The wonderful thing about teaching is the fresh start we get every new school year! While the new calendar year doesnít bring a new class, it does bring the perfect opportunity to fine tune your classroom, revisit ideas and re-energize yourself! These resolutions are a snap to keep and will make your teaching life easier!
Increase Parent Communication
Itís easier to do your job when you are on the same page as the parents. By this point in the year youíve met the parents at back to school meetings and at parent teacher conferences. Now is the time to maintain that rapport youíve already established without spending hours writing notes.
Hereís a fast and easy way to touch bases with every parent. Most parents cringe at the thought of a phone call from their childís teacher. More often than not, phone calls are made when there is a problem. Try this for a change: take a minute and make a quick positive phone call to report some good news. Chances are youíll connect with an answering machine or voice mail. Leave a quick message and tell the parent that thereís no need to call you back. Parents love hearing good news about their kids. Keep a class phone list handy and check off each child as you make the calls.
The other day I ran into a parent of a former kindergarten student. She told me that the family was just talking about the time there was a phone message from me. The parent said that they kept the message on their machine for weeks because her son loved hearing it again and again. Who knew that a 30 second message about how well Max was suddenly writing the number 2 would make such an impact!
Use the ideas in your teacher magazines
Are you a magazine magnet? Are you inundated with piles of magazines that you canít bear to get rid of? There are so many great ideas sitting in all of those magazines! But realistically, are you using those ideas? Here are three ways to store your magazines so you really use them.
1. Rip out the articles and ideas that you want to save or try. File them by skill, month, or themeómake copies of anything on the backside that you want to save. Recycle the dissected magazines.
2. Buy 4 cardboard magazine boxes. Label them Fall, Winter and Spring. Label the 4th one back to school or summer if you teach in a year round setting. Sort your magazines by season and pop them into the boxes. Now when youíre looking for great winter ideas you can grab your winter box and ignore the others.
3. (My favorite!) Put your magazines in chronological order, number them, and photocopy the table of contents of each one. Number the photocopied table of contents so it corresponds with the number you wrote on the front of the magazine. As you receive new magazines number and photocopy the table of contents. Sort your photocopied pages into four pilesóback to school, fall, winter and spring. Staple the photocopied table of contents into file folders labeled back to school, fall, winter and spring. Highlight the ideas on the table of contents that you canít wait to try. When you plan, grab the indexes you created! Itís so fast to scan the photocopied table of contents and then EASILY grab the magazine you need.
Plan for rest of the year
Doesnít the last day of school seem very far away? Before you know it, itíll be in the end of the year crunch! Have you been in the situation where you canít remember what youíve taught and what you still need to teach? Hereís a way to make sure you cover everything before the year ends. Make a general plan for the rest of the school year! Hereís simple way to do it:
- Divide a big blank piece of paper into 5 or 6 squares. Label them with the remaining months of the school year.
- Take a look at the grade level standards for your school/state. Donít get caught up in the tiny details. Reacquaint yourself with the big picture of where you need to be by the end of the year.
- Start roughing out the different concepts you need to cover in each curriculum area and start spreading them out over the remaining months. For example, science in January electricity, March plants, etc. Plug in any field trips, read aloud books and projects along with the rest of your curriculum.
- Keep your general plan for the rest of the year handy. Refer to it when you do your weekly plans.
Try the "just one" approach for organization
Donít you think even the most perfect teacher at your school has at least one cupboard or closet that is a certified disaster area? Everyone does! Do you have a cupboard, closet or drawer in your classroom that is a black hole? You know, the kind of place where things go in and are never seen again! Try the just one approach to tame just one of your disaster areas. The just one approach is successful because youíre taking care of one small area instead of tackling your entire classroom at once.
- Identify the black hole in your classroom. Choose the one storage area that is the most unorganized.
- Set aside an uninterrupted half an hour or so before or after school.
- Label 4 grocery bags as follows: trash, recycle, give away and somewhere else.
- Completely empty the cupboard, closet or drawer.
- Set a timer for 30 minutes and get busy sorting. The timer reminds you to keep moving. If you sit down and start reading everything you sort, you could be in your room for the rest of your life! Give things a quick glance and pop them into one of your bags or back into the cupboard, closet or drawer in an organized manner. As you sort through things, ask yourself:
- Do I need this?
- Am I really attached to this?
- Is this a duplicate?
- Can this information or object be easily found elsewhere?
- Is this outdated?
- Do I have room for this?
- Is this something I will really use?
- The minute youíre done sorting everything, discard the trash bag, take the recycle bag to the recycle can, throw the give away bag in the staff room (itíll be gone tomorrowÖteachers canít pass up anything thatís free!), and put the items in the goes somewhere else bag where they really belong.
- Doesnít it feel good to have your biggest disaster area organized? Warning: You may feel so good that you find youíre ready to tackle just one more problem spot every week!
Enjoy a lunchtime escape
Isnít the fastest part of your day lunchtime? By the time you get out of your classroom, itís a race against the clock to eat lunch, catch up with colleagues, do some fast prep work and get a jump on correcting or paperwork. Why not treat yourself to a more relaxed lunchtime experience once or twice a week? On your special days leave your classroom empty handed, donít take anything with you other than your lunch and a comfy pair of shoes. Relax, eat your lunch and then head out on a 10 or 15 minute walk. Stepping away from the hectic pace of school can work wonders! You may want to invite a fun, upbeat teacher friend to join you. A quick walk is a great way to get energized for the busy afternoon ahead.
Resolution # 6
Make more money
Teachers work incredibly hard and should be well compensated. Take a look at your salary schedule. Are you on the top step for the number of years youíve taught and the units youíve earned? The faster you get to the top, the more youíll earn during your career. Climb up the salary ladder and earn maximum dollars for your hard work.
Now is the perfect time to take a course to earn units for salary advancement and to gain some new ideas. Since life is busy, you may want to consider online courses. Online courses are designed to fit your schedule without losing valuable time commuting to and from universities. If you are looking for 100% practical ideas and want to earn units, take a look at www.bgrubercourses.com today.
Hereís to a wonderful 2008!
Sue Gruber and Barbara Gruber
Barbara Gruber Online Courses for K-6 Teachers
Barbara Gruber Courses for Teachers
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