Am I Mr. Fix-It?

I hadn’t been teaching very long when I noticed that my students had lots of problems, bad problems. I’ve seen them deal with abuse, mental illness, chronic poor health, church strife, broken families, material need, spiritual turmoil, addiction, and death. It’s not that I’ve taught in enclaves of extraordinary darkness; I’ve always taught in normal Mennonite communities, among almost stereotypically… READ MORE

The Impact of a Teacher

Share about a teacher who impacted your life. This was the topic assigned to discuss around our tables at the school’s teacher appreciation banquet.  A representative from each table was to share with the whole group after the meal.  It was interesting to hear what people shared regarding teachers.  Many of the teachers spoken of had made an impact by… READ MORE

Bored? Visit 1st Grade!

Recently, one of my students asked how many days are left in first grade.  I replied that we weren’t going to think about that yet.  She told me she just wondered how long until we will be sad! I do a lot of reflecting in April, thinking about my class and their progress.  The 29 charges with whom I’m trusted… READ MORE

Lean Manufacturing: A Philosophy for Teachers?

John Mark Kuhns | High School Teacher’s Blog

Last summer, I had the privilege of working at my father’s business just as he was starting to put significant effort into implementing an approach called “lean manufacturing.” As its name suggests, lean manufacturing attempts to increase business profits by eliminating waste in all forms. Eliminating waste has obvious advantages for a manufacturing business, but schools are not factories and… READ MORE

Opportune Moments

  I consider structure and thoughtful planning to be important parts of a positive school day, but, as I discovered again today, sometimes an unexpected, impromptu discussion is far superior to my best planning.  This is what happened: Each day, lunch is followed by a short “play anything” recess.  While monitoring this non-structured break time today, I enjoyed watching a… READ MORE

Snapshots from My Classroom

Capturing a specific moment in time, painting a picture with words, a descriptive word picture—these are some ideas of a snapshot.  I think of a snapshot as a photograph. I take a picture of a scene and it is preserved in that moment .  I think of the various scenes in my classroom, and give you these snapshots. Many of… READ MORE

Less is More

Sometimes less is more. Usually on Saturdays I dance to the background tune of “see how much you can get done today.”  It is a wearisome song and wears me out both emotionally and physically.  I don’t recommend it.  And yet, I tune into this music again and again. Today, after a series of intense events coupled with a relentless… READ MORE

Caring about Apathy

Over on the forums, Jane Bauman asks a question that surely vexes us all: “What are ways to help older (fully capable) students want to reach their full potential instead of trying to get by with the least amount of effort possible?” Struggles with apathy have been nearly constant throughout my teaching experience. Apathy is a manifestation of human nature,… READ MORE

A Pet Alternative

Perhaps you, like me, would like to be one of those noble teachers with a classroom pet.  You’ve heard the student say, “Well last year Miss Miller had a rabbit/gerbil/parrot/goose and we got to name it and hold it every day! When are you getting a pet, Miss Zehr?” But perhaps you, like me, have held funerals for goldfish, annihilated… READ MORE

A Seed Germinated

I grew up believing that fairy tales were nonsensical time wasters.  For decades, I never questioned that belief.  Then, in a literature class, the teacher offered a new perspective.  Startled, I tucked the thought away, where like a seed, it lay dormant for a number of years.  One day while browsing at a garage sale, I came upon a beautifully… READ MORE