Sunday, November 6, 2011

My ABC's of Teaching

As a teacher that has been teaching over 15 years, across many schools, cities and countries........I have been inspired..........and I have been disappointed.

DISCLAIMER: I do not claim to be the best teacher in the world, and am not saying that I don't have things to adjust, learn or seek. I have a list of skills, strategies and development that I know I need to improve to be better for my students.

I am a massive O B S E R V E R when I go around to schools. At the schools I have worked at (on contract or subbing), I take away something every time. Fantastic teaching strategies to try in the future, or behaviors or ideas that are toxic and that I should avoid.

With my good fortune of gaining insight into a hundred if not more (maybe?) classrooms, I can see now that good, effective teaching has a few main pieces to the puzzle of teaching. Many small things fall under each category, but to me, it is comprised of this:

TEACHING SKILLS: your training, continued prof development, how you teach the curriculum, assess, etc.

ORGANIZATION: your room set up (thinking through all parts of the day), room cleanliness, keeping students accountable to take care of classroom items, time on task, having copies made, lesson plans in place, sub notes ready, routines.

CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT: I'm not talking so much about discipline here, but what has been put in place first, so that students know what is expected and acceptable. I will also include routines here again because I think that will make or break your classroom. Also included here is your consistency, follow-through and promoting the positive. And also making modifications/accommodating children who need extra help due to impulse/hyperactivity/etc behavior that is out of their control (management program not really effective if they're on red everyday, right?)

COMMUNICATION: with staff ("I need help teaching.........."), parents (newsletters, calendars, etc and also with behavior/academics, etc.."Susie is late and absent a lot, which affects her learning. Can we work together to find a solution for that?"), and the community (volunteers, outreach, etc).

If you are still reading, I put together a few notes that I think can make teaching more pleasant, easy and efficient.

I know that some of the same issues will always be there (parents that are horrible, bad admin, challenging students, etc)...........but what I'm saying is: Teaching is hard enough, so why not be efficient with what is in YOUR control??

A: Anticipate what is coming next. Eliminate possible downtime for students (they will find trouble!)
   Assess your students and know what they need.

B: Balance your life so you don't get burned out.

C: Choose your battles with students. Their behavior doesn't have to perfect for them to be actively engaged.
     Communicate with parents. Get to know them. They may be more open to listen to you.

D: Differentiate. I bet half of behavior problems come from students that have work that is too easy/hard for them. Let's meet our students where they're at. Put yourself in their shoes.

E: Energy & Enthusiasm. Show the students you're happy to be there with them!! Be the teacher you would want teaching you at one of your professional development sessions.

F: Find inspiring teachers to surround yourself with. Toxic teachers will bring you down.

G: Get in a good mood! Whatever it takes: chocolate, coffee, etc. The students deserve a happy teacher!
    Gossip: no good. Yep, I know. I'm working on not doing it too.

H: Honesty with parents is necessary, despite how uncomfortable it may be.
    Hoarding is not helpful and is an overwhelming environment for you and your students. Throw some stuff away already!
I: Integrity.....teach like you would if your principal or the parents were a fly on the wall.  Would you really talk like that if they were around?

J: Joy. Find joy in your day. It's easy to rush around, trying to fit all those standards in. Enjoy moments.

K: Know your students. Each one. They're not all the same.

L: Love of Learning: Is this in your classroom?

M: Mean what you say, Say what you mean

N: Nagging never works.

O: Organization.........what are you waiting for?? This is will make life so much better!
    Observe other teachers. Don't think you don't need it. We all do, and it will progress your teaching practices.

P: Passion. Do you have it? Have you lost it? How can you get it again?

Q: Quiet doesn't necessarily mean engaged/working/etc. Don't demand silence all the time.

R: Reflect on your teaching practices and choose areas to improve.
   Routines for everything. Carpet time, walking in a line, a pencil breaking, when the phone rings, where to put books, how to line up..................

S: Smile. Enough said. Who likes a grump?
   Share your resources. Why wouldn't you?

T: Treat others like you would want to be treated. I can't tell you how incredibly heart-breaking it is to see teachers scream at and belittle their students. Daily. yikes.

U: Utilize your parent volunteers.  And not just for cutting and copying things.

V: Vanity. I always feel better when I take time to look nice at school. And I hope to show the students and parents that I'm a professional and take pride in my job. I'm not saying this happens everyday, but hey. Just sayin'.

W: Water, Food, Recess & Bathroom: Maslow's Hierarcy of Needs. I can't think of anything worse than a teacher taking a student's recess everyday. Hate it.

X: eXcessive worksheets become meaningless to kids. Not to mention such a waste of paper.

Y: Yoga or stretching for you and the students. Take a brain break.

Z: Zest  n. Enthusiastic devotion to a cause, ideal, or goal and tireless diligence in its furtherance.

Like I said, I am not perfect. I'm working towards many of the above items. But by working towards these ideas, I have to say that I really like my job as a teacher!! I hope this has helped you to enjoy your job a little more.

Pajama Day with a long-term class in AZ. Fun!


YearntoLearn said...

I love your blog title!
Have fun traveling through blog world!


Yearn to Learn Blog

Jacqui said...

I love your ABC's of Teaching. Very well said and so true.

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