Some call me "Flem"

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I'm a passionate, purpose-driven, public school teacher! Period! I hold both a Bachelors and Masters in Education and am a certified Elementary K-6 and English 7-12 teacher as well as a certified Reading Specialist! I love teaching! I love learning! I love what I do and will defend it at all costs!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Imagine An Addendum to a previous post!

Last night, I posted my ideal vision of what I believe a great principal, an ideal principal, a phenomenal principal would be like. As I slept and even as I take a few sips of my Wawa coffee, I really do believe that there are some out there! Principals who are great at what they do and who, like teachers, face mounting pressures from outside, noneducational interests to "perform" as if we are actors on stage! I believe that there are principals out there who know what excellent teaching and learning looks like and have had the 10+ years experience of actually being involved in such experiences as a CLASSROOM TEACHER (and were great at it)!

I also believe that those types of principals are the exception and not the norm! Big ups to you principals who are leaders indeed; compassionate, caring, strong, intentional, knowledgeable pedagogues, not forgetful of what it was like in the classroom, advocating teachers indeed!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Thanks for the honor BillyPenn!!

I'm honored to be named among other young movers and shakers in Philadelphia's vast and sometimes complicated educational circles!

Imagine A Principal

Imagine a principal who is a true instructional leader; was once a real teacher (not a teacher for a hot second and for whom the classroom got too hot to handle, so now they want to be the head of something) - a real teacher, a teacher's teacher and known for being such!

Imagine a principal who advocates for his/her school, the needs of the students, teachers, and for the community for which the public school is an anchor!

Imagine a principal who seeks to bring out the best in his/her teachers, encourages them to publish, to be involved in post-secondary education as adjunct faculty or advisors, encourages them to sit and be the voice of public education on boards, committees, panels, and the like. This principal would encourage his/her teachers to seek additional and beneficial certifications and advanced degrees and to expand their pedagogical prowess!

Imagine a principal who knows how to strike that balance of being genuine and approachable by any student, faculty member, parent, or community member and yet also have the backbone and wherewithal to snuff out and address any person or entity who is not for the greater good of the school community!

Imagine a principal who will hear the voices of the many experts in the classroom, in the home, and in the community and genuinely take their suggestions into consideration when making decisions that impact the entire building.

Imagine a principal who will stand up and not just give in, without fight, to every whim, whimper, and wish of school district officials who can't name every teacher in that building without a cheat sheet nor identify the professional strengths of the faculty members in a building.

I'm sure we could imagine a lot more! We could imagine a school district that doesn't overburden its principals (and teachers of course), a school district that treats its educators at all levels, from the classroom to the principalship with a greater degree of professional respect.

But at this moment, right now, at this particular point in time, just imagine that type of principal.

Just imagine...


Just imagine...

Because for the most part and for a potpourri of reasons, some more logical than others, that's all we can do, "imagine"!

Imagine an addendum to this post!

Young writers' and publishers' desks...

For a 6th year, I and some of my colleagues are publishing books with our students. I took my students to lunch and specials and loved the way that many left their desks...

Reading is only good for assessing...

When we were told that during the reading PSSA (PA's version of state-wide standardized testing) students could not take out a book or anything with words because "it might help them somehow" or that teachers couldn't wear shirts with words (pshh), I was done!

The idea that reading is only good for assessing is the not-so-hidden message that we send to children when we tell them things like "you can't take out a book when you're finished. It might help you" or when it's said that you cannot cover up your classroom with newspaper because it has "words on it".

The experience became all the more surreal and ridiculous one day when one of my voracious readers looked around, saw others reading books and blurted out to me, "oh we can read books today?"


Note: this same voracious reader, doesn't take too kindly to standardized reading tests. I don't know this because s/he said as much, but based on other provincial benchmarks and standards of reading success -__-

Another note: reading should only be assessed is also evident in our district's spending of some million dollar grant money on DRA2 kits and not on magazine subscriptions, class sets of books, fun/interactive reading programs, librarians, etc.

Monday, April 13, 2015

On ART class at our school...

Recently, I asked my students to write an essay on whether they believe our school should have an art class five days a week instead of just one day a week. (Tuesday is the day we have an art teacher in our school.) Ummm, sure, I guess!

One of my resident art students on art class five days a week:
"Yes, I think John B. Kelly should have an art class five days a week. I love art and I can teach Mr. Flemming art. The End."

I'll take it!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Only in Philly....Not Really

Only in Philly can a teacher-x, who uses a multimodal approach to teaching so that each student can be involved in the learning experience, be rated ineffective for communicating with students because objectives are not posted on a chalkboard using pedagogilese!

Oh, it's not only in Philly? Didn't think so.