- 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
Teaching is more than lessons, assessments, and children. It involves extra work outside of the classroom. Seasoned teachers know there are many "extras" that come with the job. We attend board meetings, committee meetings, planning meetings, curriculum meetings, after-school clubs, summer school sessions, PTO and Site Council presentations, school plays and school-sponsored events outside of the 7:45-3:45 daily contract. Meetings sometimes focus on students and moving student learning forward, while other times they feel endless and it is hard to remember the focus. Student events and activities occur and if our students are there, teachers attend. Additionally, much of the grading and lesson planning occurs outside of the contract day. It's not just teaching. As you enter or continue this profession you will have multiple opportunities to do service for our children.
Mentor: Lori Rice--Being a leader in education is part of the responsibility I carry. I have been on numerous committees and boards throughout my teaching career. This year is no different. I attend Parent Teacher Organization meetings, Site Council meetings, lead Robotics club, am the fourth grade team leader, and I am on the social studies committee. At a state level I am a board member for Kansas Council for Social Studies. All of these opportunities allow me to be a voice for the job I love. It also allows my intern, Lauren, the opportunity to see the outside responsibilities that come with the job.
Intern: Lauren Laudan--“Take it in stride”. This is the quote our principal, Amy, deemed our motto for the semester. I heard he say this at our first faculty meeting in January. With Kansas state testing quickly approaching, never-ending paperwork, grading, faculty meetings, Site Council meetings, Robotics Club, and morning hill duty (when it’s snowing outside), it’s easy to very quickly let yourself become overwhelmed with the endless commitments and responsibilities teachers have. You have to take it all in stride.
There is a misconception among those not inside a classroom. Many think just because students leave at 3:20 that teachers leave with them. While I am out of the building by 4:00 on some days, other days I am there until 5:00 or after. And to be completely honest, there has not been a night this semester that I have come home from school with less than two hours of lesson planning and grading to do. I could finish this work at school, but I would be there until 6:30 or after each evening. And it is nice being able to plan for the next day or week in the comfort of my own home; but it has been a challenge trying to teach and be a second semester college senior. I am grateful for my sweet roommates who always ask how my day was, what cute things my students said, and what lessons I taught that day. I have actually made them pretend to be students and they are fabulous sports! However, when they are getting ready to go out, I am getting ready to go to bed. There is no such thing as “senioritis” in the world of student teaching.
Elementary teachers have plan time and often professional learning communities in which they work. This contract time, however, is never enough. When you are planning lessons for math, writing, science, social studies, language arts and reading along with grading, assessing and preparing supplies you have things you must take home. It does get easier. As a veteran teacher I have classroom management under control. I have gone through the my own learning process on how my classroom will work, so I am confident and efficient in classroom routines. I have past lessons to draw on and chapter books I have already read for reading groups. Things do get easier, but work outside of the school day is always there. It is an unspoken part of teaching.
Balance is important as an educator. Find someone to talk with and trust in your building. Everyone has a bad day, a difficult student, a frustration; find that colleague you can share these things with. Use your resources to work smarter. Figure out who your experts are in different areas and ask for help. I go to Mrs. C for science questions, Mrs. B for English and language arts questions and Mrs. W for math expertise. Know who has all the current technology knowledge and ask them what apps and websites are the best. You don't have time to look at them all. Keep a stash of your favorite treats, post inspirational messages, and find things that make you laugh. You have a wealth of information all around you in a school. Seek out those who are doing their job well, offer to help them with something and use their knowledge to help you keep balanced. It's not just teaching.