Why We Don’t Call Kids “Bullies”

When I was in third grade, I was bullied by a girl in fourth grade named Alex. She rode my bus and always sat at the back. Whenever I could, I sat at the front, but if those seats were taken and I had to sit near Alex, she teased me the entire way home: about my clothes, my hair, the way I spoke, the way I acted. I felt ashamed and embarrassed. To me, Alex was just a bully: a mean kid, rotten to the core. I hoped she’d drop off the face of the Earth, or, at the very least, go to middle school and not ride my bus anymore. Continue reading

Improving Special Education… Without Going Over-Budget

These are not my ideas, but after reading about them in the latest Marshall Memo, I gotta say, they make a lot of sense.  In their Education Week article “Improving Special Education in Tough Times,” Stephen Frank and Karen Hawley Miles discuss a number of money-saving ways to improve special education.

The first that resonated with me was reallocating funds from one-on-one aides to better coaching for teachers.  They say having an aide “does not always promote student independence, effective inclusion, or academic support.”  I have been lucky to work with some really talented support teachers, and while they do a great job of helping students do their work, they do not, as a general rule, help students to become increasingly independent.  Often, I’ve seen the opposite happen.  With such intense one-on-one support, students become more dependent on the aide’s help, and less willing to believe in themselves. Continue reading

Getting Started as a Professional Learning Community

So, I was kinda shocked to find out that my post about PLCs, which I thought no one would read, is my second most popular post of all-time.  (Yes, I know I’ve only written 16 posts, thank you very much.)  It seems teachers are really excited about PLCs, so I figured I’d write an update about my team.

For starters, there are three things you need to know. Continue reading

The Power of Professional Learning Communities

I think there’s a 99% chance that I’m the only one who wants to read this post. And if that’s true, I’m cool with it. I’ve been at a really exciting conference for two days, and I need to sort out everything I’ve learned.

On the other hand, I think there’s at least a 1% chance that you might want to read this post. Perhaps you went to the conference and want to reflect together. Or, maybe you’ll find what’s here interesting enough that you want to learn more. If either is true, please leave a comment! I’d be happy to hear from you.

PLC CoverSo, this week, I attended the Professional Learning Communities at Work Institute.

I did this because my district just hired me as one of the two Elementary Instructional Leaders for third grade.

Once upon a time, professional development in our district was organized top-down, and teachers in different elementary schools often did very different kinds of learning. Continue reading