Tuesday, January 10, 2017

5 Habits of Highly Effective Teachers

My first year was super rewarding but it was also very stressful. Balancing a new job and all the responsibilities that goes along with that is difficult. Add to that shouldering the weight of ensuring the educational and emotional success of 26 little grown ups......ugh it's a recipe for a nervous breakdown.

It took me about 3 years to figure these 5 key habits out. Once I began embedding them into my instructional practice my life became more balanced.

1.Make a task list each morning

I used to use sticky notes for each task and stick them around my desk area. It was satisfying to crumble them up throughout the day. Nothing says accomplished like a trash bin full of sticky notes.

2. Lean on your PLC don't go it alone

You don't have to go it alone meet frequently with your teammates. This doesn't have to be in person. I started a GroupMe chat with my PLC so we could stay in close collaboration.

3.  Build strong relationships with parents

Parents want to help you and they can be your greatest asset. Think about it...You are teaching their babies anything they can do they will do. I liked using the remind me app to stay in touch with parents. Don't be afraid to ask them for help. My first year a parent made 30 privacy tents for my class.

4. Pick one Late Day

Pick one day each week that you will work late and stick to that plan.  I liked to stay on Thursday's because it was near the end of the week. I already knew what I'd need for the next week.  I also liked it because it gave me enough teaching days on which I could reflect/recap the week. I used the time to get a head start on copies and center materials.

5. Weekly Reflection

I kept a journal that was just for me and wrote in it frequently. I would reflect on my instructional practice and classroom management.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Teaching: The Thankless Job

This was a particularly rough week for me as a teacher.  I found myself feeling down about the lack of recognition we teacher recieve for the sacrafices we make everyday for our students.  In the media, government, and even within the public school system we are constently being told that we aren't measuring up.  We are being inendated with quotes about data in staff meetings and in the media.  If your numbers are not up then you are stampped with a low performance label and frowned upon.  As I reflected on this numbers game and how it makes teachers feel I started to think when do we as teachers every get recognized and appreciated for the things we do right.  I realized I was looking to the wrong people for that recognition.  My principal is not always going to have the time or enclination to do it.  The government is going to do it. The media certainly isn't going to do it becasue that doesn't make for a good story.  So I started on a path to find out how teachers

We are only human and we crave that gradification that a pat on the back give you.  What can we do when the conventional ways of recognition like awards at staff meetings, parental acts of gratitude, and high marks from administration on evaluations are missing?  Here is a list of sure fire ways to start to encourage a atmospher of apprciations and recognition in your school.

1. Recognize a Co-Worker each week

2. Toot your own horn

3. Use social media for good

4. Create a online teaching portfolio

5. Build it into your lesson plans
  have students write weekly letters to you about what they feel went well with your lessons, what they would like to see you do again, and what they learned from your instruction

6. Start a WOW
Wow! notebook -- a morale booster! When a staff member receives the notebook, they read the wonderful message that someone wrote for them. They, in turn, write a note to another staff member to encourage, give a boost, or to just say how much they are appreciated. At the bottom of the page they write, "Don't forget to pass it on....." Could work in the class, too...
Thursday, August 6, 2015

Makings of Highly Effective Anchor Charts

I love anchor charts and I find that my students do too.  I use my active-board quite often and it makes teaching new information easy and sharable however, there is just something so special about creating a anchor chart. Highly effective anchor charts must have 4 key elements:

1. 3D Elements
2. Student Interaction
3. Include Pictures
4. Graphic Organization

Add elements of 3D

Make your charts come to life by adding real life materials.  Use tape or Mod Podge to attach your real life elements to your anchor charts.  These items make your chart more come to life in ways no computer or textbook can.

This chart came from 

Student Interaction
Making space on your chart for your students to add their thoughts using post its makes the chart a team endeavor not just something the teacher made in a bubble on her/his own.

These charts came from

Take a Picture it will last longer
 Adding art work gives the students a pictorial association with what you are teaching.  They will come to associate the picture with a section of information and will aid in memory of the material.  
This example comes from

Graphic Organization
Set up your information graphically.  Lists and long chunks of text packed together on your chart is not the best way to present new information to kids or adults.