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?
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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.
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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.

>>VA Veterans Home Loans.

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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