Monday, December 13, 2010

Things teachers should avoid

Being a teacher is one of the greatest jobs in the world. But there are some mistakes that can kill a career and certainly your effectiveness as a teacher. Avoid these and you will strengthen your teaching.

Getting burned out. You have heard of the five year wall. Many teachers quit before or on their fifth year. They have worked too hard. You have got to avoid this. Read some tips on teacher stress and burnout here.

Not asking for help. Ask for help as soon as you need it! Your fellow teachers are the best resource you can get. Most will bend over backwards to help. But you have to ask! Start with the teacher next door. Read more tips on getting teaching help here.

Not contacting parents. Parents are your first line of defense. You need to build a relationship with them. Never contact a parent for the first time when compaining about a student.

No organization. Teachers, organization is job one. It will also lower your stress. Your classroom management will help with this.

Being afraid to discipline. You are not the students friend in the real sense. Don't become buddies with students. You are a teacher. Your discipline is part of the learning process. If you do not discipline the right way, you will fail. Read tips on classroom discipline here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Teaching Tip: Passing back papers

Teachers are always pressed for time. The teaching hour can go by so quickly. The more your classroom management is down, especially for time consuming tasks like collecting papers and passing them back. If that is you, here is a few tips on paper collecting, passing back, and even distributing materials.

Collecting student work
You could put a box near the front classroom door with an "IN" box where students drop off papers as they walk in. If you have more than one class, us a box for each class. A standup folder works well, too. If you wish, you can have just one box and empty it while the students are working or in between classes.

If you need to collect an in-class assignment, you should be teaching or bridging to the next task while students pass their papers in. It is better to have students pass papers up, then to the left or right. That way, they all end up at the same place. You won't have to walk around to collect them. If your room is set up in such a fashion, the student that sits nearest your desk could just put all papers on it. You may be able to come up with variations of your own that work well. You never want to waste classtime waiting, doing nothing, while papers are passed in.

You could reverse the collection process. Students hold their papers and put them in the "IN" box on their way out.

Passing out classroom materials
Again, never waste class time while passing out material to your students like worksheets. There should be a bridge activity, even an oral one. A good way to pass out paper or handouts is to give them to no more than 2 students and let them pass them out. An alternate way is to give half to the row on the right, and half to the row on the left, and each student takes one and passes the rest on. It is time consuming for you to count.

Passing back completed student work
This can be time consuming. Passing back 30 papers to the right students can be tricky. You should have a sponge activity to start class, about 5 minutes. You should readily be able to pass back all papers within that time. Of course knowing the student's names helps! Learn them fast.

An alternative way is to do something similar as passing out material. Give half the pile to each side of the room, students grab their own papers. Do this during the sponge activity as well.

You can choose to pass back papers at the end. No reason to not end about 4 minutes early or so and pass them back. The last couple of minutes can be a little chaotic as the students are getting ready to leave.

You certainly want to think of these things before the situation arises. Simple tasks like these can be a chore and time consuming if not done right. Read more classroom management tricks by going here.

>>Teaching strategy for asking oral questions.

>>Using homework effectively.

>>Best teacher books.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Easier grading with rubrics

Anything that can make grading papers more efficient can lessen the stress level for teachers. Grading can be tedious process. Think rubrics! Rubrics are a list of items with points assigned for each one. Each part contributes points to the overall grade. On things like essays, projects, and portfolios, a rubric makes the grading much smoother.

How to make a rubric
You need to come up with a list of things that a student will need to have done to make their paper or project complete. Keep it to a few items, no more than 6 to 7. Write them all down.

You will now try and assign points for each part, with the total being a good number like 100. 100 makes percentages easy to calculate. It helps to write the list in some order. Either from the most important to the least, or the reverse. I like to go from the least important (or lowest points) to the most important.

Then a teacher simply has to decide how many points for each section. Keep an eye on the total up to 100. It may take a few tweaks to get the points distributed just right.

There you have it. An easy way to decide on points and a final grade. It is always a good idea to pass a copy of this rubric out to students so that they know exactly what is expected.

What makes a rubric a good way to grade is this. Let's say you assign an essay or project with no rubric. What determines and A? It becomes more of a judgment call on your part, leaving much to your feelings. That does not always give students a chance to pass. With a rubric, you lessen the student's stress by showing that all students can at least get a passing grade.

Here is a sample rubric for a report.

Title page, your name-5 points
Table of contents-5 points
Minimum 7 pages-5 points
Introduction paragraph-10 points
At least 2 illustrations-10points
Concluding summary paragraph-10 points
Reference page, at least 5 references-10points
Referenced all important points-10 points
Grammar, spelling, coherence-35
____________________________ 100 points total

Please note it is just a sample. The last points, the grammar, spelling, and coherence can be further broken down if you wish. Notice how the points add up to 65 before even reading the whole essay. This gives all students a chance to get a passing grade on the assignment. That is always beneficial to your students. It also cuts down on the students who always do an over-the-top job. You don't want those students to always be the ones to get A's. A rubric will make you a fairer grading teacher.

>Home Loans for Teachers

>How to be a Teacher and Find a Teaching Job

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Teachers and students bathroom breaks

Restroom passes, breaks, and policies for teachers is always a touchy subject. It should not be. Almost every class period is geared for a length of time that a child can wait between bathroom/restroom breaks. However, there are teachers that like to be more lenient, others stern. Some teachers don't care. The best position that teachers should take is somewhere in the middle.

First and foremost, let's state that all emergencies should be handled directly. Let a student go. All teachers should be able to recognize a real emergency, and even if the student is faking, best to err on the side of caution. Of course at higher grades, the abuse factor is there. If the students know you are fair and firm, you will have no abuses to worry about. In fact, that's the key to a good bathroom pass policy.

If a teacher does not make it an issue, the bathroom issue will never be a problem. If your students see you as fair and admirable teacher, you will have no problems. The problems are mainly caused by students wanting to press your buttons. If you have built a relationship with your students, this melts away. In fact, it melts away a lot of discipline problems. Bathroom pass abuse is a discipline problem.

For teachers that would rather have tips on bathroom use, here we go.

Never let more than one student out of the room at a time. If it's a young grade, like first grade, you may make an exception.

Let's stop here. Most of the bathroom pass tips here are for older students, say 3rd grade on up. You will have to recognize the need for younger student not being able to hold it. Stress going during lunch and recess. Remind them to go as they walk out the door.

Put a time limit on it. Just pick a time 3-4 minutes is fine. No exceptions.

Nobody can ask for a bathroom pass during the first 20 minutes of class. Guess what? This tells the students you will let them go, so no confrontations. It also means that virtually all students can make it way past 20 minutes, so...? The number of students asking will be rare.

If you make it an issue and take a "no bathroom" attitude, your students will fight it.

If you are in the middle of a lesson,say,"No, but ask me in 5 minutes." Most of the time they will forget. If it's real, they'll remember.

You may allow each student one bathroom pass a quarter. That way, they know they can go if they really need to.

Always keep track of students who are gone. If something happens, you need to know where students are and who is missing.

You can also choose days. No bathroom passes on Mondays or Fridays.

The more you don't make it an issue, the better. The more your students know they can go if they really need to, the better. Those two things alone will almost make your bathroom problems disappear.

It is all part of your classroom discipline and classroom management.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Standardized Tests!

I hear a lot of people putting down standardized tests. What many fail to realize, is that almost every profession has some sort of written standardized test! You cannot be a lawyer, nurse, doctor, contractor, or... The list is endless.

We even make people take a standardized test to get a driver's license!

Standardized tests are not bad! In fact, at the moment, it is the ONLY thing we have to measure student performance.

Teachers have many complaints about the test. But again and again, you only hear about wanting to get rid of them. That's bad. As stated above, standardized tests are not bad. In fact, teachers in California must take a standardized test, the CBEST test, to become a teacher! Why? Again, they are not bad, they are common, and they are the only thing we have!

Add to this the fact that many colleges and universities were sick and tired of getting freshmen who cannot read or write at a freshman level. Many people agreed that we were graduating students who lacked skills. This is not what we want. But, we allowed the system to move students along and not make them accountable. A high school diploma meant almost nothing. Here again in California, the high school exit exam was enacted. It really tests at a 9th or 10th grade level. Why do we complain? Don't we as teachers want to show the world our students are capable? Plus, I find it ironic that virtually all colleges have some sort of entrance exam. How about graduate school? You probably cannot get a masters degree unless you take a standardized test!

Standardized tests are not evil. What is, is killing students by having them sit for hours taking them. What do we really need to do? How about these:

1)Shorten the test. There is no way I need to answer 50 questions for someone to know that I can understand what I read.

2)Make the test count towards the students grade. Every subject should have an end of semester test, standardized, and curriculum driven.

3)Pay the students! Okay, at first you think I'm nuts. Not so fast. I know of schools and districts that spend thousands of dollars on prep classes and remedial work. Fine and dandy. But how about taking some of that money and paying the students? If you score at the proficient level, you get $100, and each increment gets lower amount. Even the bottom. I can almost assure you that you would get more bang-for-the-buck by spending money this way. The students now have a HUGE incentive to actually take the test and do well! Instead of spending cash on useless programs, spend it wisely!

3)Stop putting down tests! It's all we have and it makes us look like whiners. If the real world runs on standardized tests, lets work together to implement them the right way. If not, we will continue to have other people's tests shoved down out throats. We as teachers need to take control of what and how these tests are given.

>>Using technology in the classroom.

>>New teacher tips.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Three ways teachers can use the internet daily

The internet is a great place for teachers, especially when you are looking a quick teaching idea or tool, a worksheet, or even general teacher stuff. Teachers should actually spend a few hours on the weekends looking over what things they can use in the upcoming weeks. But mostly teachers will use the internet three ways.

1) Printing out worksheets. The internet is a great place to find worksheets to start a lesson, fill in between or before lessons, or even enhance lessons. While it may be difficult to find specific worksheets on all subjects, the internet shines when it comes to printing out math worksheets. Many times you can create custom worksheets geared for your class grade. You can find other general worksheets like graph paper and graphic organizers.

2)Finding quick teaching tools or ideas. If you need something quick or a teaching tool, many sites have such things. This can be good if you show up to school and "forgot" something.

3)Teacher information on various grade levels and subjects is right at your finger tips. You can find what other teachers are doing, join groups, network with other teachers online, or find professional teaching organizations.

>>Click here to find quick teaching tools, like graphic organizers.

>>Click here for the ultimate K-12 Teacher Online guide