Books for Boys |

This site has lists of books that boys would enjoy.  I haven’t read all of them, but the ones I have are highly recommended by former students.  The boys in my classes have enjoyed many of them.  If you want your students (or children) to read, this is a list to pay attention to!

Books for Boys |

Tips for Teaching Success

Over the last 25 years, I’ve learned a lot about teaching.  During that time, having worked with teachers who were more experienced and less experienced than me, along with multiple interns, I’ve picked up a few things that have helped my success.



Right or wrong, image is everything.  A major part of being a teacher is being outgoing.  If you’re not normally an outgoing person, fake it.  Make eye contact with people, say hello every time you meet up with a staff or student in the hall.  Talk about your outside life with other staff members at lunch.  Ask opinions about things you are thinking of doing.  People love to give their opinion about almost anything (even if they don’t know what they are talking about).   This puts you in a favorable light in their mind.


Image matters.  Perceptions are important.  Always keep in mind, someone’s perception is their reality.  Even if you absolutely love your job every minute and are totally committed to it, if it doesn’t look like you do and are, it doesn’t matter.   Principals only have time for a few formal observations during the school year.  Because it’s such a short amount of time, every minute counts.  When the time comes to write your evaluation, you want him or her to have a positive perception of the job you do.


Come in Early, Stay Late

Look eager.  If at all possible, come in early at least a couple of times a week and stay late a few times a week.  (We’re only required to be there during the contract hours, but it looks better if you are in the building longer).  When you are there early in the morning or late in the afternoon, make yourself noticed.  Run copies in the office, check the mailbox, pop in to ask people questions which you might normally ask during the day.  The more people see you out and about, the more they assume you are there early and late every day.


Remember, while it may look like the veteran teachers don’t do much, they have already put in their time building a reputation of hard work.  They’ve had years of being on committees, running after-school events, staying after school with students, etc.  Don’t assume that they are not as committed as you are; instead, be grateful for the hours and hours of work they put in as young teachers.


Volunteer for extra duties whenever possible.  Offer to be on a committee, change a bulletin board, start a club, create a send-home article, etc.  The more you offer to do, the more impressive you look.  Consider your unique talents and find ways to make them visible.


Make Yourself Visible

Do hall duty every day, every time the students are in the hall.  If the principal walks by and sees you in the hall interacting with the students, it makes you look like you love your job.  It also lets students and parents see that you are invested in your class.  In addition, it helps your classroom management.  Problems in the classroom often begin in the hall, so if you are there to stop them, they don’t present themselves in your class.


Invite the principal in to see you do something with the kids.  A craft, a lab, a role play, all give the illusion that you have very active classes.  Anytime you are doing something along those lines, send an FYI note to the bosses.  This puts you in their mind as someone who is creative, innovative and inventive.  These are positive traits in a teacher, so you want to play them up.



Eat lunch with your peers daily.  Many decisions get made in informal meeting times like that.  Never miss a chance to be part of the decision making process.  Often, the principal will stop in to staff lunch hours and chat.  This is a great chance for face time with the boss.


Try to contact parents regularly.  Call and give an update on a child you had trouble with.  Call and ask the parent for help with a child who is not behaving.  Call and let a parent know their child is missing work.  Call and praise a child.  That sort of thing gets noticed and parents drop hints to the office staff about the “great communication” from their child’s teacher.


Attendance is a priority.  Subs are never able to do the job the regular teacher can do.  A reputation for good attendance is always a good thing.  Parents hear about the sub every time the student has one.  It’s a good idea to limit missed days to unavoidable issues.


Ask for feedback about your teaching.  Write up notes for improvement and ask your principal or another teacher to look at them.  This not only improves your teaching, it lets others know that improving your teaching is important to you.  Ask the principal to observe you and offer feedback.  Even if he or she doesn’t have time to do it, it raises awareness that you want to be the best teacher possible, which makes you look good.

The School-Bus Bullies: Are Adults to Blame Too?

Definitely thought-provoking…


The nation’s hearts and wallets opened last week for Karen Klein, the bus monitor in upstate New York who was mercilessly taunted by a pack of feral-minded middle schoolers. But the gold rush of online donations (more than $600,000 and a free trip to Disneyland for 10 people) leaves a slag heap of questions. When we grow tired of the bus video heard ’round the world, we might start by asking, What is a bus monitor’s role exactly?

(MORE: After Abuse Video Goes Viral, Campaign Raises Money for Bus Monitor)

It’s not victim blaming to acknowledge that Klein was both horribly abused and also hired to prevent the kind of torment she endured. It’s therefore puzzling that neither she nor the bus driver — the adults on the bus — took any measures to prevent, stop or report the atrocious behavior. Did she ever receive any training in…

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All Done Club/Undone Club Part 1

All Done/Undone Club

Motivating students is always tough.  One way we manage to motivate our students is with our All Done Club.  This activity serves two purposes: it motivates students to complete their work by Friday morning, and it gives a little extra time to those students who did not complete their work.

Weekly Cut Off

Each week, we have a cutoff day/time of Friday morning at 8:00.  Any work turned in by this time helps students attend the All Done Club.  Anything not turned in, keeps them out.  We remind students on Friday mornings as they are coming in to class to check the charts and turn in their work.

During our planning time, we check in any last work that was turned in and compare our charts (see earlier posts for our chart methods).  If a student is missing work on either chart (even just one assignment), they are placed in the Undone Club.  Any students who have all work turned in have earned their spot in the All Done Club.  Our goal, each week is to have all students in the All Done Club.  We rarely meet that goal, but it exists, nonetheless!

All Done/Undone Club Part 2

All Done Club Activities

Our All Done Clubs follow a pattern: once a month, we do a craft of some sort; once a month we show a movie; once a month we play a group game and the final week, we play board games.  By setting up a schedule of sorts, it takes the stress out of planning.  We always try to keep the All Done Club a fun time.  This is a good time to relax with the kids and relate to them differently.  They LOVE to beat me at a board game!

We trade weeks, one week I’ll do the Undone Club, the next, the All Done Club.  Whoever’s turn it is to host the All Done Club is responsible for preparing the activity.    By trading off this way, neither of us gets burned out planning activities or keeping kids working.

All Done/Undone Club Part 3

The Undone Club

During the Undone Club, it is the teacher’s responsibility to keep the students working.  The charts are also used heavily at this time.  It is the students’ job to try to complete all work that is not checked off on the chart.  For some, this is a monumental task.  For others, it’s less overwhelming.  When they finish all of their work, they read a book.  While they would love to join the All Done Club, our policy has always been, once you’re in, you’re in.

An important piece of the Undone Club is to have extra copies of worksheets available.  This avoids students having “lost” their work and not able to complete it. Students tend to use any excuse to not complete their work.  By having extra copies, they are able to finish the assignment and turn it in.

A good way to help organize the work is to make a list of all possible assignments, then circle the missing ones for each student.  This way, they have a personalized list of what to work on.  We have also made lists on the board – each assignment has the students listed under it who need to complete it.  The goal is to help them turn in as much work as possible during this time.  Anything not turned in at the end of the Undone Club becomes a zero in the gradebook.

All Done/Undone Club Part 4

Rewards of the System

While we aren’t able to convince all of our students to turn in their work on time, avoiding the Undone Club, we consider the All Done/Undone Clubs a success.  It rewards those students who do the right thing and gives extra time to those students who haven’t turned in all of their work.  At times, students have worked to “make it into the All Done Club” for the first time all year.  These students see it as defined goal, so they try to reach it.  Since it’s a shorter term goal than making the Honor Roll, it seems attainable.

Parents like the system, as well.  By offering a reward for completing work on time, and giving the extra time to complete assignments, they feel good about the grades their child earns.  In fact, it’s an easy way for parents to check on their child – asking their child if he or she made the All Done Club is a simple question.  Asking if they completed all of their work gets more complicated.  A child might forget an assignment they didn’t complete, but they are very clear on whether they were in the All Done or Undone Club.