Author: Emily Lucas

Who you calling pseudo-mature?

I don’t think that I ever had  les burnes (hint, it’s French) to claim pseudomaturity at the age of 12 or 13.

I don’t really have strong memories of those other students in my school.  I was friends with anyone who was nice and interesting to talk

to.  I never liked cliques in school.  They were often hurtful and limiting.

I do work in a middle school now and I see social tendencies that we are quick to assume means something more than it does.

I try to resist my brain’s tendency to classify.  Although it does a wonderful job sometimes it can just be a little overzealous.

Perhaps a greater understanding of the development of the brain at all stages of life would help us sort through the complexities of emotion, impulse and hormones.

It doesn’t seem overtly shocking to me to experience elation and an excess of a joy of life without the consequences of judgement at the age of 13 and an existential crisis at the age of 23.

Let me see, didn’t I read that in a book somewhere?



What I saw, what I didn’t see

In the intricacies of a classroom experience, I saw:


My mentor does not change the volume of her voice.  She alters the tone of her voice.  For the opening of the lesson, she uses different conversational tones to engage the students in what she is saying and invite them into her classroom.


She also does not speak until the class is quiet and ready.  She does not talk over students. If necessary, she says,”I will wait.”  This quickly quiets the students.  They do not want to be the one to be speaking when the rest of the class is quiet.


My mentor closed the class by reminding them of upcoming due dates and assignments.




My mentor uses all of these strategies, although I cannot say that I saw them all used in one lesson.

  1. Give the students a time limit.  Let them know how long they will have to complete the activity.  Give them less time to complete the task than they think they need.
  2. Give the students a warning before transitioning to a new activity.
  3. Ask the students for input on how long an activity should take to complete.


I would like to use the phrase, “In a moment,” to grab my students’ attention.  My mentor will say this and then wait until she has the attention of the students before completing her thought.




Have a clue…

When I was thinking about this topic, I considered the relationships that I have begun to

establish in my classroom.  I have met many wonderful students.  Speaking with some and learning about

their families and interests has been easy.  Others are more challenging because they are naturally quiet.


I watched this short video some time ago from Rita Pierson.  She is from a family of educators and was  a teacher for 40 years.

She once heard a colleague say, “They don’t pay me to like the kids.” Her response: “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.’’



My thoughts about student relationships kept returning to one particular group.  I discovered that I do not know much about those students that are English Language Learners.

These students are polite, engaged and cause no problems.  They do not draw attention to themselves so they are not an issue, right?

While they are certainly not a problem in the class, I realized that I needed to know more in order to get to know them better.

I found a great blog from Larry Ferlazzo


about building relationships with ELLs.


When I taught in France I found that building these relationships was easy.  The students were naturally curious about everything American.  They were also motivated to learn words in English beyond ‘cowboy’ and ‘cool.’

I wonder how I could engage the international students in a similar way.




Looking for more resources on this topic, I found that The University of San Diego created this site  to help foster positive environments for ELLs.  It discusses issues such as student motivation from the perspective of the ELL.

Much of the information is similar….no matter what language you speak.

My favorite part is under the section ‘Cultures.’  The site contains very useful information about different cultures and behaviors you might see in the classroom that do not make sense from an American perspective.  Some of the cultures included include: Chines, Hmong, Laotian, Sudanese and Vietnamese.


The Sudanese elder John Kang  framed the issue well when he wrote in his section: “To win the child’s respect is to know the ethnic/cultural origin of the child, and understand where this might have some impact on the school teaching system.”

[caption id="attachment_2331" align="alignnone" width="200"]OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA J. Kang[/caption]




Harder Education

It is difficult for me to decide how to comment on Julie Scelfo’s article addressing the issue of suicide in post-secondary education.

The facts are devastating.

According to Scelfo  the average suicide rate for both genders among 15-24-year-olds was 11.1 deaths per 100,000 in 2013.

I was more shocked to read in the comments of the suicide rate among American Indian/Alaska Native populations of young people.

The CDC calculated  9.4 deaths per 100,000 among AI/AN females and an astounding 29.1 deaths per 100,000 AI/AN males.

This issue is so complicated.  Are the conflicts faced by those minority populations addressed in this article?

It seems that the answer is no.  The article discusses the concerns of the prevalence of suicide on Ivy League campuses and specifically addresses the ever-increasing demands of success in those realms of higher education.  Scelfo focuses on two young women at Penn State.

Yet for me the wider questions of an existential nature unify these diverse populations.

Many struggle to answer these types of questions and it is critical that young people learn the lessons of failure and perseverance.

Failure is typically a better teacher than success.

I found learning about the successes of others through perseverance important.

I love this article about Thomas Edison from  Time.  It describes his determination and helps clarify some common myths surrounding the man.  (Bonus: It also details his amusing sleep habits)

Time states that Edison’s crew at his “invention factory” tried to find the correct material for the light bulb filament over 6,000 times before they found what they were looking for.

His response to his repeated failures?

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that will not work.”

First Light Bulb

Welgos / Getty Images

-Still life of the first electric light bulb, invented by Thomas Alva Edison in 1879 and patented on January 27, 1880.



You will obey!

My mentor and I wrote class rules together at the beginning of this year.

Here is a close representation of how we shared them with the class:


Ours fit on the chalkboard a little better.  (Minor point of clarification, I know)

We had three rules: be prepared, respect others and have fun.

I liked those rules and think they would work well.

For my list of classroom rules, I started thinking in Ps.  (I mean not P.S. but multiple words that begin with the letter p).

My list: Be polite. Be prepared. Be punctual. Be positive.

Wordle did not work for me….something about a missing plugin that I could not install…perhaps I have personal issues with Java…

So I created a different word map using Tagul.  It has lots of fun features if you are into the word map thing and would like some variety beyond Wordle.


I also found this great post on Alfie Kohn’s website entitled, “Rethinking Classroom Rules.” I like what he has to say about telling kids what to do.

And as a bonus, a short video about the role of humor in the classroom.  (Ms. Cohen also addresses her take on classroom rules).








winter 08 005

Hello fellow educators.

My name is Emily Lucas.  I am an intern at Ryan Middle School. My mentor teaches English as well as Family

and Consumer Science.  I am a transfer student to UAF.  I have also attended the University of Montana in Missoula.

I have studied French for many years.  I taught in France for one year.  The experience led me to teaching.

I enjoy the outdoors extensively.  I was a river/wilderness guide for many years and traveled all over the country to experience new rivers.

Guiding brought me to Alaska in 2006.

I prefer to canoe in my own time on the water.

I look forward to completing my BA in Secondary Education and English with a minor in French.
I started a French Club at Ryan Middle School….crepes coming soon.