As the end of 2011 approaches, I thought it might be a nice time to share some interesting stories about what my instructional coaching work was like this past year. As you can presumably guess from the MTV-inspired title of this blog post (is that an inappropriate reference? Getting dressed in the morning for work at a Jewish school requires a considerable amount of thought for me. The teachers I work with in the Jewish schools tend to be friendly, kind, and hard working. Yes, that means reading, writing, math, science, and social studies are crammed into a 3 hour period. And yet the atmosphere is often playful and celebratory; one principal explained to me that the Jewish religion places much emphasis on celebrating the passage of time and even the smallest milestones are acknowledged. Not all Jewish schools use the internet; some instruct the girls only in the Microsoft Office suite out of concern for what they might see online.
I’ve now had the privilege of doing educational consulting in public, Catholic, and Jewish schools.
Angela is a National Board Certified Teacher with 11 years of classroom experience and 7 years experience as an instructional coach. It was so interesting to hear your point of view, since I was a student at just such a school. Your line that jumped out at me was the part where you talked about the teachers not trying to control the kids but rather nurture them.
This was definitely a classic moment that I heard through my cooperating teacher during my student teaching experience.
Many years ago, when I was teaching 5th grade, I was grading studentsa€™ science homework papers. My first week of my first year of teaching, I turned my head for a moment during an art project and I had two students cut their hair!!
My first year of teaching I had a terribly naughty little boy (he tried to pull the fire alarm on the first day of school).
This one came from my then 4-year old grandson…I had promised to take him to the local ice cream shop one summer evening. I have a student whose father is a biology professor at a local college and is mother in a high school resource teacher.
Every teacher has hilarious tales from the classroom–add yours in the comments below! Every year at the beginning of the school year, my husband comes in and I introduce him to my Kindergarten class. Oh, I have thousands of funny storied but some of them only make some sense in my own language (Portuguese)…IA?ll share some that would make sense anywhere in the world, though. One day, I was leaving the teacherA?s bathroom and one of my little girls was sitting by the door. During Christmas time, my 1st graders were writing cards for the people at a nearby nursing home. At the school where I taught previously, students would line up on the blacktop before the morning bell. Many years ago when I taught 2nd grade, I remember calling the students down to the rug to read them a story. Before the day’s lesson even began, the students were sitting at their tables, coloring, and the volunteers were asked to go around and kind of break the ice, to get the kids talking to each other.
One of the activities during the lesson was for the students to draw a dinosaur and then come up with a name for it based on the characteristics that it had. Last week, I added a new page to the site called Classroom Management Tips for Student Teachers. Observe the classroom procedures already in place and work with those as you add in your own. Teach every procedure you want to see (right down to getting a drink of water) and then expect them to do it. Always have some sort of signal to get your students attention (clapping, counting, raising your hand). I have learned to think about each student, no matter how they behave, what level they are on, etc like this: the majority of the time their parents are doing, and have done the best they could do with the situation they have.
Remember always that those kids are the most precious gifts in another person’s life (their parents). To get on your cooperating teachers good side… Create something she can use for the rest of the year. Check out the new Classroom Management Advice for Student Teachers page, or share your ideas in the comments below. What’s YOUR best advice for student teachers? I think one of the biggest lessons for me in student teaching was not to be afraid of a routine. I would also suggest keeping a notebook and a camera just for collecting ideas and jotting down ideas along the way! When I started teaching, 35 years ago, my Mum gave me this advice – Treat every child how you would want your own treated!
But the best advice I can give anyone starting out is this– make friends with the school secretary, the janitor, the aides, and the school librarian. If a student corrects you (finds a flaw in your lesson), MOST of the time the student is not disrespecting you or questioning your authority.
My best teachers who taught me the most encouraged me to pay attention to details and find flaws in commonly expected theories. Teachers that were too prideful to admit when they made a simple mistake usually had little else to give– perhaps because they were to embarrassed a student noticed or perhaps they themselves lost interest in their own subject and did not care to hear the details they might have missed. The best thing you can do for us students is to rouse our excitement in your particular subject or passion:) it sounds ridiculous, but half of what I learned in high school came from books or other outside sources because a teacher reminded me how much I loved to learn and encouraged me to discover more after school. Your first line of defense in any classroom is to learn the students’ names as quickly as possible. I learned from friends of mine that as you are going through your student teaching, ask as many questions as you can. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, use the other teachers around you who have the experience.
When entering grades to an electronic grade book give all the details: Name of assignment, note that your discussed the directions, gave examples, discussed the assignment, and emailed a reminder for when it was due. The year I used this schedule, my only mandate by the county were to spend a certain amount of time on each subject weekly, so I had tremendous freedom to structure my day however I liked.  The principal did not closely monitor our daily activities and allowed us to do whatever worked best. With this schedule, if kids come to school late, they won’t get to finish their morning work, which means they’ll have to do it during Morning Meeting.
45 minutes daily is the most I’ve ever allotted for science and social studies, and I’ve found time for it by extending reading strategy instruction.  Most days, we’ll use our science and social studies texts, books from the classroom library, newspapers, online articles, magazines, Time for Kids, etc. We’ll end the day with a routine that kind of evolved one year.  Kids check their mail (papers to go home), pack up, stack their chairs, and come to the rug. When the final bell rings, the kids who shared stand by the door with any objects they have to show us (because kids always want to look closer, hold it, and ask more questions) and those with no objects are just available if anyone wants to ask questions or discuss what they shared.  I call the kids a few at a time to give me ’a hug or a handshake’ (whatever they want) and go to the door so they can stop and chat with the ‘sharers’, and that’s it!  It’s a wonderful, pleasant way to end the day and always reminds me…these are HUMAN BEINGS in my classroom, not robots ready to be filled up with as much information as I can cram into them.
I thank you in advance and must tell you that I’m happy for the existence of such sites as yours and others. On this page, you can download a free chapter from The Cornerstone book which will show you how to create expectations for any classroom procedure, and then introduce, model, and reinforce your expectations with students.
I could tell the story of an anonymous child who was diagnosed with a learning disability and later became a teacher and math instructional coach, then do a big reveal at the end (THAT STUDENT WAS ME!!1!1!) but I’ll skip the drama and tell you you upfront. Hate is probably not a strong enough word to describe how I felt about math when I was little.
I remember sobbing at the dining room table with my father as he drilled me on multiplication facts with a set of flashcards he made himself. We had been living in Norway (my dad was in the army) and there were no special education services at my school, but when we returned to the U.S. My parents pulled me out of public school and sent me to a tiny private school where I couldn’t get away with those kind of behaviors. I dove into my teaching methods courses during my sophomore year, thrilled to be taking classes I was truly interested in. In one of our first math methods classes, the professor had us all sit in groups and dumped a container of counters on the table between us. I looked slowly over to my right, and was stunned to see the girl sitting next to me marveling at her manipulatives, too. I was ready to teach math to bunch of little kids, but it took a few years for me to stop being scared of math in my own life. By my sixth year of teaching, I made it my personal mission to retrain every child in my class who hated math. Math became one of my favorite subjects to teach, and I want to share things and create materials that make it easier for other teachers to enjoy it, too. In the classroom I worked hard and smart to help kids who looked as blocked as I had felt as a young learner. My favorite after story was of a pair of young girls who hated math when they came into second grade. With maths there has always been things I could do but in the main maths was a series of things I couldn’t do. One thing it has taught me is to not take for granted that every student can do what I can do, it makes me understand dyslexia, Adhd, autism and a whole host of other things. Math was not especially painful for me, but I too was motivated in my career by unpleasant school experiences. Collarbone, elbows, and knees must be covered; no pants, bare legs, or open-toed shoes in most of my schools. There is a party at some schools on the first day of every Jewish month, to honor another month of life and health and to reflect on what’s been learned and accomplished. There are occasional arguments over petty jealousies, cheating on tests, not doing homework, etc.


Some of the children have only used computers in school, but many have computers at home and are quite comfortable with the technology. Though I really enjoy the orderliness of many Catholic schools, I think I most enjoy my time in the Jewish schools, and feel very grateful to be working almost exclusively in them at the moment. As founder of Due Season Press and Educational Services, she has created printable curriculum resources, 4 books, 3 online courses, the Truth for Teachers podcast, and The 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club. It’s great to hear from someone who has been both a student AND done some teaching in a yeshiva! Our staff of 5 teachers is primarily young with less than 5 years of experience, so I think our school environment is much more lively than orderly!
In order to post comments, please make sure JavaScript and Cookies are enabled, and reload the page. I'm Angela Watson, a National Board Certified Teacher with 11 years of classroom experience.
A phone call later, mom says yes, she was too tired from playing with her cat so she didn’t see the need for her to do her homework.
I was teaching at a Christian school at the time, and we did a week-long study of Martin Luther. I was tired of it and I warned him that it was going in the trash can the next time I found it on the floor. Each primary class had received one of those colorful carpets with the seven continents on it. He had been playing with some neighborhood friends and if we were going to get to the shop before it closed we needed to leave. I finally got my first graders on target one afternoon and was really quite happy with how the math lesson was going.
Patricks Day, our school librarian had my second grade students watch a video of irish dancers. We had already completed the past and present and were brainstorming goals and aspirations. Normally, I respond personally to every comment on the site, but I don’t want to do that for the funny stories.
These all happened within my first day volunteering at a science camp held at my university. I then asked educators on Facebook to share their best advice for student teachers and practicum teachers. Think now about how and when you want kids to take care of business around the room- the first time someone asks if they can sharpen their pencil, your answer sets a precedent, so be careful.
Teach them from day one what your expectation is when you give the signal and practice it often!! Be very clear and concise with your directions and MODEL MODEL MODEL the behaviors you expect. Do not expect that any or all good behaviors that the students exhibit for their regular teacher will automatically transfer when you begin to work with them.
It may not be how I think things should be done, or how I have raised my kids, but EVERY parent is offering the best they have to you when their child walks in to your classroom. I was so nervous that I forgot to enjoy the kids and laugh, even at the things that drove me nuts. If a student asks me a question and I’m not sure of the answer, I tell them straight up, but that I will find out the answer and get back to them.
Use memory tricks, play name games, draw a seating plan, whatever helps you to get them in your head. In the elementary grades, there are SO many subjects to squeeze into such a short amount of time.
I taught in very few schools that allowed me total freedom over how I structured our learning time.
There are people who are horrified that I don’t meet with small groups everyday, but this method is backed by research, and my students’ reading levels and test scores prove that it works!  It might not be right for you…but that’s how I do it.)  Students who aren’t meeting with me in a group or individually are reading silently in a self-selected location in the room, followed by a few minutes at the end to share with a partner, small group, or the class a favorite passage, quote, word, or idea that came to them while reading.
I  sit on the rocker, signing off on individual behavior plans that a few kids have and chatting with the children.
They have real feelings and thoughts and interest sand lives outside of school–standardized testing and three digit multiplication are not the most important things about this job.
The answer (along with your responsibilities for addressing deficiencies in the system) may surprise you! I was in sixth grade, and my teachers were annoyed that I had still not disciplined myself to memorize basic math facts. I was accepted into a small liberal arts college where I enrolled as an Early Childhood Education major. Even after graduating from college, I acted as if I were incapable of balancing a checkbook and just hoped the numbers would somehow work themselves out every month.
I had to seriously re-learn math in order to teach it well, and it was so good for both my students and me. I felt like I was the only one, but knew somehow that others must have gone through the same thing. I find it impossible to remember how to do things, I can do them when I am shown again but will have forgot it by the next day.
I agree that going through an experience like this does give you much more patience in teaching it to kids. I agree there’s not much out there in terms of comprehensive programs, especially for a 1 on 1 situation. Orthodox Jewish women in these New York City communities have a certain style of modest (tznius), non-attention-calling dress that I like to imitate as closely as possible out of respect. On Friday, school typically dismisses at 1 pm to allow families to prepare for Shabbat (Sabbath) observance.
Observing daily practices in the Jewish schools continues to challenge and transform a number of my beliefs about education, culture, and religion. People always ask if we are really tough on the kids as far as discipline, but I’d say we are pretty comparable to the public schools in our community. You hit on a really important point–that kids have been conditioned to think that teachers are there to control them, rather than the reality that they are in control of themselves. I currently work as an educational consultant and instructional coach based in Brooklyn, NY. While grading science tests for her third grade class, this teacher noticed a memorable response to one of the questions. I told my class that I would get some things for him, we would make some get well cards and send it all to the boy.
Well, the next time it happened…I threw it in the trash, with the good intention of taking it out within a few minutes.
At the same time one of my students who had a speech problem was scratching away at about 50 mosquito bites on his legs (I am not kidding). The students took the time to write down 5 things they would like to achieve in their futures (the instructions were much more expliciti). I once had a student say the exact same thing, only it wasn’t even close to funny because he is in the 10th grade.
The kids are split up in groups depending on grade level, and I was working with the K-2 group, learning about dinosaurs and paleontology. If you tell them that they will get in trouble if they do something bad then make sure you actually follow through with it.
They really just want to know that you will love and take care of their child in the best way you know, even if that looks a little different for different children. The best thing you can ever do is love them so much that they believe it with every ounce in their body. Teachers are really busy and you need time to talk so be prepared to arrive early enough and stay late enough to talk.
Seeing how another teacher routinely did quality educational tasks helped me develop a schedule that worked long-term in my own classroom. If you are too prideful to admit that you made a mistake, then your student will lose respect for you and be skeptical of your future lessons.
Learning a child’s name quickly shows that you respect them enough to get to know them.
I remember when I would see her doing something I thought was awesome or cool, I asked her if I could use it. This page will help you create a workable daily schedule that maximizes every moment you have with your students. If you’re fortunate, you might be told how long you need to teach each subject and then allowed to arrange the subjects however you see fit. I don’t want to focus on spelling or grammar very often here since there’s 20 minutes for that daily in Morning Meeting.  Sometimes we’ll need to use this time for practice in applying strategies in a  standardized test format, but I try not to do test prep more often than once a week (usually Wednesdays).
When everyone has joined us on the rug, I give reminders for the following day, give homework reminders (packets are due weekly so I don’t have to discuss much on a daily basis), and take kids’ questions that inevitably come up (When is the field trip?  Can I bring in a book to show the class?
Ending the day this week reminds me that I teach children, not concepts, and however exhausting the kids might have been earlier in the day, they’re really are cute and enjoyable if you take a few moments at the end of the day to relax in a comfortable chair and watch them interact naturally with one another about the things that matter to them.
There I had the freedom to be creative, to think of new ways of doing things, to share my ideas and use words. It had become impossible for me to keep up with the rest of the class as as we did five digit multiplication problems.
I recieved accommodations for the first time, but I already hated math so much, and I had entered my rebellious teenage years.
So I was back where I started in terms of math: sitting in a general education classroom, completely lost and basically doing whatever it took to slide by and hope that my grades in my other subjects would allow me to get into college where I could take courses that actually interested me. I loved having the freedom to choose my courses and schedule and enjoyed the self-paced structure of college in general, and had no trouble maintaining a 3.8 GPA.
I was a bit apprehensive about the math methods class but figured I could handle it–after all, I was an early childhood education major.


As I traded in ten ones for a ten rod, and ten tens for a hundreds block, I realized for the first time what place value and number sense were all about. And figuring out math problems wasn’t some secret than only other people could understand. I don’t want any child to sit sobbing at the dining room table while struggling to memorize rote facts like I did. I don’t feel proficient enough to teach it even though I teach at the kindergarten and first grade level. Never in my life had I understood what I was doing until I had those nifty ones, tens and hundreds cubes and nice boxes around each place value.
My inability to relate changes my intended career path from being a biologist to becoming a teacher. I struggled at school, good at everything except maths, science I was good at (probably because the equations were letters!) I was never tested it wasn’t until I became a teacher that I even heard of dyscalculia! The look is feminine and classy: think black midi-length skirt and a beautiful ruffled sweater in an earth tone, accessorized with elegant formal earrings, black tights, and pretty ballet flats. The second reason is that there is little bureauocracy; though they teach the state standards, they are given a great deal of freedom in how they instruct, and their administrators often have the power to make quick decisions to improve less-than-ideal situations. Though this is mind-boggling to those of us from a public school background who can’t figure out how to teach everything in six hours, the Jewish day school schedule somehow works. The Jewish day schools that I have been to are lively places, full of laughter and chatter.
Once a group of girls asked me if they could show a YouTube video during the last five minutes of class. But on a more practical level, Jewish schools are joyful places for me to work: I feel like I am helping teachers and kids, and my work is appreciated. Teaching kids how be in control of themselves does mean a great number of moments in which the teacher feels out of control-and yes, there is judgment there sometimes from outsiders.
I created this site in 2003 because I love sharing practical classroom ideas and helping teachers build a positive mindset so they can truly enjoy their work. I told her the comment, and she told us that relatives had recently asked dad what his favorite surgery was.
I’ve compiled some of the most helpful tips for this post, but you can read the whole discussion here. Eventually, they will even start doing things to help you out if they see you appreciate it and give recognition for it.
The second they realize you’re not serious, they will stop listening and respecting you. Make introductory phone calls and let them know how excited you are to be able to work with their child. Have all of your copies ready to be copied by Friday morning and have a parent come in weekly to run your copies and assemble packets or little books.
My requirement was to solo teach for one week at each of my placements (two total) but I offered to do more than one week each. My best mentoring occurred when my student teacher and I car pooled so we had many chat sessions. Think of all of it as lessons that will help you be a better teacher when you get your own class. Depending on the class, I might switch out some of the academic components of Morning Meeting for social problem-solving and community-building activities.
My dad would patiently flip through those flash cards over and over and over, and I’d struggle and cry and beg to do something else. I skipped class, played around, and generally put forth so little effort that I got an F in algebra.
Multiple digit addition and subtraction made sense beyond a rote process I had memorized. The secret to numbers was unlocked for me.
But I really love working with older teachers who were trained to use paper and pencil activities like I used when I was little. I want to spread the word: math is fun, math means something, and math is relevant to your life. These days, there is a lot of apprehension about embarrassing a child by giving them below grade level work.
I was just taught to do the algorithm, that is one thing I hope to teach all of my students is WHY we do things in math. The final reason is that most work a very reasonable part-time schedule: one set of teachers instructs in Judaic studies in the morning (approximately 9-12) and another group of teachers instructs in all the other subjects (termed General Studies) from about 1-4. I haven’t been doing this long enough to understand the teaching methodologies used, but I do notice that most teachers are extremely selective on what they devote class time to. Raise your hand if you want to go home!” Well, of course most of the class raised their hands and that lovely time was over. I asked three of my boys to go to my truck (parked right outside our door) and get the items from the backseat. He said boob jobs, because he sits at the patient’s eye level and gets to tell the dr. It’s where we talk about China and I make rice for the students and give them chopsticks.
Volunteers will save you hundreds of hours of work – you just have to let them help you. It gives the teacher a break and really gives you a feel for what it’s going to be like. You are far more likely to get a positive response from a child if you use their name, especially if you are in the yard.
Science and social studies are best taught at the end of the day, in my opinion, because they are arguably the least important subject. I selected some sort of computer-based course taught by a professor who realized he had a group of math phobic 18 year olds and treated us kindly. They might have hated the worksheets and the test prep crap I was required to give them, but they didn’t hate math. Watching these veteran teachers have the same “aha” moment I had the first time I was taught to use manipulatives? I doubt anyone today would give a 6th grader a 2nd grade workbook…and yet, that was the solution for you. My confidence has grown a lot but I am a new teacher and many things still scare the heck out of me! There is no time for busy work or extraneous tasks that don’t have a strong impact on student learning and progress. She reminds me, in some ways, of Junie B Jones and I think that comment is something she might say. I was very lucky because I knew the parent and had worked with him before I became a teacher.
Brainstorm possible rewards for good behavior so they have something positive to work toward. They can also be very interesting and exciting subjects, so the kids don’t usually dread having to do them before they get their recess.
There IS more than one right answer in math, or at least, more than one way to arrive at an answer.
I also wanted to share this to encourage teachers and parents not to give up on math phobic kids–you never know when things will just click for a child, and all that hard work will pay off. She’s in a regular school (we live in a place where special school and specially trained teachers are not easily available) and struggling with reading and math, as a consequence from the stroke (a scan showed that there was some damage to her brain but most are reversible considering her age). My teacher was amazing, she got me to write things out in full, the method suddenly became more memorable, I struggle to remember them now but I passed the test!
I stood in the back of the room, smiling and marveling at the trust their teacher had demonstrated, and how well the girls had lived up to that trust. I called him to explain, and he laughed and said they had the same problem with him at home. New among the colleagues and obviously different in respect of my previous work and life experience, I stick out for my western ideas and education. And seeing that “aha” moment transform the way they teach math to their students? Make an email list so you can send out group emails informing parents of classroom happenings as well. I don’t think taking away recess is the most effective consequence for most infractions, but it was nice to have the option to do so. I’m having small problems with everyday school activities and administration regulation.
I’ve just learned the term discalculia and am now trying to learn as much as I can about it in trying to help my daughter.
All these things make me a bit frustrated ,but doesn’t stop me loving my new job and contact with the children and their positive response towards me and my (worlds) new ways of approaches in the teaching of English as a second language. In fact graduated community college with high honors, but that was because I only had to take 2 math classes. I emailed her to tell her the story and so that she would know if they were ever on the feminine product aisle and he asked for a crossword puzzle she would know what he meant. Fortunately my AP pulled me into her office, told me she should have seen that coming (O was infamous) and reassured me that I wasn’y going to get a U.
I’m pretty sure I already know the results after reading the symptoms and checking all of them off.



My secret gay life
Making a will rushden


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