Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Should School Administrators Enforce a Teacher Dress Code?

I like walking into a school and knowing immediately who the principal and assistant principals are judging solely on how they are dressed. I like knowing who the teachers are and appreciate paraprofessionals who live up to that name "para," i.e. alongside in a supportive capacity.

I like meeting a principal who has on business dress. I like the air of respect it brings to a building, to the personnel, to the profession. I like knowing that the person in charge has enough respect for him/herself and for the profession to make an effort to be, well, professional.

I like teachers who look professional rather than like they are going to a school picnic. I like paraprofessionals who have the same respect for the profession as a certified teacher.

I taught for thirty years in private and public schools and have witnessed the gradual deterioration of professional dress during that time. As I recall, it started with Friday Spirit Day. On Fridays we all wore some sort of dress pants or skirt along with our school colors or school polo. We did it to show spirit. Spirit Day then became "dress-down" day. I remember teachers commenting: When did Fridays cease to be "spirit" day and become "grunge" day?

The effect was enormous. Fridays became watch a movie/video day, celebration day, reward day, party day. Students began skipping Fridays because "We don't do anything in class anyway." Oh, I know...some of you are going to disagree with me because you still hold the standards high. But I'm guessing you are few and far between.

I must ask: How much has lowering our dress standards influenced lowering our academic standards? I think the question is viable and the answer is important. If the influence is as I imagine-fairly substantial-then I will address the question to superintendents and administrators: What are you going to do about it?

I'll give you a firsthand example of how dress affects students. Way back in the early 1980s, I taught at a parochial school. The dress standards were fairly stiff. The students were allowed to wear jeans only on Fridays. The jeans could not be too tight, too worn, torn, or have frayed hems. But students pushed the limits, as students often do, wearing them too tight, etc. The school board then said, "No more jeans." The students rebelled.

Okay, they said, we'll follow the rules. Give us another chance. The school board agreed. The students blew it-again! So no more jeans. The school board suggested uniforms. The students and parents disagreed, saying it hampered individuality.

As an extreme response, and to make a point, the Associated Student Body (ASB) got together and decided they would institute their own dress code: dress pants and shirts for the guys, only dresses/skirts for the girls. No more jeans. The parents rebelled. "Too expensive," they said. The students pressed on, hoping to paradoxically make their point and get the school board to bend. It worked.

Under parental pressure, the school board caved and said, "Okay, we're giving up on having a dress code." To the surprise of everyone, the students refused to give up their newly instituted dress code their own words...

We like the way everyone acts when we are more dressed up. We are nicer to each other. We act like ladies and gentlemen. The boys treat the girls with more respect. The girls are even nicer to other girls. We don't want to give up our dress code. And so the student dress code remained in effect, enforced by the students themselves.

I, for one, was very proud of the students for taking the matter into their own hands. I have not stretched the truth here; this actually happened just this way.

What about uniforms? I applaud those schools and school districts who insist on uniforms for the students. It does indeed level the playing field. From time to time, news talk shows highlight schools and students from underprivileged as well as prep schools who have done something worthy, and these students are usually wearing uniforms-often dress pants/skisst, dress shirts, blazers, and ties. I am impressed, and they seem to have a certain pride about themselves.

Back to the issue of dress codes for teachers, paraprofessionals, and administrators. Here's another scenario: I walked into a high school the other day, looking around for the administrator. A man entered the lobby area. I assumed, from his dress, that he was working on the sprinkler system being installed outside the school. He wore a wrinkled plaid shirt, khaki pants with frayed hems, and scuffed shoes. To my surprise, when I asked to see the principal, it was indeed this same man. And it wasn't even dress-down Friday. So, I thought, well, it must be just an off day; maybe he had some sort of special circumstance. But, no, I've been back several times since, and he's dressed the same. I have also seen him in action in the hallways and classroom. He gives little respect to students and teachers, and they return little respect. Would it help if he dressed professionally? I don't know. Would it be worthwhile to find out? Absolutely!

The next question then is: Whose responsibility is it? Does a dress code need to be enforced from the top down? Why would that be necessary for administrators, teachers, and paraprofessionals who call themselves professionals? Why are we not capable and responsible enough to think this through and do it for ourselves? What does being a professional include?

I taught for many years in a district where most of the staffs, all included from the administrators to the custodians, dressed professionally. The schools had a professional air about them that you could feel from the moment you walked in. The teachers and paraprofessionals interacted with respect for one another. Not everyone necessarily liked each other or agreed with each other, but they treated each other with professional respect. No dress code existed; it was just understood that we all respected ourselves and our academic professions enough to want to look the part.

The other day I walked into a middle school classroom. A tall middle-aged man, dressed in casual slacks and polo shirt, was walking across the tops of the student desks. He jumped down and introduced himself as the assistant principal. Students were lying about the room, texting, listening to iPods, playing games. It was the middle of the classroom period; it was not on a Friday. I'm sure my eyebrows raised and my mouth fell open. I got the impression that the assistant principal was trying to relate to the kids-that he was trying to be cool. After he left the room, the students made fun of him, saying unkind and disrespectful things about him. Would his being dressed professionally have changed all that?Maybe, maybe not. But how much has lowering dress standards contributed to a general lack of respect for education in general?

Education is not what it used to be, academically or otherwise. Our nation's schools are in trouble. Yes, I know there are those isolated schools and programs that are making great gains through innovation, technology, raising standards, making school practical, producing soaring test scores. But that isn't the norm. We are in trouble. Where do we begin to "fix" this problem? Will enforcing dress codes across America solve the problem? Probably not. Will raising the professional standards for administrators, teachers, and paraprofessionals at least have some sort of positive impact? I think so. Whose responsibility is it to promote change? Who will step up to the plate to save the day? Where do we go from here? Or shall we just call it a day and go on a picnic?!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

A Young Teacher's Guide to School Sport, Part 3 - Preparing Students to Play

There is much more than turning up and playing a game of sport. There is much for the teacher coach to organise to ensure the game goes ahead successfully on the day. Members of the team must be involved in this preparation as well as the teacher coach. In fact, without their contribution the teacher coach would not be able to get the game underway satisfactorily. As you read the points I make below, you will understand this.

On a more serious note, the teacher must ensure that everything is done in a way that keeps the students safe from unnecessary injury in the game. This comes from correct skills training and a full warm up before the game. Poor organisation can lead to claims of negligence and the possibility of litigation.

Insist on correct care of equipment by team members.

Have a roster of team members to collect the team's equipment and bring it to the game venue either at your school or to take it to the bus.

These rostered team members would also return equipment to the sports store after the game. They may need to be under your direction especially for younger students.

Have a list of equipment and insist on a stock take after each practice and game supervised by you.

Keep all consumable items with you, e g. the match ball/s.

If you issue uniforms, note the number of the uniform on a team list and have the student sign to acknowledge that he/she has received the uniform. Also date the signature.

It is best to collect the uniforms directly after the last game. Warn the players to bring a change of clothes. Organising the washing of the uniforms yourself, takes a lot less time than chasing up players who take home their uniforms to wash after the last game. It also prevents losses due to early departures of the players from your school.

If your team changes from week to week, collect the uniforms after each game and organise to have them washed or do it yourself. It is less hassle and cheaper than 'lost' uniforms. Where the players need to keep their uniforms, then you will need extras for those players who come in and out of the team. These obviously need to be collected after each game.

Always organise a warm-up before each game to reduce the chance of injury even if it means less time in your game. Always finish on time to allow the next game to start on time or to allow the players to return to school or home at the correct time.

Insist on sportsmanlike behaviour at all times. Respect must be shown to the game officials, your opponents, team mates and the game. There should be no exceptions to this rule.

Have safety rules that you enforce rigidly and without exception.

Expect all players, irrespective of the game situation, to be totally involved and seated in their designated bench. This includes all bench players or reserves. They should encourage their team mates throughout the game.

Insist that players have sun protection and feet protection at all games.

Organise a scorer in sports that require accurate results to determine the winners. Having a person who scores for every match is ideal.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

High School Teacher Has Meltdown Over Article Marketing

What to consider before the choice of jumping into the online craze. Writing informational articles are easy to do, in order to make some spend able cash. Do not worry about your English Teacher grading you, just write them as if you were telling your friend how to do something. Writing is ignored as a way to earn cash from home; it is not the book report from high school at all. Writing articles at home is a great work at home idea. It is a good way to get noticed on Google, and other searches engines, regardless of what your high school teacher thinks. Your articles will get picked up in search engines and served up in the search results when real people are searching for answers to there problems.

Making some money does takes effort on your part, but it is enjoyable to do. Articles are good way of getting your online business off the ground and out there to be found. Articles that offer real advice and help to readers do get read. The internet is a world of information for your readers, it is everything that they ever needed to know, so give them the answers.

So, what you are going to do is use the articles you have written to drive traffic to websites like Squidoo, Hub Pages and Blogger. The reader will read your content and then may click on a link in your content to make a purchase through your affiliate link That is simply marketing online, you can call it, "a soft sell". You can place Google AdSense code on these sites too, Google handles which ads to place in the content. When a reader clicks on these ads, Google pays you. There is a lot of money changing hands on the World Wide Web that most men and women have no idea that it is happening. Think about it, what do you think "sponsored ads" means?

Making money from home through the net is getting easier everyday. The main reason why people fail is because they give up far too soon. Google AdSense was the first tool I started with. If you are new to website publishing, it is a great place to start in my opinion.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

How Can A High School Chemistry Teacher Make The Subject More Interesting?

For a high school chemistry teacher, teaching kids can sometimes be a nightmare! High schools students can be a bit difficult to handle and when you are talking about chemistry, which is one of the most dreaded subjects, the problems gets even worse! The teacher has to make sure that the subject is interesting and students can easily understand it.

However, no need for teachers and to-be-teachers to get alarmed. Chemistry is indeed a very interesting subject. We are all surrounded by chemistry and chemical reactions are taking place inside our very own body! As a teacher, you need to show students that chemistry is not some boring and dull subject but is related to everyday life. Everything around us is made of atoms and molecules and many chemical reactions are going on around us as we speak.

Your very first class will set the tone of your coming classes. Set the kids at ease and engage them in an interesting topic. Get them excited about chemistry.

Relate chemistry to them.

For instance, teens usually like munching on snacks whenever they can lay their hands on them. Tell them about the chemical composition of snacks and chemical reactions that generate inside their bodies.

Or if you are talking about enzymes, why not explain them with the example of Jell-O and fruits? If you add certain fruits to Jell-O, it won't set. That is because some fruits contain enzymes proteases which stop the formation of bonds between Jell-O molecules. Interesting, right?

Teaching from a book is good but it might be harmful in the end if all you do is teach from text. Students might eventually lose interest. You have to engage them by using projectors and charts. This will also describe chemistry concepts better than concepts dictated directly from book.

You could also make use of models to explain chemistry concepts. It will grab their attention. Don't tell them how copper sulphate crystallizes, show them. Show them the effects of nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and they will be eagerly waiting for your next class. Experiments involving nitrous oxide are safe and can be done in class. Seek out easy-to-do, interesting experiments and get your students to do them in class.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

How to Be a Sunday School Teacher

Teaching Sunday school is a wonderful ministry that gives the teacher the opportunity to guide children to be strong and knowledgeable in their faith. It is this time in a child's life when the Sunday school teacher can instill wonderful Godly values through stories, games, and interactive play.

Sunday School Ideas

Some of the best Sunday school games can be played outside during warm weather. Of course, the parents will need to know in advance so the kids don't wear expensive clothing and ruin them on these days.

If you have a large or small class, the 'Station' game will work perfectly. This is the time when you will need some teenager or adult help. Set up different stations: hula hoop, jump rope, bucket toss, dress like a Bible character, and so on. Don't worry if your kids are too small to do some of the stations, they can be altered for the child.

For instance, instead of hula hooping, lay the hoop on the ground and let the child jump in and out of it. Instead of jumping rope, let them limbo or crawl under it.

Play to Learn

Before Sunday school, you will need to have questions, answers, and bible verses ready for each station. When a child comes to the station, they must answer a question about the day's story or a story you have told in the past. If they don't answer correctly, help them or give them clues so they will remember.

After they have finished the game at the station, let them move to the next station and onto the next question or verse. If you have chosen to do the dress up station, the verse can be said while they are putting on the clothes or they could act out a part of a story they've learned and must tell you about it.

Teaching Your Class

To be a Sunday school teacher, you do not have to know the whole Bible by heart. It can be scary at times and you may come across a story you've never heard. A child may even ask you a question you don't know the answer to. While you want to act like you know the answer, never make up something!

It is alright if you don't know the answer. If we knew it all, we wouldn't need church and that is just not the case. When you don't know the answer, say, 'I want to make sure to tell you correctly. I'll study up on it and get back with you.' Or, something similar.

Singing and dancing is another great way to teach kids. There are all kinds of songs roaming around the internet and Christian bookstores that tell a Bible story or re-enforce one you've already told.

Sunday School Resources

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of resources available to Sunday school teachers today. Many you can find for free and others you can find for a minimal price. Just remember, the worst thing you can do for your class is to get stuck in a rut doing the same thing over and over each Sunday until the kids no longer listen or learn.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

4 End of School Year Activities for Teachers

The end of the year is here! It is something you can feel in the air. Everyone is excited to take a break from working hard all school year. Make starting up again next year easy with these 5 end of school year activities for teachers.

1.Take down your bulletin boards and put up new ones. When I began teaching I loved taking down my bulletin boards at the end of the year. There is something about those empty boards that scream SUMMER! One year I decided I was going to put new paper up and my boards for the fall before I left for the summer. It was the best thing I did! When teachers came back and everyone hustling to get their boards done, I was able to spend my time on my lesson planning and my new things I wanted to do as far as content for the year. Guess what? The next year many teachers followed. It is a GREAT time saver. Try it!

2.Clean out files. Go through all you files from this year and dump! Do both student files as well as your own. You don't need to be saving unnecessary paperwork that over the years gets out of control. Take a few hours at the end of the year to go through what you don't need and toss it!

3.Gather activities for the first few weeks of school. Everyone has their favorite activities that they like to do the first few weeks of school. Get that stuff ready before you leave for summer. It will be one less thing you need to do when you come back to school. Teacher organization is the key!

4.Make copies. If there are lessons you do or tests you give the first month back at school, make those copies now and get them out of the way. You can place them in all those empty files you have now that you have done #2! There is always a rush at the copy machine of teachers making copies when the year begins. Beat that rush by preparing ahead of time!

Doing these 4 activities will help make your life easier in the long run. Go do these and then have a wonderful summer!