Tag Archives: teaching

My Work Mom

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I’m going to sound really silly (or so I feel) writing this, but about five years ago, I met someone that I never realized would impact my life in such huge ways. She taught me everything practical there is to know about teaching, and she has been there watching and helping me grow in my profession ever since.

I remember entering the school in December, right before Christmas break. I met a bunch of people whose names I could not remember. I walked around some hallways that I would never remember how to navigate when the holiday was over. And then I went on my merry way, to try to gear myself up for the anxiety I was sure I would feel about starting to teach in an actual classroom.

Many of my friends know that I have always wanted to teach. Fewer know that I never thought it would be possible for me because of my anxiety. There were so many obstacles to maneuver around, that finding some retail sales job or simply living with my parents forever seemed like good alternatives to college and a career in education.

Somehow, while skirting around the high anxiety of actually staying on a campus and attending classes in a lecture hall, I managed to fairly happily make my way through college. Until that December. I struggled for weeks if not months to find a school that would allow me to complete my required student teaching hours. I never ever thought that the school I would go to was the one that everyone in my town always “hated”. I mean, some of us attended there, but when it came to sports, we were rivals in everything!

But I had no other choice at the time and I did what I had to. Which meant working meeting a bunch of new people and (hopefully) surviving the next three months teaching in a foreign place to me.

The funny thing is I remember leaving that day and feeling so much better about the entire situation. I felt my anxiety decrease tenfold, but I just always assumed it would come back the day before I was supposed to start working. That’s just how my body is. There was something that day though, about how welcoming the people were, that gave me hope that maybe I could keep myself under control and survive through those next few weeks.

Ironically enough, I was right. But I didn’t just survive without panic attacks; I feel like I excelled. Within weeks, my proctor and supervisor was pushing me to focus on the more minor details of my teaching techniques. He encouraged me to circulate the room more, or work to stop repeating the same words over and over again (which unfortunately, I still do quite often). He, like many others who got me through my life so far, believed in me and saw the best that I had to offer. He pushed me to bring that “best” out of myself and really make some progress in my career.

And while my family was always there supporting me, I feel that the biggest reason I was able to remain calm, work ahead, and truly ease my anxiety throughout those weeks was not one of those people.

No. It was the somewhat sarcastic, often funny, openly honest person who taught me what a “career husband” was and led me to believe that I could actually make something of myself in terms of teaching. I never thought I would want to teach at a brick and mortar school, but she taught me that even that was pretty cool sometimes.

I remember making so many embarrassing mistakes because of my young mind and my oversight of how different words and jokes can affect others. She was there through that too, teaching me that everyone makes mistakes, but you remember your’s and vow to never make the same ones again. She taught me the best method for running a classroom was through open and honest communication, but that it’s also always better to have a plan that can be changed at a moment’s notice.

By the time I left those three months, my position at that school was well known. I remember the salad and lemon cup that I ate for my farewell party, hosted by none other than the person I have been discussing. I still have all of the gifts that everyone gave me for my own classroom (though I’m unsure what to do with my name plate once my last name changes in a few short weeks).

My co-teacher even helped to land me my first job. First, as a substitute in the middle and elementary schools. Then, a few short months later, she pushed me to make contact with another person who not only gave me a full time job but also pushed me even farther in my career. And here again, my anxiety took over, and against her advice, I didn’t reach out to him myself. I was worried about the long drive, the fact that I would have to teach Calculus (which I HATED), and just the overall idea that I would have a major career where I would be impacting other people’s lives. But you know what? She didn’t let me skirt around that opportunity. No, she contacted that principal herself and shared my contact information. Before I even knew it, I was starting the first big job of my life.

I hate to admit that I lost a little bit of contact with her after I started my new job. I was pretty busy and spent a lot of time in my car after all. But for those first few years, I always remembered to send her anonymous birthday flowers and to make sure she knew I never forgot all that she had done for me.

Sitting here today, I don’t know where my life is supposed to go or what’s going to happen as I start so many new adventures in my life. But I am more than happy to say that this friend of mine is now my boss, now my resource, and now the person who suggested I take over their classroom when they decided to make a career change. And though I know that this job may not last forever, I am again astounded by the fact that this one amazing lady (whom I call my work mom) has changed my life for the better again.

But more than anything, as I sit here reviewing her plans and lessons from previous years, I realize just how truly she impacted my own teaching. Her planner… looks exactly like mine from previous years. Some of our worksheets are exactly the same (though this could be attributed to the fact that we used the same textbook). Even our sense of organization and using binders for blank copies and answer keys are the same.

I’m finding that I suddenly don’t feel like I’m starting a brand new job, but that I’m returning to one after many years of absence. And while she won’t be in the classroom right beside me, I know that my work mom is just down the hall any time I need her and that she has saved me hours upon hours of work by teaching me her organization skills and teaching techniques so that when I take over her classroom (which in my mind will always be her’s), it will already feel at least partly like I am in control, know what I’m doing, and will not be bogged down having to recreate every assessment and assignment and lesson.

So to that person, who I truly hope reads this, I can never thank you enough. The progress in maturity and my career may not be solely attributed to you, but you’re the one who has always been there guiding me in the right direction. And even though I am determined to come up with another way to thank you, I hope for now just knowing how grateful I am and how much I am starting to take after you in terms of my career will help you to realize that every day I spend in the classroom is just another tribute to you and your amazing educational skills.

I’m excited to see what my new job is going to bring me this year, and I just keep praying that starting it in the same week as my wedding will not bring back that anxiety too badly. Here’s hoping anyway, right?

~B

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The End of a Really Long Week

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Just an update to my most recent post about starting my job at a public school district…

I completed three days in the district this week, with Wednesday off, and today (Friday) in one of the Catholic schools. I can now honestly say that I would give anything to be a teacher in that Catholic school rather than in the school district.

On Thursday, I had a half decent day. Students still tried to fall asleep in class and some were extremely disrespectful towards me and the class aide, but it was better than the beginning of the week. Until the end of the day… I was on my way out of the building and stopped by the office to say thank you and that I was heading out. The next thing I know, a uniformed officer, the assistant principals, and a secretary walk in with kids who are muddy, drenched, and bleeding. Apparently these students couldn’t even hold in their anger and rage for the five minutes from the classroom to the bus stop.

I again want to reiterate the fact that some of the kids in these schools say they hate the place because of all of the “crap” that goes on. I feel like these are the students who are being most overlooked as all of our focus goes to those students who try to rebel against the system. For the first time in my life, I question whether it is truly beneficial to force every kid to attend a school. Or, as crazy as this sounds, maybe there needs to be different kinds of public schools; those for kids who wish to be there, and those for kids who just need to get an education but will ruin everyone else’s focus every few minutes in a classroom.

In any case, I know after these three days that I do not have all of the answers. I’ve never punched anyone and couldn’t tell you the amount of rage it must take to lay your hands on someone in such a way. I have never fallen asleep in a class and cannot tell you how it makes sense for a student to fall asleep, not because they are tired, because they don’t care.

Is it parental upbringing? I’d like to think so.

But I’d also like to question why administrators, teachers, and heck… even the state, would allow such actions to continue with hundreds of students every day. While parents do have the most control over a students’ attitude and life, the kids also spend a lot more time in school than at home. So how come no one in authority seems to have any ounce of influence?

Maybe I will never know. Maybe we will never get these answers. Maybe Trump was right to nominate someone who is so intent on changing almost all aspects of the school systems. I’m just really not sure anymore…

What I am sure of is the fact that I love taking a pay cut to work in the Catholic schools. I am sure of the fact that I do not care to have a full-time job next year. And finally, I am sure of the fact that three little kindergarten girls made my day today when they ran up to me with hugs and said:

“Will you come in here and be with us again tomorrow?”

“I love you.”

and

“I hope you have the best weekend ever!”

Thank you kids, and thank you to the Diocese for giving me a place to go where such interaction can still exist with these students who are some of the kindest, smartest, and most compassionate people I have ever met in my life. I will be forever grateful.

 

~B

The First Day of a Long Week

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Well yesterday I did it! I had many firsts yesterday, including:

  • My first day as a teacher in a public school.
  • My first day as a teacher at an inner city school.
  • My first day as a SUBSTITUTE teacher in the above settings.

So yeah, a pretty big day. I know that I have said this before (whether on my page or not), but I have truly been spoiled by my teacher upbringing; from a small Catholic school to a private prep school, I have been showered with mostly students who have an almost angelic nature compared to some of their counterparts.

Now let me first say that I am not complaining about the job I had yesterday. In fact, I went back and subbed again for that same teacher today. I think the point of this whole post is more the fact that things are so extremely different. I wonder how many people have seen that and yet do nothing about it?

You see, I am young and can still relate to students in some ways. So I know how stressed students at the prep school used to be about the huge amounts of homework they were assigned every day. They were made to cram work for 80 minutes straight 4 times a day during their block schedule. And then, on the other side of things, I see an 80 minute block period being used in a public school for texting on cell phones, sending pictures on SnapChat, and blatantly sleeping in front of the teacher. I don’t care whether I am a substitute or not, the amount of concern that I have for our children right now is more extreme than I can detail.

So I’ve decided to keep trying. I’m going to keep working at those public schools, at those inner city schools. From my point of view (or maybe it was just this one circumstance) the kids aren’t super needy. But it is apparent that they need a firm hand and someone who will hold them responsible for whatever their future may be, even if it does not include a higher education. When I tried to discipline, they laughed in my face and acted as though they didn’t have to listen to me, as if I wasn’t an adult just like their usual teacher. Whether this is the stigma around substitute teachers or whether it is just their defiance against authority, I want to know! I want to try to find some way to make a difference in just one of these classes, to just one of these kids. I’ve been told I have positively influenced other students before. While those accomplishments may not have been as hard to achieve, I feel like this is more important.

So now my goal, regardless of whether I take a full-time job anytime soon or not is this:

  • Teach some students how respect can truly benefit them in the future, regardless of their circumstances.
  • Try to reduce the awful stigma surrounding substitute teachers, especially in the eyes of these students who are old enough to know that we are just humans doing a job like everyone else in this world. And, regardless of whether this is true across the board, subs have a lot of education under their belt and could probably teach the lessons their teachers had originally planned. It’s not our fault we are given meaningless activities and lessons as “busy work” so that their teacher can make sure their plans work for any sub, whether they know the material or not!

*End rant for now* Sorry, this just suddenly seems like a really bitchy post. But I’m so upset and uncomfortable with these past 2 days that I don’t know how else to let off some emotion!

 

~B

What You Never Realize (Until it’s too late)

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Still have not been doing a very good job of keeping up with my blog. I have successfully begun to journal again, but I’m finding it more relaxing to use paper most of the time.

Without getting into the details of the past month or so, I just felt it important to write a quick note about how things can change for the worst very quickly. And, unfortunately, in most of those situations, no one really understands what you go through in that awful time in your life.

This time in my life just happened to revolve around my teaching career, so I hope my teacher friends out there will take the time to read this. It’s something I wrote up a few minutes ago that I feel needs to be shared with each of you. Here goes!

Here’s the harsh reality of being a teacher: there’s no way you will ever get the respect and acknowledgement you deserve from the world. Namely because no one can ever step into your shoes. To all those out there with a teaching career, I’m sorry that I will never be able to put myself into your shoes. I too am a highly misunderstood teacher, and here’s why.

Being a true teacher (the kind you read about in Anne of Green Gables or other classic stories) impacts every aspect of your life. And every part of your life so far has impacted your career whether you realize it or not. You may realize that you are becoming the teacher your parents always were to you. It’s probable that you are now the teacher who advocates for students who very closely resemble the child you once were. Plus, if you’re a really good teacher, you become part of hundreds of families outside of your own.

As with every family, it can be hard to be heard in an educational group. You may put your heart in all the right places, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be acknowledged for your work. Think about the position of mom in a household. She continues to slave away at chores, teaching the kids manners and respect, and may even help with the income. Every teacher has suddenly volunteered to be the mom; the one who puts in the effort and works tirelessly for an outcome. The thing is, most moms are never thanked enough for all of the time and effort they put in. You, the teacher, will probably suffer the same sad  fate.

I also feel like teaching is especially hard on those who are very emotional. Seeing a kid in need is like watching one of those horrifying ASPCA commercials to anyone who is emotional. Trust me, I know. You’re sitting there knowing someone needs help but trying hard not to give away every penny of your money to the cause. The same goes for your students. The difference is that a teacher doesn’t necessarily need to give in the form of money. Every kid needs something a little different, and most often their needs require zero money at all. So we give and we give. Before I knew it, I had given so much of myself to one cause or another that I could not find myself in all the stress. And as outside circumstances add to your responsibility, you may find yourself in a similar situation.

For those teachers out there who become overwhelmed by the vast responsibilities, the politics, the emotions, and the stresses please know that you (we) are not alone. I’ve been there, I’ve done that. While I may never understand your position exactly because I was not raised or taught the same way you were, know that I too have experienced the best and the worst times that a teacher may ever know. You are not alone.

~B

Awards are Rewarding

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Today I did something awesome. I did something I’ve never gotten to do before. Yep, today, I got to make some kids feel really good. We had an awards ceremony for the end of the year, and I got to present two different awards. I guess it’s one thing for the older kid; he gets basically every award imaginable and has ranked nationally in academics so many times that he probably lost count. (Not sure how by the way. Our school isn’t very popular or anything…)

But the other student was a girl. A girl who, just a few months ago absolutely hated Math. I am so glad that I was able to watch her grow up into a very mature young adult. Her helpfulness in my class was astounding, and I will never be able to thank her enough for all of the help that she has given me.

Also today, I realized that my first year of teaching is truly over. We have four days left of exams, and the rest of the summer is mine! I don’t know how other teachers feel at this time of the year, but I am feeling about five hundred different emotions. I cannot even control them or determine what they all are. I guess instead I’ll go spend the night with the ones I love so that tomorrow when I wake up, I can go see the kids that I also love. 

I Might be Insane, but Statistics Show…

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Did you know that Disney World has banned children under the age of 14 from entering the park alone? This obviously doesn’t mean that they cannot be without an adult once they have entered the park, but does stop kids from being admitted alone. It’s clear the park doesn’t want children of younger ages to be wandering around by themselves, and I wonder why.


You know, it’s funny; I stepped away from this post for just over 24 hours, and I have a completely different outlook on the situation now. So here’s the deal:

Yesterday the school took the Freshman to an amusement park to record Physics data from rollercoasters. Sounds great right? Well, wrong. Being one of the science educators as well as a Freshman advisor, I was nominated as one of the lovely chaperones. I hate that word, chaperones. Ick. 

Anyway, I don’t ride crazy, whipping, fast rides as it is. I used to love the idea of an amusement park as a kid, but I quickly found that every fast spinning ride and rollercoaster made me feel instantly sick to the point that I spent the rest of the day feeling ill after a single ride. I’ve come to learn that amusements parks just aren’t worth my time and money. But this wasn’t my money or my choice, so I had to go….

Yesterday also happened to be the day we had some lovely thunderstorms. It also happens that the park we went to floods fairly quickly. At first I was confused as to why the rides were shutting down almost an hour before the storm was supposed to hit. Then I realized that they were encouraging people to leave the park so that they could be safe from the deluge of water that would soon be soaking my feet as well as every other part of my body. 

(As a side note, I feel it important to thank the security men for saying that there was a leak in the female AND male bathroom all at exactly the same time as the storm arrived.) Turns out our only source of shelter was the bathroom that the park closed down, so we ended up stuck outside during the torrential downpour. That lightning was fierce too! I keep wondering how many people would get electrocuted if the lightning had hit down in one of the pathways. My entire group would surely have been zapped. (And for the record, the water was up past my ankles by the time it even thought about slowing down. Additionally, as I walked from one rain soaked area to another within the park, I had mulch sticking to my legs the whole way up to my knees due to the high levels of water that were carrying the flower beds away with them.)

The point of this post was originally to complain because people would not listen to me. Multiple groups of children as well as individual children went behind my back and left their chaperone without any prior warning or without any idea as to where the kids were located during the storm. I, quite honestly, was freaking out. I know for a fact that some of those kids would have found it fun to play outside in the puddles and get soaked rather than to take shelter. I just had to sit there in my little bundle of girls and pray that none of them had been stupid enough to follow through with the ideas that they can think of as fun.

I tried to tell the other chaperones that we should stick with the kids until the storm ended. Four out of the five of us were honestly in agreement. The other said that they agreed and then did the opposite behind everyone’s backs. We ended up with at least seven kids who were off on their own during the storm.

Before anyone reading this starts to get worried, we did survive the debacle without so much as a scratch. We had a lot of soaked, smelly shoes at the end of the day, but that was about the worst of it. Thank God. I was so frustrated and angry all day yesterday and into today as well. It pissed me off that we weren’t all on the same page and that we showed two different “faces” to the kids. Let’s face it; if you give kids two different options, they are going to pick the one that helps them out the most or seems like the most fun. Needless to say, no one was going to be happy with me when they heard that others were allowed to wander around the park willy nilly.

Then I went to hang out with my boyfriend tonight. We got some food and took my puppy to a dog park. There were so many people there because the weather was SO nice! As a big chocolate lab started slobbering all over my baby, I immediately picked him up and tried to rescue him from the gross slime. It was at that point that I first realized what I am about to tell you now. I was also reaffirmed of this thought as I was sitting with my boyfriend on a park bench watching Jasper interact with the other dogs.

And the thought is this: I may have been on field trips before, I may have been teaching for the past two years of my life, and I may also be a very young adult. But yesterday was my first trip to do something purely fun with the kids. I knew they would take advantage of every bit that they could get. They were also left to wander free, whereas other field trips required at least 70% structured supervision. And we were always in one single building rather than spread across an entire park! My conclusion was that I am very much maternal in some ways. I am super protective of my younger sister when someone tries to back her into an unwanted corner. I am the first person to pick up their dog if any single animal starts growling or barking at the dog park. I am the one who wanted to stay home this week to take care of my boyfriend while he dealt with muscle problems in his back. And I am the one who wanted so much to push the issue of chaperones at the amusement park…. because if anything had happened to any of the children that I love and that have changed my life in such a positive way, I would never forgive myself for having been on another side of the park enjoying myself with rides and games and whatever else I could get into.

Now that I realize this, I plan to have a nice talk with the kids tomorrow. I know they are mad at me (they said as much today), but I want to try to make them understand that I was honestly just trying to do what was best for them and may have held them a little too close.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still mad that the adults were on two different pages and that one single person disregarded what a whole bunch of other adults had to say, but who am I kidding? There’s always one rebel in a group, and there’s no way that I’ll ever let this one bring me so far down that I tattle on him like a two year old. 

~Me

Lost In the Woods

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So today marks a new one in my books. The first day ever that I lost a child… Yep, that’s right; I’m the teacher that all parents run from and hide their children at home because of. Apparently, I am an awful, neglectful person. 

Okay, so not really. There are other details to this circumstance that make me not neglectful as much as simply a weak person physically. But enough said about me, back to the story…

The last day of school for our seniors was today. We have been done learning content for a few days now, and everyone wanted to do something special for the students who would no longer be returning to sit in class with us. So, since we are on a rotational schedule of A and B days, we did something special with the kids that I taught yesterday and then again today we did something special with the other group.

Yesterday was all fine and dandy. One of the Juniors and Sophomores lovingly opened up their wallets and bought a pizza for their senior friends. (They were even nice enough to share a slice with me!) Though no one dared touch the hot pepper that was sent with the pizza (why do they send them anyway), we ate the entire thing, sat around outside, chatted, and looked at some old photos of the seniors from when they were in elementary school. It was great. In fact, I was hoping for an equally awesome experience with my students again today, but luck would have none of it…

Today the students decided that they wanted to walk down to the stream. Sounds fun right? I’m one of those farm/country girls who don’t mind walking around barefoot in a stream and getting a little dirty… but I was in my work clothes and didn’t even have an extra set of hiking shoes. 

We took the twenty minute walk anyway, as the kids were super excited about going. Unfortunately, by the time we got to the stream, half the kids were already down the stream and around a bend where I could not see them. Though another teacher was there as well, neither of us had planned to walk through the water unless we absolutely had to. So… there I went, right down the stream to chase after a bunch of students who should know better than to run off like that. 

After climbing under 2 logs and over about 5 more, I balanced my way across a final log and got stuck in some muddy pit. Luckily, I was able to catch up to most of the kids at this point, but some of them were still missing. Hence the whole idea behind this story.

Thank God none of our students ever listen to our cell phone policy. They all know they aren’t supposed to have their cell phones on them, but had they not kept them in their pockets (and turned on at that), we never would have found the stragglers who got lost in the woods. 

Okay, so they weren’t even really lost, but they were at least 20 minutes away from my location at the time, and I was the closest teacher to their area. 

Needless to say, this adventure was nerve-wracking for me. I learned quite a few things too…

1) I never want to have kids who might wander off, disappear, etc. I thought I freaked out today when the kids were teenagers, but I’d hate to even think about my reaction if the person was actually a child!

2) I should apologize to my parents for all those times that I thought it would be awesome to try to hide in the clothing racks at the stores. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I was ever successful at really hiding, but even the fact that the thought crossed my mind makes me feel so bad now. 

3) I have zero regrets about giving a test that the students were not expecting once we got back to school. Serves them right. Now I just need to determine whether it’s better to grade them harshly or to hold them as leverage. Which one sounds more evil? Do I want it to be more evil or less? Hmm…

4) Finally, I will NEVER visit the stream again! Between the 20 minute hike to and from, the missing students, the pollen, my allergies, and my asthma… I think I almost died. 

Let’s just say I’ll cross this one off of the bucket list of things that I want to experience in my life, but never more than once! Not that I knew it was on the list to begin with but it sounded like a good idea when someone brought it up to me…

~Me

20 Must Have Teacher Supplies

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I have been having a hard time finding time to write lately, but an even harder time coming up with some good ideas. So I’ve decided to revert back to what all desperate bloggers/writers do: borrow ideas from others who make lists and lists of ideas for us to use! 

Let’s just say, some lovely blog site (this one) gave me the idea to make a 20 Must Have’s list. Of what? Well, the things that I know most about: Being a teacher, being a student, being a pet owner, and being a traveler (via car of course)! Here goes the first one… Let me know what you think below!

The Must Have Items That Every Teacher Should Carry With Them

  1. Post-it notes— This is truly number one because I am a post-it note and list fanatic.
  2. A computer, tablet, notebook, etc. It doesn’t matter, so long as you can check your email (and communicate with parents without actually having to COMMUNICATE with them.. if you know what I mean).
  3. An email program or website subscription that allows you to share documents, announcements, and calendars with students, parents, and coworkers. (We have Google Mail at work and its calendar and OneDrive functions have saved me on more than one occasion!)
  4. An agenda- yes, I know, this is contradictory to #3, but if my computer crashes and I don’t have lists and notes written down for class, I’m basically screwed. Safeguard against faulty technology!
  5. Colorful pens- Do you know it has been proven that grading everything in red gives students an automatic feeling of angst when they get back graded work? I will sometimes use red, but I also utilize green, blue, purple, and pink! Mix it up; plus they’ll think you’re the cool teacher. 
  6. Mechanical Pencils w/ extra lead— We all know that it is important to write with pencils every now and then, especially if you teach Math, English, or basically any other subject. Save yourself some time though; don’t waste time sharpening pencils every day after school. 
  7. Dry erase markers- Unless you have no access to whiteboards, these are a must! You would not believe how often they dry out or are used by students/faculty that ruin the tips and waste the markers. Never run out of whichever writing utensil you use!
  8. Whatever source of caffeine you decide to use to keep yourself moving— we all know it happens in most full-time jobs, but teachers are especially needing of the caffeine!
  9. Comfortable shoes- you might think we sit around all day, but we most certainly need comfortable soles and the less heel the better!
  10. Binders- Keep all of your tests, quizzes, and worksheets in the same place! And keep them in paper form in case your computer ever crashes or you have issues with your technology. (I keep a blank copy in case I need to make additional student copies and the answer keys as well.)
  11. A list of online resources- Every now and then you need to mix it up. Don’t spend all of your time showing slideshows, movies, or notes written on the board. Students will become bored during your class if you use the same methods of teaching over and over again. Plus, you need to be sure to meet the needs of students with all learning styles.
  12. Binder clips— this should really be higher on my list, but it’s coming in at #12 because as much as I love using binder clips to keep myself organized, I just now thought of them!
  13. Hand sanitizer- For the kiddos even more than for yourself! I’ve even seen teachers use them as bathroom passes. *Hint hint*
  14. Plan B- Just in case a lesson plan doesn’t take as long as planned or an activity doesn’t go over as well as you thought, always be prepared to improvise or have that second plan of action on hand.
  15. Extra paper (maybe graph paper)— Am I just now listing this one too? You would not believe how often students need that extra piece of scratch. Besides, how are you supposed to keep lists if you run out of sticky notes (never run out, but just in case…)
  16. A three-hole punch all for you— If you try to share with the rest of your faculty members, it will either go missing or be completely unavailable to you at the most inconvenient moments. It’s also good to keep one for the kids if they are required to keep a binder of worksheets.
  17. Snacks- do you know that kids these days eat at the most inconvenient times? You better keep some snacks on you just in case your lunch is at 10:30AM or way too late! (Yes, mine is really that early…)
  18. A stamp set or packet of stickers- Kids love these things and it only takes a few minutes to add one to the big exam they just got done taking.
  19. Keys— Sometimes people just lock you out without even realizing it. Don’t be the one who cannot access their binders, textbooks, or other supplies when they are needed the most.
  20. A binder just for organizing things- a student portfolio, a schedule binder, etc. Anything that you feel is important and needs to be kept handy at a moment’s notice should go in a conveniently labeled binder. 

Does anyone know of anything else that teachers absolutely need? To be honest, I’m getting tired and barely came up with 20 ideas. (That is really, really sad…)

More lists to come soon…

~Me

Teaching the Privileged

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If anyone is looking for a great lesson to teach their children, read on! 


This lesson was created specifically for my classroom, which just happens to be full of students who are pretty privileged and taken care of compared to much of the world. If your children/students are living under different circumstances, please be sure to analyze this lesson before teaching it. Some students may be offended by the shooting activity if they are put in a particular group, etc. 


Suggested Age Group: High School or Advanced Middle School Students

Suggested Class: Advisory, Leadership, Counseling, Communications, Etc. (Extremely well suited for clubs and organizations that are trying to donate their time or money to others, or for students who have a hard time understanding the purpose of such an act.)

Suggested Class Size: 10 or more students

Time: Approximately 30 minutes

Classroom Setting: Any arrangement of desks in some sort of row arrangement (preferably three or more rows) will work well.

The Video:

To teach the children about privilege, set up a projector before students arrive to class. Have the lights turned off and post this video on the screen. I left it paused at the very beginning so all students could see was the two faces posed side by side. Be sure to make the video full screen so students cannot see the title or purpose of the video!

Once students enter the classroom, tell them to sit down quietly and watch the video. I gave my students no additional information, as I wanted them to pay attention and truly think about the meaning of the video. 

When the video is over, ask students what the meaning of the video is. Many of them will start by discussing clean water acts and that it is important for everyone in the world to have clean water. 

Once students start discussing helping others who need clean water or other things, ask them questions to keep the conversation moving. 

Once it seems that students have a good understanding of the purpose of the video, give each one a scrap piece of paper. (I passed these out before the beginning of class.) Students should be instructed to crumple the paper up into a ball. At that time, the teacher should place a recycling bin on the front counter, or somewhere in front of all student desks. 

The Challenge:

Students should be instructed to remain at their seats and to attempt, one at a time, to toss their paper balls into the recycling bin. Once all students have made the shot, ask students what they perceived from the activity. (Many of them will say that it was unfair because some students were sitting closer to the bin.)

The Follow-Up:

Complete a short discussion about how the activity might connect to the video. Some students will put two and two together to find that those in the front of the room are considered more privileged. Once this observation is shared amongst the class, students should take turns describing which row of the room they believe they fit into (the privileged in the front, the needy in the back, or the middle-class in between). 

Optional:

Give students the chance to throw their paper balls again. This time, ask students how they could make it into the bin easier without leaving their seats. Some of my silly students said the balls would fly better if they were wet. (This is NOT an idea we tested.) One of the students finally realized, after a few rounds of playing, that it was easier for him to pass his ball forward to a peer sitting in the first row. This idea is where the students should arrive by the end of the lesson. 

Final Understanding:

The privileged (or even those who are simply more privileged than others) can, and should, help other people out to make the world an easier place to live in and a happier place to be. Even the smallest aid (like the paper ball experiment) can make someone’s day. 

If you decide to complete this lesson, I would love to know the results! It worked really well for my students and they are still talking about it almost 2 weeks later. Some of them are even trying to put the lesson into action by doing good things for others throughout their day. I’m curious to see how many other students react in the same (or different) ways to this lesson.

As always, good luck!

~Me

Tuesday’s Teacher: Things We Are NOT Comfortable With!

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Talking Teachers

I almost didn’t write today because I’ve been struggling to come up with a topic for the teaching post. However, something had been laying in front of my eyes for the past few weeks and I just didn’t see it! 

You see, teachers have to do things that no one else in this world may even realize. Oh, it’s not all bad, especially if you enter into the field for the right reasons. But that doesn’t mean that there is no hardship and that we don’t get pulled through the mud every now and again. 

I myself am finding a lot of things that are not so hot about teaching (as compared to my earlier view when I was just a student or bystander). Below are the top ten things that teachers actually are not comfortable doing; they may not apply to all teachers, but they are surely true for at least one of us (ahem, not necessarily me either)!

  1. Standards/Common Core — We are drilled and drilled and drilled some more when in college: Every student is unique and different. We spend time distinguishing between students based on their ability levels, learning styles, and even attitudes/personalities. So why in the world does it seem okay to make every teacher teach exactly the same way?! To share your own methods is a wonderful thing; we all learn from one another in many ways. Yet to expect a teacher to do an identical lesson to the one across the hall… you’re just asking for failure! And, truth be told, these new-found common core methods mean we have to re-learn how to do half of this stuff before we can even teach it “correctly”.
  2. Staff Meetings — We don’t like them. Period. It’s not that getting together is a bad idea, we do all need to collaborate. But why are they always 1) way too early in the morning, 2) way too late/after school hours, and 3) painlessly pointless most of the time. So many of the topics discussed in these meetings could be discussed between smaller focus groups before being presented to everyone as a whole. Let’s face it: sometimes we just try not to fall asleep during these meetings. When we have to present something there too, that presents a whole other issue.
  3. Observations — I do the same thing day in and day out. Sure, each lesson is different, but my procedures, rules, attitude, and teaching style is the same. I am a person, not an ever-changing figment of your imagination. I appreciate the constructive criticism, appreciation, etc. that is given when I am observed by a peer or administrator who can help me grow however I need to. But, AWKWARD! I personally have had observations that were amazing (and I wouldn’t trade them for the world). Then, on the other hand, I have had people interrupt my teaching to tell me, in front of my students, what I was doing wrong. They basically took over the entire lesson from that point! Thankfully they aren’t my boss and that will never happen again!
  4. Report Cards — Do you know how much work goes into one of these little pieces of paper? Finalizations, mass grading binges, and further revisions! Plus, picking out comments about each student is not as easy as it seems. Meanwhile, the kids are still showing up, the parents are still asking questions, and everything else in our lives needs to continue on in one smooth motion. Let’s just add a ton of extra work to our already hectic lives and see how happy we are at the end!
  5. Parent-Teacher Conferences — Some parents are amazing to work with. These conferences can be especially great because we can learn more about our students. Yet these often occur around the same time as report cards come out (see #4 above), and many parents are not as nice as they could be. I understand being extremely proud of someone you love, especially the child that you have raised. I, as their teacher, am always extremely proud of my students too. But that doesn’t mean that there are never any issues and that they always try their best. By giving you constructive criticism about their work ethic, I am not trying to say that I hate them or they are the worst person on the planet- I am trying to help. Too bad not everyone understands this. Hello to another awkward conversation…
  6. One-On-One Time — It can be weird, that’s all. It’s not so much bad- in fact, it’s often easier to teach and reach a student’s level of understanding when working with them one-on-one. But it’s really awkward for some teachers when working with students individually. There are young teachers who end up feeling like they are supposed to be having a study session with a friend. There are also those that are simply of opposite sex from their student. Talk about being paranoid about a “sex scandal” or whatever you may want to call these situations. Honestly, twenty years ago this would not even be an item on the list. But now, since these situations end up on the media so often, it seems like teachers have to wear a suit of armor to work around single students while still securing their job, their name, and their reputation.
  7. Field Trips — It’s one thing to try to control your own two kids while shopping in the super market. It’s also one thing to be a trained teacher and be able to control a larger group of students who are not your own kids, but are with you every day in your classroom. It’s another thing entirely to take trips up to two hours away in an giant yellow noise machine (aka the school bus) and still have to babysit them for the rest of the day after that. Oh, and did we mention the extra trip home in the big yellow noise machine? Let’s just say ick. If you’ve ever been a chaperon, you may at least begin to understand this discomfort.
  8. The First Week of School — We aren’t used to being back to school, just like the students. We have spent the last few weeks sleeping in, relaxing, and trying to have a good time for a change. Yet when we go back to school, we have to snap right back into things. No one expects the students to be at their peak performance, but the teachers must always be. We are the ones in charge, the ones setting a good example. We can not fail. Also, we have to teach the kids all of the rules, procedures, etc. and most times we don’t know any of their names! Talk about difficult.
  9. The Last Week of School — By this time kids just don’t care. Hence, #7 occurs, only inside of the classroom. Plus we feel just like the kids; we just want to make it through the next few days so that we can try to enjoy what little bit of summer vacation we do have. Most times we throw “parties” instead of teaching anything because… we just don’t have any steam left after the last 200 or so days.
  10. Extra Time at the End of Class — You run a day care business. You make up activities for the kids to do each day- arts and crafts, story time, lunch, napping, etc. So what happens when you run out of things to do because the kids finish an activity faster than you expected? You probably just let them wander off to their own areas to play with each other or do what kids do. Teachers, we don’t have that option. So what do we do after the kids get done with all of their work early? Who knows… sometimes it’s a mystery even to us.