But how can you tell if he/she is one in an interview? The signs are subtle, but they are there.

No one wants to work for a bully boss. Someone who doesn’t really want your thoughts or ideas. Someone who only wants you to listen to their ideas, the right ones, the only ones. One of the top ten reasons for teachers to leave their teaching jobs is because they are tired of working for a bully boss.

The pandemic certainly made things worse. This bully behavior is exacerbated by stress and anxiety, which we have all experienced since 2020.  Bonnie Low-Kramen states, author of Be the Ultimate Assistant. “What the pandemic did is heighten stress and anxiety in the workplace, especially among leaders who didn’t get training on how to manage a team. … All of that is causing leaders to not necessarily act in a respectful way to the team.” Disrespecting our teachers is definitely a problem.

Some have estimated that of the 1.2 million teacher spots needed in 2022, we have about 300,000 teacher spots still not filled. According to the Florida Educational Association, districts across the state are still looking for about 9,000 teachers. School in Florida has been in session for about 3 to 4 weeks, and there are still students needing teachers in their classrooms. And what is the response of the states, to go to four-day weeks, to hire those less qualified, to use substitutes and/or administrators? Our children are being seriously short-changed.

To those out there who still want to be teachers, and as a teacher of 50 years I ask you to please consider it, our children need qualified teachers in every classroom, be very aware of your interviewer and the school culture. You surely want a place where you can create a long and successful career and assist thousands of students in their childhood journey to adulthood.

According to a Fast Company article, “5 ways to spot a bully boss during a job interview”:

  1. Observe how the employees interact with each other, especially the interviewer and the boss. For example, are you interrupted often? The message is that your ideas are not as important as the boss’s.
  2. Ask about your role and ability to suggest new ideas. Do they want compliance with rules and availability? Or are they accepting of new ideas and alternate methods?
  3. Does the interviewer try to put you at ease, for interviews are stressful, or do they try to keep you off balance?
  4. How does the boss handle discomfort? Ask about the school’s position in the school system and what they are doing about any weaknesses. Is the boss reflective or defensive? Tells you a great deal.
  5. Ask to speak to fellow teachers about their experience at the school privately, in person, by text, IM, etc. Their responses will tell you what you need to know.

I wish you well. After fifty years of teaching, I am slowing down and want our children to have marvelous teachers. Good Luck!

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I was watching a medical/doctor TV show the other evening and started thinking about the years of education and training the doctors put in before becoming highly effective doctors. Doctors must complete:

  • Undergraduate Progam – 4 years.
  • Medical School – 4 years.
  • Residency Program – 3 to 7 years (depending on the doctor’s specialty).
  • Total – 11 to 15 years of education and practice.
  • Make a lot of money.

How many years of education and training must teachers complete:

  • Undergraduate Program – 4 years
  • Make barely enough to get by.

What is wrong with this picture? What do doctors do; heal and save lives!

What do teachers do; heal and save lives!

How about a residency program for teachers? I know we are talking about more money and there is already not enough money to pay teachers a fair salary. But first, let’s make highly effective teachers and then solve the money issue. Do we want highly effective teachers in every classroom and every grade, or don’t we? I suspect that if the parents (taxpayers) were over the moon about their child’s teacher, they would happily pay more in taxes for their pay. NO?

I know that I was not a highly effective teacher my very first teacher. I struggled and made mistakes. But over the years, 50 years now, I think I have become a highly effective teacher. I sure could have used a sympathetic ear and mentor during those early years.

Why don’t we have teachers, after they graduate with a teaching degree and certification from college, work with a veteran teacher for three years, a three-year residency program? Just like doctors. The benefits are:

  • the students get personal contact and help from two teachers in these residency classrooms,
  • the new teacher learns daily from the highly effective veteran teacher,
  • the veteran teacher gets help with the one-on-one help sessions with students and the instruction,
  • and the school pays less for the resident teacher for three years and then pays them a professional wage now that they are highly effective teachers.

That is a win-win for everyone, especially the children.

I would make the case that teachers are more important than doctors. I have a doctor now who I suspect calls me in for appointments just to collect the Medicare payment per appointment. Teachers make more minute-by-minute decisions than brain surgeons! Think about that!!

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Did you ever see teachers whispering in the hallway? What are they talking about? Maybe they are talking about:

  • a student in their class,
  • the boss and his/her latest edict,
  • the parent who just told the teacher about his needs,
  • what they brought for lunch,
  • their upcoming anniversary,
  • their birthday,
  • their daughter’s newest job,

It could be just about anything. Teachers need friends, someone to talk to and listen to.

Hey, administrators, stop taking up their free time with meetings and extra coverage. Teachers need time to relax, catch their breathe, talk to friends, Some of the time the teacher will be grading papers during their free period, but sometimes not. Sometimes they will just be relaxing in the faculty lounge, sometimes talking to friends, sometimes meeting with students and/or parents.

Give your teachers a break. sometimes things are just a chance to catch one’s breath!

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Teaching is relationship building. Students need to know that you care, really care! Let’s share our list of how we show our students that we care.

Names are important. I use the students’ names when I call on them. Early in the semester, if I forget a student’s name, I ask them and then I say it out loud!

What do you do?

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School administrators; you have hiring interviews and you have exit interviews, but do you have stay interviews? Retention of good teachers is of paramount importance, especially now. They are tired of COVID19, tired of masks, tired of state mandates, and tired of hybrid learning. “What happened to the good old days?”

Now is a great time to take 30 to 60 minutes with each teacher and see how they are doing. Ask a few questions of concern and then let them talk. Saying one’s frustrations out loud is cathartic. You are not expected to solve every problem. Just listen. Help out where you can and just be supportive. Students learn from teachers who care about them as people. Teachers teach for leaders who care about them as people.

Over the years, some of my most memorable moments are those where a teacher came to me and cried. Cried about a health issue, or a personal problem. They trusted me to be confidential and just listen. Oftentimes, teachers just need an ear, be that ear for them, be that friend and confidant.

So talk to your teachers before contracts are offered. This is not just about their job satisfaction, it’s also about their personal satisfaction at your school. Research indicates that companies that conduct stay interviews benefit from a higher percentage of engaged and motivated employees and their turnover is much lower. A full 41% of U.S. workers say they plan to look for a new job in 2022. More than half of workers who quit say no one talked to them in those final months about how they were feeling about their jobs. 

Ask them questions such as:

  • What has been your greatest achievement this school year?
  • What would you like to do better?
  • Is there a conference or professional development opportunity you would like to attend?
  • How can I support you and what do you need from me?
  • How can I help?

This is important. You will never know how you might help retain employees unless you ask!

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Children are naturally curious. They are always getting into things, sometimes things we don’t want them in, but they do get in and make a mess. I got in trouble for taking apart a radio, back when they had parts and tubes. And then I could not put it back together again. Oh, Oh! Boy, did I get in trouble? One dead radio and lots of parts making a big mess on the floor. I was spanked for that.

As youngsters, this is how we learn. DO NOT stick a fork in an electrical socket. I did and I learned. As young children, we poke and prod to see what happens. Babies mush the food in their bowls with their fingers and then smear it on their faces. Why? To see what it feels like. What is this stuff?

Let’s have the students explore with no danger. Welcome to STEMKids! Get the STEMScope, a portable microscope. Teachers, get a four-pack or enough for the entire class. Very reasonably priced.
Ignite Science Curiosity at the Ideal Age!

Studies have shown that teaching kids science at an early age can have long-term benefits. Bring fun into learning (without the complaining) by uncovering a whole new microscopic world with our easy-to-use handheld microscope for kids! Entertain Them for Hours!

Just sit back and relax as you watch your kids run around with glee as they look for new things to examine! Beat the screen culture with no fuss! The STEMScope portable microscope stimulates your kid’s natural way of learning through engaging, hands-on play! Go to: https://af.uppromote.com/thestemkids/register?ref=o8ibEPJCt7&p=39488 and use coupon code GORDONRODE and get 5% off. An even better price for your students, school, and/or child!

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When interviewing teachers for your school, what questions do you ask? It has been my experience that you are often asked questions that are right on your resume. Or you are asked to elaborate on the items on your resume. Sometimes, the interviewer seizes your time to talk about what they know. Say a few words in answer to their question and off they go telling you their experience.

This is not helpful to you in finding the right candidate, the best teacher possible. You can do better.

Assess their ability to handle a class and teach a lesson: If you were hiring a chef, you would ask them to cook a meal. Taking a “job content” approach, by having an applicant teach a class in your school, is the best way to separate top candidates from average ones. You get to experience their:

  • best subject presentation ability.
  • classroom management style.
  • ability to answer student questions.
  • sense of humor
  • student relationship building

Evaluate whether they are forward-looking. In fast-evolving environments, teachers must anticipate the future. Consider asking:

  • What are the latest in educational theory you have tried in your classroom?
  • How do you use technology devices to enhance your learning environment?
  • What is a new technique or computer software you have wanted to try with your students and why?
  • Forecast at least a few ways that your job will likely evolve over the next three years as a result of the changing educational environment?

Attitude matters! A study by Leadership IQ found that 46% of new hires are either fired or disciplined within their first 18 months. And in a staggering 89% of those cases, the reason for the action isn’t incompetence, but attitude: poor motivation, bad temperament, or emotional issues. “If you don’t have a good attitude, we don’t want you, no matter how skilled you are. We can change skill levels through training. We can’t change attitude.” Herb Kelleher, Founder, Southwest Airlines

Other questions that you may find helpful to ask:

  • What professional development would you like so as to maintain your expert status as a teacher?
  • Outline the steps you’d take to increase innovation in your classroom to respond to increased use of new technologies.

Research indicates that most hiring decisions are made within the first 15 seconds, so you should consciously avoid any judgments until the interview is at least 50% completed.

Good Luck!

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We live in a highly technological world. In fact, there is a revolution going on right now from the industrial to the information age.

  • Uber and Lyft own no cars!
  • Amazon owns no stores!
  • Airbnb owns no real estate!
  • Facebook creates no content!
  • Alibaba has no inventory!

It’s about information! These are part of a digital ecosystem. Innovation is not always liked, therefore, revolution.

So, in the immortal words of Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, “Teach Your Children.” That means they must know about technology and everything that involves. Teachers and parents must make sure they are being prepared for this digital, AI, and VR world. Be sure the schools are teaching it, teaching it well, and are making it interesting. All children, not just some, need a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematical (STEM) education.

Now that I think of it, to see patterns and trends, to see the next question or possible invention, you need to be creative, have an imagination. That would be a developed skill through arts education. I guess we need to make it STEAM, adding Art to science, technology, engineering, and math.

Wait a minute, we don’t want to be illiterate. One must be able to communicate their thoughts, questions, and hypotheses in writing and in words. So we need Reading and wRiting, thusly STREAM.

Anyway parents, teachers, and schools, I have found the perfect source for STEM-related toys, subscriptions, and equipment for children of all ages’ STEMKIDS!

STEMKids has a STEMscope: Portable Microscope 2.0 in an affordable 4-pack. The STEMKids goal is to nurture today’s young learners and to build tomorrow’s experts. They do that by sparking a love for science in your kids through educational and entertaining science toys at a reasonable price! They have microscopes and slides, science gadgets of all kinds. See for yourself at STEMKids!!

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Practice Makes Perfect

American parents and their children are a dedicated bunch! They think nothing of picking their child up from school and taking them to soccer practice, gymnastics, football practice, taekwondo, or some other extra-curricular activity. I took my son to Pop Warner practice for two hours a night, five nights a week for all of August. Then when games started, we practiced three nights a week with the games on Saturdays. We certainly were dedicated. In fact, one of my son’s football teams won the Southeastern US Championship. Quite a big deal.

I am very proud of my children and all of the children who make this sacrifice to be excellent in some activity. I imagine this verifies the 10,000-hour rule, which was popularized by Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers.” As Gladwell tells it: it takes 10,000 hours of intensive practice to achieve mastery of complex skills and materials, like playing the violin.

Thomas Edison quote "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work"

The part I don’t understand is when the parents complain about homework. There is even a group who think that there should be no homework. They think nothing of having their child practice soccer every night but complain when they have to practice their multiplication table for 30 minutes. Why? You can’t do arithmetic without timetables and you can’t do algebra without arithmetic. I have even had a parent complain about her son’s summer reading requirement. She told me that it took away from his baseball pursuits. Really?

I believe in homework for students and summer reading lists. Not busy work, but real practice and learning. The repetition teaches students how to think the right way and to remember how to apply the information to unfamiliar situations. It also teaches students how to be their own teachers. They are able to be self-driven learners. In life, this is needed. If you want to read smoothly with good comprehension, you have to read nightly. If you want to be an excellent writer, able to communicate thoughts and feelings with the written word, you have to practice writing. All of this takes time.

So schedule two hours every night for homework, reading, and writing. If the schedule is too full, cut out the soccer. Have a quiet place for your child. Comfortable and studious with lots of room. I did not allow my children to have any electronics in their bedroom, no phone, no TV, The bedroom is a quiet place for sleeping, contemplation, reading, and homework. Do you want a well-educated and successful adult for a child or not?

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How often have we heard and/or said, the students need to take charge of their own learning? Or, they need to get organized? Well, let’s teach them how!

It occurred to me that maybe a business model approach would be helpful in teaching the students how to organize their learning, like Kanban and Kanban Boards. This is a system by which businesses get organized and are more productive. Kanban was developed by Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota, and takes its name from the colored cards that track production and order new shipments of parts or materials as they run out. Kanban is the Japanese word for sign, so the kanban system simply means to use visual cues to prompt the action needed to keep a process flowing. Here is an example of a student learning process Kanban Template.

In the case of students, to keep the learning flowing. Let me try my hand at an educational Kanban Board. This is a visual representation of the student’s place in their learning cycle in each subject. Tell me what you think?






English Lit:

Social Studies:


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