Showing posts with label Teachers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Teachers. Show all posts

Friday, December 18, 2015

Want to Understand Your Teacher?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Great Start to the Year

This school year is off to a great start. As we close in on the end of the 1st nine weeks, I can't imagine things going any better. A recent Question of the Week got me thinking about why things were going so well. 

As I said in the question:

Friday, February 17, 2012

Teacher as the Student

Being a student is a lot easier than it used to be.  If class gets a little boring, you can just check your email, text someone, or surf the Internet.  It's also easier to not get bored because you can check out sites and information the teacher discusses.  At least, that's how it was for me this week when I was a student at the Etech (Ohio Educational Technology) Conference. 

In every session I attended, participants were on their laptop, IPad, or smart phone.  I did see one or two note takers with their legal pad, but they stuck out.  A lot of sessions were interactive and presenters made it a point to share links and involve attendees.  Sessions were obviously planned by the presenters to encourage the use of technology.

Admittedly, as a student, I haven't always been attentive and have been challenged with being a little too hyper to sit in class for very long.  One of my goals when I started teaching was to shut up, keep students busy, and let them learn through their own hard work.  I have always hated classes where the teacher stands in front of the class and talks and talks and talks and talks. 

I couldn't help but think about how different adults are treated than kids.  Maybe it's about having a captive audience with our students.  Imagine how involved they would be if everything they did was interactive.  Imagine how different teachers would be if their students could start texting or surfing the net when they got bored.  It might not be totally a good thing, but it would sure liven up some classes.

The best part of an opportunity like the Etech Conference is the chance to hear about what other teachers are doing and what is working in their classes.  This year's conference had a lot of excellent sessions and ideas for the classroom.  I am anxious to try them in the Reading Workshop classes.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Traits Needed by a Teacher of Reading Workshop

Teaching Reading Workshop requires a different style than the more traditional teacher-centered lecture-based classroom. As I was reading a recent post about qualities of a teacher that enjoys project-based learning on Doug Johnson's Blue Skunk Blog, I thought of how well this fits with Reading Workshop.

Teacher traits it takes to make Reading Workshop successful.

1.  Be comfortable with a loss of control over time, the final product, and “correct” answers. If some parts of the curriculum don’t get “covered,” if conflicting evidence causes confusion, or a controversial solution to a problem is suggested, these teachers roll with the punches. They have the intellectual confidence to handle ambiguity.
2.  Accept active students rather than passive students. They have developed new rules of behavior that stress student responsibility, and have trained their principals to differentiate between active learning and a classroom out of control.
3.  Believe that given enough time, resources, and motivation, all students are capable of high performance. It’s not just the talented and gifted student who can make choices, solve problems creatively, and complete complex tasks. These teachers know that most students rise to the level of performance expected of them, and that great ideas can come from anyone in the class.  
4.  Recognize that your expertise must be in the learning and research process not just in a subject area. No longer are these teachers just information dispensers, but guides for information building students. The happiest teachers are co-learners in the classroom, especially when learning new technology tools. Students get the satisfaction that comes from teaching as well. 
5.  Understand your personal enthusiasm is more important than ever. The best projects I have seen have always designed by teachers who are enthusiastic about what they are doing and how they are doing it. The downside to this is that it is very difficult to create recipes for or give examples of specific projects that can be easily adopted by other teachers. A project, no matter how well designed, is going to work for every teacher and every group of students.
 6.  Know that any project may not  always work the first time. But these teachers keep trying.

Thanks for the reminder Doug, and for giving me something to ponder.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Do Students Feel the Glee?

As I sat watching the rerun of the Glee season finale from last year, it reminded me of the reason that matters most when teachers walk through the classroom door. Teachers want to make a difference. 

When we get on a student about not giving his best, it comes from seeing the gap between potential and performance.  We know that success comes from working hard, and never giving up.

When a student disrupts class and we discipline him, it's because we know it distracts others, and keeps them from learning.  We know students must be able to concentrate for learning to take place.

Watching the Glee Club students relate their successes, even knowing it was just a TV show, made me think about Reading Workshop this year.  When students leave, I wonder how many will have a story to tell.  I hope they recognize their potential, and work to reach it.  Then I will be the one singing about a great year.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Super Teacher, EEEERRRR Maybe Not

It was the first day of school, and like every teacher, this Super Teacher wanted to get things started off right.  You know, start the year with a BANG!  I needed to get kids involved and motivated.  Reading Workshop was going to be THE CLASS!

With a little time on Youtube, I found a great video that featured Nick Vujicic.  I knew this would grab students' attention.  And then there was the read aloud of Swear to Howdy.  Even the most reluctant student would be engaged after the first chapter of this book.  I would rap it up with a motivational speech about putting forth a lot of effort, don't worry about mistakes, just keep trying.

 The power went out for about an hour, right as we started class.  So much for my great plan. Even when it came back on, there was no Internet service for the rest of the day.  So much for the awesome video.

The read aloud went as planned until the discussion.  Seth raised his hand and said, "Mr. McGuire, is your shirt on inside out?"  So unbelievable, but so true.  And so much for my day as Super Teacher.  This poor guy can't even get dressed right.

The best part was the response.  All of the students, teachers, and Mrs. Scott, the Principal got a good laugh.  And to top it off, the next morning 3/4 of my class showed up with their shirts on inside out.  Obviously, another great start to a great year for Super Teacher.  :)

Image Inside Out Shirt courtesy of donnyb.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Blogging for Teachers Made Easy

Roberta Caudill and I had the opportunity to share our blogs and some blogging basics at the Logan Elm Schools waiver day.   Here are some ideas and a few links to help the beginning blogger.

This video by Lee LeFever of Common Craft explains what a blog is, and how it works.

Getting a blog is easy.  All you need is an email address. You can sign up at  Blogger, Wordpress, or Edublogs.  Blogger and Wordpress are free.  Edublogs is free but has ads on it. All are fairly easy to use and have similar features.  One disadvantage of Blogger  is on the top of each page there is a Next Blog link which will sometimes take you to inappropriate sites for a school blog.  You can disable this using HTML code in the layout.

Pictures make a blog much more attractive, draw in the readers, and frequently help make a point.  Three excellent sources for pictures that have Creative Commons License (which makes them legal to use on your blog) are Pics 4 Learning, Wikipedia Commons, Compfight Images.

I prefer Compfight Images because it uses the library from Flikr, but has a filter that keeps the pictures student safe.  You can also choose the picture size.  I prefer the small size--usually around 200 x 200 pixels.   Just save them to your computer (right click and then save as).  Then, click on the image button on the new post tool bar, and upload to your blog.  Be sure to give credit to the photographer.

Whether a blog is used as a means to communicate with parents, as part of instruction, or to improve students' writing skills they are a valuable tool for all teachers.

Image from

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Good Stuff

Recently students in Reading Workshop wrote about the "good stuff" that they see at our school. Sometimes people forget just how much positive goes on every day at school. The student responses serve as a reminder.

* People find money and put it in the lost and found
* People help each other
* Mr. McGuire bugs other teachers
* When our teachers tell us to get into groups no one is left out
* When we work in groups everyone works together
* Teachers are almost always happy
* Kids help other kids get on track
*Kids having good attitudes
*People are always smiling
* Everyone is respectful to each other
* There is a future for my friends and me
* We get to sing
* It's so much better than city schools where everyone always wants to fight
*You can act like yourself without being judged
* People work together to get things done
* Kids give 100% effort on almost everything
* The teachers are really funny
* Kids don't make fun of you, if you can't do what they can
* Teachers make it fun to learn
* No one really cares about looks
* People share stuff with other people
* When a person drops their stuff people help them pick it up
* Kids are happy to come to school
* Everyone can make the right choices and be smart
*People keep their promises
*People get along at recess
*Teachers are so kind-hearted
*Kids don't just eat with their friends
*People compliment each other
*A nice principal
*People encourage other people
*People get along
*Students help students
* Lots of technology
*Great staff, that has a big impact on the school
*People respect each others' differences
*Friends like me for who I am


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

100 Incredibly Inspiring Blogs

The Reading Workshop has been included in a list of 100 Incredibly Inspiring Blogs.  The post on What Makes a Good Teacher leads the list of posts that take a look at what makes a good teacher and will inspire you to appreciate what you do or maybe even improve your style as an educator.

Thank you for inclusion! As I stated in the post, I am not claiming to do these things, but it does give me something to work towards.


Monday, March 23, 2009

What Can Be Fixed

I heard the comment the other day, "if it can't be fixed in five minutes, with what's on hand, then don't mention it." I started thinking about students in Reading Workshop and how this might apply to them, and their education.

Seventy-three missed homework assignments this year really doesn't matter as much as having the right attitude and learning today. There is no way to fix all of the hours that a student didn't read at home. There is no way to change an F from the first semester. Although sometimes people expect it, teachers are not magicians.

But, just maybe with a little work, and a discussion of today's assignment, a student can figure out that character development is how a character changes from the beginning to the end of a story. There is no way to "fix" a parent that won't follow through with checking the assignment book each night, but a student can spend some free time making up missed work. It's impossible to immediately make a student read at grade level. However, with a little effort, we could fix mistakes written in response to a passage.

Things I can fix:
1. The climate of today's class
2. A student not understanding the task at hand
3. Mistakes on an assignment
4. Today's lesson and how it's being taught

Things I can't fix include:
1. Last week, last semester, and last year
2. Parents' problems
3. Intercom interruptions
4. The war in Iraq
5. The economy
6. Peas for lunch
7. Floods, blizzards, thunderstorms, and hail
8. Dog bites, cat scratches, and bee stings
9. Broken hearts and she doesn't like me anymore
10. Missed shots, interceptions, and strike outs
11. Broken arms
12. Cavaties
13. Bad hair and bad breath
14. And on, and on, and on . . .

Looking at these lists, I realized I better get busy for the next five minutes and focus on what I can control. What about you, students? What can you fix?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Google Docs Gift to Bloggers

Want an easy way to survey your readers? Thanks to Google Docs, that is an easy task. Embedding a question into a blog post is a simple process, and results will be compiled in a Google Docs spreadsheet that will allow sorting of the data.

The first step is to create a Google Docs account. Once that is completed, and you have signed in, just follow these steps:
1. Click on New
2. Click on Form
3. Choose the type of questions. The types include text, multiple choice, check boxes, choose from a list, and scale 1-n.
4. Edit the form with questions.
5. Embed the form into the html of a blog post.

For an example of how this will look on a blog post, you can check out Where Am ?. This is a sampling of students used in The Reading Workshop.

Thank you to Mr. Todd Tomlinson, Logan Elm technology teacher for the tip!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Traits of a Successful Team of Teachers

Students in Reading Workshop recently took a survey, questioning their knowledge of the personality traits of their teachers on the post Who Am I? There were several surprises in the survey and some fairly predictable results.

According to the Laurelville students:

Mrs. Cartee is down to Earth, easy going and builds relationships. She is supportive, soft-hearted and caring, but can be tough when needed.

Mrs. Griffey is full of energy, enthusiasm and drama, while being honest and driven for success.
Mrs. Bower is full of ideas with a never-ending passion for seeing students succeed.

Mrs. Caudill helps students when they don't understand. She has high expectations.

Mrs. Blubaugh is there when students don't get it. They know they can count on her to help them out.

Mrs. Stevenson is a good listener that is honest and practical. Her easy going way helps build trust.

Mrs. Little is trustworthy and doesn't judge people. You can count on her when the going gets tough because she cares.

Mrs. Scott is soft-hearted and supportive, but can be tough when needed. She is a good listener.

Ms. Bowlby has a lot of ideas and a passion for success. She supports her students and believes in them.

Mr. McGuire pushes students to be successful. He has high expectation and says so in an honest, straightforward manner.

I found it interesting that different students had different perceptions of the teachers. Also, what I thought was the correct answer--or description of some of the teachers, was not the opinion of the majority. The descriptions above were based on what the majority of responders answered.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Who Am I?

Monday, February 16, 2009

What Makes a Good Teacher #2

In a previous post, I discussed What Makes a Good Teacher. There was an overwhelming response with many interesting comments, and opinions on this blog, and several others. With this in mind, and help from well-thought out suggestions, here is another look at what makes a good teacher.

1. Knowledge of Content
Effective teaching demands that the teacher be knowledgeable in the subject area. The teacher must have a detailed understanding of what it being taught. This includes an understanding of the entire course of study and how concepts should build upon each other throughout the students' education.

2. Mastery of a Variety of Instructional Techniques
No two classes, or two indicators are identical. An effective teacher understands this and differs instruction based on what will assist the most students be the most successful. Key concepts are presented in ways to enable visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners grasp it.

3. Dedicated to the Craft
The best teachers spend their entire career improving their ability to teach. They read and explore the techniques used by others in a never-ending effort to better themselves and their skill. The see teaching as a lifelong journey of continual drive to improve instruction.

4. Effective Classroom Manager
Discipline is not an issue. Students understand class rules and expectations, and adhere to them. When discipline is necessary, it is not vindictive, but just a consequence when a student does not do what is required.

5. Individualized Instruction and Approaches to Students
Every student is different, and at times their needs reflect this. To effectively teach all students, the teacher must understand this. The teaching and interactions with students must reflect the needs of each, with the understanding of each as an individuals.

6. Highest Expectation For the School, Teachers and Students
Only the best is good enough. Quality is expected, and nothing less is acceptable. Passion for excellence is a driving force each and every day. A good teacher makes the school better by being a part of it. He pushes himself to be the best. Failure is not an option for the teacher or the students.

As I stated in the previous post, I would never claim to do all of the things in this list. All I can hope is that I spend each day trying to live up to these ideas. Writing a post like this is the easy part, living up to it is every teacher's challenge.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Education Like Burger King

Have it your way,
have it your way,
have it you way,
at Burger King.

If you ever heard the jingle, once you heard it, then it bounced around in your head all day, driving you crazy. Well, what if education was like Burger King? What if you could decide how you wanted it? So much of school is based on tradition, but what if it didn't have to be? What if you could design education and your school to suit you?

How would students be assessed? Would there be grades? Would there be the same classes/subjects? Would students switch classes? Would students have one teacher or several? What would the schedule look like? What would be the school hours? Would everyone attend at the same time and the same number of hours? What role would technology play? Would any learning be online? Would there even be a Reading Workshop?

For those who have never seen the Burger King commercial, here it is.

If education was like Burger King, what would your order be?

Image from

Saturday, January 31, 2009

A School Climate that Thaws Snow Storms

Over half of the teachers in the building were at school on Friday. It seemed like they had a variety of tasks. Some were getting caught up, while others were planning ahead. Two were already considering plans for IEP students taking the Achievement Tests in April. It seemed like one might have shown up just to argue politics (See the State of the State post to see the right/optimistic side of the discussion).

So, what's the big deal, you ask? It was a snow day. School was canceled. The roads were nasty, and it was cold and windy. The teachers did not have to be there. The fact that so many 4 - 6 grade teachers battled the snow and ice to come to school is reflective of the attitude at Laurelville. Teachers want to be there, and want to do well. There is an interest in seeing the students succeed.

There's more to it than that though. There is a certain hominess to the building. In a day when schools are facing so many challenges, this building is different. There is a distinct feel to the building. Teachers feel a part of the school and want to be there.

School climate was a hot topic a few years ago. School climate is the learning environment of the school and how it makes students feel. Lately that has been forgotten with NCLB and all the emphasis on testing. The focus in education is on scores and achievement, and intervention, and the School Report Card.

When you are in a building where there is a warm climate, where people feel a part of the school, you know you are part of something special. There is an attitude that you can feel. It is hard to describe, but when you are lucky enough to be a part of it, you know it's there.

The road conditions were way too bad to have school. I can't help but wonder though, if we had told students, come on in if you can, how many would have showed up. Maybe a few would want to do some research for their persuasive essay. One or two might want to work on their online journal. Some might have wanted to come in and trade books, and just read for a while.

How about it students? Would you have stopped in for a while? Would you have spent a little time just hanging around and catching up? It seems to me like some days it's sunny enough on the inside to thaw out even the worst of the snow storms.

Image from


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Gov. Says Time to Change Education in Ohio

Gov. Ted Strickland proposed numerous changes in education in the state of Ohio. During his State of the State address on Tuesday, January 27, he discussed lengthening the school year, all-day kindergarten for all schools, more rigorous training for teachers, switching from the high school graduation test to the ACT, and a new method of school funding.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, this transformational plan would be phased in over eight years. The educational system would be "evidence-based" using established research to determine what constitutes an adequate education. School funding would be based on what it takes to instruct students based on the cost to provide an effective education.

This redesign of Ohio schools would be based on a goal of creating a 21st century educational system. The school year would eventually be 20 days longer. Tutoring for at-risk students would be increased. Fundamental changes in school funding were proposed including allowing districts to pass a special kind of levy that would allow revenues to reflect changes in property valuation.

Stiffer accountability for schools was a main point of Strickland's proposals. Mentoring, peer reviews, and coaching for teachers was suggested. In addition, teachers would have to spend a four year residency before receiving their teaching license. School administrators would have the ability to fire teachers for good cause.

When Strickland was elected over two years ago, many questioned his campaign promise to address the needs of Ohio's educational system. This State of the State Address clearly shows that he is ready to make good on his promises. Now the question arises, with the financial crisis facing Ohio, can he make help the schools in Ohio prepare for the 21st century.

Image from

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Absolute Best Job

We were having coffee and Oreo pie at Bob Evans. That in itself is almost perfect, but then things got even better. I looked up and a former student, A.J. (Ashley Jones) walked in the door. It had been a couple of years since I had seen her. She had her ever-present smile as the hostess escorted her and her date to their seat.

After we finished and were preparing to leave A.J. rushed up. With that big grin she asked, "Mr. McGuire, how are you?" As we talked, she told me that she would be graduating from Ohio University in the spring. She was doing an internship with an accounting firm this quarter. In fact, she was doing so well they had guaranteed her a job upon graduation.

As we talked, I realized, I have the best job in the world. Listening to A.J. talk about her life, and the success that she was having, and the credit she gave to her time at Laurelville was so gratifying. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was so lucky. There is no other job where you get a gift like A.J. gave me. Seeing her appreciative attitude, and her extension of friendship was better than Christmas morning.

Of all of the aspects of teaching, none compare with seeing former students. There is something so special about hearing about their successes, and seeing how students grow and mature. Luckily, I live in a community that is small enough that I have this chance frequently. But, I can't ever get enough. The more I see former students, the more I enjoy it. More and more, I appreciate having a job where I can see young people work hard and earn their success.

When A.J. was a sixth grader, there was no doubt she would be successful. She worked hard, was responsible, and treated everyone with kindness and respect. However, seeing her as an adult, earning her way in the world, makes me feel great to be a small stop along the route of her success. Nothing beats seeing former students build a successful life.

To all of my former students, you make my day, every day, and as I always say, stop by when you get a chance and tell me about all of your successes. You make teaching the absolute best job!


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Are You OK?

Sitting at my desk yesterday, I watched the class working. As we approach the halfway point of the school year, and we get to know each other fairly well (Yes, students figure out the teacher every bit, if not more, than the teacher figures out students.), I started thinking about what lies ahead for this class. We all know, whether you are a teacher or a student, certain behaviors determine success. How do you stack up?

Do you accept new challenges and/or change? Especially in today's world, the need to adapt to new circumstances and situations is necessary. Although education moves more slowly than much of the world, a lot of today's classrooms look much different than 20 years ago. Emerging technologies is just one factor that is changing schools and lives in general.

Do you accept criticism? Nobody likes to be told what they are doing wrong. When someone points out a problem, our first response is to become defensive. The ability to overcome this is what determines the level of success. After all, if it wasn't a problem that you need to overcome, why would anyone take the time to point it out?

Do you work hard, even when the task is boring or one you don't necessarily care about? It's a fact of life. School is boring sometimes. Jobs are boring sometimes. In school you have to do things you don't want to do. At work, you have to do things you don't want to do. Pushing ahead with consistent effort is necessary regardless of the task. After all, anyone can work hard if they are doing something they like. Working hard all of the time is the difference maker.

Do you respect everyone? Treating friends with kindness and respect is easy. Treating someone we don't like the same as a friend is the challenge. If a teacher you don't like talks to you, listening and doing what she says may be more of a challenge. But, not respecting her is more of a reflection on you, and affects you, much more than it does her. An unpopular person may be much harder to treat fairly, but the rewards are greater.

Do you complete what you start? Taking responsibility to see projects through is not always fun. The beginning of anything is usually easier than finishing in style. After all, nobody wins the race at the starting line, and the last lap is always the hardest. Success demands having the determination to finish what you start.

Does success matter? Having a plan and setting goals are just part of being successful. You must have the drive to do well. You must think about being successful, and consider what is needed to achieve success. This can't be something brought on by others. You must have the inner drive to succeed.

As I look at this list, I am not sure how I stack up. Whether you are the teacher or a student, living by this list is a challenge. What do you think? Do you have what it takes? Are you OK?
Photo from

Monday, December 29, 2008

What Makes a Good Teacher

What makes a great teacher--a list to live by!
with thanks to Doug Johnson for sharing his idea

1. Interpersonal skills trump professional skills.

Students like the teacher, like the class, and like school. This happens because they know the teacher values them and what matters to them. They can tell this because they are treated with kindness and respect.

2. Give students a job and let them do it.

The teacher has faith in his students, respects their expertise, and lets them do their assignments without interference. Although he is there to help when they need it, students have the room to try new things, and can fail without being a failure. This makes the success students' success.

3. Be open and collaborative, but step in when needed.

The teacher values opinions and ideas expressed by students. Discussion and disagreement are valued and used in the process of learning. However, a level of control is expected and maintained.

4. Be visible.

The teacher talks to students, in the cafeteria, the hallway, on the way to the bus, between classes, and all of the non-class times.

5. Keep a sense of perspective.

The teacher realizes school is about the students. Academics are important, but not the most important thing. The "test" is important, but not the most important thing.

6. Finally, be a decent human being.

A single word to describe the teacher is "decent." The teacher doesn't lose his temper, put down a student, or treat anyone disrespectfully. His sense of humor is never far from the surface. He rarely accepts credit, but credits others for the school's wins. He is honestly humble and self-deprecating.

Doug Johnson on the Blue Skunk Blog discussed what made a good boss. This list has been adapted from his comments about a great boss. I thought his post was a remarkable tribute to someone that achieved at the highest level.

With this in mind, I thought about how this related to being a good classroom teacher. Now, I am not claiming to do these things--I am just thinking about goals for the new year (You don't suppose students will have to set goals, do you?) Wish me luck as I formulate my goals based on this list.