Your best piece of practical advice...

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by grobanite, Mar 2, 2012.

  1. grobanite

    grobanite Rookie

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    Mar 2, 2012

    Forgive me if the mods think this thread is redundant with all the info available on the boards. Feel free to delete it if necessary.

    I'm just kind of excited. After 4 years of jobsharing in multiple classrooms, it looks like I might be getting my OWN grade 4 class this fall! Until recently, I never wanted my own classroom - I enjoyed partnering with other teachers - it made me feel less afraid of my job, knowing I had a more experienced partner working with me. However, after getting tired of fitting everything into 1-2 days a week in a class, I am excited at the prospect of having the luxury to choose my OWN class-wide systems and expectations, and having a WHOLE week to get through my various curricula! :)

    So my question is... what would be the best piece of practical advice you can think of to give me? Anything that has helped you out tremendously, saved you time, or made your life easier.

    Classroom management... behaviour management... assessment tricks... keeping kids organized... dealing with late work (get a headache with that one!)... motivating the kids... well, anything! (Especially at an intermediate level...)

    What could you share with me? :D
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Mar 3, 2012

    When you go home for the day, leave school at school. When you're not at school, do the things you like: hobbies, sports, movies, friends, whatever. If you don't find a nice and comfortable balance between work and school, you're more likely to burn out, and burned-out teachers aren't the best teachers.
     
  4. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Mar 3, 2012

    I clean my desk every single day.
     
  5. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Mar 3, 2012

    To help keep your kids organized (this worked with my 2nd graders and it works with my middle schoolers, too):

    Don't assume they know what their desks should look like. I have my kids keep books, folders, journals, pencils, etc arranged in a certain order. White board belongs on the bottom of the pile, then their literature book, followed by their social studies book, then their yellow folder for classwork, and finally their journal. Dry erase marker and eraser, pencil, and pen belong on the right hand side of their desk.

    At the end of each day, the "leader" of each group checks their teammates' desks and the team with the cleanest desks gets a point for their group.

    Also, I make sure to keep my classroom (table tops, teacher desks, counters, etc.) clean and tidy. How can I expect my kids to be neat and organized if I'm not?
     
  6. jteachette

    jteachette Comrade

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    Mar 3, 2012

    Put your materials for the next day in a pile on your desk, and your lesson plans on top. You'll always be ready for a sub, and won't have to worry about setting up for the day if you are running late due to traffic or other emergencies.
     
  7. grobanite

    grobanite Rookie

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    Mar 3, 2012

    Thanks for such quick responses! :)


    I agree. I need my downtime or I know I get grumpy.

    I'm with you on this one. My brain can't focus if my desk is disorganized. I'm afraid I'm a little Type A on this... :whistle:

    Awesome idea! You're right - some kids have no idea how to organize. Also, i LOVE the idea of having group leaders. You could give them plenty of tasks to report back, rather than have to do them all yourself.

    Yes, this is great - I do try to do this as much as possible.
     
  8. Teaching Grace

    Teaching Grace Connoisseur

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    Mar 3, 2012

    I have a tower of drawers from sterilite. Sort of like this one:

    http://www.walmart.com/ip/Sterilite-3-Drawer-Wide-Cart-White/8282897?findingMethod=rr

    My tower has 7 drawers though. I have a label on each drawer for Mon-Fri. Then I have a sub drawer and a drawer for my computer CDs. My sub drawer has a sub binder in it that is always ready just in case!

    I always plan at the end of the week or over the weekend. When I make my copies I simply put them in the correct day of the week. It works so, so well to be able to have all of my papers and materials in my drawer to just pull out and have ready to go!
     
  9. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    The two main factors are class management and prep/planning... Grading to a slightly lesser extent. It's hard to say which is more important...

    My one piece of advice is to establish the working environment of your class. New teachers often might tend to be somewhat laxed, or assume their students can do certain things (e.g. walking into the classroom). Don't. Assume nothing. Drill everything, create routines, at the start.

    As a first-year teacher, you will probably be working that much harder (i.e. and before "anyone" jumps down my throat: not saying young teachers work harder, just saying that they aren't as efficient as experienced teachers) than some of the other teachers. You don't need the headache of an unmanageable class making things worse.
     
  10. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    Mar 3, 2012

    John Lee, awesome advice. I echo the idea that management is critical. I would add that you should enjoy your students and their families. I sent home a weekly newsletter that contained advice for parents. For some reason, many parents think they know more than the teacher, so the advice put me in a superior position.


    _______________________________________________
    favorite blogs: http://ed-is-life.blogspot.com/ and http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/
     
  11. grobanite

    grobanite Rookie

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    Right. And I know the kids I would be getting already, from my current positions. There are some difficult ones - I think your advice will be crucial.


    I like that! Even just to communicate what we're studying, and how they can help their child do well in it.
     
  12. ciounoi

    ciounoi Cohort

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    Mar 3, 2012

    I find it helpful to schedule everything. I schedule recurring events (such as when I will lesson plan, when I will be copying those materials, when I do progress monitoring) on my Google Calendar account, deleting as I go. I also write a to-do list for the next day each night with more specific things (change objectives on the board, student times for mainstreaming, emails I have to send, etc.). I've found this helps keep me super organized and very functional.
     
  13. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Mar 4, 2012

    It's the down time or nuts and bolts they don't tell you about in methods courses that can determine whether your class is a work place or a social affair.

    What will students do when entering room-waiting to leave, finished with work, waiting for help? Will these activities be learning related or just kick-back and do your thing?

    Consider: Sponge activities ... lots and lots of sponge activities prepared in advance and taught as a routine and, as name implies, soak up any free time.
     
  14. grobanite

    grobanite Rookie

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    Mar 5, 2012

    To-do lists are awesome! I write to-do lists for my to-do lists... :D


    Having sponge activities prepared in advance is a great idea. Especially with my difficult class this year, having something ready and easy to go at any moment is so necessary, because I find myself outside in the hall sorting out conflicts more often than normal this year. I have very few prepared of these activities and routines though - so I think I'd like to increase my collection. It helps maintain the kids' focus, when they might otherwise lose control and act out.
     
  15. Tek

    Tek Comrade

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    Mar 6, 2012


    So true! Yesterday, I had my first ever classroom subbing assignment. MOVEMENT is such a big key! I teach after school classes so students come to me and leave. There isn't much movement. When there is movement (i.e. taking my class to bathroom), I only have 6 students or so. Having 30 is a whole 'notha ball game!

    Yesterday, I was quickly reminded how much I need to improve in managing student movement. They lined up in the morning outside the class. We were the 3rd line in the row. The 1st row teacher motioned for her students to go to room 18... and I made the glaring mistake of telling my students to go ahead and walk to room 16... needless to say, can you imagine the criss-crossing nightmare that created?

    I was quickly embarrassed and humbled. This is one of many teaching tricks I got to master...

    I also had no sponge activities with me yesterday, so before recess there were 10 minutes of class time and I just didn't know what to do, so I gave them free time. It got pretty loud pretty quick.

    Thankfully, I had the wherewithal to turn that 10 minute free time to 5 minutes. After 5 minutes I gathered them back to their seats and did a quick spelling vocab quiz with the students.

    I just remember vividly thinking to myself as the students had their 5 minutes of free time: Principal, please don't walk in here!

    Grobanite, I'm excited for you! I hope to be in your shoes one day. I too have been teaching part-time the last 4 years, although not partnering with a teacher in a classroom. I've been teaching after school self-contained classes of no more than 12. Needless to say, it's different from your actual classroom experience and I'm currently subbing to get a taste of the real deal. I realize I may be a year or two away, but I'm starting to put the work in today to realize that ultimate dream someday.
     
  16. Falcon Flyer

    Falcon Flyer Companion

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    Mar 8, 2012

    The one minute of silence. I think I learned this from someone on A to Z and it has become one of my favorite classroom management techniques. Basically, when the class is beginning to lose focus or get a little loud, I ask for one minute of complete silence. If anyone interrupts the silence, I begin the timer again until they can go one minute without talking. It's amazing how one minute of silence can refocus an entire room. When I say, "Ok, you can whisper" they remain quiet and keep working!
     
  17. tgim

    tgim Habitué

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    All of these are wonderful tips from tried and true professionals!

    One minor management detail that has paid off big for me is to assign students a number so when they put their name on their paper, their number also goes on there. It makes such easy work out of sorting papers to see who might not have turned something in yet.
     
  18. TeacherGrl7

    TeacherGrl7 Devotee

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    This is something that is important to me personally- if I don't use it, I give it away. I go through all of my cabinets, my desk, and every single thing in my closets before I leave school in June. Anything that I come across that I didn't use during the year, I clearly did not need. The faculty room gets a nice pile of materials that others might be able to use more than I do. Inevitably some things that you use a lot one year are things that you will not use anymore three years down the road, so I try to go through everything a few times a year (maybe my closet on one day, file cabinet another, desk the next week) just to browse for things that are no longer part of my teaching.

    I'm super Type A and organized, and this little clean out on top of my everyday keeping things neat really makes me feel like I'm on top of things. Plus, it helps to remember all the things I have- I always find great things that I forgot I had- it's like finding new materials I can pull out for free!
     
  19. jessiiteach

    jessiiteach Companion

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    Mar 8, 2012

    like
     
  20. jessiiteach

    jessiiteach Companion

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    I LOVE this.
     
  21. jessiiteach

    jessiiteach Companion

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    What a good idea. How often do you update the sub folders, if ever?
     
  22. jessiiteach

    jessiiteach Companion

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    You make a good point about transition times. But what in the world are sponge activities?
     
  23. jessiiteach

    jessiiteach Companion

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    I am going to try this!
     
  24. jessiiteach

    jessiiteach Companion

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    You inspired me to ask for one minute of silence, and penalize them one minute of recess if they do not achieve one minute of silence. Thank you so much for this idea!!!! I have been taking away recess minutes here and there but gosh I hate taking away those minutes because I want them to wear themselves out during recess!! Not lose it! Many thanks!!!
     
  25. bondo

    bondo Cohort

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    Mar 8, 2012

    Plan your work and work your plan.
     
  26. grobanite

    grobanite Rookie

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    Mar 10, 2012

    Thank you :) It's exciting, right!

    I love this!!

    I have heard this one before, and I think this would be great for organization. However I do have a question about it. When a new student comes, do you just give them the next number at the end, even though it would be out of alphabet order? And if a student moves away do you just "retire" their number - ie. #9 is just always missing?

    Purging is such a great idea. I hate piling up resources, and not knowing what I have. That's why I sort all my materials into binders and not filing cabinets, because sheets never see the light of day in the back of a filing cabinet! :lol: My only problem is, I sometimes think "next year!" I'll get to incorporate such and such a program into my year.

    Yep - that's why I'm here asking! ;)
     
  27. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I'm not the one who posted about the sub binder, but I update mine once a grading period. If I copied activities that are now too easy, I put it in a tub and use it for my sub binder the next year.
     
  28. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Mar 10, 2012

    Remember that every single one of those kids is, or should be, the light of some parent's whole life. Somewhere there's a mom and a dad who think the world of him or her, and who hopes and prays that the teacher in front of the room spends the time and effort to learn what's so very remarkable about that particular young man or woman.

    It's hard sometimes, I know. But it's the most important part of our job.
     
  29. TeacherGrl7

    TeacherGrl7 Devotee

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    Mar 13, 2012

    This actually reminded me of another thing I do. I have learned (the hard way!) not to try to change too much too fast. I pick one thing every year that I'm going to improve upon or change, and then I take as much time as I need to perfect it during the school year. One year I implemented journals. The next year I completely redid all of my homework packets. This year I'm implementing a new curriculum from the district, so I tried keeping all of my own stuff the same to make the transition easier. After my first year teaching was over, I had SOOOO many ideas of how to fix and adjust things- it made my second year miserable trying to make so many changes at once! So now towards the end of the year I start thinking about what I want to work on perfecting the next year. Right now I think I might use next year to go back to those homework packets, since they are now outdated with my new curriculum, and spend the year slowly updating them. Doing one thing at a time has kept my sanity!
     

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