Truth, justice, carnival

Truth, justice, the American way and summer vacation is the theme of this week’s Carnival of Education, hosted by NYC Educator.

Ms. Cornelius’ advice for new teachers is drawing rave reviews — and more ideas — from veteran teachers.

Have only the rules you are willing to consistently enforce, and consistently enforce the rules you have. Have general classroom expectations written up in a succinct style, avoiding “Don’t”s, and hand them out the first day of school. Try to keep the expectations to five.

Post the learning goal and agenda for the day on the board every day. Include homework to be assigned and due date.

Never threaten a consequence to a student unless you are actually willing to follow through with it. This is vital in making your life easier for the rest of the year. You must be a person of your word.

She also covers what kind of pencils to buy for students who forget their supplies and tissue and trash can placement to avoid catching students’ colds.

About Joanne


  1. I took an education course taught by a kindly education professor who told us what to do with all the supplies, none of which we actually had in the Bronx high school in which I taught.

    Then, New York City sent me to a course where the instructor told us how badly he wanted to be assistant principal, and all about how things would be different when he was in charge.

    The first assistant principal for whom I worked was an authority on meatballs, but had virtually nothing to say about classroom management. Being young and completely inexperienced, I decided to be nice to the kids like my high school teachers never were.

    That was a huge mistake.

    Those who follow Ms. Cornelius’ advice, though, can control their classes and be nice to the kids at the same time.

    She must be a great teacher. I’d be happy to have my kid in her class.

  2. Robert Wright says:

    Generally, she makes good sense.

    But new teachers need to keep in mind that there is not simply one right way of doing things.

    I don’t give out pencils for the reasons she mentions, and she’s right about the golf pencils. However, I have a colleague who not only gives out pencils when whenever a student asks but also candy. That would not work for me, but she gets excellent results. She’s very nice and her students respond by trying to be even nicer. Shoot, if I tried that, my students would walk over me. My point is, learn from veteran teachers but adopt what works best for you.

    But I do have a problem with this piece of advice:

    “Offer students a couple of points of extra credit to bring in two good boxes of tissue at the start of the school year…”

    Extra credit should not be offered for anything unleated to learning.

    Offer them eternal gratitude and undying love if they contribute needed supplies, but not extra credit.

    There was a big blow up in Palo Alto a couple years back about offering extra credit for Kleenex. Stay away from that.

    What if you need a box of Kleenex and the district makes ordering one as easy as calculating deferred depreciation on your tax return? You go to the store and you buy one. It’s typical for a teacher to spend $500 to $1000 out of pocket each year. It’s not unheard to spend $3000 a year. That just goes with the territory. If you don’t like it, consider starting a charter school.

  3. Robert, your last bit of advice is, as Col. Potter used to say on M*A*S*H, horse hockey. Your suggestion merely perpetuates the problem.

    If there’s no alternative, though, teachers can still claim a couple of hundred dollars on their income tax returns.

  4. "Ms. Cornelius" says:

    Thanks for the kind words, Joanne, Darren, and NYC.

    Robert, while I appreciate your stance on extra credit, I already spend over $3000 dollars a year on supplies and books (and spend untold hours of unremunerated time preparing materials and curriculum) to keep me on top of the game. In a perfect world, I wouldn’t need to ask for kleenex. And I’m not the one using most of it.

    But, as Darren so ably noted, this expectation that teachers should provide materials for the classroom just perpetuates the problem (Colonel Potter! I love it!). A couple of points extra credit in my room makes no difference to the grade. But I try not to make food a reward.

  5. Robert Wright says:

    Perhaps I didn’t express myself well. I don’t believe teachers should have to pay for Kleenex. But after 30 year of working within the public school system, I have reason to believe that’s not going to change. I applaud people who raise holy hell about it. Because it’s wrong. But it’s still not going to change.

    If anything perpetuates the absudity of the school system, it’s the naive belief that things will get better without a fundamental restructuring.

    I don’t like it when I have to buy Kleenex. I really don’t like it at all. But giving students extra credit for bringing in Kleenex is dead wrong. Even if it’s just a little bit of extra credit, it sends the wrong message.

    Credit isn’t something I have that I can give out for students who are good.

    Grades are not rewards.