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 24, 2010

Teachers, Diversity, and Boys

Diversity has long been a buzz word in education. Somehow, teachers and schools need to change everything and anything for each student on an individual basis.

Don't swallow the hype. Good teaching is good teaching. There is no need to change your good teaching techniques just because some college professor thinks you should. Be wary of so-called education research. Nothing beats the experience of a real world, in the classroom teacher. See the links below this article for tips on dealing with that.

On NPR yesterday, they did a whole story on how we do not allow boys to be boys. That somehow boys learn so differently that we are doing them an injustice. Again, don't fall for the hype. They say teachers need to give boys hands-on activities and keep them moving. If not, then we are forcing boys to act unnatural and being very unfair. And this unfairness leads to boys just not learning. One commentator even suggested that boys should always have something tactile to do in any learning situation. Again, don't fall for such hogwash.

Not only is that impractical for teachers, it's also silly when you think about it. It also makes boys seem like animals that need to be appeased. We do our boys (and girls) a disservice when implementing such nonsense.

If we toss up our hands and say, well, boys just can't sit still, we are sending them the wrong message.

They can't go to medical school, be lawyers, engineers, nurses, etc. How can they sit in boring college classes? People don't realize that college classes for the most part are an hour of lecture. Can you imagine a lawyer fiddling, pacing during a trial?

How funny it is we expect (and see) boys behaving in movie theaters in a two hour movie. Can you imagine if the theater allowed playing, fiddling, pacing? How about an airline flight? Don't put your boy on an airplane. They can't take it. Would you tolerate your male children not behaving for at least an hour on a car trip?

Forget about taking your boys to church. Our churches just didn't get the memo about boys.

Every aspect of life, people are expected to behave themselves and many times be still, patient.

Why should your classroom be any different?

Boys could never get a real job. Most jobs require you to work steadily for at least 2 to 4 hours without a break. Pity boys just can't handle that.

Teachers, when dealing with the "latest" research, remember it is research. Not real world teaching.

Don't give wrong messages to your students. They are catered to in classrooms, then expected to survive in a world that is diametrically opposed to such "research."

If you are not using good teaching techniques, then you do need to change.
>Read tips on dealing with diversity in the classroom.
>Read tips on teaching to engage your students.
>Read details of a teaching strategy to ask oral questions.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Teaching Tips

Here is a few quick teaching tips.

Vary the way you teach. Don't just lecture or do one thing. Your students will get in a rut and be bored. Bored students don't learn. Get them involved with discussion or hands on activities. When you do lecture, walk around the room. Surprise your students each day with something new.

Be a fair teacher. Treat everyone the same. Make your rules stick, but maintain your options. A fair, but firm teacher is treated with more respect.

Try teaching one day without a book, students taking notes, or collecting anything. Your students will love it, and you will get a break from grading. You can give points that day by attendance. Have one day a week where students do not need to bring a book to class. You will be surprised at how much students can actually learn this way. Plus, they'll enjoy it.

Dress as if you were a professional. Actually, teachers ARE professionals! You should dress and act like one. Use casual appropriate dress if warranted.

>>Teaching strategy for oral questions.

>>Home loans for teachers.

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

Monday, November 15, 2010

Classroom Rules: Be a Positive Teacher

When teachers think of classroom discipline, the first thing that comes to mind is a list of rules and punishments. Nothing could be further from what classroom discipline really is. We always tell teachers not to have classroom rules. The reason is simple. You cannot list enough. Your students will break the ones not listed and tell you so. They will bend the rules. On both accounts, how will you handle it? The answer is, you can't. Every student in your class knows how to act. On campus and in class. That's really the only rule you need: Follow all schoolwide rules.

However, teachers are not content with that. They think they need to post a list of many rules so students see them. Although that's not a good idea, we do know where they're coming from. It's a hard concept to have basically what is a "ruleless" class. Over time, as you mature as a teacher, you will feel the need for rules to be greatly decreased. Your students will know your classroom is a place for learning, not goofing off.

For those teachers who have not crossed that bridge, we offer a few simple rule tips. The buzzword: positive.

Don't have any rules that are can be open to interpretation. Do not have rules that you cannot or will not enforce.

How about these as a start:

1. Come to class prepared and ready to work.
2. Respect others.
3. Follow all schoolwide rules and procedures.
4. Enjoy the learning process!

That's it! Number 4 is just a positive option. Change it to your liking, or leave it off. Your choice.

You do not have to list consequences. You do not have to list punishments. You do not have to list a bunch of do's and don'ts. You can't list all the don'ts.

Your rules should have a "do" quality, not a don't. Your students know the don'ts. Don't dwell on them.

The less rules you have in your classroom, the less stress you will have enforcing them.

In fact, you should NEVER have to enforce a rule anyway!

>Home Loans for Teachers

>How to be a Teacher and Find a Teaching Job

>Baby, New Mother, and Breastfeeding Resources

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Taking Attendance Tips

Attendance is something every teacher must do. Probably you need to do this first and foremost to start the day or class. Taking too much time or not doing it accurately will only cause problems. Teachers need a system to do it quick, accurately, and without causing any loss of teaching time. There are various ways this can be done. Some take longer.

Before taking attendance, teachers need to have an activity that students start doing immediately after the bell rings. Put a short assignment on the board. Click here: to read more classroom management techniques.

Calling students' names out loud is one common way. But it does take more time than other techniques. After a while, you will get it done quicker, but it can still be a hassle. Always call names while students are working on something. If you call names and they are just sitting there, you are wasting time.

Having assigned seating makes attendance quick. Lower grades most always have assigned seating. No problem. Upper grades can have students switch around depending on their mood or when they enter the class. But, most often even these students like to sit in the same place. During the first week, tell students you are going to make a seating chart in week two. That way, they can scramble around to find where they like sitting. Of course talkers may need to be moved. Once you have a seating chart, only a quick glance will show you who is not here.

For smaller grades, you can have a wall pocket chart with the students name. When they enter, they grab their name and put it on their desk. A quick glance will show which students did not grab their names. Good idea to put a homework box near the chart for quick drop off as well. If you do circle time or rug activity in your class first, this is the best technique. Students grab their names, put homework in box, then put their stuff on or in their desks. Then move to the rug.

Of course all attendance techniques must be time modified depending on how the school does the paper work. You should keep dual attendance records. That is, you fill out the official forms, but also mark it in your grade book. Some districts will give a printout the next day as to who was absent.

Taking attendance quick and accurately is a first step in classroom management.

>>Dealing with confrontational students.

>>Classroom bathroom policy.

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.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Student Teacher Tips

Make sure that you read all the material given you pertaining to student teaching. You need to be aware and do everything that is required. The school you are assigned to may also have some rules. Follow them. Be determined to not just be a student teacher. Be an excellent student teacher.

Student teaching is really a job. Take it seriously. How you dress should be professional. How you act should be professional. Be observant of your teacher. Student teaching is a golden opportunity to hone your teaching skills and learn new ones.

Your lead teacher's opinion matters. Be a good listener. Offer your opinion in a professional way. And yes, you should offer some opinions. Remember that you are not a regular member of the staff. Interact with other staff members, but do not get involved in anything that may be controversial, like teacher lounge gossip. You are there to become a teacher.

Cooperation is the key to winning the student teaching game. Be expected to go the extra mile. You will probably have to get to school early, and not leave until late. Always be in a cheerful, helpful, listening mood. You want to be the best student teacher the school has ever seen. This is a good way to get a foot in the employment door. Principals will take notice.

If you know you are going to be a doing a fantastic lesson, invite the principal to observe you if you can. Get to know the principal. It never hurts to ask for a letter of recommendation. If they don't see you, they can't know how great you are.

Even though you are not part of the staff, you should participate in all school activities. Like assemblies, staff meetings, even evening programs. You want to be seen as a team player and a supporter of students and staff.

Wow your lead teacher. Strive to go above their expectations. Be well organized. Gather any materials, copies, and resources well in advance. Show up at school well prepared. You can never go over things enough. Better to check and recheck your work than miss something in the middle of a lesson.

Don't be confrontational with your lead teacher. You will probably see some things you don't like. But remember, it's not your class or school. Be friendly when giving your opinions. Expect a little unfairness or what you seem is not right. Do not argue with the lead teacher. Don't complain to the principal about the teacher. Always discuss your concern first with the lead teacher. Don't sweat the small stuff. Teaching can be hard and tiring. If you really have a major problem, and cannot contain yourself, always talk to the person in charge of student teaching. This is probably a faculty member of your college or university.

Remember, student teaching is for listening and learning. Make the best of it and it could lead to a teaching job!

>> How to be a teacher and get a teaching job.

>> Tips for new teachers.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Classroom Discipline

Classroom discipline is what kills a lot of teachers. Or at least a good implementation.

It is the middle of the term now, and school is well underway. How is your classroom discipline going? Are your classes under control? Are students actively learning with few or no disruptions? If so, you are good to go! It was probably a lot of hard work. If your classroom still needs work, there are some tips below.

It is difficult for a teacher to start a new discipline plan in the middle of a term. You may have to just wait it out, and start fresh after Christmas break. That is doable, but it means struggling until then.

There are a couple of things you can do to help get the classroom discipline get going. First and foremost, your classroom management MUST be in place. This is where to look first. Your classroom must run like clockwork, and be a repetitive system that students know. Sounds boring, but it's not. The more your students are in a routine, the better for the teacher. Visit our classroom management page for tips.

The first classroom discipline tip is to keep students busy. A student that is busy, is a student that is not acting out.

Also, don't go for a quite as church classroom. Most of the time this is not needed. Teachers somehow equate a quiet classroom with a disciplined classroom. It's not. It's just a quiet classroom with little going on. You want your students engaged. Engage your students, your discipline problems melt away. Read our student engagement page.

You must also be interacting with your students. Too many teachers pass out a worksheet, then yell at the class to keep working quietly. Don't do that. Instead of a worksheet, wander around the room. Ask questions. Get answers. Let your students help with the teaching. You don't have to collect work or homework everyday. You can grade by participation. Less paper work for you is less stress.

There are two big tips for classroom discipline.

1)Don't sweat the small stuff. Not every student behavior needs a detention or calling out. Don't escalate small things. 99% of all behavior problems are indeed small. Don't ignore them, but don't escalate them. A lot of students are looking for a fight. They relish escalating it. Don't let them.

2)Call home. Most parents will step in. But don't call home to complain first. You must build a relationship with parents BEFORE calling home. In fact, if you call all parents on a regular basis, your students will know that there parents are involved. This alone lowers behavior problems. Start out each new term by calling all parents. It does not take as long as you think. One to two minutes a parent is fine, just to make contact. The time you put in on this is time you will not have to deal with discipline problems.

>>Be sure and visit our Classroom Discipline Tips Page.

>>Home Loans for Teachers.

>>Emergency backup power supply with a power generator.