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?

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