Have you ever struggled with planning out your year in Language Arts? Well, today's your lucky day because I'm giving my entire Language Arts program a makeover this year (in my spare time). :D
You see, I'm always learning new techniques and finding great ideas that I want to incorporate into the whole. For awhile this year I was on information overload, so I just let it all sit and marinate. But now,, I'm ready to tackle it all, add in the best of the best and toss the rest.
There are certainly plenty of things to have regrets about or beat ourselves up about as teachers and as parents. But... here's a few you should never apologize for.
So what?! As my mom would say..."quit boo hooing about it, learn something from it and try again". Show your students how to accept failure and start over. Now, there's a lesson worth teaching! Your failure is a powerful teachable moment for you to use with your students.
This is a big one! If you don't hold to your standards and expectations, then parents and students are going to fight you all year. Being firm is not mean or personal, it's just the law in your kingdom. Get yourself prepared with a list of all the objections you've gotten from kids or parents in the past. Next, write down your reasoning the way you want to sound when you answer them....
We all want to have well-managed classrooms and students who reach their potential. Creativity, curiosity and independent thinking and learning (think lifelong learners), are certainly things we hope for with our students. But, what makes for the best environment to promote these in our students? Well, it starts with something that seems counter-intuitive to creativity and independence, structure.
“I have finally realized that the most creative environments in our society are not the kaleidoscopic environments which everything is always changing and complex. They are, instead, the predictable and consistent ones— the scholar’s library, the researcher’s laboratory, the artist’s studio. Each of those environments is deliberately kept predictable and simple because the work at hand and the changing interactions around that work are so unpredictable and complex.”
Lucy Calkins, The...
Here's my back-to-school book picks for those first weeks of school. With the help of these 15 fun books, you'll set the stage for great discussion and the opportunity to teach your expectations and train your students. While this is far from a complete list, it's a good start to your back-to-school collection.
Pigeon has to start school and is terrified until... As usual, Pigeon is dramatic and funny but expresses all the emotions (and excuses) kids really have.
So many kiddos are nervous about school and the unknown. This timely book (and very funny) book can help pave the way to talking about all those fears.
Chrysanthemum loves her unusual name until she starts school and the mean kids get to her. Not to worry, her teacher has an ace up her sleeve.
Perfect for talking about class culture and how to treat others. It's also great for reminding students what others think of us doesn't...
With summer winding down, it's time to start thinking about getting ready for school again (or heading back already for some of you). It's so easy to get overwhelmed with all there is to do. If that's you, this issue is for you!
Let's break things down into manageable steps so you can get it done without all that stress and overwhelm. Don't worry, you can download a free printable copy here. Let's dive in.
I'm all about being prepared all year long. Some of these tasks may seem nitty gritty, but they really do help a ton throughout the year. If you're short on time (your school starts in August), do the essentials and simply skip the rest for now. BUT, (don't cheat yourself) schedule time to do them later.
I know spending time managing a class and dealing with behavior problems is not the fun stuff or the reason we all got into teaching. But the reality is once we actually become teachers, we realize teaching isn't all unicorns and rainbows. In fact, how confident and skilled you are in managing your class can make or break your year.
I find that teacher mindset is the biggest hurdle to great classroom management. I know that sounds bold and it is. But, it's true. When we have a mindset of fear, lack of confidence or self-doubt or other mental hindrances to taking charge, there isn't a system in the world that will work. We have to get our mindset right. You CAN and SHOULD take charge. Someone has to steer the ship and if that's NOT you, it will be your students [and that won't end well].
Take the time before school starts to do my ...
I have to confess, I LOVE those TV shows where there's a transformation - new you, home redo, clutter cleanup. I'm completely obsessed with them. Just watching them is inspiring for me. I know... I'm a little weird.
It took me awhile to realize why I love those shows so much. Clutter, both physical and emotional, is stressful to everyone whether we know it or not. I also know that physical clutter becomes mental clutter because it's like a visual to do list nagging at us. So, cleaning out physical and emotional clutter is always one of my MUST DOs every summer. Teaching is one of the few professions where there's an end each year and a fresh beginning the next. Let's take advantage of that.
Because I'm such an organization freak, here's a checklist:
I can a be a bit of a workaholic if I let myself. I just LOVE what I do so I always have projects and teachers to help. That means, I have to plan for keeping kids busy and getting the family out and about, especially in the summer.
My kids don't like to do a lot of organized stuff over the summer, so I have to plan a bit of structure into our days or the summer slips by way too fast.
I know how hard it is to live on a teacher budget. But with summer here, we all still want to have fun every week. So, here's an easy way to make sure you get to do fun things and still stay within your budget.
First, take 5 minutes to make a list of all the activities you and your family want to do. Everyone helps. This is the "no promises what's your dream" list. You can rein it in once you're done.
Now, arrange the activities into groups of your choosing. Perhaps you have a group for free things, one for inexpensive things and one for more expensive items. Or maybe you have them...
Even when it's summer, it's hard not to spend time thinking about school. Honestly, I think a teacher's mind is always thinking and planning for the next year. It's not that you don't relax, because you do (you both need it and deserve it). But, planning and dreaming of all the possibilities each year holds is part of the fun of teaching.
That being said, this post is all about possibilities for just feeling like you're on top of things. I hope, you find something that excites you for the coming year.
This pegboard is super sturdy. Lean it against a wall on a table or counter or hang it on the wall. Rearrange the pegs and shelves. I can think of a million uses for "this little peggie" in the classroom from keeping your teacher desk space organized to a student supplies station. They come in all sizes or you can use several together. You could even make your own this summer.
You can purchase one from MadeModVB. (I'm not affiliated...
Did classroom management get you down this year? You're not alone! It's tough to train and manage a class well. There are lots of pieces to successful classroom management. But, let's start with just a few.
The more complicated your classroom management system, the harder it is to implement on a daily basis. Here's where I put on my inner Marie Kondo of the Classroom Management world. Simple is best. Simple expectations and consequences are easily remembered and followed by everyone. I have only 2 written expectations (rules) for students and myself. They cover pretty much everything. You can do more if you prefer. But when you get to more than 5 expectations or rules, it's too complicated.
While I know this is something many of you don't want to hear, I firmly believe it needs to be said out loud. I have 5 kids of my own and more than 20 years of teaching experience. Begging or bribing...
Every teacher wants their students to become committed readers. Here's a simple "how to" cheat sheet you can provide to help PARENTS support their kids in their reading journey. I call it the Sneaky Parent's Guide to Growing Readers because it's filled with loving, savvy tips to make reading feel fun and desirable.