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.