Sunday, June 28, 2015

Rock your first year

This week I am thrilled to link up with Chandra at Teaching With Crayons and Curls for a super important cause --> how to rock your first year teaching. 

I actually did not go to school to become a teacher, but rather changed my mind about two years out after completing my undergraduate degrees in journalism and sociology. I found an alternate route liscensure program within the The New Teacher Project umbrella. They have teaching fellows programs all over the country. In any event, I never student taught and my first day of teaching was basically my first time in an elementary school classroom since I  was in elementary school. WHAT?!

Needless to say, my first year teaching was intense. I was thrown into a fourth grade classroom... alone.... at a Title 1 school and at night I attended graduate school. Luckily, I had a great mentor, amazing colleagues, and a really top notch masters program helping me survive that first year.
Be consistent with classroom management: My advice is to read tons of books on the subject, ask other teachers what they do, and then dive in and make a plan for the first year. Find what fits your personality and you'll come to learn what you value as a teacher over time. For me, I found a home in Whole Brain Teaching. I am not a card puller or a clothespin mover. I actually tried the stick and clothespin moving my first year and I quickly learned that only about 20% of my class really NEEDED to see that daily movement and have that constant monitoring. Of course, they were always moving down and it didn't seem to even phase them. A whole class method of management was more ideal to me (and less work) and I put those students that really NEEDED that close monitoring on individualized behavior plans. These plans were positive and specifically tailored toward the students that needed them. And the best part was, when the students didn't need them anymore they went away. This year I discovered Class Dojo and I used that in addition to Whole Brain Teaching's Scoreboard Game.  If you have a few minutes and you don't know what Class Dojo is go check it out! My firsties loved it!

Observe great teachers: Most schools allow you to take some professional leave to go observe another teacher at your school (perhaps on your team) or even go see another great teacher in your district. My first year I really wanted to try reading workshop but was unsure of how to do it. My literacy coach hooked me up with another school where there was a great teacher leader who rocked at reading workshop. I spent the morning there one day watching her class and it was a light bulb moment. Another thing I have done an embarrassingly lot of is watch teacher videos. Both districts that I have worked for have had excelled curriculum and instruction departments with professional books and videos for you to check out. You can also watch the Teaching Channel which has amazing exemplar lessons at every grade level and for every subject.

Make friends with the school secretary and custodian: You will thank me for this later! At my school we have the attendance secretary and the admin secretary and you would think they ran the school. That's because they basically did. As a new teacher you will have so many questions about receipts, field trips, sub days, etc and these ladies will be your life savers. Find out what they like (sweets?) and provide it with a smile at the beginning of the year. The same goes for your custodian. Make friends with the day time one and also the one who will be cleaning your classroom in the afternoon. I can't tell you how many times both of those people saved my booty and came to my aid, going above and beyond.

Don't think you can do it all: Let's be real. It's your first year....  your goal is to survive. I would really focus on making management a priority. After that, each year pick one or two things to really master. For example, this year I am going to become an expert on writing workshop or math rotations. Your first year is a time to ask a million questions, make a million mistakes, and hold on tight. 

Don't glaze over procedures and routines with your class: Procedures need to be planned in advance and that's your job! Trust me, procedures matter. For example, ask yourself -- how will my students let me know they need to go to the bathroom and how will I keep track of when they go? Do I even care how many times a day they go? Some of you won't care and that's fine. Different teachers care about different things, but the bottom line is that every teacher needs to sit down and make a plan for common classroom occurrences like how students enter the classroom, leave the classroom, move in the hallway, sharpen their pencils, etc. Sometimes procedures change and that is OKAY! Just teach the new procedure. For example, maybe at the beginning of the year you have your students in rows and the person on the left passes down the papers and when it's time to collect papers everyone passes to the right. Perhaps two months into school you decide to put your students in groups of four and you give each student at the group a number 1-4. Now, you have a new procedure and the number 1s pass out the papers and the number 2s collect the papers. Don't panic when a procedure changes because this will happen and it's natural. In fact, it's a good sign. It means you're getting smarter and you've found a better way to handle something. Teach the procedure, model the procedure, and then practice it 100 times. No really.... 100 times. 

Be kind to yourself: Last but not least, be kind to yourself. Being a teacher is a really hard job. You'll soon find that out if you don't already agree with that statement. Take time for yourself. You'll make lots of mistakes, but you'll learn from them. You'll be a second year teacher in no time. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge Week 2: Dare to Dream

Today I am happy to be linking up with Third in Hollywood, Teach Create Motivate, Sparkling in Second, and Peppy Zesty Teacherista! All four of these ladies have the most precious blogs! Seriously... their blog designs are incredible!

This week the challenge is to dream big so here goes!

Stay home & raise babies! My husband and I are expecting our first child in September. I could not be more excited!! We have also recently moved from Alaska to Georgia. My husband and I will be here for less than a year (army life) and I will not be teaching this school year. It makes sense because of the short time we have in Georgia, but also because we'll be welcoming our baby girl this fall. I am SO grateful that it worked out this way timing wise and that I'll be able to spend the first year with her. My real hope is that I can "job share" or "team teach" in the years to come... this is where one teacher works 2.5 days a week and another teacher works 2.5 days a week. That would give me time to be home with my growing family, but still do what I love. A steady TPT income would make this dream possible!

Be debt free! My husband and I have worked really hard the last two years paying off my student loans and now we've got to work toward a small one he has and our car payments. Of course, now with me staying home this next year it will be much harder to chip away at that debt. I'm hoping TPT can help with this... now if only I could stop "nesting" and watching SVU reruns and start working on TPT.... ;)

Buy a vacation home! My husband and I love to travel but I decided not to put that down. Instead, now that we're starting to grow our family I really want to start some yearly travel traditions. I've always envied people that go to the same spot each year with their immediate and extended families. I'd love to have a mountain or beach house somewhere that we could go to every year ... or more often! :) I have a dream of my kiddos playing with their cousins there year after year.

Give back! There are so many individual people, schools, organizations, and churches that have blessed my husband and I over the years and I'd love to be able to pay them back. I want to be able to live generously.

Don't forget to link up yourself by checking out one of the blogs listed above.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Reading Institute 2015 Teaser

Today I finished up day seven (of eight) of our district's Reading Institute. I am learning tons and I can't wait to share, starting next week, all the new tricks, ideas, strategies and books that I've learned.

I mentioned to a friend I was taking a reading institute and she said, "at Columbia?" ..... I WISH! Attending one at Columbia's Teachers College Reading and Writing Project is a dream of mine. One day, I will go there!

Speaking of TCRWP, I came across this today and while it's no conference, it's something! Apparently, they are having weekly twitter chats throughout the summer.

Tonight is my last night in Alaska! (Waaaaaaah!) I take the red-eye to Georgia tomorrow night. It's so bittersweet.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Currently: June!

Technically, it’s still June 1st in Alaska! I am pretty sure I am the last soul to join the linky party…. But at least I’m joining and for the first time.

1. Listening: Don’t you just love HGTV? My husband thinks I’m ridiculous because it’s become basically the only TV I watch. Fixer Upper is by far my favorite! I just love Chip and Joanna Gaines. I joke with my husband that we’re going to move to the Waco, Texas area and get on the show.

2. Loving: So far I have been blessed with an easy peasy pregnancy! I am keeping my fingers crossed that it lasts. Lately, I’ve been craving frozen yogurt. Now, to be honest I am not sure if this counts as a craving because I pretty much always want frozen yogurt. North Pole/Fairbanks, where I currently live, only has ONE frozen yogurt shop and it’s not even that great. I sure do hit it up though!

3. Thinking: Alaska summers are the best. I am so sad to be leaving Alaska, especially at the best time of the year. The farmers market is open, the patios by the river are open, the falafel truck is hopping, and the sun is always out.

 4. Wanting: I am wanting to have our baby girl! I still have another 3 months… and for those last 3 months I’ll be living in Georgia. UGH! It’s going to be so brutally hot. I of course, actually don’t want to have her right now… that would be bad news. But, I’m just SO excited!

5. Needing: I am so needing to see my husband! He had to go ahead and move to Georgia back in March and I chose to stay in Alaska and finish out the school year. I know it was the right choice for our family, but man…. 70 days is a long time to go without seeing your husband. I only have 4 more days to go!

6. Summer Lovin: I am so beyond excited to be going to Las Vegas for the iteach 1st conference and the TPT conference. Two of my good teaching friends from Alaska are meeting me in Vegas for the iteach 1st conference. After that I am on my own for the TPT conference, so if you see a really pregnant lady, that’s probably me! Say hi!

You too can link up here!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...