When faced with a child who misbehaves, I usually work with the homeroom teacher to try to determine what may be causing or reinforcing the behavior. Standard procedure, I know. But when developing a plan to help manage the child’s behavior, one thing I usually say first of all is, “We can’t ‘make’ a child behave in an appropriate way. What we have to do is take what we have learned about the child and create an environment that compels the child to make the right decisions with regard to his behavior.”

I’ve always thought that was a rather accurate and wise way to put it, if I don’t say so myself. I’ve been explaining it that way to general classroom teachers for over a decade. But I recently went to a conference on PBS, positive behavior supports, and was privileged to hear one of my old grad school professors, Dr. Tim Lewis deliver the keynote address. As he went through his speech which sounded so familiar, I had to chuckle when I heard him say this:

I’ve always been quick to internalize things that work, without attribution. Isn’t it amazing the impact a good teacher can have on students, even when the student is a teacher, too?

Teachers’ summers

classroomI never thought I’d choose as a mate someone who was in the same field as I was in, but, as is often the case in my life, God had other plans. As time goes on, the wisdom of that move becomes more apparent. Only another teacher can understand 13-hour days to get the latest round of mandated paperwork. It’s nice to have someone to go in to work with you on Saturdays or Sundays to get individualized lesson plans done. And of course it makes for good “quality time” to have someone to grade papers with of an evening over a mug of hot chocolate.

Many people outside of education don’t really understand a teacher’s calling. In fact, there are those out there who try to minimize the job of school teacher. Never mind that a very high number of teachers get out of the profession within the first few years, and for those who stay, burnout is a disproportionately high occupational hazard. Teaching requires more time, effort, and energy than most people realize. Plus, no one gets rich off a schoolteacher’s salary, and for those who think that the real benefits of being a teacher come in “cushy” hours and summers off, think again!

Our contract time is for 40 hours per week, barring any extra duties such as coaching, clubs, or other sponsorships. There is, of course, time spent at home grading, planning, researching and contacting parents. Actual in-school time for us averages 56 hours per week, which, by simple mathematics, is much more than enough when spread out to cover 40 hour workweeks for summers and other vacations.   Continue reading Teachers’ summers