School days are beginning shortly for some and have already begun for others.I always loved the excitement of the first day of school, both as a student and as a teacher. I fondly remember seeing my friends, getting a new locker assignment, catching up on the latest news, and comparing schedules for lunch periods. As a student, I can remember teachers droning on and on about their classroom expectations. Years later, when I became a teacher, I would also discuss expectations with my students. As a teacher, I took care to remember the best and the worst of my teachers, and I altered my teaching style accordingly. I did not drone.
Looking back, some of my former teachers were so unrealistic - even though they had bad days, students were not supposed to do the same.I vowed to never be that teacher- the "Do as I say, not as I do" teacher. When I was in the 3rd grade, Mrs. Kennedy was my teacher. Usually quite strict and forbidding, she put me on her lap several times when I burst into tears after my grandma died. What a difficult year that was - my family lost 9 relatives: cousins, uncles, aunts, and 3 grandparents, all when I was in the 3rd grade. I cried more than once in class, and Mrs. Kennedy was such a comfort. She knew that telling me not to have a bad day would not matter - often, words cannot change feelings.
Through my 37 years in the classroom, I emulated Mrs. Kennedy, as I comforted many 10th graders who were heartbroken and suffering the pain of loss. Many of my lunch periods were spent listening to kids whose parents were divorcing, or who lost a boyfriend or girlfriend. Others were battling addiction issues, had alcoholic parents, or were in intolerable living conditions. I certainly couldn't tell them to "suck it up" and move on. Feelings are real, and teachers who expect good days out of every student every day are simply unrealistic. As adults, we must honor a student's feelings, listen to their breaking hearts, and help them find the help they need.
Most importantly, teachers must remember what it felt like to be a student. A bad memory of a 7th grade Science teacher comes to mind. He belittled all the girls in the class; consequently, I was not good at science. Teachers have tremendous power to shape young lives, and they should use that power in a positive manner.
Remember that you are not teaching a subject, you are teaching human beings, who deserve your attention and respect. Have a great year - never stop remembering how you felt as a kid, and you will be a better teacher.
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Please invite Grady Gets Glasses (and me) into your school. if you are not in the Pittsburgh area, we do virtual field trips with a group called Field Trip Zoom. www.Fieldtripzoom.com and a company called www.StreamableLearning.com GRADY GETS GLASSES was the winner of Best New Children's Book 2016 and 2018 (new edition) from The Authors' Zone.Grady also won a 2018 prestigious Moonbeam Award for Best Children's Book with Merchandise.
Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required reading. Signed copies are available www.dederittman.com Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics.
I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books. Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self. However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired!
Elementary teachers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond - I am willing to come into your classroom in person or as a virtual field trip through a group called Field Trip Zoom. Check them out! http://www.fieldtripzoom.com/
Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book. I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading. Please email me at email@example.com The website www.gradygetsglasses.com now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!
Please like Dede's new page Grady Gets Glasses for updates about her children's book. https://www.facebook.com/gradygetsglasses?ref=hl
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