Behind the Blog

Behind the Blog
My name is Cindy Kruse and I've been learning from elementary students for the past 16 years. I enjoy discovering new technology and implementing it in the classroom, absolutely love literacy, and am passionate about Responsive Classroom. I am constantly striving to learn new and innovative ways to teach students in order to provide authentic, interesting, and joyful classrooms.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Shift in Attitude

With today's current negative climate regarding the teaching profession, I'd be remiss if I didn't take the time to write about what is happening. However, I had to sit for a moment and contemplate - just what are the real issues? Unfortunately, just like any profession, there are those that have chosen this noble profession that just aren't teaching with integrity. However, for every teacher that fits in this category, there are three more that are doing their best to reach all of their students. This is probably true of most professions, so why the current attack against teachers?

Several years ago I had the opportunity to travel to China in order to participate in a cultural exchange which included teaching English in a University in Guilin. After traveling almost 30 hours, the last thing I wanted was to have my picture taken. However, that is just what happened. To make it worse, our pictures were blown up to poster size and displayed on the university square with our occupations listed underneath.

I was totally unprepared for what I experienced next. Students sought me out 24/7. They waited outside my hotel room, accompanied me to dinner, walked me to class, and helped me to navigate the bartering system as I struggled to purchase a simple bottle of water. Why? They wanted to practice "English". Who better than a teacher to teach them, they reasoned. The Chinese people hold teachers in high regard. They realize that the only way to better themselves is through education. They are hungry, even desperate for the chance to better themselves.

Sometimes I wonder what it will take for this kind of hunger for education to happen in the US. We have a great country, no doubt about it, but many Americans (both young and old) operate from a platform of entitlement, believing that they are deserving of things that they have not worked for. What will this attitude of entitlement do to the culture of our country? I think we are currently experiencing the effects of such an attitude.

I believe we need to work together as a nation to solve the conundrum that we are currently faced with. It will not be solved by pointing fingers and blaming others. It is time to recognize that teachers are indeed the very heart of the solution. Yes, there is a need for reform - even teachers agree with this statement. However, isolating the very people we need to accomplish this task works against our struggle for change. We need a shift in attitude - to one of gratitude for teachers. Change will not happen overnight, but here's an idea for a place to begin: I encourage you to take Chip Wood's recent suggestion to send an e-mail or note thanking a teacher, recognizing the impact they have had in the life of a student.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What I Wish I Knew...

Today, I posted a response to a question on another blog: "What do you wish you knew when you first started teaching?" I quickly wrote a few lines, then as usual, I began to really contemplate this question. I thought it would be fun to answer alphabetically:

A - Always take the time to reflect on your day with improvement in mind.
B - Birthday cluster - graphing the students in your classroom is truly informative.
C - Caring for others must be intentionally taught in classrooms.
D -
Don't be afraid to admit you don't know it all.
E - Everyone needs to feel a sense of belonging, significance, and fun!
F - Find the best teacher in the school - then watch them in action.
G - Greeting each student every morning is a simple way to build relationships.
H - Have high expectations and help your students meet them.
I - Ignore the "Negative Nancy's" - they are always on the look out for newbies.
J- Just breathe - realize that there will always be something left undone.
K - Know and apply the developmental characteristics of children to your teaching.
L - Learning happens best when you build a sense of community.
M - Model everything you can - the time will come back four fold!
N - Never use sarcasm with students.
O - Only have students sitting 2 x's the number of minutes equal to their age. Use energizers.
P - Praise such as "Good Job" is empty - be specific when telling kids what you notice.
Q - Quiet time after lunch - it just makes sense.
R - Relationships are important. Take time to invest in the lives of students & colleagues.
S - Sometimes you will make mistakes, admit it and move on.
T - Talk less and listen more - you can learn a lot from kids.
U - Understand the needs of your students - emotionally, physically, and academically.
V - Very engaging lessons result in fewer behavior problems.
W - Words are one of the most important tools that a teacher has!
X - Xeric - characteristic of too many learning environments, water your classroom with engaging activities that allow students to collaborate, opportunities for student choices and relevant, authentic learning!
Y - You can make a difference in the life of every child that you teach (emphasize a different word each time you say this sentence - amazing isn't it?)
Z - Zero in on the most important things - everyone is important and anything is possible!

What do you wish you knew when you first started teaching?