Friday, August 28, 2015

Back to School Dreams by Andrew Jobson

Back to School Dreams

I don’t usually remember my dreams, but the time of year is approaching when some of my most vivid dreams have occurred.  I remember one where I was back on stage for my senior play, Oklahoma! Unfortunately, I could no longer remember my lines—I was very surprised to find myself on stage and wondered how on earth I had gotten there.  Of
course, all eyes were on me, and I stumbled through “It’s a Scandal, It’s an Outrage” as best I could, but it was extremely embarrassing. However, at least one other dream topped it. In this one, I was standing in front of a classroom of teenagers, and I found myself trying desperately to think of what I was supposed to be teaching.  Once again, I felt as though I had dropped into another dimension with no preparation. To further my distress, I realized a few minutes into the dream that I had somehow forgotten to wear slacks.

That was probably the dream that helped me figure out what was going on.  (Some of you may be saying at this point, what took you so long?)  Why did these dreams tend to occur in late summer?  Because I was worrying about getting back up in front of a classroom and not being prepared, of having my weaknesses exposed.  Such dreams were a spur to throw myself back into planning after a few months doing something else.

I’m not sure whether to be grateful for these dreams, or not. Thankfully, they seem to have diminished in more recent years. Of course, maybe that’s just because, after twenty years in the classroom, my memory is getting weaker rather than the dreams.

Sleep tight!


An educator of 22 years, Andy Jobson has taught government, economics, and U.S. History. Currently teaching English literature at Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville, GA, he’s also been an administrator, a STAR teacher twice, and taught elementary school with Teach for America. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What to Do on the First Day by Scott Harris




"Why are we here?" I ask my new students. "Why did you come to school today?"

Typically, they are stunned by the question. Their faces seem to be asking, "Where are the rules? The syllabi? Why are you asking us to talk on the first day?"

By now, some student will say, "Because there's a law!" After the laughs quiet down, I ask, "So the law is why you came here today? If there were no law, you wouldn't be here?" (Ninety percent of such clever students don't respond. They realize that they are here for more than the law.) We rapid-fire a list of their reasons: to see their friends, they're bored from the summer, to learn, etc.

Quickly, the better students start connecting education with the quality of their future. While this is hopeful, it is also shallow. They say, "We're here to learn so we can get good grades."

I ask, "Why do you need good grades?"

They respond, "So we can get into a good college?"

"So you got up today to get good grades, so you can get into a good college?"

"And what then, after college?" In a satirical tone, I pretend I am one of them. "I don't know, sir, good grades, good college, good life. No one told me I had to think past that."

I ask, "What is the good life after college?"

One student inevitably suggests making lots of money, but others quickly pick this apart. Eventually one will offer, "To be happy."

"What does it mean to be happy?"

"Are you going to give us any answers," exclaims a frustrated student, "or just keep asking us questions?"

"I ask questions," I say. "I'm still figuring out some of these myself. But it seems to me that while happiness may be subjective, there are certain characteristics of human nature -- love, respect, security, and yes, even a certain amount of money -- that are necessary to be happy."
We start discussing what a liberal art education is and how it contributes not only to good grades and college, but the good life. ("Why take Chemistry?" I ask. You can imagine the line of questioning.)

By now, the bell catches us and there are lots of groans in disappointment. "That went so fast." "This was just getting interesting!" "I want to talk about this more!" 

I tell them, "I guess you'll have to come back tomorrow."

Walking out, I hear them say to each other, "This class is different" and "How come we don't talk about this in our other classes?"

What a shame that students can go until their junior year without really having talked much about why we're here.

Talking about why we're here has made the first day of school my favorite day.






During his 25 year career in education, Scott Harris has taught U.S. & World History, Philosophy, I.B.’s Theory of Knowledge, and coached swimming & water polo. He currently teaches AP Psychology & Macroeconomics at Ronald Regan H.S. in San Antonio, TX.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

You're About to Enter...The Teaching Zone by Susan Gable





(Cue the scary music!)

Imagine, if you will...a classroom filled with enrapt, engaged, enthralled students, hanging on your every word...


Too much of a stretch? Sound like an alternate dimension? Is it more likely they’re sneaking peeks at tech when they’re not supposed to be, or trying to explain why they didn’t turn in their homework? And you’re busy trying to be sure all the free lunch forms have been turned in, and the emergency contact cards, and master the new curriculum, along with the new Learning Management System, and don’t forget, there’s a staff meeting after school next week?


Yep. Being a teacher is a lot of hard work. There’s a LOT to handle. That’s why we here at izzit.org like to do what we can to make your life easier, be it through our free DVDs, our new streaming access to all our videos, online quizzes, or the thorough teacher’s guides we create. We know you’re busy.


The Teaching Zone is going to be a new spot for you to get ideas from your fellow educators, from teachers to homeschoolers, from New York to California, from public school to private to cyber. We’ll have book reviews, classroom activities, posts about new trends in education, new apps and software for you to use – all sorts of things.


And if you want to talk/learn about it, and you don’t see us posting about it, feel free to drop me an email and tell me what you’d like to see.


This is an education space.


So...let’s talk teaching, in all its variations.

Welcome back, and I hope you have a fantastic 2015-16 school year!



Susan Gable is the Director of Educational Curriculum at izzit.org. She holds a BA in Psychology from Douglas College/Rutgers University and is a certified elementary teacher in 3 states, with ten years of classroom experience. She’s a multi-published, award-winning author who also teaches writing workshops. Email her at Susan AT izzit.org.