Thursday, September 1, 2011

What teachers wish parents would do

Are you a parent? Do you know your child's teacher? Did you know there are a few things that teachers wish parents would do? Here are just some of the many things parents can do to make a teacher's job a little easier.

First of all, you have to stay in touch with the teacher. Get the teacher's email and ask questions. Above all, you have got to make sure you receive all notes and written notices and assignments sent home. It is a good idea to ask the student each day for these notes. It is not a bad idea to actually go through a child's backpack looking for relevant notes and assignments. You should not use the excuse that you did not see a notice. If your school does email, see if any important notices are posted online or emailed.

Teachers wish children came to school with basis survival skills. What are these? Well, for starters, tying shoes! If you send your child to school with shoes that have laces, shame on you if the child cannot tie them alone. Yes, we know you like to take care of your child, but you also need to make them independent.

Turn off the TV, video games, and computers for at least a little while in the afternoon or evening. Children need active playtime and also time to study and do homework. Unplugging and playing active games will teach them skills as well.

Take a personal interest in your child and their day. Have conversations with them specifically about what they did. It will help your child grow and let you in on what goes on at school. You and your child both need this. Do this daily, and the talks will become longer, more meaningful, and maybe set the stage for lifetime communication.

Just for fun: The Truth About teachers!

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

>>Average Teachers Salary.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Teachers, put down the books and do something!

Ever hear students say how boring school is? That's probably the number one complaint. Not that they hate school, exactly, but that they are bored. Or do things that are just not worthwhile as far as they are concerned.

So teachers, put down the textbook and give them something to do!

Before we go any farther, let's stop for a minute. You can't just have fun. The district and state have mandated curriculum. So everything you do must be introducing or enforcing state standards.

Here are some examples of what you can do to make your instruction interesting. And students do not have to know that the core curriculum is involved!

Have a paper free day. Even a whiteboard, overhead, or chalkboard free day. Let the whole class do a discussion on a topic. This works well for social studies and history, but other subjects can do it as well. The trick is to weave some state standards into the discussion. No writing. No collecting. No grading. All students who are in class that day get credit. That's makes it easy for you as well! You'll be amazed at how the discussion twists and turns. You are the facilitator, pointing out things that are indeed part of the curriculum.

Let them do an art project. Any subject can do this. For example, math students can do a drawing using only rectangles, parallel lines, etc. and measurements must be given. How are the shapes related? You can come up with more on your own. History could be drawing an artifact, or even a whole scene from a historical event. Students must be able to explain their picture. A picture is worth a thousand words. Other subjects can be creative as well. It does not have to be a picture. It could be a collage, a mobile, anything that has some value for the standards. Art is not just for art class.

For elementary students, there is more to choose from. You can have an outside garden. Learning about insects, flowers, plants, rocks, etc. You can have indoor plants. Assigning students to care for them. Students could even keep a small plant on their tables. Small animals are another. Take them outside for a walk around the school grounds. Have your students read to each other. You could dress up as historical characters. Learn and cook food. Craft projects are certainly something any subject could have.

This is a short article, meant only to get you interested in letting your students do something. Put down the textbook and give them some real hands-on learning. As a teacher, you should be able to expand the list above and never hear a student say they are bored in your class again.

>>Engage your students.

>>College Money Secrets

>>Backup power in an emergency-Power Generators.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Free rewards for students

Yes, that's right FREE! If you teach, you know how you can really spend money on your classroom for things like rewards. Anything from candy to stickers, from toys to pens or pencils. While we always look for cheap rewards bought in bulk, we still are spending money. And maybe putting the wrong impression on students. That they need a sore-bought reward in order to behave. So what do you do? Is there really free rewards that teachers can pass out? You bet there is! Keep in mind that these free rewards are best suited for elementary school classrooms.

The teaching rewards handed out will be suited for tables, individuals, or maybe the whole class. Before we begin with the rewards, we should mention that we are not going to talk about how and when to give them out. That is entirely up to the teacher withing class and school rules. So, here we go!

Free student rewards!

Lunch with the teacher. You can have students eat in the classroom with you, or sit at a lunch table next to the reward winners.

Going to recess early. Obviously you must check with the school rules and you must be on duty until the regular recess begins.

Go for a walk on the school grounds on a nice day. Again, it must be within the rules. You can even disguise it as a fun activity and put a little teaching in it as well.

Have a special piece of clothing or accessory that can be worn in class. You really need to be careful about this one. Special hats may be a problem with hygiene. There are things like vests that may be safe. Even a large necklace.

Teacher's helper. This student gets to pass out papers and other things during the day.

A special desk location. Have a desk in a special place, like next to the teacher's desk that is a "special" seat. Make it special by decorating it and making it fancy colors or theme.

A stuffed animal day. Students are allowed to bring their favorite stuff animal to school and sit with it all day long. This can be individual or class reward.

A great note or phone call home. Send special notes about students or call home for great work and behavior.

Board eraser. Let a student erase the board all day long when you finish.

Visit another classroom. If you have older students, say 3rd grade and above, chances are the kindergarten teacher would allow them to visit to help. Kids love helping out. Maybe even other grades will allow your students to come and "help" out in their classrooms too.

The school you are working at probably has supplies needed for some of these "free" rewards.

Hopefully after reading this list, you can now come up with more on your own!

>>How to motivate students.

>>Confrontational students.

Thanks for visiting the Teachers Blog. Be sure and visit for more great teaching tips!


Monday, July 11, 2011

New Teachers, Test Scores, and other Myths

A lot has been written and broadcast over the past several months about unions and tenure. How tenure is keeping bad teachers in and layoffs are keeping good teachers out.

The myth is that veteran teachers are bad and new teachers are better. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Each teacher must be looked upon as an individual. Too many times when you see a new teacher get laid off, you think that the district just let go a fantastic teacher that would have changed the world. We know that's just not the case. New teachers can be bad. Very bad. They can also be good. Very good. But we seem to equate "new" teacher with "great" teacher. We can't in reality do that.

Students only get one shot. We can't say because a teacher is new, enthusiastic, and has different ideas, that suddenly we have a great teacher. This makes us look at veteran teachers as being something less. That they are old, tired, and do things in ways that are not conducive to learning. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Is the system unfair? Perhaps. But in education, experience counts for a lot. There are things that a teacher must learn and master over time.

The system may need to be changed. But we need to stop villifying veteran teachers as a whole. And just because a teacher is new, does not make them effective.

Which leads to standardized test scores. LAUSD is using a value added system to find effective teachers. Test scores are one part. People keep complaining about teachers teaching to the the test. Nothing could be further from the truth either. Effective teachers teach the state mandated curriculum in effective ways that get results on standardized tests. They don't teach to the test. In fact, many teachers that may actually "teach to the test" are not effective at offering up the curriculum, and, their students do poorly.

One key ingredient in successful test taking, is interest and enthusiasm. Teachers that are effective will instill a responsibility in students to do their best. Not just sleep walk through the test.

Standardized testing is here to stay. It is not right that teachers complain about them. Many careers, from plumbers to doctors, and lawyers to contractors, must pass tests. Students cannot get a drivers license without passing a written, multiple choice test. Is a high school education any less valuable than a drivers license? If we can demand that our drivers on the highways pass a written test, how more so our students?

>Home Loans for Teachers

>How to be a Teacher and Find a Teaching Job

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Teachers and Homework Policy

The L.A. Unified School District just made a major district wide policy change regarding homework. No teacher can count more than 10% of a student's grade from homework.

There were several reasons for this. They don't want students passing classes and getting credit from busy work. Teachers, admit it. Your homework most of the time is busy work.

Teachers should be grading students on skills and performance, not completed work.

Do you know another perk from this policy? Teachers may feel a little better when they don't assign homework. Less work to collect, grade, and record. Less work for you is a good thing.

Not all students have a home life or situation that is conducive to doing the many types of homework teachers are inclined to give. The best homework for all students, is work that can be done by everyone.

You don't want to saddle students with work just because. Sadly, many administrators and principals want teachers to assign tons of homework.

And how about teachers who give homework as a punishment? (Most students feel it is a punishment anyway.) It makes students think badly about school and school work. If it is seen as a punishment, how eager are students to show up for your class? You want a positive classroom as much as possible.

Homework should never be a drudgery or an onerous chore. It should be an enriching, enjoyable learning experience. Don't you think it's silly to give out 50 of the same problems? Math teachers are most guilty of this.

The best place to do 50 problems is in your class. You are the teacher and facilitator. What help can the students really get outside of class?

Don't assign homework on a Thursday night. This will give you less to collect and grade over the weekend. Your weekends should be as free as can be to lower your stress.

>>Read more tips on teachers creating and assigning homework.

>>Lower Teacher Stress.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Teachers and Summer "Vacation"

What is the first thing teachers should do over any summer break? Take a vacation. The school year is a long and grueling one. Teachers need to recharge. Even if this means just relaxing at home, you need to relax and enjoy life. Set aside two to four weeks to do nothing but rest and relaxation.

You may choose to earn extra money. Teachers can tutor students, or maybe even teach a class a local college. Many community services need volunteers in various programs. Work with kids at your church. If you are a newer teacher, any extra interaction with kids in an educational setting is good experience. But remember to set aside that vacation time. They say that students suffer and forget when they are off for three months or so. Well, the same thing happens to teachers. Teaching is an art and a skill. It takes practice.

Teachers should take time to reflect over the last school year. Decide what worked and what did not. What did you have problems with? How can you get better? Summer break is a perfect time to regroup and rethink your teaching strategies. If you have never done a diary or log book, you should start out next year with one. You will write down failures, successes, and questions that you had during the school term.

Read some teacher books. These can be teaching tips or even inspirational stories from other teachers. No reason to just read the latest crime novel while sitting on the beach. Make your summer reading list one that will make next year successful. >>Best books for teachers.

Set aside a part of your closet or drawers for newly found teaching tools. On your vacation travels or trips, you may go to museums and other educational venues like zoos or national parks. Pick up literature, pictures, books, and other things that you may be able to use in your classroom. Many of these items are free. Check out the gift shops for paid items.

Stay in the loop with other teachers. Teachers need support from other teachers. Teachers can also be support to others. Stay in contact and even meet with them.

Teachers should never let a summer be wasted. When people tell you that you have three months off, remind them that you are not really taking it off. You are learning and improving. Whether you are a veteran or new teacher, you need this time to prepare. Remember how many times you said last year that you had no time?

As soon as you know what grade and subjects you are teaching next year, start preparing. Get copies of any new textbooks. Start the first four weeks of lesson plans. Wouldn't you like to start off the school year with four weeks of planning done?

Think about that as you begin your summer! As soon as one year ends, teachers should be getting ready for the next!

>>Home loans for teachers.

>>Free worksheets for your classroom!.

>>Going back to school? Get college money help..

Monday, June 6, 2011

Teachers and ARM Mortgages

Teachers normally have long-term and stable jobs. Yes, some have been suffering layoffs recently, but teachers are still prime candidates for home loans. When considering a home loan, and adjustable rate mortgage, or ARM, will be an option. Teachers need to know why or why not an ARM is attractive.

Most teachers plan on a long career. Many choose to be at the same school for years. This alone is a reason to not be enticed into an ARM adjustable rate mortgage.

An ARM will give you a very low interest rate for a set number of years. Typically five. After that the interest rate can go up, down, or stay the same. The benefit is that you get a low payment for five years. The trade off is a higher payment that may be unaffordable.

Why are teachers not a good candidate for ARM mortgages? Because one of the reasons to get an ARM is the home buyer is normally looking to move after a couple of years. Teachers are stable and don't move often. If you know you will be staying in your house for many years. stay away from an ARM.

Teachers are also college educated and need to look at the history of mortgage rates. One enticing reason for an ARM is the chance at getting a lower interest rate. Well, there is no such guarantee. Interest rates rise and may rise quite high.

Teachers who do a little research will also know that home prices do not keep going up and up. This is another come-on for ARM mortgages. The enticement is that your home will increase largely in value, then you can refinance for a better deal after five years. This has caused many home owners to lose their homes. Their homes did not increase in value. In fact, they dropped.

Now these homeowners were stuck with a mortgage payment that increased and a home that dropped in value.

This history is recent and should not be ignored.

Even if you think you will move in a couple of years, what happens if the home value drops? You will not have built any equity and will be selling a house for less than you owe.

Teachers should really look close at their home buying choices. Nothing beats a fixed 30-year rate.

When does an ARM make sense? It rarely makes sense given the recent mortgage crisis. It would make sense if you are planning on selling your home after a couple of years AND you were absolutely certain that the home would increase in value. If not, and those are big ifs, you are gambling.

Teachers have stable, long term careers. Make your home buying choices the same.

>>Home loans for teachers.

>>Free worksheets for your classroom!.

>>Going back to school? Get college money help..

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Teachers should make their tests fair and balanced

One of the common complaints of students is that the tests are not fair. They don't know what to study. They don't recognize the material on the test. They didn't study that.

Teachers can and should be ready to make their tests fair. You want to give every student a fair shot at passing, especially those that are making at least the minimal effort to learn. This does not mean making the tests easy. It means that students should not be blind-sided by test questions. Every question should be very familiar to those students that have studied and paid attention. Remember, not every student can be an "A" student.

So, how do you go about making your tests fair? First, let's use a general percentage of 70% as a passing grade. That means that 70% of the questions you ask MUST be ones that the average student can get correct. Those would be your "C" students. Every student should be able to pass the test, provided they did satisfactory work and study.

How about the advanced students? You don't want to make 100% of the test average questions. Just 70% as above. If your "B" is 80%, that means 20% of the questions will ones that are a little more advanced. A student must make some extra effort to be awarded a "B." As far as the other 10%, those are the advanced questions. Which will mean that a student that earns an "A" will actually deserve it. They will truly be an "A" student.

You can take even further steps to make your tests fair. Here are some tips:

Have students come up with test questions. Out the students in groups and have each group come up with two questions. Print them and pass them out to the students. Tell them you will pick several questions from this list.

Want to avoid collecting and grading homework? Give the students a homework problem list for each section in the book, and tell them that you will pick 50% of the test questions from this list. The questions will look exactly like they appear in the book. A wise student will then have an incentive to work on homework problems. The test will actually check who has been studying. If you don't want to do this for a test, it certainly makes sense for a quiz. Make the quiz 100% of questions off of the list. Don't collect homework. Just give one quiz a week.

At various times during your weekly lectures, point out questions that are sure-things for a test or quiz.

Give the students a choice. Sometimes students study one thing and overlook another. Average students will do this. So, give a test of 20 questions and tell the students to pick 15 of their choice to answer.

Don't count all points on an exam or test. This is better than giving a bonus question. Most bonus questions are answered by luck. You don't want lucky students passing. But you can give everyone extra points this way: Let's say the entire test is worth 60 points. You tell the students you are counting it out of 55 points. Everyone gets roughly 5 free points. And yes, they can get over 100%. Again, that's rewarding your best students but not penalizing your average ones. This will also eliminate any arguments over whether a question is fair or not. You are giving them a freebie. It will also avoid the students who demand to have a question regraded. You simply tell them because of the free points, no regrades.

Remember, the best thing you can do to make the tests fair, is to present material that will be tested in a way that the average student can learn, and get a passing grade.

>>Teachers home loans.

>>30 easy college money saving tips.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Teachers supplemental income sources

Many teachers are like most people. They have felt the pinch of the economic times. many teachers are cutting back or looking for ways to increase the income. For teachers, the part time job opportunities are not plentiful. But there are some creative ways that a teacher can earn more money.

Be a home teacher. No, this is not homeschool, but teaching students in the home. Most districts have a home teaching program for students who are not able to get to school. This can be due to broken legs, sickness, or other reasons. Normally the in-home schooling is temporary. You basically drop off work, make assignments, and grade so the student does not fall behind. Since this is done after school, the hours are perfect. Ask your district if they have such a program.

Become a coach or other leader. These are part time positions, after school, that pay. Assistant coaches may be paid as well. Some clubs that are school sanctioned need coaches or learners. They may come with pay as well, especially if you travel to sites for competitions. Like academic decathlons.

You can be a private tutor working for yourself, or even be hired by a company like Kumon or Kaplan.

If you are off track or on break, you may sign up to be a substitute teacher. Many districts give full time teachers precedence when calling subs. If you work at secondary schools, many times you can even sub for one period during your prep time.

Speaking of secondary teachers, many times they may be short a teacher. You can volunteer to teach an extra class during your prep time. In other words, instead of working 5 periods with 1 off, you work all 6.

Although real estate has taken a dive, weekends are good for working as a part time real estate agent.

If you are a teacher who needs a little extra money, consider your options in the teaching field. There may be some part time income already available to you from your district.

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

>>Home loans for teachers.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Make your classroom a little greener.

It's just a small step, but teachers can make their classrooms a little greener. This will also instill a little more green attitude in your students, and maybe they will be a greener generation.

Use less paper in your classroom. Have a paper free day once in awhile. They can do things on the board and answer questions orally. Having a worksheet free day is actually good teaching, as well as not using paper or electricity from the copy machine.

Put recycle containers in your room for paper scraps, glass, plastic, maybe aluminum. Students can recycle the things they bring from home. Some teachers have students pick up trash on school grounds, but this takes planning. You don't want students injuring themselves or getting sick from garbage.

Have students bring refillable water bottles. This will save on trips to the drinking fountain as well. It may have unintended consequences, like more trips to the rest room. You may limit the time they can sip.

Bring plants in as decorations. Your students will learn to appreciate the beauty of plants. Maybe even plant some outside.

>>Learn more green classroom tips!
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>>Home loans for teachers.
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Monday, April 11, 2011

Top things teachers should never do.

Remember, teaching is a profession. You are a professional. Many times, we tend to forget that. Here are some some of the worse things teachers can do.

Scream and yell. If you want to look bad in front of your students and staff, then you will raise your voice. Sure way to shorten your teaching career. This is related to losing your temper in class. Don't do it. No matter what, keep your emotions under control. You are the teacher, boss, and leader. You can get respect without yelling.

Also on this note, classroom teachers should not single out a student and belittle them. This includes chewing them out for doing something, or not doing something. You will never brow beat a student into behaving or learning. You will only look like a foolish teacher. And quite an ineffective one at that.

This includes getting upset for every little thing. Little things happen in class. They do not all require punishment, referrals, calls to the principal, etc. Let it go. Acknowledge it, then move on. Most things you encounter in class will be very minor. Discipline is also logical. Don't make mountains out of mole hills.

Remember that you are the teacher. If you let your students control you and the class, you have lost. You will be a very ineffective teacher. You make the rules and you must stick with them.

Don't be unfair. Your tests, quizzes, and assignments should be such that the average student can get a passing grade. Grade consistently. If you grade hard, then soft, then hard, your students will play you like a fiddle.

Do not treat some students differently. They should all get the same treatment. You cannot be nice to one student, then have different rules for another.

Last but not least, do not talk about the school and staff in demeaning ways. Don't agree with students that another teacher is lousy. Don't complain about the school to your students. Don't gossip.

You must be a fair teacher, in complete control, and act in a professional manner. It's sounds simple, and it is. But teachers are human and can fall into certain modes without thinking. So be diligent!

>>Dealing with confrontational students.

>>Create Free math worksheets.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Avoid Teacher Burnout

What veteran teachers know, and new teachers will soon come upon, is that teaching is an exhaustive career. It is not just time in the classroom, but outside. And in between classes. Your teaching day is busy from sun up until sundown, and even later. You will have a short career if you do not do things to relax and make things easier. Here are some tips to avoid teacher burnout.

Teachers need sleep. A sure way to teacher stress and burnout is by not sleeping enough. You will have to get up early, no way around that. But you can set the time you go to sleep at night. You will have to gauge it yourself. What time do you get sleepy and struggle to stay awake? That's the time you need to be in bed by. Do you drag when getting up? This is a sure sign that you are not sleeping enough. Teachers not getting enough sleep makes the day drag. And you are not alert enough to really be effective. Not enough sleep can lower your immunity as well. Bottom line is, get PLENTY of sleep!

Teachers need to get a handle on work to do at home. The less work you do at home, the better. That means you must come up with assignments that are not onerous and time consuming to grade. With grading also comes recording. The best place to do this is at school. Try to grade and record during breaks, and immediately after school in your classroom. You don't have to assign graded assignments on a daily basis. Give yourself a couple of grade-free days a week. This includes homework. Do not assign homework just because. Try and not do any heavy grading over the weekend. Read some tips on assigning homework here.

Every teaching day is a new day. Start off with a positive attitude. The failures and problems of yesterday are gone. Focus on today, not the past. This means having a positive attitude in your classroom daily. If you think teaching is drudgery, then you are probably in the wrong profession. Get help from other teachers. When you go home, leave the problems of teaching at school.

Find fellow teachers to network with and talk to. Venting your frustrations is a good thing. You can be supported, and others can be supported by you. There is probably another teacher at your school who is having even a rougher time. Concentrate on what works, share, and exchange ideas. Having a support group of teachers can be very helpful.

Teachers need to realize that there are some things that will not get better. You can't change everything. Not all days will go smooth. Not all students will learn or can be reached. You need to come to grips with reality. Somethings will not change and you need to accept that. You can change your attitude!

Here are some more teacher burnout and stress resources:

>>Dealing with teacher stress.

>>Where can teachers go for help?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Do you want to be a teacher?

Many people from an early age desire to go into teaching. Adults even go back to school for a career change to teacher. Many would-be teachers think it is fun and easy. There are a few things you need to think about before making the commitment to become a teacher. Plenty of teachers quit before five years in.

The starting pay may not be that great, compared to where you are now, or what you may think you need out of college. However, teachers are not really low-payed as some have said. Their salary is quite close to other college graduates. What makes it seem like a lower paying job, is the fact that you cannot increase your pay as quick or as much as in other careers. You do have to factor in a great medical and pension benefit, and you get quite a lot of time off. It was common years ago for teachers to take supplemental work during summers. Off-track teachers can always work as substitutes. Become a teacher because you want to, not for the money.

Teaching is more than a full time job. You will welcome the holidays and time off. You will get to school early, you will leave late. You will work and plan at home. You will be grading papers and worrying about the next lesson. Teaching can become a 24 hour a day job if you let it get out of hand. If you are not sure you are up to the exhaustive time commitment, then you may not want to be a teacher.

A successful teaching career requires a thorough commitment on your part. You must be prepared to be responsible for the learning of children. If you slack off, your students will suffer. You cannot fake it. Your students get one chance at learning and you must provide the utmost educational experience at all times. If you are one that likes to call in sick, slack off, or just "get by," you may wish to choose another career. Teaching is not all fun and games.

If you feel you have what it takes, go for it! We can always use GREAT teachers!

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

>>How to be a great teacher.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tips on Lesson Planning

Successful teaching starts with a successful lesson plan. Teachers probably learned the basics of lesson planning in college, but going over some tips can be helpful. New teachers will use some sort of lesson plan template to start off. Veteran teachers probably have it memorized. Let's start the lesson plan tips.

All lessons should have some correlation to state standards. That's what your job is. To teach the state mandated curriculum and standards. Your first task is to write down what you expect the students to be able to do. That is, the lesson's objective. It is a good idea to actually state what standards you are teaching. If you do not have a copy of the standards, get one.

Next, what materials are going to be needed? This includes books, page numbers, paper, pencils, projector, white board, etc. Anything that will be needed by you and the students. Think of any potential problems you or the students may have.

Start off the lesson with some sort of activity that not only introduces the lesson, but gets the students interest. This can be anything. A question, a story, a presentation, anything that will make the students hungry for more information. Read our article on student motivation for more information.

Will the students be getting new words to learn and understand? Be sure and make a note of these and be prepared to explain the meanings and how that meaning is in context to the lesson.

What will you do to present the lesson? This will probably include some sort of lecture and demonstration combination. Allow the students to discover things on their own during this time as well. This is where good planning comes in.

In any lesson, you will need to model the behavior you want, then give the students a chance for independent practice. This can even be working with a partner.

The final part of a lesson plan will be how you determine what the students have mastered. This can be a short written quiz, or better still, orally with the class and teacher.

Tie up any loose ends by having a question and answer session.

If you are assigning homework, be sure and have this written down ahead of time. Glance over the problems. A wise teacher will go over in class any advanced problems before dismissal.

One last important point about lesson planning. Plan more than enough. You do not want dead time at the end of class with nothing to do. Keeping your students engaged and busy is one of the best things you can do for classroom management. Have something for the students to do while others are finishing.

>>Read more tips on lesson planning.

>>Create free math worksheets.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Maintain an orderly and productive classroom.

Classroom discipline and management go hand in hand. You need to maintain order while creating a good learning environment. Here are a few tips to keep things going well in your classroom.

Have few or no classroom rules. The less rules you have, the less things you will be worrying about. Students are already expected to behave properly as soon as they are on school grounds. Your classroom is no different. Almost all things that students do to disrupt class are minor and can be dealt with just a look or pause. Move on quickly. If your students know they can push your buttons, they will. Students will know that your classroom is for working, not goofing off. Don't let them win the game of disruption.

You must have a discipline plan. But less is better. You cannot be dealing with consequences all the time. Make your class conducive to learning, not goofing off. Be fair and balanced. Expect the best from your students. Give everyone a chance to pass. Make your class interesting without being entertaining. You can be humorous, but not a clown. If your students know your classroom is a place to work and be treated fairly, most of your problems go away.

Call home frequently. This is the best trick to maintain discipline.

Have a positive attitude each and every day. Treat students with respect. Want to be there to teach. Know your subject. Be over prepared. Plan your class to the fullest. Give your students reasons for wanting to learn. Get their attention and interest and keep it.

Tomorrow is another day. Forget the troubles of yesterday and move on!

>>Graduate school admission and financial aid tips.

>>Free college money help

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Teachers and Home Buying. The dangers of buying a foreclosure

Teachers for the most part have job security. Yes, times have been tough lately, but tenured teachers have job security, consistent paycheck with raises, and a good retirement system. That makes teachers a good risk for a home loan. But because the economy is bad, there are thousands of foreclosed homes one the market. Should a teacher buy a new home or a foreclosure?

Buying a foreclosed home sounds like a great deal. You get a much bigger and fancier home for a lot less money than buying new. That alone draws many people, not just teachers, to buying a foreclosed home. But beware. You may need to seriously think about what problems buying a foreclosed home can bring.

Right off the top, here is what is great about buying a new home that teachers should consider. The home will be brand new. It will come with a warranty. The builder will probably offer customization aspects at a cheaper price than what they were a couple of years ago. No work needs to be done. You just move in. Remember that new homes must follow new rules for being energy efficient, and are made with the latest building materials. Homebuilders are building cheaper homes now. But many times it is the same product, or just a little downsized. Mortgage interest rates are still low. Nothing can beat the feeling of a brand new home.

But, isn't a foreclosed home much cheaper? Can't I get a bargain for a huge home that I could not get with a new one? Perhaps. It does not always work out that way. The cheap home can become expensive. Teachers work hard for their money. No reason to rush into a cheap foreclosed home just because it's cheap. Cheap is a relative word, especially with foreclosures.

A foreclosed home may be bought as is. That means no warranty and probably a laundry list of fixer upper tasks to complete. What are some more potential problems for a teacher looking to buy a foreclosed home? Here are some more reasons to stay away from a foreclosed home.

The house is dirty and probably not very inhabitable without a lot of work.

You alone are responsible for the work that needs to be done.

Fixing up a house is not cheap. Weigh the cost and time it will take to fix up the house to what a new one would be. Don't forget the inconvenience of living in a home that is being worked on.

It may not happen often, but you may need to worry about a backlash from the previous homeowner. Who knows? Sometimes you will be buying the home while the people are still living in it.

What kind of neighborhood is the foreclosure in? If there are many, it may take years before the neighborhood comes back along with the home prices.

If you are going to have to pay for paint, carpet, cabinets, bathroom fixtures, kitchen appliances and more, why not let the builder do it and get exactly what you want, brand new?

When calculating the true cost of a home, the purchase price is not all you will be liable for on a foreclosure. Teachers should be prepared to sink a lot of money to fix it up to livable condition.

>>More information on home loans for teachers.

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Make your classroom environment student-centered.

Many teachers think the classroom is their domain. That they are the king or queen of their students. Teachers make the rules, do the lessons, and students must follow. The problem with this is that it does not create a very positive learning experience. You want students to learn, but retain that learning in a positive light. The more of an overlord you are, the more students will think of learning as a chore, not a right, nor a step to a better life.

Imagine you are a student in your classroom. How would you like to be treated? What kind of teaching style would you appreciate? How fair do you think the teacher should be?

Teachers must incorporate these concerns into their classroom.

First, it is a student's right that they have a chance to pass the class. When doing lessons, quizzes, and tests, you must be sure that all students have an equal opportunity to score the minimum for a passing grade. A and B students go the extra mile. If you are not doing lessons and instructing in such a way that all students can handle basic concepts, you need to change. If your tests are geared for advanced students, and basic students will have a tough time to pass, you need to rethink the test.

Between 60 and 70% of the questions should be basic or require little extra thought. Each student has a right to expect that they should pass the class. You can then ask more advanced and very advanced questions for the A and B students. Make your grades mean something. You must be fair.

Notice how the fairness goes to the top students as well? If all of your questions are easy, so that all have a chance at an A, then what does an A mean? Nothing. You need to be able to reward your advanced students. Being fair is one of the most important things a teacher can do.

Another simple thing that teachers can do to create a more student-centered classroom, is to have a small questionnaire at the end of the week for suggestions. Yes, they can be anonymous. Just 2 or 3 questions are enough. Like,

What did the teacher do that was effective?
What could the teacher have done that would have been better?

Having a student-centered classroom can be beneficial for classroom discipline.

>>Read teaching tips on having a positive classroom.

>>Free college money help.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Things good teachers do!

College does not teach you all you need to know to be a teacher. Some of it is on the job training. In fact, quite a bit is. There are little nuances that good teachers know and incorporate into their teaching and classrooms. You can raise the odds of you being a good teacher if you do the following.

Teachers need to have a positive attitude and want to be there. Show up to each teaching day as if it is the best day ever. Greet your students enthusiastically each and every day. Be ready and well prepared, tackling the lesson plans with fervor! Your enthusiasm will be contagious. Your students will be enthusiastic as well.

Teachers, you don't have to take everything seriously. Put a little humor into your day and lesson plans. Don't let little things bother you. The more congenial you are, the more congenial your students will be. They will see that you are not easily angered and will appreciate that. Laugh some things off, and you will lower your stress level as well!

Demand performance from your students. Don't compromise on standards or goals. You need to want your students to perform at the highest level. Don't water anything down. Demand your students perform! The more you demand, the more you will get.

Teachers must be consistent and fair. Your students must know what is expected from them on a daily basis. Get your students into a routine. This helps with your classroom discipline as well. Don't be wishy-washy. Your students will not trust you. But in being consistent, you must be fair. If you are constantly changing things due to lack of response, then you will need to change. Sometimes you have to have a little wiggle room. Sometimes teaching can be the art of compromising without looking like you are compromising. When your students know you are fair, they will perform accordingly.

Which leads to the last one. Teachers, you've got to be flexible. Sometimes thing don't go right and you have to adjust. Sometimes you will ask too much of your students and will need to alter the lesson plans. Things happen. Flexibility works hand in hand with being fair. This does not mean you treat students differently. Far from it. You treat the class the same way, being flexible for all students when necessary.

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Teachers should monitor students for possible home problems

Teaching is not just about preparing a lesson, presenting it, and grading papers. You are also the eyes and ears of possible student problems at home. It is a teacher's duty to be on the look out and recognize trouble. It is not something teachers like doing. But it is part of being a teacher, and in most cases, you are legally obligated to report certain troubling signs. The following is just a handful of troubling signs that may warrant more attention. Teachers should not ignore them.

Probably the first and obvious sign of trouble you can detect is a sleepy student. This is not just a case of a lazy student. Students are young and should be full of life. If they walk into your classroom groggy, listless, and can't stay awake in class, this is trouble.

The second sign of student problems is hygiene. Not just hygiene, but overall student cleanliness. Granted, a lot of students like wearing torn and dirt clothes, but there is a difference. If you notice a student wearing the same shirt day after day, and it gets dirtier, there may be problems. Student showing up with filthy faces and smelling is a sure sign. You see your students on a daily basis. You should be able to tell when they are lacking in basic hygiene.

Teachers need to be on the lookout for changes in behavior. You know your students just about as well as anyone. Do they suddenly change? If they were a polite student, are they now belligerent? Have they stopped doing homework? Are they showing up late to class all of a sudden? Do they now come unprepared to work? Do they look sad and uninterested? Do you notice them crying? Look for sudden and drastic changes in students' behaviors.

You must report child abuse. If you notice any injuries that just don't look like normal childhood injuries, you may need to report it. This can include things like bruises. Teachers do walk a fine line here. It may be hard to tell whether an injury is normal kid stuff, or abuse. However, abusive injuries are probably easier to detect. They just don't look or feel right. If you see injuries and any of the above, the combination may be quite telling.

Here's a couple of other tips for teachers and student problems.

Do they come to school in the winter without a coat?

What do their shoes look like?

Do they seldom have paper, notebook, pencils, or other common school items?

Remember, it's not about getting the parent in trouble. Many cases parents just can't get a handle on things, or cannot afford them. There are agencies that work with families in ways that help them, not punish them.

It is your duty as a teacher to be the eyes and ears of the welfare of your students.

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>>Be a great teacher.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Teachers are not above the rest

This will step on some toes. But teachers are not above all others. We are not god. We don't have jobs that make us better than anyone else in the world. We are not the most valuable profession. And we need to stop thinking like this.

If you work for a public school, you are a public employee. You are paid by the taxpayers. Don't the taxpayers deserve something for their money? Does walking out of class do your students any good? Where should a teacher be?

If you don't like your pay, or conditions, guess what. You don't need to be a teacher. People do not need to bend over backward for you or treat you as someone special just because you are a teacher. You chose to be a teacher. Nobody forced you. As easy as you became a teacher, you can become an ex-teacher. If you seriously don't like working as a teacher in your current position, quit. You'll do us all a favor.

For 30 years, we have seen the rise of teacher unions. And at the same time, the fall of student achievement.

We will walk off the job so we get a couple of bucks more in our pocket, but continue the status quo of high dropout rates. And when people talk reform, we whine, oh no! You can't do that to us! We're special! We're teachers! Why society just can't live without us.

Wrong. They can. If you are not there for your students first and foremost, then what kind of a teacher are you? You think being paid more makes you a better teacher? So the teachers in New York and California are much better teachers than the ones in North Dakota? Hardly. Have you looked at the achievement scores lately? What kind of a product do you put out? Then you complain about how you should not be held responsible to teach all students.

You complain about teacher tests and student tests. Thinking that somehow education and educators are different than doctors, and even plumbers. Those professions must take tests. And they are judged by the state as to what kind of product they put out. You don't want your student judged by a test, but they can't even get a drivers license without taking a written standardized test. Why should high school be judged looser? Your students need skills. It's up to you to teach them. If you don't want to, or can't, then please leave the profession. If you think paying more for your retirement makes you a worse teacher, quit. Taxpayers are your bosses. It's their money that pays your salary. If you thumb your nose at them, you will suffer the backlashes that are building against teachers and their unions.

Your students should not be left abandoned in school rooms while you picket a state capital.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Teachers, prepare for the month of March!

Teaching can be a rewarding job, but it is also tiring and stressful. While February is one of the best months, March can be one of the most stressful.

This is the middle of the school year. You are probably tired and feeling a little stressful. Because you are fresh, September and October seem to fly by. But March has no holidays and it is a long month. The time stretch between President's Day and Spring Break is quite long. If you are a new or veteran teacher, it can be quite a burnout month. Take a deep breath.

Since there is a week before President's Day, you are now aware that that will be the last good break for a while. Use it wisely. Relax. Do not take home a lot of work during this holiday. You will need it to rest. So, watch the assignments you give out and mark the due dates. Don't let anything interfere with your relaxation in this break!

This is a time to reflect on the teaching year. What has been successful? What has failed? Be determined to work on things that need improving.

Go with the long stretch! This will be a golden opportunity to not have anything get in the way of the continuity of student learning. Many teachers complain that students lose something over the summer. Well, it's the same during holidays and breaks. Be determined to really get your students down to business! You will build momentum and not have it slowed down!

Pat yourself on the back for getting through half the year! This stretch will end, then Spring Break, and boom. Next thing you know, it's Memorial Day and the last days of school!

>>Read tips on how to reduce teacher stress!

>>Going back to school? Get college money help!

Monday, February 7, 2011

February is best month to be an elementary teacher

Except for September, perhaps February is the best month to be an elementary teacher. There is so much going on.

It is the middle of the school year. You have gotten to know and love all of your students. They all know and love you. February is the one month when there is so much going on and full of things to do with your class. There will be cold days, rainy days, and snow days. Just the kind of days that say "school time."

Ground Hog day. This day can be fun. Doing a lesson on winter, spring, and the legend of the ground hog and his shadow.

Black History Month. February is Black History month and no doubt your school will have some activities going on. The perfect time to do a little history on topics that may not be main stream, but certainly worth doing.

Valentine's Day. If ever there was a fun day in school, it has to be Valentine's Day. This can be a better party day than Christmas or Halloween. Crafts and activities are just too many to do! Have fun with it.

Abraham Lincoln's birthday. No doubt Mr. Lincoln may the best known and loved of all presidents. Perfect for stories, coloring, and activities.

George Washington's birthday. Every school kid should know about Washington. The activities are endless.

The federal holiday is now called President's Day, but many state and local districts take off for both Lincoln and Washington on separate days.

What else in February? How about leap year, or non leap year? Give the kids a little calendar history as well!

Being an elementary teacher is one of the most rewarding jobs there are. And the month of February is one of the best months of the school year!

>>Find lesson plans and tips.

>>College Money Help.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Art teachers: Google creates virtual art museums

Google has created the google Art Project. For art teachers, this can be an amazing tool.

You can take virtual tours of famous art museums around the world. What makes this unique, is that you can zoom in on famous art, as if you are standing there and wandering around the museums. You can see brush strokes.

Another feature, is that you can create your own virtual collection of your favorite art.

Students and teachers can find detailed information about the art and artists. Search for specific art pieces and artists.

This is a spectacular tool for art teachers and students. Take advantage of it!

Visit at: google Art Project

>>Create a Green classroom.

>>Create free math worksheets to print out.

>>Free College Money Tips.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Teaching Tips

Here are some quick teaching tips that may make your day and teaching experience a little easier.

Show your students right off the bat what you are made of. First impressions matter a lot. If you show up ready, willing, and able to teach, you will get more respect. You must show up organized and fluent in your subject and lesson plan. Plan for enough to last the whole period. If students think you are "on the ball," you could change some bad attitudes to good ones.

Treat all students the same way, all the time. Fairness is something students are on the look for.

Don't be afraid to ask students. Hand out surveys during the year to see what they like and don't like, and ask for suggestions. Students like being part of the mix. Give them at least an impression that you value their input.

Hold your anger in. You should never yell, scream, rant, or escalate things. The very second you do that, you will lose your students and may never get them back.

Don't be boring. Don't do the same dull routine every day. Mix up your teaching styles and activities.

Get your classroom management down. Do not waste time collecting work and taking attendance.

>>Using homework effectively.

>>Teaching strategy for oral questions.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Two biggest mistakes teachers make

New teachers, and even old ones, sometimes are ripe for mistakes in their teaching procedures. Some teaching mistakes are minor and are immaterial to the overall scheme of classrooms. However, each and every teacher should be aware that there are at least two huge mistakes that can be costly.

The first is being best friends with your students. You are not a friend, but a teacher. This does not mean you cannot befriend students. Big difference. You are the adult, they are the child. You are not to become buddies. Too many teachers take the approach that being a teacher involves being a friend to every student. This "friend" definition is really more close to winning a popularity contest. Teachers err by doing things that will get students to like them, as opposed to doing things to get students to learn. Teacher must demand and get respect. If not, your whole classroom discipline falls flat or even fails. Your students actually want you to be a leader. To teach. To grade fairly. To demand that they perform to the utmost of their ability. That's your job, actually.

The other big mistake teachers make is by being very lax or have a nonexistent discipline plan. Or worse, one that is not enforced the same way all the time. You must have a discipline plan and stick to it. This is in direct correlation to the first mistake above. You cannot waiver on this. If you do not start out on the right, firm foot, you will have a very tough year. Do not think that you can get by without one, and then later, come up with one if needed. It will be too late and next to impossible. Like putting toothpaste back in a tube.

If you are a new teacher and need help, get it!

>>Help for new teachers.

>>Teacher resources on campus.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Late Homework Policies

If a teacher is going to assign homework, sooner or later a student is going to turn it in late. Or not at all and ask for an extension. What is your late work policy? Do you make it up on the fly? Many teachers do, but this is not being fair to all students. Every teacher should have a stated, clear policy when it comes to turning in late assignments.

First, check to see if your school or district has a policy about late assignments. Many do. Your homework policy cannot go against this.

Here are some more tips for teachers and collecting homework.

Collect it immediately when students enter class, or shortly thereafter. Do not collect it whenever the student wants to turn it in.

Give some credit for incomplete work. You will save a lot of trouble if you do this.

You need clear options for grading late work. Have a set policy. What penalty will it cost the student to turn in late work?

How about students who are absent? Your district and school probably have clear policies as to when a student is able to turn in work assigned or collected while they were on an excused absence.

How long will you accept late work? One day? Two days? These are important details to have down.

A good way to cut down on daily collecting of homework is to give long-term assignments. But even these must have due dates.

The mistake many teachers make is not having a set policy for late work. This will only cause problems, and student will push the limit if they know you are not firm.

It is worth repeating that your policy must be aligned with school-wide rules.

Here is a general guide.

For absent students, work should be due after the same number if days the student was absent. Most students are absent one or two days. If they were absent on Tuesday, back on Wednesday, the work would be due on Thursday. For longer absences, it is a good idea to send work home, actually. A parent or guardian can pick it up at the office.

For late homework, you need a cut off date and penalty. One day late, 10% less, two days late, 20% less, 3 days late, no credit.

The best tip as that you assign homework in such a way as to avoid a lot of students turning it in late. You could assign homework during the week, but have a due date of Friday.

Click here for more information and tips on assigning homework.

>>Create free math worksheets.

>>Handling confrontational students.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Teachers and Home Buying: Foreclosures

Tenured teachers have job security and are good credit risks for a home loan. Teachers can tale advantage of many programs when getting a mortgage. However, with the glut of foreclosed homes, there may be a desire to actually get one. There are some problems that you should be aware of when buying an abandoned or foreclosed home. Teaching is a stressful job as it is. Don't make a mistake on a home purchase.

First, remember that if a home is a foreclosure, the low price may be wiped out by any repairs you need to make. Don't buy a money pit. If a price on a home is very low, it probably needs a lot of money tossed in to fix it up. A bargain foreclosed home may not be a bargain. It may be trouble for years.

Buying a foreclosure is not as quick as buying a new home. It may take months of haggling with the bank. Offers on short sales are being rejected by banks. If you are willing to wait and haggle, you may indeed up with a great home at a low cost.

A traditional home loan on a new homes can be much safer than one bought at an auction or other sale. You don't know what dangers lurk on past financing with the properties. Avoid going to auctions in the first place. You may not be able to view the whole house and you are bidding against real estate investors.

Many new home builders are getting cheaper land and paying lower fees. This may mean the purchase price of a new home is closer to a foreclosed home than you might think. But some builders are downsizing homes to also make them cheaper, and might not have a lot of upgrades. Also, the new homes available may only be near areas with little foreclosures and good jobs. You may not be able to get a new home in the area you want.

This may be the best time in years to buy a new home.

>>More information on Teachers getting home loans.

>>VA Veterans Home Loans

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