Things I've learned being a Teacher: Part 1

Sorry for the leave of absence. I am extremely overwhelmed right now, but the only peace I get is when I write and sadly it took me a good 3 months to figure that out. Please accept my apology and let's move on. Good? Good.

Many of you probably don't know, but I never in my life (EVER times infinity plus one) thought I would be a teacher. However, life has a funny way of putting you in situations where you thought you'd never be. I became a teacher out of necessity, and strangely enough have been told that I am pretty good at it. Nevertheless as much as I want this post to be completely arrogant, self-gratifying, self-promoting, and all around self-ish, that's not what I planned on... maybe next time.

What I planned on was going over the 4 most crucial and most commonly overlooked lessons I've learned being a teacher.

1. Spelling words need to be prescreened:
That's what she said!
First, don't give students spelling words that you can't say yourself. I, myself, took the word "peculiar" completely out of my curriculum because for the life of me I JUST CAN'T PRONOUNCE IT! Second, for the love of God, take out the word "pianist" no matter what!  Actually, not for the obvious reason. Yes, we're all adults here and yes "pianist" sounds very close to "penis" but for the most part 6th grade students can get over that after the first 2 times you say the word. Mostly thanks to the few mature students that tell the others to, "grow up." But, this word gave me problems because of the pronunciation. I pronounce "pianist" as "pee-uh-nist", but my class (most of my class) swore that the correct pronunciation was "pee-an-ist". The resulting debate (mind you, that lasted the entire week) was ridiculous! Every time the word came up there was an ensuing 30 minute conversation/debate about who (me or them) was pronouncing it correctly. First word of advice, take "pianist" and cut it off... the list.

2. You need to be careful when teaching fractions:

My first year I had the audacity to think that fraction were easy to teach. I got my reality check REALLY quickly, and had to improvise... Let's just say that improvising math isn't always the easiest thing to make fun on the fly, actually it's really hard to make any learning fun on the fly. I had some left over Halloween candy in my desk (which surprisingly is the best motivator for pretty much any age group, except when laffy taffy are involved, then you have to be careful of accidentally gluing the elderly's dentures together... not that I've every done that... anyways...), and I had a lesson full of fraction problems to go through. Game idea: go through problems in lesson and the student who got the correct answer first got candy. Brilliant! Until we got to a problem that added 3/5 with 2/5, and one of my students said 5/5 (which technically is correct, but you ALWAYS reduce fractions) so I did not give them the candy. I gave the next student candy because the answered correctly by saying, "It's 1." Needless to say I had more confused faces than when the fifth graders watch their "Changes" video in science.  The long-short of it is, I had to explain that when you have the same number on the top of a fraction that you do on the bottom you have 1 whole. However before I was able to get this concept completely verbalized, the same student that got the answer correct shouted, "A WHOLE! When you have the same number on the top and bottom you have an A WHOLE!" Needless to say this was a common thread for the rest of the year during ANY and ALL math lessons that involved fractions. It's always funny looking back on, but when I had to deal with a class full of 11 and 12 year olds calling each other "A WHOLES" with the excuse that it is educational, was really difficult.

Conclusion teaser: In 2 weeks the subjects that will be discussed are balls and the Punic Wars.

4 comments

Andy Shipman | March 17, 2012 at 1:16 AM

Great blog post. I love hearing about classroom goings on...

Two things: Websters is the English Language standard and it provides this pronunciation: \pē-ˈa-nist

According to Websters, the guys that say what's up in English, yo!, you are correct.

Anonymous | March 17, 2012 at 7:29 AM

OK... Since I know most of your students, I am laughing even harder at the situations you find yourself in.... You are a great teacher! I know this because I have talked to many of your former students and as much as they complain that you are mean and strict (go figure), they admit that you taught them a lot!!! On a more personal note, I will be at softball tonight... Can I hear how you pronounce "peculiar"?

BTW... Excellent blog.

Vince

Anonymous | June 27, 2012 at 7:17 AM

I always look forward to reasons I can make fun of you for.

Peculiar. I hope it sounds like "peck-u-liar" when you say it.

-Duds

appraisingpages.com | August 2, 2012 at 9:56 PM

Ha! I was literally LOL'ing at this, especially the last sentence of your first section! I hope your next class is as entertaining as your last one :)

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