Archive | January 2016

Feeling Overwhelmed?

Teachers on a daily basis are bombarded with a constant flow of ‘things’ they feel should be doing in the classroom through workshops, professional readings, staff meetings, administration, and fellow teachers.

When they learn or hear about a new theory, strategy, or concept they are not using or teaching in ‘their’ classroom, a panic alarm goes off inside.  This alarm goes off inside all teachers, new and experienced.

Why is this?

This happens because teachers want to provide their students with the best education they can while they have them in their classrooms.  They want to become the best they can be.

Teachers are always second guessing themselves, doubting their skills and gradually begin to feel incompetent.

With unprecedented student performance pressures being put on teachers today, it is no wonder they begin to doubt themselves.

This is wrong!  Something is very, very wrong when even the most talented and experienced teachers begin to question their teaching skills.

This is why it’s imperative that teachers today start to filter through all the noise around them, and sort through it to determine what is most important to themselves and the betterment of their students.

Silent that ‘panic alarm’ inside your brain and stay true to yourself.

Professional growth takes time.

When you feel compelled to implement too many of the ‘things’ out there, chaos will slowly begin to reign in your classroom.

You will find your patience begin to slip. Your classroom management strategies will begin to fail and you will observe more behavior problems.  You will begin to feel more and more less confident in yourself and your students will sense this.

These are the alarm signals that you should be listening to, not all the other ‘noise’ around you.

Child experts all agree that children thrive in routine.  When that routine is disturbed for prolonged periods, children will have more difficulty regulating their behaviors and emotions.

If you want to make changes to your program, or add something new, do it slowly and thoroughly.  Be sure to include the teaching of a new routine if that is part of the change. I have a post on How to teach a new routine.

Questions to ask yourself before you should implement something new in your classroom are:

  • Is it really worth your time and effort to implement?
  • Will your students benefit academically?
  • Does it help implement the curriculum?
  • Is it an important aspect of the curriculum?
  • Does it fit with your teaching style and philosophies?

Stay strong and stay the course!

American poet, essayist and lecturer, 1803-1882ralph-waldo-emerson-quotes-about-not-giving-up-staying-strong

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What Makes a Great Teacher?

After teaching for 27 years, I’ve been reflecting on what the qualities of a great teacher are.

The things that came to mind have nothing to do with curriculum delivery, local testing results or teacher performance reviews.

Becoming a great teacher is something that can grow over the years through experience and pedagogy but there are other qualities which are unmeasurable.

They have to do with the kind of person a teacher is.

Students are the ones who can feel these qualities every day in the classroom.  Hours and hours of planning and marking cannot compensate for these qualities.




  • treating someone in a way that is right or reasonable


  • of a good nature or disposition


  •  able to remain calm and not become annoyed when dealing with problems or difficult people


  • genuine, sincere, honorable, respectable


  • acting or done in the same way over time, especially so as to be fair or accurate


  • all aspects of organization effects the whole instead of just parts


When you stop and think about this list, teachers need to display these qualities throughout every day of their teaching lives.

This is a challenge for anyone.

It isn’t always easy to ‘take the high road’.  Teachers are constantly inundated with multitudes of split second decisions they must make every day to create the best learning environment for their students to excel in.

All you can do is strive to do your best every day and remember you are human, and only one person, and “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”


As always, I welcome comments and please sign up for notifications of future posts.






The World of Boys

The differences between boys and girls is evident very early on in infancy. These differences only become more pronounced as a child ages.

Any parent of a boy and a girl will expound on the differences between the two.

Teachers today can be seen scouring their class lists at the start of the school year looking to see how many boys they have in their classroom.

Teachers do this because they know those boys will most often present a different set of challenges then girls will.  Not to say girls don’t present their own gender challenges.  The drama of girls can wear the best of us down.

There has been a great deal of literature in recent years about the learning styles of boys.

I recently came across research done by Dr. Edmond J. Dixon.  He has a book out on Helping Boys Learn, published in 2013.  In his book he outlines the 6 secrets of boys learning as;

  • Secret 1 – Boys learn where the Action is. (Movement) boys develop more brain-wiring for movement


  • Secret 2 – Boys learn in the Game. (Game) boys love to set goals and achieve them for that shot of testosterone


  • Secret 3 – Boys learn with Laughter. (Humour) boys love funny things and it helps them take on new challenges and build teamwork


  • Secret 4 – Boys learn through Challenge. (Challenge) in their desire to release testosterone, they are drawn to challenge


  • Secret 5 – Boys learn by Mastery. (Mastery) if boys find a good reason to learn something they will strive to master and control it


  • Secret 6 – Boys learn by Meaning. (Meaning) boys want to know ‘why’ they need to learn something


The following interview links with Dr. Edmund J. Dixon are well worth your time to better understand the learning styles of boys.

Dr. Edmund Dixon

The 6 Secrets Helping Boys Learn

Interview with Dr. Edmund J. Dixon

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