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Oct 30, 2015


Hi teacher friends,
In celebration of Halloween, my entire is store is on sale now until after the 31st! This includes non-Halloween related products! :)

If you need a SPOOK-tacular project for fun Friday, please check out A Batty Craftivity, Haunted House Craftivity, and Halloween Activity Pack!

Have a happy Halloween weekend and be sure to stop by!

Oct 27, 2015

Time Saving Strategies for Teachers

time saving strategies for teachers, time savers, time saving tips for teachers, teacher time savers, time saving strategies for the classroom

Beat the Clock!
Strategies to Help You Be More Effective with Your Time

One of the biggest complaints of educators is that they just don’t have enough time. And, with Common Core and other standards being implemented and adjusted into your plans; that complaint is certainly a reality. But the good news is that you don’t have to struggle to beat the clock. Read on to learn about some time saving tips that allows you to maximize your instruction and complete your lessons in a timely manner.

1. Skip the Small Stuff
Many educators get hung up on the little stuff. A lot of time gets wasted taking whole group bathroom breaks or sharpening pencils, which interrupts your lesson. Don’t lose any time teaching! When your class is out at the bathroom, you can bring flash cards out to work with the students who are standing in the finished line. You can also set a timer during clean-up or transition times with the goal to beat the clock. If the class is finished before the timer goes off, they can get a sticker on an incentive chart, or work toward a large prize at the end of each week. You can also have a pencil bin filled with sharpened pencils. Take on a “Take a pencil, leave a pencil” motto. This way, there will be no interruptions during your teaching and students can silently get up and get a pencil at any point.

2. Don’t Go Overboard with Planning
Many teachers feel the need to over plan. They may set themselves up to fail because they simply have too much to do in a designated time frame. Start smaller next time. Focus on one main goal you wish to accomplish each lesson. Then, you can have supplemental materials that serve as a review to add into your lesson when you complete your day’s objective. Reviews can be skill games, centers, and even worksheets that you have prepared in advanced. While it may take more planning and preparation on your end, you will not feel as if you are rushing to get everything squeezed into your lesson.

3. Utilize Small Group Instruction
One of the best things you can do is teach a new strategy to a small group, while the rest of the class completes an independent review activity. You are able to complete twice as much work in the same amount of time and you can get a better sense of who is mastering skills taught and who needs more intervention. Once you get the ball rolling on the school year and several skills have been taught, split the class in half. One half of the class will work with you on something new for a predetermined amount of time. You can do this on a carpeted space in your room (like your reading corner) and the rest of the students can work at their seats. Be sure to take a few minutes to thoroughly go over the directions of the independent task so students will not be interrupting your direction instruction. Be patient-it can take a few tries to really master this time saving technique, but you are sure to see an improvement in how much you teach and how time effective the teaching strategy is.

4. Keep Everything ORGANIZED!
One of the biggest time wasters is searching through stacks and stacks of paper. Keep organized with digital files on your computer –also keeping your digital files organized too! Don’t be the teacher with countless desktop icons and 20 browser tabs running at the same time. Take care of your computer or it will slow you down later with lagging and freezing!! Decide on how you want to organize your file folders - Have a file folder for every subject or unit of study. Have file folders organized within your file folder.
Ex: Unit 1 >>>> Week 1, Week 2, Week 3

Tired of rushing and stressing? Stop! Try these tips today to improve the way you teach and the way that your students learn!

Oct 26, 2015

Teacher Collaboration Strategies

Strategies for Teacher Collaboration

Are you comfortable with trying new ideas in your classroom and embracing your team members teaching strategies?

Sometimes my teaching style and philosophy will differ with my team.
 As a young educator, I struggled to maintain my autonomy. My idea of collaboration was to share and listen (and then without realizing it) going back to the classroom and doing things my own way. When you are new, it’s difficult to collaborate; you’re just trying to keep your head above water!
As I mature in the profession, I have grown to realize that my way is not the only way, and that without collaboration and integration of EVERYONE’S skills, I am actually short-changing my students. 

So how do we collaborate, tap into everyone’s strengths, and still keep a sense of autonomy?
1.  Learn to listen: 
If you realize that you’re talking the most in the group, pause and take time to listen to what your colleagues are saying.  You already know what your own plans are so take the time to listen to someone else’s idea.

2.  Show examples:
If you are full of creative ideas, bring samples of your lessons with you.  Don’t leave your team guessing as to the specifics of your plan.

3.  Embrace your strengths:
Find your strengths and play to them.  If your skills include working with technology, then incorporate technology into the lessons you share.  If you are creative with worksheets and written activities, then embrace that angle too! 

4.  Acknowledge your weaknesses:
Know where you need help and be willing to ask.  No one has mastered every aspect of teaching!  We are human and we can depend on each other and lean on each other to help our students be successful.

5.  Tackle one project at a time:
If you are new to collaboration then start small.  You do not have to plan the whole year together on the first day.  Start with one project that your grade level or department agrees to do together; and stick to the plan!  You may feel outside of your comfort zone the first time, but you may soon look forward to collaboration.

6.  Even though you may try to resist it at all costs, team up with the person that is LEAST like you:
Find the strength in your differences.  Go outside your comfort zone and see what benefits may come from teaching a new way. Trust me, you’ll be amazed at how much you’ll accomplish when you step a little out of your comfort zone.

7.  Compare data and be data driven:
If your colleague’s class is having an easier time understanding a difficult standard, ask them how they taught that standard.  Then try to embrace the new way and go forward. 

8.  Put your pride aside:
Sometimes it’s tough to admit you need help or to realize that your way may not be the most productive or accurate.  We are driven, independent thinkers who love to see our positive impact on students.  In order for true collaboration we must be willing to put some of our ideas aside and pull together for the success of our students.
The expectation for collaboration in education will never disappear.  Gone are the days of closing your door and doing things your way without anyone questioning your methods. Thank goodness for that!!  We can also say gone are the days of struggling to come up with new ideas or a creative ways of teaching a difficult concept.  EMBRACE collaboration and watch your students succeed in ways you never thought possible!

“No matter how many years we have been teaching, we should feel a little bit like a rookie EVERY year by trying something new and not being afraid to fail.” – Heidi Pauer

Oct 18, 2015

Banish Bullying in the Classroom

Banish Bullying!
How Teachers Can Make a Difference

Create a safe environment for your students and create awareness of school bullying. Bullying has become increasingly prevalent due to the increase of technology and the use of social media. As a teacher, it is important to recognize what bullying looks like in the classroom, how to handle it, and end it.
 Because October is National Bullying Prevention Month; read on to learn about how to banish bullying by some tips and tricks you can try today in your classroom.

1. Promote Positive Behavior - Be a Role Model
Bullying feeds off of negativity. When you have a positive classroom environment, you are less likely to encourage or encounter put downs. Rather than focus on negative behavior, promote the positive. Use lots of verbal praise, send happy notes home, and even establish a positive reward system for students. You can issue coupons to students who act selflessly, compassionately, respectfully, and responsibly. Students can trade them in for prizes, enter them in a weekly raffle, or even use them to purchase positive incentives that you offer (Lunch in the Classroom with a Friend, Line leader for a week, Teacher’s Assistant for a Day, etc.).

2. Establish Examples of Bullying
Many children can recognize when bullying occurs, but many don’t realize they are sometimes indirectly a part of it and the overall problem. Conduct an activity in your classroom called, “Stand up to Bullies.” Go through practice scenarios with the class. If they think bullying is occurring, they should stand up and say, “Stand up to Bullies.” Students often don’t realize that even though they are not doing the bullying themselves; it is possible to still be a bully. Explain that laughing at what the bully is doing or passing on a rumor is adding to the problem and is considered being a bully. They also don’t realize that not reporting bullying situations is irresponsible. So have an honest and open discussion after each scenario you present to the class. Students will learn that all scenarios you are presenting to them are examples of bullying and they should be standing for each one and stating, “Stand up to Bullies.” You can then spend time talking about how to report bullying, adults students can talk to if they are being bullied, and consequences for being a bully.

3. Host a Getting to Know You Lunch
After observing students interacting with one another in your class, pair up two students who have difficulty working together in group settings. Eat lunch with them in the classroom. Guide them to answer questions about themselves so they can get to know each other’s likes, background, and interests. The pair may be surprised to learn that they have more in common than they think. Or they will learn that they can respect each other and their differences because they both have feelings and are in class together.

As a teacher, it is your responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of all students. These simple tips and activities will ensure student acceptance and will help promote compassion for all. 

Students will learn that bullying can stop with them and that everyone deserves the right to an education free from those who put others down!

Here are "Kindness in the Classroom" Task Cards! This resource is designed to promote kindness and awareness to help prevent all forms of bullying in the classroom. This resource includes 20 free task cards and a jar label. Place the task cards inside the jar and display it somewhere in your classroom where student can easily access. Encourage your students to read the task cards when they have free time or when a misbehavior occurs. 

Oct 16, 2015

The Overwhelmed Teacher - When It's Time To Slow Down

New Teacher advice

     Teaching today includes a booming internet business filled with DIY projects and creative ideas for every topic and season of the year.  As you walk down the school hallways, you see these designs coming to life in classrooms across the world. Why then, with all the creative and wonderful projects at our fingertips, do we have a higher burnout and teacher attrition rate than ever?  
     So how do we know when enough is enough?  How do we know when it’s ok to be an effective teacher and not a designer or architect? 

Here is a list of top 10 ways you know you are neglecting yourself in pursuit of teacher perfection.

1.  The custodial staff leaves school before you do.

2.  Your husband invites you out on a date night and you show him five stacks of papers to be graded by midnight. Can he help, please?

3.  Over Thanksgiving break, you finish the turkey and start planning the Christmas pageant costumes and music for your grade level. 

4.  You don’t know your own children’s teachers' names.

5.  You use a separate Pinterest account to create retirement boards, filled with dream vacation photos, cruises, and luxury homes.

6.  The last family night out was during the summer break.

7.  Even with highly effective lesson plans, you are still grouchy and on edge.

8.  There isn’t an inch of your room without inspirational quotes or cute educational posters.

9.  You go through the list of your students’ names when trying to call your own kids.

10. You have Pinterest boards for every day of the school year, even National Tortilla Chip Day (that is a real holiday). 

Yes, the standards are higher and yes, the push to be creative, fun and engaging is growing, but what we cannot forget, under any circumstance, is that we are teachers to teach kids, not to have the cutest classroom. Would it really be the end of the world if your classroom does not look like it came out of Education Weekly’s top 5 decorated classrooms?  No matter what, there is one constant in education.  Students will come, we will teach, students will leave and what they need and desperately want to take with them is not the latest fad, but rather a solid education they can use and a loving mentor with whom they can stay in touch.

So you figured out that you might be overdoing it.  Now what? 

new teacher help

Take care of yourself teachers!!! Here’s how:

  Set a time you will leave school every day and stick to it with only a few exceptions.

  Work smarter not harder; facilitate your students to work in groups and self-assess.

  Not every paper that comes across your desk HAS to be graded.

  Have the students create the cute stuff AS LONG as it produces valuable learning.

  Set time aside for family and know deep in your heart it is ok to say no to school.

  Exercise, laugh, and spend time with friends outside of work.

  Let your spouse, family member, or friend be your support system and offer you a break once in a while. 

The bottom line is that the burnout we are suffering as teachers can often be a self-imposed burnout.  We must learn to prioritize for our own sanity and health.  A stressed teacher is not able to teach at his/her best! We should try to accept that we cannot always be that elusive picture of perfection, that all teachers have stressful times in their careers. There is no perfect teacher nor perfectly decorated classroom. Let's celebrate our own uniqueness and teaching gifts. Don't be your own worst critic, by pushing yourself to your own version of perfection. Let's relax and enjoy the wonderful journey that we have chosen as teachers! 

teaching ideas and resources

Let’s work together to create a new perfect teacher image! A teacher who cares about her/himself so they can care for others: a teacher who shows students how to embrace their passion and how to learn using real world situations.  Most importantly, we must be teachers who understand that education takes pacing so we can be in the classroom for the generations to come.        

Which top signs do you relate to the most? What strategies do you use when you face burnout? 


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