National columnist Regina Barreca brings her timely, insightful humor to Education World.
Surefire Ways Your School Can Make Money!
Trust us: Your school can make big money! All you need to do is apply The Amoral Appalling Devious Unethical Method, otherwise known as TAADUM, and you'll be building new sporting facilities in no time!
Cheers -- We Deserve It!
Because only rarely do we teachers have cheerleaders welcoming us with pom-poms when we arrive for work, I thought I would do a little brass-band whooping and hollering for OUR SIDE.
What if 24s Jack Bauer Taught Third Grade?
I first thought of Jack Bauers character from 24 as an elementary school teacher because, in nearly every episode, he has cause to yell Show me your hands!A phrase that would then be followed by They still have paint on them! Get to the washroom! Now!
Can We Predict Who Will Be a Great Teacher?
The interesting and fighting-words part of The New Yorker article can be summed up as follows: you cant tell from a piece of paper wholl be effective in a classroom.
Give Yourself a Gold Star! You Deserve it!
Ive decided that teachers need to give ourselves credit We deserve credit for the small, as well as the big, accomplishments. So if you (almost) never accept bribes or rarely file your nails during class, give yourself a gold star!
The Kittens Who Colored My World
I think everybody poops, while something we should certainly all remember as a piece of undeniable truth, should not be considered the basis of a work of imaginative fiction... My favorite book as a small child, hands down, was The Color Kittens. Nothing else came close.
Why We All Need to Appreciate the Gravity of Transitions
When something terrifies you to the bottoms of your socks, its difficult to regard the experience as a privilege. One of the best kids Ive ever met just recently started college and shes scared."
When Hovering Isnt Helping
Nowhere in my previous column concerning the need for students -- at all stages of their development -- to embrace appropriate independence and autonomy, did I suggest that parents should be barred from interacting with their children or with their childrens various instructors."
Coping With Parent (Over) Involvement
“I’m hearing from teachers that it’s as if the kids come to school with home strapped to their backs -- or, perhaps more accurately, strapped to their ankles like house arrest bands. These parents from the 1970s have been referred to as ‘helicopter parents.’”
Prescient Report Cards
Its hard to write sincerely interested, personally invested, and seriously detailed evaluations of kids who, by this point in the school year, we most sincerely, personally, and seriously want to lock in the supply cabinet until the final bell rings."
Machiavelli and Classroom Management
Clearly it was the fact that I had to write an introduction to Niccolo Machiavellis The Prince that got me thinking about how Machiavelli had missed his intended audience: the teachers of the young. Teachers need Machiavelli."
The Slinky Paradigm:
How One Science Teacher (Eventually) Created Another
He made the material, and his students, feel important and, hey, when youre talking about fundamental issues in the universe, it isnt always easy to make an individual student feel significant. It was a gift he gave each of us."
Dont Believe Everything You Read
The articlemakes several points with which I dont disagree, but it also makes me nervous because of its emphasis on the idea that we must speak to kids the way that Bill Clinton had to speak to Kenneth Starr"
Handing Out Humility, Humor
Before the event, I worked with the students to make this ceremony the best it could be, but lets just say that it wasnt shaping up to be the Academy Awards. No money, no time, no extra help -- the only thing I had was a lot of pressure from myself to get it right. Or close to right"
Why I Didnt Call
Now that it's close to midnight, I feel as if I've done astonishingly little. Sure, some of today's tasks can be checked off, but something really important -- like returning a call from a friend I miss and with whom I want to speak -- didn't get done."
Remembering an Unlikely Sanctuary
I honestly believe that elementary-school bathrooms are worth our attention. They loom large in ones imagination, not only when youre a kid and using them, but also when youre an adult and recalling them."
Home, Work Families Share Dys-Similarities
The most significant common denominator between the people you grew up with and the people you teach with is as follows: youre stuck with them. If all that close contact doesnt lead to actual revolution, then it usually leads to affection."
Reflections from a Recovered Teenage Girl
"When reading through my old diaries, I was horrified by what I wrote in the green-lined notebooks from sixth and seventh grades. These are, in essence, a catalog of judgments about everyone Id ever met. This is not good news."
Who's at a New School This Year?
Neither the fancy new credential nor the well-rehearsed scriptnecessarily prepare you for the blind date quality of that first meeting with this year's new students. Your new class will be -- shockingly enough -- new. And you'll be a new teacher."
Charmed, Im Sure
"'Works like a charm,' I laugh, walking towards my 8 a.m. class. My students raise their sleepy heads and open their heavily-lidded eyes because they hear, from a quarter of a mile away, the distinctive clank of two heavy bracelets as I walked down the hallway. Maybe it is not exactly like one of those movies where a bell makes the zombies wake up and face their earthly lives, but hey -- it is not as far off as you might imagine..."
Treasuring Found" Humor
Im a big fan of found humor" -- the sorts of things that arent meant to be funny but which brighten the dayIf you dont laugh at the absurdities of everyday life, youll miss a great deal of fun And lets face it -- most of us need all the fun we can get."
Hey, Kid, Pass the Lard, Er, Doughnut
As our students become healthierwe so-called adults seem to be getting more and more unhealthy in our eating habits For example, our students are eating fiber, whereas we are limiting ourselves to lard-based or polyurethane products."
The Best of the Best
Thats what the best teachers do. They not only give you confidence, they give you permission. They are willing to extend their authority so that you are covered by its cloak."
Part One of Two: The Worst and The Best Teachers
Some teachers words stick with us foreverunfortunately. Hey, lets face it, I still carry my kindergarten teachers implicit contempt and explicit condescension with me like gum stuck to the heel of my (now shiny and neatly-tied shoe)."
Twenty Things that Frighten Me about the Holiday Season
Number Three: "The prancing self-righteousness of those who do their holiday preparations early. These folks need to find a hobby that doesn't make the rest of us feel inadequate. A teacher who starts putting snowflakes on the classroom windows before Columbus Day, for example, needs to spend WAY less time at The Christmas Tree Shop."
The I -Want (and Expect)-It-NOW Generation
"Schools may be the last place where children learn that they can't have everything that they want the moment they want it. I'm here to reassure you that this is a good thing. Not that it will make the job of teaching easier or more fun -- but it will make it even more important."
Channeling Boys' Rage
"Personally, I think we've done an excellent job of raising our young men. More or less. And yet, while listening to Warren Zevon's song 'Excitable Boy' on the radio, it occurred to me that rage is still a big issue."
There's One in Every Class
"Anyone who's been teaching for more than 45 minutes has been warned about exhibiting favoritism in the classroom And yet I believe the focus on favoritism eclipses another equally crucial pedagogical issueThe question is this: What can be done when you have The Kid you can't stand?"
"'Excellence'" is the 'keyword' for education, in the same way that Sponge Bob Square Pants is the 'keyword' for cartoons. It's everywhere. Inescapable. And more than a little unnerving."
Grant Me Some Relief!
"As I read through the standard 'I regret to inform you' opening, Patsy Cline was crooning 'Crazy.' This seemed entirely appropriate. I always knew I had better odds of being crowned Miss Nashville than being crowned by (even a very small) wreath of cash."
Communicating With Adults, Tots
"I was asked to give a lecturewith a focus on one of the following topics: 'communicating with young children' or 'communicating with colleagues.' Since I see both of these activities as requiring the same skill level or -- to put it more frankly -- to be exactly the same thing, I figured I could address both."
Beware the Thistle-Eaters
"You know what I have a lot of trouble with? The martyrs of the teaching profession. I have a hard time with a group I refer to as 'Evil Do-Gooders.' It's the soulful looks of those wide-eyed self-sacrificers I cannot endure."
"I just did a Google search for the phrase 'teaching to the test' because I've been getting lots of e-mails from readers asking me to comment on the practice Since I love finding out more about what gets folks riled up, I decided to throw myself into the maelstrom."
It's All About Context
"There are times when what makes us most effective as teachers and as mentors is putting things in context and offering a sense of perspective for our students -- as well as putting things in context and offering perspective about our students."
Supplies In Demand
"Within any 'learning environment,' rich or poor, competition for supplies is fierce. I don't care if you are at Choate, Berkeley -Carroll, or Chickasaw Elementary: If you take a co-worker's masking tape, you are just asking to be buried with a stake through your heart."
Teaching Tips No One Told You
"Strangely absent from any official curriculum and in certain cases considered a form of contraband offered only through secret conversations and in code, it is now time to reveal the discrete, covert formulas, practices, and dictums we long-time teachers know to be true."
Education World! Bring the Kids!
"'You're writing a column for Education World?'" joked my husband, Michael. "'Is that like an amusement park? Are there rides?'" Of course, I then couldn't get the image of 'Education World!' as a possible theme park out of my mind. What would it look like?"
It's Just Not That Simple
"The people most visibly drawn to extolling the joys and the privileges of teaching are high-powered attorneys, successful venture capitalists, and exceedingly youthful movie stars Meaning they have not come near an actual school in quite a while."
Laughter is a Class Act
"Ami is a brilliant teacher and a wonderful woman. It turns out, however, that she is not the world's best proofreader. Based on the prototype she handed to the printers, Ami wound up with 200 buttons declaring'Teachers Are My Hepoes.'"