- Bringing Project Based Learning to our Classroom - August 12, 2018
- Keep the Engagement Alive: Start the Year with Purpose - August 5, 2018
- It's Our Fault: A Teacher's Confession - March 18, 2018
- Keeping Your Teaching Real: A Teacher's Role - March 11, 2018
- Sketch Notes in the Elementary Classroom - February 15, 2017
- Teach From the Heart - February 9, 2017
- Who is the Teacher: School or Family? - January 11, 2017
- Dear President Elect Trump, From Your Teachers - November 17, 2016
- Let them Be Children - October 21, 2016
- Print Resources: Great Tools for Kids - October 17, 2016
As fall creeps in and temperatures drop schools across the nation are fully into the swing of things. The honeymoon period is over and students' comfort levels allow for a testing of behavior and expectations. As the first quarter of this year comes to an end, it is the perfect time to reflect. Identify the things that are stopping your classroom from being the best learning environment it can be and take some steps to start the next 9-weeks strong.
Classroom Management—while you have established your rules and routines, everyone has settled in. For some students this transition back into the classroom is seamless; but for others, continued practice will help smooth the process. It is tempting to think, "They should KNOW this by now!" but remember to be clear in your behavior objectives and expectations just as you are with your academic objectives. Review your classroom management system whether that be a clip chart, assertive discipline, natural consequences, or a reward system. Review rules together and explain consequences. Have an open discussion about what is working in the classroom and what students feel needs adjusted. Give gentle reminders as you get back to work in the new quarter. This time spent in review will set up success for the remainder of your year.
Use your resources—there are so many things that have already be done. Don’t reinvent the wheel. If you have a grade level team you work with divide and conquer. Have one person put together the resources for science and another find engaging games in math. Split your curriculum and find and share activities. Teachers Pay Teachers, Writing Fix , Illuminations, and Scholastic are all great places to start.
Get Connected—you are not in this journey alone. Find teachers in your building who are leaders, have a positive attitude, and are the problem solvers. Take the time to read a book about teacher burn out. Join groups online or on Facebook like The Educator’s Room. Find a support program with your state (just Google). Having others to ask questions, bounce ideas and share frustrations with will provide you a much-needed support group thorough this journey.
Don’t Assume Anything—your students are each individuals. They have different experiences, knowledge bases, home lives, and strengths. We all have students that fit the mold and thrive no matter how we are teaching. But we also each have students that force us to think outside the box to meet their needs. Get to know them, reflect on what worked and where/when they were successful. Ask them what they need to be successful in your classroom. Connect with them, respect them, and help them find what works. It takes work and time and effort, but figuring out each student and how they interact with their environment and other learners will make classroom management easier and learning the focus in your room.
Have Fun—smile, laugh, take a dance break or brain break and have fun with your class. Don’t forget the importance of getting up and moving, being silly, and having fun. Always remember why you started this important path; it’s all about the kids.
The beginning of the year is a time for reflection and self-evaluation. What do you want to accomplish this year? What do you want students to take away from your classroom? I always remember why I started this path 23 years ago when I decided to enroll in education at Kansas State University. I wanted to work with kids. I wanted to go to work each day and do something I love. I wanted to teach. I hope your school year is full of adventure, learning, and pleasant surprises. I hope you get to know each of your students and value them as individuals. I hope you find and get connected with a supportive group of positive teachers. And most of all, I hope you have fun!