I am not a full time teacher anymore. I still have plenty of friends who are and I am amazed at their dedication and endurance, especially around this time of year.
Right now primary school teachers are planning Christmas or end of year activities, organising leaving events for graduating students, marking work, writing reports AND continuing to teach your kids full time.
High school teachers would have just finished getting their VCE students through their final exams, attending graduation ceremonies, writing references for students who ask them, organising end of year and Christmas events for their lower high students, marking work AND continuing to teach.
This is not to say that teachers should be pitied or that they would complain. Many wouldn’t, why should they? They love it. But that’s not to say they shouldn’t be remembered and thanked for working extremely hard throughout the year, only to have their workload triple towards the end.
This is why I thought I would write a post on 5 reasons why you should thank your child’s teacher at the end of a busy year…
1. Teachers work long hours.
I know they have great holidays. But most of the teachers I know spend a good deal of those holidays recuperating from a busy semester, marking work and then planning for the next semester. Some of them may go home at 4.00pm, but many of them would be at home working well into the night.
2.Teachers are passionate.
They use much of their energy planning, teaching engaging lessons or thinking about how they could improve. Most of the teachers I have met have a love of learning that means they are constantly striving for improvement in themselves and their students.
3.Teachers use their own money for spoil your kids.
Budgets are getting tighter, but extrinsic motivations are always going to be a great incentive for your kids. Extrinsic motivations such as a gold sticker to say ‘Well Done’ or a round of chocolate bars for the group who worked well together are often paid for by the teacher. Once again, they are happy to do it, because the excitement of a treat is worth it for both teacher and student.
4. Teachers are emotionally invested.
Teachers care about their students. When your child has had a bad day, they will often be telling their partner about the situation when they get home. They will think about ways to help - sometimes at 3am! When your child has a win and does something they are proud of and goes home to tell their family - you can bet the teacher is doing the same!
5. Teachers don’t ask for thanks.
And they don’t expect it. The reason they do their jobs, and do them well is not for the pay, is not even for the holidays (that one surprised you!) - but for the opportunities to build relationships with growing minds and other adults who are passionate about doing the same.
…and that is why, even if they don’t ask for the thanks. I believe they deserve it.
Please take the time to send a card, write an email, make a quick phone call or even get your child to deliver a little gift saying thanks to one of your teachers for their hard work and passion throughout the year.
Appreciation will become another reason why they love their job.
After reading my students English creative writing, it would become obvious that there are certain ‘go to’ adjectives which would repeat time and time again. Adding nothing to their writing.
How could I get them to improve their vocabulary and add a richness to their writing without hitting them over the head with a thesaurus? (Canine Comprehension does not recommend this action as a teaching technique). I would talk to my students about the importance of growing their own vocabulary, the wonderful feeling of discovering a new word and the benefits that came with having a larger vocabulary which allowed you be to better understood and say exactly what you mean.
“The big dog was mad because the man stood on his foot and it hurt a lot.”
Big, mad, hurt, a lot…
Such words used time and again in their story would mean their creations were flat and lifeless. I would sit down with each student and talk to them about using ‘better words’. From this I came up with a whole class activity called: WAR ON WORD'S!
At the end of each class I would leave 10 minutes for this activity.
I explained to the class that there were certain words which we could exchange for more exciting words. I gave an example. I wrote on the white board in large writing. “MAD” in bold.
I asked students to look in their thesaurus for more interesting synonyms.
I then started handing out 10 white board markers to students who had found a word. Those students came up to the board and got to write their synonym on the board. That student then passed their white board marker to another student who did the same. Students were allowed to go up twice, but were not allowed to write a word that was already on the board.
What we got was many, many new words students could use instead of the word ‘mad’.
I then asked the students to choose a few of those words, write them in their Vocabulary Banks and use them throughout the week. The students got used to this routine and would look for interesting ways to incorporate their new word into their speech or writing throughout the week.
I found after a while this activity looked after itself. All I had to do was leave 10 minutes at the end of class. Make sure the whiteboard was blank, write a ‘common word’ in the middle of the board and hand out the whiteboard markers. The students knew what to do and enjoyed getting on with the activity without the teacher over intervening.
My students vocabulary began to improve. My students parents were mentioning WAR ON WORD'S! in my interviews, but more importantly, my students enjoyed the feeling of discovering a new word and the benefits that came with having a larger vocabulary which allowed you be to better understood and say exactly what you mean.
Having trouble following the drama in the text? - How minor real life dramas can be major distractions.
Oscar, my dog and co worker had to go to the vet yesterday. He had an odd lump on his gum, which had turned funny and we thought we better get it checked out. The vet wanted to surgically remove it, just in case it was something nasty. So I found myself at the vet hospital at 7.00am dropping the little guy off for a day procedure.
Pulling into the car park it dawned on me that is could actually be something nasty, which should lead to more tests, discomfort, operations and pain. The drama started to build in my mind. A sense of fear gripped me as I pulled up the hand break and took the keys out of the ignition.
Oscar is the happiest, friendliest dog you could meet. I couldn’t bare the idea that I may not be able to provide the same happiness in his life that he had given to mine.
Leaving him at the vet was difficult. For me. Oscar did not care one jot. He trotted happily off with the vet nurse, as alert as a meerkat, wondering what fun was going to be in store.
That day at work was difficult. I was teaching on a training course and could not concentrate. My mind kept wandering to Oscar and wondering if his operation was going to be one of many or was I worrying for nothing?
I picked Oscar up that night and he was groggy, disoriented and vulnerable.
He slept 48 hours solid. I hardly slept at all.
After that he was good to go. All had been forgotten and he was running around like nothing had ever happened. I, on the other hand had not recovered. I was tired from emotional stress and lack of sleep. I was worried, we were not getting the results for another few days. My focus was shot, my concentration, a mess.
Trying to teach and concentrate in lectures was hard work. I found it difficult to give it 100% and it was a real reminder to how some of my students feel when they sit in front of me.
I only know what they tell me. So when I ask ‘How was your week?’ the usual grunt of ‘good’ could be hiding all sorts of events which are causing them stress, fear, discomfort and sleepless nights.
I wonder how many of my students are not able to give their lesson 100% because of other factors in their life? Probably all of them. They are teenagers! They can make drama out of nothing, and sometimes they have to endure all sorts of real, horrible dramas. All while I’m trying to ask them about Lady Macbeth or Ebenezer Scrooge!
We got a call from the vet today. The lump, a benign tumour. I can breathe out and get some sleep. Drama over, disaster averted. It’s been a horrible few days, but it’s also been a reminder. While my drama was unfolding (mostly in my mind) I still did my best to teach my classes and interact with people as normal.
It’s been a reminder. I hope to be more mindful of the drama’s my students may be facing in their own lives and have patience when I am rattling on about Beowulf or Frankenstein to distant smiles and ambivalent nods.
A Big Bad Wolf? - Helping children overcome a fear of dogs.
Most kids I meet see my dogs as exciting, interactive play things. The possibilities for fun are endless; they can play fetch for hours, hide and seek, learn tricks or just lie down for a furry cuddle.
But sometimes we meet a little one who doesn’t see a dog shaped adventure. They see an animal with a heavy coat, piercing eyes, quick movement, claws and sharp teeth! My dog, Oscar, has dark brown shaggy fur and a big mouth and bright white teeth - I could be describing the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood! Instead of running towards him, the poor child wants to run away.
Oscar has never heard of the Big Bad Wolf from Little Red Riding Hood. He just wants to meet, greet and play. But what should we do when a child is afraid of the doggie?
Neither extreme is advisable.
Forcing a child to ‘make friends’ when they are clearly uncomfortable is not a good idea. The child is already on the alert for any movement from the dog that may be interpreted by the child as dangerous and even the dog moving towards the child or giving a friendly lick can result in panic and screams.
On the other hand. Allowing the child to hide behind our legs and shake is not helping them understand that they have nothing to be afraid of and are missing out on what could potentially be a fun experience or even an important relationship.
But, do they have nothing to be afraid of? Really! What do they have to fear?
Well, as it turns out, it may be quite a lot. From a child's perspective a dog is able to cover us with slobber, knock us down, bark at us and even take our ice-cream right out of our hands!
When getting a dog-shy child to meet a dog for the first time it needs to be remembered that manners need to go both ways. The dog should not be able to move into the child’s personal space uninvited, they should be able to greet peacefully. When meeting a dog shy child I make sure Oscar is in a drop (he has been taught to hold that drop under high distraction), allowing the child to make their way over in their own time.
If I had a dog with less training I would make sure that dog is on leash and under control. Or the greeting could be done through a gate, where the child is safe. If the dog cannot be reasonably controlled, maybe this is an opportunity to teach your child about giving some dogs safe distance and asking the owner or handler if unsure.
Getting children to build confidence around dogs can be a rewarding experience for all involved. But remember, if an untrained dog is able to frighten the child, they may do more harm than good, causing lasting fear. I mean, I’m still frightened of The Big Bad Wolf.
Does anyone else have some great tips for helping children overcome a fear of a friendly pooch?
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