To Read or Not to Read is better than To Ban or Not to Ban…

Ok… Banned books time…

I’ve had this on my mind for some time now, and I feel it is a good time to discuss it. First, let me say that I do not agree with every book written. Some promote an ideology that I do not agree with, and that’s ok. I have my values and beliefs, and they are mine, not yours. I’m sure I read some books that others do not agree with. But, when we start talking about and actually banning books for people (students), what are we saying?

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I’m a believer that times do not change; people do. Let’s go back to the banning of Dr. Suess’ books; that’s when I first got my hair messed up. Are we serious? For how long have those books been circulating, sitting on shelves at schools and homes? Then, one day, out of the blue, we are told they contain sensitive material. Why, at one point, did they not, and now, they do? You can read my blog about that here Dr. Seuss, Oh the places you will continue to go…

One of my favorite books is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. To me, the best sentence in the book is the last sentence of chapter 21, “Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father’s passin.” spoken by Reverend Sykes (The film does this scene in the book great justice also). I’m not sure what your take is on the book, but the way I see it, this statement, knowing the context (which is always important), brings the respect of two groups of people together. Yet, many schools and community libraries ban To Kill a Mockingbird. 

You can read in a Washington Post article what types of book themes are now the most frequently challenged. To let you know the ten most famous books that are banned, you can go to Writers-House.com. On that list are many classics that I’m sure, like me, you have read. Society will quickly ban a book, but we are not banning TV shows, movies, and music that promote the same overtones and ideologies found in pages of books that have been read over the course of time.

Here’s a final question for thought… does book banning affect our First Amendment rights? While I like the idea of parental oversight regarding reading books in school, flat-out banning books bothers me. I believe it creates a negative effect and divides. We hear all the time that society needs to “get along.” Yes, I agree. However, book banning creates an emotional divide and is another area that separates people. It is almost an idea of the intolerance of tolerance?

Anyway, thanks again for reading my rant. I especially like Marshall Ramsey’s latest picture for the Mississippi Today. I believe he does a great job of showing how we are on the right road, just headed in the wrong direction.

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If I don’t want to read what you read, great. If you don’t want to read what I read, great. In the end, you are 100% entitled to your opinion, but you are 0% entitled to tell me what mine should be. As a free-thinking society, we should be able to read what we want to and when we want to.

Go be a great educator and leader today… Our future needs it…

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others…

©2022 J Clay Norton

Want more Leadership Thoughts? Follow me on… Twitter @thebookchamber or follow the blog directly.

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What’s in a name? Homework, Classwork, Practice…

Today’s blog is going to be all over the place…

Homework, classwork, practice… Why do we categorize the work we ask students to do the way we do when it is actually not an assessment? Why do we not call “work” learning activities if teaching creates learning opportunities? Is it a location term? Work at home equals homework? Work in the classroom equals classwork? What is the purpose of what we call it?

Here’s a thought… should “work” be graded if we call it practice? Is practice actually practice if it is graded and required? Practice offers room for mistakes, but going home and doing homework on a lesson just taught and then graded? What good does that do? Are we doing it for the lessons or for accountability and responsibility? Or are we assigning work for students to “get better?” Herein lies the questions that keep some of us up at night.

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What is more important, the learning or the grade of an activity? Are we looking at the quality of growth and exposure or a grade only? Now is a good time to throw the idea of completion grade into the conversation… Does completion of work acknowledge the student knows the correct answers? The war of educational terminology, I can’t take it anymore…

So, is there an answer? Kinda sort of like, not really. While I am not a fan of homework, I understand the need for practice. However, I believe that practice should be held in the classroom while the teacher is with students for guidance (especially if you teach on a block, 90-minute schedule). Long lessons wear students out and the teachers. I believe in teaching in “chunks with checks.” Introduce a topic, talk about it, check for understanding, and give a guided independent check for students. Then teach the next topic of the lesson. When done, provide practice problems for them to work on in class.

In education, we get so caught up in a student’s grade that we seem to forget about the student. Student success is about growing the student, not the student’s grade. A student’s success is better achieved in the classroom environment where learning takes place.

But what about the grading? The accountability, the responsibility of it all? Now the conversation has exponentially exploded. I offer multiple attempts for students on their practice (usually three to five, depending on the topic). Yes, it’s graded, but only their highest attempted score is kept. I feel multiple attempts create growth for a student while at the same time offering accountability and responsibility. If students want a better score on the lesson, they redo it (our school uses the Canvas platform, which makes this easy). After a few times of not getting the score they want, or if they need help, they can ask for it. Also, I feel practice should not take more than 20 to 25 minutes. I’m sure you remember middle school math and homework of 50 long division problems, graded for accuracy while showing all your work. How did that help any of us? Yes, it was practice, but…

Well, I’m sure you have read enough of my rant today. The bottom line for me is to do right by students. We do not know what goes on with our students after they leave the school building, but I do know the best way for them to learn is while in the school building.

Go be a great educator and leader today… Our future needs it…

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others…

©2022 J Clay Norton

Want more Leadership Thoughts? Follow me on… Twitter @thebookchamber or follow the blog directly.

Want to share this leadership thought with others? Click on one of the social media sharing buttons below and help spread the good…

Do Teachers Forget They Were Once Students?

Let’s open today’s blog with a question for you to ponder…

Do teachers forget they were once students?
It will be interesting to know your thoughts on this.

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So, here is mine… Yes, I believe many teachers forget they were once students. Now, not all teachers per se, but I have heard of teachers who seem to be “out to get” students. And, after 28 years of teaching, I think I have seen a few also.

But why?

I’m not sure, but I have a few guesses. One would be an insecurity issue. I truly believe that insecure people want others to be miserable with them. While this transcends into a societal issue, it also becomes one in classrooms. It seems that insecure teachers often teach in a way that is domineering so they can let all the students know they are in charge.

Another reason, I fear, is that too often, teachers who felt like they were not “treated” the way they wanted while being a student take it out on their students now. While this does not undo a wrong, it does create a classroom filled with tension. This might be the teacher who brags about how many people failed their test.

As a teacher, we might be the only people in a student’s life where they see some idea of stability. Too many teachers forget they were once students, and I believe that is an educational crime that needs to be “fixed.” When we offer an inviting and not domineering environment, students, for the most part, will relax and breathe a little easier. At what point should a teacher not “do right” by their students? I believe our number one goal as a teacher, regardless of how a student feels about the subject, is to be the teacher that the student needs. As teachers, we can be demanding with high expectations; why would we ever lower them. However, this comes with the price of knowing your students and building credit with them.

Be the teacher your student-self would have wanted. Better yet, be the teacher you want your child to have. Don’t forget you were once a student. Let your students see this in you. I believe it will build a better relationship for your classes.

Go be a great educator and leader today… Our future needs it…

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others…

©2022 J Clay Norton

Want more Leadership Thoughts? Follow me on… Twitter @thebookchamber or follow the blog directly.

Want to share this leadership thought with others? Click on one of the social media sharing buttons below and help spread the good…

Don’t be a “Hope Stealer”

The other day I heard the words “hope stealer” on a talk radio show, and, as always, it got me thinking…

I did a quick Google search on “hope stealer,” but curiously, nothing came up with regard to leadership. I found this interesting. While many hits dealt with leadership and hope, in general, nothing specific about “hope stealer.” Napeloan Bonaparte is quoted, “A leader is a dealer in hope.” However, do you realize that many leaders are “hope stealers?”

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Successful leaders inspire hope. Leadership is about the future… if we always lead in the now, our leadership stays stagnant. If we lead in the past, we remain in a position of always doing the same thing. These are the leaders who are “hope stealers.” They limit the growth of new ideas and, by doing so, cause the culture to become a relic for the museum of non-leadership.

Here is what I see… leaders hire based on people’s strengths; they should anyway. However, it seems that after being hired, the focus is all on people’s weaknesses. Now, I’m not saying we don’t need to acknowledge that, but how many times do leaders steal hope by always focusing on what is wrong instead of what is right?

Successful leaders inspire hope. They have the ability to help others believe that no matter where things stand, there is a way through it for things to be better. “Hope stealers” are unable to get away from their thoughts and do not listen to others, which shows that other voices are not valued. A “hope stealer” will worry about being right instead of doing what is right.

Bottom line… “Hope stealers” are imposters of leadership. What they bring to the table is only themselves. Be a leader who deals in hope. Hope that becomes perpetual, hope that can be valued.

Go be a great educator and leader today… Our future needs it…

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others…

©2022 J Clay Norton

Want more Leadership Thoughts? Follow me on… Twitter @thebookchamber or follow the blog directly.

Want to share this leadership thought with others? Click on one of the social media sharing buttons below and help spread the good…