Dear Readers,

I have a couple of students who have Autism. I’ve help to put accommodations in place for them, but there’s one way I hadn’t thought of- socratic seminars. The students are required to participate in socratic seminars. They have to speak up or rebut someone else’s comment at least twice. This is a problem for almost all of my students, but especially the ones with Autism. So, I’m asking for help thinking of other accommodations for the students who are just not comfortable with participating.

So, Dear Reader, what other accommodations can I use for them?



Disappointed Me!

Dear Readers,

master-teacher-quoteSee that picture up above. Well, that’s not ME!

I’m a little disappointed that I did not make Master Teacher. I needed a score of 3.5; my score was 3.467. Getting those extra hundredths of a point would have meant an $11,000 raise & a bonus. I didn’t need it. I just wanted it. I guess I need to discover her. Oh well! I guess that’s the way the cookie crumbles!

15 Questions to Replace, “How Was School Today?”

Dear Readers,

I found this wonderful article by Edutopia regarding talking to your child(ren) about their day at school. I don’t know how many times I used to ask my sons how their day at school was. Only to be told, “Good!” or “Nothing!”

Well, I came across this article and thought I’d share. So, here are 15 open-ended questions that can get conversations started:

How many times have you asked your child, “How was school today?” and been frustrated by the lack of response? As a parent, I’m guilty of asking my son this question all the time, even though I usually don’t get much in return.

Sometimes (to be honest), I haven’t had the energy for a real conversation. Other times, I just can’t think of what to ask. As a teacher, I have often wished that kids would share stories of the awesome things we were doing with their parents, but I couldn’t figure out how to make that happen.

Now that my son is in middle school—where communication from teachers is less than it was when he was in elementary school and more stuff is happening at school that I need to be aware of—I’ve identified a list of questions that draw out important information. I wish that when I was in the classroom I’d been able to offer this list to parents so that they could hear about what we were doing in our class.

The Questions

With slight wording modifications, these questions can work with children of all ages:

  1. Tell me about a moment today when you felt excited about what you were learning.
  2. Tell me about a moment in class when you felt confused.
  3. Think about what you learned and did in school today. What’s something you’d like to know more about? What’s a question you have that came from your learning today?
  4. Were there any moments today when you felt worried? When you felt scared?
  5. Were there any times today when you felt disrespected by anyone? Tell me about those moments.
  6. Were there times today when you felt that one of your classmates demonstrated care for you?
  7. Were there any moments today when you felt proud of yourself?
  8. Tell me about a conversation you had with a classmate or friend that you enjoyed.
  9. What was challenging about your day?
  10. What do you appreciate about your day?
  11. What did you learn about yourself today?
  12. Is there anything that you’d like to talk about that I might be able to help you figure out?
  13. Is there anything you’re worried about?
  14. What are you looking forward to tomorrow?
  15. Is there a question you wish I’d ask you about your day?

Tips for Asking Questions

How and when we ask these questions makes a big difference in the information we receive from our kids. First, you don’t want to ask all of these questions on the same day. You might ask one or two. After a while, you’ll figure out which ones elicit the most meaningful responses. You’ll want to ask during a time when you have the ability to focus so that your child feels they have your full attention. With my child—and in my household—dinner and driving in the car are optimal times for these conversations.

Now these conversations have become routine. My son knows that when we drive to school I’ll ask him what he’s looking forward to, if there’s anything he’s worried about, and if there’s anything he wants to talk about with me that I might be able to help him figure out.

More Suggestions

The following can help your conversations be positive and powerful:

  • Don’t interrupt. This is a good rule for any conversation, but especially if you want to get a lot of information out of a kid.
  • Ask for more. Simply say, “I’d love to hear more about that…” Or, “Can you expand on that a little?”
  • Ask about feelings. After a child describes an experience, ask, “How did you feel in that moment? What did you notice about your feelings?”
  • Validate feelings. Whatever your kid feels is normal and okay. Let them know that. Feelings are okay. Tell them this.
  • Tell them it’s not okay for teachers or kids to be unkind or mean. If they tell you a story about a teacher who yelled or disrespected them (regardless of what they said or did) let them know that it’s not okay for an adult to treat them that way. Same goes for how they are treated by other children.
  • Thank them for sharing with you. Always appreciate their honesty and willingness to share the highlights and bright spots, as well as the difficult moments. This will fuel their confidence in telling you more.

What questions bring about the most conversation between you and your kids?

Here’s the link:


Feeling Some Kind of Way!

Dear Readers,

delicate-flowerI’m feeling some kinda’ way about teaching and my life, in general. Although this may seem to contradict my previous posts, it doesn’t. I’m happy with all that I’ve learned and am learning. However, working in a high stress, high pressure environment is just not for me. I’ve discovered that I am a delicate fucking flower. While those who don’t know me may see the image I project, there are those who know me who know that I am not the image I project to the world.

When I saw this shirt, I laughed so hard. That is definitely me- Leila, the Delicate Fucking Flower!iamadelicateflower

Teach Plus PD @ LMU, Part 5!

Dear Readers,

I completed the Teach Plus PD @ with Drew Otto and it was amazing! I learned so much that I was able to incorporate right away. Here’s a copy of my Digital Agenda that I submit every week.


The purpose of the class was to get the students to write & speak & speak everyday. I’ve more than accomplished that goal.


If you look in the corner you can see L1, L2, & L3. This stands for Level 1, Level 2, & Level 3 questioning. I begin the week with an L1 question, by the middle of the week, I use an L2 question, and at the end of the week, I use an L3 question.

This helps the students gradually ease into higher level questioning. I’m going to be Captain Obvious here and say that everything is connected, so there’s no busy work that goes to busy work heaven.

Also, since the students are now working in & not in their composition books, I can see them completing the work in real time and am able to input their grades right away. So, the changes I’ve been able to put into place has had many positive far reaching effects.

Email me @ if you have further questions.

This is Me!

Dear Readers,

My mind is blown! I’m not sure how some people keep finding me on Facebook from my Facebook page. So, I guess there’s no reason to be anonymous anymore. My name is C. Leila Banks. How are you? Nice to officially meet you!

mind blown