd, 2013 — Book Thoughts, For Teachers, By Teachers
By Carla Massengill, Fourth Grade Teacher, Conn Active Learning and Technology Magnet School, Wake County Public Schools
I was fortunate to attend magnet schools from kindergarten through high school. I remember being in every elementary school play either through music, dance, or drama class. I was excited to perform in front of huge audiences at a local high school auditorium. I was able to take challenging course electives in middle and high school to develop my interests and learn something new. I really enjoyed my pottery, film analysis, sociology, and photography classes. What I didn’t know then, but I know now, is that I was experiencing the six-virtue definition of the educated person. I was taught to learn through understanding, imagination, strong character, courage, humility, and generosity.
Today, as a magnet school teacher, I see my students receiving a six-virtue education, too. During fourteen years of teaching, I have seen my second and fourth graders experience school as I did. For example, students with academic difficulties shine on the stage, when they play a part they rehearsed for months. Seeing them dance, act, or sing gives me great happiness because I see that they are developing imagination, strength and courage. Another example is that students with disabilities help produce the school’s television, radio, and other multimedia programs.
A third example is that students of all abilities collaborate and work with others who are different from them in race, culture, or socioeconomic status. Students in our magnet school are learning, as I did, to respect diversity and understand how we all can make the world better.
I am fortunate to have had a well-rounded, six-virtue education. I am glad my students are experiencing it, too.
December 31st, 2012 — Book Thoughts, For Teachers, By Teachers
By Ashley Warren, Lead Teacher, Person County, NC
My school has many students who receive free and reduced lunch. If you have ever worked in a school with high poverty, you understand the needs of these students. I have students who fight to be first in line for breakfast because they are hungry when they arrive at school. Some students never bring school supplies because their houses are so disorganized they are lucky to find clothes in the morning. And some students’ misbehave before a long holiday because they feel anxious about losing the structure school provides in their lives. Teaching in this kind of environment is a real challenge.
Last year, we had a predominantly new staff. Many teachers had never experienced working in a school where students had this many needs. Some came in with preconceived notions about the students and their parents. I was probably guilty of that, too. One thing that turned it all around was the generosity of a few community members and teachers.
A local organization started a backpack program to send food home on the weekends. Many teachers generously donated food items and their time. The parents were so grateful. Many came in on Fridays to pick up the backpacks. This allowed for interactions that would not have occurred without the program. Teachers felt the appreciation of the families. This led many teachers to be more generous, some adopted families for Christmas last year and this year.
Because of this program, I have seen teachers become advocates for their students. They know we have to meet students’ basic needs before we can meet their academic needs. Students also know the school cares about them. This makes them more trusting of the staff and eager to please. It has been a powerful thing to witness!
December 21st, 2012 — Book Thoughts, For Teachers, By Teachers
By Erin Byrnes, English teacher, Garner Magnet High School, Wake County, NC
One weekend three years ago I got a text from a student who wanted to start a club to make our school better. He had been talking with his friends over the weekend. By Monday morning five students wanted to start a club called, “Students Transforming a School” (STS). We now have the largest club on campus with over eighty members. At almost every meeting we get new members. One week we had ten students join. The club has sponsored a number of activities that have improved our school.
The first project was “Fun Lunch.” One member noticed that some students ate lunch alone. The club reached out to them with icebreaker activities. The first few lunches, it was hard not to get emotional about the friendships being formed and the connections being made. Everyone benefited.
Another activity took place during preparations for anti-bullying week. Students described their personal experiences with bullying on colored paper. Their heart-felt stories were displayed in the bathrooms around campus, and this inspired a palpable change in the tone of student interactions. The art club used lacquer to make it a more permanent part of the bathrooms.
The club also wrote and performed a series of skits to help freshmen transition to high school. This spring, we will perform them at the three middle schools that feed our high school. The students want to to improve the culture of their school by showing examples of positive behavior. It is inspiring to see such good work being done by such fine young people.