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Teaching the Value of Something

In today's world, things don't operate anywhere near the same as in the past. Society has changed, and so have general rules, and with that acceptances.

If I could make one generalization, I would say that kids of today have it much easier, on average, than kids of past generations. I can even look at myself, and hearing about what my parents had to do, I didn't have to do nearly as much. Yes, I did have chores that needed to be done, but no I didn't have an allowance. I was asked to do something, and was expected to do those tasks.

From talking with my students, many of them do not have these same responsibilities, yet many still do get an allowance. I knew of children my age that did get an allowance when I was growing up. It was usually like $5 a week. I hear of students I have now getting $20-$50 a week! And they don't have to do anything. Yes, money doesn't grow on trees.

I'm not saying that if you're doing this you should stop, but what are they learning from this is more where I'm headed. What are they learning by getting $20-$50 a week for doing nothing? They are learning that money is given to them for nothing, and they lose the value of earning it. They lose the message behind value.

Value- n relative worth, utility, or importance : degree of excellence

There is an importance in learning what VALUE means. It is important to learn how to value something. If everything is given to you, and you don't have to earn anything, you are not going to appreciate things the same as if YOU earn it.

Example - This past year I had a great example shown to me, that just shocked me. I student came to school with a brand new pair of jeans. All they did to show me that they didn't value them was write on them with a black pen by the knee. What could we conclude by witnessing that?

If an item is sentimental to you, you place a different value on it than someone else would. There are items on this earth that have great sentimental value to people. Pictures, antiques, letters, etc... What something is worth to one person may vary greatly to another person.

How can we teach the value of something to children, or even people? Some don't seem to have a concept for how much something is worth.

1) First talk with them about the fact that some things may be important to one person and not to another. Some people value different things. Use the word value with them, and give examples.

2) Explain with them how money works. Talk about how it is earned, where it comes from, the basic principles of it.

3) Build your child's money skills. Play games that involve money, such as Monopoly, Payday. Also teach them equivalents. Yes, money is taught in school, but money skills aren't.

4) If they make a poor decision regarding value, talk with them about it. Find out why they did what they did. See things from their perspective before you react.

5) Give them a small allowance. It should give them the chance to buy smaller items. Young kids shouldn't be walking around with $100, but I've seen it.

On one final thought... should you pay your child for A's? or B's? Should children earn money for getting good grades? I never did. My thoughts... if it works, use it. If it doesn't, don't. Still, I have seen students in the hall with over $50 in their wallet/purse/pocket, showing it off to other students. Why do they need that much money on them, and why isn't it in a bank?


Teaching Interview Questions

Since I have moved and am currently looking for a new teaching position, I will share with you some common interview questions that I have found. Practice answering these questions OUT LOUD, maybe even in front of a mirror. It may seem weird, but the better you know what you're going to say, the less you may ramble or stumble on a question. I have had 3 interviews in the past year, and 2 more coming up this week. The previous 3 weren't the right fit, although I did well. The next 2 are really a good fit, and I'm anxious to see what happens.

Page 1
Interviewers are paid to ask questions! The following questions were asked
during previous teacher interviews. Use these to practice and you will be
prepared to communicate your teaching skills.
Why do you want to teach?
What is your philosophy of education?
If students are having difficulty learning a skill or concept, what do you do?
Describe your style of teaching.
Would you like to be involved in school (community) activities?
What do you plan to be doing in five years? What are your career goals?
Describe your student teaching experiences.
What was your biggest problem in student teaching? How did you resolve it?
What three words would your students sue to describe you as a teacher?
How do you individualize your teaching?
What techniques would you use to keep students actively involved and
motivated during a lesson?
What are the rules of your classroom? How are they established?
What are the qualities of an excellent teacher? Which of these qualities
do you have?
Some of your students always finish their assignments early. How would
you deal with the free time that they have?
How would you work with students who perform below grade level,
especially those from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds?
What coursework have you taken that you feel has made you an
especially competent teacher?
How would you use teacher aides and parent volunteers?
Are parent/teacher conferences important?
Why do you want to work in our district?
What materials have you used that you find most effective for the slow
learners? The quick learners?
Why should our school district hire you?
Describe an ideal classroom.
Describe the types of quizzes and tests that you give. In a quarter, what
types of evaluations compose your quarterly report?
A student is consistently late to your class. How do you handle the
What would you do, or how would you treat a student who refused to do
the work you assigned?
How would you handle a student who continually “acted up” in your class?
How do you engage a parent in the education of his or her child?
How should a student’s educational achievement and progress be
What do you expect from your supervisor? Your Principal?
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How do you stay organized?
What excites you? Annoys you? Bores you?
What motivates you?
Whom do you admire?
Why do you want this job and what do you expect to get from it?
How do you keep from getting burned out?
What didn’t you like about your last position?
What would you do if your Principal made a decision you didn’t like?
What do you dislike about teaching?
Describe how you are a self-starter.
Give an example of how you handle conflicts.
If you had an idea for improving the school, how would you sell it to
colleagues and the Principal?
If you weren’t a teacher, what would you be and why?
What gives you job satisfaction?
How do you get ready to teach a lesson?
Describe the best lesson you ever taught and explain why it worked.
Describe the worst lesson you ever taught and explain why it went badly.
How do you find out what students need to know?
If a lesson flops, what do you do?
How do you handle angry parents?
Give examples of how you handle pressure and stress.
Describe an ideal teaching-learning situation.
Why should we hire you over all the other candidates?
What kind of technology do you use in the classroom?
If it came down to you and 2 other candidates for a teaching job, what
would qualify you? Why should you get the job over the others?
What is a question you might have expected us to ask and we didn’t?
This is your opportunity to answer that question.
How do you manage the diverse learning styles in your classroom as well
as diverse learning abilities?
Describe how you evaluate your lessons (summative evaluation)
Evaluation methods other than tests.
What learning styles have you used?
What is your goal?
Do you use cooperative learning?
Tell me in detail a reading lesson you developed, the reason why you
planned this lesson, the children’s reactions, specific learning tools utilized
and things you taught through the lesson and why.
If you had a child who had a bad grade at the beginning of the unit, and an
“A” at the end, would you count the bad grade?
Explain your classroom management policies.
What do you think are parents’ expectations of today’s teachers? What do
you think of these expectations, agree/disagree?
Knowledge about graduation exams and SAT tests.
Tell of a time when you took initiative to complete a task.
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Why are you staying in this area?
How would you stay in contact with your parent?
Tell me something that you have initiated yourself.
How would you teach reading to 1st
What would you do if you had 3rd or 4th
graders who couldn’t read?
Describe how you see yourself as a professional in the classroom.
What have you experienced student teaching?
What are you looking for? What do you expect?

If you are serious about teaching in the district where you are interviewing, there
are many questions to which you need to know the answers before you accept
an offer. Your interviewer will surely cover some of your questions, but by asking
pertinent questions you will show your interviewer that you do understand
fundamental issues relating to teaching. You should have several questions in
mind before you arrive for you interview.

The following questions should give you a good start.
What is the teacher/student ratio in your district?
Do you encourage teachers to earn graduate degrees?
How many classes a day will I be expected to teach?
What types of school activities promote parent-teacher-student
Tell me about the students who attend this school.
What textbooks does the district use in this subject area?
Do teachers participate in curriculum review and change?
Does your district promote staff development activities and conferences?
What types of programs have the teachers attended in the last year?
How does the teaching staff feel about new teachers?
What discipline procedures does the district use?
Do parents support the schools? Does the community?
Do your schools use teacher aides or parent volunteers?
To what extent do staff members work collaboratively to solve problems
and respond to the needs of students?
How are teachers assigned to extracurricular activities? Is compensation
Does the district have a statement of educational philosophy or mission?
What are prospects for future growth in this community and its schools?


Bullying - Don't ignore it!

Bullying is a problem all over. Have you ever been bullied? Hopefully not, and hopefully you haven't been the bully. In my school we've had workshops to "Bully-proof our school."

Bullying can be described as many things. It can be teasing, pushing, demanding things, harassing... and there are different levels and stages. Obviously they are all negative behaviors, and should not be tolerated because they make someone else feel bad.

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A bully is described as: A person who is habitually cruel or overbearing, especially to smaller or weaker people.

How should you handle a bully, or a bullying situation? If you are bullied, or if you witness it, here are some steps to solve the problem:

1) Write down what happened. Include the date and time the event occurred.
2) Don't blame yourself if you're bullied. You didn't deserve it, and it isn't right.
3) Get support from your friends, but don't gather them together for revenge, or a fight.
4) Tell the bully to stop it. If you feel it's safe to do so.
5) Avoid being alone, stay in groups if possible.
6) If you see someone else being bullied, support the victim, not the bully. Tell the bully to stop it.
7) Tell a parent, teacher, adult about it, so you get some support. If you don't get the support you need, tell someone else.
8) Keep telling until the problem is solved!
9) Learn about the school/club harassment policy. If it isn't being followed, ask why it isn't.
10) If you feel scared at any time, ask to see a counselor, or ask to talk to someone.

*All these tips are courtesy of the Red Cross

Not everyone will follow the Golden Rule. But you can!

Here is a poem I found on the site Bullying Online. It sums up the feelings that are gone through. I thought it really puts things in perspective:

I am
I am the person you bullied at school
I am the person who didn't know how to be cool
I am the person that you alienated
I am the person you ridiculed and hate

I am the person who sat on her own
I am the person who walked home alone
I am the person you scared everyday
I am the person who had nothing to say

I am the person with hurt in her eyes
I am the person you never saw cry
I am the person living alone with her fears
I am the person destroyed by her peers

I am the person who drowned in your scorn
I am the person who wished she hadn't been born
I am the person you destroyed for 'fun'
I am the person, but not the only one.

I am the person whose name you don't know
I am the person who just can't let go
I am the person who had feelings, too
And I was a person, just like you.

The poem can be found here, with some extra information from Laura, the author


Critical Teaching

In a world where Education has constantly been the subject of change and ridicule, schools fight for the time and opportunity to teach students the new standards and benchmarks creatively.

There has been such an influx of political interruption within the public schools over the past six years. If you really take a look at what has happened through that time period, you might be a
mazed. Is there any room left for students to investigate, or extend their lessons? Are lessons open-ended enough to go off on a tangent and study something closely related?

h federal education plans being adopted over the past few years, teachers have had to narrow the "roads" they lead their students down. Many teachers are submitting themselves to defeat, and simply teaching toward the tests. This is something that I hope most teachers WILL NOT do. Keep that spark of creativity in your blood. Be the light that inspires your students to want to learn more.

Push the envelope... and foster a desire in their souls that drives them to ask questions: "Why?" "What's the difference?" "How come?" "Does this even matter?"

To teach is not only to present them with the information so that they may learn. To teach is to instill in them a passion for greater knowledge.

Teachers- we need to begin to teach our students critically. The future doctors, lawyers, and teachers shouldn't merely accept things as fact, but need to learn to question why things are the way they are. If they disagree with something, they can make a difference.

Critical teaching, in my own perception, is educating students to prepare them for real life. Another key aspect of critical teaching is presenting tasks to students, and asking them to become activists in some form. The most important concept of all is when students begin to question:


What can you do in your classroom?

You can relate things easily to the real world, in all subject areas.

They may ask, "Why am I doing this?" Let your response be, "This is a skill that will help you when you're on your

Write letters, assign p
rojects, build things... these are all ways to teach critically. Let students be active and involved in classwork.

The children are the future. Don't allow them to accept everything as fact. Challenge them to ask questions, and seek greater things. By allowing them to think critically, who knows what great things are in store for the world?



"If one doesn't respect oneself one can have neither love nor respect for others." -Ayn Rand

I would have to begin by saying that I really don't agree with the cartoon, but I thought that it provided a topic that I discuss in my classroom, and hopefully is discussed at home as well. That being - RESPECT.

We talk about respecting other people a lot in school, and a great deal of little chats that I have with my sixth graders are about respect. We may be talking about respecting the feelings of another student. We might focus on just respecting elders, or people of authority. My class has heard me talk about other areas of respect, including respecting ones property, space, possessions, family, time, differences, and SELF.

What exactly are we looking at doing when we have these discussions? I call them little chats, because it gives a different "feel" to the room when I say it. "OK, it's time for a little chat." I ask questions, they ask questions, and we discuss the importance of respecting others, and ourselves.

And that is where I think it all begins. We need to respect ourselves first, in order to respect other people. Which is why I am pretty much nothing like the teacher in the cartoon. I have a lot of self pride, and I'm proud to say that I'm a teacher. I feel that I play a relevant role in my community, and do a good job in my profession. I respect myself, and I respect others.

What makes life difficult is when you run into people that don't have any respect. I can picture Rodney Dangerfield saying "I don't get any respect." Well, they need to begin with themselves, and work from there. It just seems to snowball though. They begin by not respecting themselves. Maybe they've had tough luck finding a job, or are unable to stop some sort of addiction, which happens all the time. That doesn't mean you're worthless, but some people take that kind of situation too hard. They lose respect for themselves, and with it, they lose respect for other people. They begin to blame others for things. They disrespect other people, and this just makes things so much worse.

That is one thing that I don't tolerate in my classroom at all. I will not allow someone to disrespect another person, especially me. And to be honest, I can tell if someone respects me or not. If they respect me, then they most likely will receive that same respect from me back. If they don't respect me, I'm not going to respect them.

So, to combat disrespect, we talk about ways to show respect:
  • Complimenting other people.
  • Showing empathy and understanding.
  • Addressing people when being talked to.
  • Removing hats when in public buildings.
  • Apologizing when necessary.
  • Saying "Thank You" and "You're Welcome"
  • Being prepared, and alert.
Among many other things...

"They cannot take away our self-respect if we do not give it to them."- Mahatma Gandhi


School Excuses


These are actual excuse notes teachers have
received, spelling mistakes included.

-My son is under a doctor's care and should not
take P.E. today. Please execute him.

-Please excuse Lisa for being absent. She was
sick and I had her shot.

-Dear School: Please ekscuse John being absent
on Jan. 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, and also 33.

-Please excuse Gloria from Jim today. She is

-Please excuse Roland from P.E. for a few days.
Yesterday he fell out of a tree and misplaced his

-John has been absent because he had two
teeth taken out of his face.

-Carlos was absent yesterday because he was
playing football. He was hurt in the growing

-Megan could not come to school today because
she has been bothered by very close veins.

-Chris will not be in school cus he has an acre
in his side.

-Please excuse Ray Friday from school. He has
very loose vowels.

-Please excuse Tommy for being absent
yesterday. He had diarrhea and his boots leak.

-Irving was absent yesterday because he missed
his bust.

-Please excuse Jimmy for being. It was his
father's fault.

-I kept Billie home because she had to go
Christmas shopping because I don't know what
size she wear.

-Please excuse Jennifer for missing school
yesterday. We forgot to get the Sunday paper off
the porch, and when we found it Monday, we
thought it was Sunday.

-Sally won't be in school a week from Friday.
We have to attend her funeral.

My daughter was absent yesterday because she
was tired. She spent a weekend with the

-Please excuse Jason for being absent
yesterday. He had a cold and could not breed

-Please excuse Mary for being absent yesterday.
She was in bed with gramps.

-Gloria was absent yesterday as she was having
a gangover.

-Please excuse Burma, she has been sick and
under the doctor.


Oh My Stars!

We just started my favorite unit each year, Astronomy! We're blessed to have the opportunity to use the STARLAB portable planetarium. I usually reserve it for two weeks to allow us to get into some depth of the locations of certain stars and constellations.

Every schoolyear the content of the unit seems to grow. Mainly the material that we learn inside of the planetarium grows bit by bit. I now can show them the sixteen brightest stars in the Northern Hemisphere, and how to find them, and when. (Here's a link for the 12 brightest)

We also go into the myths behind the constellations. The STARLAB has different cylinders that show different things. The students sit in a circle along the wall and the projector is set up in the middle.

To begin I concentrate on the basic star field. I can set the latitude to where we're located, and the time of year so that they can see where the stars will be at a certain time of day on the current date. One of the things that I like about Astronomy is that I seem to learn something new just about every week. When I began using the STARLAB I didn't really know all that much compared to what I know now, and I continue to try to add more all the time.

One of the first things I emphasize is that living where we do, the winter/spring is one of the best times to see many constellations. I really enjoy the enthusiasm and excitement Astronomy generates in my students. They eat it up like a good piece of pie!

I would have to say that probably my favorite constellation is the easy to find Orion. I use this constellation to show them how to find nearly 10 more.

From there I change cylinders, and show them one that has the stars of constellations connected. They can then see the shapes, and get an idea of what people were picturing when they named them. We talk about what they are supposed to look like, and the constellations around them. Some of the constellations that we talk about are: Orion, Canis Major, Canis Minor, Gemini, Casseopeia, Taurus, Auriga, Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Bootes, Lyra, Cygnus, Aquila, and Leo.

We also look at some of the Native American constellations, and talk about how similar many are to the Greek constellations, even though they were imagined, or developed long, long ago.

Outside of the STARLAB planetarium we study the planets and other space phenomenon. I'm amazed at how much we've learned about our own Solar System in the past few years.

Did you know that in 1995 we believe that Jupiter had 16 moons. As of today, we've discovered 63 moons, and there is a great chance there are more.

Some other tidbits of info:

  • Venus is the only planet that rotates in an opposite direction of the other planets.
  • Uranus has an inclination of nearly 90 degrees, so it's nearly on its side
  • Saturn isn't the only planet with rings- Jupiter, Neptune and Uranus also have them.
  • Mars has the largest volcano in the solar system, Olympus Mons.
  • Jupiter's moon Ganymede is larger than the planet Mercury.
There are some great Astronomy sites out there. Here are a few that I like:
  1. Billy's Amazing Astronomy Facts
  2. Astronomy for Beginners - Amazing Astronomy Facts
And a great Blog dedicated to the subject: Tom's Astronomy Blog

There is so much more out there to learn. I could go on and on!