5 Wrong Statements Teachers Make

For the purposes of this Blog: Johnny is the “A” student who doesn’t need to study, Sally is your average to below average student who struggles.


1. The highest score on the test belongs to Johnny!

So what? The highest score does not relate to the best performance. As a matter of fact, the highest test score usually belongs to Johnny, who just happens to find the Elementary Curriculum easy, and puts forth little to no effort to prepare for the test. So you reinforce that Johnny needs to not worry about his study skills, and also disregard the efforts put in by Sally who only wishes one day to get the highest score and be recognized. Recognition and celebration of an individual performance in front of the class needs to be centered on the effort given.  Struggling Sally who earns a B, promotes a better message than Johnny’s mediocre A. Simply, you have celebrated and reinforced that Johnny and his lack of effort is great!

2. It’s your own fault, you obviously didn’t work hard enough at home!

The same can be said for you as a teacher. How exactly is Sally supposed to “work harder”? A low-grade does not always correlate with a lack of effort. What if Sally has been putting in hours of studying by flashcards as you told her? Could it be that using flashcards hinders Sally? Maybe Sally never removes cards she understands, thus studying all 50 cards over and over? Did you inform her on how to properly use flash cards? There are many options to studying and learning, but very few teachers will offer them to their students because they themselves are limited to what worked for them. The focus needs to be on what Sally is currently doing, and what options or changes are needed to help.  Students don’t wake up every day and hope they struggle again. There is no fault to struggling, so why plant a message in their heads that they themselves are not good enough?

3. If you had listened to me, and did things my way, you wouldn’t be struggling!

When all else fails, the teacher knows best, Right? It is so easy to tell Sally that the only way to succeed is to do it your way, but do you give the same message to Johnny when he obviously has no study skills? By telling Sally this, you are confirming that her thoughts, ideas, and work ethic are failures. Sadly, when you stop and think about it, all students look up to their teachers and hold them on a pedestal, yet you are telling Sally she will never be good enough using their own thoughts and ideas. In the right atmosphere, Sally will always try impress her teacher for inspiring and supporting her through her struggles. Inspire them to be a great individual, not a copy of you.

4. You need to study more! You didn’t study enough!

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” -Albert Einstein. Studying more is simply not the answer for most, like Sally. Along with #2, 3, and 4, the biggest issue is that we pass the blame by using the word “YOU”. Yes, we all understand that it is up to the individual child, however, these are not adults. They are children in the process of learning. We talk about being a supporting partner throughout their education, but are quick to shovel all of the blame onto their shoulders with statements like these. Make sure your message to Sally starts with “YOU” in times of success, but make sure to start with “WE” can do better in times of failure.

5. It’s ok, you tried your best!

If you consistently set high standards for you students, it’s NEVER “ok” when a student does not do well. You are contradicting yourself to Sally who believes in your message of setting the bar high! Sally has been told every year that “It’s ok”, and “Things will get better” to no avail. Sally has invested herself in your message, and now you tell her what every other teacher and adult has said. She has raised her levels of expectations, and needs someone who will reinforce that a below average grade is “NOT OK”! She needs someone to invest in her, and help her become the best she can be. What can she do differently, what habits are not helping, or what improvements can be seen?- Are some of the questions Sally wants answers to, so save the meaningless pat on the back. ALWAYS praise the effort when it’s there, and let her know that “WE” will not give up!

Kids today are being raised into a society stressing that everyone is a winner, irrelevant of effort and ability. While I believe there is an age appropriate relation (5-6 years old), we are setting up our children for failure when we continually hold their hands. Every individual has a desire to succeed and out perform others. As we grow up, we look for individuals who can be our inspiration, our role models. People who stand out of the crowd that continually tells us how great we are. Those individuals who hold us to higher standards and make us believe we can reach the unreachable stars. We need teachers to be those individuals……Tell Sally that she CAN, show her different ways to improve, celebrate every victory, and be truthful but support her in every step backwards….Tell Johnny that his 95 should NOT be acceptable, talk with him about his lack of study habits, challenge him to see the future, and be truthful but support him with his weaknesses. It is never about what you as a teacher say, but rather what exactly the student hears! It is human nature to invest in someone who is invested in you. Make sure your message consistently rings true that effort and improvement, not grades, will earn your respect!

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Who Suffers Most in Education Today

Education in America is in a fight for survival. Whether its Common Core, Technology, or Bullying, Education is at the forefront of many discussions. Visit your nearest water cooler, or turn on the 24 hour News channels, sit back and enjoy the experts discuss what is wrong, and what would be their solution. You just might hear, “Bill Gates built an enterprise like no other, we should listen to the group he has formed to help education.” “Common Core is a mess and asks students to show abilities that are above their developmental level.” “Digital technology is the best avenue for our student success”, and yet “it is also the worst.” “Our attack on Bullying is weakening this country by raising sissies.” Heard any of this?

One of the hottest topics is how American students have “fallen” behind our international competitors. You will hear some say they believe we led the world in education when they were growing up in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Really? You will hear how our students are ranking in the range of 20-30 and how China now ranks #1 in the world! Sadly, the facts are all being taken out of context. Do you know that International Testing (PISA) was initiated in 1997 with the first test being given in 2000 and every 3 years after? Would it change your view to know that we have ranked around 20-30 every year? Even as more countries join the testing? Would it help to know that China only lets certain kids in Shanghai who prep for the test to take it, and first joined testing in 2009? Does it really matter?


Ladies and gentlemen, let’s make one thing perfectly clear, Education around the world is changing. Our mentality of being scared of change has opened a huge door for critics to attack our educational system. Unfortunately, it may lead to the false claims becoming true. The ones who have been able to keep our Educational System afloat are being attacked from the flanks and it is quickly weakening their positions. As a teacher of 15+ years experience, I have seen, first hand, the damage that these attacks are having on the profession. The negativity has relations from teachers to parents, students, and community strained and continues to force the very best of educators to leave the profession they truly love. More importantly, it is tearing down the structural integrity of the classroom and the control a teacher can have. History has shown that the most damaging of attacks take place silently without detection. We must be very conscious of the damage that the wave of adult negativity can cause in the structure of the educational system, especially in the classroom, as it eventually filters into the eyes of the students.

We are undermining every teacher’s effort in the classroom and thus weakening the educational system. The true power of our Educational system lies in the influence our teachers can have on our students. The so-called experts don’t understand this. Bill Gates and any other “non-experienced” expert can talk about studies and research, but there are instincts and factors to teaching that just can’t be measured. Yet, we listen to these experts tell us that our teachers are failing? In reality, it is THEY who are failing our teachers! Mr. Gates and his committee have produced the Common Core State Standards (they may be a great step forward), but did they train and equip the classrooms and teachers to perform to these new standards and way of learning? NO. Did he follow the same “business plan” with Microsoft by setting new standards of work for his employees, but never equipping them with proper training and material to do so? Did he tell his Secretary to produce documents in Microsoft Word by giving her a user’s guide, however keeping her on a typewriter? Of course not. 

Education is changing around the world. The difference is that the rest of the world continues to show respect for their teachers. The best of the best are known to openly respect all teachers on the same level we respect doctors and lawyers. So while they also go through the shift with technology, their framework around the classroom is solid and supported by the surrounding community, parents, and students. We, the American community, must not continue to damage the structural integrity of our classroom, for a collapse will be on our teachers, leaving our students alone to fend for themselves. Be careful America, when we begin to listen to experts in the field of business on Education,you must ask, What is more important: My child’s education, or the Bottom Line?

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13 New Educational Terms Defined in Pictures (New? Teachers Don’t Think So!)

1. Blended Learning- Whether defined as a mix of Technology and Paper/Pencil or a mix of Learning In and Out of School (watch a TV Special at home/ write a summary), students have been a part of Blended Learning for years…..


2. Flipped Classroom– Students learn subject matter at home to provide more discussion for understanding time in the classroom………hmmmmm


3. BYOD- Bring Your Own Device……parents have been providing devices for years….


4. Reform- Term to define when politicians and their cronies discuss their ideas to improve education and provide a revolutionary plan.


5. Charter School- (See #4 Reform)…..when you mix business and politics with education…..the question is what is more important- the bottom line, or your child’s education?


6. CMS- Course Management System……says it all…….


7. Inclusion- to include all students in activities? Now there’s an original idea to education……


8. Interactive Whiteboard- a giant board where a student can work out or demonstrate a solution? Who would have thought……

Inter board

9. Open Educational Resource- a place where students and colleagues can share teaching/ learning materials…….


10. Small Learning Community- Revolutionary idea of working in small groups…….

Small group

11. Tier 1-2-3 Intervention- The idea that students may need little, some, or lots of extra help…….


12. Learning Environment- Whether it’s the school or the classroom, the Learning Environment lives on……

learning envir

13. Performance Pay- As if the expression of “I got it” wasn’t enough, simply put a letter of thanks confirms a teacher’s performance is above and beyond……

letter1 letter2

Obviously, this was written with a bit of sarcasm. Contrary to what mass media is promoting, there are many dedicated teachers who have been doing an OUTSTANDING job of educating our children. Using new terms to describe ideas already in place can only fool so many. I am not against technology. On the contrary, I wish to promote it in education. However, it must be understood that technology is another tool that can make the teacher-student relationship more effective when used properly. Simply replacing a hammer with a nail gun does not make a better carpenter, and in the same mold, better technology tools do not guarantee a better education. Don’t believe the hype– Education in America is strong, and will continue with our move to Technology!


Hidden Agenda vs Public School Education?


The Common Core State Standards are leading the way to improve the American Education System.  Based upon their performance on PARCC and Smarter Balance Testing, students will be expected to show “Mastery” and their teachers will be evaluated based upon those results.  Supporting individuals clearly state that this is a great check and balance system with high expectations and standards that will be consistent for each and every child.  What is wrong with having high standards?  Especially with our educational system in a free fall, becoming engulfed by the rest of the world? Well…….

What if all the media surrounding Common Core State Standards and Standardized Testing is propaganda aimed at completely destroying any and all positive support for Public School Education?  Could there be a force sinister enough to collaborate behind the scenes in an effort to destroy the foundation of America that has educated many successful generations?  The first question that would need to be answered is whether or not our children are truly falling behind when compared to the rest of the world. When you look at the PISA and TIMSS results, it seems that our students have consistently ranked about the same year after year, slightly above average.  This is nothing to yell out in the streets about, but where does the panic of our declining educational system come from?  The 2010 Brown Center Report on American Education outlines the status of our educational system while debunking some myths surrounding it like the belief “that the United States once led the world on international tests of achievement. It never has.” We could argue why comparisons of educational systems via standardized testing is wrong and slighted, but it would do nothing to help identify what the problem is. As the rest of the world has invested into their own educational systems, they have dramatically improved. Does this mean that the US system has declined, or simply that many countries around the world are educating their students at a higher level that is now in comparison with the US?

So why the outcry about our “failing” school system? Well, it seems to me that anytime politics becomes involved, money is somewhere behind the scenes, so lets see where the money goes through my average joe eyes. Here in New Jersey, there are districts that are struggling to educate their children, especially in the inner cities like Newark and Camden. This is nothing new, and when you compare inner city students across the country, most are labeled as struggling. With that being said, one can easily see why these districts are targeted as if the blame is squarely on the inner city schools. Our Governor is pushing the development of Charter Schools, and personally, I have no issue with the development of any type of school that may help children, but it should never be at the expense of those in the Public Education field. The push is directed at these identified struggling districts because no one will question the attacks except for those stakeholders directly affected, and who is going to listen to the complaints coming from these inner city stakeholders? Even when the testing data shows that the Public Schools are outperforming the Charters, the propaganda drowns out the positive news. It is alarming to hear that in Newark, even though the Public continues to outperform the Charter, funding continues to be cut to the Public Schools. Do what you need to make the public schools perform negatively. This is a simple game of money and politics. All you have to do is look at who is being hired to run these Charter Schools, and simply connect the dots back to the politicians. It is an absolute shame because it is the children who suffer in this game. 

Our students losses are at Big Businesses gains! It has become big enough to even get coverage as an Investment Opportunity! In other words, the Charter Schools will do whatever it takes to make money, for that is the business it is in. Think about that……..Now think about what is best for your child? Sadly, it has never been proven that Charter Schools are better performing. When you look into it, what is truly different?  Are the classrooms different? Are the teaching styles revolutionary? Simply, the answer is No. In comparison, they are in the same class as a private school. One in which they get to select which students get to attend, and have the option to dismiss students who are not performing up to their level, both options of which a Public School does not have. The difference is that big business is playing with the guaranteed funds of our taxes. By preying on the hopes and dreams of the inner city school parents who are fed up with the failures of the inner city schools, these charter schools will continue to expand. If these charter schools simply educated our students better, then why is the focus in the inner city? If they simply educate better, and are the answer to making the US #1, then I along with everyone else would want my children to go there also.

The problem with America’s Educational System is that money and politics got involved! From NCLB to CCSS, our focus is to solve the propaganda that our educational system is somehow failing our students. The truth be told, we are failing our students………simply because the focus is on everything else, but THE STUDENTS!! I was lucky to have worked under the great leadership of Principal Joe Vicari and Asst. Principal Alan Ball at one point in my career who advised in one of our first meetings: “Ed, don’t make teaching too complicated. Truly care for each student, set high expectations, and the rest will take care of itself!” Many of my prior posts explain how I feel, and how my students believed in my classroom, so I want to be clear.  Spreading propaganda about a failing educational system is the work of those who would benefit the most to do so. Those who have gained the most are…….Politicians and Charter Schools. When it comes to Public Education and its funding, big business should have no business in it.  Why would anyone think that a better educational system is one in which the focus is on the bottom line? We need to place the focus back on the STUDENT(S) and provide the solutions necessary to meet each and every one of their NEEDS to succeed. Let’s get back to setting high expectations, identifying their needs, and caring for each individual child, so the rest can take care of itself!!

1 Simple Message for Success in the Classroom!


So there have been requests as to how a teacher can develop a classroom with high expectations and hold students accountable.  Below is one of my handouts that would be delivered on the first day of school, and each student would be asked to read out loud and sign with the promise to do the best they can to achieve. There would always be one available for students to reread at a moments notice.  I would also cover this pledge with parents on Back to School Nights as I explained my expectations for the students in my class.  I believe it sets a high standard from the start and it is something that my students and parents appreciated. I do believe that if your students give you their best effort, success will follow!


         To be successful in life, I must be disciplined.  I must be willing to give my best effort without being asked.  I must develop an ability to drive and push myself, especially when things are tough.  I must not be afraid to make mistakes.  Everyone will make them.  Winners are those people who learn from their mistakes and continue to strive toward their goals.  I must do what it takes to be a winner.  I must be willing to look past what others do because I understand that only I can control what I do.  With this knowledge, winners will never blame others for their mistakes.  Winners will assume responsibility for their actions, suffer the consequences, and resume the track of success.

I am the one who is responsible for the positive and negative praise that I receive for my work.  It is my decisions that will determine my reputation, and my fate.  Successful people are not born they are made.  I must strive to become successful no matter what path I choose, because I understand that if I don’t strive to be successful, someone else will.  I cannot blame others for my lack of success; I can only blame myself for my lack of effort.

“Am I proud…” Is a perfect way to start knowing if I am on the right track.  If I am not proud of my effort or work, then how can I expect others to respect my work or me?  Anything that has my name on it will reflect the type of person I am, and the type of person I will be remembered as.  I must understand that success is never easy.  Success is hard work and I must be willing to give a great effort in order to receive the rewards of success.