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.


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.

Planning On Being A Teacher? Part V-Epilogue

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As we get to the final section about the requirements that every teacher should have, it is worth noting that these articles were designed to show you all that you need to know about teaching. It is a noble profession and the nation’s future depends on teachers to guide its youth towards adulthood. These articles are just explaining that teaching is a job like no other and those who are interested in pursuing it as a career need to be aware of this. While the country needs educators, it needs good ones more desperately than ever. The requirements of a good teacher will come as second nature to those suited to teaching and those who genuinely love the vocation will believe that the rewards are more than enough.

Although it is up to a student’s parents to encourage them, you must also follow suit and this means setting high standards for both yourself and your class. The old saying ‘shoot for the stars and you may hit the moon’ is apt when describing a teacher/student relationship. If you are only telling your students to aim for a B minus average, then that is the highest they will get and are likely to do much worse. Tell all your class that they are capable of the highest marks. The high expectations you should set for yourself include trying to ensure that as many of your class get the best grades possible and not being satisfied unless they do.

In order for your class to succeed, they will need to be organized and you have to set a positive example by having attention to detail. In any case, you will be responsible for grading and assessing dozens of students so if you are a disorganized person in general, you will need to clean up your act in order to be more effective. This is not to say that being disorganized guarantees failure, as plenty of successful teachers have messy offices but it is the height of hypocrisy to lambast your students for being disorganized when you are no better yourself.

Finally, it is imperative that you have good time management skills. You only have a certain amount of time per class, day and week to teach the students what they need to know. The curriculum assumes that teachers will make the most of their time and procrastinators will be punished. The thing is, if you dawdle over certain topics, it will be your students who suffer the most. You have failed your students if you’re unable to cover all aspects of the course due to your poor time management.

Hopefully this information will be useful to anyone thinking of joining the teaching profession. As with any job, there are numerous pitfalls which have to be overcome and it can be the most challenging job of all. Nonetheless, there is also no other job which offers you greater rewards. When you see or hear that someone had graduated that you taught and has a positive impact on, there is no better feeling. Simply put, the best teachers can alter lives for the better.

General Advice For Teachers

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As a teacher you probably have a whole host of advice being tossed your way during the course of your career. Non-teachers seem to be the biggest culprits as they tell you how they think you should do your job. All you can do is smile politely as they give you their two cents worth and make classic generalizations about the job you love. It is important however not to ignore all the advice that comes your way, especially that which comes from more experienced teachers. No teacher knows everything about the profession when they start but you will learn things as you get more experienced and it never hurts to keep your ears open when good advice does come your way.

One of the best methods of teaching in order to maximize the impact of your lessons is to divide all sections into small, easily digestible chunks for your students to devour. Throwing too much information at them is not conducive for easy learning. Also, you should never assess your students on the basis of one or two exams or assignments. Try and give them constant assignments so you will easily be able to identify which students are hard working and which are slacking off. Those who are not doing the requisite work will quickly realize that they cannot have their own way.

Don’t deliver your lectures from a static position. You don’t have to be a jack in the box but teachers that move around will increase the attention span of students. This movement should include frequent trips towards the back of the class which should keep those who think they can get some shut-eye back there on their toes! You should occasionally stop at a random student’s desk and make eye contact with them before asking if they understand what you’re saying. Students who have a propensity to doodle or pass notes will suddenly realize that they do this no longer. It is also much better for a student to have their teacher close to them rather than way off into the distance.

You don’t need an array of additional tools at your disposal to make an interesting class but do try and include other ways of communicating with your students besides your voice and the blackboard. Try using a projector with powerpoint slides or else a video could be utilized to help illustrate your points. This is part of making your class fun and should be accentuated by you laughing and smiling throughout. This will make you seem like the kind of person that students are willing to listen to rather than some ogre who growls at them all the time.

So pay no attention to the teaching expert who has never set foot in a classroom as the sole focus of attention and actively seek advice of those who know what it’s like to stand in front of a group of children and be expected to deliver interesting, informative lessons. Finding out new ways to teach can be fun and rewarding for both you and your class.

How Teachers Should Handle Their Student’s Parents

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It is only the naïve new teachers that really think that parents will be on their side. They make the mistake of using logic in their thinking. They believe that parents will want what is best for their children and will help the teacher improve their child’s academic performance. Yet they fail to take into account a number of factors. First of all, parents are not cut from the same cloth and sadly, not all of them care about their child’s school activities. Then you have the whole ‘parents protecting their young’ issue which is not only confined to the animal kingdom. Here are a couple of different scenarios and tips on how to deal with them.

You will have the parents that are defensive and refuse to believe that their child is responsible for any ill behavior. They explain that their son/daughter is an angel at home and that you must have some sort of agenda, that perhaps you are jealous of their child and are out to get them. When dealing with such people, it is important not to allow emotions to get involved. Instead, explain to them specific examples of their child’s poor behavior/performance and let them come to their own conclusions. Even though you like having your own teaching style, when it comes to parents you must always follow the school line, so refer to their child’s grades and rules as policies.

Then you will have the parent who is forever checking up on their child’s progress. They harass you with calls, bombard you with emails and generally, take up far too much of your time. The problem is, the more you give in to their demands on your time, the more they will expect off you. Remember that you have many other students to deal with who also need and deserve your attention. With this in mind, keep your responses to a minimum and ensure that they are short and succinct. You are obligated to keep in touch with them but once a week is more than enough. Always save your correspondence too so that you have it on record that you spent plenty of time discussing their child with them in case they want to complain.

Unfortunately, you also have the parents who just don’t give a damn for one reason or another. It is normally these parents who are the ones you need to talk to the most. If a child is being neglected at home, then their academic performance usually suffers. You cannot get involved in domestic affairs and all you can do is send them a letter which you should document. Of course if you feel that the child is being abused at home then you need to seek advice. Otherwise though, parent absenteeism has nothing to do with you.

Teachers who once thought meetings with parents would be a bed of roses learn to dread them. However, they can still be a very useful way of ensuring that your class is keeping up to speed as good parents will be very concerned with their children’s performance. Such parents can be a pleasure to deal with and could even give new insights into the student that may help you understand them better.

Controlling Your Classroom II

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As already mentioned in the last article, you are not allowed use physical means to overcome any problems with your students. This means that you have to be something of a diplomat. We looked at dealing with students who tried to undermine you, bullies and aggressive students. Yet these are just the tip of the iceberg, with a plethora of other issues causing heartache for teachers and ensuring that the rest of the class cannot learn. The bottom line is that you are charged with making sure your pupils learn and are ready for the world and if you cannot deal with unruly aspects, you are failing in your job.

Dictators are not just despotic rulers of faraway lands. They sadly exist in every American classroom and are a nightmare to deal with. Just like tyrannical teachers are the bane of every student’s existence, a pupil that tries to impose their will on the classroom is a headache you can do without. They will order the rest of the class around with no regard for your authority whatsoever. You need to nip this behavior in the bud before it gets out of hand. Tell them that they are a dictator and get them to rephrase this statement in the first person. Turn the class against them but involving them in the process. Soon, the dictator will realize that no one is following them and will fall back into line.

It is a frustrating experience when you have a student that doesn’t look like they could be bothered. Admittedly, there are many pupils who probably don’t want to be there but they at least make an attempt to hide it and even to learn. Those who openly look bored and are no paying attention need to be dealt with. Otherwise, other students will see that the lazy pupil is getting away with doing nothing and follow suit. Such behavior can spread like a virus if you’re not careful. Ask them a question, then swiftly ask someone else to let them off for now. You don’t want to humiliate them after all. Take them aside after class and try to ascertain why they are not getting involved in class.

Then you have the moaner. These are students whose only participation in class involves them complaining either about the subject or the way it’s being taught. They never have anything positive to say and they try to bring down the collective mood of the classroom. To deal with this, ask that student to write down their complaints and promise that they will be looked at in the next class. Ask them to come up with a solution and paraphrase their negative comments. Depending on how you paraphrase, the sheer negativity of the statement may shock the student into mending their ways.

Yes, the list of bad student behavior seems to be never ending but a good teacher will find a way to deal with everything. The next article will look at further ways and means of dealing with troublesome students, so if you have no knowledge when it comes to sorting out tricky classroom situations, then you need to read on.

Planning On Being A Teacher? Part IV-The Right Stuff II

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Good teachers have an array of qualities and many of these abilities are already God-given. Those which are required but you don’t yet have will certainly be learned in time. Some people are unaware that they have these gifts until they are required to use them. One requirement that teachers need which should be apparent is being a people person. We have probably all had that teacher who should never have got involved in the profession because it was obvious they were not sociable in the slightest. It is especially important to have an affinity with the age group you intend on teaching. You are doing no one any favors if you find yourself stuck teaching elementary school kids despite the fact that you hate young kids! Under these circumstances you cannot be a success as your dislike for the class will cloud your judgment as well as adversely affecting your performance.

It seems obvious, but having the ability to see past appearance is vital. If you are not fair-minded your students haven’t got a chance. It goes without saying that anyone harboring racial or religious prejudices should steer clear of the teaching profession. There is no reason why you should allow your petty grievances to wreck a student’s chances of enjoying a good education. In fact, if you are the type who hold grudges in general, then this job is not for you. The best teachers have the ability to wipe the slate clean and judge a student purely on academic performance if necessary. Of course it is only natural to have a bias towards someone who you see is trying hard but not getting results.

As a teacher you have to be the ‘adult’ at all times. You cannot lapse into child-like behavior at any stage because it is your responsibility to keep the classroom under control. You are a general and the class is your battalion that must be disciplined and kept in line at all times. There will be occasions when you will be in charge of their safety, like on school trips for example. This is where you will need common sense to ensure that situations do not get out of hand. The keyword in this instance is ‘responsibility’.

Although it’s pointless being an expert at a subject and not being able to teach it, it is also equally useless if you’re a great teacher in general but have no clue about the topic at hand. The older the students you teach, the less subjects you will teach but also, the more in-depth knowledge you will require. It is pretty embarrassing when you get something wrong and a student points it out to you. While we learn something new everyday, it is not professional to be taught by those you are charged with teaching.

So, being able to deal with people, having an open mind, being able to use common sense and being proficient in the subject you are teaching are yet more requirements for good teachers. The last installment will explain the last few gifts each teacher should have.

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