Saturday, May 31, 2014

Eight Mistakes Teachers Make at the End of the School Year


1. Letting the students take over. Students begin to get antsy toward the end of the year. They become bold in their actions and that often leads to misbehavior and wild classes...which leads to frustrated, frazzled teachers. To avoid this, overplan. Students need structure, in general, but not ever as much as they need it at the end of the year. Plan engaging, hands-on, lessons and activities with the fun stuff you wish you could teach, but don't get to because of state standards, testing, etc. That being said, mistake #2 is...
2. Not embracing students' energy. As the weather starts to warm and the end of school is in sight, the energy level rises. Acknowledging it and embracing it, as opposed to fighting it or trying to control it, will make the last few days much more enjoyable. Find ways to harness the energy with content games, such as Jeopardy-type reviews, or board races in Math. Take more brain breaks than usual and enjoy the fun!
3. Not preparing a reflection opportunity of the year's learning. Students need to pause for reflection and to synthesize new information frequently. Give them an opportunity to reflect on all their learning from the school year, whether it be academic, social, or behavioral. Ideas to facilitate this are creating memory books or reflection journaling. For secondary students, try this reflection poster
4. Forgetting to document. Each end-of-year is rough, but each one can be a little less rough than the last just by documenting. Teachers get so tired and stretched so thin that we forget to make notes about what worked and what didn't. Save the notes in a safe place that you will find before the end of next year. Set your future self up for success!
5. Not making personal connections. Hand write your students a letter, personalize their yearbook note, give them a meaningful gift, exchange email addresses. Do something that allows the students to have a tangible memento letting them know how much they've meant to you. This can be more difficult with secondary teachers who teach 75+ kids, but strive to do it anyway. The gesture will mean more to most of them than a lot of our teaching and it will help them look back fondly of you!
6. Not having students help pack up your room. Teachers are exhausted. Students seem to have more energy than ever. Win-win for shutting down a classroom for the summer! Trying to do everything on your own will just wear you down even more! (Okay, I must admit. This one is a little difficult for me to do. I am a little bit particular about the way things get packed away because I know the process for unpacking. If done wrong, it can create a lot more work to begin the next school year. So, I have found the solution.) Spend a little time upfront making a plan for exactly what all needs to be done and how you want it organized. Select students who are task-masters and let them have fun! For the others, they can run errands, clean white boards, move desks/tables, stack textbooks, etc.      
7. Hanging around with the "Negative Nancies." We have established that the end of the year can be overwhelming and frustrating. Administrators seem to neglect logic, students have forgotten the rules and procedures, and your to-do list is longer than time allows. We are all experiencing the same emotions and venting can be healthy. But remember that negativity breeds negativity. Be careful that you don't allow yourself to fall into the trap of making yourself more miserable than necessary by letting others' burdens pile on top of yours.
8. Forgetting to have fun.The last days of school provide the unique opportunity for the students to get to see a true lighter side of you. When appropriate, let loose and get silly with the kids. Join them for a pick-up game on the basketball courts, allow the girls to do your hair and/or make-up one morning, give fun opportunities for rewards. My team has an annual tradition of allowing students to throw pies in the face of a teacher of choice on the last day. The students look forward to it all year and it really does create those wonderful lasting memories that live forever.  Be sure to smile...it's the last thing they will remember of you!



Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Top Ten Things I Want to do This Summer


So, I am new to the blogging world and happy to be diving in!  I saw Deanna Jump's (Mrs. Jump's Class) post about her summer plans and figured I would join in the fun.  Even though summer is still a couple of weeks away for me.  So, here are my top ten things I want to do this summer...in no particular order.
 
1. Hang out with these gorgeous guys all day. These are my twin toddlers, Ben and Jack.
 
2. Have weekly lunch dates with this handsome hunk. My husband, Derek, and I will celebrate our 8 year anniversary this summer.


 3.  Decorate and settle in to our new house.  We just finished building our new home and have lived in it for a month or so.  It is so hard to work full time, have twin toddlers, and find time to unpack and get settled.  Thank God for summer break!
 
4. Be more consistent with my daily quiet time. 
"She is clothed in strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come." Proverbs 31:25
"Pray without ceasing." 1 Thessalonians 5:17
 
5. Go to Branson! My parents, husband, and I are planning a weekend trip for outlet shopping and to take the cuties to Silver Dollar City for their first time! (We are doing close-to-home-cations this summer...see #3 above.)
 
6. Learn a new curriculum! After 9 years teaching 7th grade Math, I am moving to the high school to teach 10th grade Math.  I am not sure of the course yet, but should find out soon.  Fingers crossed!  (Bye, bye crazy 7th graders...see you in a few years!)

 
7.  Upload all my 7th grade product ideas to TpT (my store).  Hopefully, my store will explode this summer. I have a lot of ideas in my head that I would like to get out before I cram in Geometry or Algebra II content.

 
8. Cook and meal plan more. Unfortunately, I am not very domestic, but since I know it makes my husband happy, I am going to strive to be better about cooking meals.  My idea of a homemade meal is Ramen or sandwiches.  I can make a mean sandwich.  ;)
 
9. Move into and decorate a new classroom.  I take pride in making my classroom inviting and decorated with purpose. I make have to rethink my middle school color scheme, but I want my new room to be perfect for those 10th graders!


10. Do a lot of front (and back) porch sittin'.  I hope to find time to relax and just sit.
 

 
 
 
 
 


Follow Me with Bloglovin?

I feel really confused about followers and how to get everything going on my blog that I need.  I am currently trying to "claim my blog" (???) with Bloglovin.  I am such a newbie to this world of blogging!  Here it goes...

Follow">http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/12330065/?claim=cszhbrx5nsn">Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

ETA: I am also trying to figure out how to verify my website on Pinterest.  Wondering if this will work... 

 


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Out with the Old...


When I graduated from college and began looking for a teaching job, I was only really interested in teaching High School Math.  I'll spare the details of the job search, but I was offered a job teaching 7th grade Math and I gratefully accepted.  It has been everything I could have every wanted in a school.  My principal was ideal, the students were wonderful, yet challenging, and the school culture was something worth jumping out of bed each morning for!  Fast forward nine years and my tenure at my lovely middle school is coming to an end.  (More to come about that process later.) So, in honor of me leaving my love and home and heading over to the big, scary high school, I thought I would share some pictures of my classroom.  It is currently being packed up, but this is what it looked like last week.

This is the welcome banner that hangs outside my classroom door.
Here is my numbered calculator pocket for a decorative look and easy organization.

My desks are numbered to match their calculators and calculators' pockets.  It helps students remember their calculator number and keeps them accountable for not taking them from the room.  If you like the number circles and would like your own, I offer them FREE in my store.  You can download them HERE.

Our team name is Team Discovery, so this is my play on the word, "Discovery."  When a student earns an A, they get their name posted and get a treat from the treasure box.

This is my student objective board.  I teach 4 different classes, Advisory, Learning Tools, Accelerated Math, and Math 7.  This keeps them (and me) organized.  The objective labels read, "Today I will..." and the homework labels read, "Tonight I will..."  To the left of the board are my "ATQA" posters, which our school uses as a reminder to "answer the question asked." Above my board are the eight Standards of Mathematical Practices.  I list them by number under the objective for the day, so this gives students a quick reference. 

This is my fun reading area.  It is an old, but perfectly comfortable couch.  The students love it!

For most of my books, they are organized in tubs by genre.  These three black shelves contain my books in a series, organized alphabetically by author.  Books in a series are my favorite!

I have tried many solutions to win the pencil battle with Middle Schoolers, but haven't tried the winning one yet.  This one was WONDERFUL...for a while.  I purchased purple pencils with, "Please Return to Mrs. Travis" engraved on them and loaded up the "Sharpened Pencil" basket.  Their instructions were to return it when done and put it in the appropriate tub.  Instead, they took them.  So, it WAS wonderful...until I ran out.  Of 100+ pencils.  By Thanksgiving.  Back to the drawing board.

My classroom was decorated with a polka-dotted theme, so this was my desk. (Excuse the mess on top.)

And that's it.  It has been a good ride.  I will miss so many things about my school, my lovely little classroom being one.  If you have any questions about anything you read or saw or have any comments for me, please email me or leave a comment below.