Teacherstuff’s Blog

Teacher blog has moved!
December 4, 2010, 4:11 pm
Filed under: 1, Interest to Teachers

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Tips for New Teachers
June 1, 2009, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Interest to Teachers | Tags:

No teacher education class fully prepares you for your first teaching job. Nobody can full convey what it is like to be a good, competent teacher. No words of wisdom are going to make you an expert teacher the first day of school. Student teaching is a rather poor simulation of a regular teaching job. Observing good, and experienced teachers makes teaching look easy. If you are a new teacher, you have now figured out that nothing prepared you completely for that first day, first week, and first year. Below is what many teachers experience.

Teaching is Hard Work
Nothing prepares you fully for the amount physical and mental effort it takes to teach. You are now in charge. You are the teacher who must do all the leg work as far as planning, teaching, and grading. But this is only half of it. The rest of your full days will be spent on the phone with parents, helping students, attending meetings, and probably being a member of a committee or two.

Teaching is Exhausting

Teaching Becomes an Addiction

When not in school, your mind will wander to your students. A good teacher will always be on the lookout for teaching ideas while shopping and doing recreational activities. It will become an addiction. Eventually, every place you go will be fair game for teaching idea. You will see children in public and have the urge to get them on task or to scold them about rules. Teaching will take over your soul.

Your Home May Become an Extension of Your Classroom Piled high will be papers, folders, teaching ideas, etc.

Teaching is not like the Movies
There will no magic words or insightful visuals for you to instantly engage and enamor your students with. Teaching will involve a set curriculum. You will have to discipline. You will get frustrated. You will not be able to toss out state-standards in favor of putting on a show or some other movie-fantasy episode.
Teaching is not like the Movies Part II
Inner city schools are not as bad as portrayed, luckily. I was a high school teacher in a large inner city school. People use to ooooooooh when I told them. If you expected a war zone, you will be pleasantly surprised at the lack of day to day violence. Even the worst schools seldom experience anything to be afraid of. Don’t be afraid to teach at a large or inner city school.

Teaching Will be Fun!
There will be days that go so smoothly and with real learning. You will be amazed that you actually get paid for this!

Teaching Will be Not be Fun!
There will be days where nothing goes right. You will feel like a failure. You will wonder if they can ever pay you enough! You will even feel like quitting.

You Will Need Help
And lots of it. Get it quick and often. You cannot teach alone. You may feel as if you are Superman (or super teacher), but we all have our Kryptonite. Any teacher who expects to go it alone will be a complete failure eventually. You need different teaching ideas. You need the camaraderie. Each and every classroom problem and situation you experience has been solved before. But also realize that you will have to decide what works best for you. Which leads to the next statement.

No Teacher has all the Answers
You as a teacher will decide what works. You cannot take one teacher’s idea and expect it to work for you every time. Every classroom and teaching situation is unique. Take teaching ideas and alter them to work for you. But just because it works for one teacher in one classroom, does not mean it will work for you.

Every Teacher has One Good Idea
What this means is that there is not just one teacher that has all the answers. But each teacher will actually have different ideas. Only one of which may work for you. Some teachers love taking new teachers aside to spell out everything that they do that works. Then expect you to follow it to the letter . And convince you that if you do, you will magically have a great classroom. Doesn’t work that way, unfortunately.

And last but not least….

Teaching is On-The-Job-Training
The only thing that will really make you a good teacher is learning and growing as you go along. If you stick with it, you will become a master teacher, and all the little nuances that go with teaching will be second nature. And it will be fun. It will be the best job you could ever imagine.

New Teachers get the Worst Classes
This is teaching’s dirty little secret. The worst classes and subjects can get dumped on new teachers. Teachers feel they have earned the right to easy and cherry-picked classes for their longevity. When you think about it, it’s actually a little backward. The worst and toughest classes should go to those with the most experience. If you are a new teacher, be prepared for this jolt.

Teaching May not be Your Calling
No shame in feeling like you can’t continue. New teachers can have mixed feelings about teaching. Many do not last. If you are really serious that teaching is just not for you, quit. Do not try and hang on, knowing full well you really hate it. Again, teaching is not for everybody. Sadly, this is one topic missing in teacher education classes. It should be the first thing you hear–teaching can be a very tough job. New teacher attrition rates are quite high. Teachers who leave, usually will leave well before five years.

Teacher Resources

Avoid Teacher Stress
May 21, 2009, 1:22 am
Filed under: Interest to Teachers | Tags: ,

Get Organized.
You cannot teach effectively unless you are organized anyway. Your daily lessons plans should be done and all materials gathered before the school day. Preferably the night before. Yes this is a lot of work. But having a smooth teaching day is worth it.

Grade ASAP!
Teachers who let papers to grade pile up are asking for trouble.

Grading a pile of papers will look like an arduous task that will take it’s toll on your body. And it will. When teachers give a quiz or exam, they should start grading them as soon as one student turns it in. Even if you only grade the first page of each paper. This will give you a good head start. Here’s a no-brainer but often over looked teaching tip: Make your quizzes, exams, and projects as easy to grade as possible. This could include more multiple choice.

Teachers should collect longer assignments when longer breaks occur. That is, do not collect a 10 page report on Monday. Try not to give assessments on Fridays. Teachers who grade only on school days will be much better rested. If your grading is taking its toll on you, you seriously need to change the way you assess. Teachers should over-work the students. Students should never over-work the teacher. Your job is to make this happen.

Teachers need school-free days!
In conjunction with the above, you need to keep your weekends as school-free as possible. You need at least one of those days to do absolutely nothing as far as school work. Your brain needs a rest. You need to recharge. Avoid leaving your grading for the weekend. Teachers who do grading over the weekend are really working 7 days a week. You will burn out. Teachers should never bring home enough work to last the weekend.

Make every school day break count!
Secondary teachers have nutrition breaks, lunch breaks, and normally planning periods. Elementary teachers have recess and lunch. There is even the short time after school that you are required to be on campus. Make these precious minutes count. Plan. Organize. Grade. Make phone calls. Yes, you will have the urge to relax and do nothing. The problem is, school is the best place to work. Teachers who get stuff done at school are freer at home. If you don’t feel like grading at school, how do you feel when you see all the things you need to do and you are home? DO NOT use these breaks to prepare for the next class. That should have already been done. Scrambling around at the last minute to figure out what you are teaching brings on a bundle of stress. Running to the copy machine is not good exercise. And it may not be working when you get there!

Teachers need sleep.
And you are probably not getting enough. This is why you need to be organized and grade ASAP. The later it is, the worse your brain functions. If you are planning or grading at midnight, how long do you think you will last?

Get to school early.
You need to be fully prepared as soon as the bell rings. I have seen teachers standing in line at the copier when the bell rings. And continue to copy. I have seen teachers drive up to campus as the bell rings. How effective of a teacher can you be? Not only is this bad teaching, it is bad for your nerves as well. Unless you are a do-nothing teacher. I urge you to read the articles here on engaging students and being a great teacher.

Every day is a new day!
Teachers should try and forget the small things that happen each day. Start each day renewed. Your classroom discipline should be a system that is as stress-free for you as possible.

Teachers, not all is possible.
No matter how organized you are there just things about teaching that are stressful. The key is to have as much time away from school to do other things. Make your time away from school count as much as your days in school. Your job as a teacher needs to be left outside your front door as much as possible.


10th Anniversary of Columbine
April 20, 2009, 3:24 pm
Filed under: Interest to Teachers | Tags: , ,

10 years ago, I was a teacher in a large urban high school. Before Columbine, whenever I mentioned I was such a teacher, I used to get oohs and ahhs about how dangerous my job was. I told them the truth. It is not like the movies. It is relatively calm and maybe a fist fight once a week is about it as far as violence goes. Public schools, no matter where they are, are actually quite safe and secure. School is one of the safest places to be.

After Columbine, I got even more comments about why I was a high school teacher. People see stuff on TV and the movies and think it is happening all over.

Columbine was a sad and very shaking experience for anyone. It should not have happened. But it was not because schools are unsafe. Anywhere and everywhere, something like this may happen if the circumstances are right. Or wrong, for that matter.

Think about the shootings that have occurred the last few days. Would you say hospitals are an unsafe place to work just because some idiot shot someone in a hospital? No.

Tell your kids that school is safe. It is. It is more dangerous to be in other places. But yes, things can happen. School children need to be feel safe. The way their parents, friends, classmates, and teachers act has a big impact. Watch what you say and do. Do everything you can to make your child feel no fear.


Getting Rid of Grade Levels?
March 29, 2009, 6:07 pm
Filed under: Interest to Teachers | Tags: , ,

Read an article today about getting rid of grade levels. All students would just be tracked.

The pros:
Students would be in classes that give them help at the same time as same-level students.
Student level would need to be tracked.
Parents would know constantly what level their child was at.
Teachers would now be accountable for students’ progress.

The cons:
Different ages mixed up.
Traditional school is gone.
Students would have to adapt.
Teacher control may take a back seat as they are trained for one age.
Teacher would be on the hot seat constantly.
Who decides who moves on and when?
Are students locked forever until they pass?
18 year old in class with 6 year old?
What about kindergarten?

I can think of many more questions that come up.

I do not think that grade level at this point in time needs to be gotten rid of. However, many countries have less years of school. We may try that.

The More Money Trap
March 26, 2009, 4:05 pm
Filed under: Interest to Teachers | Tags: , , , ,

These days schools are crying for more money. The past 50 years, we have turned schools into not only places of doing reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic, but places of health, food, daycare, sex ed, and more. Billions have been spent on these areas. This makes the job of funding schools more complex. There are so many new favorite programs for people, any cutting of these is seen as somehow a cut in funding. Not really. It is just a discontinuation of programs that really have nothing to do with teaching students. We really need to get the responsibility of raising kids back to parents, and the teaching of kids back to teachers. Unfortunately, political leaders like doing good deeds, rather than make good decisions.

A quick example of how money is now spent on fluff, is textbooks. Look at a math textbook 50 years ago. No pictures, no funny stories, and (gasp) no color. These students put men on the moon. Now a textbook is so costly. Why? Because it is filled with feel-good stuff. Fluff that is not needed to learn math.

We have put ourselves in a bind. We have added so many programs to our schools over the years, that we are now entrenched in it. Our education system is filled with billions and billions of dollars going for stuff outside of the actual teaching of students. But we can’t cut them, can we? We look like mean people when we do.

This current economy, especially in California, is proof that we have funded ourselves into oblivion. We keep increasing programs and taxes to pay for them, that sooner or later we will have no money left to take.

Happy Students
March 24, 2009, 3:10 pm
Filed under: Interest to Teachers | Tags: , , ,

Why do kids hate school? Have you ever wondered that? In the first place, we out kids in rooms with 30 strangers for 6 hours a day, then expect them to be perfect. It’s not going to happen. It’s work. Students are asked to think and act, not just play. Then we give them homework and expect them to work at home too. So, how can you improve the outlook of your students?

Here are a few things:

Break up the monotony. Let them have fun for a few minutes here and there.

Don’t pile on the homework.

Do more hands-on activities. Make learning seem like it’s play. They will be learning and not even know it.

Let them talk more. A silent classroom is not a classroom of engaged students. It is a classroom of silent students. Kids naturally want to interact with each other. When you take this away, it becomes a chore.

Don’t just do worksheet after worksheet. This is lazy teaching and bores the heck out of students. You as the teacher need to make the learning interesting.

Use learning games that involve the whole class. You can also buy games that a group of students can play. Use them frequently. Child’s play is their work!

Be a positive teacher! Reward effort and don’t dwell on the negatives. Positive comments out loud work wonders!