STEM (and now STEAM) has been an educational buzzword for a while now. Just in case you didn’t know, STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics. Stop by any teacher lounge in any district at any grade level, and you may hear the teachers discussing what STEAM activities they are implementing. Though I am not a homeroom teacher, I have been able to build time into my curriculum for STEAM activities—and not any just STEAM activities, but ones tied to children’s literature. Let me share a few things I’ve done in the elementary library.
For the last twenty-something years, I’ve been a teacher. I’m extremely proud of my vocation—I see the reactions I get when I tell people I teach, and I am always glad to get to talk about what I do. Most people know that teaching is not easy. It’s tiring, heart-wrenching, and frustrating at times, but it is also fun, energizing, and amazing at its best. Teaching has given me a purpose, a paycheck, and wisdom. I’d like to share with you some lessons I’ve learned from teaching that apply both in the classroom and the real world:
Topics: tips for teachers
Teachers, I know what you’re thinking. You’re just a few weeks into summer and your own kids are already bouncing off the walls. They’ve gone to the pool, slept in, and played with the neighborhood kids, but now you hear your offspring saying the words that we sometimes hear our students say: “I’m bored.” What do you do now? How can you entertain the kids without blowing the budget? Here are some activities you can try this summer that are either free or of a minimal cost:
Teaching is a hard job. Even if you aren’t a teacher—heck, even if you don’t have kids—you would probably agree that teaching is tough. Teachers are on their feet most of the day, delivering lessons while blocking out eye rolls, yawns, nose-picking, kids leaning back in their chairs, excessive talking, students playing on “hidden” devices, bodily noises, and more. Why do we do it? It’s certainly not for the money or accolades. Yet, nothing quite compares to the feeling of a good day of teaching when things go right, kids respond, and you feel like you’ve gotten through to your students.
I love my job. As an elementary computer teacher/media specialist, I have lots of freedom in what I teach and how I teach it. The standards I teach can be met in a variety of ways, so my job never gets dull. I get to be a help desk, search engine, science teacher, reading coach, typing instructor, social studies teacher, and more. As the 2016 presidential election approached, I was given the task of conducting a mock election for my school. I was nervous. I was fearful that all the vitriol in the media would spill over to my students, and I truly didn’t want to foster any more hate, fear or disrespect.
So before preparing for our mock election, I thought hard about what I could do to avoid negative election talk. I decided to prepare a lesson in library class ahead of time and teach a few ideas to my students. Here’s what I came up with.
As a child, I was a good student. I paid attention in school, did my homework, and generally managed to get As in my classes. School was fun and mostly easy for me from kindergarten into college, and I could usually score an A without much effort. However, things changed during my junior year of college when I took a Spanish class that sent me reeling, testing me in ways my other courses had not. I couldn’t understand my fast-talking instructor, and when she handed out an article written in Spanish for us to review, I didn’t know most of the words. I was astounded that a class could be this difficult.
12 Tips for a Successful First Year
Dear New Teacher,
Summer is coming to an end, and soon you will be walking into your first classroom. You are probably excited, nervous, and maybe a little naive about the year ahead. Try not to worry. I have been in your spot twice in my 21 years of teaching. The first time I was 23 years old, fresh out of college, and starting a job as a high school English teacher. That year was my hardest year of teaching thus far, but I also made great friends and great memories. My first year in the classroom taught me so much about the teaching profession, kids, and myself.