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Helping Students Read Texts

Tuesday December 31, 2013

Students often have difficulty understanding how to learn from textbooks. Some approach them as if they are pleasure reading. Others just don't know what to look for. Therefore, it is important for teachers to directly teach how to best use the textbook for each chapter covered in class. The following article covers seven great techniques that you can use to help students better understand the material they are reading in their texts:

Good Luck and Goodbye

Tuesday December 31, 2013

After over 13 years and thousands of pages written for About.com, I've decided that it is time to hang up my Secondary Education hat. I am heartened to know that the pages I have written over the years have helped many of you as evidenced by my collection of thank you notes and kind thoughts. I hope only the best for each and everyone of you. Good luck and God Bless you in your teaching endeavors.

Why Movies About Teachers Inspire Us

Tuesday December 31, 2013

What makes a movie about a teacher who inspires their students to achieve so good? I believe that it refers back to the Sage archetype defined by psychologist Carl Jung. Jung believed that there were 12 archetypes that live within every human being's subconscious. One of these is the sage: the archetype that embodies the phrase "the truth will set you free." One of the archetypal stories that resonates so deeply with individuals across the spectrum is the idea of the 'hero' and their 'mentor'. The mentor helps the hero understand themselves until ultimately the hero is able to rise above and succeed on their own. This was one of George Lucas' inspirations for writing the Star Wars series.

In terms of teacher movies, the idea of a teacher who can look past the surface of each student and nurture the soul within is one that most if not all of us wish we could have had in our own school days. These teachers guide their students to their own awakenings. The best teacher movies and shows are more about this relationship than about the teacher's personal life. Sure Breaking Bad might be a fascinating show about a teacher, but is it inspiring? Of course not. Instead, we look to teachers like Jaime Escalante in Stand and Deliver or Louanne Johnson in Dangerous Minds or even Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid to find teachers that make a difference. In each of these cases, I believe that the teachers:

  1. Believe from the depths of their souls that their student(s) can learn.
  2. Express that belief through enforcing high standards on their students.
  3. Stand by their students when times get tough.
  4. Allow their students the freedom to achieve on their own merits.

There is much that I believe all teachers can learn from this list. We can try and embody each of these principles every day as we enter the classroom.

With all of this in mind, I have created my go-to list of 10 movies about teachers that I watch when I want a little inspiration. I never tire of watching the triumph of the human spirit. I hope that in a small way, these movies have helped make me a better teacher to my students.

Angry Parents And You...

Tuesday December 31, 2013

Have you ever had to make a phone call knowing that the parent on the other end of the line is angry at you? How about facing them in a parent-teacher conference? These are the moments that teachers dread. It is at these times that teachers need to keep their wits about them so as to avoid getting into a power play or increasing the animosity being sent their way. To help with this, I've come up with 9 strategies that you can use to help deal with these situations: How to Deal With an Angry Parent. In the end, remember that good listening skills and a desire to do what's best for the student involved can go a long way towards diffusing any anger being directed your way.

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Parental and Student Concerns About Homework

Monday December 30, 2013

Homework can often be a controversial issue. Some students and parents complain that there is too much being assigned while others (mainly parents of course!) say that their children never have any homework to complete at night. There are many valid reasons to give homework. However, this article takes a look at the common complaints about homework that are often heard along with some thoughts on how to address these issues.

Tips for Taking Over a Classroom Partway Through the Year

Monday December 30, 2013

If you are hired or required to take over a classroom partway through the year due to teacher having to leave because of illness or pregnancy you will face challenges that most teachers do not have to face. No two teachers are alike and the transition from your predecessor to you can be difficult for students. My latest article looks at the unique challenges teachers face in this situation. It also provides great tips for taking over the classroom that will hopefully help you as you make the classroom your own.

Mnemonic Devices Help Students Memorize Facts

Monday December 30, 2013

Mnemonic devices are excellent ways to teach students important facts that they need to memorize. Here are 10 top mnemonic devices from courses across the curriculum. Enjoy!

The Importance of Evaluating Websites

Wednesday December 11, 2013

While some teachers are still struggling to find their way when integrating the internet into their lessons, the fact is that it is becoming more entrenched as a method to enhance student learning each year. Across the world, teachers and students are turning to the internet to create lessons and complete homework assignments. While the web provides students with a wealth of information never even dreamed of 20 years ago, it also brings its own set of issues in terms of accuracy, appropriateness, bias, and timeliness. Therefore, it is quite important that we take the time to directly instruct students how to identify issues with websites they might be using. With this in mind, I've created a number of questions which teachers and students can ask to evaluate websites.

Step-by-Step Guide to Class Debates

Tuesday December 10, 2013

Debate is a great way to build interest in what you are teaching in class. The truth is that students really love to debate. Debate also provides great learning opportunities for students if done right. The key is organization and structure. Students need to learn that debating is not arguing. Whe you conduct your first debate, you will probably have to rein in their natural instinct to talk when it is not their turn. However, once you have held a few debates, you will find that the kids really step up to the plate and find learning and debating to be fun and rewarding. I've created an article that provides a step-by-step look at holding classroom debates to help get you started.

Cyberbullying and Schools

Saturday November 30, 2013

Cyberbullying is a terrible form of bullying that can strike the targeted student at any time day or night. It is extremely difficult to deal with because the bullying is often done anonymously. Additionally, it is usually shared quickly with others so finding the original culprit can be quite difficult. Numerous suicides have been directly linked to cyberbullying. The bullying affects the school even though it takes place outside of the normal school day. Most schools are implementing policies that allow them to punish bullies for actions that have occurred away from school.

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