ASCD’s 2012 Virtual Conference

This weekend I am attending ASCD’s Virtual Conference “A collaborative Call for Action.”  Starts at 8am today via your computer.  There’s still time to register if you would like to join me.  Grab your coffee, stay in your pjs, and learn some amazing things.  I am super excited.  I would only be more excited if I was actually there. 🙂

Posted in Professionalism, Teaching Resource

When You Think You’ve Failed

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Another Tip from Queen Scarlet

Subs whenever you enter a school, whether it is a place you want to be or not, always consider it a job interview.  I thought that this was common knowledge but it always surprises me when I see sloppy subs. In the past two weeks I have noticed several sloppy subs.  Substitute teachers, who instead of looking for opportunities, sit and do nothing.  For example, I often see subs on their down town reading…away from other staff members huddled in their classes.  Use that time to build your brand.  Get yourself into other classes, even if it is not your content area.  You always can learn classroom management techniques or a teaching strategy that could be adapted for your area.   Go around to other classes, the secretarial staff, the principles, the guidance counselor, and ask if they need help.  You do these things and you will be noticed.

My two cents…Don’t get lazy…it’s hiring season! I digress.  Goodnight dear subs.

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Have you ever wondered an “I wonder?” Hmmm…. To come save you is Wonderopolis,, a fantastic site highlighted in this month’s ASCD’s Educational Leadership magazine. Each day it features a fun I wonder question, complete with video and lesson plan. Today’s is “How Much Rain Can a Cloud Hold?” I’m thinking weather unit.  I’m also thinking time fillers dear subs.  When there are those few extra minutes, you could pop up Wonderopolis and just read the fun facts for today.  There is a section called, “nominate an Wonder.”  To put your students to higher-order thinking skills, they could think up there own I wonders, design the essential question, do the research, find the video, and submit it.  I’m thinking an informational site.  Although this site is said to be primarily geared to elementary, I can see it being used in Middle and High School as well.

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Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

[Via: 30 Dr. Seuss Quotes to Live By]


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Total Participation Techniques; A Book Review

I am always trying to think of ways for every student in a classroom to participate for it is only when they participate that they stay engaged and as we know engagment is vital for learning.  Total participation techniques (TPT)  are just that…they are little subtle ways to get every student participating in their learning.  This book, Total Participation Techniques by Persida & William Himmele, is one of the latest additions to the ASCD offering (I usually always have some ASCD book that I reading…love that organization!!!).  This book is not new or particularly inventive.  It is a culmination of those tricks that we may have heard at one time or another that may have been titled something different than total participation techniques.  Many of these strategies I have seen in differentiation of instruction books, which I do not know if I consider as differentiation of instruction…but I digress…a conversation for another time.  While reading this book I used post it notes to mark techniques that I would like to try (many of which you can use as a sub); yellow for new techniques (that I have never seen) and green for old techniques (that I have already seen or used).  What I found was that the entire book is almost marked.  What I loved most about this book is that  they not only  presented the technique and how it works  but also explained how to make it to ensure higher-order thinking.

Today I subbed for a teacher who gave me free rain to alter her plans however I wished.  Cha Ching…opportunity for me to make this drill and practice worksheet session more interactive by adding TPTs.  We added a quick-draw, quick-write, and think-pair shares and had a blast doing it.  Every student was involved and since every student was involved I had little classroom management issues.  It was a good day!

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Understanding by Design; A Book Review

Understanding by Design is more than just a book; it is a way a thinking…a process of design that every teacher should consider when planning their curriculum.  If I were a professor for a course teaching young educators how to design lessons, this would be the required textbook.  I have learned more from this book than I have in my entire education, graduate and undergraduate.  This book is thought provoking, critical, and absolutely essential.  Your understanding of design will be forever changed after having read this book.  If you would like to know more about the process before you purchase this mammoth book, the authors Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe have written this PDF File Overview.  Enjoy!

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A Cloudy Day

A rough day it was indeed with just about every student of mine, as an intervention specialist, getting into some sort of trouble.  OR at least at the time it felt like every student.  It is amazing how just a few students can cloud your judgment of the day.  When I began writing report, I thought it was an awful day, but then realized it was pretty great day when I wrote ill reports on less than half of the students.  Dear substitutes, and regular teachers, always try to focus on the positive.  For every negative there are at least 25 positives.  My challenge to you is to seek out those positives.  For every negative you receive, or for every student you correct, seek out at least 10 positives and praise at least 10 students.

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Dear Substitutes, if you are like me looking for that dream job, I would like to remind you that every time you walk into a building you are on a job interview.  Staff members are closely watching you.  An unintentional slip of the tongue can be your demise.  I overheard a sub complaining to another sub about how her day was to end at 3:00 and they assigned her bus duty until 3:05.  Thinking like a staff member hearing this…this comment shows that this potential employee is inflexible and unconcerned about the safety of our students and most of all I do not want an individual with those attitudes on my team.  Be cautious with everything you do!

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Mad Hatter

There are times when you get smacked back into reality that you are not a regular classroom teacher and that you are simply just a sub.  This week was that time for me. On the whole, districts are grateful for the substitute teachers that they entrust their students with.  They realize that on average a classroom teacher misses about 10 days a year and if you do the math that means students miss almost an entire year of education from kindergarten to grade twelve; so, it seems logical that districts do everything in their power to keep well-educated, certified, substitute teachers in their district.  It is not hard to come across good and certified substitute teachers with the flooding of the job market.  The hard part is keeping them.  One of the best ways to keep a sub is to make them feel honored and trusted by treating as if they are one of the staff members.  It’s a simple concept that speaks volumes.  It’s the same principle that is used with our husbands, ladies; keep them well fed and happy 😉 and they will not go anywhere.  In every district, in every school, that I have met this year I have felt honored to be a member of their community and; yet, this week I had a two-day gig at a new school in an affluent school district and I wish never ever to go back.  In fact I refuse to go back.  The unfortunate reasoning of why substitute teachers will not come back to their school that teacher’s hold is because their school is out in BFE.  This is not the case…at least not for me…the school is twenty-thirty minutes away.  The reason I won’t go back is because I have never felt so humiliated, so devalued in a school.

When I first walked in my keys were taken…their reasoning was so they could get their badge back.  I get it…it’s the whole let’s take your shoe so I get back my pencil policy that is used on students.  I asked questions so that I made sure that I did everything correctly per their policies.  Staff looked at you like you were dumb and incompetent.  I got several rolled eyes.  The greatest one was when I asked the office for their substitute login for computers (which I know this district has…I’ve been at many of their schools)…their response: “We don’t allow substitute teachers to be on computers.”  My response, totally screaming on the inside: “What?! Are you freaking [No I didn’t say freaking but was thinking about giving them some curse words, but of course Queen Scarlet being queen kept it regal] kidding me?  How do I do anything…what if I was outside of my content area and I needed to study up so that I can teach your students correctly, what if your students have questions that can’t be answered, how do I get messages from the office…since I can’t access my email?” Them: “Well, mam we’ll make sure to give you the messages and if your students need help, send them to someone who can.” Wait…did they just call me stupid?  I dropped it…turned and left to walk to the classroom almost in tears.  They trust their 13-year-old kids more than they do their substitute teachers.

P.S. Messages were not given to me.  Pep Rally day=mass chaos.  I asked the office on my lunch break: “Should I send my last class to their assist (home room) or will I be taking them down at the announcement?” “You will go with your assist, so dismiss your students a few minutes early.”  I dismissed my students a few minutes early and they came back saying that they are to go with their last class.  Oh was I mad…a message that was sent out that was never given to me…so now I had students all over the school.  I had no idea where they all were…if something serious were to happen…guess whose head it would be…MINE!!!!!  Did I ever find all my students…no.  I had missing students that I was supposed to be taking care of.

Lesson learned…YOU ARE JUST A SUB.  I will not go back!  My little rant for the day. Do the best you can dear subs!

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