Eleven Pretty Good Rules for Teachers

Del Hanson
Good teaching is good teaching. Whether a teacher is discussing Macbeth, the Doppler effect, quadratic functions, or the Taft-Hartley Act, there are approaches to communicating with students which are timeless. Over the years, I have attended numerous workshops and seminars in my subject area. Although I always left learning something new and interesting, the most valuable time was usually spent during the breaks, at dinner, or sitting around the lobby of the hotel late at night talking to fellow teachers from schools far from my domain. During those delicious moments, one not only heard about new ideas and approaches, but the conversations often validated your own teaching philosophy. Sometimes one needs to hear that.
Over the decades, I have codified my approach to good teaching into eleven “pretty good rules.” They are:
1. There is absolutely no substitute for subject matter expertise, excellent preparation, and contagious enthusiasm. None.
2. You must like children and young adults. Do not go into education if kids are going to be the enemy.
3. You must believe deep in your heart that every student can learn. It is the job of the teacher to find ways for every student to experience some success. While all students are not equal academically, they deserve equal opportunity and access to an education.
4. Self esteem cannot be conferred. Students need to earn their grades and be proud of their accomplishments. Good teachers find ways for students to be successful beyond paper and pencil assessment.
5. A teacher must come to class prepared every day. Students can immediately sense if the teacher doesn’t know what he or she is doing. It can be like sharks to blood. Do not voluntarily be a part of the lower food chain.
6. The best classroom management/discipline plan is a good lesson plan.
7. Be fair, firm, and friendly. A teacher does not have to be a buddy, though. A pleasant, non-confrontational atmosphere is often very conducive to learning, but being liked is not necessary for me to discharge the duties to which I have been assigned. I must admit that I function better when my class is a friendly, safe, and happy place. I assume the students learn better when it is that way, too.
8. Remember that the class and subject you teach may not be the most important thing in your student’s life on a particular day. Keep things in rational perspective. Your demonstration of concern and kindness to that child may be the only positive reinforcement they get. It never hurts to smile on purpose.
9. I want students to look forward to my class each day, even if we are learning dreadfully unexciting stuff. My classroom should be safe and inviting. It should be cool to come to class.
10. Don’t take yourself too seriously. I have discovered, over the years, that my philosophy of teaching is “to stay one step ahead of the men in the white coats.” I believe it is important for students to see you as a real person, not merely a sage on the stage. It is important for you to be as human and humane as you can be to your students. Always ask yourself at the end of the day: “Would I have wanted to spend and entire class period with me?”
11. Teaching is all about making connections with other human beings. We are not just information dispensers and test preparation technicians. We should be professionals. We ARE teachers.
I have never regretted for a moment choosing teaching as my life‘s work. Although teachers almost always have lingering concerns about personal finances, every so often you are reminded why you went into this crazy profession. The other day, at Easter brunch, the waitress said, “Which of you is Mr. Hansen?” I instantly thought, “Oh gosh, what have I done now?” I could envision my car being towed away by Zebo’s Crush It N Bury It Towing Service. Instead, she said a man in the restaurant wanted you to know that you were the best teacher he ever had. Slightly embarrassed, I said “thank you” and mentally cashed one of those million dollar teacher checks one sometimes receives. It’s still a great profession.

-Del Hansen was a teacher and administrator for over thirty years, teaching math and physics to high school aged students. He is now retired and living in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

21 More Dead in Border Gun Battle

    The madness continues just south of the border. Another 21 dead bodies turned up yesterday after a gun battle between warring drug factions in Mexico. A tunnel under the Rio Grande was discovered earlier this week and stray bullets from Mexico peppered the City Hall building in El Paso on Tuesday. So far in 2010 over 1300 murders have been committed in Juarez.
    Fortunately Eric Holder, the chief law enforcement officer of the United States, (file photo left) has an idea. He wants to borrow the money he will need to sue the State of Arizona for trying to do what  the U.S. federal government won't do......secure its border.

Why City Council Votes Matter

The U.S. Senate failed to pass a vote that would extend unemployment benefits again yesterday. The reactions to the vote were mixed depending upon circumstances. Read some local reactions here. One thing is for sure. Joblessness is a huge problem in Las Cruces and the Las Cruces City Council (except for the mayor) cast a job killing vote in April that got no coverage in the local press. Our story entitled "Road to Nowhere" posted just yesterday on this site outlines the inexplicable vote on the Sonoma Ranch Road extension that killed jobs that Las Crucens desperately need.

Barack Obama has awakened a sleeping nation

From the Aspen Times Weekly - Gary Hubbell: The Redneck tree hugger column: Barack Obama is the best thing that has happened to America in the last 100 years. Truly, he is the savior of America's future. He is the best thing ever. Despite the fact that he has some of the lowest approval ratings among recent presidents, history will see Barack Obama as the source of America's resurrection. Barack Obama has plunged the country into levels of debt that we could not have previously imagined; his efforts to nationalize health care have been met with fierce resistance nationwide; TARP bailouts and stimulus spending have shown little positive effect on the national economy; unemployment is unacceptably high and looks to remain that way for most of a decade; legacy entitlement programs have ballooned to unsustainable levels, and there is a seething anger in the populace. That's why Barack Obama is such a good thing for America. Obama is the symbol of a creeping liberalism that has infected our society like a cancer for the last 100 years. Just as Hitler is the face of fascism, Obama will go down in history as the face of unchecked liberalism. The cancer metastasized to the point where it could no longer be ignored. Average Americans who have quietly gone about their lives, earning a paycheck, contributing to their favorite charities, going to high school football games on Friday night, spending their weekends at the beach or on hunting trips — they've gotten off the fence. They've woken up. There is a level of political activism in this country that we haven't seen since the American Revolution, and Barack Obama has been the catalyst that has sparked a restructuring of the American political and social consciousness. Read more

Go green? Wind turbine failures

Thanks and a tip of the hat for this forwarded email from one of the NewsNM posse. It was linked to Snopes.com which is the urban legends website. With all of the talk about wind generated power we had not seen what happens when something goes wrong. Of course, nothing is Perfect. Gear oil failures do happen in windmills. Here are some photos of what happens when failures occur in windmills. See the pictures

Teague hit with $2.7M lawsuit

From the P0litico.com - Rep. Harry Teague and four companies he owns have been slapped with a $2.7 million civil lawsuit for failing to repay loans on equipment purchases, according to court documents. The legal action against Teague is just the latest in what has turned into a tough year, financially, for the freshman Democrat, and what may become a tough political year as the midterm elections approach. In just one year, Teague has gone from being one of the richest members of the House to a more run-of-the-mill congressional millionaire, thanks to massive losses in the value of his holdings. According to his most recent financial disclosure statement, released in mid-June, Teague saw at least an 87 percent loss in his most valuable asset, a stake in Teaco Energy Services. On his 2009 financial disclosure form, Teague listed his holdings in Teaco Energy Services at $39.6 million, making him one of the richest members of the House. Teague earned $3.3 million in dividends from those holdings. But on this year’s disclosure form, Teague reported the same holdings to be worth a maximum of $5 million, a decline in value of more than $34 million. A source familiar with the situation, however, said Teaco was “never worth as much” as the stated value of nearly $40 million in the 2009 report. This source said there was still a “significant decline” in Teaco’s worth yet not nearly as disastrous a decline as it appears. This is just the latest problem for Teague’s businesses. Earlier this year, Teague took heat after the companies he controls cut off health care benefits for 250 employees while he voted against the Democrats’ sweeping health care reform bill. On top of that, Teague is considered one of the more vulnerable Democrats in 2010, facing a stiff challenge this fall in a tough district. Read more:

SEC Restricts Contributions by Investment Advisers

According to an article in the Santa Fe New Mexican, the SEC passed a rule this week that virtually mirrors a rule passed in New Mexico last year in reaction to grand jury investigations into "pay-to-play" allegations against members of the Richardson administration. The rule restricts campaign contributions by investment advisers participating in the management of state funds. Read here:

Big Brother eyes your freedom to drink milk

From World Net Daily, by Bob Unruh - A legal brief filed in a federal court dispute over the purchase and use of raw milk contends the court ultimately will determine "whether the people control the government, or whether the government controls the people." "The decision of this court will either ensure that people have fundamental rights endowed to them by their Creator, or that the people have no rights except those that are conferred upon them by government," attorneys for the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund have argued in their newest brief, which opposes the government's demand that the case be dismissed. "Our research shows that this nation has a long history of consuming raw dairy products and that FDA's prohibition against taking raw dairy for human consumption across state lines runs counter to that national history," said fund President Pete Kennedy. Read more

Robert Wright - The Nuance of Jihadism

New York Times Columnist Robert Wright uses great intellectual nuance to explain the subtleties of the Times Square bomber trying to commit mass murder. It is important to follow along carefully when you read this column so you can pick up on the subtle intracacies that make the threat of modern Jihadism less than it seems.  Read here:

The Declaration of Independence

In CONGRESS July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world. Read more

Postscript: Signer John Morton's daughter married... who married... who married... who married... who married, and of that couple Michael Swickard was born.


Is Recovery Losing Steam?

Pending home sales and construction activity data both declined sharply in May signaling that the U.S. economy is once again losing steam. Many observers feel looming tax hikes, additional regulatory burdens associated with new health care regulations, and measures in the financial system regulatory overhaul bill that are sure to tighten economic activity further, are all weighing on the minds of decision-makers in the U.S. and around the world. The New York Times covers the story here:

One Access Road For New Schools?

Updated post: in an earlier post we referred to the new Las Cruces Public Schools elementary school incorrectly. It is Monte Vista Elementary.
In the northern part of our city and just a couple of miles from the stranded golf course, work on the new Mesa Middle School (bottom photo) is well under way. Monte Vista Elementary School (left) is nearly complete. This new elementary school will be opened for students next month. Middle School construction will be completed in December and students will attend in the spring 2011 semester. These two schools will increase the LCPS's presence in the area north of U.S Highway 70 near Sonoma Ranch Road.
Monte Vista Elementary is well-named. A recent tour of the area revealed beautiful views of nearby mountains just to the north and west of the school.
The big question for the Las Cruces City Council is why are the standards being applied to safety concerns for golfers, standards that are effectively keeping the new golf course closed, not being applied to the safety concerns for public school children that will be attending Monte Vista Elementary next month? Perhaps Mayor Ken Miyagishima can answer this question when he appears as a guest on News New Mexico Wednesday morning July 7th at 8:00am. It is our understanding that the mayor is the only member of the Las Cruces City Council that did not cast a job-killing vote in April that continues to delay New Mexico Finance Authority funding that would pay for the building of an adequate second road to both of these new schools and by "coincidence," the new golf course.


Larry Elder - Make the Afghanistan Case

Columnist Larry Elder questions President Obama's strategy in Afghanistan. He wants the president to make the case for what we are doing there or get out. Read his ideas here: