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Current Issue Table of Contents | Back Issues

Volume 3 Number 8

Harry & Rosemary Wong remind us that, "An induction program is an organized, sustained, multiyear process with many activities designed to help you succeed...."
Preparing for the First Day of School by Jan Zeiger
Classroom Discipline Forum Will Support New and Veteran Educators by Kathleen Carpenter, Editor in Chief
Six Traits of Writing Forum by Kathleen Carpenter, Editor in Chief
Ideas for Welcoming Teachers & Students Back to School by Kathleen Carpenter, Editor in Chief
Classroom Rules??? by Bill Page
Learning Your Students' Names: Fun, Fast, Easy and Important by Bill Page
Making 2002-2003 The Best Year Ever by Bill Page
Your Summer Reading List: The Process of Change in a School System by Dr. Rob Reilly
Beware of the Standards, Not Just the Tests by Alfie Kohn
The Importance of Reading Aloud by Lisa Frase
Dear Old Golden Rule Days, Chapter 2 - Creative Activities by Janet Farquhar
Objection overruled, or You can always go to law school if things don't work out by Taylor Mali
Dealing with Dishonesty by Tom Lucey
The Maiden Week by P R Guruprasad
Is Learning to Read Easier Than Learning to Play the Piano? by Grace Vyduna-Haskins
School was GREAT today because... by Linda Todd
The New Teacher and Coping With Special Needs Students in the Classroom by Dave Melanson
Learning About Community Service by Jay Davidson
Book Reviews - We Can Work It Out: Creating Peace in the Home & Songs for Howard Gray by Susan Gingras Fitzell
Summer Recess by Joy Jones
Tips On Time Management by Jan
Class Books Around the Year Compiled by Terry
Literacy Centers Organization by Catherine Thornton
Why the Center Approach? from The Mentor Center
Classroom Teachers' Management Tips (Part II) from the Chatboards
Why Teach? by Lynda L. Hinkle
4 Blocks Literacy Tips: Storing "Making Words" Materials from: The Mentor Center
How to Encourage Substitute Teachers to Return to Your School by Lucy, Substitute Teacher
Teaching Students To Discuss Controversial Public Issues from: ERIC Clearinghouse
August Columns
August Regular Features
August Informational Items
Gazette Home Delivery:

About Bill Page...

Bill is a teacher who has served as originator, program director, teacher trainer, and demonstration teacher for Project Enable* ...a six year research project of the Central Midwestern Regional Educational Laboratory (CEMREL) funded by the U.S. Office of Education. Bill went on to apply his research principles in an elementary school and trained teachers through summer courses at the University of California.

Bill has taught courses at 86 different universities and has presented Staff Development Programs, seminars and conferences to more than 100,000 teachers, at more than 2000 school districts, throughout the U.S. and Canada.

*Project Enable involved the lowest achievers in 15 junior high schools in suburban St. Louis, Missouri and inner city Nashville, Tennessee. One premise of the research was that "It's not what is wrong with the kids; it's what we are doing to them. "Bill trained 48 teachers as an integral part of his research, changed their relationships their attitudes and their teaching strategies. The students in turn changed their attitudes, their responsibility and their achievement. Their gains in reading and math were remarkable, many gaining three and four grade levels in a matter of months."

For additional information, visit Bill's web site:
or e-mail him:

Teacher Feature...

Making 2002-2003 The Best Year Ever

As teachers contemplate the coming school year, I offer what I have found to be some down-to-earth thoughts and reminders that have made a difference in my teaching success. Through 44 years of teaching, these concepts, assumptions and beliefs are the foundation of the teaching procedures I used regardless of the subject, grade level, or type of student. Perhaps the best part is the absence of labels, educational jargon or pretentious terminology with no need for special material, training or technology. (Many teachers I know have precious few materials except those purchased out of their own meager salaries, and their only technology is a chalkboard with no chalk.)

by Bill Page

To be successful, teachers are expected to be effective with all of their students. As students themselves, teachers were sufficiently successful in school to have graduated from college; however, the teaching techniques used on them likely did not work on all of their schoolmates. All through school there were those students who didn't succeed. So as they teach the way they were taught, their methods will probably not work for some students. Teachers teach on the basis of their own experiences, assumptions, beliefs, and expectations.

If teachers think their students have had experiences similar to their own; if they assume kids find the curriculum as worthwhile as they; if they believe that parents must support their teaching efforts or if they expect middle school students to be more concerned with school lessons than with their pimples and friends, they have a teaching problem. The problem is exacerbated by the current "high stakes testing" and demands that every student achieve. To deal with this problem, teachers need to reflect on their experiences, challenge their assumptions, examine their beliefs and change their expectations.

  1. The school district does not select its students.

    The school district does not choose its students. It sets rules and policies, draws a geographic boundary and then accepts any child who meets its criteria. It does not require that parents teach their kids manners, hygiene, grammar or homework or even that they have parents. Nor does it require that the parents themselves be literate, employed, educated or moral. If the kid has a birth certificate with appropriate dates, up to date inoculations and resides in the district, it is the school district's job to provide him or her with an education. Each principal and each school gets whichever students are in their school zone. So do the secretaries, maintenance crew, custodial staff and all other employees. I'm sure there are stops the bus drivers would love to pass up. I heard that cafeteria workers in one school collected money to send two kids to Mc Donald's so they wouldn't go through the school lunch line. Nobody in the educational food chain gets to cull the undesirables, select the "good ones" or demand high standards. When teachers complain about the kids, the parents, and the community, they show that they fail to adequately understand and accept this most basic concept and they, thereby, show the need for it as a "must know" concept.

  2. Learning is the name of the game.

    The only reason for the existence of school boards, school taxes and schools themselves is for kids to learn. Schoos districts build schools so kids will have a place to learn; run buses so kids can get there to learn; and provide cafeterias so kids can learn in the afternoon. Kids learn through the second to second, minute to minute, day-by-day interaction with teachers. What teachers do and how they teach causes that learning for which the school is responsible. Teachers do the work of education. They are the heart and soul of school learning. Everyone else is there to assist. We want kids to get to pay attention, do assignments and get to class on time so they will learn; but sometimes we wind up dealing with attention, assignments and lateness rather than the learning. Often teachers give grades on the basis of attendance and homework not on learning. Although they are concerned too often with conformity and control rather than learning, they shouldn't forget the real goal -- learning.

  3. Teachers must accept their students.

    As a classroom teacher, "I get what I get." Kids are assigned to my class. It makes no difference whether they have parental support, whether they speak English, whether they have good study habits or whether they are potty trained. They are mine to teach for the next 180 days. I didn't choose them; they didn't choose me. I need to examine my expectations. For me to complain about my students would be like a doctor complaining about "sick" patients. My students did not agree to be in my class, nor sign a contract promising to follow my rules, work hard or do what they are told. All they did was to "show up" not necessarily ready to be taught. Whatever they're like is what they're like. I got 'em. Now it is my responsibility to teach the kids assigned to me; to start where they are and teach them what they need to learn my subject. Not the ones I'd like to teach, not the ones I used to teach; those kids in my class right now; all of them, no exceptions, no excuses.

  4. Kids do not "spond" they respond.

    The behavior we see in our classes isn't kids "sponding." They are "responding." If I don't like the way they respond, I can change what I am doing and they will change what they are doing. How students act in my class depends on what I give them to react to. If I bore them, they act bored. If I amuse them they laugh. If I teach them, they learn. Since I am in charge, I am not only a part of the relationship; I am the most important part. I cannot judge a student outside of that relationship. If I am responsible for the classroom, the question is, "How are they acting within the rules and conditions I have set, within the activities I offer, within the examples I give and the vocabulary I use, within the way I talk, act toward them, and react to their behavior. It is what I think of as an unfinished sentence: "He flunked the test!" could be finished with, "that I gave, with the teaching I did, with the review I offered, in the time I allocated, with the assignments I provided." The kids' learning is always in relation to my teaching. The only thing I really have control over is what I do. But I find that, when I change what I do, they change what they do, not because I change them, but because they change themselves in relation to what I do.

  5. I need to examine my beliefs not my actions.

    What I believe determines what I do. My actions are symptoms my beliefs. If I believe it is the kid's fault that he failed the test, I feel justified in giving the "F." But, if I believe it to be my fault, then I need to change my teaching. If I believe "F's" motivate kids to learn, I give lots of "F's" to motivate them extra. But if I determine they need encouragement, instead of giving F's, I find ways to react positively. If I believe that failure is not an option, than I get concerned. I change my approach. I offer "practice" tests or better ways to remember the material. The alternative to failing a kid is teaching him or her. I offer opportunities to study it again, to study together, or to re-take the test. It makes no difference whether what I believe is true or not. If I believe it, I act on it. I have to ask myself, "What do I believe about test scores? About teaching to the test? The importance of test scores? Study procedures? Individual differences? Homework? Self-concept? "

  6. I have the obligation of the communication.

    Teaching is a two-way communication procedure, but it is not a fifty/fifty process because I have the obligation of the communication. If I make the decisions about what to teach, how to teach it, what examples and vocabulary to use, than I am responsible for the students' learning. It is my responsibility to get the students the message. If they don't get it, I am the one who failed. When a TV commercial fails to sell a product, the sponsor does not talk about the viewer's failure to listen or understand, they fire the writer. It is the writer's obligation to communicate with the audience. They do not flunk the audience or complain about its lack of ability. If I get paid to teach history and half of the class fails, then it is I who have failed to teach half of them. I have the obligation of the communication. I can't say, " I taught it, but they didn't learn it." If there was no learning going on, it is my fault, and I must change my teaching.

  7. I don't get paid to evaluate.

    As a teacher, I don't get paid to determine how much kids know, where they rank, whether they have good attitudes, whether they pass or fail, or whether they do their work. I get paid to teach them. The evaluation process is for me. It is a means to an end. The end is their learning, the means is evaluating my progress so I can know how students are doing so I can teach them, not so I can label them, "average," "slow learner," "honor student." I don't get paid to test them or tell their parents on them. The evaluation is to help me make decisions about my teaching. The question is, "How am I doing with my responsibility? Do I need to do something different? Do I need to go back and review?" I don't know how we got so mixed up thinking that grades are for the kids. As their teacher, I need to know how I'm doing with each of them; what more I need to teach them; and what do I need to do differently. If the doctor gives me penicillin for the flu and it doesn't work, he doesn't call me a "bad patient" or tell my wife on me. He either mis prescribed or mis diagnosed and needs to go back to the drawing board.

  8. Motivation means having a reason.

    Many teachers believe, perhaps because they have been taught, that motivation is a magical, mystical, internal drive or desire that some students possess and some do not. What does, "He or she is not motivated" mean? It means he or she does not have a reason. Motivation is synonymous with reason. Motivation is reason; reason is motivation. In fact, I recommend we eliminate use of the word motivation. I got out of bed this morning, not because I was motivated, and not even because, "I'm a good boy." or, "because my parents taught me well." I had a reason to get up. (Had I not had a reason, I would still be in bed.) The questions that need to be asked and answered are these, "Is there a reason why a kid should do homework? Is there a reason why he or she should raise his or her hand? Is there a reason to care about this lesson?" If so, why can't students know that? If they saw a reason, they would do it. My job is to give them reasons, and to accept their failure to do what they "should have done," as feedback that they did not have a reason. The reasons must be internal and must be meaningful to the student.

  9. Motivation is only half a word.

    Another concept of motivation involves the idea that kids are always motivated in school. The problem is that they are motivated to do nothing, to sit on their butts, or to do their thing rather than my thing. Motivation is only half a word and I cannot talk about motivation without including the other half. That would be like planning a trip without knowing where you are going. It would make a difference if the trip were across the state or across the ocean. It depends on whether you are crossing the ocean to fight a war, live the rest of your life, or visit thirteen countries in three days. You can't talk about a trip unless you know where you are going; and you can't talk about motivation unless you deal with the other half of the word. The other half is, "to what." Motivation to what? To do something you can't do? To do something you can do, but you think is stupid? The "to what" half of motivation for me is, "Doing it for real (as opposed to phony.)" I find myself motivated to solve my problems, get satisfaction, improve my life, and seek enjoyment. And, when I see students involved in a science or art project, working together on a skit, or reading to a kindergartner, I see a lot of hard work, time and effort. I also see, satisfaction, accomplishment and recognition.

  10. I must make my lessons real, authentic and meaningful.

    What we have all experienced in our own schooling (usually, too infrequently); what teachers have known for years; and what in the last five years has been proved by the brain-mind research; students learn things that are meaningful, and do not learn, (or do not retain) things that are not meaningful. Further, the amount of learning is in direct proportion to the degree of meaningfulness to each individual. I personally consider that knowledge to be a "mandate" to utilize authentic learning principles.

    Any student who has experienced a field trip, or a guest speaker, written to pen pals, performed in a school skit, or entered an essay contest has experienced authentic learning in action. Authentic learning is neither new nor difficult; the question is one of increasing its use. We have an abundance of books and information available on authentic learning. The most prominent versions include: production-driven activities, thematic units, hands-on projects, integrated learning, project approach, and cooperative learning. When I taught journalism, the class put out a school paper once a week. We had deadlines, paid subscriptions, exchanges with other high school papers, and all the feedback we could stand from people who actually read our paper and cared about what we wrote.

  11. It is my responsibility to provide developmentally appropriate experiences.

    Most school learning is done incrementally, using experiences to take a student at his current level and adding on so that he or she can continue learning. If I offer experiences that are below or above his current level, they will be of no value to him or her. Most people know of the readiness concept in the primary grades and are likely to be aware of the turn-off caused by offering experiences too soon. If I, as a student, am given work far too easy, it does not make me happy thinking how easy it is to get "A's." It makes me resentful and contemptuous. If I am given work too hard, it does not challenge me. It discourages, confuses, and frustrates me. All I learn from it is how it feels to be confused or frustrated. There are two ways I have learned to be sure each student is receiving developmentally appropriate experiences. One way is to have the student actively involved in the selection and determination. If he or she participates in the decisions; in evaluating the experiences; and in their progression, I can be sure they are appropriate. The other way is by the use of the authentic learning procedures mentioned in item number 10 in this article, because when a student selects his role in the group activities, he or she naturally chooses things that make sense.

  12. I must provide students with reasons for everything I do.

    Students with hobbies and special interests learn prolifically things that are related, and do it with ease. And so do we all learn the things we care about. We learn it unconsciously, effortlessly and continuously. We "love" those students who "love" our subject. We can tolerate those students who tolerate our course and put forth satisfactory work. But those who have no reason to be in the course, care little about grades and do nothing (if we are lucky) are the ones we struggle with and fret about. The primary difference in the good ones and the bad ones is their interest in the subject. So the real "trick" to teaching lies in giving students the reason why they should care about and be interested in my subject. Furthermore, students must see a direct relationship between the study assignments and what they need to learn.

    When I taught eleventh grade American History, I created interest, first by my own interest and enthusiasm, then by being emotional about the characters and their deeds. Second, by reversing the perspective: How the West Was Lost. Another way I gave reason was to show the last ten minutes of the old movie, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, although any old movie would have done. I showed the segment, gave a test over it, upsetting some students who thought it was "unfair." As we discussed the inability to answer because of not knowing the background I said, "And that's what history is. You came in on the few years of a 4000 year long story, and you can't possibly understand what is going on today, unless you know about the earlier parts of the story.

  13. Students learn by doing the thinking, planning, deciding, working, evaluating.

    The extent to which I do anything for students is the extent to which I deprive them of learning. If I want a child to get nutrition, I feed him. If I want him or her to learn to eat, he or she must do it for himself or herself. What I do is keep him or her from jabbing his or her eye or eating wood chips. Teachers who decorate their room, the bulletin board, and hang the students' work, are keeping the kids from learning; kids need the experience, the decisions, and the responsibility. The axiom that, "The best way to learn something is to teach it," is probably true because it takes minimal effort to work a worksheet and maximal effort to create one. My goal in my classroom is to be "lazy." I do not make out worksheets, mark or correct, tests, distribute or collect work, record grades, or lead discussions. My students do that, everything from taking attendance to checking their own and each other's work. Why would I go through 150 essays from my English classes looking for misspelled words? I know misspelled words. I can even spell misspell, which is more than many of them can do. They need to find misspelled words. Group editing and class editing will teach them more than all the red marks I have ever put on their papers. Partners or pairing to discuss student work and exchange ideas is better than the teacher doing every thing. My rule is, "Let the students do the work. That's how they learn." I'll do the encouraging, inspiring and getting them concerned with monitoring their own learning, progress and errors.

  14. Learning is a process; the journey is as important as the destination.

    How a decision gets made is more important than what decision gets made. The context in which anything is learned is an integral part of the learning. One of the reasons playing "hit parade" songs brings back fond memories, or the reason you can remember the name of the girl you had a crush on in the sixth grade, but can't remember the names of the couple you met at a party two days ago lies in the conditions, atmosphere, surroundings, or total learning environment. An important aspect of my job in the classroom is to create a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere and to make the learning experiences memorable through emotions such as laughter, curiosity, and surprise. Things like music, movement, suspense, games, and interactions going on while learning activities are occurring make the total picture more readily remembered. Apparently this is because there are so many routes and locations of items coming into the brain, and because of the association and connection of all of the stimuli available as memory triggers. Just playing music in class while they are studying or creating movement by having kids going from one seat or place to another as they work on problems will change the context of their learning.

  15. Learning is personal, private, individual experience.

    I cannot learn for someone else. Each individual must learn for him or her self. No matter how well I know my times tables, it does not mean a kid will ever learn his or hers. Learning is a personal experience that only happens, if it happens, to a particular individual. The only thing I as a teacher can ever do for any student is provide him or her with experiences by which he or she might learn. I can offer the experience of breaking the task into smaller parts, sequencing it differently, re-explaining it, making a game of it, giving more examples, or putting it to music. If he or she still hasn't learned, I can offer more or different experiences. I can have him or her record it on the tape recorder, write them in a box filled with sand, work with a partner, make a hop scotch pattern. If he or she still doesn't learn, it means the experiences I provided were not of value to him or her, and all I can do is offer more and better experiences. When students are involved in the selection of the experiences or when they work together, the experiences are likely to be helpful in learning.

  16. Students are human; they have dignity, worth, differences, faults and feelings.

    I don't know who it was who came up with the concept of the "whole child" but whoever it was must have thought there was "part of a child" What makes each of us human is our feelings, opinions, beliefs and values, (among other things). It is the acknowledgment and acceptance of these characteristics that give my students worth and self-concept. Student reaction to school situations are the same as yours and mine. If you tell me that I am not smart or that my feelings or opinions don't count, I will attempt to "show" you that I am smart and worthwhile. Remember that in emotional encounters, one-on-one discussions, confrontations, etc., 70 to 90 percent of the message is via facial expression, posture, voice, inflection, and dozens of body language signals. Remember, too, that students who lack interpersonal skills, knowledge, or social awareness, or who are labeled "dumb" are not powerless. They are simply forced to display their power in illicit ways. They can feel power by writing graffiti (using your name), slashing your tires, using dirty names and rumors, passive aggression, subversion, or subterfuge. They can show you and their friends they take more punishment, drink more beer, or be meaner of tougher than anyone else.

  17. Telling is not teaching.

    Exhortation, in all its forms and attributes including telling, advising, warning, entreating, yelling, urging, beseeching, promising, counseling, directing, inspiring, threatening, intimidating, pleading, shouting, encouraging, repeating and nagging, however well intentioned is the most used, least effective behavior changer ever discovered devised or used. If telling, (however earnestly, passionately, divinely inspired, or good for the person being told) were effective, we would simply tell kids not to fight, smoke, overeat or curse. We could tell them to do their homework, study hard, sit quietly, be polite, go to bed or always mind us. We could pay people to tell them everything they need to know from kindergarten thru graduate school. In fact, we could not just tell our kids, we could tell others, especially our spouses, what we want of them, what to do, or what not to do; wouldn't that be nice? With our new technology, we (or the Japanese) could create an "e-teller," and probably progress to an auto-e-teller and a super auto-e-teller implant. Just think we could have an ideal life, tell everybody to do what they are told, the way they are told, when they are told, because they are told, without having to be told. Wow, think about it, no more problems -- poof, they're gone! My rule for teaching is simple: "Action not words!"

  18. Discipline means "self-discipline" and comes from understanding not coercion.

    Teachers are usually taught to, "Get control of the class so you can teach." What teachers need to know is just the opposite, "You need to teach in a way that causes the kids control themselves". If I show the kids that what I am offering is worthwhile, not only do they listen, they keep others in the class from disturbing them or me. Teachers need to work on their teaching procedures, not on their control techniques. Many of the classroom procedures are solely for control purposes, not for learning. Some teachers are obsessed with control. When I get the kids attention, keep them interested, give them a reason to listen, cause them to be active and involved, use appropriate questioning and thinking techniques and generally apply teaching-learning principles, "discipline" is not a problem. There is no educational way that any teacher can control 25 kids except that they are willing to control themselves.

  19. I make thousands of decisions in my classroom every day.

    When the bell rings and my classroom door closes, I am alone with my students, my responsibilities and my decisions. Books don't teach kids, administrators don't teach kids, rules and policies don't teach kids, national standards and state regulations don't teach kids and achievement tests don't teach kids. I teach kids. And I do it by my second to second, minute-to-minute interactions, responses and decisions. I make thousands of decisions daily. I make a hundred percent of the decisions in my classroom one hundred percent of the time and no one has ever made one for me. I make my decisions within a contractual relation and a professional obligation. I make my decisions within my responsibility to my kids and accountability to their parents.

    I make my decisions within my concern for the teacher next door, the teacher next year and the teachers in my department and in my school. I also make my decisions within my commitment to my school district, to its mission and to its strategic plan. But they are still my decisions. The reason the desks are aimed this way instead of that way; the reason you have "pop" quizzes; the reason "spelling counts" and the reason "you get to take the test over again," is because I said so. I make thousands of decisions every day. Many of them are to do nothing. But they are still my decisions, and the decisions I make account for the difference in the learning, discipline, and feelings of each of my students. I can walk in with a smile or a frown. I can complain because they wiggle in their seats or I can get them up marching to music. By my decisions I have the power to create anxiety or happiness in my students. I can make my class interesting and exciting or I can make it dull and boring. It is up to me whether my students learn to become literate, productive, independent community members.

  20. Each individual constructs his or her own meaning.

    Learning and meaning are constructed by each individual in his own unique way. It is a process, which is figured out from the total meanings and understandings already in his or her minds as they encounter new information. The people, the emotions, and the new situation all contribute to the message the learner gets. Further encounters, discussions, circumstances, new context and new situations reinforce or modify his or her existing knowledge. The sum total of a student's knowledge, thoughts, ideas, perceptions, feelings, emotions, prior experiences determines the meaning a student gets out of the experiences we offer in school.

    A student must be free to build on or construct knowledge and understanding through experimenting, considering, questioning, and discussing new knowledge to see if the meaning fits or if it makes sense. When I offer new information, new ideas, or new thoughts, the student can accept it only if it builds on existing knowledge. It must make sense to him or her. To make sense of it, he or she needs to run it through his present knowledge and current thinking. He must have an opportunity to "try it out." In order to engage in this sometimes elaborate and lengthy process, it helps to be with others who are busy trying it out; that also need to compare, contrast, examine and discuss the thoughts and ideas. Learning that is constructed is meaningful. It goes into the student's long range or permanent memory, to be used as he or she constructs other learning and is not likely ever to be forgotten and can make future learning easier.

  21. Responsibility equals participation.

    I cannot be responsible for anything in which I don't have a part. Also, I am responsible only to the extent of my participation. In other words, if I didn't have any thing to do with it, I can't be responsible. If you don't like the way your car was engineered, don't blame me. If they overcharged you for your fun meal at Mc Donald's, don't look at me. I can only be responsible if I had something to do with it. In order to get the kids in my class to be more responsible for the rules, for their assignments, material, homework, behavior, relation to others and their own learning, they must participate in the decisions related to those activities.

    The question I learned to ask is this: "To what extent do my students ever really participate in the rules, policies, procedures, requirements, schedule, interaction, evaluation, arrangement or decisions affecting their life in my room?" If I make the rules, their only participation is to like it or lump it. But if they had helped decide what rules we would have, then they would know why we have them, what thinking went into the decisions and some degree of commitment to them. They can also help change the rules if they are not working. If students help choose the topic of the essay, when it is due, what grading will be emphasized, whether they might cooperate in pairs, etc. they would have more commitment and interest. The lowest level of participation I can get is that they like or dislike what I offer. The only way there would be less participation is how they show there like or dislike. Some teachers think the goal is to move from being a tough dictator to a benevolent dictator. It is not. It is to be a democratic leader so the kids will participate and thereby have responsibility.

  22. If I can't change their attitude, I can't teach them.

    Ability to deal with student attitude is absolutely crucial to effective teaching. That makes it inconceivable that it would not be high priority for teachers to know a lot about attitude. Yet, I've never had a course or in-service on attitude, and the knowledge most teachers have is about like the senator who said of pornography, "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it." If a student says, "I hate math," I cannot teach him or her math unless I can change that attitude. There are only two ways I know to get a kid to change his or her attitude: 1). By my own attitude. Any one who spends time with me will know what I like and dislike. My students know me; they know whether I value the use of time, whether I expect every kid to do the assignment and what it takes to get me angry. 2). One way I have used to get them to see it differently. If they saw it differently, they would behave differently. I have done this by role reversal. I made the kid who would not take fire drills seriously, the Fire Warden of Room 137, in charge of checking every classmate on rules and walking each through the procedure. Putting the "goof-off" in charge of making sure no one goofs-off usually works. The reason I do not act today as I did when I was a teenager is because I see things differently. I understand things now that I did not previously.

  23. Students do not determine how I behave.

    Kids never upset me. In fact, they can't upset me. Kids do whatever they do, and I decide whether to get upset. They need feedback, and they need to see how upsetting some of their actions can be. But it is my deliberate choice. If I think they need to see and feel the consequence of their behavior, I can display any degree of anger I choose. Or I can make a neutral response while I wait patiently for an opportunity to have an unemotional discussion about the behavior. My responsibility is to teach them a lesson, so I do what I think will help them most.

    For teachers to be effective and successful, they have to take responsibility for their own behavior. If ever a teacher feels the kids are responsible for their feelings, for whether they have an effective lesson or for whether they a bad day, the kids will be in control. The teacher will be at the mercy of his or her students. When someone calls me a profane name, I laugh; then he or she calls another person the same name and he or she gets angry. That person has neither made me laugh, or the other person angry. He or she has called us a name, I chose to laugh; the other person chose to get angry. Students determine how they will behave; but they never determine how I behave.

  24. I am an "inner" directed teacher.

    Teachers who believe the reason they can't do their job as well as they would like is because, "Kids watch too much TV, parents don't discipline them, and societal values have declined," are outer directed. And, unless kids change their TV watching, parents start disciplining and society improves its values, these teachers have an excuse for their failure to do better. They feel justified in complaining and wringing their hands.

    Teachers who believe they have a choice of walking into class with a smile instead of a frown; of getting their kids up moving instead of crabbing because they are squirming; and who utilize active participation are said to be an inner directed teachers. Those teachers use a pro-active approach. They take the initiative, they preclude problems, they act before the outside influences put them on the defensive. I draw on my own strengths and decision making ability rather than hoping that things will go well, or that a student action or an incident will not upset my class.

  25. Teachers Do Their Best

    Teachers try to do their best. They do what they know to do. Unfortunately, the methods they learned are usually not successful with a significant number of students. If society had not become so violent; if family values had not eroded; if there were still a place for drop-outs; if we could somehow tolerate illiterate, or non-productive citizens; or if we could provide a welfare society; we could continue using those teaching procedures that have worked in the past. But society has changed, students have changed, and so too must teachers. In order to meet the mandated objective of, "leave no child behind," basic understandings such as these must be acknowledged and implemented by each teacher, in each classroom, with and for each student. Failure of teachers to change and continuing to use ideas and concepts that are ineffective constitutes mis-education.

  26. We Can All Use A Reminder

    The religions, of which I am aware, don't say, "You've professed your religion. Now go forth and do good deeds. "Most of them figure that, a minimum of once a week, while you are busy living and making a living, they need to remind you what is important in living, and what values are important. They remind members of their commitment and give them an opportunity to consider their responsibilities. On the contrary, we in education seem to think we can say, "You are a professional; go into your classroom and teach." Maybe teachers should be called in about once a week to be reminded that they "get what they get;" that kids are human; that our job is to teach them not evaluate them and that kids don't spond.

And, A Final Word...

I hope these ideas will contribute to teachers getting the 2002-2003 school year off to a great start. Teachers need to reflect on the past year and make a conscious decision about the teaching procedures that are most effective. As I learned to use self-reflection, action research, trial and error, dumb luck, and especially student feedback, I developed a personal philosophy and a set of teaching strategies that worked for me. As I developed, augmented, and refined these ideas, I became more secure in what contributed to my success. I am pleased to offer these ideas and proud of the fact that they are practical. I welcome comments and questions,

With Joy In Sharing, Bill Page