The Downside of being a Teacher Mom!

When I first began teaching in NYC, I was single with no children. Life was great! Life’s wonderful now, but you know what I mean. Even though I lived in NYC, I never saw anyone I worked with after 3p.m. No students, no parents, no colleagues, no one. I was able to switch off my teacher hat, with ease. With the hustle and bustle, and vastness of the city. Chances of bumping into anyone was very slim.

When I was single and childless, the good ole days, I rarely bought work home. I would usually opt to stay after work, to lesson plan, and tie up loose ends. I had no one to rush home too, my time was my own. If I bought work home, (which I rarely did, after all I was single in NYC) it didn’t infringe on any one.

Now that I’m a wife, and mother to two daughter, my how things have changed. I don’t stay after work any more. I have children to pick up and dinner to prepare. I bring work home now, and I usually work after my daughters are in bed.

I also live and work in the same town. It has its perks. For one, my commute is brief, which is great. Also, if I ever forget something at home, retrieving it is not a hassle. My daughters have a different opinion of this perk! If I’m out with my daughters around town, 9 out of 10 times, we’re running into someone from work. We see students in the grocery store, parents of students, in Walmart. It never fails. When my daughter hear, “Mrs. Dunbar, they cringe. I generally don’t mind, but my daughters are often not too happy. They feel as though it’s infringing on their time, family time.

Yes, sometimes we want privacy, but I look for the positive in any situation . My students and their families have the opportunity to see me and my family and that builds community!

I’m a teacher mom, with a daughter in the same grade that I teach. This can be very beneficial, but it has its drawbacks. My daughter is able to provide insight, from a child’s perspective. She is able to critique my planned lessons and activities. She lets me know what my students will love and what will be boring to a 10 year old. I love having her input, she’s usually right. The drawback to all this; she wishes I was her teacher. She loves hearing about the fun I have with my students. It’s hard for me as well. I want her school year to be just as exciting and memorable as I try to create for my students.

All in all being a teacher mom is great, even with the drawbacks. It’s a plus for my daughters and myself. As a teacher, I’m always educating. My daughters benefit from the knowledge I bring to whatever their learning at the moments. I love being able to extend their learning experience. It’s such a great feeling! Even though I’m not their classroom teacher. I’m the teacher after 3, and it’s beneficial to all of us!

Discipline should not be your primary focus

We have a few student teachers in my building. They come everyday with big smiles and a gleam in their eye. They have so many questions, eager to learn everything. They’re trying to determine what kind of teacher they will become.

I had a conversation with one of the teachers, after he spent the day observing my classroom. My students are always doing some sort of group work, they are always talking and sometimes it gets loud. The students are always moving from one side of the room to other. It can get very busy. He told me that he enjoys watching the movement and observing the personalities of my students. He went on to share that in some of the classrooms he has observed, the students are quiet and hardly say a word. There is very little movement, or conversion between students. He tries to make small talk and the students rarely engage.

As a teacher, I understand that discipline is important, you can’t teach if there isn’t structure. Students need to know the expectations and meet them. They need to understand why they are important, and how their behavior impacts learning. On the other hand, we can’t allow discipline to stifle growth, or curiosity.

Students need to move around and be comfortable with communicating with each other. They need opportunities to make decisions and learn how to self-regulate. If the teacher is regulating their behavior at every turn, how will they learn this valuable skill.

Teachers are afraid to give freedom in fear that behaviors will get out of control. Teachers need to be confident in their abilities, to diffuse negative behaviors if they arise. Training is needed for teachers on effective classroom management. Teachers will then feel comfortable with allowing students to make decisions for themselves.

There is no magic bullet. Students will have conflicts and demonstrate negative behavior. One thing we do know, punitive measures don’t solve the problem. Threatening punishment will not decrease conflict. There needs to be a proactive approach, not just reacting to the behaviors as they happen.

Focus on building relationships and establishing respect with students. Not just respect for the teacher, respect for each other, and most importantly for the learning that’s happening. Relationships building is the key, to class management. If students understand how much you care about them, and the learning that’s happening. They will begin to regulate their behavior. That’s the one area as teachers we can control.

What’s the Tea, April 5, 2018

It’s time for The Tea!

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According to a new report from the Government accountability office, black boys, and students with disabilities are disproportionately disciplined in schools across the country! This is nothing new, and that’s the sad part. If I’m not mistaken this has been the case for a very long time.

Click link in Bio(What’s the Tea) to read the full article.

https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2018/04/04/590887226/persistent-disparities-in-school-discipline-says-government-watchdog

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This next story is alarming! A Principal in Arizona resigned and is facing criminal charges after he failed to notify authorities about a threat to the school. The threat involved a map, a homemade bomb, and guns! In the era we are living in. any threat has to be taken seriously!

Click link in Bio(What’s the Tea) to read the full article.

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http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/04/04/arizona-high-school-principal-resigns-after-unreported-potential-threat-involving-gun-homemade-bomb.html

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Enjoy the Tea!

What’s the Tea, March 29, 2018

It’s time for The Tea! I have some good Tea today!

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The first story, Harvard University is changing the word “Puritan” from the school’s official song. The officials have stated that the word suggests “ethnic lineage and to the rise and fall of racial groupings.” Well, it’s about time, Harvard. I’m all for tradition, but tradition sometimes block, inclusion!

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/national/farewell-puritans-harvard-nixes-reference-from-school-song/2018/03/28/531be022-32a4-11e8-b6bd-0084a1666987_story.html

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This next story is so shameful! 6 Howard University employees, who were also students at the University. These employees received two kinds of benefits when they were only supposed to receive one. One kind of benefit is tuition remission, which waives tuition costs for employees who are enrolled in university classes. The other benefit was a university grant. The two benefits together added up to more than the cost of attendance, which resulted in the employees receiving improper refunds.

Hands all in the cookie jar!

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/six-howard-university-employees-fired-following-investigation-financial-abuses-n860836

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This next story is about the lack of teachers of color in the U.S. Teachers of color make up less than 20 percent of the workforce at a time when students of color are the majority in K-12 classrooms. There is a push now in certain states to increase diversity in Education! They are piloting a new program. You must read this article.

https://www.usnews.com/news/education-news/articles/2018-03-28/states-to-prioritize-hiring-teachers-of-color

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It’s important for us educators to keep abreast of what’s happening in education. Happy Reading!

Craft Stick Puzzles 


Craft stick Puzzles are super easy to make and can be used for a variety of concepts. As a fifth grade math teacher, I have used them to order decimals, multiples and for ordering fractions. They also can be used for other concepts such as ordering whole number, factors of a specific number and so on. Craft stick Puzzles can also be used in reading. They can be used for word families, alphabetical order, or letter sounds. The list goes on and on, the choice is yours.

Supplies for Puzzles:

Craft sticks, tape, scissors, pencil, a ruler, circle labels and copy of image for puzzle.

To make Puzzles, place craft sticks over image to determine how many craft sticks will be need. Outline craft sticks with pencil to determine where to cut. Cut out image, and place a craft stick on back on image, to label where to cut for first puzzle piece. Cut all strips to fit craft sticks. When all strips are cut, tape strips on craft stick, and place a circle label on the bottom. Complete all craft sticks and puzzle is complete. Now you are free to determine what skill will be the focus of your puzzle. Labels are used to write skills. Labels can be removed and Puzzles can be used over and over for a variety of concepts. Now your students are ready to play. Students should shuffle sticks before playing. Students complete the task on labels and check picture to make sure correct.  I hope your students enjoy this playful learning activity.

Watch video clip of how to create Craft Stick Puzzles. Click link below:

https://youtu.be/CBGjwRcnlRk

Stick it in the doh!

As a 5th grade math teacher, I’m always looking for ways to differentiate my instruction.  One way to do that is through games.  Stick it in the doh is a game that can be played with 2-4 players.  This is a great way to learn and master the multiplication facts. It can be used all school year. It is really quick and simple to make,and super fun to play!

Supplies to create game:

Jumbo craft sticks, mini clothespins, circle labels, Play-doh, a pair of scissors, and a marker. 

The Jumbo crafts sticks are 75 in a pack for about $2.50 at Walmart.  These were needed specifically to fit the multiplication tables.  A variety of Craft sticks are always available for $1 at Dollartree. The mini clothespins are 40 for $1, at Dollartree. The labels were $.49 for 300, in Shoprite. I always go through the stationary aisle while in the market, you never know what you will find. 


The first circle label  names the multiplication facts outlined on the craft stick. The picture on the left above highlights the multiples of 3, 0-12. The circle labels are then cut in half and multiples are written in marker on half labels and placed in order on the craft stick. I also created my own number cubes for this game  ( 1-6, 7-12 ). The wooden cubes were 36 for $1, at Dollartree.

The game on right are the multiples of ten ,1-10.  An alternate version of Stick it in the doh. For this game create number cubes 1-5,and a free choice space. The other cube 6-10, and a free choice space.

How to play game:

Each player has their own copy of the same multiplication fact craft stick, in this case each player has the multiples of 3, 2-4 players. Players place stick in Playdoh, to stand them up. Players begin by clipping the 0, and review the 0 Fact. That is a free space. Players take turns rolling Number cube and decide which number they will choose to clip. For example, player rolls a 3 and a 6. Player can clip 9 or an 18 (3×3=9, 6×3=18).  Player can only clips one number per roll.  The object of the game is to have 4 pins in a row. If player rolls and numbers are already chosen, player loses a turn. Next player rolls. First player to clip four in a row is the winner. 

Click link below and watch video clip of how to create and play Stick it in the doh.:

https://youtu.be/4uwG6Swj2K4


This game can be differentiated for many math concepts. It can be used for counting by 5s, 10s, 100s and so much more. 

Over the next few weeks I will highlight different games that may be useful for your students. Subscribe to my Blog and YouTube Channel to get alerts of new content. 

Pictures Books across the curriculum

Picture books are engaging and thought provoking. The strong visual imagery is enlightening and aids in comprehension.  Picture books deserve a place in upper elementary and middle school classrooms. Using picture books across the curriculum can enhance learning opportunities for all learners. Here a few reasons why picture book are essential:

1. Picture Books cut to the Chase! The content is focused.  No need to read chapters to highlight specific content. If reading about certain historical events such as, the Holocaust or Segregation laws, reading a novel or a text book can be stressful and time consuming. A picture book is specific and visual. The content can be delivered quickly.

2. They are safe! For some reluctant readers the thought of reading through a 300 page textbook is daunting. Picture Books offer a safe alternative. They are engaging, and specific to the topic. The pictures offer a safe haven. The illustrations are content rich and thought provoking, and lessens the anxiety. Picture books will ease the hesitation, while maintaining the content.

3. Picture Books are differentiated! Picture books vary in reading levels. There are picture books for early readers and advanced readers on the same content. If you are teaching a lesson on the solar system, there is a picture book to accommodate the various reading levels of your students. 

4. Picture Books can provide a common background knowledge! Picture Books can provide background knowledge needed to explore certain topics. If you are teaching a lesson on the Holocaust, a picture book can provide the imagery and background knowledge to all students. Prior to reading, The Diary of Anne Frank a picture book will ensure the prior knowledge needed to understand the context. 

5. They provide exemplary examples of literary techniques! A picture book can serve as a Mentor text, when teaching literary techniques. If you are teaching a lesson on figurative language, picture books are the perfect tool. They are short and focused and waste little time in their examples. Students are rarely asked to write stories with chapters.  Why use a chapter book as a Mentor text. Pictures Books can provide the perfect example in a succinct manner.

6. Picture Books can provide connections to concepts! If teaching Financial literacy, a picture book can provide insight on how money is earned or saved. This can be done prior to learning specific math concept. In science class a picture book can ignite curiosity and provide a spring board to scientific investigations.

There are many more benefits of using Picture Books in upper elementary and middle school classrooms, these are just a few. Click Link below for 50 more ways to use picture books across the curriculum.  

Below is a great Database of Picture Books and themes:  

http://dlp.lib.miamioh.edu/picturebook/

50 ways to use picture books in secondary classrooms.

Related Text:

https://www.pearsonhighered.com/program/O-Callaghan-Using-Children-s-Literature-Across-the-Curriculum-A-Handbook-of-Instructional-Strategies/PGM53879.html