Tuesday, September 20, 2016

New Teacher Tip Tuesday - Managing Transitions

One of the biggest problems students and teachers have in the classroom is during transitions from one activity to another or one subject to another. Why is it a problem for both students and teachers? Let me explain......



Scenario 1: You are teaching a lesson and everything is going great - students are listening and participating - you close the lesson feeling on top of the world. Now it's time to move to another activity or subject. So, you grab the next set of materials and move on. After all, you have a lot to do and need to get through the lesson plans. Not only that, your class has to go to lunch soon or computer lab or specials, etc. As you are moving on, the noise level grows and grows, students are restless, and possibly misbehaviors begin occur. Why?



Scenario 2: Your students return from lunch, computer lab, or specials and upon getting seated in the classroom, noise levels rise, and two students begin arguing, As a teacher, you are thinking "What is happening here? I don't have time for this, I need to start math."

Remember when I said this is a problem for both students and teachers? Let me start with teachers. Once students are off task, talkative, misbehaving, it is time-consuming and hard to bring them back. If this happens throughout the day, you are missing a lot of instructional time and students aren't learning.  For students, it's frustrating because many of them aren't doing anything wrong, but their teacher seems to be frustrated or mad.

These type situations happen to all teachers at one time or another and will continue if certain changes aren't made. For new teachers, this happens a lot. Why? Because they tend to be very focused on teaching their lessons and making sure they cover all the material. So, when they are done, they are ready to transition to the next thing. Both of these situations occurred during that transition period in the classroom. Students and teachers are moving from one activity to another.

So, how do you fix it?

TELL THEM YOUR EXPECTATIONS and GIVE THEM A PROCEDURE FOR IT: Have you told them what you expect them to do when you aren't teaching? Do they know what to do when they walk into the classroom and are waiting for instruction to begin? Here's what I have done in the past:

1. My students were expected to READ in between subjects, instruction, or whenever they don't know what to do. I would specifically tell them that was my expectation for them. They were responsible for having a book in their desk at all times - either a library book, a classroom book, or a personal one. ALWAYS.

2. I gave specific instruction at the end of a lesson.  "Before we begin centers, I would like you to put your textbooks away, get your center folder out, and read quietly until I tell you to move to your center."  This does two things, tells students exactly what I expect and gives them a procedure to do it and gives me time to move to my next activity or lesson.

3. If students were moving from desks to carpet area, I would say, "please fold your arms and walk quietly to your space." Expectation and procedure.  If a student did not follow my directions, I would ask them to go back and do it again.

4. Before entering the classroom, I tell them exactly what I wanted them to do when they got to their desk or on the carpet area. This way, when I am ready to begin - they are too.

It's all about expectations and procedures. Now, 100% of your students are not going to follow directions or procedures 100% of the time - so don't be disappointed by this. If your students don't follow your specific directions - re-teach and let them try again. If you do this, they will get it and transitions will become quieter, easier, and more productive.

One more thing - be consistent. Try to keep transition procedures the same for similar activities. If you do, it will become routine. Give it a try - I think you will see improvement pretty quickly!












Tuesday, September 13, 2016

New Teacher Tip Tuesday - Feeling Overwhelmed

Lesson plans, papers to grade, meetings to attend, demanding parents, behavior issues, and the ever present thought that this is not what I was expecting it to be.  It's a lot to take on isn't it?

If you are feeling overwhelmed as a new teacher, here are 5 tips that will help you through it.


Especially when just a few months ago you were a student and maybe some of you were interning with a really great teacher who had wonderful classroom procedures in place when you arrived.  She had already built relationships with students and parents.  It was an AWESOME interning experience. Now reality has hit and you are feeling overwhelmed because it's not quite as easy when you are the person in charge. You're thinking "I'm not cut out for this." Don't worry - here's what you need to do:

1.  BREATHE - It's going to be fine. Really.  Most teachers feel somewhat overwhelmed at this point in the school year - not just new teachers.  Everything is new each school year to some degree and it takes time to get it under control. So, remember it's not just you.

2.  FOCUS - There are a million little details that pop up and you have to deal with them, but keep your focus on your students and their learning. 

3.  GET ORGANIZED - If you are an organized person - skip this step.  But if you are NOT, please take my advice.
  • Create a student filing system for their graded papers and other paperwork that must go home. 
  • Get a Academic calendar planner and USE it. Write down everything and check off your list as you complete tasks. 
  • Have a folder or drawer for papers that need grading. Try not to get behind on grading - it's a mountain your don't want to have to climb.
  • Create folders for lesson plans by subject or by day and put everything you will need for the lesson in that folder. 
4. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF - It will feel like you could work 24/7 and never get it all done.  It's true - you can't, so stop stressing and pace yourself. Try to work on school stuff only one day out of the weekend. You need time off or you will get burnt out really fast. 

5. ASK FOR HELP - Your teammates and administration are very busy just like you, so they don't always know when you need help - so ask.  90% of the time they will be happy to help you out. Remember - they were first year teachers at some point and they REMEMBER how hard it was.  

If it feels overwhelming being a new teacher, check out these tips!
If this is how you feel, just remember to:

~BREATHE~
~FOCUS~
~GET ORGANIZED~
~TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF~
~ASK FOR HELP~


Thanks for stopping by! Check back next Tuesday for another New Teacher Tip Tuesday!




Tuesday, September 6, 2016

New Teacher Tip Tuesday - Begin with the End in Mind

Welcome to New Teacher Tip Tuesday! If you are a new teacher or newish to the teaching profession, this series of blog posts is for YOU! After being in the elementary classroom for the past 15 years, I have begun a new position as a New Teacher Mentor. Now that I am in this position, your struggles and challenges are in my view 5 days a week. I remember what that first year was like and I want to tell you - IT GETS BETTER AND EASIER - so hang in there! Meanwhile, check in with me every Tuesday for little tidbits of help that will make your first year a little bit easier.


Begin with the End in Mind


Because I know that you have about a billion things to think about every day and sometimes figuring out what to do first is a challenge, I would like to narrow your focus a little by talking about planning and instruction. There's lots of noise in education that might cloud your focus from the most important aspect of teaching - student learning. It's the bottom line and it's where the majority of your time and effort should be taking place.  So how can you do this? Begin with the end in mind.

What does that mean?  Basically, start at what you want the students to know and learn and go backwards when planning. Most schools, districts, and states use standards whether they are Common Core, Florida LAFS/MAFS, Texas TEKS, or whatever. Begin with the standard and determine what it is the students should know and be able to do in order to master the standard. Plan your instruction, activities, formative and summative assessments to achieve this goal.


Sample plan of activities for RL3.3 that focuses on beginning with the end in mind.

Everything I have planned for this standard relates directly to what it wants students to be able to do. Now when I assess my students, I will know if they mastered this standard or if we need to re-visit it again. The focus should always be on what the students should be learning. If you approach your lesson planning by beginning with the end in mind, your students will learn and you will be putting the most effort in the area of teaching that is most important.


Don't forget to begin with the standard when planning.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Labor Day Link Up & Sale



I hope you are enjoying your 3 day weekend friends! Most of you have begun the school year and this holiday weekend is just what you needed to catch your breath! While you are relaxing by the pool or at the beach, check out this Labor Day Link Up & Sale. Lots of TPT sellers have linked up and put their stores on sale for Labor Day. Now that you know what grade you are teaching and the kiddos you will be teaching - it's the perfect time to grab a few back to school resources on sale!




Here's a few suggestions from my store:

Goal Setting for a Growth Mindset

                                                                                 Goal Setting for a Growth Mindset - Reading, Writing, & Math


AR Chart by 5's


AR Chart by 5's - Chalkboard & Polka Dots

Chalkboard & Polka Dots Clip Chart


Clip Chart - Chalkboard & Polka Dots

Reading Wonders Constructed Response 3rd Grade


Reading Wonders 3rd Grade Constructed Response Unit 1 - Co

Multiplication True or False Prove It Task Cards


Multiplication True or False? Prove It! Task Cards

The sale is on Labor Day and most sellers are giving 20% off. Here's the link to our Labor Day Link Up & Sale or if you want to go directly to my store, just click here.

 Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

New Teacher Tip Tuesday - Prioritize Your To-Do List

Starting today, I am kicking off a new series on my blog - New Teacher Tip Tuesday! I am really excited about this because helping new teachers is my job this year and I love it!! My county has begun a new Teacher Mentor program to help our beginning teachers navigate their first year and do it successfully. With that in mind, I am getting lots of questions from new teachers and I know there are plenty of you out there who probably have some of those same questions too. So, check back each Tuesday for little pearls of wisdom that might make your journey just a little bit easier. For those of you who have taught a little longer - you too might need a reminder every now and then, so I invite you to join us too!


Tips on how to prioritize your long to do list




One thing I know for sure is that your to-do list is a mile long. Welcome to being a teacher! The thing is that you will always have a to-do list, but the key to managing all these things is to prioritize. So, here's an easy way to do this. If your tasks fall in any of these three categories, they have priority and should be done today or scheduled for the very near future, i.e., this week.



Tasks that will have a direct impact on student learning versus decorative ones that won't.  We all want "cute" classrooms, but they are NOT a priority.



Tasks that must be done today.  For example, returning parent phone calls or emails. These should be done as soon as possible (meaning today). Tasks that are part of what you will be teaching tomorrow.  Don't wait until the morning of the lesson to get things done.



Tasks that must be done by the end of the week.  For example, next week's plans and materials, graded papers to be sent home, and newsletters. Use a planner-  any kind will do, Target has inexpensive ones that work perfectly -  to schedule out a few tasks per day so that they are finished by the end of the week.  If the task repeats each week, schedule it the same day and time every week if possible.

If your task does not fall into one of these categories, it gets moved down the list and you can get to it when you have time.  At the end of the day, re-write your list and place your tasks in order of importance based on these three categories. This will help you focus on what's most important.  


Remember...you are a teacher at the beginning of your journey. You are not expected to have it all mastered, so try not to put too much pressure on yourself to "get it all done".  

If you are a new teacher and have topics you would like to read about, please leave a comment.  I would love to hear from you!