I'm sure we can all agree we got into this teaching gig with the same enthusiasm and expectations for our future success as teachers. We looked forward to making a positive difference in students' lives, to helping them to love learning, to help students learn exponentially and to contribute to their become amazing people. It wasn't going to be our job; it was going to be our vocation.
Sure we do a lot of what we hoped to accomplish but we're worn to the bone. Why are we so tired and overwhelmed all the time? Well... there are lots of factors contributing to that. We could go on and on, right?! But, let's deal with the ones we can actually control.
Here's the ones we can control (off the top of my head): energy level, sleep, self-care, preparation, knowing how to say no, confidence, time management, classroom management, how much work we...
Someone once told me...
Classroom management is like that. It's also the one thing that can make or break your school year.
When we're at university, we spend a lot of time learning how and what to teach. We also learn about laws, theory and all kinds of minutia. Classroom management is taught, but it's such a hard thing to grasp until you're faced with an entire class on your own.
When you get to make up the rules, begin the year any way you want and every decision rests firmly on your shoulders, classroom management is an entirely different animal. It seems so simple. You have rules and consequences and the students fall into line, right?!
Nothing could be further from the truth. There will always be those students who are natural "rule followers" and "pleasers". On the other hand, there's always those who have to push the envelope, nudge your boundaries...
Social media can be both a blessing and a curse in our personal and professional lives, right?! Well, I can't help you with your personal addiction to your feeds, but your professional habits are another story.
Full disclosure: I'm a "moderation in all things" kind of girl, so you're going to be hearing about limits too.
The first thing you need to do is turn off all of your notifications in any platform you use. The more you use them, the more notifications you'll get. Ugh! Too distracting!
That said, let's jump right in. if you don't use social media for teaching ideas, inspiration and connections, it's time to change that.
As we head into the latter part of the school year, we can all get a bit grumpy. Let's face it, life in a crowded place can wear on us. As I tell my kids, "sometimes it's just too much togetherness." Occasionally, we just need a break and chance to be grumpy for a bit.
Helping students both understand their feelings and find appropriate ways to cope is a big part of effective classroom management. I find picture books to be a great way to do that while teaching content at the same time.
Jim woke up grumpy and got grumpier the more everyone tried to tell him what to do about it. When Norman finally tells Jim, "It's a wonderful day to be grumpy." Jim finally starts to feel a little bit better. There's just something about being understood that's more helpful than the most well-intentioned advice.
Well...you know me. I...
Yes, your consistency matters, but great classroom management is more than that. It's more than cute tricks like lights with the volume level on them or a bell or chime to get students attention. Classroom management might start with your boundaries, rules and consequences, but it also includes your systems and how you train (or don’t train) your students.
No matter what classroom management systems you use, you MUST take time to train your students or it will fail. Why? Well, it will always be you managing your student's behavior. What we really want, even when we don't know it, is for our students to learn how to manage themselves. We owe it to our students to teach them self-management. It's a life skill.
Sometimes we forget that students don’t just "know" how to “follow the rules” or even how to reasonably move about the room.
As a new teacher, I set up...
Do you ever come to school with nothing left? Seriously. There are times I get up in the morning and think, I have nothing left to give. I’m not being lazy or selfish, just out of gas.
Well, our students have those days too. Actually, some students have a lot of those days. Here’s what to do about that.
Become a bucket filler. Figure out what helps each student feel cared about. It's actually pretty simple. Ask students in your class what they would like best out of a few options. Make a graph and give each student 2 post-its to put their name on. Have them place the notes on their 2 favorite ways to know they're cared about.
For some kids it’s a random high five or a class handshake. An acknowledgment of their hard work can really make some students days. Perhaps it’s taking time to talk with them, ask a question or share a joke for minute. They just want a little snippet of your time. Other students...
I get asked by teachers for book suggestions, so I decided to periodically offer a few by category. The first set is below. It's a bit longer than I intended. Yes, I got carried away. :D
Here's a list of Mentor Texts for STEM topics. It is by no means a comprehensive list. That would be overwhelming for all of us. Think of it as a place to start.
Not sold on the power of read alouds? Listen to this sound bite on the power of reading aloud from Kate DiCamillo.
Want it as a printable list? I've got you covered! You can grab the full list here.
Books by Andrea Beaty
· Rosie Revere, Engineer
· Ada Twist, Scientist
· Iggy Peck, Architect
Violet the Pilot by Steve Breen
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
Papas Mechanical Fish by Fleming
Jack and the Geniuses by Bill Nye
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by Kamkwamba and Mealer
Successful Language Arts instruction with minimal worksheets is not just possible, it really works! However, I'm not going to lie to you and tell you it's easy. In order to help students be successful, we need to be directed, knowledgeable and able to embed learning into every moment. It's not easy to get started, but it's quite simple to maintain once we get the hang of it. Like anything worth doing, it takes practice and reflection (rinse and repeat).
There are 5 essential steps to setting up successful Language Arts instruction.
You could use a 4 Blocks format as well. I've seen lots of variations of these. What each classroom looks like depends on the teacher. Know this, there's more than one way to success. Whatever you choose, give your program structure and flexibility.
I keep my phonemic awareness separate from my Language Arts block. I start my day with Phonemic Awareness at the end of our morning meeting. We...
If you struggle to get some of your students interested in books, here’s a few fun strategies. They work beautifully with both picture books and chapter books.
Book tasting have become a mini-fad in schools around the country. It’s a brilliant idea! Decorate your classroom like a restaurant, create place settings and a menu of books (with a short synopsis), have a set of books for each table and let students “try out” several books.
It’s fun, creative and very effective. Student LOVE doing this. It makes reading not only fun but desirable. I’d call that a win.
This is another way to get your students to try something new in their reading. I especially love this when a bunch of new books are coming into the classroom library or school library. Books are wrapped up in wrapped up in plain, brown paper. You can get some at Michaels or use butcher paper, if you have it.
Now you have...
Class parties are an important and fun part of school. Why do I say important? Well, they build community, help us connect with each other, give us (hopefully) fun, shared memories and create opportunities to take a short break and celebrate. You and your students work hard. Sometimes we need a bit of a break to reenergize us and give us perspective.
With Valentine’s Day coming up, I thought I’d share a few tips for managing not only the party details, but the parents (and their) expectations that come with class parties. Let’s face it. Running your classroom is one thing, but add a roomful of parents into the mix and it’s a whole other ballgame. An organized, well-run party is not only more fun, but it’s a chance for parents to see and feel confident in your ability to manage the class. Don’t pass up this opportunity to build some good will and to shine.
Now, if you have fabulous room parent planning and running your class parties, this post is ...