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Monday, September 12, 2011

Teacher-Bashing by Parents on Social Media

Despite all of the media attention, people do not realize that what is posted on the web can be seen by everyone! What to do if a parent bashes you or a colleague? Ignore them! I know it's hard, but you don't want to get into a "verbal" argument with a parent on the web. It makes you, the teacher, look unprofessional and gives the parent more "ammunition" to bash you with.
Download and print off the parent's comments and put them in a file. Share your concerns and the comments with your principal. When meeting with the parent, for parent-teacher conferences for example, have the principal there to provide unspoken support for you. With the principal at the meeting, you might choose to address the parent's personal attacks on you or continue to ignore them. Do what you and your principal feel will be the most beneficial.
Parents forget teachers are human, but know that 99.99% of the parents appreciate what you do even if they don't come out and say it!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Documenting

One important issue that is missing in teacher education is DOCUMENTATION. In my classroom I keep a binder. There is a pocket folder for each student in the binder. I SAVE everything--every tardy slip, every nurse's pass, copies of every behavior note/letter I send home, copies of notes from parents regarding their child. It's an easy thing to set up and maintain. About once a week or so, I slip all of the paper I have collected and put them in the appropriate pocket. It's amazing--at the end of the year there are some students who have NOTHING in their pockets while other students' pockets are bulging. You never know when the information might come in handy--with an upset parent who says, "You never told me!" or a child who is abusing going to nurse's office. It only takes a minute to make a copy. (I use the copy feature on my classroom printer or write notes on NCR paper.) But those pieces of paper can serve to back you up when the time comes. 
In some cases, I hang on to paper work for specific children for a couple of years. Quite often when the child moves up to a new grade, the parents will tell the teacher, "My child has never had that problem before.". The teacher can then show them copies of my paperwork and stop the parents in their tracks. It also allows the teacher and parent to work together to address the issues and move on!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sharing with Teachers

I got tired of chasing my grade-level colleagues down or putting photocopies in their box where they might be overlooked. I finally put three baskets in our photocopying room. Each basket is clearly labeled with each last name. Then, when photocopying items of interest, I make a couple of extra and throw them in the baskets. The reverse is true also. When my colleagues have something for me, they put it in my basket. The phtocopying room is the perfect place for the baskets, because all three of us always go in there before school!

Taming the Paper Clutter

Like all teachers, the amount of papers to collect and grade and the amount of paper work to do can be overwhelming. The first step is to have a "system" that works for you. I use baskets with large labels. The labels include: Work (students' completed word), Copy (photocopying), Incomplete Work (for students to finish); File (students' corrected work), and File (teacher's important papers). The students' work basket is placed in the front of the classroom. The remaining baskets are on the back counter near my desk. If a parent drops in for a few minutes to help, they know to go to the File basket and file the students' completed work in each student's hanging file folder.
At the end of the day, I go through my baskets and take care of my paperwork.
Two tips:  One, don't get behind on the paperwork or it will become a mountain in a few days. Two, touch each paper once and do something with it!Don't keep handling the same piece of paper, note from the office or parent, or flyer---act on it, respond to it, file it, or toss it!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Getting Organized for the School Year

To help get your school year off to a great and organized start, number every student item! It's easy to do! First make a class list. I like to put my list in alphabetical order by student's first name followed by last name.
Then assign each student a number.  For example:  1.  Alice; 2.  Ben; 3. Carlos
When setting up the students' desks, number everything--pencil boxes, folders, books, etc. An easy way to do this is print up a bunch of numbered labels. Stick the 1 labels on everything belonging to Alice, the 2 on everything belonging to Ben. etc. I use a sharpie to number the pencils (just below the eraser), scissors, and even their name tags. This makes it easy to return items found around the room!