Articles Or No Articles

Articles are not used in some common fixed expressions. Can you use them correctly? Take a moment to do this exercise. Fill in the blanks.… Continue reading
from English Grammar


Dreams Are Your Precious Treasure

Day 47 of 80 Days of Excellence

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Sometimes we write things as teenagers that we need to remember as adults. This double form poem I wrote at Governor’s Honors when I was 17 is one such poem. Here’s the thing, I didn’t keep this because I liked it, I remember keeping this because of the note a 40-something-year-old teacher at GHP wrote on the poem.

Childhood dreaming

Transforms into adulthood goals

Those dreams are the things you must never lose track of

When everything flees and nothing remains, these dreams are always your

Precious Treasure.

And thus, sometimes we have to help children and teens understand what is important.

And likewise, sometimes, we get a smack from the past to remind us who we want to be.  We can remember that our dreams are a precious treasure. I have goals written at age twelve. One of them? To be an author and to write poetry.

Little did I know.

This post is day 47 of 80 days of excellence. I’ve created an email list below for those of you want to be emailed the full posts written as part of this series.

The post Dreams Are Your Precious Treasure appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog

5 Ways to Promote Health and Happiness in Every Classroom

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

I will never carry a gun into my classroom. However, I believe I have something far more helpful: compassion, caring, and a determination to change the world by reaching the hearts and minds of this generation. People are scared and rightly so. In one moment, a madman can destroy the lives of so many. And few people notice what is prevented by a great teacher, but I aim to be one who helps people become safer by reaching kids in the classroom.

This is a Cathy Rubin Global Search for Education Blog Post. Every month, I tackle her question along with other Top Global Teacher Bloggers. This month’s question is:
“How are you promoting well being, health, and happiness in your classroom?”

1.Look for the Lonely

In the recent Reader’s Digest article, One Teacher’s Brilliant Strategy to Stop Future School Shootings — And It’s Not About Guns advocates a strategy where the teacher looks for kids who are left out. It’s brilliant. I do it too.

I look for the lonely. No child should have to eat alone.

Recently, I interviewed Natalie Hampton, the teenager behind the Sit With Us app, an app where students can sign up to “be ambassadors.” A lunch table ambassador won’t turn away anyone who wants to eat with them. Her idea also advocates this.

Loneliness can be a sign of so many things. And while there are students who sometimes need to be alone sometimes and might just need some quiet, it is often a sign of something else going on when a child eats alone.

So, when I’m in the lunchroom, I notice if someone is eating alone. I talk to them. And then I sometimes talk to those kids who would be lunch table ambassadors like Natalie’s and encourage them to invite the other student into their group. It might take a few days, but encouraging kids to be kind to one another can fight loneliness and make the world a better place.

2. Understand the Why’s Behind the Eyes

As students come into my classroom, I call them by name and look at their eyes. When I see something amiss, I’ll find a way to talk to that child. Everything from home struggles to eating disorders and bullying can come out of these carefully crafted conversations.

Whether the issue is big or small, if it is enough to trouble the eyes of a child, it is enough for me to express that I care — even if they’re just tired.

3. Model Unconditional Love With Honest Accountability

Everyone needs unconditional love. Many years ago, I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t walk into my classroom unless I could honestly say that I loved every single child. Twice in 16 years, I had to go to the teacher’s bathroom for a moment of prayer and attitude adjustment before I could walk in the room and keep this promise.

Unconditional love is like a commitment to workout. It’s easy to start off doing it, but when you get tired and life comes at you in full force, maintaining the practice can get harder.

But along with unconditional love, children also need honest accountability. When a child is caught cheating, I have to handle it according to National Honor Society rules. Even so, I express to them that I care but have to hold them accountable.

If someone treats another child with disrespect, I also have to handle the situation. However, I still love the child.

This is a balance, but you can have both. Love helps us relate. Accountability helps us learn.

4. Be Someone That Kids Trust and Admire

As the old adage goes,

More is caught than taught.

How we act is important. What we do when hard times come is critical. How we treat people when we disagree is vital. Students want to respect their teachers, but this generation seems particularly unforgiving when teachers act in ways that aren’t respectable or, even worse, when they disrespect their students.

Teachers have a higher standard of living, not in terms of paycheck, but in terms of our behavior, and we must strive to live up to it in the eyes of our students.

5. Be Honest About Your Own Struggles and Life Story

I understand what it’s like to be lonely. I was “that kid.” The one not invited to parties. The one people picked on and made fun of relentlessly. The kid who ran for every office and no one would elect. (until I got to high school.)

I share this story with my students but the story doesn’t end there. They particularly love how God transformed “Icky Vicki” into a beauty queen. How I ended up winning every election but one after the beginning of ninth grade and leading some very large campus organization as a college student at Georgia Tech.

They love to hear that, although kids taunted me and said that no one would ever love me, my husband and I have been madly in love for 25 years and I still consider him my boyfriend.

And that the kid who everyone said had “no common sense” has been blessed with lots of people reading and listening to her work every day.

The mean taunts of children don’t have to become your future – or anyone’s future. Our past may shape us, but it doesn’t have to define us. We can be more. We can do more. And we can always rise above.

As I share my personal story, it gives kids hope but it also shows them that I’m not perfect, which is something that I believe kids need to understand about adults.

The first three years of teaching were so hard for me. But I think it was because I tried to compartmentalize my life. I never let any of my personal interests, life story, or quirky humor stick out from under my business suit and silky scarves.

But once I brought myself into my classroom, I developed real relationships with the kids and strategies number 1-4 in this article became possible.

You have to relate before you educate.

You have to relate if you want to innovate.

And we must relate if we want to have any hope of causing the violence to dissipate.

I’m fighting school violence by loving one child at a time in meaningful ways that make a difference as I teach them. I’m not perfect nor will I ever reach all of these children, but I’m enough of an idealist and student-fan to give everything I have and keep trying.

The post 5 Ways to Promote Health and Happiness in Every Classroom appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog

5 Teacher Myths and How to Dispel Them: The Truth About Teaching in America

Aaron Pribble on episode 260 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Teachers are not all saints, nor are they all slackers. — These are just two of the myths that social studies teacher Aaron Pribble tackles in this motivating, uplifting talk about what it is really like to be a teacher in America today. Aaron Pribble is the author of Teacherland: Inside the Myth of the American Educator.

Check out Jennifer Gonzalez’ 2018 Teacher’s Guide to Technology for more than 200 tools with special tips, videos, and screenshots to get you started.

Listen Now



Enhanced Transcript

5 Teacher Myths and How to Dispel them

Link to show:

Date: February 23, 2018

Vicki: Today we’re talking with Aaron Pribble @aaronpribble, author of Teacherland: Inside the Myth of the American Educator. He is a high school social studies teacher in California.

So Aaron, as we talk about Five Teacher Myths and How to Dispel Them, what is the first teacher myth?

Aaron: Well, I’m going to say that the first teacher myth is all teachers are saints.

Myth #1 – All teachers are saints.

By saints, I mean that every single teacher’s going to win Teacher of the Year. People have seen movies like Stand and Deliver with Jaime Escalante, or Dead Poets Society with Robin WIlliams — that THAT’S what it means to be a teacher in America today.

Vicki: And that’s a myth. How do we dispel it, because… you know, that is a myth in my classroom. I’m certainly not a saint.

Aaron: Right? And you know, I hope that I think that we all aspire to sainthood, or at least to be Teacher of the Year if not a saint.

I think that one way we dispel it is by painting a realistic picture of what it’s actually like in the classroom — the embarrassing moments when we try to improvise and be human, some of the hardening moments. I think if more and more teachers tell their story, and we get to see a more realistic picture of what it’s like, then maybe some of those myths will start to slip away.

And if I could kind of foresee the second myth, if I could transition into the second one, I’m going to say that the other side of that coin is that if teachers aren’t all saints, then they must be slouches.

Myth #2 – All teachers are slouches

People probably remember that famous New Yorker article or essay about the rumors that the best parts of teaching are June/July/August, that teachers are hard to fire, and that teachers take advantage of their time. I think that that’s equally a myth as well.

A great way to dispel that myth, that teachers are really either saints or slouches, is by highlighting the good work that we do. One of the things that I love about your podcasts so much is that it’s practical, it’s quick, and it showcases a variety of teachers across the country doing really interesting things dayin and day out.

Vicki: Well, and you know, teachers aren’t slouches. We work 99% of the hours of every other profession — except we do it in ten months!

Aaron: (laughs)

Vicki: (laughs)

Aaron: That’s so true! That’s so true!

Vicki: You know, I always say in the summer, “No, I’m not resting. I’m healing.” Because that’s what it takes!

Aaron: You know, a related point, if I can just add on, is like what it means to grade. The notion that teachers can get all their grading done, you know, within the day. It’s just unrealistic. It’s not true.

So if you think about grading an essay, and an essay takes five minutes to grade because you want to give some feedback. You don’t want to just slap a grade on it. That’s five minutes per paper. One class you’ve got 25-30 papers. You’ve got five classes of that. That’s a whole day’s work right there!

So when are you going to do it? You’re going to do it in and around and in between and on weekends and at night and stuff like that. That’s just the way it goes.

Vicki: It is! It takes forever!

OK, what’s our third myth?

Aaron: Alright. Well, related to grading papers, I suppose, the third myth is going to be that teachers only teach their curriculum.

Myth #3 – Teachers only teach their curriculum

When we talk about teaching, we talk about perhaps standardized tests, or proficiency scales, or standards, at least. And that’s true. I’m a social studies teacher, so if I teach a law elective and U.S. History, the units and the curriculum really matters. But I think it’s also really important to teach the whole child.

You know, this notion in education of in loco parentis, which is Latin literally for “in place of the parent.” We are kids’ parents — guardians at least — when they come to school.

It’s really important to know that when they walk through the doors, it’s not just about the content. It’s not just about their minds. But it’s about their hearts. The whole child. It’s really important for us to keep that in mind, I think.

Vicki: Little things like, “How do you get along with the person sitting next to you?” and “How do you respect others?” and “Do you pick up after yourself?” I mean, these are all things that help you be more successful in life.

Aaron: Just to tell you one quick story on that… I had a kid who I really liked. Really promising, star of the football team, but you know, really quiet and really shy. His nickname was Smiley. All the kids called him Smiley. So I started to form a relationship with him through sports, and he’d stick around after class, after this law elective.

And then he kind of peeks his head in one day and asks me to help him write a letter to the judge because his dad was about to be sent to San Quentin State Penitentiary.

My heart was at once both full and broken for this kid. Here is is, trying to learn the curriculum, the stuff that’s going on in the classroom, and he has to worry about his dad being sent away to prison. It just reminded me that we are about helping young people succeed in life. There’s a lot that goes into that.

Vicki: Wow.

OK, what’s our fourth?

Aaron: Our fourth one is that teachers don’t always just teach in the classroom. It’s not just about the curriculum. It’s also that things happen outside of the classroom that I don’t think a lot of people understand as well.

Teachers need supervision points. We chaperone on dances. (What the heck is it like to chaperone a dance?) Or a spring concert, or a choir concert or something like that.

Myth #4 – Teachers only just teach in the classroom

There are a lot of facets of our job, especially when it comes to teaching, that happen outside of the four walls. Perhaps it’s an exchange trip, like taking kids to France or Dubai, for example, or maybe just down the road. But that sort of experiential learning is part and parcel of what we do every day.

Vicki: Some of the greatest teaching moments have been hosting Special Olympics Bocce Ball at my school, where the kids are the officials. Or you know, taking kids on trips overseas. Or you know, sometimes on a field trip. I mean, there’s so many opportunities to teach.

OK, what’s our fifth?

Aaron: I alluded to it earlier. Our fifth and final myth is that the best parts of teaching are not, in fact, June/July/August. Those are not the three best parts of teaching. It’s wonderful to have summers off, but it’s a truly meaningful and remarkable profession. We work hard, but I think we get back much more than we put in.

Myth #5 – The best part of teaching is not the time off, but we do need it

I had a wise mentor teacher a while ago say that, “If you don’t take a Saturday, and you don’t take a Sunday, you’re going to be no good on Monday.”

And I think the same thing is true for summers. It’s a time to rejuvenate, and also to reflect on our practice. You know, the school year’s like a season. And at the end of that season, win-lose-or-draw, you celebrate. Then you reflect on your performance over that past season.

Then you’re refreshed and ready to hit the ground running. But I tell you, for all of the breaks that we have, the breaks are nice, but they would not nearly be enough if you didn’t love what you’re doing.

It’s a real honor to be a teacher in the classroom, and I hope that people will understand what it’s really like in the classroom — to paint a fuller picture so that we can appreciate the jobs that we do.

Vicki: Dude… Aaron, I’m going to tell you what I told my pastor this Sunday. “You are a toe stepper!”

“If you don’t have a Saturday, and you don’t take a Sunday, you’re going to be no good on Monday.”

Oh. My. Goodness.

And all of these myths, I think, are important to talk about and have conversations so that we understand the reality of what our profession is.

You know, our profession is beautiful. Our profession is wonderful.

But our profession is tough. Wouldn’t you agree?

Aaron: Yep. It absolutely is. It’s tough but rewarding. The turnover rate in education is actually quite high.

It’s something approximating a third to a fourth of the teachers drop out within their first five years.

It’s not, believe it or not, because of the long hours. Teachers are willing to do that. It’s not because of the kids that they don’t get along with.

It’s because of loneliness and isolation.

You know, a lot of times, it’s one adult and 20-30 kids in the classroom.

I think that one of the things that we can do to really improve our profession is to increase the collegiality and the collaboration to get teachers working together, so that more people will stay in the profession, and more people will continue in this great profession throughout their career.

Vicki: Such great words because I know beginning teachers who feel very alone.

And I know more experienced teachers who feel alone.

I’m not sure why sometimes it seems difficult to build bridges with other teachers — whether it’s just the profession, or whether we are all kind of like king and queen of our little domain, or what.

Aaron: Right?

Vicki: But you know, Aaron, we have to do better.

Aaron: I agree.

Vicki: We have to be better friends, better colleagues. We have to be more encouraging.

I think you have really shared some powerful things about the profession of teaching.

All of you listening, teachers, I’m proud of you.

Thank you for teaching. Thank you for giving your life to this incredible profession. Thank you for doing all of the things that people notice — and all of the things that people don’t notice — for these kids.

It is worth it. They are worth it. This is an incredible, fantastic, remarkable profession.

Contact us about the show:

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

Bio as submitted

Aaron Pribble is the author of Teacherland: Inside the Myth of the American Educator. An award-winning instructor whose work also includes Pitching in the Promised Land: A Story of the First and Only Season in the Israel Baseball League, Aaron teaches high school social studies in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Twitter: @aaronpribble

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

The post 5 Teacher Myths and How to Dispel Them: The Truth About Teaching in America appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog

Change Your Habits, Change Your Life: How Streak Tracking Makes All the Difference

Day 46 of 80 Days of Excellence

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Set your goals and select habits to go with those goals. For to make a change or accomplish anything, you need steady progress. And sustained growth comes from repetition. And something that repeats consistently is a habit.

But changing habits is so hard!

And accomplishing goals is as well.

I track my habits on a one-pager that also has my goals listed at the top. (shown above)

And while I usually start off with one or two habits that are easy to build, sometimes the others take time.

But I’ll say this. By having a habit “streak tracker” where I look at it daily and reading my goals daily, I have to do some hard searching and examining. For example, my top goal is working out 20 minutes a day six days a week. That is a start. I have to get back to working out every day. I’ll improve from there. And while I started off not doing it so much, I’m getting it done more and more.

Additionally, the goals I have are 12-week goals. (Read The 12 Week Year.) So, I have a few goals for 12 weeks that I do. The habit of habit tracking holds my feet to the fire because I can’t look to some point way off in the hazy future — I have to look at a date at the end of March.

So, as you consider excellence and goal setting (which go hand in hand) consider tracking the habits you want to be part of your goal accomplishment. Don’t pick too many habits — three or four at most, I recommend. But track them and work towards doing them every day.

I can tell you that having my goals typed on cardstock paper in a simple format and tracking my habits do more to help me accomplish goals than anything else.

Oh, and the bottom set of habits is “excellence creations.” That is you, and those are these posts — the 80 Days of excellence where I write for six days a week about excellence.

It isn’t easy to do this, but it isn’t just about checking the box. Bigger picture, it has been about getting me OUTSIDE the box. Forcing myself to think about excellence is helping me focus on an excellence lesson I’ll be teaching to a ladies Bible study on April 3 and 4. And writing about excellence has me thinking about excellence, reading about excellence, and at least three or four times a week it is the topic at the supper table.

Of course, I’m often saying — “what have you learned about excellence this week because I need ideas for what I’m going to write!” However, it is still getting us to talk.

Habits shape us. We are what eat. We are what we think about most of the time. And we indeed are what we do most of the time too.

Choose your habits because, in the end, they will choose who you become tomorrow.

This post is day 46 of 80 days of excellence. I’ve created an email list below for those of you want to be emailed the full posts written as part of this series.

The post Change Your Habits, Change Your Life: How Streak Tracking Makes All the Difference appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog