Tag Archives: teach

Thank You Notes

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thank you notesI love that section during the Tonight Show when Jimmy Fallon writes his thank you notes.  If you’ve never seen it you don’t know what you’re missing.  Tune in on a Friday night and watch him.  I wish I knew how to add some tinkling piano music to my blog site to play in the background as I write my thank you notes to my blog readers and teacher friends.

Thank you…to my readers who put up with my absences to my blog site.  You make me realize what I always suspected of my high school students.  Sometimes you like it more when I just don’t say anything.  I can’t believe how loyal my readers have been even when I have been missing in action.

Thank you…to my blog site for making me feel guilty every day of my life.  When I can’t possibly think of one more thing to write about teaching, you are still there, lurking, nagging, proving to me why I was never able to run a marathon either.

Thank you…to the preschooler who called me Mr. Beasley all year long.  You taught me about the importance of  becoming gender neutral long before society became politically correct.  Is that what you were trying to teach me?

Thank you…high school students who yearned to sleep through my class every day.  You taught me how to handle rejection and keep on going.  I can now listen to politicians and the media list the  shortcomings of teachers and the educational system in America.  I return to the classroom and keep on teaching in spite of the negativity.  You turned me into one of those punching bag clowns that just keeps popping back up. for more punches.

Thank you…software and electronic boards that always malfunction with a classroom full of students and an administrator observing in the back of the room.  You taught me flexibility and gave me the ability to BS my way out of any crisis.

Thank you…duties.  I’m talking about cafeteria, hallway, parking lot and restroom duty.  You taught me just how little a Masters Degree is worth in American schools. You taught me that duties are nothing but doodie.   As a side benefit, you kept my advanced degrees from making me arrogant.

Thank you…copy machines that don’t work.  You forced me to remember the pungent aroma of ditto machines with fondness and nostalgia.  Because of you, I value my heritage.

Thank you…to the high school students who used to tell me my shoes didn’t match, my blouse label was showing, and I had bed head in the back.  Because of your diligence in pointing out my shortcomings I could save the money I would have otherwise have had to spend on a personal stylist.

Thank you…to my teen students who made me feel I had the talents of a stand up comedian.  I remember the time I described a fabric as seersucker and you laughed for five minutes.  Who knew I could be so entertaining?

Thank you…classroom cheaters.  Because of your ingenuity and the training you provided me, I could work for the secret service, homeland security or the IRS without listing anything but my high school teaching experience on my resume.

Thank you…emails from parents.  You kept me from gaining weight as I used my lunch hour and break times to reply to your requests.  You saved me the money I would have spent at Weight Watchers and I appreciate the savings.

Thank you…teen drivers who parked “illegally” in the teachers’ parking spaces in the school parking lot.  You gave me wet hair on rainy days, frost bite in the winter and fewer papers to grade at home during the windy season.

Thank you…to all the students who used cell phones in my classroom and thought I didn’t notice.  Let me just say it now. I always saw you!  You taught me how to keep from screaming at rude people who are annoying the heck out of me.  It was a valuable life lesson.  You’ll need that lesson when you become teachers and are standing in front of a bunch of rude kids on cell phones.  It will bite you in the butt.

Thank you…to the amazing number of former students who stay in contact with me through emails, invitations to lunch and kind notes.  You make me feel that my teaching was valued in spite of the daily evidence to the contrary.  You are the reason I still write a blog for teachers even when I run out of new ideas to share.  I want you to know that you are truly one of my life’s greatest blessings.

Thank You!

TEACH...To Change Lives

TEACH…To Change Lives 

Available autographed or in large quantities from the author:  dauna@cinci.rr.com

Also available at Amazon.com

Book Dauna Easley to speak to your group:  dauna@cinci.rr.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Did This Happen?

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When did this happen?

The shift has been gradual but upsetting all the same.  No longer are teachers automatically respected for their commitment to young people. When I was a beginning teacher the community assumed that teachers deserved respect for entering a profession committed to helping their children grow toward success.  Parents supported the teacher’s decisions.  If a kid was in trouble at school, the kid was in more trouble at home.  Parents supported the schools.  They assumed that behavior guidelines were in the best interest of their child and the classroom at large.

I understand that respect must be earned.  There is a very small percentage of teachers whose names we see in the media, who clearly deserve no respect.  These situations make me heartsick and even furious.  I am angry that those few sully the reputation of a profession that I revere.

But beyond the few who never should have been allowed into the profession, the vast majority of teachers are incredibly hard-working and selfless.  They will do anything to help a child succeed.

Yet somehow it has become so fashionable to speak out against teachers and schools that it has turned into an acceptable parade of negative comments.  You hear it everywhere.  Politicians, media members, community leaders, and parents sitting on the sidelines at school functions have joined the band of negativity.  Trashing teachers has somehow become politically correct.

During my last decade of full-time teaching I taught high school students in a Teacher Academy program.  This was a wonderful group of students who already had identified a passion for teaching even in their teen years.  They were a pleasure to teach and mentor.  They were such positive role models within our high school. Their enthusiasm for helping others using the teaching profession just bubbled over.  Lauren was one of those enthusiasts.  Most of them are young full-time teachers now.  But many of the stories they share with me sadden me.

Listen in as I share one.  A couple of weekends ago I ran into Lauren at a gymnastics meet.  She is currently teaching second grade.  During the week that I ran into her she had stayed late for Parent Teacher conference night.  A father of one of her students had screamed and screamed at her during the “conference.”

“You’re a fool!” he screamed.  After several minutes of this she finally told him he would have to call the Principal and set up another appointment if he wanted to continue the conference with her.  He continued to yell so she left her classroom in fear.  As she walked down the hallway he followed her screaming.   She went into the first empty classroom she could find, stepped inside, closed the door and leaned against the door.  She was afraid to go to her car without an escort that night when the conferences ended.  She had just purchased her first home in this community.  She was afraid to drive straight home to her house for fear that he might be following her.  The next day the school was on “lock down” worried that he might return to school and do harm to her or children.

What made this father so angry?  His son didn’t follow classroom behavior guidelines and his teacher took away a privilege.  Is there any surprise that the child had trouble following behavior guidelines?  What was the consequence for the father?  The police security officer called him on the phone the next day and the dad apologized to the officer.  End of story.

Now a young lady who is such an asset to the teaching profession and her students, is left wondering if she wants to remain in the profession.  When did it become OK to follow a teacher down the hallway yelling at her?  When did it become socially acceptable to bad mouth teachers in the community?

My close friend has a daughter who entered the teaching profession within the past five years.  People now come up to my friend and criticize schools and teachers.  She is surprised at how they seek her out to say something negative about the education system.  But I’m not.

Teachers have become targets.  Somehow we’ve got to turn that around.   Trashing teachers doesn’t fix anything.  It just drives some of the very best people away from a worthy profession and the students who need them so much.

TEACH...To Change Lives

TEACH…To Change Lives

Available autographed or in large quantities from the author:  dauna@cinci.rr.com

Also available at Amazon.com

Contact Dauna Easley to speak to your group:  dauna@cinci.rr.com

I Love Tony Danza’s Mother

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I’ve never met Tony Danza’s mother, but I can tell you I admire her.  Why?  I once read an article in a magazine about Tony in which he described his mother’s philosophy.  I can’t remember or even find the exact wording of the  quote, but like all thoughts worth remembering, it has stuck with me for years without having to memorize the exact words. She said, in essence…

Every child deserves at least one adult in their lives who is passionately and even irrationally committed to their success.

Isn’t that a perfect thought?  Isn’t that what every child really needs and deserves?  The truth is my own mom believes I’m smarter and more capable than I am.  Her belief has gone a long way to build my confidence and create any courage that I have.  It encouraged me to personally push toward success.  She is the first person I want to tell about any of my triumphs.  She is also the person I go to when I feel deflated by the world.  When the world hurts me she is mad at the world and she hurts too.  She believes the world is wrong because she is committed to seeing the best in me.

I even like Mrs. Danza’s son.  He values education and teachers.  He is infectiously enthusiastic in every role he plays.  I credit her.

But I’ve taught long enough to face other realities.  Many, many of our country’s schools are filled with students who do NOT have even one adult who is passionately and or irrationally committed to their success.  Not a parent, nor a relative, coach or even an adult friend.  No one.

This leaves teachers with a tough and tall order to fill.  But we must step up to the challenge especially when no one else does.  Somehow every student needs to feel like we are committed to their success, yes even irrationally committed… even if all the sign posts point in the opposite direction.  That is when our commitment is most important, most needed.  Every one of our actions needs to demonstrate, “I’m on your side.  I see your talents even when you haven’t yet discovered them.  I know you have the ability and/or persistence to succeed.  Whatever the evidence I am committed (irrationally if need be) to your success.

Tony Danza’s mom would expect no less of us.  We shouldn’t either.

TEACH...To Change Lives

TEACH…To Change Lives

Available autographed or in large quantities from the author:  dauna@cinci.rr.com

Also available at Amazon.com

Dauna Easley available to speak to your group:  dauna@cinci.rr.com

The Teacher Who Made ME Want to Teach

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The Teacher Who Made ME Want to Teach I wish I had a photo of her, but unfortunately I don’t.  Her name was Esther Waggoner and her third grade classroom pointed me in the direction of my life’s work: teaching.  I feel certain she taught me multiplication tables, cursive writing, reading and  many other academic subjects.  Plenty of exciting learning takes place in third grade.

I remember another thrill that school year.  Our old school building added a new wing while I was in third grade.  In the middle of the school year we got to pick up our belongings in our arms and carry them to our new classroom.  But none of these reasons are why I mention her here.  It wasn’t the academics or the surroundings that made that year special for me.  It was the enthusiasm of the woman in front of the classroom.

don't ever do this

Mrs. Waggoner just simply taught with Joy.  Messes didn’t seem to bother her.  Noise didn’t freak her out.  She loved children and she loved teaching.  She honestly was having so much fun in her classroom that she made me want to grow up and enter a profession in which I could go to work and have that much fun.

At home my parents belonged to the “Go Play” philosophy of child rearing. “Don’t make a mess or too much noise.  Do your chores and then go play.”  I was fine with that.  I never questioned it.  I loved to play outside from the time my chores were done to the time the lightning bugs came out at night. I honestly had no complaints.  I hadn’t experienced any other way.

Play with us Then Mrs. Waggoner appeared in my life.  She actually played with her students.  I studied her like she was some kind of personal science experiment.  What was this?  An adult who enjoyed playing with children? I had never met another adult like her.  During the winter months when we had a long season of indoor recesses she let us push all our chairs back against the wall and set up bowling pins.  We’d roll the ball knocking those wood pins down over and over again.  She never flinched.

DSC_0390_x2_Iván_Melenchón_Serrano_MorgueFileI remember one month when she even taught us how to square dance at recess time indoors.  She’d  clap her hands to the music and yell out those square dance calls with enthusiasm while we swung our partners and learned to do-si-do. She even danced with us when there was an odd number of students so no one would be left out.

I was hooked.  From third grade on I wanted to grow up and enter a profession that allowed an adult to experience that much joy.  Mrs. Waggoner is the reason I became a teacher.  Of course I taught academics.  Yes!  Students won’t respect a teacher who doesn’t challenge them academically.  But I first considered teaching because of the way that Mrs. Waggoner made me feel.  I wanted to connect with young people in the same way she connected with me.  It was Mrs. Waggoner’s joy that first sent me into teaching.  But it was the connections I made with young people that kept me there.  I’m proud to say that I enjoyed the profession as much as Mrs. Waggoner did.

When I finished college, can you guess where I began my teaching career?  In third grade, of course.

I went to a small town parade this past weekend.  I noticed that when military people and firefighters passed by, the crowd applauded.  I was proud of everyone.  It was exactly the right thing to do.  I was applauding right along with them.

But somehow I wish that teachers were the recipients of some applause and not just the targets of the media and politicians running for office.  It has become fashionable to criticize teachers just the way too many citizens dishonored our veterans when they returned from Viet Nam.

Great teachers deserve applause.  We’ve even seen too many teachers protect their students with their own lives in the past decade.  Today I applaud Mrs. Waggoner, the woman who taught with such enthusiasm that she pulled me toward this important profession.  I hope I have made her proud.

TEACH...To Change Lives

TEACH…To Change Lives

Available autographed or in large quantities from the authordauna@cinci.rr.com

Also available at Amazon.com

Dauna Easley is a speaker who has been invited to speak in 37 states.

Contact:  dauna@cinci.rr.com

How to Encourage Teachers

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spread a compliment

In every school (or business or neighborhood) there are people who spread gossip.  We all know who they are.  But of more significance and greater impact are the people who spread compliments.  Those are the people to whom professionals are most attracted.  They make us feel good.  They make the day seem more positive no matter what the challenges may be.  Here is the great news.  You don’t have to be a supervisor to encourage fellow teachers.  In fact in my career I have been most encouraged by other teachers who I admire who notice and mention to me something that I do well.   Who have you complimented lately?  Why not set a goal of complimenting two teachers per day for every day this week?  Take the challenge.

What can make this a little easier?  I’ve been in a couple of teaching environments where there was a small stack of notes in the mailroom near teacher mailboxes.  These might be Pat-on-the-Back notes, Applause cards, or have a smiley face theme…whatever suits your school theme.  When you see them lying there, you can just write a quick note and slip  it in someone’s mailbox.  When we make it handy we eliminate having to search for a note card or hiking it down to the mailbox area.  Any teacher in the building can start the ball rolling.  Why not you?

thumbs upI’ve also heard of building supervisors or district administrative staff members who carry thumbs up sticky notes.  They leave these anywhere they see a nice bulletin board or a creative display within the school.  It can be a post it note with their name on it or imprinted with a positive theme of any kind.  What about a thumbs up sticky note.  I currently supervise student teachers at the university level.  I like to carry a camera into buildings and take photos (with permission) of wonderful bulletin boards and displays.  I take the time  to find and compliment the teacher and ask her if I may photograph the board.  Teachers are always very complimented that someone noticed and took the time to stop and comment.

listen to parentsDon’t forget to help a young teacher.  I had already been a teacher for seven years when my principal asked me to move into a first grade position that became available.  I had been teaching third grade since I graduated from college.  First grade scared me, but I didn’t really want to mention that to my principal.  At that time in my career, teaching very beginning reading seemed like a mystery to me.  How did you start from scratch and create a child who could read?

There was a wonderful lady in my building named June Hutzelman who became my mentor.  It wasn’t any kind of “official” assignment.  My principal thought I could handle this job and didn’t think I needed anyone to help me.  Ha!  I didn’t want to admit otherwise.  June guided me through the first two months.  I’m a little embarrassed to admit this now, but what she taught on day one, I taught on day two.  Her day two assignments became my day three classroom work.  By about mid October, I had the swing of things and I could maneuver on my own.  I will be forever indebted to June for taking me under her wing.   As a wonderful side benefit, first grade became my favorite grade to teach.  I’ve taught preschool through high school seniors and like them all.  But that thrill of teaching very beginning reading is matched by no other thrill in teaching in my opinion.

When I left full time teaching to become a college field supervisor of student teachers I gave away all of my collected materials to young future teachers or beginning teachers.  I mean I gave away absolutely every plaque, poster, desk item, magnet, bulletin board fabric or border, worksheet, EVERYTHING!  At first I thought I couldn’t do it.  But as the time neared, It felt better and better to give it all away.  They carried away car loads full of items for their classrooms.  Two unexpected side benefits came from this.  I brought no additional clutter into my house; and when I visit them in their classroom, I can see my stuff still being used with students.  It feels just right.

blue ribbonHere’s my favorite idea that I’ve seen in the past couple of years.  A former student of mine, Erin Hunkemoeller,  who teaches Spanish in the Northmont School District in Clayton Ohio, sent me a copy  of a sheet that they call Inspirations.  Two or three teachers create this one page sheet together.  Every school is full of great teachers with creative ideas.  Why not share them?  Inspirations is one sheet with three creative ideas that come right out of their classrooms.  They describe them briefly and include photos.  This strategy affirms great efforts, shares and spreads wonderful ideas and encourages the entire staff.  Northmont receives my blue ribbon award for this great idea that is well implemented.  They are working together to TEACH…To Change Lives.

TEACH...To Change Lives

TEACH…To Change Lives

Available autographed or in large quantities from the author:  dauna@cinci.rr.com

Also available at Amazon.com

Dauna Easley is available to speak.  Contact:  dauna@cinci.rr.com

Building a Relationship with the Parents of Your Students

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Students are backThe students are back.  Your bulletin boards are up.  You are beginning to feel like you are in the swing of things.  Though the general public claims that teachers have three months of vacation every year, I know very few teachers who aren’t teaching in August and June.   And my experience is that the Labor Day holiday in America is really a weekend when most teachers are still laboring away in their classrooms or getting caught up at home from the long hours they have put into starting back to school.

Building a Positive Relationship with Parents

stepsBut there are still more steps to the process.  If you are going to be successful with students, you also need to have a positive relationship with their parents. Often that starts even before you meet them face to face with a summer letter.  Open Houses and Curriculum Nights also tend to be scheduled at the beginning of the school year.  In this post I’m going to talk about making the most of curriculum nights.  Those are the times when the parents come to school to walk through their child’s school day.  In the early grades this can sometimes be handled in one classroom, but as children grow older, often the parents move from room to room following their child’s schedule for the school day.

What Teachers Tell Themselves

Sometimes the messages that administrators and teachers tell themselves aren’t the whole truth.  We tell ourselves that parents come to Curriculum Night to learn about classroom policies, supplies needed, and how much time their child should spend on homework.  We believe parents want to learn about classroom projects and the expectations of the teacher.

Wrong!

When parents come to Curriculum Night they really have only four (or five) burning questions in mind.  They care very little about your preplanned presentation or your beautifully prepared class syllabus.  Here is what they are really thinking.

  1. Will my child like this teacher?
  2. Will this teacher like my child?  Will s/he be fair to my kid?
  3. In this classroom will my child learn?  Will s/he have the opportunity to succeed?
  4. I wish I had the chance to ask or tell the teacher about this burning issue on my mind…
  5. In the junior and senior year of high school there is a fifth burning question.  What are you going to do to help my kid get into college?  This is unique to these two years.  If you don’t address that on curriculum night, the parent will leave frustrated.  Think about it ahead of time and address it on curriculum night.

I promise you those four (or five) questions are what is really on the parent’s mind.  And they’ve already made a preliminary decision on questions number one and two.

The Real Truth

Like it or not…

Fair or not…

Accurate or not…

This is how the conversation goes when a child gets home from school on the first day…

Parent:  “Hi honey.  Did you have a great first day of school?”

Possible answers.

“No.  My teacher is mean.  She doesn’t like me.  And school is boring.”

“Yeah, It was great.  My teacher is funny.  She  likes me.”

Whether we like it or not, it is the child’s first perception of school on the very first day that most influences a parent’s point of view about the teacher and the school year. Smart teachers figure that out quickly and are very careful about the first days of school.  Fearful teachers say, “Don’t smile until Thanksgiving. That way the students will know who’s boss.”

Teacher Fears about Curriculum Night

On Curriculum Night teachers are afraid that one or two parents will tie them up asking personal questions about their child.  “Do you think Nikki has ADHD?”  Answers to these questions are confidential and it would be inappropriate to address when other parents could overhear a private response.  And, let’s me honest, the teacher is probably still trying to figure out if Nikki is the one with the curly brown hair or the glasses.  Those kind of conversations should best be left to parent teacher conference conversations.

Tips for Curriculum Night

smile

  • Smile!  Even if you’re nervous, smile and joke a little.  The parents will think, “Yes this teacher is friendly. My child will be able to approach this teacher with questions.”
  • Be wise and have a sheet listing conference times for which a parent may sign up.  This will help you greatly when you begin to schedule conferences.  ALSO it lets the parents know that coming up they will have a chance to discuss private issues with you.
  • Tell the parents how much you enjoy this class.  The parents aren’t particularly interested in how busy or stressed you are.  They want to believe you enjoy this class which includes their kid.
  • Don’t just spew off rules and deadlines.  Describe the strategies you will use to help all students succeed.  One of my own daughters had special needs.  I left too many Curriculum Nights almost in tears.  Teachers were quick to talk about how they wouldn’t bend the rules or make modifications in front of a room full of parents.  Many of them did make wonderful and necessary modifications for my daughter.  But on curriculum night I often felt like my child had no chance to succeed.  (This was especially true in the upper grades).  Think about every parent who might be sitting in your room.
  • Have the parents pick up an index card as they enter your room.  In the front of the room have 3 questions on display.  Invite the parents to write responses to these three questions.

1. What is your child saying about my class so far.

2. How can I help your child succeed in my classroom this year?

3. Do you have any questions or concerns you’d like to share about your child?

Collect the cards as they leave.

Don’t have them pass the cards to other parents.  The contents may be private.

Follow Up

Don’t just have parents fill out the cards, read those cards as soon as possible.  I read through them on Curriculum Night or at the latest, the next day.  I put the most pressing concerns on top.  For the next few days I called parents or emailed them and let them know I had read their comments.  I would ask for further input in some cases.  In other cases I would tell them what I was going to do to help them with their concern.  My follow-up usually stunned and impressed parents, especially at the high school level.

This follow-up will help you enormously as a teacher.  You will avoid inadvertent mistakes when you find out what is on the parents’ minds at the very beginning of the school year. The first weeks of school are crucial in developing a positive reputation in your school and community.  Parents talk to other parents.  The word will spread quickly that you are a caring professional, or the opposite.  Do yourself a favor.  Every interaction with the parent for the remainder of the school year will be easier if you make a positive impression from the beginning.

TEACH...To Change Lives

TEACH…To Change Lives

Available autographed or in large quantities from dauna@cinci.rr.com

Also available at Amazon.com

Dauna Easley available to speak to teacher audiences.

 

My Toughest Year in the Classroom

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toughest year in the classroom

Something happened this week.  One young lady I know and love experienced her first week in front of a classroom full of students.  She was hired on Sunday evening and drove two hours out-of-town for her first teachers’ meeting which was to take place at 8:00 on Monday morning, the very next day.  Her new students arrived Wednesday.  She had never even seen the school before her first day.  How did this happen?  Who knows?  But embarrassingly it happens all the time in our profession.  My young friend was tired of the endless interviews for teaching positions.  It was the last week in August and she was determined to take any job offered.  The good news is…she has her start.  Even better news…she’ll be a good teacher.

What was her email comment on Friday after her first week of school?

I used to think I looked forward to and appreciated Fridays.  Turns out I was way under appreciating them all these years.

I laughed when I read her comment.  It took me back to the toughest year I ever had as a teacher.  It was a year I’ll never forget, like a bad nightmare that stays in your psyche and haunts you forever.  I was luckier than my young fledgling teacher.  My toughest year came after I had already been teaching for more than 20 years.  By then I was a confident and experienced professional who didn’t think anything a student could conjure would knock me off my game.  I was competent.  I was prepared.  I was wrong.

Picture This

picture this

In one week I went from teaching primary aged students to high school seniors!  I went from teaching in a private school that I owned to a high school with students considered “at risk.”  I had teen moms, many pregnant students, and kids with parents in jail.  On the first day of school when I asked them to introduce themselves with 3 descriptive words, several of them announced they had “an attitude.”  They saw this as a positive attribute.  They were proud of their attitudes.  I went from suburban type students to predominantly urban kids who came from different neighborhoods who didn’t like each other.  The only thing that united them was their dislike for me.  They all agreed on one thing.  I had to go. Those kids reared up and took a bite right out of my backside when I wasn’t looking.

teacher challenges

I only made it to the second day of school at 11:00 am when I knew I was going to cry in front of the class.  They were passing a basket around the classroom and asking their peers to contribute money to buy me a ticket out-of-town.  No, I’m not making this up.  I was used to children who loved me.  I knew I was going to cry and worse…I knew they would love to see my tears.  Not crying in front of them became my number one goal.  But I could feel the tears just ready to spill over.  What was I going to do?

I was so new in this building I couldn’t even decipher when the bells were ringing.  All day long you would hear bings, buzzes and bells coming into your classroom.  I later learned that there were a certain numbers of bings and buzzes to call each administrator.  The kids knew when the change class tone sounded, but I didn’t.  One of those buzzes started to sound.  Maybe they were going to leave for lunch but I wasn’t certain.  I spotted the closet door.  I decided I would walk through that door and act like I was looking for something in the closet so they wouldn’t see my tears.  I tried not to run.  I tried to look like a woman who was just going to the closet to look for something.  I opened the door and walked through.  It turned out not to be a closet after all.  I was right in the middle of another classroom, not the closet, but I burst into tears anyway.

I got lucky.  It did happen to be the lunch bell.  My students vacated the room and I had a half an hour to pull myself together before the torture began anew.  At the end of my first week I called the friend who had recommended me for the position and apologized to her, but told her I was going to quit.  I called my mom and told her I was going to quit.  But I didn’t.  I hung in there.  If I told you all the things my students did to me that year, you would never believe me.  You would also stop reading my blog because I would sound like an ineffective nincompoop.  I made many mistakes that year.  But I grew more as a teacher than during any other year of my teaching career.

What My Students Taught Me

rejection

  • Hearts that have been rejected will reject others in self-defense.   They think, “I’ll reject you first so you can’t hurt me.”   It has very little to do with you.  The rejection isn’t personal, but it sure feels that way until you understand that truth.
  • Once students know you really care about them, they will be your staunchest champion.  But you have to prove you care about them first.  And in an environment like this you have to prove it every year.
  • I’ve learned you can’t talk to high school students the same way you talk to third graders.  It doesn’t work.  I was used to saying things like “Oh I like the way Megan has started her assignment.”  That is how clueless I was.  Believe me that strategy doesn’t work in a tough high school environment.
  • I learned to cuss.  I’m not saying that was a good thing.  And I never used profanity in front of my students but I was so surrounded by it, I found it peppering my personal conversation when I wasn’t on the job.  I was in my forties and had never sworn.  I still don’t use the really offensive words, but It makes some of my conversations a lot more humorous, because it astounds people who know me well.
  • Other than cussing with my friends, I stayed true to myself.  I didn’t get pulled into the drama that surrounded me.  I didn’t yell.  I didn’t meet sarcasm with sarcasm.  I stayed calm and was able to be a positive role model.  Most of these students had lives steeped in drama.  They needed positive role models more than they needed anything else.
  • That old adage, “The more you put into something, the more you get out of it,” is 100% true.  I have never worked so hard in my life, but I also never changed lives so dramatically as I did in that environment.  When kids don’t have other positive role models, you can make the most profound difference in their lives.

The worth of a teacher

Teachers measure their worth by the lives that they change.

                                            – Dauna Easley

  • That first really tough year helped me grow immensely as a teacher.  It groomed me to teach future teachers.  If you want to be an effective teacher for future teachers you need a wide variety of experiences.  It helped me begin writing books.  I had a message.  I had stories to tell.  I spent 12 years at that job I thought I would quit at the end of the first week.  I learned I could persevere through challenging circumstances.  That alone is an important life lesson.
  • Those kids groomed me, chiseled me and sometimes even sandblasted me, until I became a true teacher.

TEACH...To Change Lives

 TEACH…To Change Lives

Available autographed or in large quantities from the author:  dauna@cinci.rr.com

Also available at Amazon.com

Book Dauna Easley to speak to your group.  dauna@cinci.rr.com