Teaching: Big Love and Boundaries!

Are you really ready to test? Teach? Here is a little piece of advice or something that isn’t specifically written in college texts for teachers as they prepare to teach. Children need and “crave” love AND boundaries! They need both to feel safe. If you set high expectations and hold children accountable in the classroom for their behavior you will set the stage for wonderful learning! When you provide them with a nurturing classroom environment, in which they feel safe, all children can and will learn. Somehow educators have been led down the rabbit hole to believe that children should be coddled and never or rarely be held accountable. I simply do not agree! Can you imagine how that makes the child feel? “My teacher doesn’t think I can do it. So, since I love her and school, she must be correct.” Children need boundaries to feel safe. They need BIG love and high expectations inside those boundaries to learn and succeed. They need somebody to believe in them!

Remember – LOVE the children, set HIGH expectations for their learning, and teach them the proper expected behavior. Don’t fall into the excuses department (home, socio-group, behavior, etc.) for why they can’t or shouldn’t be able to learn but, BELIEVE in them and hold them accountable. If they love your classroom, they will succeed and you won’t have to worry about testing results at the end of the year

What YOU Think Matters!

As teachers, we all do what we think is most important. If you THINK it is OK for kids to not learn phonics, then you won’t teach it even if that is what you are to do. If you THINK I can skip Science because we are busy preparing for testing. Then, you’ll move on to what you THINK is the most important. If you THINK we will just take a break today and watch a video instead of practicing our read aloud, then you’ll stop and miss read aloud. If you THINK today we will get to everything on our agenda, then you will. If you THINK today we are going to make sure we have a long recess, then you will. If you THINK my students worked hard on the math test yesterday, we’ll have a math game today, then you will. Students learn what you teach!


Soap Box – Caution: The Education Pendulum

The Pendulum Swings

Every few years in Education, as in many fields, the pendulum swings from one extreme to the other regarding teaching reading. As a retired educator/administrator, I grow weary watching our culture experiment on children with this fad and that fad instead of using tried and true methods to teach children how to read (and more so on how to behave).

When I was enrolled in college many years ago Whole Language was “the thing” and it was sweeping the nation. The premise being children will read when they are ready and to foster a love of reading books. Help all children read by guiding them to the books of their choice. Kids like pictures. Well, I’m here to tell you I’d like to be a model and walk down a runway making thousands of dollars, but just because its what I would like, it doesn’t mean I can or will do it without hard work and lots of practice.

Reading is HARD work. You can’t learn to read by looking at the pictures ONLY! You have to learn the sounds, the words, the sentence structure, long before you can even attempt learning the meaning (which is the purpose) of reading. Just because we want to, doesn’t mean we don’t have to work and practice at it.

Well just this morning my three year old grandson picked up a huge volume of Marvel Superheros. He enjoyed the pictures and could tell me about them, but it wasn’t what he needed to use to learn to read. This is my point…why do we go off the deep end in education when a “new” theory sweeps in? Why don’t we help children learn to read in ways that we know are sound? Why are we so easily moved by what is happening next door, across the city at a different school, or what the government deems important?

#1) We need parents that require children to do what is necessary at school to be successful or have consequences at home. Parents are the FIRST teachers. If reading isn’t important at home, it won’t be a priority at school.

#2) Then, we need to hire EXCELLENT teachers (reading) for our youngest students. Teachers that will help them practice reading out loud, learn and apply phonics, do the word work necessary to understand our language, and practice writing stories, so they can gain comprehension of the text. If we will do these things then we will have readers.

I’m completely tired of wasting time (perhaps because I’m older, or perhaps because it doesn’t work well) with the ever changing “new best thing” when it comes to teaching reading. There is NOTHING more important in the classroom than the teacher. It is the MOST important aspect for success at all grade levels. We need excellent teachers so that we can provide our students every opportunity for success. Hire excellent teachers in primary school … the very best reading teachers you can find…then you won’t worry about achievement scores in upper grades. If they aren’t excellent, move them out!

Keep your big business and elements of change processes…just give me an EXCELLENT teacher, some kids that have parental support, and some materials to work with. Then, we’ll have success! Off the Soap Box…for now!

Perfect Children…

This is written for all parents and all grandparents of imPERFECT children. Some people, rightly so, believe their children to be perfect. You know that I love children. I think my own children, my Grands, and every student I’ve ever served or tutored are perfect.

However, when things aren’t “perfect” for a child, that is when true love and REAL parenting/teaching occurs. It is so hard to accept imperfection in ourselves, but nearly impossible to see or admit imperfection in those we love the most. But, in teaching these imPERFECT children we MUST recognize the struggle and teach them to become productive with the abilities they have in place. We SHOULDN’T make excuses or want others to REDUCE expectation for these children. It is difficult to maintain expectations and hold all CHILDREN accountable, but it is imperative to their success that we do. I stand in ADMIRATION of those parents and teachers that are given the greatest challenges with their children (students), but still remain positive and push their children to achieve at that high standard.

On the contrary, I’ve witnessed children lose ability and become LESS than they could be, because their parent(s) and/or teacher(s) thought they COULDN’T perform at level. Often you’ll find, that children who struggle, create new and more creative ways to accomplish goals than those that do not have challenges. But first, we have to BELIEVE that they can and have FAITH in those that try to help them SUCCEED.

When you fail to hold them accountable you send them a message, and one to the world, that says “THEY CAN’T…I’VE GIVEN UP ON THEM.” That “THEY CAN’T” becomes an excuse and an excuse that results in their own self-belief being shattered and an “I CAN’T” attitude becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy, which can lead to a less than productive and happy life. I’ve seen this many times from a teacher or administrator position and it is so very sad for the child.

Parents keep pushing ALL children to be their very best no matter the challenge they deal with every day. Teachers keep teaching them MORE and expecting MORE of every child not just the brightest and most able. We are wonderfully and fearfully made and although we approach each task differently than the person next to us, the outcome will be the same if we set our expectations high.

There are NO perfect children, only perfect love for them!

Teaching #1 – HelloJenJones

Even though I’m retired, I still LOVE education; especially, literacy. Without a doubt it is the most important gift we give our children, the ability to read. Every day I try to find something new, discover a bit of information that is worth sharing, or something that might help teachers teach literacy. I’m hoping to make this page be a help to you!

I’ve been following #HelloJenJones on Instagram, helloliteracy.blogspot.com and her website www.helloliteracy.com. She is one of the most wonderful, do it daily and I will learn to read, influences in literacy right now. Her recognition that learning to read is hard work, takes practice, and must be systematically taught is wonderful.

Check her out…you won’t be dissappointed!