Saturday, 26 March 2011 21:50

What Holds Our Class Together

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In my first few blog posts I described the influences that shaped my educational philosophy and impacted my approach to teaching in the early stages of my career.  In future posts I will continue describing my journey, but I’d like to take a break from this endeavor and jump ahead 15 or so years to something that happened in my classroom this past Thursday.Last Thursday was one of those days that all teachers experience.  Almost from the opening bell, things just seemed to be a bit off with my students.  Everything seemed to be a struggle.  Every time we went out for recess or lunch, kids were returning in tears, arguing, and even getting involved in physical altercations.  Inside the class the high level of focus that I am fortunate enough to witness on a consistent basis simply wasn’t there.  More students were off task than usual, many lessons and…
Thursday, 17 March 2011 21:50

Discovering W. Edwards Deming

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Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe that a statistician who was trained in mathematics, physics, and engineering and who did his most important work overseas approximately a half century ago has had more impact on my development as an elementary educator than anybody else.But that’s exactly what happened.After reading William Glasser’s The Quality School early in my second year of teaching, I was hungry to learn more about the educational approach he described (and that I described in my previous blog post).  So, I headed straight to W. Edwards Deming, the man whose work heavily influenced Glasser’s.
Thursday, 10 March 2011 21:50

Blog Post #2: Lucky Breaks in Year Two

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Like many young teachers, I was eager to earn graduate units to move up on my district’s pay scale.  To accumulate the greatest number of units in the least amount of time, each quarter I enrolled in an after-school class designed for working teachers.  The classes met one night a week and featured a different presenter each time.  On some evenings I would come away with useful information; on others I wouldn’t.  One night a principal from my district gave a presentation that at first didn’t appear especially applicable to my teaching situation.  Then, as my classmates and I were packing our belongings and preparing to leave, he shared a list of book recommendations.  Fortunately for me, I was still paying attention.On that list was William Glasser’s The Quality School.Discovering that book was my first lucky break.
Wednesday, 02 March 2011 21:50

Looking for a Better Way

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I first gave serious thought to becoming a teacher in 1992 during my final semester as a sociology major at the University of Virginia.  I took a Sociology of Education course and loved every minute of it.  In class we discussed and analyzed American schooling in a way that was completely new and exciting to me.  When I graduated, I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a living, but teaching was increasingly on my mind as a potential option.    I worked a bunch of part-time jobs back home in Los Angeles in the year that followed while I figured out my next step.  By far, my favorite job was working as a teacher’s aide at Overland Avenue School.  I split my time between two fifth grade classes and did yard duty before school and during recess.  I loved working with the kids, and I was fascinated by the…