When the Student Becomes the Teacher

April 26, 2014

Teen Author Nkiyasi Helm

Hello everyone. Can you believe that the month of April is just about over? My only regret is that the temperatures in Michigan don’t seem to be cooperating with the actual season. Spring break for most educators is about to come to a close within this region. Although vacation time is just about over, I must admit that I the educator was enlighten by one magnificent young lady and student over the break.

Currently serving as a host for the Cooks & Books Show on Urban Nation Radio located in Detroit, I had the privilege of interviewing Nkiyasi Helm. At just the tender age of thirteen, this young lady has written ten books, illustrates her own book covers, and has formulated her own publishing company. Conversing with this young lady for approximately a solid twenty five minutes, Nkiyasi addressed every question in a sound and very professional manner. What I love about the spirit of this young lady is that she is wise beyond her years. As she explained her lifelong goals and mission as both an author and teenager writing for the cause of our youth today, I instantly reversed roles and became her student.

Every book written by Nkiyasi Helm sends a world-wide message of love as well as provides a teachable life lesson. Be on the lookout for my review of her book titled, “Bully A Bully With Love” on http://www.bookreviewsbyadra.blogspot.com To find out more about this dynamic young lady, log on to http://www.writenbykids.com

Bed Bugs…the Educator’s Latest Pest Concern

April 6, 2014

download (1)  Bed Bug


As educators, we climb over one mountain top only to rigorously prepare ourselves to endure another.  A while back, a major concern for some educators was the head lice epidemic within the classroom setting.  Today, another wingless parasitic has arrived to overshadow the one we previously dreaded. The insect I’m referring to is none other than the “Bed bug.”  Currently at the top of many educators “Nightmares List”, I decided to compile a “test your knowledge on the bed bug epidemic list” as it pertains to students within the school setting.   Never attempting to undermine the intellectual ability of anyone, I solely provided this information to both increase the educational awareness of the matter while at the same time, put the educators mind at ease.

Statement One: A student identified with bed bugs should be immediately suspended from school until further notice.

Although some may agree, initially, the appropriate way to handle it is to have the student discretely removed from the classroom so that he or she may be examined by the appropriate professionals selected to do so.  A letter should also be sent home informing the parents or guardians of what was identified on the student and their possessions.  Suspension should only be implemented in the event the problem is not rectified.

Statement Two:  If a student has been found within the school setting with a bedbug on either their clothes, or personal belongings, this in-fact proves that the bed bugs came from their place of residency.

The assumption is inaccurate. Bedbugs are known for jumping around.  Although a bed bug may have been identified on one student, it’s very possible that they are not the root of the source.  Bed bugs like to move quickly from one place to another.  For example, “Student A’s” house is not infected.  Her parents however, allowed her to spend the night at “Student B’s” house for the weekend.  “Student B’s” house on the other hand has an infestation problem. The following Monday at school, a bed bug is identified on “Student A’s” clothing and her items.

Statement Three: These pests are known to be found within lower disadvantaged schools and communities.

This statement presented is false.  Status quo has nothing to do with how this specific type of bug selects its prey. These active creatures will invade any residency, or community. The bed bug simply thrives on opportunities to hitchhike from one location to the next.

Statement Four: Students that wear dirty clothes who face hygiene challenges are most likely the ones to attract the bed bug.

The statement is false. Filth and hygiene do not play a role in attracting the bed bug.

Statement Five: Maintaining a clean and uncluttered classroom will keep the bed bug from invading your learning environment.

The statement is false.  A clean classroom however, can assist with the identifying process.

Educators, keep in mind that most schools now have a bed bug policy in place. To further your knowledge more about the matter, consult with your school’s administrator.

School Suspension…When Enough is Enough

March 2, 2014

Hello Educators, parents and students.   I hope everyone is having a terrific Sunday.  The month of March is finally upon us.  I just wish that the weather complimented this third month of the New Year.  Today I want to talk about throwing the towel in as it relates to suspending a child.   I per say have never been a fan of it.  Suspending a student in my opinion unfortunately means this youngster will miss out on the learning process.   Missing out on the learning process can lead to decline of that youngster’s academic growth.

I regrettably inform everyone that I had to put this action recently into place.   Did I feel good about it?  Absolutely not.  My honest and sincere desire is to see all of my students come to class daily to receive what they need.   In order to do that, class room management is a must.  One irate child should not be able to interfere with the growth and academic progress of other students.  This being the case several weeks ago, I simply had to refer this student to administration.

Pushed to my limit, I did however implement the suggested steps listed below to prevent this situation from occurring.

Forewarn the student.  Talk to the student directly about what’s acceptable and what’s not.  As a consequence take ten minutes of either their recess or lunch time for a first time offense.

Always inform the parents of the situation. Send a letter home.  I am definitely an advocate for calling home.  State to the parent the inappropriate behaviors taking place in the classroom.  Yes…sometimes we have to call home more than once however, that’s okay.

Assign an in-house school consequence.  Have that student wipe down tables in the cafeteria.  Perhaps he or she can sweep the hallways.  Strongly pinpoint to the student that the continued behavior is going lead to sometime at home.

Recommend the student for suspension.  This in my opinion should be the last result however sometimes, it has to be done. Submit the paper work to the office so that the administrators can determine how many days this student needs off.  Again, I am not a big fan of having kids put out of school however, when you’ve done your best as an educator, sometimes a kid simply needs a little time off.

Advice for the Little Darling Requiring Just a Little More Attention.

February 4, 2014

                                                                               Student and teacher picture for Feb 3rd 13 Blog

Wild everyone…can you believe it’s already February!  Some of us educators nationally wept the benefits of “snow days” just shortly after the 2013 Christmas Break. Sorry…absolutely no complaints this way people.Teaching in the middle school setting for some time, my reasoning behind it was due to the independence levels of most youngsters ranging from the ages of 11-13.  Well as it turns out, there are some who still require a little more attention.   No matter how many times you review the assignment, one or several will somehow find a way to keep you from doing your other educational duties during the time fragment of independent work time.  In other words, they will come up with anything just to converse with the teacher.  Coming up with creative ways to address their concerns, the list below is recommended for those students needing just a little extra attention.

Clarify and repeat.   I know a lot of you teachers are probably saying, “Wild that’s a no brainer!” Select the student’s that thrive off of attention to repeat the directions.   This should be done because it places the responsibility back in the hands of the “Talkie’s” In addition, they must also understand that during this specific time frame they are not to bother you or anyone else.

Provide a card.   Teachers place a number on a card and hand it to your “Talkie’s.”  For example, if I place a four on the card and hand it to John, the agreement is that John will only have four times to ask educational related questions.  John will keep this in mind knowing that he will only be allowed four times that day to address his most vital concerns.

Provide one on one time for your youngsters.  Educators, we have that God-given discernment that allows us to decipher when a kid just wants to talk versus a kid really needing you to lend an ear. In this case provide a time allotment for one on one talk’s.  This should not require a whole lot of time.   Provide a five-minute allotment during lunch time or after school.  I promise you in the long run your students will appreciate it.

How to Address the Student Withdrawing From Attention/ Hyperactivity Issues Within the Learning Environment

January 19, 2014



Nationally, today’s classroom setting consist of a population of children who lack the concentration to focus due to Attention Deficit Issues.   Usually controlled by medications prescribed by physicians; the dilemma worsens within the learning environment when the student displays signs of withdrawal due to not taking the appropriated medication.  Any teacher who’s experienced this knows how draining this situation can be for both student and instructor.   Below are some suggestions on how to deal or cope with the matter.

1. Ask the student.  In private manner or fashion, ask the student did they forget or suddenly stop taking their prescribed medication.  Remember, kids are honest and mostly likely will tell the truth. The conversation should take place in private to ensure that the student is not embarrassed by other class mates.

2. Schedule a mandated meeting with parents.  Don’t allow the uncontrollable actions of a child with these issues to intervene with the learning process of other students.  Contact those parents as soon as possible. Inform them of how important it is for their child to have what they need daily to make it through the school day. Explain the “big picture” to the parent or guardian of the child.    Sometimes, it’s just the case of the parent moving too fast and simply forgetting.  Usually when forgotten, parents make a serious effort to get back up to the school to give their child their prescribed medications that very day.

3. Send the child to the office.  As educators, there is only so much were allowed to do. If the situation occurs frequently, the student should be sent to the office.   If the child cannot maintain nor condone themselves due to not having what they need, send them to the office until the matter is handled and addressed.  If for some reason the student has run out of their required supply, find out from the parent when the next prescription will be filled and always remember to document.

Getting Those Student Reading Levels up to Part

January 10, 2014

Blog post 2014
Hello to educators everywhere. Like me, if you’ve taught for some time, you’ve most likely noticed the variations of reading levels within your learning environment. In most traditional settings there may have been two or three. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to have four or more. This at times can leave a teacher feeling slightly helpless in the beginning. Listed below are helpful hints that can hopefully assist educators with adjusting to this evolution.

Start student’s reading below grade level at their pace. There is nothing worse than giving a student already reading below level a book too hard or difficult to read. Provide pace level supplementary reading materials to students outside of the mandated anthology to read both in class and at home.

Try Peer Tutoring. I’ve come to find that students prefer student lead tutoring over teacher student tutoring any day.

Indentify the words that are challenging. Have students read aloud to themselves and highlight every word they have difficulty with pronouncing.

Go back to the basics. Sometimes, we just have to do just that. Even with older students I’ve come to find that phonemic awareness and decoding activities assist greatly with boosting reading levels.

Teachers, get with the program! Often, a lot of the mandatory reading done within the class room setting lacks the interest of students. Create a small area in your rooms specifically for “exciting reads.” Borrow the books from your school library if possible.

Encourage the student to do better. Most youngsters reading below level lack confidence. Remember, any and every indicator of literary growth is to be commended. Tell your students how proud you are of them. Encourage them to read and read some more. After all, one step in the right direction may get the levels up to part and where they need to be.

Getting Youngsters to Increase Their Literacy Rates for the New Year

January 3, 2014

Adra before 13 Xmas break

Reading is fundamental. With statistics indicating that the average American student is two years behind or more in reading, it’s important to immediately work on increasing that deficit when the problem is identified. The inability to not read on accurate or appropriate levels usually result to students doing the following; He or she is unable to keep up with class room peers, They are unable to pass any college or military entrance exam, A decision is made to drop out of school due to levels of frustration setting in. Listed below are helpful suggestions on helping youngsters improve their reading capabilities.

1. Ask your child’s teacher their current level of reading. Parents don’t be afraid to inquire about your child’s literacy rate. I recommend that you ask in the beginning, middle, and end of the school year. Ask the teacher to share your child’s personal literacy data with you. This way you can measure your child’s level to see if growth is taking place.

2. Take the time to read with your child daily. I cannot emphasize this more. Listening to your child read daily is great. It allows you the parent some sense of empowerment knowing that your child can read. In addition, it allows the parent to identify if challenges exist with word recognition or decoding.

3. Tell your child’s teacher in the beginning of the year if you sense a problem with your child’s reading ability or level. Parent’s in this case, there is nothing to be ashamed about. If you are aware of the fact that your child is reading below level, inform your child’s teacher immediately. The sooner the problem is identified, the better. Perhaps your child may need educational assessment for additional assistance. The sooner the problem is established the quicker you and your child’s educator can as a team problem-solve for the best solutions.

4. Buy or borrow books from the library. In today’s society, so many of us reside in a house where books are nonexistent. We must get away from that! The only way reading will increase for youngsters are for books to be at their disposal at all times. Computers and video games are usually at their exposure. Purchase books from dollar stores. Borrow them from your local library. Attend library sales.

5. Parents tell your child’s teacher if you have a problem with reading. I know this takes a lot of courage to do. No one proudly wants’ to acknowledge if they are illiterate. The good news now is that most schools across the nation offer free GED programs for parents who want to increase their reading levels. This is a major plus for parents who want to take that step in their lives in order to assist their youngsters at home. For those parents not feeling comfortable enough to reveal this information to your child’s instructor, I recommend checking local libraries for literacy classes. Let’s all make it a 2014 New Year’s resolution to increase the literacy rates of youngsters.

Bullying…finding the courage to speak out!

December 8, 2013

Student Crying

In life, things are always easier said than done. Just this week in class, a student was being bullied right up under my nose. I had no idea it was even taking place. I had just provided directions for a social studies assignment. The class was quiet and everyone was working. Suddenly, my “teacher intuition” kicked in. As I looked upon the face of one of my students, there was something about his facial expression that wasn’t quiet right. I asked the young man what was wrong. He replied, “nothing Miss Young” while fearfully staring at a young man sitting directly to the opposite of him. At this point, I’m aware of what is taking place. Needing the young man to verbally admit it, in a calm manner, I state to him, “son don’t be afraid to tell me. I can help, but you have to tell me the truth.” After making several attempts to get it out of him, the young man finally admitted that he was being bullied by this young man for sometime. The predator had mastered the concept of “nonverbal” bullying. To think, I had no idea that this was going on for sometime. The predator was suspended from school and the problem was resolved. Thank goodness the young man found the inner courage to speak out.

Tips for teachers on maintaining successful homework turnouts.

September 29, 2013

Hello everyone.  Educators the month of September is basically over.  By this time most of us have identified the students who rarely turn in homework, or who simply refuse to turn it in at all.  Several years ago, my homework turnouts were terrible. As a result, I started to take this dilemma personal. That was until I put in place a plan of action.

1. Call home. Call home after the student misses one assignment. This allows the student to see that you mean business when it comes to submitting homework. Don’t allow the time for missing assignments to accumulate. Most parents appreciate the effort made on the teachers end.

2. Give homework simply as a measure of your students daily understanding. Teachers try not to give homework as busy work. Remember, it should serve as reinforcement for what was taught in the class. Giving multiple assignments just to keep a student busy results to poor submission turn outs. Provide what’s simply needed to observe growth.

3. Motivate your students. I know most say that positive reinforcement does not prepare students for a real world mindset however, I’m an advocate. Provide affordable items from the dollar store such as smiley stickers or pencils from time to time. Positive reinforcement works for older students as well.

4. Get creative. Currently I have what’s called a “Homework Champions List” posted outside the top of my classroom door. Yes…the list serves a dual purpose. It allows youngsters the privilege of self bragging rights. While on the other hand, students currently not on my list are making strides to get their names on it.

Tips for educators on Maintaining Stress Levels the Beginning of the School Year

September 1, 2013

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Hello everyone. Today’s blog is for a very special group on individuals. Yes everyone, I’m referring to the educators. Nationally most teachers are back to work. Educators residing in the south have been instructing students for now almost an entire month. Here in Michigan, teachers are preparing to receive their youngsters after the Labor Day weekend. The work load in the beginning of the school year for an educator can be overwhelming. Employed within this profession myself, I’ve listed some tips on how to start the school year off with less stress.

1. Start getting your class-room together early. Nowadays, the time frame provided for teachers to both prepare and have their rooms together the first day of school has been cut drastically. If the custodial staff employed at your school’s location works during the summer, request permission to get in your class-rooms at-least one week earlier prior to the school year starting. Starting early allows ample time for teachers to clean, decorate boards, and organize.

2. Plan your lessons in advance. Planning your lessons with the intent in mind to stay ahead greatly assist with maintaining stress. In addition it helps the teacher to better analyze the educational goals they desire to reach within a prompt and professional manner.

3. Implement class-room management on day one. What I know about students in regards to learning is that guidelines, and structure are a “must” within the learning environment. It’s very important that teachers lay out mandated expectations the very first day of school and remain consistent throughout the school year. Remember, how one starts the year is usually the way one ends the year.

4. Submit professional paperwork on time for school transfers. If you intend on transferring or teaching at a different location the start of the school year, submit the required paper work with your employed district board of education thirty days in advance. Trust me when I say there’s nothing like not knowing what facility you will be teaching at the first day of school. If feasible, communicate with your current school administrator to ensure that you have been cleared to instruct at another location.

I hope what I’ve provided helps. I wish everyone a safe holiday weekend and all educators a stress free school year.