Keeping the Classroom Clean During Flu Season

Leave a comment

Germs lurk anywhere children touch regularly. These places include desks, doorknobs, light switches, and water fountain toggles – even on pencil sharpeners, soap dispensers, computer keyboards and toys. Even the teacher’s ID lanyard becomes a place where germs could hide out.

To avoid coming down with the flu yourself and to keep your students in a healthy environment, there are steps that you can employ during this important time of year when germs seem to be at an all-time high. Cleaning routines can be revisited and enhanced where necessary to ensure germs have no place left to hide at the end of the school day.

Before going into specific techniques for cleaning, it should be said that timeliness in cleaning the classroom is as important as how the area is cleaned. Some classrooms have desks where only one student occupies the same desk each day. Junior and senior high school classrooms are visited by several students throughout a single day.

In most classrooms, desks, badge lanyards and other areas are typically cleaned once a day. However, classrooms in which new students enter and leave with each passing period really could be cleaned after each class. This sounds like a lot of work; but really, wiping desks down takes less than five minutes and eliminates germs so that they don’t pass from student to student via desks or doorknobs.

The reason why badge lanyards are mentioned in the cleaning process is because the ID lanyard is a big part of campus life. Teachers and students alike can be seen wearing keys or ID badges from an ID lanyard. Because these items may hang between two people, they are at risk to attracting germs. When teachers keep keys on badge lanyards, they are used frequently and also touch several other objects throughout the day. Cleaning an ID lanyard is as simple as wiping it down with a sanitizing wipe once a day.

In addition to educating students and parents in germ-fighting techniques, teachers can maintain healthy classrooms by using sanitizing wipes or spray to wipe down counters and desks each day. This process takes only five minutes to complete. Spending a little more time, teacher or students can also wipe down pencil sharpeners, doorknobs and light switches and computer keyboards. In classrooms where toys or other equipment is used by students, such as plastic figures, math manipulatives or science equipment; extra sanitizing is necessary to rid germs of the area.

Be sure to throw away sponges and to clean sinks, including knobs. Custodial staff typically empty trash receptacles each day; but teachers and students can work to ensure that all used tissues and towels make it into trash cans throughout the day.

Enlist the help of parents to further your classroom germ-fighting techniques by sending home a flyer on the subject of germs. When parents, students and teachers work together to learn about and fight flu-causing germs in the classroom, everyone stands a better chance of avoiding lingering coughs and sniffles during the busy school year.

Showing Appreciation to Fellow Teachers

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Team Teaching

Leave a comment

In more and more schools today, teachers are working in teams to create a new way of delivering information to students. Team teaching involves a group of instructors who work together cooperatively and purposefully. In regular meetings, these team teachers set goals for their course, brainstorm ideas, prepare individual lesson plans, design syllabi and evaluate results of implemented ideas.

The approach of teaching as a team allows for a higher level of interaction between teachers and their peers, as well as between teachers and their students. In this method of teaching, evaluation is a constant. Faculty evaluates students based on their achievements and goals; and students evaluate faculty based on their proficiency in teaching material.

The emphasis of team teaching is growth for both students and teachers. There is also emphasis on shared responsibility, specialization, broadening horizons, balancing initiative and on developing clear and interesting content leading to student development. Team teaching aims to lead to more democratic participation and elevated affective, cognitive and behavioral outcomes. It has been proven that team teaching is beneficial throughout all the levels of education, from elementary school through graduate school.

Team teaching seems to hold the main advantage of breaking free from traditional teaching. When freed of the single-course, single-teacher pattern, everyone involved is encouraged to experiment and practice innovation. Through team teaching, students can be split into as many different combinations as necessary for any particular task. Remedial programs and honors sections are given opportunities to develop more appropriate and effective lessons plans for students with special interests or special needs. Team teaching programs can address the different skills and learning styles found in students, instead of assuming that all students will learn in the same manner.

Because students do not all learn in the same manner, or at the same rate, periods of equal length may not be the most appropriate for all learners. In today’s classroom, there is a wide array of students with varying degrees of demands. Through team teaching, students are given more opportunity to be seen as individuals with specific learning styles. They are exposed to teachers from varying backgrounds and specialties; and therefore given a broader base from which to launch their learning. This alone sets both students and teachers up for successful learning environments.

Team teaching does require commitment on the part of the teacher. It is not the answer to all problems faced by schools, teachers and administrators; but it is a step in the right direction. Team teaching requires planning, time management and a willingness to share. There is a risk of failure; but teachers who engage in team teaching seem to blossom into more open-minded, imaginative, creative beings that work well with others and pass along more balanced learning to their students.

If you see the need for change in your classroom or school and are not a part of a teaching team, look into the possibilities in your area. Team teaching can take place over the internet with web chats, or in person with teachers in your own district.

5 Tips for Student Teachers

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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 Plan for the School Year

Leave a comment

teacher's planAt the beginning of the new school year, teachers are busy preparing their classrooms and lesson plans. In all of the hustle and bustle, it is quite easy to forget to think about classroom management and discipline. As every teacher knows, however, these two issues can eat up valuable class time and cause undue stress if not handled correctly. Here are some tips to develop an all-inclusive plan to help your school year run more smoothly.

It is a common mistake to start the school year off without a discipline plan in place. Students, smart creatures that they are, make a quick assessment of your plan – or lack thereof – and will know exactly what they can get away with. If you set low standards and accept disruptive behaviors at the beginning of the year, it will be more difficult to correct the problem than if you set a standard for appropriate behaviors from the first day forward. The key: start out tough to maintain appropriate classroom behavior throughout the year.

As hard as you try, there may come a time when you encounter a difficult student that needs a little more attention in the discipline department. It is important with students like this to not engage in confrontation in front of other students. In a confrontation, there is always a winner and a loser. When dealing with a particularly difficult and quick spoken student, it is easy to come out looking like the loser if you get frustrated in front of the class. With this type of student, it is wise to handle discipline issues privately, after class. Asking a student to stay behind when the bell rings calls very little attention to the situation; and also allows you time to formulate proper discipline without letting emotions guide you.

Communication is paramount for kids of all ages. In the classroom setting, a teacher will do well to clearly communicate their expectations for each session. For instance, if you are entering into a quiet reading time, you may announce “during this session, I expect that each of you will read quietly, without talking, for 20 minutes.” You may need to state your expectations at the beginning of every session, or every day, for several days before your students know exactly how they may and may not behave in your classroom.

This communication begins on the very first day of school and does not let up until the end of the year if need be. Every student should be held to your standards; even though it is expected that you will have certain students that you “click” with more than others. Students are very aware of what is fair and what is not and so it is important that you, as the leader of your classroom, be fair in your dealings with each and every student.

It is the responsibility of the teacher to create an environment of learning for their students; not just to lecture facts and figures. In order for students to learn, they need to engage; and in order to do that, they need the right environment. And to get that, they need you to have a plan.

Older Entries Newer Entries