I don't know about you but I can't believe that the end of the school year is almost here - so here's my last newsletter for this school year!
I know there are still report cards to write, final school forms to fill out, realizing that there may be a math strand or some component in Language Arts/Literacy that you forgot to teach (great intentions at the beginning of the year and that's why long range plans are vital), and of course in the back of your mind there's summer and should I take that course.
Do you really need to take another AQ (additional qualification) course - more professional development? Absolutely,and I'll explain why in this newsletter.
Believe it or not, the majority of teachers who teach in schools today are middle aged. Of course, depending on the school you teach at, there are fewer teachers in their twenties and fewer just out of teacher's college.
Most experienced teachers have taught over a decade and many "seasoned" teachers have two or more decades under their belts. The latter type of teacher has encountered, witnessed and handled most types of concerns, worries, difficulties with students and/or parents and staff countless times.
Being a "seasoned" teacher myself, I can vouch that we have had time to see our students pass through our classrooms, schools into jobs and adulthood. These teachers acknowledge the results of their efforts and have seen the finished product. We know that the day-to-day effort to teach DOES pay off.
We (seasoned teachers) have fine tuned our educational skills. I have always said that teaching is an art and that there is value in experience! We have the advantage to make schools excel as never before! However, sometimes when there are many experienced teachers in a school and excellence is not present, then different situations arise.
You may know of teachers who have taught for a very long time and regard teaching as "just a job". They have no sense of career or mission. They have one objective - counting the days, years until retirement, and wish it was tomorrow. They don't have any plans to grow professionally. They just want to survive another year. They are not learning, thinking or acting on behalf of anyone but themselves.
With such teachers, it becomes a difficult situation for their students and a problem for the school. If we (the other teachers and administration) don't confront the problem and resolve it, higher ups may have to step in and it could get ugly.
Experience is a huge advantage to our students, school and the community at large. We know the needs of our children and by trial and error have learned to handle numerous classroom situations.
Experienced teachers gain value with time if they are good at what they do; but, they lose value with time if they are not. An excellent educator requires and attains continual learning from the beginning of their career until the day they retire.
Two months after I retired, I took another teacher's maternity leave and taught Grade 6 - (a grade I hadn't taught in over 20 years). You can't stand still and become stagnant and stale. It's also not healthy for you mentally.
If teachers don't grow, students and schools will die intellectually and academically. We all need professional stimulation. In fact, the longer you teach, the more you need it. Just a few weeks in the summer can be an excellent time for growth (in many school boards/districts - it's financially beneficial).
You'll have a better and fresher start for the following year and so will your students. It's a win-win situation.
At the beginning of this newsletter, I mentioned report cards - so let's talk about marking and final grades.
1. Always be careful of what you have said to your students. If at the beginning of the semester you said "If you work hard, you'll do well in this class", then don't now tell a student that you only use test scores to finalize mark. You must be honest and your word must be good. Remember there may not be a correlation between how hard some students work and how well they do.
2. Some students do work hard but still don't do well, while others don't work that hard and do well, (as you may have experienced in your class). It's important that you state all the ways they can prove that they have worked hard and should receive the high marks they so justly deserve.
3. When you are preparing to write your tests/quizzes at anytime, but especially at the end of the year, the students should be tested on what they have learned, NOT on things you have forgotten to teach. Remember, if you haven't taught it, don't test it. That's basically the rule. So, please, keep the purpose of testing in mind and be fair in the process, no tricks or surprise questions.
Remember good test questions focus on the students' minds on answering them, not on the question itself.
4. Be careful not to do or say anything which tells your students that they are going to fail or that it's too late for them to start worrying about their marks/grades. Please, keep a positive attitude and keep the possibilities for studying and learning alive.
If you give up on a student, others may feel the same, which may result in unproductive work and misbehaviour can begin.
Believe me when I tell you, I taught to the last day of the year! Obviously, the last week was full of fun and enjoyable activities, including the end of the year partaayy!!!
I keep them busy and productive and it was always a ending to our year together!
"All that is human must retrograde if it does not advance" - Edward Gibbon.
5. I have stated in the past and I can't emphasize enough, that June is ALWAYS the busiest month of the school year for many reasons - let me count the ways:
* teaching and/or finishing teaching last minute topics
* report cards and marking
* finish completing student records (like in my school board)
* cleaning up your classroom - taking down student work, cleaning out desks, counters, book shelves, etc.
* if you are moving to a new classroom or school - oh my god - the packing!
* end of the year assemblies, school functions, class parties and trips
* etc., etc., etc.
You know the old saying "So much to do, so little time" - sure holds true for the month of June.
All I ask of you is to try to stay calm, make your lists of things to do each day/week and truly enjoy your students.
Good luck, have fun, have a great relaxing summer - whatever you have planned> Please keep in touch - I'm around.
Talk to you in September, refreshed and ready to start anew!!!
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