Wednesday, August 5, 2020

New Teacher? Read This!

If you know a new teacher or a student teacher, you may want to think about sharing this with them.  This is the perfect metaphor for a teacher's first year.

It follows the opening to the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark, perhaps the finest movie ever made. Shakespeare would have been proud to produce this movie.

If you haven't seen it, take the time to watch it now:


Best. Movie. Ever.

Now, getting that elusive first job is akin to Indiana Jones getting the idol.  What we didn't see in that clip was all the booby traps that he had to by pass to get to the idol to begin with.  He's confident and a bit smug.  "I got this!"  That's the first week of school.

Then all hell breaks loose.

You noticed that the cave started to fall apart, so Indiana Jones quickly just decides to cut out of there, but he forgot about all the darts in the sides of the wall shooting at him, so he runs like heck.

Your first discipline problem.  But you'll survive it, just like he did.  That's when the betrayal hits.

By betrayal, I'm not meaning anything major, just the realization that not all teachers in that department or school agree and there are some bitter ones there that will resent your youthful idealization (mainly because it reminds them of better days when they had that youthful idealization - lesson to learn - do become like those guys).

You'll survive it, maybe even see them get theirs.  It is the mid course break and you think you have it mastered.  Indiana Jones did too.  That's when the ball started rolling.  He runs to keep ahead of the ball until he leaps out of the tomb just in time.

You'll feel that ball.  You'll feel that you are so busy grading and going to workshops that you can barely stay up with the planning.  You will do everything you can to stay one step ahead of the ball and at exam time, you'll be leaping through the exit.



After catching your breath, you'll be ready to try it again.  This time it will be easier.  By your fifth time, you won't even noticed the ball.  By your tenth time, you're doing it with your eyes shut.

This is not meant to scare a new teacher, but instead to give them peace of mind.  Too often that new teacher thinks that it's just them.  It is helpful to know that it happens to us all.  Remember, you are being put into a job as a first year teacher and expected to do the same job as a thirty-five year veteran.

IF YOU HAVE ANY HELPFUL NEW TEACHER ADVICE, POST IT AS A COMMENT.


Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Weird Cover Wednesday


Yes, this is an actual story about a little girl who told so many lies that the fire station didn't believe her and did not come to her rescue.  A "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" updated.  If I ever write about some horribly oppressed kid (like a Harry Potter type), this book is so going on her shelf.

Friday, June 26, 2020

The 'Why I Teach' Folder

So today I'm in my classroom (I know, it's summer!) resetting the room after HVAC work and painting was done.  In the process of moving things around and putting things away, I ran across a folder I created a long time ago called the "Why I Teach" folder.


I do not remember why I started it.  It was early in my teaching career and maybe an older teacher told me about hers or maybe I just had an inspiration. Whatever the case, I stick all sorts of notes and cards and email printouts that meant something to me.  Students telling me what a difference I made, parents letting me know how thankful they are for this or that. 

When I was a younger teacher, I used to go through the folder often.  I am more confident in my teaching skills now, so I don't pull it out so much.  We all reach some kids and parents and we all clash with some kids and parents.  I cannot advise enough, especially if you are a new teacher, to have one of these folders.  I had forgotten most of the notes in that folder and it really made my day to see them again.  There was even sheet music in there - we had a project where we created a Utopia world and one group had come up with a national anthem for their utopia.  The kid later went off to college as a music major and wrote out all the music for it and sent it to me in a letter! 

So get yourself a folder.  Stick the little things in there that make your day and on days you have that makes you wonder why you went into this profession - pull out the folder!

Stay healthy out there!

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Fortunate Creative Writing Idea

"Your characters are enjoying a fun evening at China Garden Restaurant when the end of the meal fortune cookies arrive.  There is the usual comment made by one character who wants to point out that fortune cookies are an American invention, but it doesn't stop the enjoyment factor as everyone grabs one for themselves.  Your protagonist opens one to reveal this fortune, which is strangely prophetic..."



At this point students can go to https://secondfortune.com/ or present them with their own fortune cookie that you either saved up from a year's worth of eating take out Chinese or that you got from a box of fortune cookies, which are available at your local supermarket for around $2 or less for 12 cookies.

This random factor requires the writer to adapt and make a move in a direction that maybe he or she wouldn't have otherwise.  Plus, eating a cookie in class is always a blast.  What sort of adventures will that fortune go or what impact will that fortune have on the character's current romantic relationship?  Worse yet, what if that character opens the cookie and there is a blank fortune?  Is that a good omen or a bad one?

Or even put your own sinister fortune in like, "Leave now!" or "meet me at Bennington Park midnight - come alone" using a custom made fortune cookie company: https://www.amazon.com/50-Custom-Fortune-Cookies-Individually/dp/B07JR15BS3

For those of you more extreme than others (and are handy around the kitchen), you can make your own fortune cookies with whatever messages you want inside - https://www.fifteenspatulas.com/fortune-cookies/

If you are using actual cookies or the second fortune, be ready to have a backup fortune, just in case they get a dud for story writing purposes.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Best. Grammar. Book. Title. Period.


Buy it at Amazon.  Has anyone out there read this book?  I would love to hear if it is worth getting.  Leave a comment.  Know a better grammar book title?  Leave a comment.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Hwaet!

Need  something a little different to add to your Beowulf unit?  Here is a video short (much like Pixar has before their movies) created by students at BYU that shows Grendel in a bit of a different light:



Grendel from BYU Animation on Vimeo.



For your own enjoyment, assuming you are a Tolkien nerd, J. R. R. Tolkien has a prose translation of the epic poem complete with his own fan fiction short story at the end ("Sellic Spell")! You can get your own copy here:
https://www.amazon.com/Beowulf-Translation-Commentary-J-R-R-Tolkien/dp/0544570308


Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Macbeth Done Right

The following account is not mine.  I picked this up from Slow Robot.  Whoever this teacher is, he/she is most certainly daring and I would say - EXTREME.