Each school year, I spend about two weeks (paid) and two months (unpaid) prepping, planning, and dreaming of the year to come. I attend workshops and professional development, all centered around how to strategically and effectively pour knowledge into the little brains in my care over the coming nine months. It becomes this massive multi-dimensional chess game of student placement, centers, guided teaching, whole-group lessons—the list goes on. What I fail to account for each year is the profound effect my students will have on me and my personal and professional growth.
Topics: tips for teachers
The holiday break is our longest during the school year—an approximately two-week flurry of Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. A time to relax, recharge, and gather ourselves for the long slow march toward state-mandated testing in the spring.
I’ve always found January to be the start of my most favorite time in the classroom. The expectations are known, centers have been taught, and I have a solid understanding of my students. I feel that this two-week hiatus ensures that the rest of the winter months going into spring are productive. While I am busy imagining new resolutions for my personal life, I also allow a moment to breathe and reflect on the successes and the failures of the fall term. I have found several themes that I visit each year:
Topics: tips for teachers
This week, we will be featuring posts that center around teaching and thankfulness. Some posts are funny, some are touching, and all are inspiring. Boxlight is thankful for all the educators who work hard every day to educate and inspire their students. Happy Thanksgiving!
In this month of thankfulness, my mind turns toward the classroom. Between my husband’s military career and a new baby, I had to step away from the classroom these past two school years. While I feel extremely fortunate to have had this time with my youngest and three other children, I find myself beginning to yearn for the classroom. I walk into my second grader’s school and take a deep breath, reveling in the smell of cleanser, school lunches, and warm copies. Distance, time, and reflection have added a deeper level to my thankful attitude this year, and I have found myself counting my previously underappreciated blessings.
Topics: tips for teachers
We are running this touching blog again in honor of this wonderful holiday. Happy Mother's Day to all the moms who help guide us through life!
When I started teaching—and before I had my own children—I often referred to my students as “my kids” or “my kiddos.” I truly felt connected with them, and did my best to guide them to their successes during the school year. When I became a mother for the first time, my equilibrium shifted. No longer were my students the sole focus of my day, and I slowly learned to prioritize my tasks. I needed to use my time more efficiently and with greater intention in order to arrive home and be completely present with my own children.
When I started teaching—and before I had my own children—I often referred to my students as “my kids” or “my kiddos.” I truly felt connected with them, and did my best to guide them onto their successes during the school year. When I became a mother for the first time, my equilibrium shifted. No longer were my students the sole focus of my day, and I slowly learned to prioritize my tasks. I needed to use my time more efficiently and with greater intention in order to arrive home and be completely present with my own children.
My innate desire as a teacher is to script the day down to the minute to ensure that I wring every last moment of teaching out of the school day. I pour everything I have into my students, crafting each lesson to achieve maximum growth, higher scores, and deeper understanding.
Choice in the Classroom
I was startled a few years ago by an alternative avenue for achieving these goals. Phillip Schlechty believes that choice is an imperative design quality that we must offer our students intentionally, daily, authentically, and with meaning. Giving students the power of choice facilitates an atmosphere of ownership and higher levels of engagement. Integrating the element of choice as an intentional routine in my classroom environment has had unexpected revelations—I feared that in letting go, chaos would ensue. However, through trial and error, a comfortable “happily humming” sort of chaos has been found.
August, I swear, is the shortest month of the year. The 1st rolls around, and all of the sudden it hits me that I have 22 days left to get my classroom, curriculum, children, and myself ready for the new school year. Adding to the mayhem of this year, my beloved husband, who spends most of his time as a stay-at-home papa, is gallivanting off with the Marine Corps for two and a half weeks, right as the school year is set to begin.
I thought it might prove useful to you all to share some of my personal strategies and tips for getting ready for the new school year. I have had the good fortune to learn some things from some amazing teachers and moms – advice on how to stay balanced and establish smart routines in my home and classroom. These strategies help me to stay sane during the start of the school year, and I want to share 10 of my favorites with you: