The Reasons You Want to be the String

The Reasons You Want to Be the String

Here are the reasons why you want to be the string.

Let’s talk about well meaning parents who take their parenting job way too far and drive themselves and their kids crazy.

WorriedParent

Yes, folks,  we call these parents “helicopter parents.”

Here is a story for you:

My perfect granddaughter (only joking….sort of) is nearly two years old.  She is beginning to venture out on her own within the invisible perameters of her parents’ watchful eyes and ears. At this point, you might label my daughter and her husband as helicopter parents, but you are incorrect!  They are protectful and engaged.

My daughter, her mother, tells me my granddaughter is willfull (nah), headstrong (I haven’t seen it) and likes to be in charge (this could be a valid descriptor as she is a Leo and we Leos love being the boss.)

Can’t all two year olds be described that way?

Here is where my daughter is healthy–she lets my granddaughter experience the outcome of her choices–just a little bit.

For instance, if Mom warns you not to walk on the hot wood boardwalk around the swimming pool because it could hurt your feet and you do so anyway, you learn pretty quickly that hey, that wood is hot and maybe I shouldn’t walk on it.

It is when the guarding goes on for too many years and/or smothering the child becomes the norm that we have trouble.  

Sun Children Drawing Image Drawing Paint C

From a Parents Magazine article”What is Helicopter Parenting”,

“The term “helicopter parent” was first used in Dr. Haim Ginott’s 1969  book Parents & Teenagers by teens who said their parents would hover over them like a helicopter; the term became popular enough to become a  dictionary entry in 2011. Similar terms include “lawnmower parenting,”cosseting parent,” or “bulldoze parenting.”

Helicopter parenting refers to “a style of parents who are over focused on their children,” says Carolyn Daitch, Ph.D., director of the Center for the Treatment  of Anxiety Disorders near Detroit and author of Anxiety Disorders: The Go-To                       Guide.

“They typically take too much responsibility for their children’s experiences  and, specifically, their successes or failures,” Dr. Daitch says. Ann Dunnewold, Ph. D., a licensed psychologist and author of Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Juice Box, calls it “overparenting.” “It means being involved in a child’s life in a way that is overcontrolling, overprotecting, and overperfecting, in a way   that is in excess of responsible parenting,” Dr. Dunnewold explains.”

Girl, Mother, Daughter, Mum, People

It is tough to stand back and watch your child struggle. We all struggle from time to time. That’s life.

How, then, do you remain an involved parent without jumping over the parental cliff?

As a mother of two grown daughters,drama teacher  and youth theatre director for thirty-eight years I have a few suggestions.

If you think you are a parent careening over the cliff, I suggest you:

  1.  Breathe, honestly take a few deep breaths and count between them
  2. Avoid knee jerk reactions to situations. Give time a chance to rectify the problem.
  3. Keep a sense of humor
  4. Remember this is a season in your child’s life–nothing ever lasts forever
  5. Find a friend or relative who can listen to you vent your concerns (make sure they know you are venting, too)
  6. Understand the situation your child’s teacher, director, coach or youth program leader is in and try see it from their perspective
  7. Get a hobby, a pet or discover a new interest of yours–you are still a good parent if you have your own life
  8. This one is a biggie! Think about your own childhood and do your best not to fix everything you thought went wrong then by doing it better this time around with your child.

It hurts to see your child hurting, I understand that. Honestly, it will hurt MORE in the long run if you step in and save your kid every time something doesn’t go the way you think it should.

Teach your child the value of rigor, challenge and strife.  There are some values to them, you know.  Whenever I am going through something difficult, I like to analyze the situation.

I say aloud, “Okay, this is not the first time in the world someone has goofed up on a job interview.  What can I learn from it?”

If I step back from the issue, mistake or challenge and analyze it, it makes the event less important and takes away whatever emotion or perceived value I have placed on it. 

If you don’t stop being overbearing, you will raise a neurotic child who becomes a dysfuntional adult who runs from challenges every time they are faced with them, be it a job interview, an audition, a auto accident, peer pressure, a romantic relationship break up or argument.

You want to raise a child who becomes an adult who is a healthy, contributing member of society. 

If you think about your own life, I bet you remember what the tough, awkward and uncomfortable moments taught you more than the good ones.  These challenges make you stronger and more able to withstand the next time something doesn’t work out for you.

I know a very talented, beautiful, promising young woman who auditioned for every production and was always the one who lost the lead role to someone else.  This occurred for years.

She didn’t give up.  Later, she went on to compete in the Miss America contest, won at the state level and was fourth runner up in the national contest.

That’s not too shabby.

I am aquainted with her parents.  They owned several apartment buildings and local shoe stores.  She learned a lot from them about how to be professional and business like.  Now she owns a thriving business. Life continued to happen to her of course, but she took it in stride.  She is exemplary single mother raising her daughter.

Parents should be less helicopters and more the string of a spinning top.  Okay, that’s kinda sappy but you understand my point. (I can hear you saying, “Deb said I should be the string, be the string….)

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You send your child out into the world and hope she doesn’t spin out of control and hit the wall too many times. You are there to pick her up or when her just needs some “fluffing up” as we call it at our house. (Yes, I actually fluff our daughters’ shoulders as if they were a flattened pillow.)

You want a life of supporting your child, and only “fluffing” them.  You don’t want  a life of constant regret or worry everytime something doesn’t work out for them.

Put away the helicopters and enjoy your kids.  It’s tough to do some days but in the long run, you’ll be glad that you did.

Have you ever had a moment of helicoptering?  I have.  I’d love to hear from you.  Contact me at dhcbaldwin.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

P.S.  Recently, I received an email from one of the queens of  helicopter parents who wanted to set the record straight about her son and an incident which occurred THREE YEARS AGO!! Get this:  she was writing me about something she was told third hand.  Third hand, people.  Oy!  The stories I could tell you…..

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Check out my post on the Ugly Santa, a family memory:  The Ugly Santa 

or a poem of mine about parenthood A Favorite Poem of Mine

Study Guides

Study Guides are Here to Stay: Use Them

Study Guides are Here to Stay so Use Them

Here is my new product at Teacherspayteachers.com

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I decided I need a study guide for my middle grade book, Bumbling Bea.  If I want teachers to use the book in their classroom a study guide would be useful.

In this product, I’ve included the first chapter of Bumbling Bea and questions. Here is the link:

BUMBLINGBEASTUDYGUIDE

Students will retain more of the story if they can discuss it with their classmates and their own reflection.

Here’s why study guides are useful:

From the Language Arts Journal of Michigan,

” Study guides, which enable students to draw upon their existing
knowledge to assist them in formulating meaning from the text, are constructive, dynamic (affective and cognitive), and interactive tools. Study guides are designed to increase student involvement, highlight key information, and provide students with a preview of expectations (Anderson & Pearson, 1984; Blake &
Young, 1995; Ciborowski, 1995; Davey, 1986; Peters & Wixson, 1984). Study guides, as the name implies, help students maneuver their way through text, and, in the meantime, allow students an easier time comprehending content and performing activities that are related to the information being taught. Used correctly, study guides can be coupled with the text to provide a framework of support for conceptual understanding greatly needed by the students (Vacca & Vacca, 2003).”

Study guides are here to stay, use them.

I love pedagagy, I really do.

I have included interlocking and non-interlocking questions in the study guide.  Both are useful to a teacher and of course the reader.

boys reading

The plan is to compose a study guide for the entire book which will be available for teachers and readers by October 2018.

What’s next for Beatrice?

I hadn’t planned to write other stories about Beatrice. She got the answers she needed and resolved her issues with her parents although it isn’t stated in the book. I like for my readers to have an opportunity to think.

Beatrice’s aha moment occurred when she met Michiko.

I may try my hand at writing more of her story. I haven’t made any decisions yet.

I do have a short story planned for Peter one of her best friends, but as of this writing other writing pursuits have been on my mind.

Which do you think would be most interesting?  My readers get to have an opinion. In fact, readers’ opinions are vital to an author.

Another story I have rolling around in my mind from time to time is one about four friends who grow up together.  I’m considering a Christian romance series for this story idea, because I think it lends itself to one.  That’s todays idea….

I have friends waiting with bated breath for another book from me.  I can see it in their eyes when I begin to talk about my writing and that’s flattering. However, I bet most authors would share with you that writing is arduous and somewhat illusive.

I require uninterrupted thought process which for most folks is difficult to attain.  Also, it takes discipline and courage.

Woman, Thinking, Sitting, Desk, Writing, Write, Table

Although since our move, my writing space is on the main floor of our house just down the hall from the kitchen and our bedroom, it is very easy to slide by it ignoring its beckoning me.

Isn’t there something else I could do instead?

Self doubt creeps in  easily.  It took me twenty-five years to get up the courage to write Bumbling Bea and although I haven’t embarassed myself too much through writing and publishing it, I still have anxiety-ridden moments of worry over writing another book.

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TeacherpayTeacher Products

Presently, I am creating teaching products for Teacherspayteachers.com because they are fairly simple to do (haha) and have a quick turn around for me.  I laugh, because they are challenging in their own right and completely different from writing a book! Usually, I can complete them in under a week and I know where I am going with them.

I have twelve products created so far with many more to come.  (I need to put up fifty. Oh gosh…) Here are links to some of them:

Announcing: My Teacherspayteachers Product Sedna, an Inuit Folk Tale

What are Super Hero Postcard Stories

The Drama Exercise to Jazz Up Your Class and Impress Your Parents

When I’m not making products, I can be found here blogging about them or other subjects I focus on.

Perhaps you are needing some teaching advice:

Tips for Teaching Elementary

Tips for Teaching Middle School

Tips for Teaching High School

Teachers: How to Jump Start Your School Year

Yup, study guides are here to stay, use them.  They will help you and your students in many ways. 

I’m here to help you, teachers.  I’m also here to listen to my readers.  Please feel free to email me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

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Effective Teaching Methods

Why You Should Use These Effective Teaching Methods, Part Two

Let’s talk about why you should use these effective teaching methods. This is a two part series, so check out part one, will you?

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2018/06/22/why-you-should-use-these-effective-teaching-methods/

 

Plaid, Coaster, Bast, Colorful, Color

I have a second teaching method which works wonders with any aged kid–I guarantee it!

ARTS INTEGRATION

You may wonder what arts integration is specifically.  Simply put, arts integration is a method used to teach the core subjects infusing them with the arts–music, art, dance and theatre.

From http://www.tealarts.org/arts-integration.html

“Arts integration is an approach to learning in which standards based objectives from the visual and performing arts (the visual arts, music, dance, theatre and media arts) and one or more other subject areas are aligned, met, and assessed.

Image result for students participating in arts integration

It is important to know that arts integration does not supplant single subject art classes like band, dance, drama or drawing, but instead is used to design robust lessons that engage students in the processes used in the arts, such as creative thinking and active learning.

Done with diligence and purpose, arts integration helps students flourish, deepen their learning, and make meaningful connections between the disciplines. Studies have shown that art experiences result increased academic achievement, self-confidence, motivation, and improved social-emotional connections and behavior.”

Don’t ya love it?

Remember in elementary school when you got to draw a picture about some scene in the book you were reading?  Or write a poem about a moment in history? Yeah, it’s like that.

When I was in my forties, a vocal music teacher friend of mine and I  wanted to pursue a masters in education but not in curriculum and instruction (a masters many educators receive.)  She did some research and ran onto the Lesley College which offered a Masters in Education focused on Creative Arts Learning (aka arts integration.)

This was an off site campus location and the professors came to us once a month for eighteen months while we studied the various elements of the arts and how to integrate them into the classroom.

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My friend and I were ecstatic about the program! At the first class, we noticed there were several teachers lacking confidence and timid about their creativity. Well, that changed for the better by the end.  They fared as well or better than we did from the learning. Isn’t that great?

As I mentioned in part one I am now teaching college level students.  Since I was getting my feet wet with the material this first year, I hesitated to use arts integration to teach these college kids.  That was a mistake.

This fall, if I end up teaching for the college I will use arts integration right from the beginning.

It’s novel, it’s obviously creating, it’s very engaging and it’s fun.

Here are a few ideas for arts integreation in core subjects.

Students can:

  1.  Write a script depicting a particular time in history and act it out.
  2. Create a monologue of a famous person and perform it during an open house.
  3. Pen a poem about a country they are studying
  4. Draw and illustrate a picture demonstrating how the body works.
  5. Mold something from clay of a certain culture
  6. Create a rap about the U.S.’s fifty states and capitols
  7. Use movement to demonstrate the various types of clouds, how a typhoon is different from a tornado or the tetonic shifts in the ocean.
  8. Make a dance to accompany a piece of music from a time period which was studied.
  9. If you have musicians, ask them to play a piece of music to compliment the learning.  If the students are studying western expansions, a student could play a country western piece for example.
  10. When studying shapes, cut different ones for collages using basic geometry.  This helps teach and reinforce undrstanding of shapes.  Then as a group, incorporate them into a collage on a classroom wall.

As you can tell, the ideas are numerous.

Utilizing the arts in your classroom gives you energy, too.  Because every project will be creative, your intellect will be challenged.  This is essential for the teacher who plans to teach for many years.

Think about it–would it be more exciting to see what your students create and learn about a concept or merely you regurgitating material……for twenty-five years?

So, there you have it!  Try arts integration in your class or email me if you need help, I’m always willing to suggest ideas to interested teachers.  Rememeber, we are all in this together.

If you’d like more advice on teaching, check out these posts:

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2018/06/22/the-12-steps-to-becoming-a-fantastic-drama-teacher-in-12-steps/

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2018/05/10/the-lessons-i-learned-from-working-as-a-drama-teacher/

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

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Why You Should Use These Effective Teaching Methods, Part One

Let’s talk about why you should use these effective teaching methods. This is a two part series, so check back for part two, will you?

Map, Learn, School, Courage, Training, Skills, Teaching

Soon it will be the fourth of July.  You know what that means don’t ya?

We are about half way through summer vacation for our overworked, underpaid teachers.

Hopefully, these education warriors are not spending their whole vacation sitting in professional development classes or reading yet another book on whatever trendy subject is being discussed in September at a faculty meeting.

I hope they are sitting in the Colorado Rocky Mountains by a stream, listening to the water as it slips over the rocks and cools the air. (This is one of my favorite memories in my life which I draw from time to time.)

Now, I taught drama classes for thirty-eight years.  That, my friend, is a heck of a long time.

The wisdom I am about to impart to you is my personal teaching method which works every.single.time.  I’ll say that again:  every.single.time

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I believe in using the multiple intelligences…period.

From the American Institute of Learning and Human Development website,

“The theory of multiple intelligences was developed in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University. It suggests that the traditional notion of intelligence, based on I.Q. testing, is far too limited. Instead, Dr. Gardner proposes eight different intelligences to account for a broader range of human potential in children and adults. These intelligences are:

              Linguistic intelligence (“word smart”)

              Logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”)

              Spatial intelligence (“picture smart”)

              Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”)

              Musical intelligence (“music smart”)

              Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”)

              Intrapersonal intelligence (“self smart”)

              Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”)

Just like Dr. Gardner, I present my lessons in a wide variety of ways using music, cooperative learning, art activities, role play, multimedia, field trips, inner reflection, and much more.

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The most important question I know some educators have is whether each intelligence must be addressed with every lesson.  

The answer is a resounding, no!  But I bet if you use several methods over the course of a unit or several lessons, the students will be more engaged than the traditional methods of textbook and worksheets.

Case in point, my Theatre Appreciation class I taught this last semester at Neosho Community College in Ottawa, Kansas.

This was my first time to teach the class and I must say, it was a doozy for me.

Some challenges:

  • only four students (three were seniors in high school and one was twenty-three years old) enrolled
  • since Neosho is a commuter campus, a theater and its many aspects were unavailable to me
  • the class fulfilled a Humanities requirement, so the students didn’t necessarily take the class because they wanted to but needed the hours in order to graduate
  • although I had a teacher’s manual, powerpoint templates and test banks (which didn’t always coincide with the teacher’s manual), the scope of learning was massive!

In short, I created every lesson in the semester with very little help (oh, and forget using another professor’s syllabus supplement to help me, all the professors I found pn line planned it differently.)

At first, I tried the usual I-lecture-you-take-notes format.  Ugh…I’m embarassed to even admit that to you. It was excruciatingly boring for the students and myself.

What did work was assigning vocabulary words from each chapter and requiring the students to create flashcards on Quizlet.com. These vocabulary words spoke to those with Linguistic Intelligence.

I learned the students needed visual examples of the various times periods in theatre history.  That’s where youtube.com came in.  It was great help and the wealth of videos about theatre history, live performances of plays and musicals was extensive. Whew!  Suddenly, the learning came alive.

We attended a live performance of a play produced at the University of Kansas.  At the time, I wasn’t certain they appreciated the production, but later they mentioned the play to me several times.

Spatial Intelligence was addressed and it worked well for all of them.

I knew I could do better by them, but this was my first time teaching the material. I thought I should use a more traditional teaching method since these students came from rural school systems in general.  This might be an exagerration, but I have discovered in the past rural schools are less advanced or innovative. I could tell they were used to books and worksheets, good or not.

So, I did what I knew I should have done from the beginning–I used multiple intelligences.

Nearing the end of the semester, I assigned the students a project on a particular play they read.  Each one had a responsibility to learn about the job of that designer and the responsibilities of them, design either costumes (4 costumes), set (1 set with furniture and curtains, etc.), props (2 props specifically for the play)  or sound for the production (a sound plot and sound bites for several sounds, preshow and post show music.) Body-Kinesthetic Intelligence.

Additionally, they had to work with their peers pulling their ideas together as an artistic team would do for a production. Check off Interpersonal Intelligence!

Lastly, they were to share their learning with us.

They LOVED the assignment.  Please understand these were students who swore to me, “Mrs. Baldwin, I’m not at all creative.  I can’t possibly do this!”  However, by the end of the learning and sharing, they enjoyed it so much they suggested to me that I do more of this next time.

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Aha! As I mentioned I knew that all ready, but it is always better when your students confirm your opinion.

I am by no means an expert on  teaching through the multiple intelligences, but using this method works for me every time.

It is fun, creative, allows for varied learning styles, skills and provides differentiated instruction.  You can’t beat that, can you?

What are your favorite teaching methods?  As a drama teacher, I model my expected outcome on a daily basis it seems.  Have you ever modeled for your students?  How did it go?

I’d love to hear from you.  Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

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girl holding crystal ball

The Unofficial Fortune Teller’s Guide to Becoming a Fantastic Teacher in 12 Steps

 

fortune teller's guide

Here it is—the unofficial fortune teller’s guide to becoing a fantastic teacher in 12 steps. Although, I speak specifically about teaching drama, this post will relate to any teacher.

rubistar.4teachers.org

If you don’t know about rubistar.4teachers.org you need to!  (This is a side note for you. It isn’t really a step, but do check them out for quick, efficient, comprehensive rubric templates.) rubistar.4teachers.org

People don’t ask me for the guide to becoming a fantastic drama teacher.

They never directly ask me. They ask around the question.  I think they are afraid of what I might say.  Teehee….I’m known for being honest.

So they say, “I was thinking I would like to do something in life that uses my love for theatre.” Or “I don’t think I would make it on Broadway, but I’d still like to be involved in theatre and make a living from it.”

They look at me with a smile hopeful for the answer they desire.

No pressure there….

I’m not a fortune teller, although one time for a radio commercial,  I portrayed the fortune teller, Madame Zula, a  wacky woman who extolled important facts about crop fertilizer. (My producer won a regional award for it, BTW.)

You’re laughing, I know.

fortune teller's guide

Although I might think you have the talent to succeed on Broadway, that isn’t something I can promise or even prophesy. Nor can I project whether you’ll be successful as a teacher.

There are many factors which create your success in the field of professional theatre, many of which you and I have no control. Any worthwhile pursuit has the same challenges.

If you listen to many successful performers, they will tell you that some of it is a.being at the right place at the right time b. fortitude in the face of many rejections c. a willingness to do anything and everything to make it happen and maybe d. talent.

Technical theatre artists will share the same experiences with you.  They worked at it.  They created a resume.  They worked for little pay and so on.

Here’s a secret:  If someone tells you it was easy to become wildly successful in a certain profession, (doctor, lawyer, counselor, nurse, banker, actor or teacher) they are lying. 

fortune teller's guide

As your unofficial fortune teller, here is a guide with twelve steps which will help you become a successful drama teacher over time:

1. Attend a college or university with a strong theatre AND education program and enroll for classes in both.  If you desire to teach in a traditional school setting, you’ll need your state teachers license.  Just like many other professions, teachers must study certain pedagogy from basic theory of education classes to student teaching.

The same will be expected of you if you want to receive a theatre degree.  Study as many facets of theatre as you can then you are an easy hire for someone.  If you only focus on technical theatre or performing, you are less likely to be hired in a school or maybe a theatre company.  You want to be versatile.

2. Participate in professional organizations in theatre, drama education and general education.  You need to be versed in the latest trends in all areas.

3. Participate in your school’s productions.  This is such a duh.  Some schools require backstage hours for their performing majors.  My college did, Stephens college, and I am forever grateful to them for this.  I learned heaps.  Some thirty-eight years later, I still use the lessons I learned in my college classes when I teach or direct.

An employer wants to hire someone who is very knowledgeable, not someone who spent all his or her time socializing rather than broadening their horizons.

fortune teller's guide

4. Get involved in a community theatre.  They will welcome you with open arms, because they need volunteers to support their productions– running lights, designing costumes, acting or serving on staff as a stage manager or even a director. Accept the job even if you are not offered a stipend.  Think of the work like interning.

Build your resume with various experiences.

5.  Volunteer your time to a school mentoring students through an after school program or an organization such as Scouts or 4H.  This gives you insight about how best to work with students.  It also helps you become accustomed to their latest social behaviors and slang.  This is invaluable experience.  I can’t stress this enough.

If you can, volunteer for different organizations with a diverse community.  Our classrooms are multicultural.  There is an art to teaching students simultaneously from all walks of life.  If you have never helped a disadvantaged student or an immigrant, you’ll have a  bigger learning curve to overcome.  Their lives are very different from yours and it’s your job to figure out how to support them.

6.  The best teachers are passionate about their subject matter and sincerely interested in bettering the world through teaching young people. So be that!  Please do not become a teacher because you didn’t know what else to do with your degree (or you thought you’d have your summers off-hahahaha!).  There is nothing worse than a bitter teacher. You know the kind who mumble how she wishes she had been a professional actor and are stupidly arrogant? Yeah, we won’t need that kind of person in our classrooms.

Trust me, teaching is difficult enough on its own.  Compounding your classroom challenges with apathy is a crime in my book.

7.  Teaching is rigorous work.  It is very tiring and all consuming.  Unless you’ve had previous experience teaching twenty bursts of energy and emotion all at once, you’ll never understand it. You gotta get in there and try it–at least for three years.     Like those professional actors that you can’t tell are acting, good teachers make it seem easy to do.  It. is. not.

fortune teller's guide

8.  Once employed, although you may think your career has finally begun your education has not ended.  Now, you’ll learn about the inner workings of your school, bureaucracy, policies, regulations, etc.  You’ll  practice becoming more organized, keep yourself healthy,  juggle your professional and personal time, become a shoulder for others to cry on, learn to listen to your superiors and to a student who has lamented continuously for several months to you about their life.  That’s okay.  It’s part of the deal.

9.  You want to be good at teaching?  Buy clothes in your school colors.  Wear them. Buy the school spirit wear.  If your cast buys cast tee shirts, you do so, too.

10.  Attend other school sponsored activities–football games, fundraisers, band concerts and TGIF’s for staff.

11.  Help other teachers and staff members.  Take their lunch shift if you observe a teacher who needs a break.  Take out your own trash for your janitor once in a while and THANK THEM for their work to keep your room tidy.  Get to know your school head secretary.  They can make or break you.  Trust me, if there is anyone who knows the school’s scuttle butt, it’s the head secretary.

12.  Finally, be the teacher you wanted when you were a student.  I liked my teachers who were organized, funny, clever, innovative, challenging, held high expectations and sincere.  Guess what?  I’ve become that teacher, too.

If you look at your life as a journey, you’ll appreciate and accept that any journey takes a long time to prepare, depart, travel and arrive at your destination. Teaching is much the same way.

fortune teller's guide

I promise you, it can be a wonderful journey.

Bon voyage!

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or my website DeborahBaldwin.net

Following me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DeborahHBaldwin

on Facebook at BumblingBea

 

 

Lessons Learned as a Drama Teacher

The Lessons I Learned from Working as a Drama Teacher

In a past post, I spoke on my advice concerning teaching a drama class.  But I haven’t reflected on the lessons I learned about myself personally through working as a drama teacher.

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After thirty-eight years of teaching drama to students of all ages, including adults, here are the lessons I have learned:

1. It is better to take the time to become well acquainted with my students than to hurry into a lesson.  People love to talk about themselves, so I give them a chance to do so.

2. I am punctual.  I like to be a bit early to engagements rather than late.  In the theatre, I was taught, “If you are early, you are on time.  If you are on time, you are late.  And if you are late, you are in trouble.”  Works  for me.

3. I’m organized.  I like to have all the materials I may or may not need at quick access.

4. I over plan my lessons, so that there is more than enough material to cover in case my students zip through an activity or exercise. This helps me keep my anxiety at bay.

5. I still wear a watch to keep track of the time.

6. I carry a water bottle and a beloved large cup of coffee.  I replenish the water bottle many times during a day.  Water and coffee help me to center myself if I find I’m unfocused.  Also, I carry snacks.

7. I dress nicely, but casually.  My mother always wondered my reasons for not wearing a dress to teach.  It’s  simple–I like to sit on the floor with my students, no matter the age.  I find it gives the classroom a kind of closeness that chairs can’t provide.

8. I invest in a good pair of expensive Danskos clogs from time to time.  They are sturdy, last a long time and have enough heel to make me appear taller. 🙂

9. I use my intuition and observation skills during class.  I’m aware of a class’ energy, dynamics and body language.  If a group of lethargic kids enter the classroom, I take the time to re-energize them through a game or merely telling a funny story.  Or, if they arrive too wound up, I will take the time to calm them down.

10. At the same time I am organized, I do enjoy moments of improvisation–those times where the class takes  off in a different direction than where I thought it would go.  It is quite easy to become perfunctory in one’s teaching, especially if one teaches the same subject many times in a day.  Off balance moments keep me alive in the classroom, so to speak.

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11. Over my many years of teaching, I found students and parents to be much the same. It is the time in which we live and societal norms that make for the changes in their attitude towards their education and its importance in their lives and future.  When I first began my career, parents were very uninvolved in their children’s education. That was in 1979.  Then I became a parent in 1983.  I stayed home full time with our daughters for twelve years. 

12. When I returned to the classroom a parent’s behavior toward a teacher was quite different.  The parents only believed their children and NOT the teacher, an adult peer to the parents.  Times change, however. Recently, I heard someone complaining about the damages of over gifting of trophies to the losing team. He mentioned that over praising children makes for lack of self esteem instead of the opposite. Aha!

13. Theatre is created through an emotional person displaying other emotions. This is not an easy task, especially for kids. Early on, I learned to model the emotion for them which gave them a starting point. Sometimes, the student just needs you to go first.

14. I have believed in and lived my life by the quote, “People of integrity expect to be believed.  If they are not, time will prove them right.”  There are moments in my career when I know I did or said the right  thing even if no one else agreed with me.  I hold myself to a high standard and expect students to do so, too.  Sometimes parents or my administrators seem threatened by this. I hold my ground and it pays off in the end.  I may never receive an apology from the accuser, but at least I can live with myself for doing what was right at the time.

15. I rarely raise my voice with a class anymore.  I find that our students do not respond well to this.  I use a call and echo response technique instead.

16. I like to be on top of my game when I teach.  Teaching a group of different personalities each day is stressful enough.  need to be rested.  I don’t grade papers on a weekend or spend my vacation thinking about the next semester.  There is plenty of time for that later.  If I am given professional time off, I use it for myself.

17. There are some school related details I just don’t remember–deadlines for grades to be in, fire drill               dates,  turning in a class materials list, etc.  Usually, I find another teacher who can keep all of this straight for me. They don’t know I turn to them for this information, but I do.

 18. When I am feeling bored, I usually entertain myself with a store bought lunch or new piece of music or new acting exercise to teach.

19. I use humor A LOT. I lifts my mood.😊

20. I enjoy team teaching.  Recently, I retired from formal public school teaching (I’ll probably teach in the private sector in the years to come.)  I team taught with three different vocal music teachers in musical theatre classes for six years.  Although it takes a while for me to adjust to another person’s style of teaching, I find having another teacher in the classroom completely changes the dynamics and refreshes me more than it frustrates me.

21. I try not to knee jerk at a student’s behavior.  Sometimes I achieve success at this and other times not so much. I still have to remind myself that kids make random behavior choices. Most of the time they are unaware of the consequences of their behavior.  I am very protective of my students, their  learning time as well as mine to teach.  Even after all these years, I remind myself that not all behavior is a direct attack at me.

22. I like to teach!  I think that’s one of the reasons I enjoy directing as well.  It is a kind of teaching.  There is nothing more fulfilling than seeing the “aha” moment in a student’s eyes when they understand and appreciate what I am instructing.

23. I am a better person having been a teacher.  It has brought out the best in me and shown me my weaknesses as well.  I impress myself by how much I know about theatre and can quickly become overwhelmed by how much I don’t.  I think that’s a good sign, though.

After all these years, I can still say I have room for improvement. Not everyone can say that about their chosen occupation.  Can you?

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I’d love to hear from you about what you have learned from your teaching experiences. Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or my website DeborahBaldwin.net I’d love to hear from you!

If you’d like to read about more of my teaching experiences, check out these posts:

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2016/12/08/how-to-make-your-elementary-drama-class-more-successful-lessons-learned-from-38-years-of-teaching-drama-part-one/

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2016/12/09/how-to-make-your-drama-class-more-successful-part-two/

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2016/12/12/how-to-make-your-drama-class-more-successful-lessons-learned-from-38-years-of-teaching-part-three/

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This is Why Public Education is Important

I can give you tons of reasons why public education is important and the reasons to provide it.

There is only one defense of it which truly matters. Read on.

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My father was a physician.  By the age of twenty-one, I had traveled all over the world (Europe, Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, Soviet Union and Japan.) Consequently, my world view was completely different from my peers.  Just think what a child born into lower economics would gain from such experiences?

I attended a private womens college.  You want to talk about a microcosm?  Your life becomes the world around you, right?  Honestly, it is easy to forget other people are suffering when your roommate’s only challenge is to get the best tan she can before she travels to the coast for spring break.  That was her reality, not mine.

Mine wasn’t as superficial, but I was plenty privileged.  Somehow, I knew so and this awareness serves me well. My father was raised on a farm when he was a child and my mother’s parents were missionaries in Japan.  Plus, they lived through the Great Depression and my father served in WWII.

There were times my parents were very poor.  Consequently, their childhood’s formed them which in turn shaped mine.  I knew I was fortunate. I was expected to help others, share my bounty and support those who were hurting. I have never forgotten this.

About thirteen years ago, I noticed the ELL students at my middle school weren’t fraternizing with the American students.  This bothered me.  I knew both groups could gain much from each other.  So, I developed an ELL Drama Club primarily to give the ELL students an opportunity to be seen in the school. They performed on the multicultural assembly.  They were so excited and loved every minute of it! It was a tremendous experience for us and one I will never forget, either.

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However, experiencing both public and private schools allows me a viewpoint some privileged folks never have.

I have a good grasp on the importance of public education and the reasons to retain it as our best option for educating our students.

I have taught:

  • at  private and public schools
  • the wealthiest students in a private, very prestigious preparatory program
  • the poorest students in a summer program with city funding
  • home schooled students
  • students in an arts magnet school
  • general drama education class to five hundred sixth graders, seventy-five at a time (for twelve years, I taught 400 sixth graders each year, yikes!)
  • created curriculum for individual courses in Drama from creative dramatics to film making
  • and a mixed bag of other teaching experiences too numerous to mention here.

There is one important reason that public education is vital to our country.

Simply put:

Public education gives everyone an equal opportunity to become educated and to reach their potential. All children and adults have the right to an education if they so choose.  No matter a person’s age or social status, everyone should be allowed to learn to read and write.

We are a varied society, rich in cultures from around the world. This is one of our greatest strengths, don’t you think? Living in a micrcosm of any sort divides us.  This is less likely to occur in a public school setting.

Public school levels the playing field.  There are many students who were born into extreme poverty and neglect only to become some of our most decorated heroes and role models.  In public schools, they can learn alongside students of privileged backgrounds. Generally, privilege gives one choices not easily provided for students with lesser opportunities. Public school gives opportunity to everyone of every economic background.

It is that simple. This is why public education is important and the reasons to provide it.

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You can argue until the cows come home about the reasons against public school education, but more than anything it merely comes down to this:

Public education embodies equal rights and provides an equal education and opportunities for everyone. Period.

What are you experiences in learning in a public school?  How about a private school?  Are they different from mine? I’ve love to hear from you.

If you’d like to see my teaching resume, go to: https://dramamommaspeaks.com/resume/ 

Student Survival: The Importance of Pleasure Reading for a Kid

So, let’s talk about pleasure reading for a kid.

Recently, I was looking for a  pleasure reading book to purchase for my upcoming trip over seas. I was having a difficult time finding one. I saw a child who was nearly eating a book while he read it–in the time I looked over one aisle of books, he read three (all right, they were short, but still…)

 

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Some people are selective about the genres they read.  I usually gravitate toward books with quirky characters in ordinary appearing plots. I say “ordinary appearing” because it is always intriguing to find the characters going somewhere else than you expected.

However, I am known to cheat and read the last chapter of a book if a. the story is moving too slowly for me or b. I’m dying to know what happens. When I was a child, my mother would scold me for doing so–still haven’t kicked the habit.  Sorry, Mom.

I worry about kids’ reading preferences. It seems many writers write for whatever trend is popular the time. A few years ago, it was zombies and time travelers. Not every child wants to read fantasy or graphic novels.  That’s why I penned Bumbling Bea.  If you haven’t picked up my book, you might want to try it.  I promise you, it isn’t your run of the mill plot! Check it out here: http://tinyurl.com/n5at3oh

I ran on to an article concerning this concern and I thought you’d be interested, too.

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Promoting the Pleasures of Reading: Why It Matters to Kids and to Country

June 10, 2017

Advocacy, Inquiry, Literacy, Reading, Teachingpleasure reading

by Lu Ann McNabb

This post is written by member Jeffrey Wilhelm.

Reading Unbound: Why Kids Need to Read What They Want and Why We Should Let Them was this past year’s winner of the NCTE David H. Russell Award for Distinguished Research in English Education.

The research findings that we report in Reading Unbound have profound implications for us as teachers, for our students, and for democracy.

In our book, we argue that pleasure reading is a civil rights issue. Why? Because fine-grained longitudinal studies (e.g., the British Cohort study: Sullivan & Brown, 2013; and John Guthrie’s analysis of PISA data, 2004, among many others) demonstrate that pleasure reading in youth is the most explanatory factor in both cognitive progress and social mobility over time.

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Pleasure reading is more powerful than parents’ educational attainment or socioeconomic status.

This means that pleasure reading is THE way to address social inequalities in terms of actualizing our students’ full potential and overcoming barriers to satisfying and successful lives.

We think that our data explain why pleasure reading leads to cognitive growth and social mobility.

The major takeaway for teachers is to focus on pleasure in our teaching. Pleasure has many forms: play pleasure/immersive pleasure, when you get lost in a book—this is a prerequisite pleasure and we can foster it in various ways, such as teaching with an inquiry approach, using drama and visualization strategies, etc.; work pleasure, where you get a functional and immediately applicable tool for doing something in your life; inner work pleasure, where you imaginatively rehearse for your life and consider what kind of person you want to be; intellectual pleasure, where you figure out what things mean and how texts were constructed to convey meanings and effects; and social pleasure, in which you relate to authors, characters, other readers, and yourself by staking your own identity.

Kids (like all other human beings!) do what they find pleasurable. You get good at what you do and then outgrow yourself by developing new related interests and capacities.

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Play pleasure develops the capacity to engage and immerse oneself, to visualize meanings and relate to characters. It is the desire to love and be loved. Work pleasure is the love of getting something functional done. Work pleasure is about the love of application and visible signs of accomplishment. Readers engaging in this pleasure cultivate transfer of strategies and insights to life.

Inner work pleasure involves imaginatively rehearsing what kind of person one wants to be. As our informant Helen asserted: “It’s not really learning about yourself, it’s learning about what you could be . . . .” and “Characters are ways of thinking really . . . They are ways of being you can try on.”

Inner work is the love of transformation—of connecting to something greater, of striving to become something more. When our informants engaged in this pleasure, they expressed and developed a growth mindset and a sense of personal and social possibility.

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Intellectual pleasure is pursued for the joy of figuring things out; it develops the capacity to see connections and solve problems. Our informants developed resilience, grit, and proactivity through the exercise of this pleasure. Erik Erikson argued that staking one’s identity is the primary task of early to late adolescence and that this is achieved through evolving interests and competence.

Social pleasure involves this human developmental project because it involves relating to authors, characters, other readers, and the self in ways that stake identity. Social pleasure is the love of connection—to the self, others, community, and to doing significant work together.

This pleasure develops social imagination: the capacity to experience the world from other perspectives; to learn from and appreciate others distant from us in time, space, and experience; and the willingness to relate, reciprocate, attend to, and help others different from ourselves.

In other words, it promotes cognitive progress, wisdom, wholeness, and the democratic project. In fact, all of the pleasures were found to do this.

Our data clearly establish that students gravitate to the kinds of books they need to navigate their current life challenges, and that many ancillary benefits accrue in the realms of cognition, psychology, emotional development, and socialness. So much so that we developed the mantra: Kids read what they need!

 

This finding led us to be more trusting of kids’ choices and to ask them about why they chose to read what they did, and eventually to championing these choices. We likewise found that each of the marginalized genres we studied (romance, horror, vampire, fantasy, and dystopia) provided specific benefits and helped students navigate different individual developmental challenges.

Our data also establish that young people are doing sophisticated intellectual work in their pleasure reading, much of it just the kind of work that the Common Core and other next generation standards call for. So making pleasure more central to our practice is not in conflict with working to achieve standards.

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Standards and all the other significant goals described here can be achieved if teachers value interpretive complexity as much as they do textual complexity, if they create inquiry contexts that reward entering a story world and doing psychological and social work in addition to more traditional academic goals, and if they provide opportunities for choice and meaningful conversation.

Given the benefits of each pleasure, we are convinced that pleasure reading is not only a civil right, it is a social necessity of democracy.

That is why we urge you to promote pleasure reading in your classroom and school, and it is why our book is filled with practical ideas for how to do so while promoting each of the five pleasures. It is monumental work—and it is work we must undertake with the greatest urgency—particularly at this moment in history.

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What are some of your favorite genres to read? Perhaps you have a child who might enjoy reading my book, Bumbling Bea simply for the fun of it.  I think they’ll enjoy it!

Check it out here:  https://www.amazon.com/Bumbling-Bea-Deborah-Baldwin/dp/1500390356/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1516988757&sr=8-1&keywords=Bumbling+Bea

I’d love to hear from you.

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

How Successful Teachers Avoid Common Pitfalls

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A common pitfall most teachers experience is thinking they must create everything for their classes all by themselves. Au Contraire!

So here’s the deal.  If you are a teacher and you haven’t discovered Rubistar4.com, you need to do so pronto!

Like most people, we do our best work when we help each other.  Many years ago when I first began in my teaching career, other teachers were not so keen to help you.

Now we know helping one another is the key to success. I really enjoy sharing with other teachers and having them share with me.  We’re all in this together, right?

Rubistar4.com is a wonderful site with templates for various assignments.  Trust me–this site will save you loads of time and time needs to be on your side not against you.

Here is my persuasion speech rubric, FREE.

Note:  This particular rubric was created at Rubistar4.com and then I downloaded to my document folders.

I created it for college level students in a Fundamental of Speech class.  It could easily be adapted for younger students. This free persuasion speech is just my way of showing support for other educators.

Click here: Oral Presentation Rubric – Persuasion Speech

Keep checking back for other rubrics.

I’d love to know how it works out for you.

The rubric is all encompassing and includes voume, posture, time, notecards, bibiliograpy, manuscript as well as grading the introduction, middle and conclusion of the speech.  There is room for notes in the margin, too. Also, I added a requirement to follow all the steps of Monroe’s Motivated Sequence (Attention; Problem/Need; Satisfaction; Visualization; Call to Action). This was created for the collegel level, but I think it could easily be simplified for other grade levels.

Using other teacher’s rubrics is one way to avoid the common pitfalls of teaching.  There is no harm or sin in using another teacher’s documents provided you give them credit if need.

Remember, we teachers are all in this together.  Until next time.

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

persuasion speech rubric

 

Sure Fire Formula that Works with Classroom Assignments

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If you are a teacher like me, sometimes you need a little help but don’t know where to find it. I’m just like anyone else–occasionally, I need a sure fire grading formula that works with classroom assignments–a time tested answer to my teaching needs. Creating new teaching rubrics is hard and time consuming. Thankfully you are no longer on your own, there are teacher tools available online!

Open the door to Rubistar.4teachers.org

Maybe this will help you…

Click here for a FREE copy. Informative Speech Rubric

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This grading rubric includes elements such as voice, posture, eye contact, introduction, body, conclusion, bibliography, outline, notecards, self evaluation of peers, etc.

So back to Rubistars4.teachers.org…..

Rubistar4teachers.org is a website for anyone teaching who needs

a particular rubric, or grade sheet.

There are terrific templates for just about any assignment you are grading. You can find rubrics for subjects under the heading of oral projects, making products, multi media, science, work skills, math, art and music just to name a few.

And you can custom create a rubric to your particular needs.

Another terrific feature:  Teachers have made their grading rubrics available to you for your use, too! 

I put a grading rubric together last week using the oral presentation template for a persuasive speech for a college level Fundamentals in Speech class I am teaching this semester.

I have many rubrics through rubistar4teachers.org.  If you search my name, you should find them.  If not, contact me and I’ll help you.

In my new teaching positions, I can create rubrics right in the coursework assignments which is awesome.

Boy, has Infinite Campus changed over the years.  This software has been around for at least twenty years, I’d say.  We can do all kinds of things through it such as rosters, coursework, blog, test, attach assignments, surveys, videos and a bunch of other incredible helpers.

I still remember when we used paper gradebooks!  In my third years of teaching, my school called me one summer because I gave a student a B instead of an A as I had informed my student she would receive.

Can you imagine?  I had to go BACK to school and change the grade in the paper gradebook (which we turned in to the office, BTW…) and inform the student.

Now, we can change grades right on line with the click of the mouse!

Check back here often because I have a few other FREE grading rubrics for your use.  

I always appreciate when other teachers help me.  So, I’m paying it forward here.  Hope it helps!

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Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net