|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.26(d)|
Read an Excerpt
A BLUE FISH IN A SEA OF PINK
By Ken Newton
AuthorHouse LLCCopyright © 2014 Ken Newton
All rights reserved.
"The Small Blue Needle in the Pink Haystack"
* * *
I am living the dream right now! I have found my calling in life and I am so blessed to know I make a difference in a child's life on a daily basis and I have touched the lives of so many of my previous students. I am in the world's greatest profession and who else can and does what I do on a daily basis. Don't get me wrong, my job is stressful, never ending, and seems to change year to year. Teaching is one of the least prestigious jobs in the United States according to many publications and polls done in the last few years, has shown positive slight growth recently. In comparison, teachers in China, Finland, Sweden are revered and highly respected (not to mention ... paid very well too). Hmmmm??? Move to China or move to Finland? I'm not planning to move anytime soon. I like it too much here in the good ol' USA! All in all, I like to think my students are getting a different perspective from the male Elementary School Teacher.
According to the National Education Association in 2006, men only accounted for less than one-fourth of all teachers in this country. Can you believe that? Back in 2011, according to the website MenTeach.org only 8% percent of the nation's Public School Teachers were Latino Male Elementary School Teachers. Lastly, less than 2% of teachers in my current school district are male. Looking at these facts and figures, the number of males in elementary education continues to lag far behind junior high and high school for a variety of reasons. For instance, some reasons that continue to persist are low pay (especially being the primary breadwinner) and the negative and mistrustful stereotypes. It truly is a shame as I am walking through Target, eating at the local mall, or going to a movie with my wife and I see a student from my school wave "hi" to me, yell "hi Mr. Newton"!!!!", or just come over and talk to me. I bet you are wondering why it is a shame?
Well, in this day and age, when all of the previously mentioned happens, I am looked at as a pariah and the look on the face of the parent is "Who the F ... are you? And why are you talking to my kid??" Well ... when this happens I introduce myself as Mr. Newton and I teach at your child's school. Then ... and only then, I'm "accepted".
Things have not changed with me as I have progressed now into my 16th year of teaching. I know during my 1st year of teaching I was super LEERY of being alone with any child just because of the negative stereotypes. Well, nothing has changed but I don't feel LEERY anymore. I still do not put myself in any awkward situations and I always ... always ... always ... leave the classroom door open when working with a child.
As I continue on with my career and reflecting back on my dealings with students inside and outside the classroom. It's kind of funny to see how teachers have reputations with first the kids ... One of my past students told me "the day I found out I had you as a teacher I got physically ill". Little did she realize her opinion would change days later and she would go on to win the Congressional Award for Achievement in 6th Grade. Then, the parents ... Then ... your colleagues ... and lastly and most importantly your administrator. For the most part I am happy to say it has been a blessing and feel very fortunate to be in the profession I am in. For every negative experience, I can say there are 5 positive ones. I feel extremely grateful and fortunate I continue to make a difference in a child's life and after teaching for a while, I am proud to say I have a solid reputation as a professional educator. Parents have said I "have changed their child's lives", I have "inspired them", and I have "made a difference" for them. Knowing this, puts validation in what I do and makes me feel very proud and accomplished.
I hope men going into education see that elementary-aged children need more positive male role models! Students in elementary school have their own particular and unique issues and a male perspective only adds to the nurturing children are receiving as their academic journey takes them through elementary school. Life at times can deal elementary-aged children many "adult issues" such as divorce or death, and having a male on campus I like to think can provide a different view on things. Society needs to put aside their pre-conceived notions about males in the elementary education field and realize there is a huge shortage of a "few good men" to enter the field of elementary education.
I love what I do! I am passionate about my profession and I am fortunate to have made a difference in so many of my previous students lives! I look forward to 16+ more years of teaching and hope to be just as passionate about what I do as on Day 1 of Year 1. My career has been a blessing and I am proud to say I have received local and state awards for my teaching and I am honored to have even been awarded a street sign with "Mr. Newton's Way". Who else can say that?? I like to think I have done something right ...CHAPTER 2
"You Mean I'm In Charge of All of These Kids"
* * *
Well ... the first few years of my teaching career I had the pleasure of teaching 1st Grade. 1st Grade is such an important year in the education of a child and most importantly it all comes down to reading and phonics! I had so much fun stressing the importance of reading to my students and allowing them to discover what was fun and pleasureable for them to read. I had every type of book in my classroom for my students and it was quite rewarding to just sit back and watch them discover the magic of reading. As my classroom library grew, I noticed my students absolutely loved my collection of Dr. Seuss books. Thusly ... my love of Dr. Seuss was born. Ever since then, and now 16 years later, through the magic of Dr. Seuss I stress to my students the importance of reading through the works of Dr. Seuss. More about Dr. Seuss later.
My initial years of my teaching career consisted of teaching the primary grades (1st, 1st/2nd, and 2nd grade). Ah.... the youngsters ... Boy are they honest!! There are so many great things about teaching the little ones! Probably one of the greatest things I admire about them is their love of learning and their honesty. I have had some of my munchkins tell me my breath was smelly or I smelled ... Yes ... brutal honesty. As I mentioned, most primary students are just like the Energizer Bunny ... "They just keep going and going" ... They are also true "people pleasers". Young students really want to please their teacher! Most have the attitude of "what can I do for you next?" I truly believe students reach a crossroads or their personal "fork in the road" in their learning. With this generation, my observations have led me to believe that 4th grade is when this happens. This is the age when kids truly make that important decision about "liking school" It is so important to go down the road of "liking school" as this will set them down the right path. The majority of 5th and 6th Graders are pretty "dead-set" in their habits and ways and have a very strong feeling of either enjoying school or NOT! For this reason, the primary grades are so critical to establish that foundation and their love of learning.
I learned so much in those early years of my career. I developed what was necessary to be a successful teacher and I have my past colleagues and mentors to thank for that. Most importantly, my passion for teaching was born during those early years and each year it is fed with the help of my students and my drive to be the best teacher I can be. I know I am in the world's greatest profession and I like to think I am making a difference in a child's life each and everyday.CHAPTER 3
Pee ... Barf ... and Superman:
The Early Years
* * *
Back in June of 1996, I can remember the day I found out what grade I was going to be teaching my first class ever ... 6th Grade.? Yay! the older kids would get my jokes ... 3rd grade ... Not too old ... Not too young ... Just right ... Well, it turned out to be 1st Grade! 1st Grade! Oh my gosh!! Was I cute enough for this age? Could I keep them motivated and energized for this grade? And yes ... oh yes ... Could I keep them entertained?
Needless to say in August of 1996 I stood by my classroom door and welcomed 20 eager, bright-eyed, and "bushy-tailed" 6 year olds to school. They seemed so small and I wondered, "oh my gosh ... you mean I am in charge of all of these kids??" I sometimes still think this after 16+ years! What did I get myself into? What will I do all day? Will they listen to me? Will they be scared of me? Will I be cute enough? Breathe in ... Breathe out ... Panic attack!! Well ... my worries turned out to be for no reason because this grade and age are youngsters who are energized and excited about school! In the first grade classroom, you are part teacher, father, Uncle, circus ringleader, referee, and chief motivator! 1st Graders are like the Energizer Bunny! They are eager to please and simply love everything about school!
Such is the case as each year I would "challenge" my students to read an "out of this world" amount of minutes and each year they met this challenge with ease. So needless to say I had to cash in on my challenge with outrageous things such as kissing pigs, being slimed, and the crem de la crem of all of them, eating worms. No ... they didn't taste like chicken but you should have heard the moans and the gasps as those worms slithered their way down into my stomach. Little did I realize a couple of weeks later yours truly went to to the doctor because I was feeling ill. The doctor's nurse proceeded to ask me before the visit commenced if I have come into contact with a parasite. Well ... to my chagrine and turning 3 shades of red, I explained I ate worms for my students. She laughed ... Told all of her colleagues and wrote me a prescription. You should have seen the look on the faces of my students over the years as their teacher was put through some of the most hilarious torture I have ever experienced. The sheer freeze of slime ... The stinging of whipped cream in my eyes, and smooching a pig (on the lips) The funny thing is though, out of all of the crazy things I have done over the years, my women colleagues have thoroughly enjoyed my exploits and have taken pictures and cheered me on. I wonder though if they would have eaten worms or have been slimed??
1st Graders are innocent little people who are blunt, honest, and tell you like it is ... Such as the times when I have had students ask "Mr. Newton ... Mr. Newton ... could I please go to the bathroom" and I say yes, so they proceed to, let's just say, go right there ... I had one boy one year inform me, "Mr. Newton ... Sally's chair is leaking" ... Therefore I did my best to sneak Sally out the door with a buddy to the office and make a quick change ... Didn't want Sally to be scarred for life or get a bill in 20 years from her psychiatrist. And finally ... I'll always remember little Freddie coming to me saying "my tummy hurts" right before lunch and I asked him are you hungry? Well ... picture The Exorcist's projectile vomiting scene ... Have the visual? Poor Freddie went home and yours truly had to change his clothes. Oh by the way, I lost my appetite.
Storytime was a favorite of mine ... I would love to make the crazy voices of literary characters and see my little munchkins laughing hysterically. It was always pretty funny around Halloween when I would read spooky stories and see the expressions on the faces of my students as well. Needless to say I have had my share of awkward moments teaching the little kids how to sit "criss-cross applesauce".
As I mentioned, Halloween was always a personal favorite of mine when I taught the younger kids. One year I was Superman and needless to say I spent that afternoon signing autographs for the Kindergarten Kids ... I was shocked they didn't realize it was me, but for that short time, I bought into their world. The line for autographs was pretty long I am proud to say. Let's just say I was a hit at the adult Halloween Party that night in that tight-fitting costume, but to my surprise no autographs given but plenty of phone numbers. I have also been The Cat In The Hat and I can't tell you how many little people have pulled my tail and have said hello to me. I was so happy that I got to read to these kids and they were so enamoured with me and the Dr. Seuss story I was reading.
Once summer arrived and I was told I would be teaching 3rd Grade! 3rd Grade! Yay! Older kids ... I had 3 weeks with them so I emphasized reading with them and challenged them to read 10, 000 minutes in this short amount of time and low and behold they read 25,000! My payback to them was to sit and have pies thrown at me! I was fortunate enough to have had a local restaurant donate the pies and a local book store donate prizes for the kids as well. So I took my spot, sat down and had one child after the other smack their teacher pretty well with their pie! They loved it!! The kids were in heaven, and my women colleagues even got in line too! It even made the 10 PM News that night and the front page of the morning paper. (On a side note, I even had people write letters to the editor regarding my waste of food) It is gratifying to me to give experiences to my students who I hope can take with them the rest of their lives and remember school fondly. Such was the case when I recently entered Target and the 18 year old cashier recognized me and asked me "do you remember me??" I always feel guilty when I don't remember a former student ... The cashier told me ... "I was in your 3rd Grade Summer School Class and we got to throw pies at you"! "It was fabulous"! I guess you can say, my hopes and wishes for my students are every so often reassured and confirmed.
Well ... one year I asked myself, "I said self, are you ready for a challenge?" I firmly believe to stay fresh and to continue to be a productive and energized teacher, it is a good idea to teach various grades. Haven't we all had that teacher in Elementary School that has taught 2nd Grade for 35 years and nothing else? So I put in for 6th Grade and so for the last 9 years I have taught 6th Grade and I absolutely love it! These are young adults who are ready to conquer the world and think they know it all, but all in all, they are still children who want to be adults in the worse way. It is my job not only to be their teacher but to be their father, Uncle, Coach, counselor, and of course role model. I like to think I can be a positive male role model for my students who may not have one in their lives.
Being able to connect with 6th Graders is so important. If they don't respect you and trust you ... Forget about it ... This is why I always strive to think "outside the box" and have programs and activities that my students can really relate to and connect with. I have had Classroom Community in my room where I pay my students everyday for coming to school (not real money), having them buy or rent their desk, and simply teaching them about real-world jobs. You should see the reaction of my students when I tell them I am going to pay them for coming to school. I pause about 10 seconds after telling them ... Then ... I tell them in Classroom Money. I have had classroom jobs in my room such as Humorist where it is their job to make me laugh everyday. This is probably one of my all-time most favorite classroom jobs. It is always fun to see what the kids come up with to try to make me laugh everyday. I also emphasize if they do not do their job, they will be fired. Yes, just like the real world! You should see it when they start selling their desks.
It is so important to convey to my students to live each day to the fullest, love what you do and the people in your life, and most definitely laugh your bootie off everyday and don't take life too seriously.
I try to teach my students simple manners such as saying please and thank you. I give my students 3 seconds to say "thank you" when given a gift and if that is not done, it is taken back ... I tell my boys, you have to learn to start being nice to girls ... It all starts now, Such as holding the door open and allowing the girls to go in first and allowing the girls to dine first at classroom functions. It's kind of funny to see the dumbfounded look on the boys faces. Again, their world is in front of them so we might as well start preparing them now. I love talking about their future and have them set goals for themselves and aim high! You would be surprised and honestly, quite alarming to know that quite a few kids do not have short term or long term goals. All the more reason to emphasize the importance of setting goals!
Excerpted from A BLUE FISH IN A SEA OF PINK by Ken Newton. Copyright © 2014 Ken Newton. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Contents"The Small Blue Needle in the Pink Haystack", 1,
"You Mean I'm In Charge of All of These Kids", 7,
Pee ... Barf ... and Superman:, 11,
"What exactly is a TWEEN?", 23,
"The Student Who Forever Changed My Life ...", 27,
"The Staff Lounge", 33,
"Room Moms, Hot Moms, Single Moms, and one Stalker", 39,
"An All-Kid Operated Television Network", 53,
A Soap Opera Star, A Movie Studio Executive, and a Mensa Member ..., 59,
"The Pink Shark Tank", 65,
"Wearing Pink ... Breast Pumps ... and other "chick things" I have had to endure ..., 77,
The Last Day of School that forever changed my life ..., 83,
"This is the (next) Greatest Generation (Maybe??) ..., 87,
"That's All Folks ...", 91,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews