All too often at this time of year, between spring break and the end of the year, with the temperature warming up and students getting antsy to have summer break, classroom expectations and norms go out the window. Often, teachers tend to ignore problematic behavior, hoping that the student(s) acting out are just “having a bad day” and that hopefully the next day they’ll be better. However, often times, these students acting out are the ones who need extra attention and help in completing their assignments. It is important to remember that we sometimes have to hone our list of norms mid-year or at the end of the year. When students decide on their norms and consequences, we are able to hold them to class expectations. Keep these norms, which are written for each class, on a flipchart on or by the white board. As students return from break, or as they get ready for standardized testing, revisit the norms. Ask if there are any new ones we can add or tweak the old ones. If you teach elementary school, it is a good idea to have norms for circumstances such as how to conduct oneself when there is a sub, how to conduct table group discussions, and how to use ILT (individualized learning time) productively.
Having and maintaing these norms will be a “life saver” for you this time of year. Not only will you get more done during class, you will maintain a positive attitude during the day and go home in a good mood, instead of being frustrated.
Have a good time teaching your spring curriculum and go get ’em! Hang in there, and remember, I am here for advice and resources!
When students are getting antsy with the warmer weather, longer days, and just a few weeks until spring break, it’s important to remember to keep ourselves energized (sometimes AS energized as our students) to have the tools to keep up with challenges that can arise this time of year.
What are some ways we can incorporate breaks into our instruction if kids are getting antsy? Most of us have learned about brain breaks. Many elementary school teachers use brainpop.com where there are short 2-3 minute videos kids can dance along with. At the secondary level, a good idea for a brain break is incorporating mindfulness into the classroom. Since at this age, so many kids are stressed with expectations concerning academics, sports and other outside pressures (such as social media and bullying), the 3-15 minute mindfulness break may be the only time they truly have to unwind during the school day. Some sites that provide useful tools to incorporate mindfulness into your curriculum are: http://www.mindup.org, https://www.simplemost.com/meditation-apps-kids-anxiety/, and https://www.teachstarter.com/blog/classroom-mindfulness-activities-for-children/ . Try these out in your classroom when both you and your kids need a break from the spring craziness and find out how you can use tools in dealing with classroom management issues that tend to “ramp up” this time of year by looking at the “my services” page on my website!
Recently, I came across a graphic on Twitter that put teachers and how they are as learners into 3 categories. Here is my perspective on where I have been throughout my career:
When I first started teaching, I definitely fell into the “Unintentional” category, meaning I didn’t read EDU blogs, subscribe to educational journals, and felt isolated since I was one of the only (or the only) French teachers in my school. I didn’t tweet or blog, because, at the time, in the early 2000’s, there was none of that going on! I didn’t write for professional journals, which was a possibility. I did, however, attend state and national conferences from very early in my career.
For many years, I was the “Engaged” teacher. I was still mostly isolated (but did engage more with my departmental colleagues and sometimes with other teachers in the building (often depending on their proximity to my room!) I still didn’t tweet (didn’t get my own account until about a year ago!) or listen to EDU podcasts. I attended school/district PD but was often passive and didn’t often implement what I learned into my instructional strategies. I did attend 1-2 workshops on new teaching strategies such as TPRS (Total Physical Response Storytelling) or Differentiated Instruction, if it was paid for by my school or free.
Today, I am proud to say that I fall into the “Empowered” category. I’m connected to many EDU leaders nationwide through Twitter, follow their blogs and listen to their podcasts. I have bought several EDU books in the past 6 months based on things I’ve heard by listening and reading. Not only am I positive about district PD, I soak it up! I’m fortunate that my district offers varied PD sessions monthly, and there are many opportunities for me to learn something new. Whenever a class gets cancelled due to low enrollment, it’s disappointing! I attend as many conferences as possible, and have spoken at several outside my subject-at my own expense. In addition, I have inspired other colleagues to learn more about things that can help them in wherever they are in their teaching and learning journey.
I hope this reflection inspires you to pursue what can move you from “Unintentional” to “Engaged” or from “Engaged” to “Empowered”. Reach out or comment if you’re interested in discussing this further!
Now that we’re at least a few weeks into the school year, many of us teachers have gotten to know our students somewhat, established routines, assigned a test perhaps, and met with parents during open house. Many of us are too overwhelmed with our planning, assignment prep, grading, parent contact and classroom routines to even think about professional development at this point. However, it’s a great idea to view the PD options your district offers or confer with your administrator or instructional coach. The link below explains how teachers wear many hats and this experienced elementary special ed teacher uses some of her days for consulting and co-teaching.
I hope many of you have a peer you can rely on for support in your teaching, with either classroom management issues or anything else that would come up that is too challenging to handle on your own. We are need the support of one another, and this time of year is especially important to form those relationships not only with students but with colleagues. Teaching sometimes feels like a lonely profession, especially if you teach singleton classes or are part of a small department (which has been the case much of my career). Don’t hesitate to tweet me @danagoodier or email/comment to this post if you have specific questions at this point in the year and hesitate to ask someone you work with (or don’t have the support there).
We’ve all been there, massive paper grading, students less than enthusiastic about learning for one more month, and deadlines to turn in grades looming. We all tell ourselves “we can do it” because in just short days, we’ll be on summer break. If you’re anything like me, you may be looking forward to summer break, but are looking for things to keep you occupied. Luckily, my school district hosts 4 days of PD every 1st week of June (and it’s all free). I also am looking forward to speaking at 3 conferences (maybe more, if other proposals are accepted) this summer. While other years, my family has made plans to travel far and wide (usually Europe), this summer we’re staying close to home, and in the process of planning camp activities for the kids.
I hope you’re also considering how YOU may want to spend your summer. Perhaps picking up a few graduate credits along the way for salary increment credit will entice you? Well, contact me if your school or district has staff days set aside for this summer or beyond, and you’d like to learn more about classroom management with Time To Teach®.
Good luck finishing up your classes and getting everything “wrapped up” as you end the school year. Take care of yourself during this stressful time, and get out there for a walk, or practice a sport you love!
April 3, 2017: My first blog post will address the question “Why did I decide to become an educational trainer?” After many years of teaching in a variety of settings (both high- and low-achieving districts, with minimal parental involvement to over-involved parents), I realized that I can incorporate my experiences in the classroom by training teachers, principals and other staff in Time to Teach™ techniques. My own experience with site-based staff development is usually done by an internal trainer, and follows the school’s UIP (Unified Improvement Plan). These training give teachers some new ideas and help them perhaps implement a few things into their teaching, but the training often isn’t revisited throughout the year. With Time to Teach™, I hope staff will incorporate the training into their PD discussions throughout the year, even perhaps inviting the speaker (me) back for a 2nd session later in the year for a follow-up. While most experienced teachers have good techniques to use on “challenging” students, Time to Teach™ will give them things to add to their “bag of tricks”. I am not trying to replace what they’re using or add to their large list of items that need to be completed, I’m just giving them tools to gain more time to focus on the lesson at hand, and less time wasted on distracting behaviors.