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Volume 4 Number 3

Happy 7th Anniversary Teachers.Net...
Happy 7th Anniversary Teachers.Net by Dave Melanson
How Not to Get Into College: The Preoccupation with Preparation by Alfie Kohn
No Child Left Behind or Leave the Thinking to Us by Simon Hole
Greetings! - Update from Operation Deep Freeze by LT. Marshall Branch
Technology Reform in Schools by Daisy Marie (Price) Hicks
Special Skills for Classroom Management by Stelios Perdios
Looking for a teaching job? Ten Tips for Job Hunters by LFSmith
Gems of Wisdom from Joy Jones
Featuring Past Author/Illustrator Chat Guests by Kathleen Alape Carpenter, Editor
Editor's e-Picks - March Resources by Kathleen Alape Carpenter, Editor
Spotlight on NEW CD Set - How to Improve Student Achievement from
Living Up to David Ruggles by Caroline Edens Bundy
Retirement Career Counseling by Dan Lukiv
Addressing the Shuttle Tragedy by Zanada Maleki
Novel Studies, Help students "switch on" to a novel by Margaret Veitch
Student Stars Become Constellations by Jerry Taylor
Pre-writing Center from Teachers.Net's Early Childhood Chatboard
Odd Facts from the Second Grade Mailring
March Columns
March Regular Features
March Informational Items
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About Joy Jones...

Joy Jones is a third generation teacher, a playwright and the author of Between Black Women: Listening With the Third Ear, the acclaimed children's book, Tambourine Moon, and Private Lessons: A Book of Meditations for Teachers. She teaches at Fillmore Arts Center in Washington, DC. You may view her website at:

Recommended Reading

Tambourine Moon
by Joy Jones, Terry Widener (Illustrator)

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Private Lessons - A Book of Meditations for Teachers
by Joy Jones

$8.76 from
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Between Black Women - Listening With the Third Ear
by Joy Jones

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Teacher Feature...

Gems of Wisdom from Joy Jones


Whenever my ego gets a little too big for its britches, life always seems to find a way to cut it down to size. Here's a little inspiration on the topic of HUMILITY, taken from my book, Private Lessons: A Book of Meditations for Teachers.

Life is a long lesson in humility.
      James Barrie

I was at the bank handling a routine transaction when I noticed a good-looking, twenty-something looking at me. He wasn't merely looking, he was staring, eying me up and down with great interest.

"Yeah, I still got it," I thought to myself smugly. "I still turn heads."

When I walked out the door, I felt a hand on my shoulder. "Don't I know you?" the young man asked me. It was an old line, but as cute as he was, I was willing to let it work on me. "Well, you do look familiar," I responded, truthfully. Was he one of my neighbors?

"Didn't you teach at Brookland School?" he asked. I had worked there nearly fifteen years ago. When I confirmed that I had, he spoke in that tone of voice reserved only for elders, "Don't you remember me? You taught me in the fifth grade."


Today's lesson: I keep my ego in check.

Seeing The Signals

Sonya was in my creative writing class and had the disdainful attitude typical of teenagers. She was not a serious behavior problem, but she certainly didn't impress me as a model student. Sonya was definitely in that stage of life where she regarded most adults as a nuisance. In my class, she wrote a story about a teenage girl who attempts suicide. I regarded it as typical adolescent angst and not as a desperate plea, but my principal had made it very clear that ANY indication that a child was considering suicide was to be taken seriously. So I referred Sonya to the counselor.

As it turned out - just as I thought - she wasn't suicidal, but her home life was no Cosby Show scenario. Sonya was living with her adult big sister. Her parents had divorced and both mom and dad were busy with their new partners - and the new babies that were the result. Sonya's story was a way to express some of the anger and frustration that she was feeling; quite a creative way to sort out the messy situations of her life.

Learning the details of the story behind the story made me wonder - how do you tell if there really is a problem? What are the warning signs that a student is depressed or suicidal?

Mental health professionals identify the following as possible indicators.

For depression:

  • sadness, anxiety
  • a change in eating habits that leads to a marked weight gain or loss - sleeping in class
  • withdrawal from friends
  • rebellious behavior, sudden drop in grades, cutting class - the start or increase of drinking and drugging - preoccupation with death and dying
  • overly sensitive to rejection
  • poor thinking or concentration
  • reduced ability to function in activities - loss of interest in school work, extracurricular activities, hobbies.

For suicide:

  • talking about killing one's self
  • talking as if no one cares
  • preparing for the end by giving away belongings, writing goodbye letters.

As a result of the intervention, I discovered that Sonya truly enjoyed writing and had aspirations of becoming a writer. Her short story won a prize and her attitude improved. Well, it didn't really improve, but she scowled a little less frequently. She was still a teenager, after all.

I am glad, through my principal's insistence, that I didn't let Sonya's signal go unacknowledged. Take a look at your class. Is there a student sending you a message?

Children seldom behave in the nice, obedient way one would wish. There's a good reason for that, although it's hard to appreciate it when they are challenging you in class. Here are my thoughts on this phenomenon, taken from my book, Private Lessons: A Book of Meditations for Teachers.


It is important that students bring a certain ragamuffin barefoot irreverence to their studies; they are not here to worship what is known, but to question it.
      Jacob Bronowski

You think you know a lot of things; and you probably do. The tricky part is that some of what you know to be true is false. At one time medical science "knew" that using leeches for blood-letting was a good cure. At one time, teachers "knew" that rote memorization was the best technique for learning. At one time, everybody "knew" that the world was flat.

At some level, your students know that some of what you are teaching them is not true. And much of what may be truth now won't remain true tomorrow.

Today's lesson: The truth is born in inquiring minds.

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