Solutions Encouragement Don’t Be Derailed by Disillusionment My first year of teaching was tough. I was not in an excellent suburban school; I was in a failing inner-city school. My administrator got wind that I planned to quit in December and made herself scarce so that I could not formally resign. She knew that I was tired and frustrated and would feel better after resting over the winter break. Second semester wasn’t much better. I tried everything suggested to me. Some techniques would work for a day, and then chaos once again would ensue. I was apprehensive and doubtful about returning in the fall. However, my administrator knew a few things about me that influenced my decision to stay. She knew that I loved teaching and, despite setbacks and headaches, that I was making a difference with the students. She knew that I cared about the students as people and believed in them when no one else did—not even themselves or family members—when it came to academics. Most important of all, she knew I was teachable and willing to work to become a better teacher. She recognized and encouraged my potential. My second year was amazingly better. I had established a reputation as a caring and innovative instructor, willing to apply technology and manipulatives to teach critical concepts. Administrators knew that I would not tolerate nonsense from the students—and so did my students. I was tough but fair. My classroom rules were posted and adhered to without exception. Most of all, my students knew that I had not given up on them, and I was gratified that they had not given up on me. Teaching is the best job in the world; but it is not easy. It can be labor intensive and thankless, but it’s worth it. When you struggle, find a way to be successful. Swallow pride, seek guidance, be willing to learn. When success comes, be sure to share the story of your struggle and courage to help someone else. That is what teachers do. Peggy L. Moch Associate Professor, Mathematics and Computer Science Department Valdosta State University Valdosta, GA Behaviors Solutions That Fit Once in a while, solutions are easier and more concrete than we first realize. One rather large boy in my first-grade classroom would not sit in his chair. He was always lying on the floor! Despite my efforts to help correct this problem, he was on the floor more often than in his seat. One day I had an inspiration: Give him a bigger chair and table. It worked. Carole Campbell Education Consultant (Retired Teacher) Green Valley, AZ “Aha!” Moment Courtney’s Rocket of Learning Sometimes you really do have to see to believe. That was certainly true for Courtney, a gifted eighthgrade earth science student. During our study on space travel, Courtney had trouble understanding how astronauts got into space before the invention of the space shuttle. She understood that flight vessels were boosted by rockets into space and then returned to earth, gliding like airplanes. However, she could not grasp the concept of various parts of a Saturn V rocket breaking apart, leaving only a small onion-shaped capsule for the astronauts to use in space and return home. The tiny diagram in our textbook only left her more bewildered as to exactly how the astronauts fit into the capsule. Courtney continued to try to find answers to her questions about rockets, but her frustration about her inability to understand grew. She began to associate every problem in class with her confusion about rockets, which often led her to give up trying to understand. In fact, misunderstandings on any topic inevitably led to a class discussion about rockets, with the entire class trying to help Courtney understand how rockets worked. It was not until an end-of-the-year field trip to Wonder Works in Sevierville, Tennessee, that Courtney got it. She saw and actually climbed into a model of the Saturn V rocket. Yes, witnessing and experiencing the actual size of the capsule, as well as the practical functionality of the control panel used to manage space flight, Courtney, at last, got it! Of all that I remember about that fantastic four-day trip to Tennessee, the one thing I never will forget is the moment when Courtney figured it out. For her, seeing truly was believing. Crystal L. Mallett, KDP Teacher of Honor Teacher of Gifted Pineville High School Pineville, LA
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