Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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Teacher Appreciation Story: All That is Seen and Unseen

Aster DaisiesBy the time I was nine years old I had changed schools seven times. As an already shy and reserved child, I had a difficult transition each time. However that all changed the day I walked into Mrs. Ito’s fifth-grade classroom.

We were to be Mrs. Ito’s last class. After 33 years of teaching she was retiring at the end of the year. I got a glimpse into how much she was going to be missed on that first day of school when I walked to our class and found scrawled across the chalkboard a message from a fourth grader’s parent that read, “PLEASE STAY JUST ONE MORE YEAR!!!”  I immediately felt special to be part of her last class. I had made it just in time.

I’m guessing she must have been in her sixties at that point, but you’d never know it. Her whole body shook with energy. Even when standing in front of the class, her leg would tap as she spoke to us. Her eyes crinkled up at the corners when she smiled, and she had a rich, hearty laugh that came easily.  She exuded positivity and joy. We just knew she was happy to be there each day.

Mrs. Ito’s positive influence stretched beyond the classroom for me though. Life at home was not always an easy one. My mom was single with four small children, barely making ends meet. She took in laundry and watched children for extra money, but it couldn’t cover much beyond the necessities, and sometimes not even that. One day my mom kept me home from school to help with my younger siblings so she could work. She sent a note with me the next day explaining why I had missed school. I can still remember feeling ashamed as I handed the note to Mrs. Ito. I wanted so desperately to please her and hated giving her a note that revealed that I had missed school when I wasn’t sick. She took the note and after reading it looked up at me with her crinkled-eye smile and said, “You know, if I had ever had a daughter, I would have wanted her to be just like you.”  I walked back to my desk bolstered by her words. If Mrs. Ito thought that highly of me, then it must be true.

As the year went on, Mrs. Ito pushed us. She challenged us. She never accepted less than our best.  But what she gave me is far beyond what can be measured in a test. She believed in me so convincingly that I had no other choice to believe in myself, too.

Teacher Appreciation Story: Remembering an Excellent Math Teacher

Desks in an Empty ClassroomI just learned this week that a well-liked math teacher at my daughter’s middle school passed away as a result of pancreatic cancer. It was a shock and surprise. My daughter had his class last year, so I was not aware that he had been sick. What I knew of the man was that he came to teaching after a career in finance. In addition to math, he taught his students that understanding math was a key to doing well in the world. He was a friendly but a very no-nonsense kind of person. My daughter liked him and she would report on things that he said in class, which was a rarity.

Thinking generally about teachers, one realizes that the good ones see how kids think and can have a great influence on them. They can also help us parents understand our kids as cogitative beings. To lose a good teacher, to illness or burnout, is to lose a potent resource to shape society. Sure, there are many intelligent and inspiring people who we hear about in the news or in books, but few do we get to watch and interact with face-to-face. Those are the teachers.

I was never able to speak to this teacher because the line in front of his table at teacher conference night was always too long.  I imagine the line will be even longer at his viewing. I feel sad for his family and sadder for the future kids at the middle school who will have missed an exceptional teacher.

Monday Motivation: Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

thank youDear Teachers,

Thank you for all of your hard work. This week, to show our gratitude, we will be posting about teachers who have affected our lives and the lives of our children.

Each day this week, we will ask a question as part of a scavenger hunt (look for the Thank You image on the post). All answers can be found on our Web site: Learner.org. The first teacher to send the correct response via email to blog@learner.org will win a small gift for that day. On Friday, everyone who responded during the week will be put into a drawing for a free DVD copy of Neuroscience & the Classroom. Good luck!

Enjoy the scavenger hunt, and share your own stories of great teachers who have touched your lives in the comments section of posts this week.

Warm regards,

Annenberg Learner

Scavenger Hunt Question #1: What professor of animal studies and animal advocate attributes his/her success as a scientist to his/her autism?

Submit this person’s name and the Learner.org url where he/she is mentioned to blog@learner.org.

 

 

Teachers: Win a free DVD series from Annenberg Learner!

Here are two of many reasons why I enjoy working for Annenberg Learner.

1. I get to witness and share excellent teaching by real teachers in our workshops. For example, videos of teachers Yo Azama in Teaching Foreign Languages K-12, “Promoting Attractions of Japan,” and Lei-Anna Raymundo in Teaching Math: A Video Library, K-12, program 6, “Animals in Yellowstone,” show them guiding students through thoughtful, creative, and challenging lessons.

2. Online and at conferences, teachers tell me about their practice and students. It’s inspiring to hear how hard you are working to engage students and to reflect on ways to improve instruction and boost learning.

For Teacher Appreciation Week, we would like to say thank you for all you do by giving away a free Annenberg Learner DVD series. Here is how you could win:

In the comments section of this blog post, tell us why you are a teacher. Share what inspired you to become a teacher or reflect on a classroom moment or revelation that keeps you going. Then, we will enter your name in the drawing for a free DVD series.

Post by Thursday night, May 10, to win!

(You must currently be an educator in the United States to win.)

Cheers!