Tag Archives: Personal and Class Pages

A Glance Back at A Successful School Year

As many of schools are winding down for the school year, student energy is high, teacher energy low, it is important to look back, reflect and make notes on what worked and what did not, while your mind is still in “school” mode.

As an administrator, I find this is a helpful tool not only in regards to the building standard operating procedures, but in what worked in motivating my team or not. It is just important for an administrator to reflect as it is for a teacher, because it is in the exercise of being a reflective practitioner, do we  continue to grow and challenge ourselves to higher standards.

When I was in the classroom, I would spend the last week of school with my students and the last week after they were gone, to spend a few minutes each day writing in a journal.  I would reflect upon lessons taught, the differentiated tools utilized and next to each reflection, I would put IDEAS on how I could change it up for the following year to ensure more students’ needs were met.

I would spend time thinking about how I felt I impacted my building as a whole…did I contribute to the greater good, was I encouraging to those around me, did I spend most my time picking up versus putting down…This excercise helped me grow as a teacher and an individual.

Although it is easy to get caught up in trying to close down a building and get home to rejuvenate before it all begins again…in a matter of weeks…I encourage you all to pause, reflect and take a good look at how you made a difference this year in the life of a child.

To all the parents, children, teacher and administrators out there, our Unlock the Teacher team would like to say to you…”Job well done!”

May we continue to seek knowledge in all things~


Recommended summer reading:

“Reeasing the Imagination” by Maxine Greene

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Great pictures and good utilization of adjectives…hint for all of you middle school and high school ELA teachers…very compelling blog and make all of us on the Unlock the Teacher team want to visit the Blue Lagoon!

Have Baggage, Will Travel

You can’t visit Iceland without checking out the Blue Lagoon. Oh, I’ve heard all the arguments against it: It’s a tourist trap. It’s a manmade attraction. It’s expensive. All these claims are at least somewhat true—but that doesn’t detract from the fact that the Blue Lagoon is still pretty freaking awesome.

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A Fabulous Middle School Teacher Utilizing “Out of the Box” Techniques to Teach Peace

A Fabulous Middle School Teacher Steps “Out of the Box” to Teach Peace

 Unlock the Teacher Team travels into many schools and I always enjoy going into St. Mary’s School in Royal Oak.  The atmosphere is inviting and the teachers are friendly.  We wanted to tell you about a fabulous teacher utilizing “out of the box” techniques to teach peace. Linda Irwin teaches middle school literature and even if that knowledge wasn’t known, one could tell just by walking into her cozy room! 

While visiting this past week, I coud not help noticing this awesome bulletin board as I walked down the hall in front of this classroom.  I walked in and asked Mrs. Irwin all about it.  The students are reading, Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.
Students are working together by individually designing a quilt square that will be added to a “Quilt of Peace” created by the entire class.  I was fortunate to have witnessed one child designing one of these squares, it was beautifully done.  When asked, the students were so excited to share insights from book and the great discussions they were having in class.
As a certified ELA teacher, whenever I hear students excited about reading, my heart soars!  Great job Mrs. Irwin for passing on you passion and utilizing relevant and current books to engage your students.  Unlock the Teacher LLC salutes you! 🙂
If you ever wonder if middle school and high school students are paying attention to business, politics and world affairs, we are in various schools and take every opportunity to ask students about their thoughts…they are very aware of the world around them… AND they have an opinion.
We will be utilizing the month of April to shower you with Best Practices we find as we wrap up this school year.  If you know a fabulous teacher and want to tell us about it, we will share it and celebrate with you.  We are blessed to have such dedicated educators in this country. Please join us in celebrating their efforts!
May we seek knowledge in all things,
Denise 🙂 and the entire Unlock the Teacher Team
Email your pics and favorite teacher bios to teachme@unlocktheteacher.com

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Straight from the Students: Books They are Reading in January and A Rating for Each

Good Evening Readers,

Today I had the privilege of observing some Best Practices within a Pre-K through 8th grade school.  I often visit this school to collaborate, because the teachers are open to discussion, full of innovative ideas and the students are so well-mannered.  As in all buildings, the administrator sets the mood and in this building, it is not hard to see that Mr. C believes in leading by example.  He models for teachers and students his expectations.

If  I haven’t shared yet, I have a fondness for teaching and working with teenagers. At this age, the young minds are full of inquiry and I am open to debate (in a respectful fashion of course) and I enjoy the challenge of trying to get them to see the “BIG” picture…that they soon will be the leaders of our country.  All children can learn, and it is fun trying to be an educational sleuth in figuring which way works best for which student.

OK…on to the review of what a seventh and eighth grade class of students are reading and what they thought about the book(s) so far:

Book Title ==Author====Rating (Great, Good, Boring) ==Gender

“Incantation”  == A. Hoffman ==Great!  ==G

Catching Fire”  ==S. Collins ==Great  == G

“Frost Bite” =========D. Wellington=========== Great =============G

“Schooled” ==G.Korman== Good ==G

“Shiloh”== P.Naylor====A bit boring (I know 5th graders who love it) ==B

Diary of Anne Frank” ==A. Frank== Good=== B

“One Left Behind” ==W.D. Roberts ==Great==G

“The Complete Science Fiction Treasury of H.G.Wells”  ==MANY boys shouted out a “Great” on this one

Al Capone Does my Shirts” ==G.Choldenko == MANY boys and a few girls”Great” on this one

“Far Star”==Lacey ==Great==B                                                                   

“Drift” ==Patterson ==Great == G

“The Westin Game”  ==Raskin ==Good + (I like this one too.)==B

“Saphiique” ==Liane de Pougy ==GREAT (on my list to read 😉 == B

Million Dollar Throw” == Lupica == A lot of “GREAT” ratings for this one==B

“The Separate Piece” == Knowles ==GOOD==    B

Travel Team” == Lupica ==GREAT==    B

“Cujo” == Stephen King ==SCARY but still reading…hmmm == B

“Sun, Moon, Ice” ==Jessica Day George==  LOVE IT ==    G

“Revolution” ==Ron Paul ==GREAT== B

“Eragon” ==Paolini ==GREAT== B&G                                                         

Bud Not Buddy” == C.P. Curtis==GOOD==  B

“The Ranger’s Apprentice” Book 9 ==Flannagan==Both boys & girls have read & LOVE series(my house too;-)

“Fixing Delilah” ==Okler==GREAT==G

Thank you to all the wonderful 7th and 8th graders at St. Mary’s for their book reviews for this blog!  As always, keep reading and keep the suggestions and/or book reviews coming.  We like to read them all.

Many blessings to you,

Denise 🙂

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