Things I never knew . . .

Installment #2:

Five things I never knew . . . until I became a teacher:

  • how long I could be sick–that first year I was sick for three months straight
  • how sick I could be, and still go to work–sick days are few the first year, not to mention sick days are difficult to take anyway as a teacher
  • how worthless all those immune booster drinks and powders are–they are no match for school germs
  • how much Kleenex are consumed/can be consumed in a single day–between my sick self and my sick students, I can go through several boxes in a single day, it’s ridiculous
  • how many kids come to school sick–it’s a lot, and often

Product Overview: The Birchbark House

Native American Heritage Month is November.

No study of American history is complete without looking at the experiences, culture, and contributions of this land’s original inhabitants.

A rich classroom library includes stories from every community, and authors from those communities.

With this in mind, I recommend The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich. I discovered Erdrich’s work in college and absolutely fell in love. I have read a number of her works and each one has been phenomenal.

I introduced some of Erdrich’s work in my 4th grade class, and even brought my personal books that my students borrowed, and they enjoyed them as well.

My desire to include a story that allowed for important discussion and reflection on colonization, and a different lens of American history, led me to create a book study on The Birchbark House.

This book is categorized as realistic fiction. The story touches on culture, language, and family. It is a great book to discuss colonization, cultural assimilation, and loss. It is also a great story to discuss strength and community.

My product, a complete novel unit, can begin in November and take you through winter break. This product includes vocabulary, comprehension questions, and added exercises for each chapter. There are even background building and extension activities suggested for this unit; it provides the opportunity for a depth and breadth of learning.

As with the Spider and the Fly, even if the product is not what you need, or what you want for your classroom right now, I recommend reading this book and any other work by Erdrich, it is truly worth the read.

Birchbark House

Monthly Advice–November

November is a short month.

In the United States, in November, we have Veterans’ Day, which sometimes turns into a 4-5 weekend. Then, we have the Thanksgiving Day holiday, which is increasingly turning into a whole week vacation. In addition to these days, there are staff development days, maybe furlough days, or perhaps you already have a 4-day work/school week.

So, in November, while we have 30 days in the month, we have very few actual instructional days. Therefore, my greatest advice is review. Before the semester ends, this is probably the best time for review and extension. Instead of trying to cram a new concept, especially a complex standard or new set of standards, insert review lessons and extensions.

As we know things are forgotten over a weekend, let alone a long weekend or a week-long vacation. So it makes sense, in a month filled with multiple gaps, to insert lots of review (and a little less new).

Suggestions:

  • Bring back a center–their favorite one.
  • Bring back a center–one that was “too hard,” and give it another chance.
  • Add another layer to learning–modify a previously completed experiment, add another component to an existing center, etc.
  • Create a make-up hour/day for students that have missed assignments or want to redo assignments.
  • Have students re-imagine, or reapply, an existing assignment to another text.
    • example: if a student was required to research the time period of a text that you assigned, this month have the student pick a different text/time period to practice those same research skills

This month: review and extend. Your students will benefit, and you will be providing them a much deserved opportunity for added success.

 

Things I never knew . . .

There are many things I have learned as a teacher–let this be the beginning of many wonderful posts on the things I never knew . . . until I became a teacher.

Five things I never knew . . . until I became a teacher:

  • how long I can go without a bathroom break–it’s pretty long
  • how much caffeine I can consume–it’s a lot
  • how much noise I can block out–it’s insane
  • how much I love mystery meat–it’s kinda gross to admit it, but sack lunches with their mystery meat sandwiches are my favorite 🤤
  • how much I hate breakfast for lunch–it’s terrible, syrup and 1000s of children should be outlawed

 

Why do I teach?

Why do I teach? This is a multi-dimensional, evolving question that cannot be answered in a single post; so, let’s start with the first three things that come to mind.

I teach because:

  • it’s my passion
  • it’s fun
  • it’s rewarding

Teaching is a special line of work.

I picked teaching, initially, because I thought I was going to be a professor someday–and that someday could still happen, it just doesn’t seem to be in my near future.

I picked teaching in the K-12 setting because I wanted to make sure I enjoyed teaching, and could teach, before I pursued teaching at the highest academic level (university setting).

The good news: teaching became my passion, and it’s fun, and it’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Who teaches?

Since learning can happen beyond the school setting, there are many people outside of a school that are actually teaching.

So, besides teachers and school staff, who teaches?

Within the family and community experience, children learn from:

  • parents
  • guardians
  • aunts/uncles
  • grandparents
  • siblings
  • cousins
  • coaches
  • neighbors
  • babysitters/nannies

. . . and this list is not exhaustive. This is a sampling of a child’s most likely, and most immediate circle.

Children are sponges–they are learning from cashiers and sales associates while we are shopping; they are learning from waiters and waitresses while we are dining at restaurants; they are learning from our friends while we are visiting our friends.

It takes a village, there’s a village at every school, and a village surrounding us. Take advantage and appreciate every person that is contributing to our own, and our kids’ education.