Women’s History Month and Why It Matters to Me

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Ready to Read Across America?

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What do you do all day?

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Educators: Spread too thin

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Women’s History Month and Why It Matters to Me

ASHEVILLE, NC - May. 2: Michelle Obama, the wife of presidential candidate Barack Obama speaking at a podium during a campaign rally at the University of North Carolina Asheville on May 2, 2008.

I have a confession: though I have been active in my English classroom to make sure that women are represented in our literature studies, I realized that I was not always fully passionate in this pursuit. Don’t get me wrong, I had no desire to diminish the significance of women in our studies; however, I look back to see that it was not in the forefront of my planning.


As a dad and as a teacher, everything changed when my daughter entered school. She is many years from entering my classroom, but I became very conscious of how women are portrayed in literature, what authors are chosen in texts, and who is highlighted in history. Now, I see anew the importance of ensuring that all of my students see women who made (and are making) impacts.


Women’s History Month in March is one of those special emphases that now means more to me. There are many great resources available online; for instance, The New York Times blog provides some great links as you prepare for this monumental month in your classroom. Read More

Why do you want this job? and other interview questions

The girl is stressing on the job interview


The worlds of education and commerce are far apart. However, there are aspects of the business world that can greatly benefit teachers. For educators looking for a permanent position, Time.com provides 11 possible first-interview questions. Whether you’re actively searching for an open position or you’re looking for a potential change of job, here are some of the most common questions you should be prepared to answer:


How much do you make? 

This will likely not be the first question you’ll hear; however, you should be ready to discuss compensation.


Tell me about yourself.

Here, you get to summarize your background, highlighting experiences and accomplishments that make you a great candidate. Read More

Ready to Read Across America?


With one of the Presidential hopefuls stating that “two-thirds of our kids can’t read at grade level” (Marco Rubio in a recent Medium post), the concern regarding reading skills comes to our classrooms. It’s educators, not politicians, that can make the great impact on the next generation of readers, and there are certain opportunities when we can make the most of reading lessons.


One of those opportunities is Read Across America Day.


On March 2, the National Education Association plans an annual event to commutate the birthday of Dr. Seuss and to encourage young readers across the nation. Started in 1998, Read Across America Day is intended to motivate students to read. Readers tend to do better in school, and active readers become lifelong readers and learners. Read More

Is Black History Month Enough?

Selective focus on the word " History ",shot with very shallow depth of field.

Under the leadership of historian Carter Woodson, Black History Month found its origins in a week-long recognition in 1926. During the 1960s, the week blossomed with the Civil Rights Movement, becoming emphasized through the month of February. Now educators have the opportunity to place special emphasis on the Black leaders and figures that formed our American experience.


However, 90 years later, there are some that criticize Black History Month’s treatment. “An Alternative Black History Month” in The Wall Street Journal describes a historical narrative that is too limited and brief: “The irony is that black history in the first half of the 20th century is a history of tremendous progress despite overwhelming odds.” This article urges a reexamination of how Black history is treated. Read More

Presidents’ Day, a Step Further

president day 3 copy

In 1800, a year after President George Washington’s death, the nation set aside February 22, Washington’s Birthday, as a day of remembrance. Our first President’s impact is obvious, even today. Interestingly, the official government name of the holiday remains Washington’s Birthday.


In 1971 in an effort to create 3-day weeks for workers, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act moved a handful of holidays to Monday. Along with Columbus Day and Memorial Day, Washington’s Birthday was moved to a Monday, the third Monday in February.


With the move came a shift in thinking on the holiday. Read More

Is Valentine’s Day on the Way Out?


Should Valentine’s Day and other “dominant holidays” be banned from schools?


A St. Paul, MN school has halted classroom celebrations for holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day. According to The Star Tribune’s article “St. Paul school kisses Valentine’s Day, other ‘dominant holidays,’ goodbye,” many Minnesota school districts have ended in-school Halloween activities for years.


This year, Bruce Vento Elementary School is stopping celebrations for Valentine’s Day. The school and district policy limits school celebrations to those required by law, like Presidents’ Day, Martin Luther King Day, and Veterans Day.

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What do you do all day?

Kindergarten teacher reading to children in library

For some, teaching might seem simple. Those who have never experienced a day standing in front of a classroom may not appreciate the tremendous preparation and effort involved in instruction along with the hundreds of little tasks involved in leading dozens of students.


Some person may have been bold enough to ask, “What do you do all day?”


At an event for Campaign for America’s future, Lily Garcia, president of the NEA and a teacher herself, gave a sample list of what teachers do all day. From the simple, like providing Band-Aids and getting students on buses, to the profound, like teaching about racism and patriotism, Ms. Garcia’s rapid-fire list is a great reminder to those outside of the teaching profession of the many ways that educators impact students.


Lily Garcia’s explanation is worth a watch; you can find it here: “A teacher explains what teachers really do all day.” (http://www.businessinsider.com/what-teachers-do-all-day-2015-12).


Oh, and then by the end of each day, we still “teach reading, writing, and arithmetic.”

Making it a Great Year: Reading for Teachers, Part 2

A DSLR photo of a man reading a magazine. He's sitting on the chair. He's holding and opening the magazine. He's wearing a casual clothing, a black polo shirt and a jeans. He's sitting behind a desk. He is in a home office at the afternoon.The background is an office desk.

If you’re like me, a good fiction book provides a great way to spend my down-time; it recharges my mind and takes me away from the busyness of everyday life. However, one of the best ways to keep current in education is through reading a great book. These two books (and several other great suggestions) can be found in “16 Books Educators Should Consider Reading in 2016”:


  • Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education by Sir Ken Robinson & Lou Aronica provides tremendous insights into research that should affect education for years to come, all wrapped in an entertaining and humorous style.


  • Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era by Tony Wagner & Ted Dintersmith provides a story of true success and how we can utilize that in our classrooms.

Making it a Great Year: Reading for Teachers

Attractive girl with a diary sitting on the bench

One of the ways that we stay sharp as educators is to read. Whether we keep up on current events, plow through bestsellers, or sharpen our skills as teachers, nothing beats a great book.


Professionally, educators can find a wealth of knowledge in recent books. In “16 Books Educators Should Consider Reading in 2016,” Peter DeWitt lays out many potential reads to get the year started right. Here are two recommendations:


  • Engage Every Family: 5 Simple Principles by Virginia administrator Steve Constantino presents methods on how to connect with and involve parents.

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Classroom Changes in the New Year

Photo via kaboompics.com

It’s the time for New Year’s resolutions. Those 20 pounds that I plan to lose each year: unfortunately, they’re still with me. Through the years, I’ve found that simple steps, rather than drastic changes, product the best results (or any results, to be honest).


In “9 Strategies Teachers and Leaders Should Add in 2016,” Peter DeWitt provides several simple practices that might help in your classroom. He also recommends choosing one, rather than “shooting for the moon.”


Here are DeWitt’s suggestions:


  • Increase student dialogue in the classroom – Trade in one worksheet for a conversation around learning. Too often we feel that learning is not taking place if we are not controlling the conversation. Throw out a question based on the subject, and walk around as students discuss it. Let students talk with a partner and then help guide the learning based on the conversations you hear. It allows you to go deep with some students and repeat information to others. Just remember that this will take modeling and consistency, especially if students aren’t used to doing it.

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