The Teacher Files


This is the top level page of the teaching and education section of the blog. What’s it doing here? I got tired of maintaining a separate blog for it. When I found out that you can create separate branches of a blog with MENUS, I brought everything over here. On the home page menu bar, there is a top level topic called “The Teacher Files”. That’s this page. If you mouse over the title, a pull down menu appears with the other pages. Teaching was and is one of my passions, so sharing a blog with other passions seemed like a good move. I hope you agree. I’ll be adding things regularly (as I modify them to fit my custom CSS page and HTML5), so check back often. **

Me in the classroom with my samurai yardstick. My students usually called me Mister L instead of using my last name Lawson. It’s very prevalent in middle school and is used more with male teachers. It’s kind of a code that the students like, respect and trust you. It makes the job a lot easier and a lot more fun. I had a couple of Johnny Bravo items in the classroom, so that became my middle school avatar. You’ll see him in a number of these pages.

I recently got around to doing something I’ve been thinking about for several years.

I started teaching middle school math after 20 years in the Marine Corps and fresh out of Old Dominion University’s Military Career Transition Program and Troops to Teachers. I had a good run and a big part of me is still in the classroom. I left for two reasons. I burned myself out and my hearing loss from the Marines got so bad I couldn’t understand what the students were saying.

Teaching was the hardest I ever worked. At times it was more stressful than combat. I had a lot of success in the classroom and was nominated for the Who’s Who of American Teachers three times. Teaching is first and foremost a leadership challenge. Running a classroom is a lot like commanding a military unit.  You have to lead by example, establish routines, make your standards known and enforce them firmly but fairly. When a classroom is firing on all cylinders, there’s nothing quite like it. I found it to be very rewarding and satisfying.

Mister L's alter ego

Man, I’m pretty.

Like most teachers, I was a pack rat and never threw anything away.I left with years of accumulated ideas, opinions, forms, sheets, letters, exercises and evaluations that had been gathering dust on my hard drive and taking up space in my closets. I decided to give it a new lease on life and put it on the Internet for others to use. If it gives one idea to one teacher, it will have been worth it. I’ll keep adding things until I run out.

I always thought the biggest part of my job was to model successful and responsible adult male behavior since students see so little of it. In TV, movies, video games etc, men are routinely portrayed as losers and idiots. I was determined to change that perception. On the back of my car, I had Marine Corps and recon stickers and my NRA life member sticker. I had a dad come up to me at parent conferences one night and say “We’ve never met, but I could tell from the stickers on your car that you’re the kind of guy I want teaching my kids.” I couldn’t have said it any better.

A cameo shot of my days in Marine recon. Parachuting puts ice water in your veins which is a definite plus in the classroom. One of the biggest hurdles I had to overcome in the hiring process was this notion that a retired recon Marine would be a maniac in the classroom. I don’t know where they ever got that idea. The assistant principal at the school that hired me had a son who was a Naval Academy graduate and a Marine Captain. The Marine Mafia came through for me and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

You’ll find some opinions and reflections on this site which you may or may not agree with. There are several issues that I wrestled with for years without a good resolution. I hope you find something of interest or value somewhere on the site.

Down below, you’ll find my classroom “Rules of the Road”.  I believe in keeping them few and simple as opposed to writing a whole penal code.  Then we post them prominently, reinforce them constantly and use them for rehearsals, counseling and remediation.

That’s all for now. There’s more on the way…Mister L

Classroom Expectations for All

  1. Come to class on time and prepared.
  2. Go to your assigned seat and begin the day’s work.
  3. Listen when the teacher is talking.
  4. Raise your hand if you have a question, an answer or a comment.
  5. Help clean up and sit quietly for dismissal.