Back To School Time!

School starts back for me tomorrow and I have been excited and anxious to get back into the routine.  I have been working on this blog and setting up a store in teacherspayteachers.com.  I am very excited about all I have accomplished and wanted to share with everyone some of the things I have been working on this summer so please visit the store (link below) and my blog and share what you think and any helpful hints.  Here is one of my products and there is a freebie from before please help yourself!Weekly Behavior Log

Welcome back teachers, click here.

Five proven tips you need to know for effective teaching

 

MUSCARELLO

When thinking about things to share as a teacher, I thought about topics of discussion between teachers at the beginning of the school year.  We all worry about being effective.  So, how do you know if you are an effective teacher?  For me I gauge my effectiveness by how much my students have grown academically and socially.  So I thought about things I am consistent with every year, although I tweak things here and there, I feel these things help me and my students grow.

First, which I feel is the most important, is to build relationships with your students.  Although many may think this is a given, kids know when a teacher truly cares about their well-being and which ones do not.  I have found just through observations, that the teachers that have the most discipline problems are the ones who have not taken the time to build relationships with their students.  I have had so many of my students tell me they are working hard for me or they are going to try their best to pass a test so I could be proud of them.  Of course it is for them, but I tell them if doing it for me motivates them to do their best, please do.  And, no matter what, I give them praise, i.e. “you were very close keep trying you will make it”.  With everything going on in the World children need to know school and my class are safe places to be and to learn.  The first week of school is a great time to start building those relationships.  I always participate in the getting to know you activities at the beginning of the year and the kids think it is awesome.

Secondly, classroom management, to me this goes hand in hand with building relationships.  When you have a relationship with your students, classroom management becomes a little easier.  Effective classroom management means you are providing a safe environment conducive to learning.  When students know what to expect and it is consistent, they are more ready to learn.   If done correctly, you don’t have to say much because the students know what to do.  Not to say there will not be any issues but they are minimal and can be handled in the classroom.  The students know the rewards and consequences of their actions.  Remember, you are in charge of your classroom. (I use http://www.classdojo.com an excellent way to track behavior)

Thirdly, always have a backup plan!  There are just some days where things don’t go right.

-the copy machine has been down for 3 days

-the overhead bulb went out

-no Wi-Fi

-your 45 minute lesson only lasted 30 minutes 😦

-personally, I discovered cutting out foldables was too difficult for fifth graders (wow what an eye opener)

That is why, it is sooo important to your sanity that you have a plan for when your lesson doesn’t work like expected.  I always over plan for my students so if I don’t need my back up plan I put the extra work in the sub-folder (two birds’ one stone).  This also helps with the previous tips, by showing you are always prepared and no lost learning time.

Fourth, know your data!  As a teacher you cannot be effective if you are unaware of your student’s abilities.  Data walls, data binders, etc. are great ways to keep track of your student’s growth.  Plus, it helps the students become more responsible for their learning (I love when they ask are they passing, I tell them look in your data folder).  You also have documentation for parent conferences to show how their child is doing.

Fifth, seek knowledge!  In this technological age there is so much information, ideas, etc. out there, that if you are unsure of the best way to teach something you can definitely find it.  Whenever I struggled with new ways to teach something or reteach something I always go out searching for new ideas.  Pinterest.com has definitely been a Godsend for new ideas as well as utilizing other teachers from my school and district.  Always be willing to learn.

Effective teaching takes work and dedication.  The tips I shared are not the only way to becoming effective.  There are so many things we do as a teacher, these were just some of the top five that I noticed from the top teachers I’ve taught with or met in professional developments.

Please share (comment on) other tips you use or have seen that makes teachers more effective.

Eight websites that changed my teaching!

As a teacher you always want to find new ways to improve your student engagement and make learning fun and enjoyable.  Although I have been teaching going on eleven years, I know I have to keep up with the times to keep the students attention.  So I comprised a list of eight websites that changed my teaching.  Some are free and some have a small cost but are worth the investment.

 

  • http://www.flocabulary.com: I love, love, love this site.  I found out about this site from another teacher at a professional development.  This site has vocabulary lessons by grade level, reading, social studies, science, and grammar videos that use rap to teach the lesson.  My kids loved it and remembered the songs when we discussed what they learned.  Most videos come with lesson activities and quizzes.  ***This is not a free site, they do give you a free trial to try it out and I found it worth the investment for my inner city students.
  • http://www.pinterest.com: Need I say more!!!! J
  • http://www.teacherspayteachers.com: I have found lessons, worksheets, games, etc. that have took my teaching to the next level.  There are so many freebies and even the paid resources are reasonable, plus they are made by teachers. I don’t think I need to say more about this site either but I was surprised by how many of my veteran teachers where unfamiliar.
  • http://www.classdojo.com: This was a lifesaver especially when I worked at a Charter school with major disciplinary issues.  You can do positive behavior reinforcement, and consequences by giving and taking away points.  It also has other features like parent communication, and data for behaviors.  They have many features that they have added that I am going to try out for next year. ***Coming Soon:  Using classdojo.com for classroom management.
  • http://www.kahoot.it: This is a great website for interactive student engagement. You can create quizzes, discussions, and surveys to evaluate your students understanding or to have them dig deeper by facilitating a discussion with a question.  You also have the option of using already created kahoots.
  • http://www.slideshare.net: I was searching the web and Pinterest looking for a way to teach something and happened upon this site.  I actually can’t remember how I found it but yeah for me.  This is a slide sharing website with presentations, infographics, documents, and more.  You can access 100’s of presentations that you can edit or just use one slide for your lessons.  I found valuable presentations when I had to teach reading again, another lifesaver!
  • http://www.studyjams.com, I loved this when I taught science, although I don’t teach it at this time, I used this as my hook because the videos were short animated, interesting, and had quizzes at the end. Sometimes, I would use them to refresh student’s memories the day after I taught a lesson.  They also have math videos but unfortunately no reading.
  • http://www.learningfarm.com: Not a free site but this is excellent for test prep and tutoring.  It has math, reading, etc. depending on your grade level and state assessments.  It has lessons, assessments, and games all to go with your standards.  You can individualize the lessons for your students and even differentiate for the lower students so everyone can be successful.  The site does offer a free trial, which I used last year, and based on my scores was able to get for the next school year through my principal.

 

Five Ways to Get Summer Renewal for Teachers

five ways to get summrenewal for teachersBlog

Well it’s halfway through the summer and back to school time is quickly approaching.  So what have you done for your summer renewal?  Every year I have a list of goals and things I want to do on my summer time off.  However, I never complete my list, so this year I shortened my list so it is more attainable.

Teacher burn out is such a real thing.  I will not lie and say I have never thought about giving it up because sorry to say unfortunately it is a thankless job.  So here are five things I did this summer to renew my excitement for teaching.

 

  • I got some rest! Yes, sometimes it’s important to just relax and only think of yourself.  DO NOT THINK ABOUT WORK!  Your year is over let it go J
  • Spend time with friends and family, sometimes it’s hard to connect with everyone during the school year. A girls/boys night, game night, movie night, etc.  talking about other things that are going on in the world reminds you that you are more than a teacher.
  • Do one or two things you have been talking or thinking about doing and haven’t had the time. For me it was blogging, (woo hoo! Can mark it off the list), making interactive anchor charts for next year, and making my own worksheets, activities for my students.
  • Fix something up- something around the house, your wardrobe (oh yeah), car, etc. Upgrading or making something look new or better always makes me feel good and accomplished.
  • Change of scenery, teachers usually have the summer off this is the time to go somewhere and do something different.

These are just a few suggestions and some of the things I am doing to get me ready and pumped for the next school year.  What have you done?  Please share some of your summer renewal ideas.