Wednesday, May 23, 2012

It's the Merry Month of May

My apologies to all the readers.   I have had difficulties in accessing my own blog to publish new material.  It seems with the addition of the new iPad and trying to connect my iPhone, iPad and computer so they would talk to each other I had to change account names and passwords.  I've gotten so frustrated that on several occasions I have shut down the system to try again another day.  Today I won.

Now to the merry month of May.  If you have never taught in the public and I suspect private schools (K-12) you will understand that beginning in May the students start looking forward to summer vacation, the end of school, summer camp, seeing grandma, no homework and a vast amount of other thoughts.  The old saying, "No more school.  No more books.  No more teacher's dirty looks," is very apt.

I remember although it was many years ago Jo Tyllia telling me to teach everything by Thanksgiving and then review.  I thought she was crazy and didn't pay much attention.  But she was correct--you teach how to learn, how to write your papers, how to turn in assignments, and all the details of "doing" learning and then as the year progressive as a teacher you just plug in the subjects.  It is more difficult then it sounds.  But by May the students know you well and have learned how to "press your buttons" as well and discipline in the classroom breaks down.  

I doubt if any one class could take honors in "loosing their cool."  Even the bands and choral groups, once they had given their spring concert found it hard to look at new music and preparing for the next year was impossible.  It was time to pass out music that was fun and different.  If I were teaching music now, today, I would have pass out some R & R stuff--easy stuff but which they could play LOUD.  For the choral groups, some music from GLEE.  Maybe I could bring in a parent who could teach the choral groups some new dance steps.  Yeah!

But still my point is that May and June, until the end of school, is a difficult time to teach.  Saying, "take out your social studies text" or "who has their assignment ready for the class," doesn't excite the learning nerves.  They are jaded at this point.

I know of one high school civic teacher who every year brings in guest speakers such as the mayor, a city council person, someone from each of the political parties.  She says that just having a different face up in front of the room helps keeps their attention.  And indeed some learning is accomplished.  Another high school teacher of English does improvisations of plots they have study during the year.  The kids really enjoy this part and I have heard a few high school students say they try to take Ms. Smith in the spring just for this part of her class.  

Grade school teachers as well have to come up with new ideas to keep their student's attention.  I wonder what some of my old colleagues are doing now with the advent of computers in the classroom.  I know I would be having some "search" questions for my students to do....'when you are done with your assignments'.  You can't stop teaching to the curriculum and standards have to be met but there are various ways to motivate students.

But I have another point to make today.  I see evidence of this problem in the local and national news, that of school administrators who are also getting tired and looking forward to not having students around for a while.  Case in point, a middle school administrator called one parent and said, "please come and pick up your daughter--she is not dress appropriately for school."  Oh, dear!  Two weeks to go and the daughter is sitting in the principal's office.  The picture of the girl was posted in another blog by the mother (who happens to be a journalist) and I could find nothing inappropriate.  But to be fair perhaps the school had a school uniform, I don't know.

The there was the young boy who had his haircut designed with the face of his favorite sport figure on the back of his head.  He was expelled from school and I suppose he might be allowed back if he shaved his head.  This case baffles me.  I've seen many students in school with....shall we say....interesting hairdos?  I for one as a teacher is not going call a parent and say their student needs a better haircut.  'Tis a puzzlement.

This is my opinion but it seems to me that we are having more and more black and white decisions in the schools.  A child does something and they are expelled.  They say something and they are expelled.  They wear something and they are expelled.  In some cases a teacher has said something and she/he is put on administrative leave.  There are no hearings that make the paper or the news, just the end result of expulsion or administrative leave.  Perhaps the administration needs a break as well from the stress of teaching and learning....and administrating.   It's the merry month of May.

Hang in there, teachers.  Thanks for making it this far.  Only a few weeks to go.  Suck it in and give it your all.  And..again, Thanks for this year.

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