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Aug 30, 2016

Struggles that Young Teachers Face

Being a young educator, whether by age and experience or by baby face, often brings about countless roadblocks. Beyond the inevitable pinching of cheeks and comments about how naïve and adorable you look, the more profound struggles range from maintaining respect of students to understanding seasoned educators’ stalwart ways. The question then is—are there detours for these roadblocks?
Most elementary students have a knack for pointing out the obvious and, more often than not, speaking the cold hard truth. They have yet to develop appropriate adult filters, and so, “You don’t look like a teacher!” and “You look like my older sister!” are not uncommon remarks to hear. When a student catches on to your age, or sees you as younger, it can be difficult to earn or maintain his or her respect. The student may see you as a peer or a friend, someone who does not demand respect or command authority, and the moment that happens, chaos ensues. You’ve lost ’em!
Short of wearing lifts in your shoes, contouring your face, and faking an older age, the most important thing for a young educator is to start strong. By confidently asserting your authority as a well-educated teacher with much to offer on day one, the students will feel inclined to show respect. Setting boundaries and not revealing too much personal information, such as your age, are supremely important to maintaining both your sanity and your union rights (but mostly your sanity).
Beyond the students, co-workers are the elephant in the room, a kryptonite for young educators. Seasoned teachers often have the tendency to move through changes in the system like they are drowning in molasses. The educational system changes on a daily basis in minor ways, but every few years, a new change comes along that startles the veteran teachers (Adopting Common Core! A new textbook adaptation! A different lunchtime!). When a young educator arrives with the stamina to withstand all of these changes, or the college knowledge to anticipate them, the veteran teachers may begin to scrutinize.
The most important thing to remember when faced with a seasoned team of teachers who might resist change is to stand strong in your own power. There will always be a changing of hands, a time when new ideas are brought forward to the table, and a cranky teacher to criticize. It is crucial not to roll over and accept the inflexible ideologies that may surround you. Avoid the molasses by swimming something more fluid (perhaps just stay hydrated with plenty of water), embrace the change, maintain your endurance, and order a large pizza all for yourself when you get home at the end of the work day.
However delicious the pizza may be, many a time the fresh-faced, young educators may encounter scrutiny for walking into a brand new teaching position with gusto from teachers who have “been doing this for far too long.” Maybe you have a great, innovative idea that you want to share with the team, but it is continually shot down because “you don’t know how things work around here.” Maybe you do something with your students and receive criticism for going against the grain. Or maybe you simply face scrutiny for being too enthusiastic about your shaping young minds.
When it comes to simply looking young, the best you can do is grin and bear it. Your looks matter not—what matters is that you are an awesome educator who can change the lives of your students. Keeping in mind to stamp your authority and stand strong amongst fellow educators, a young face is nothing to worry about. Consistently command the respect that you deserve and you’ll be able to swat away fingers eager to pinch your cheeks!
Regardless of age, experience, or looks, the big-picture lesson for young educators to take away in today’s field is simply to take the high road—far less roadblocks there!

Aug 16, 2016

The Rio Olympics in Language Arts

The Rio Olympics in Language Arts 

I’m not a sports fan, but I love the Olympics! The summer games provide a great source of material for reading informational texts and apply to so many types of language arts activities. Even better – the Olympics is a topic that many kids are already interested in! Kids who are into sports will have their favorite events, and kids who are not sports fans will get into the human interest stories and current events reports that surround the games themselves   I’ve been taking some time to browse through internet sites about the Olympics in search of bits that would lend themselves to various language arts activities, and one of the places where I found some good ones is at the Team USA site. Here are a few suggestions for informational text readings, along with a suggested language arts activity for each one.

 Athletes biographies 
 One section that I think would especially appeal to kids is the athletes’ biographies. Students can choose their favorite Olympian from an alphabetical list and read interesting facts about that athlete’s career and life. Then, the students can search for more in depth information by following up in the Learn More section or from the Related Articles linked to each biography.   One good activity for this section would be to search for the athlete’s future goals and plans, and then to write a follow-up reading response. Two possible topics are:
  • Predictions for this athlete’s future
  • My own future goals and plans
Fun Facts 
 Another page that kids are sure to enjoy is the fun facts. This is an article with a long bulleted list of interesting facts about the US team. It also has some informational graphics, in case you would like to incorporate a little practice with text features in your lesson. This page would be perfect for a question writing activity in which students write questions to be answered by classmates in some type of trivia game.

Sports Previews 
 The sports previews section is all about the US team’s prospects going into the 2016 games. It includes information about how well the US has done in that sport in the past and about individual athletes who were expected to do especially well at Rio.   Students could use this information in activities that involve making comparisons by charting the information about one team or athlete from this section next to information about how that team or athlete actually performed in the 2016 Summer Olympics. An interesting writing activity might be to update one of the articles with information from the 2016 games.

 Learn About a New Sport 
The “Sports” tab on the home page of the Team USA site has tons of information about sports that kids may not have taken an interest in before. The type and format of the information varies according to what sport they choose. It’s a great section for some authentic research about a sport that could be interesting but that the kids have never considered before.   To begin researching, have students start at the team USA site, and then choose the “Sports” tab, and then “Summer.” Next, they should choose a sport that sounds interesting, but that they don’t already know a lot about. From there, the direction of their research will vary, depending on what sport each student chooses. Direct students to search for basic information that they might want to know in order to get started in that sport.   After taking notes on the information they find, students can present their findings in whatever way suits your current lesson focus, such as a written report, a project with graphics, an informational chart, or a poster advertising a local kids’ sports team.   Team USA is just one website that would work well for informational text reading about the 2016 Summer Olympics, and there are lots of others out there. Next week, my plan is to follow up on my own website, Classroom in the Middle, with information about another good source and more language arts activities that could be done with that source in your classroom.

  Classroom in the Middle   

 Guest post by Sharon from the Classroom in the Middle blog. Sharon has spent over 20 years teaching English, reading, and other subjects to middle school students. She loves having more time now to create and write about resources for teachers – especially materials for teaching reading, vocabulary, and writing to students in grades 4 through 8. Here is the link to her store, also called Classroom in the Middle.

  The Rio Olympics in Language Arts

Aug 3, 2016

Teacher Socks & Resources Giveaway!

Teacher friends,
I have been waiting all summer to write this post! I'm so excited to finally be hosting this BIG Back to School giveaway!
     If you have been reading my previous posts, you may remember Teacher Sock Sunday! Every Sunday I would feature a fun pair of teacher socks with a matching teaching resource. I had also been hinting about having my biggest giveaway yet... now you can win 10 PAIRS of creative teacher socks (with the matching teaching resources) just in time for Back to School!! These resources are perfect for the elementary teacher who wants to be the most stylish educator on campus! ;)

Enter Below! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Socks and Matching Teaching Resources in the Giveaway:  

1. Pencil Socks and the Personalized Teacher Binder

2. Piano Socks and Music / Rhythm Resource

3. Mona Lisa Socks and Art Around the World Resource

4. Planet Socks and Planet Decoder Wheel

5. George Washington Socks and Money Mastery Resource

6. Books & Apples Socks and 50 Beginning of the Year Activities

7. Moon Phases Socks and Moon Phases Trading Cards

8. Tropical Toucan Socks and Tropical Rain forest Classroom Decor

 9. Moon Socks and Moon Phases Assessment 

 10. Jellyfish Socks and Ocean Animal Activities


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