Thursday, November 26, 2015

Teachers and Restroom Breaks

Bathroom breaks. How many teachers fret over students asking and taking bathroom breaks?
Guess what...it's no problem for even an inexperienced teacher if they realize one thing: Restroom breaks are a nonissue.

Too many teachers stress out over small things. Restroom passes are one of those. So, if you are a teacher and wondering how to make restroom breaks go away, here are some tips.

First, you really need to check with the school and district to see what their policy is. They may not even have one and leave it to the logic of the teacher. Logic. That's how to tackle the dreaded restroom break.

If a child is under the age of 7, they should probably be allowed to go whenever they want. Why get some mad parent ranting at you for Johnny or Susie wetting their pants? No reason. Children of that age are no yet out to game the system. They will not just make a game of it. More on that later.

Upper elementary is when restroom breaks become iffy. But again, use some logic. Sure, they are still young enough to have some potty problems. Again, no big deal. This is the age when rules for breaks becomes an issue. And they may try and game the system. Do not make the rules written. Any written rule is probably not enforceable all the time, so why write one? (You should not have written rules anyway, see below.) Let logic take over. If you have never made restroom breaks an issue, or even mentioned it, chances are, your students won't either. But 8 to 12 year olds are now big enough and well potty trained. Stress going to the restroom before school, during recess, and at lunch. They go then, most will never need to go later. Stress this at each break! Also mention that you will not allow anyone to go to the restroom 15 minutes after recess or lunch ends.

Also, you will not allow students to go 10 minutes before the bell rings. So what does that leave? Guess what? About 30 minutes of classroom "potty time." That's not a very big window. And use this trick. When someone asks to go, say you will let them, but in 5 minutes. Chances are, if they really have to go, they will ask in 5 minutes. If not, they will forget about it. Tell them you won't allow a student to go until 5 minutes has passed since last student went. Again, these are unwritten but you have told them over time. Soon they will get the picture. You seem to let students go whenever they want, and, they know to relieve themselves at the breaks. It's now a nonissue.

Here's more teacher logic. Befoer school recess, lunch, and maybe 2 more recesses or PE during the day. That's almost 5 times a day for a child to use the restroom. Why should they even need to when in class?

Upper grades, like middle and high school, same technique. Most middle schoolers and high schoolers are not in class more than 45-55 minutes. Same rules as above.

If you do not allow students to EVER use the restroom, they will think it's unfair and game the system. You can even have a timer for time to be gone. Maybe even allow each student one(1) restroom break each month.

Sure, emergencies happen. Any teacher should be able to tell when a student has a real emergency. I hate to admit it, but maybe girls get more of a break.

If you don't make restroom breaks an issue, the students won't either.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Teacher Survey


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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Teacher Motivation


A lot can be said for motivating your students. You sure want them to be in your classroom eager and ready to learn. But how about teachers? Do you nee a little motivation? Many of us do! So let's get started on being a motivated teacher!

Think about your job as a teacher. You have perhaps the most important job in the world: Educating young people who will be the next generation of leaders. Isn't that enough motivation right there? The child you teach may be President someday. Or a famous actor, rock star, or win a Nobel Prize. Wouldn't it be great to be remembered as making a difference? The next group of leaders starts with you, a teacher!

How many people are relying on you? Every part of society from your student's families, to the neighborhood, to your city, to your state, to your country. Everyone is relying on YOU to successfully teach their children. Be determined to not let them down.

You chose to be a teacher. You stepped into the classroom. Why? Just to go through the motions? To be the best, you have to teach YOUR best!

You can raise the expectations at your school. If you are looked upon as a great teacher, you lift up the school as well. The reputation of a school starts with the teacher in the classroom. Are you going to be the teacher that people can say is why the school is great, or why the school is lousy?

School improvement begins and ends with the teachers.

It might not seem like it on some days, but you are making a difference each and every day. Is that difference good, or is it bad? Are you bettering your students and school, or are you adding fuel to the fire of poor performance?

Pat yourself on he back. You might want others to recognize you, but let's be honest. Many teachers think they have a thankless job. Well give yourself some credit! Be proud that you chose the best job in the world. Celebrate your accomplishments on a daily basis. Pat yourself on the back at the end of each day for what you have done!  We want our students to have intrinsic rewards. Well, so should we!

Pump up your fellow teachers. As you spread a little cheer around the campus, others cannot help but be lifted up. Raise the spirits of other teachers, and you raise the spirit of the profession.

Now, you might want to go to the top. That is, ask your principal and district officials if possible, what can be done to make teacher's jobs better, and recognize them. Have a teacher of the month. Special parking place. Have students make cards for teachers. Free coffee in the break room? It would not cost much to drop off a teacher care kit each once in a while...like extra pencils, markers, paper, etc. Ask the PTA to do some sort of teacher appreciation. Get a few teachers together and brainstorm.

In the end, you have to be motivated on your own to be determined to be the best teacher ever. What are you waiting for?

>> How to motivate students.

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Schools need alternatives to college readiness


Not every student will go to college. Not every student will need college. Every student does need a high school diploma.

About 66% of high school grads go to some sort of college. That does sound like a large number, but let's dig deeper/

Only about half who enroll in a 4 year college are still there a few years later. So that 66% figure above seemingly drops in half.

How about the drop out rate? It is somewhere between 13% and 7%, depending on race.

This means that literally millions of kids each year either do not start college, or finish.

Are we making it more difficult for the average student to want to finish high school if we continue to push college? College degrees vary in giving the earner a career, and certainly add to their debt load. College is just not practical for many of our students. So why do we keep pushing it?

There are careers that we need that do not require a college degree. They need training, even on the job. These careers go from plumbers, electricians, carpenters, to food and service industry. We need trained people to do millions of jobs daily. Judging by the local freeways and highways, we sure need a lot of truck drivers.

Those jobs mentioned above do need some sort of technical training. Wouldn't it be great if we offered that in high school? Having a way to funnel our students to good paying careers right out of high school? Billions of dollars is spent in trying to prepare our students for a 4 year university, leaving out a good chunk of our student bodies. I would be discouraged if I were not sold on college. I would feel like I am being told I have no future.

We do our students a disservice by not giving them options. We need to start partnering with good technical schools and junior colleges that offer needed programs. No, we are not talking about useless ripoff "colleges" that con students in, take their money, then close. We are talking about good jobs that are needed now. Construction workers, truck drivers, LVNs, and other medical professions like respiratory therapist.

When we graduate kids that have no future, or worse, allow them to drop out, we are putting society at risk. We now have lots of young people without futures. Let's give them one.

This will have to start at the state level, perhaps federal. It will take money and program development. We as educators need to get the ball rolling by talking to our school board and elected officials across the board.

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Friday, September 25, 2015

Teacher Jobs


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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Planning for a Substitute Teacher


Teachers sometimes will be absent. With seminars, illness, and family concerns, teachers will need to take a day off. However, always remember that the best person in your classroom to teach, is you. You owe it to your students that a day will not be wasted just because you are not there.

If the absence is planned, make lesson plans that any sub can handle. They are not you, so don't expect them to be as good at teaching your material as you. But it should be academically related to what you are presently teaching.

Worksheets are fine in this case. Make them doable with little guidance, and be done alone. It's not a good idea to leave group activities for a substitute teacher. Discipline can be a problem.

Bookwork is fine, as long as you know each student will have a book with them. Older kids tend to fool around when passing out books, and getting them back on he shelf.

Be sure any bookwork is due by the end of the period or class. If it is not, students will not work and just want to play around.

Emergency substitute lesson plans should always be available. Leave them in a drawer or cabinet for easy access. Inform other teacher and the office where they are. Keep these plans up to date. If students think it is a throw away day, then it will be.

Elementary teachers can probably leave modified plans for all subjects. But remember, they cannot be a perfect replacement for you.

Tips for planning for a sub:

-Always have plans. Never make a sub wing it.
-Be sure and make the work gradeable in some form.
-Task should relate to current work.
-Make things as easy as possible for the sub teacher to follow and implement.
-Leave extra handouts for early finishers.
-Allow sub to modify anything, but make the sub accountable for turning in student work.
-It's not play time or a free day.
-Inform the sub of any special tasks or needs for the school and class.
-Leave a treat for the sub...a cookie, candy bar, etc. Make them feel special.
-A sub teacher is a professional. Treat them as such.
-Don't expect the day to go perfectly.
-Resist the urge to ask students for names of problem students. You already know who they are.
-Leave details about your teachers box, dismissal, duties, handouts, etc.

If you really want to know how to plan for a sub teacher, become one yourself. School districts make it possible for regular teachers to sub on days they can. Better still, if you are planning to be a teacher, work as a sub. It will open your eyes.

>> Read tips for substitute teacher.




Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Teachers should watch what they say in front of students


Everyone has a bad day, including teachers. I have heard many teachers start making excuses in front of their class. Bad idea. You are telling students that you are not prepared and the class might not be much. Instead, be prepared! Even if you think that the class might not go well, it is your duty to make it as best you can.

Avoid any and all statements as to why the class might not go well.

It is your job to give students the best possible lesson you can. They get one chance. Making up for lost class time later will always fail.

Be well prepared in advance. You should never be frantically lesson planning the night before, let alone that morning.

Your classes should already be structured so that you are not talking the whole time. The more you kill yourself in class, the more bad days you will have.

Teachers do not need to complain to their students about lack of materials. Talking about how bad the school and district are should not be done. This also holds for when you are talking to other teachers. Doing so just lowers the bar. You make your students feel as if they are going to get a second rate education. That should never be tolerated, no matter how bad things go.

Always have some emergency lesson plans available, make them easily found and easily implemented.

At the start of each chapter or section, prepare materials in advance that will reinforce the concepts without much effort on your part. Make it to last at least one class period. That way, on a day you don't feel up to par, you can dig some of these out.

Creative teachers can find ways of teaching without the need to constantly stand and talk in front of the class.

Put a high stool at the front of class. Use it as often as you need to. (Avoid sitting behind at your desk.)

If you are sick and can't make it through, or emergencies arise, call in. Again, have emergency sub plans already there.

Sometimes, however, it is better to show up and give your kids a half effort. A half effort on your part is better than a full effort from a sub. We all know that a sub day can very easily be wasted.

But things happen. It is not a crime to have an off day as a teacher if you give students what they need for that day.

Your students will know when you are not feeling well or things did not go as planned. Be determined to show them that you will always do things to the fullest.

Obviously there is a difference in teaching and planning for grade levels. An elementary teacher has different plans all day. Secondary teachers mostly can do one or two. This is where worksheets will come in very handy, so long as they have a clear point to them and something that includes what they are supposed to be learning. Don't make a day of fun, nonacademic worksheets.

It is almost human to talk about bad things that happened and make excuses. A truly professional teacher will avoid that in the classroom.

> Read more about being a creative teacher and lowering your stress.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

How Teachers Can Make Teaching More Enjoyable


Many teachers realize that teaching can become quite a chore. From paperwork to parents, from colleagues to supplies, and overall working conditions. Being discouraged is not a good way to begin the teaching day. Teachers can burnout. So, what can you possibly do to make things better?

1. Go to bed early, get up early, and get to school early. The sooner you start your school day, the better. Why? Because the teachers who show up just before the bell rings, cannot possibly be prepared for kids. Some may disagree, but this shows your work ethic. You need more sleep than your students. You must be well prepared and organized. You can't do that with little sleep and no classroom time.

2. Stay after school. Get things done. Speak to parents and kids. Leave your classroom in good working order. Grade and prepare as much as possible. Home is not a great place for any of this.

3. Stop complaining. Of course things are not as good as they could be. But you took the job. You and you alone are the reason your students will learn and succeed. If you did not know that schools can be lacking and teaching was hard, shame on you. Complaining won't help. Nobody really wants to hear it anyway. Well, some do....

4. Avoid toxic teachers and staff. Don't become one of them. They are teaching killers. Why no look into what you can to improve things. Accept the things you can't change. Change the things you can. Recognize the difference. There are bad things you will just have to accept. So you must become...

5. A creative teacher. Make lemonade out of lemons. Look at the supplies and materials that are readily available to you. Make things happen out of them. It may sound like heresy, but there really is nothing wrong with spending a few dollars of you own money. The first person you should look to for "donations," is yourself.

6. Don't be selfish. It's not just about teachers. Every job comes with problems. Teaching is no different. But just like companies put customers first, you MUST put students first. Nothing else matters. Your students only get one shot. It's not a pleasant thought, and many teachers think otherwise, but you must sacrifice. There is no way around this. Teachers sometimes think that everything should be handed to them on a silver platter, and everything should be perfect. That's unrealistic.

7. Make life easier on yourself. You don't need to collect homework daily. You don't need to give out graded assignments daily. You can do oral work. Have at least one day a week that takes very little effort to plan and teach. You don't need to kill yourself.

8. Make friends with each parent. It takes little effort to call 5-10 parents a night. Be encouraging to them. Say positive things.

9. Be positive to your students. Make your class a real enjoyable learning experience.

10. You need to want to be there. Even if this means pretending. If you don't want to be there, how can you expect your students to want to be there? How many teachers and fellow staff members have you heard say how lousy of day it will be? I encountered many teachers, who even before school, were mumbling about how lousy it is. How is that going to make life different?

Teaching takes patience, endurance, willingness, eagerness, happiness, and hopefulness. Each day is new day! Forget the past, work on being better.

>> Learn how to be a positive teacher.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Top 10 Things Teachers Need in Their Classrooms


When you are putting together a classroom, we all know the usual things a teacher needs. However, there are some items a teacher should have in each classroom. Here are the top 10 things teachers need in their classrooms.

1. Hand sanitizer. Kids and classrooms together make germ factories. Protect yourself during flu season and beyond.

2. Pencils. No student should have an excuse. Just give 'em one. Sharpen them up to start the day. The school might supply a box or two. Check the classroom floor after each class. Pens and pencils seem to accumulate.

3. A radio or CD player. You can lesson plan and grade better with music or news. Your students might also get a kick out of music to work by.

4. Extra writing paper. See pencils above.

5. Extra chalk or whiteboard markers. If you write a lot on the board, you need plenty of spares.

6. Tissue paper. You know, kleenex.

7. Snacks for you. Between classes or recess, you will need a quick recharge. Don't let students know you have them.

8. Bottle of water. See #7.

9. Emergency substitute teacher plans. Have some packer somewhere that can be used in case of emergencies.

10. Yourself. Okay, things happen. That's why #9 is here. But the best teacher your students can have on any given day, is you. Be there.

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Friday, July 3, 2015

IEP Meetings do not Have to be Confrontantional or Dreaded

If you dread IEP meetings, you are not alone. Just the mere mention of IEP sends a teacher thinking of ways to either get out of it, or just put up with it and move on. But IEPs are there for a reason. They are connected to laws that must be followed. You give your parents a disservice if you do not take them seriously. Parents are your friends, or at least they should be. And did you know that IEPs give teachers things as well? Use these meetings to make friends, not enemies for all concerned.

Show up with all information you are going to use printed out and ready to hand out. Be able to prove what you are saying. Answer questions on it with tact and even tone of voice. If you don't already have copies of all school and district policies, you should. Bring them with you to the meeting. Make sure you are well aware of them all. Some parents will know the ones that they need by heart. Do you? If someone talks about how things have always been done, and the written policy is different, ask to see it.

The time for these meetings is pretty short. Always say you understand and are willing to go in depth more in a different meeting and settings. Always ask for a date and time.

You will be asked to make accommodations and use other techniques for some children. Know exactly how you will implement them and/or how you are expected to implement them. Don't say they are impossible. Just express any concerns you have in a reasonable manner, not confrontational. You will be expected to follow the IEP! Now is your time to modify it if you can.

Always be prepared to explain what is helping. Don't concentrate on the negative all the time. Showing that you have victories is to your advantage. Talk about your personal strengths and teaching abilities that can be used.

Don't tell anyone they are flat out wrong. Don't allow yourself to be called flat wrong. In response, call it a misunderstanding. Explain your information, where it came from, and what there's is.

Never tell a parent that you, the school, or the district, just does not have the wherewithal to implement all that is needed in the law. You are all actually expected to do it. Everyone MUST work together. The school, teacher, and parent. Start getting all sides to contribute with their responsibility. If parents perceive that everyone is working for them, they will not be so quick as to nitpick each and every letter of the plan. The law is really there to help the child, not punish schools. Schools must provide all services that are warranted.

This one is huge. There MUST be a person of authority who can make final decisions. Period. And that means decisions on the cost and staff that will be needed. I would never show up at a meeting without such a person.

Parents will show up with things that they see are not going well. Politely set up a meeting with the parents as to how things can go better. If there's time in the meeting, do it then. But don't be blindsided. If you don't know that a parent thinks Johnny or Susie are getting too hard homework that can't be done, shame on you if the first time you hear of it is in an IEP meeting.

Someone (teachers?) will always chime in how some things are going to be impossible. Parents do not like to hear that. Instead, have several proposals that can be used in place of something that seems, "impossible."

Above all, don't panic. You don't need to feel under the gun. Relax and work things out. But you need to make sure IEPs are reasonable for you to. Speak up and have amiable dialogues about you have trouble with.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Monday, June 1, 2015

Traits to be a good teacher





One size does not fit all for teachers. That is, students come in all varieties of learning styles and backgrounds. Teaches also come different as well. But a child stepping into a classroom should expect certain things from a teacher. All teachers should have basic traits that are conducive to learning and teaching. Students rarely get to choose their classroom environment. You as the teacher are their one and only hope for the grade or subject they are in. So, what really makes a teacher do well enough so that all students are able to learn?

The teacher is a leader, not a drill sergeant. Leadership from a teacher is so much better than what a football coach does, driving their students like cattle.

Teachers keep it real. He or she is not fake. They are humble and unpretentious, but they demonstrate they have expert ability.

A teacher is a servant, not thinking about themselves first, but their students.

A teacher always shows kindness and is never harsh.

A teacher has obvious for a love of being in the classroom, and enjoys being there teaching in the company of students.

A teacher is even-handed, ethical, compassionate, amiable, sympathetic, generous, and unselfish.

A teacher is optimistic, not pessimistic. Hopeful, not discouraging. Trustful, not suspicious. Poised, not easily rattled.

A teacher is forgiving, cheerful, courageous, strong-willed, but tactful.

A teacher is tolerant, open, respectful.

What kind of teacher would you want?

>> More tips to be a great teacher.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Should we be teaching cursive in schools?


The debate is that maybe cursive writing is a thing of the past and we should not be teaching it. A lot of teachers and educators can't seem to let go, and think we should be teaching it. Of course we all know it is a thing of the past. With email being the number one way of communicating, writing letters has indeed become a thing of the past. But that's not really related to education, is it?

So let's take a look at the educational side. In years past, an elementary student would need to start writing stories and essays using cursive. It was a more formal way of writing. Then, around junior high, one needed to type their research papers and essays. Of course we still mostly wrote a rough draft using pen or pencil. But were we forced at that time to do it in cursive? No. Our final paper must have been typed.

That means that even in days gone by, at least the last 50 years, school-age students were not turning in essays and research reports using cursive.

We now are at a stage where nobody has a need for it. Everything revolves around computer, tablet, or smartphone keypads. No writing of any kind is required. Even at a very early age. Of course some sort of writing is needed. We scribble notes, maybe send cards, and young kids in elementary school still need some sort of writing.

But is cursive handwriting really needed? Not today. I can't say the last time I saw a cursive note written. We jot things down, printing things with little thought.

Before some teachers go bonkers with no cursive, they must come to grips with the fact that it is a thing of the past. If teachers thought about the past, they might be more readily convinced that cursive is indeed, a thing of the past. Here are some of the things that you might not have thought of.

Girls were taught how important it was to sew and do needlepoint. I doubt if any teacher would want to require that. Students used slate and chalk. We certainly do not want to go back to that. In fact, educators are screaming to use online textbooks! Colleges, and some high schools, are doing many classes online.

When I was a kid, using a slide rule was a needed skill. I challenge anyone today to tell kids that they need to know how to use a slide rule.

We do not actually write the way we did even 25 years ago. Of course we need to have kids work on things in school that are needed. We have changed many things. There really is no need for a child to struggle with mastering cursive. Perhaps to appease some teachers, kids could get a quick lesson, but not be required to use it.

It's just a fact that adults do not use cursive. There is no reason to require it in school. 60 years ago, Latin was required. Who today would want to force their students to learn Latin? We need to let go.


>> Free worksheets

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Common Core Teaching Tips

Are you a teacher dealing with common core standards? Perhaps you are struggling or looking for ways to improve your classroom experience. Remember, common core standards are just that, standards. Good teaching has not gone out of style or replaced. But many teachers have not been taught good teaching practices in college. Doing the common core actually requires quite  bit of what one should call good teaching techniques.

First, many teachers have trouble getting students to collaborate on anything. Many don't even want to. But having students work together and help each other should be in every classroom. You cannot reach all students at once. Many students quickly grasp the material and can pass that along. If you were not doing this before, you should now. We will leave it up to you at this point to seek help on how to do group activities. One important tip is not NOT let students choose their own groups. You must divide them up evenly, with a good student in each group, as well as poorer students passed around as well. Your classroom has to be setup so that you can move quickly from groups to individual, as well as allowing the teacher to get around the classroom quickly. You won't stop "teaching" just because students are in groups. Another group work tip is to have students listen to you every few minutes. Students can get off track after awhile. So get them to look and listen to you at various times. You can answer questions and give feedback, as well as perhaps steer them back in the right direction.

Before planning lessons, look at the standards. Single out some that you know students either don't know, or will have difficulty doing. Place more emphasis on these. Also, your lessons do not need to only cover one standard. All lessons you do should included multiple standards.

You will still need to stand in front of the class and lecture. But good teaching is not just lecturing. It is engaging.  Ask questions,  get feedback,  change your voice inflection, be animated. Most teachers have not heard that being a good listener is also required to be a good learner.

Just because it's "common core," it does not mean that you can't interject your own material, ideas, and techniques.

>> Teaching Strategy for calling on students. >> Being a creative teacher.