Showing Appreciation to Fellow Teachers

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Teachers know better than anyone how nice it feels to receive gifts of appreciation.  Throughout each school year, teachers receive cards or gifts from students and their families; but how often do teachers show appreciation for one another?  The opportunities are certainly there.  It would seem that an environment in which team teachers and coworkers take these opportunities would actually be an environment where morale is high and productivity soars.

If you have worked with, or continually work with, any teacher or even office staff that goes out of their way to provide assistance to you, your students, or other people, you have the opportunity to show appreciation.  And hence, you have the opportunity to encourage this person and brighten their day.  Here are a few ways you can show that you appreciate the job someone else is doing.

  • ID badge lanyards are highly used in school settings, and therefore make ideal gifts for any teacher or school employee.  Most of the time, teachers wear ID badge lanyards that were either given to them by the school office or that they picked up at an educational conference.  This means they probably lack that certain panache that adds polish to work attire.

When you want to offer a special gift to someone at your school, consider the lanyard.  Today, ID badge lanyards are available in many different styles and themes that teachers love.  Providing all the same convenience for carrying keys or badges, lanyards today can also look very polished and professional.

  • When you work closely with someone, you can get to know their likes and dislikes.  Perhaps you know of a special hobby or interest a fellow teacher has.  This makes giving them a small gift easier; as you can tailor it to their personal interests.
  • Teachers can always use helping hands, as you are well aware.  Showing appreciation for a fellow teacher doesn’t have to be done with gifts that you purchase; it could be done by helping them where you can.   Perhaps you can take their lunch duty for a day to give them time away.  Acts of service are kind and thoughtful.  There are many ways you can provide service to a fellow teacher that won’t interfere with your own duties.  This is a gift that costs nothing and leaves you both feeling great.
  • Another gift that costs nothing is that of a note.  Teachers like to hear that they have done well at something; we all do.  If you know another teacher who has gone out of their way, taught you something, inspired you or somehow helped you, tell them.  It doesn’t get any simpler than that!  Keep blank note cards in your desk so you can write notes to others when the opportunity arises.  It pays to just say thanks.

Receiving accolades from peers is a high honor that professionals love to be treated to.  In the school setting, there is no need to leave the praise to students and families.  Teachers can and should take it upon themselves to continually life one another up and encourage those around them.  Doing so can only result in a more positive environment.

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Plan Ahead to Successfully Host a Substitute Teacher

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Most teachers know what it feels like to substitute in a classroom in which they are unfamiliar.  To add a little excitement into the mix of a sub day, kids, when they realize their regular teacher is not present, may be under the impression that their workload will be light and they will not have to pay attention.  There are several steps you can take to ensure any substitute teacher that enters into your classroom is left with a good impression of your class and a good feeling about your direction.

  1. Planning ahead makes everything about an absence run more smoothly.   One part of planning ahead is to simply have an organized classroom.  This is something that will benefit you and your students every day; and provide a good experience for a substitute.  Have places for all tools and papers; and prepare lesson plans in advance so neither you nor your sub will have to scramble when you need to be out for a day or longer.
  2. Preparing your students with expectations of how they should behave in your absence will ensure that they do not assume they can “get away” with less than respectful behavior while you are away.  Talk to students well in advance about how they are to behave in the classroom; and take the opportunity to point out to them that they are to behave this way regardless of whether you are teaching them or they are taking instruction from another teacher.  Explaining to students that they need to make a good impression of who they are and how they have been taught by you is a good way to hand them responsibility for their actions in the classroom.
  3. Ribbon lanyards come in handy in any classroom and provide convenience for teachers and students.  The way ribbon lanyards can help in the instance of a substitute teaching situation is that classroom keys can be easily seen and kept track of.  Additionally, when bathroom passes or keys are kept on ribbon lanyards at all times, both teachers and students can easily find these items quickly and without interrupting valuable time.  You could even leave an extra decorative lanyard on your desk for your substitute teacher as a thank you gift for handling your class so well.  A little appreciation can make a teacher’s day!
  4. Giving substitute teachers a head’s up as to what can be expected will help their day run more smoothly – and help your students stay on track.  You know your students better than any other school personnel.  Leave a note for a substitute with the name of a student or students they can call on for extra help throughout the day.  If there are particular students who require extra guidance or management, place their names on the list and what usually works with these students.  Also put the name of a nearby teacher who can be called upon for help if needed.  This should be prearranged with that teacher.

The better prepared a substitute is to fill in for you; the better everyone’s day goes.  The amount of success they experience is largely due to the information you leave for them.  By preparing as much information ahead of time as possible, you can ensure a successful substitute day.

5 Tips for Student Teachers

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Working in any new environment can be stressful. For the student teacher, you hope to be paired with a welcoming and helpful veteran teacher; but this is not always the case. In this situation, a student teacher may question the amount of authority they possess; and how much participation they can expect. Here are tips for student teacher to become accustomed to a new environment.

1. Plan Ahead

A week or so before you begin a student teaching job, check in with the administration of the school, as well as with the teacher with whom you will be working. Make introductions and ask what, if anything, specific requirements they may wish for.

Once on the job, make sure to always be prepared. If you know you will need copies for a lesson, make them at least as early as the day before the lesson is to be given. It is common practice in many schools to follow exact procedure for copying. Failing to follow these procedures will leave the student teacher stuck without copies. The result is that you look unprepared and unprofessional.

2. Make friends with office staff

Befriending the office staff is always a good idea, even if you do not plan to seek employment at the school where you are student teaching. Many student teachers befriend staff only if they want to work in the school where they student teach, if at all. However, making this a practice is professional and helps the new teacher to get into good habits. The opinions of those who work in administration and support do have an impact on whether or not a new teacher has a chance at a job; but these people can also make the student teacher’s job easier to handle.

3. Remember Confidentiality

Many times student teachers take notes that they turn in for grades. When doing this, it is important to remember to change names or not use names in order to protect privacy. You never know who you may be teaching, and what their possible relationship to those who may review your notes. More than this, it is simply good practice to create habits of confidentiality to honor student’s identities.

4. Dress for Success

Even as a student teacher, you are a teacher and therefore expected to dress in a professional manner. As a student teacher, especially if you look very young, it is appropriate to over-dress. For instance, wear a comfortable suit with sensible shoes instead of slacks or jeans. The way you dress for student teaching sets the tone for your professional image. It gives the coordinating teacher a clue of your professionalism and dedication to your assignment.

It can be tempting to dress to match the teacher with whom you are working. However, this is not recommended, especially if that teacher is lax in their dress. The student teacher is creating an image that will stay with them throughout their career. It is always easier to create good habits from the start than to try and change bad habits later.

5. Be Timely

It should go without saying that timeliness if of the utmost importance to the student teacher. Arriving just as the bell rings is not much better than arriving 5 or 10 minutes late. In particular, when the student teacher is set to teach a lesson, arriving 5 to 10 minutes early is recommended.

Mistakes in Teaching

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Teaching is an interactive process that includes real people with real feelings and real strengths and weaknesses. Since the teacher is the leader of the classroom, it is imperative that he or she know what to do and what not to do. The reason is simple; the teacher has to get through the school year just as the students do. With the right attitude and planning, more can be accomplished and enjoyed.

Mistake #1

The top mistake that teachers make is starting off the year imbalanced. The balance referred to is that of teacher student relationship. This is a fine line that the successful teacher will learn to walk. There are two typical scenarios: either a teacher is completely disengaged from students, or the teacher befriends their students. Either extreme is a mistake.

The teacher should be friendly without implying friendship. Friendship is not necessary for learning. Teaching is not about being liked or being popular with students. A teacher who is friendly but holds firm to specific and clear expectations will be respected and listened to, and that is what is most important.

Mistake #2

Losing control of the classroom is an awful situation for teachers to find themselves in; but it happens in schools all around the world. In order for students to get the most benefit from their school day, the learning environment must be sacred and guarded. This responsibility falls directly and solely onto the teacher. Students will have bouts of misbehavior; but control of the classroom can be maintained by a well-prepared teacher.

First and foremost, a teacher should never yell at students; even to get their attention. Teachers who routinely yell at their students are quickly written off as unreasonable. Instead of allowing frustration to boil over, a teacher will do well to remember that silence is sometimes a more powerful way of dealing with classroom chaos.

Frustrations should also never come out in the way of humiliation or sarcasm. The older students get, the more this behavior is seen in teachers. Teen students can be a challenge, this is certain; but a teacher should remain calm and have specific plans in place to handle discipline issues before the school year gets rolling.

Mistake #3

Every classroom needs rules; but some teachers have a tendency to create rules that are basically unworkable. When rules are seen as unfair, or create problems, they are unworkable. Creating policies for a positive learning environment take time but the payoff is huge. How often are classes disrupted unnecessarily, and how often can this be tracked back to poor planning?

Classroom rules should be clear and concise. Too many rules will overload students and create animosity. A teacher should set aside time before the beginning of the school year to determine the type of learning environment desired for their classroom and create rules based on those desires. For instance, students can be directed to bring required materials to class every day unless otherwise instructed. This rule clearly communicates what is expected. There should also be a consequence for not coming to class prepared.

When making classroom rules, it is important to know your reasons for creating rules. They will be tested, and you will have to state your reasons – sometimes many times.

The Teacher’s Life: Keys to Avoiding Burnout

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Teacher's LifeIt is estimated that $2.2 billion is spent annually in our public schools due to teacher turnover. It is no secret that teaching can be a stressful career. It may be a surprise, however, to learn that about half of new teachers leave teaching within the first five years of their career. Many teachers cite low salaries, negative student behavior and lack of administrative support as the primary reasons they seek employment in a completely different field.

With the numbers shown above, you can see just how necessary it is for every teacher to know how to avoid burnout. Those in the profession enter it because they have a strong desire to help children learn and grow. To see them leave what they love because strain has built up to such levels that they see no other way is simply sad. If you are new to the profession, or are finding yourself suffering from undue stress; it is imperative that you seek ways to recover after every day spent in the classroom.

Part of what can be very helpful to teachers is the support of another. Just as it is for students, it can be highly effective for teachers to work in teams. Having a partner with which to prepare and organize lesson plans can help a teacher feel more at ease with what can be an overwhelming task. Talk to another teacher who teaches the same grade as you and make the invitation to work as a team.

Extra help can also be found through parents and the students themselves. Invite students to take on tasks like cutting out or laminating papers for extra credit. Anything that doesn’t require grading or adult supervision can be a task that you delegate to students. Parent volunteers can take on the task of grading papers during their volunteer time. Every teacher knows just how much of a weekend can be given up to grade papers; so finding a solution to this dilemma can lift a large burden from your shoulders.

When you lessen your grading load, you then have time in the evenings or on the weekends to spend time being something other than a teacher. In order to love what you do for years and years, you’ve got to remember to be a person outside of that occupation. Because teaching requires you to give of yourself constantly, you must learn ways to replenish just as consistently. Take a weekend away with a friend or loved one to visit a local attraction not associated with school. Go to the beach or head to the mountains for a nature hike.

Getting out in the fresh air is a great way to relieve tension and rejuvenate the senses. Because so much of your time is spent indoors in a classroom that can get noisy, it could be quite refreshing to create an outdoor area in your home where you can go at the end of every day. Creating a small ritual of sitting in your quiet outdoor area allows you to make the switch from work to home more easily. If home contains its own responsibilities that hit you as soon as you walk through the door, stop at a local park for some quiet time before driving home.

Teachers and Personalities – Part II

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In part one of this series, we covered personality types a teacher may encounter in the classroom.  Part one personalities are more prevalent in elementary classrooms.  The personality types in this article may be seen in lower grades; but could also be seen in middle and high school students.  The hope is always that kids and teachers have learned to handle the classroom setting by high school; but there are times when this age can be quite challenging.

The Arguer

The arguer is disruptive to any classroom of any age students.  This is the student who wants to have the last word and will do so at the expense of teaching time and the teacher’s sanity.  It can be easy to fall prey to the arguer by arguing back; but this only further escalates the problem and winds up leaving you feeling drained and helpless.  The arguer needs to be dealt with swiftly and effectively in order for you to effectively teach all the students..

Tips for the Arguer

  • Remain calm but assertive.  This type of student can be particularly challenging and the temptation to put them in their place can be great.  However, debating with this type of student will get you nowhere because they can be masters at taking you down all sorts of winding roads of debate.  Instead of getting caught up in secondary behaviors of muttering, slouching or smirking, stay on point with the primary behavior you find unacceptable.  If you have solutions for all of the excuses they come up with, they have no power.
  • An arguer cannot continue to be disruptive if they have no one to argue with.  Maintain your composure and refuse to be led down the path of infinite discussion, remind the student of classroom rules clearly and assertively.  If the student is being disruptive in their arguing, perhaps it would work to try and wait them out silently.  With so much focus on them, it may just be what they need to quiet down.
  • It is never acceptable for a student to take away what little time you have to teach.  If a student is consistently disruptive, a conference between you, the student and the parents may be necessary.  If this is a high school student, their counselor may also wish to be present.

The Long Face

The student who pouts can also be quite disruptive to the class; because their secondary behavior can far outlast the primary behavior you are attempting to squelch.  For instance, you have a student who tends to lag in getting to work.  They may wander through the classroom to borrow items they do not have.  When redirected back to their seat, this student will roll their eyes, sigh loudly, hunch over their desk, etc.  These secondary behaviors are a real problem and can outweigh the fact that they are getting out of their seat or speaking out of turn – whatever the primary behavior is.

Tips for the Long Face:

  • During class, stay on track with the primary behavior.  It is always essential that you address one thing at a time; otherwise you run the risk of losing a large portion of your valuable class time.
  • Just before the bell rings, state that the offending student needs to hang back.  With your classroom door open, ask the student if they are aware of their classroom behavior.  Often, this type of student does not realize they are displaying the sulking behaviors; or do so unintentionally.  Demonstrate for the student what their behavior is and explain that this sort of outburst not only makes them look bad; but is simply unacceptable in the classroom.

As with all things relating to the student-teacher relationship, developing rules and dealing with personality issues is something that makes the most impact when done at the beginning of the school year.  When a student gets away with poor behavior for even a few weeks, it is more difficult to address and regain control.  Take control of your class and the many personalities you will deal with right away and you’ll stand a good chance of staying in control all year long.

Teachers and Personalities – Part I

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For your job as a teacher to go as smoothly as possible; and to set up an environment where you and your students are at ease, it is quite helpful to learn about the personality types.  Personality profiling has been in existence for a long time.  Understanding personalities not only helps you know yourself better; but a grasp of the types of personalities also helps you to better relate to people you come across in your work and personal life.

When it comes to personalities for this article, we are going to cover the personalities you may encounter in the classroom.  Kids come in all shapes and sizes and it’s sure you have been host to at least one of these personality types.  In fact, many teachers will read these descriptions and nod in agreement that they have indeed seen these kids – often more than one at a time – come through their classroom.  In learning how to focus each personality and redirect their behaviors, you can gain more control over your classroom and feel good about how you have done it.

The Talker

You probably know the talker easier than any other personality type.  This is the student who turns to their neighbor the moment your back is turned to write something on the board.  It is as if there is no filter between their mind and their mouth.  While this personality can be bubbly and loving, the incessant talking during class can be extremely frustrating for both the teacher and students.

Tips for the Talker:

  • Maintain a cool while using a calm and even tone of voice while reminding the student of desired behavior.  Do not become angry, irritated or sarcastic and watch your body language; remaining calm.
  • Expect compliance.  Instead of asking a student to “please” stop their talking, remind them of your classroom rule with a statement such as “One at a time, thank you.”  Using “thank you” instead of “please” sends the message that you expect they will comply.
  • If you have a particular student that suffers from a runaway mouth, it is best to seat them up front where they are physically closer to you.  Seating them away from the rest of the class completely only calls attention to their poor habits. Keeping the student close to you makes them feel better about themselves and allows you to quickly redirect behavior if it becomes necessary.

The Demander

Another personality you see often in an elementary classroom is that of the student who is demanding of the teacher’s time and attentions.  This student is also known as the Clinger.  They are characterized by their need for “extra help” once you have given an assignments and made the directions quite clear.  This personality is tricky because you never want to leave a student stranded.  If they really need your help, you want to give it.  However, consistently attending to this student every time they demand extra help will only solidify their behavior and teach them that it is acceptable; which it isn’t.

Tips for the Demander:

  • Ignore unwanted behavior in favor of positive behaviors.  For instance, if you want your students to raise their hands for questions; then ignore the student who yells out in class and call on someone who has their hand raised.  There is usually no need to make any further statement about the negative behavior.  This will only embarrass the student who needs to change their behavior.  Students learn quickly what their teacher responds to.
  • If ignoring doesn’t work as quickly as you would like, then you can redirect in much the same way you redirect the talker; by stating the desired behavior with a “Thank You”.  For instance, if the demander is asking for help again, you can state “You must try one on your own first, thank you.”
  • When allowed, you can encourage students to ask one another for help or to look in their book for examples before asking you.

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