Last Chance To Thank Your Child’s Teacher

If you’ll indulge me …

My wife is the absolute best.  She goes so far above and beyond in thanking our children’s teachers during “Teacher Appreciation Week” — it’s amazing.  Classroom teachers, librarians, administrators, office support staff, coaches, Girl Scout troop leaders, Sunday school teachers — everyone gets a little token of appreciation.  Furthermore, she develops a cute theme to go along with the gift.  This year everyone got an Amazon gift card decorated as though it was a special delivery by our girls.  I asked her to count up how many gift cards she doled out.  I wasn’t upset, just curious.  The number?  About twenty-two (at last count).

By the way … my wife is a teacher.

She gets it.

She understands the emotional stamina, the intrinsic motivation, and the sheer patience necessary to be a teacher.  She knows that by the end of the year, every teacher needs a little show of appreciation.

By the way, I’m a teacher, too.

I teach about 130 students a day.  I received not one “thank-you” from a student’s family during “Teacher Appreciation Week.”

I get it.

Hey, I’m busy, too.  I won’t pretend that I’d have taken over thanking my daughters’ teachers if my wife decided to take the year off.  I forgot it was “Teacher Appreciation Week” during the actual week — and I am a teacher!  Trust me, if you haven’t thanked your child’s teacher, you’re not alone.  I’m personally just as guilty.

The point of this is to tell you that it’s not too late.

Yesterday, several of my creative writing students went out of their way to tell me how much the class meant to them.  Today, two students came up to shake my hand and tell me “thanks.”  It meant the world to me.

Listen, I don’t entirely fall into the “I’d teach for free I love it so much!” category, but I also recognize that teachers make more money than a lot of people, have more vacation time than a lot of people, and enjoy more benefits than a lot of people.  But I’m here to tell you, folks — it’s a demanding job.  Not physically, but emotionally?  You bet.  Mentally?  Absolutely.  There’s no down time when you have a room full of children or teenagers.  There’s no mentally checking out.  Teachers are constantly monitoring and assessing.

You know how “busy” it can get when your child has friends over?  Imagine a room full of that.  Imagine coaxing them along through the power of personality.  Imagine talking, thinking, managing, and assessing all at the same time while also trying to be interesting enough to capture thirty children’s interest.  Let me tell you — it’s tough.  I’m sure you can imagine.

So, here’s what I propose — thank your child’s teachers.  Right now.  Send a little email.  Even if you you weren’t all that impressed with them, drop them a little note at least letting them know you appreciate their efforts.  If you thought your child had a great year, by all means, tell them as much!  It doesn’t have to be in-depth.  Just a note.

Trust me, it will make a huge difference to the teacher.  What a wonderful way to say goodbye, right?

Thanks for indulging me.

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5 Items I Need To Remember When Meeting My Freshmen For The First Time Tomorrow

  • These are people’s children – treat them as I expect my own to be treated
  • I could be the only positive male role model they encounter – act accordingly
  • Everyone learns at different speeds and in different ways
  • Some of these kids are dealing with things I can’t even fathom – keep an open mind and a kind heart
  • No matter what, I have to remember I’m the grown up (even though it’s sometime’s really hard)

 

*Find me on Li.st @ScottWFoley

A Safer Way To Show Video Content In the Classroom

If you’re like me, there are times when  YouTube proved vital in showing necessary video content in the classroom.  Frankly, though, there have been times when the video in question ended and something inappropriate appeared in the little thumbnail previews they offer pertaining to other content.  I would close it down typically before any students noticed, but it still agitated me that this could be an ongoing problem.

We all use video in nearly every aspect of our lives.  Want to see the hot new trailer for a cool movie coming out?  Go to YouTube.  Want to know how to bake chicken ?  Go to YouTube.  Want a refresher on how to raise your kid’s handlebars?  Go to YouTube.  I love that when studying literature, we can now watch video content that relates to topics introduced by the novel.  I love that my students can go and watch interviews of contemporary authors.

But with my school’s students going One-To-One and each having their own laptop, that ever-present inappropriate preview may prove too tempting for some.  Yet, I want them moving at their own pace through modules and links.  The Internet is fertile with information and provides limitless learning opportunities, but I need a way to make sure students ONLY see the content I intend when I post video links.

That’s where SafeShare.TV comes into play.  I happened across this site when researching resources for the blended classroom.  The idea is that you take a link to any video anywhere on YouTube, run it through their site, and they eliminate advertising and get rid of those distracting buttons everywhere that you tend to see on YouTube.  Is it 100% effective?  No, but any extra level of protection makes me feel better when linking to online video.

You can visit SafeShare.TV by clicking HERE.  Be sure to then click on the FAQ link to learn how it works and how it can bolster your teaching.

I’ve also provided a quick video I made with YouTube then filtered through SafeShare.TV.  You can view the origional YouTube version by clicking the below link …

You can now view the same video through the SafeShare.TV filter …

safeshare.tv/w/fom-BP1LyVQ

Unfortunately, SafeShare.TV does not yet provide the opportunity to embed video within a post.

I hope you found this information useful and feel free to offer feedback in the comments.

 

 

Do You Have a Child In Elementary School? I Have a Request.

I make this request every year, so prepare yourself because I’m about to sound super pretentious, which is way more more than my usual pretentious …

It’s around this time of year that I notice, online, the parents of elementary students discussing teachers they hope their child will get.  Now, I won’t pretend to lie to you — my wife and I have definite opinions about who we hope our children will get, too.

Here’s the thing: I’m a teacher and I’m married to a teacher. We can tell you it hurts when there’s a chance we can have someone’s child and they say they hope their child gets someone else.  Of course, the parent may not mean anything malicious by it, but it’s still hard not to take it personally.

But it can actually get worse.  When a parent’s child gets a particular teacher and publicly states they wish they’d gotten a different teacher — yikes.  That can open a wound that stays fresh all year long. I know teachers are supposed to be above such reproach, but we’re only human.

Anytime something is said on Facebook, Twitter, etc., there is always the potential for it to get back to the teacher in question.

Do I blame you if you’re upset about getting a teacher you didn’t want your child to have?  Absolutely not!  We all have opinions about such things.  I’m just asking that you keep it off social media.  The Internet is already such a breeding ground for misinterpretations and misunderstandings, no need to add to the mix, right?

So, as a teacher, I’m asking you, the parent, to help set the tone for a great new school year.  Even if you don’t like the teacher your child gets, let’s avoid publicly stating you wish you’d gotten someone else.  It will save everyone hurt feelings and lingering resentment.

Okay, I’m switching off “super pretentious” and now going back to “regular pretentious.”  Thanks for reading.

5 Helpful Hints To Entice Reluctant Readers

People often ask me how they can get their children interested in reading, which I’m always more than happy to answer.  It’s vital we encourage our young people to read.  Studies show that reading improves critical thinking skills, vocabulary, comprehension, writing, empathy, and a broader understanding of the world surrounding us.  Best of all?  Every child wants to be  reader.  (Granted, some may not know it yet.)

Here are 5 simple steps you can take to entice your reluctant reader.  Though I’m not providing citations, I’m basing these steps on fifteen years of teaching experience and my Reading Master’s Degree.  These methods have proven effective for me personally, for my own children, and for my students.

1.  Read with your child – As a parent, you know that actions speak louder than words.  If you want your child to sit and read, I urge you to participate.  It’s one thing to tell them to read and then walk away.  It’s quite another to carve out time from your own schedule to sit by their side with a book.  I’m not saying you have to read to them, though that’s not a bad thing.  But when they actually see you believe in reading so strongly that you are also taking the time to do it with them, well, don’t underestimate the power of that action.  Get the whole family involved for some bonding time!

2.  Let them read what they want – This one will be tough for some parents.  Your child will never learn to love reading if you force them to read something they hate.  The quickest way to get your child to want to read is to let that child read about whatever it is that they love.  I guarantee you that once you’ve established a reading routine with them and they look forward to it, they will be open to your suggestions.  But, in the beginning, it has to be about their interests.  If they love Pokemon, let them read about Pokemon.  If they love volleyball, let them read about volleyball.  Fiction, nonfiction, poetry, graphic novels, drama – it doesn’t matter.  In my eyes, nothing bad has ever happened by letting a child read.  (Of course, use common sense.  I’m not suggesting you allow your children to read vulgar material.)

3.  Take them to the library – The library is one of the single most important facilities in your community.  Not only will they have virtually any book your child may be interested in reading, but your child will be able to check out as many books as they wish.  Grabbing armfuls of books can be a euphoric experience, trust me.   Furthermore, allow your child to take advantage of the available up-to-date movies, music, and video games.  Maybe the kids will be a little more excited to go to the library if you promise them a movie and game as well.  Furthermore, your library will probably have all kinds of events in which your child could participate.  Personally, I love that it’s all free.

4.  Spoil them a little – When I was a kid, comic books were available at my local grocery store.  When my parents shopped, they’d drop me off at the newsstand and would always buy me two or three comics a week.  Though that amount totaled less than three dollars, it meant the world to me.  I looked so forward to those trips.  We all love to get a little something now and again.  If financially able, take a monthly trip to your local book store and spoil your child with a book.  Trust me, it’s a wise investment, and I know your child will count the days until that next trip.

5.  Connect it to TV and movies – You know how people always say the book is better than the movie?  They say that because it’s true.  Since the advent of movies, books have provided their source material.  If your child is interested in a new movie coming out that’s based on a book, offer to get the book for them to read before the movie’s release.  Then, after experiencing both, have them tell you about the similarities and differences.  I’m in no way suggesting a quiz or test (that will send them running away quicker than anything), but conduct a conversation.  Chances are, the child will love showing off what they know, and you’ll enjoy witnessing their critical thinking and comprehension skills.

There are dozens of more possibilities to entice your child to read, but these are a few that I personally believe in quite strongly.  I hope they are helpful to you!