Archive for November, 2008

December: Expectation and Hope

Rockwell christmas
“That which we persist in doing becomes easier – not that the nature of the task has changed, but our ability to do has increased.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

(In other words “Repetition is the mother of learning!” Or “If you don’t succeed the first time try. Try again.”)

This is probably the most difficult few weeks of the year for pupils and teachers. The excitement of the winter break begins to peak as the month moves on. Teachers and pupils are ready for a break! It’s a fgood time to get away from kids, teachers and the rigors of a schedule. Tempers tend to get short and in secondary school, fights are more common during this time of the year. Solid educational practices are ready needed at this time. The teacher who has “control” can ease up a little bit. But as the days near the break, the smile needs to go and the stern finger of rule must come out. This does not mean that teachers should revert to the days of September but rather the business face of the day before a holiday.

Testing have questionable results. Intelligent kids always do well because of their nature- highly motivated . The problem rests with the broader band of motivated, near motivated, unmotivated and anti-motivated. Each teacher needs to appraise their individual situation and decide the course of action. It is important to find activities that are meaningful and keeps the pupils busy.

FOR THE ROOKIE: This is the test time. Teachers set routines the first weeks of the school year. They reinforce the rules as the days pass. If routines are established, it is natural to ease up a bit. The month following the Thanksgiving break is the next big challenge. Kids get antsy, so do the teacher. Attention spans diminish and fuses tend to be shorter. The tendency is to “let up” as the days roll closer to the break. “Keep ’em working!” the pro will tell you. Be careful of putting too much weight on the graded work. Be leery of parties. Get help from the veteran teachers. The holidays will provide the rest and regeneration needed to return. Don’t let up too soon.

And to all a Happy Holiday….

Month’s Events:

<> This is Human Rights Month A good chance to teach a little love and respect for self and others. Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus (12/1).
<> This is also the Holiday Month: Thanksgiving leads into December which celebrates Christmas, Hanukah and Kwanzaa. It is a time of family and sharing and good feelings.

Dates to know:

On the 5th……….. The 8th President, Martin Van Buren, born
On the 7th……….. “A day that will live in infamy”
On the 16th………. Let’s have a Tea Party in Boston
On the 28th………. The 28th President, Woodrow Wilson, born
On the 29th………. The 17th President, Andrew Johnson, born

Occurrence This Month:

<> The Christ child is born in the year 0
<> A Christmas Carol is printed in the year 1843
<> Chewing Gum patented in the year 1869
<> Sherlock Holmes appears in print for 1st Time in the year 1887
<> Wright Brothers first flight is in the year 1903
<> First heart transplant is in the year 1967

Ideas for Subject Areas

Magnificent Social Studies Adventures

🙂 History of the Christmas tree
🙂 Candles of Hanukah
🙂 Origins of Kwanzaa

Great Science Investigations

🙂 The winter solstice
🙂 Snow Flakes

Math Marvels

🙂 Counting flakes

🙂 Degrees in Geometry (related to winter solstice)

Land of Language

🙂 Writing Tales of Scrooge and Tiny Tim and Christmas or Hanukah or Kwanzaa
🙂 Reading Sherlock Mysteries
🙂 Group project: Write a serial (cartoon, series of short tales, etc)

After Arts

🙂 Make paper snow flakes
🙂 Snowmen
🙂 Winter scenes

Body Works

🙂 Floor hockey
🙂 Elements of Basketball
🙂 Snow safety

Do you know…

🙂 Otzi has no living relatives.
🙂 its summer in New Zealand!
🙂 Romans celebrated Saturnalia in mid to late December.
🙂 Silent Night was first song on Christmas Eve 1818.
🙂 Beethoven was born this month.

Questions That hunt Answers…

🙂 Who is Otzi?
🙂 What is Saturnalia?
🙂 Who is St. Nicholas?
🙂 Why is the poinsettia so closely associated with Christmas?

Explore the Web:

🙂 A Math site:
🙂 Social Studies sites:


November 18, 2008 at 12:21 am Leave a comment

Parent/Teacher Conferences

PT confParent/Teacher Conference are a part of the teachers job description. As a professional, it is the teacher’s role to maintain a line of communication between home and school. Late Fall is a time where Parent/Teacher Conferences become a prominent issue. Public or Private. Elementary or High School. College prep or vocational schools. It makes little difference, Parent/Teacher Conferences are a fact of life for the pre-collegial teacher. There are different types of conferences basically driven by how many people are involved and what is the purpose of the conference. This time of the year the school-sponsored Parent/Teacher Conference are prevalent. These formalized conferences are by far the most demanding and exhausting. But any conferences can be nerve racking. As the school formatted day of parent/teacher conferences arrived, chances are that the teacher has already had the opportunity to confer with several parents. Teachers or parents, administrators or counselors, special education personnel can request a conference at any time for any reason. There are common components to any Parent/Teacher Conference. Experienced veterans have learned the mechanics of a Parent/Teacher Conference. Most have learned the hard way. They made mistakes and paid dearly for it. It is the intent here to provide an opportunity for the experienced teacher to refresh what they already know and offer the rookie a few pointers.

Parent/Teacher Conference can be classified according to circumstance. The following is a list of types of Parent/Teacher Conferences. These are presented as a means of discussion.


The School Parent/Teacher Conferences

    • Initialed by administration on a school wide basis
    • Designed to offer a chance for parents and teacher to discuss the progress of pupil.
  • The one-on-one conference
    • Initialed by teacher, administrator or parent
    • Usually to discuss an issue
    • The Phone call
      • Initialed by teacher or parent?
      • Variety reasons
    • The Informal Conference
      • Initialed by parent or teacher
      • Avoid school issue if possible
  • The small group conference
    • Initialed by an administrator or counselor
    • Usually to discuss a common problem in situations where more than one teacher interacts with a pupil
    • The Special education Conference (usually referred to as a staffing)
      • Initialed by Special Education Department
      • To determine if a child needs special Education services or update an enrolled pupil.


back to school text 2 Simple Reminder


Each year the school organizes a Parent/Teacher Conference. In fact most schools have two conferences in the year as well as a “Back to School Night”. These conferences have a set structure. Teachers are in their classroom or, especially in secondary school, the gymnasium. The hours of the conference may be all day, late afternoon into evening or just late evening. Appointments can be made or parents can just roam in as they are available. In some cases, parents pick up report cards at a Parent/Teacher. conference. The difficulty with this conference is the volume of pupil information. Teachers can have 20 to 175 pupils. Preparing for the 20 isn’t too bad but it is difficult with 175. The key to success is to have a set routine to occupy the parents while you quickly access the pupils information. It is important to present the information without relying too much on the grade book. Appointments are much better than the random arrival. Teachers usually have no classes on Parent/Teacher Conference day. It is a rigorous and demanding day. Some school districts still require teachers to teach the school day and then host Parent/Teacher conferences until 9:00 in the evening. It is important to take a break every so often and move around. Too often the parents most wanted to be seen either do not show or arrive so late that the time is not enough to fully to discuss the problems.


Teacher initiated usually indicates a problem that needs to be addressed. The problem may be academic or behavioral. Parent initiated usually indicates a concern about something that the child is saying at home. Pupils tend to embellish things to explain away school problems. One of the most common calls comes from the parent who cannot understand why the teacher is not assigning homework. The parent goes on to say that the teacher told them that there was homework three nights out of the week. His grades are poor and he is doing poorly. When the teacher explains that there is homework assigned, the parent sometimes will shift to the argument that the teacher should have called the parent and informed her that her son is not doing his homework. The best way to avoid the issue is to have called home but sometimes mistakes can be made. The parent is right. The teacher should have called but the child not doing homework is a clear indication that a problem exists. The parent is partly at fault as well. It is best to say that a new approach on both parts is needed. The teacher should remind the parents of a rough guideline of homework assignments. The parent can then observe the work at home. When the teacher is concerned with an academic or behavior problem, parents can be helpful with identifying the problem. The teacher needs to be specific as to the identified problem: Grades on tests are very low. He seems distracted in class. He has difficulty discussing reading assignments. He talks out when the class is involved with a quiet activity. He appears to have a difficulty relating to authority figures. Teachers need to be careful not to express problems in demeaning terms or gross generalizations. THE PHONE CALL is a one-on-one but it is a quick convenient and effective means of identifying a problem. It is not good for a lot of problems or a major concern. No homework, talking out inappropriately, poor test grade, etc. THE INFORMAL CONFERENCE is a one-on-one as well. It however is the conference to avoid. Meeting a parent in a store or on the street or at a party, is not an appropriate place for a conference. Confidentiality is a concern. Approaching a parent in a public place to discuss a child’s school issue is unprofessional. A parent approaching the teacher can be a problem. In both cases, it is suggested that the teacher suggest a meeting time at school (the teacher’s office) where the child’s privacy can be maintained.


This conference involves a group of people and the parents. There are three kinds of Small Group Conferences: The counselor calls an academic summit with all a pupils teachers and the parents, the administrator organizes a meeting of teachers and parents to address behavior issues and the Special Education Conference which addresses issues involved in Learning Disabled pupils. These “staffings” are regulated by Federal, State and Local rules and laws. A staffing involves a special education teacher, the person running the meeting, a regular education teacher (sometimes more than one), a psychologist, social worker, nurse, academic counselor, school administrator, parents and pupil. Staffings, for obvious reasons, are confidential. Personal information is private should not be divulged or discussed outside the conference room. This is general principle for any conference. The information is privileged and like a doctor, lawyer or priest it should be kept confidential. The end product of a staffing is an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The IEP spells out the skill that needs to be addressed. Activities that address the issue. And a timeline is often included. All teachers, regular and special Education, that interact with the pupil should be aware of the IEP. Knowledgeable parents will confront the teacher during a conference to ensure that the plan is in operation.

There is so much more to be said but at this point there is more than enough to digest. Years of teaching experience help to melt the occurrences of many parent/teacher experiences into providing excellent Parent/Teacher Conferences.!


chalk talk 1






November 12, 2008 at 2:13 am Leave a comment

November 2008
« Oct   Dec »