Why It’s December 14th And The Party Has Not Started Yet In Your Classroom…A Few Tips To Help!

I have been on social media this past week looking at hilarious teacher memes highlighting the exhausting plight of teachers everywhere as they head into the last week of school before the Christmas break. The memes, though humorous, are all too real.

It’s December 14th, so why can’t we just call it a week and dance into the New Year?

As a teacher you are tired and so are your students. Class disruptions and misbehavior tend to worsen before a break. In the case of Christmas break, the phrase “absence makes the heart grow fonder” has never rang more true. You need a break and so do the kids.

Here are a few tips help:

1. Keep lesson plans structured and engaging.

This is not time to go to the copy room and xerox a packet for the next week, plop it on the kids desks and sit at your desk. Keep it simple, relevant and student-centered.

For example, in math, create review stations (can be handouts) and have each station be a day of Christmas from The Twelve Days of Christmas. Mon- Days 1-4, Tuesday-Days 5-8 Wednesday-Days 8-12. If student groups successfully complete the review, they can have a reward on Friday!

In ELA- Create an escape room for Santa’s elves to be released from the Grinch’s grasp! Students must successfully complete grammar practice or vocabulary to advance to the next level!

In History- Have students research various Christmas/holiday customs around the world as well as New Year’s. Have groups fill out an outline then present their findings to the class on Wednesday.

As with any idea, cater to your students’ needs and grade level!

Keep it simple and fun.

2. Your school may already have Christmas activities planned!

You ALREADY probably have this figured out. If you are in elementary, you are probably already helping direct a Winter program etc. Make sure you take this into consideration when writing lesson plans! Middle schools and High Schools may have programs as well in addition to midterms (many schools now have midterms/semester close in mid January).

3. Your attitude may be waning as well.

Yes. YOU. Hang in there. Vent to a trusted coworker after school (never do it in front of the kids) to keep your sanity. Do not “go off” on the kids all week. Keep your eye on the goal and your attitude straight. Don’t fall into community negativity. This too shall pass.

4. Do one thing for yourself during the break.

Get a massage, nails done or even a new hairdo to help start your New Year off right!

5. Do not wait until January 2 or whenever your school reopens to start planning for the New Year.

Start making a list THIS week of what needs to be done upon your return. Have your lesson plans ready and copies made. I never liked to come back to chaos. Also, straighten the room and allow the kids to help you pack up Christmas decorations if time permits at the end of the week. You want to start 2019 off right!

You CAN survive this week. I have and many before you have. Fun, structured and engaging lessons help curb misbehavior and you just may have fun in the process as well!

Stay In The Light–
Kia
©2018

What some other things YOU do to not only survive this week but are preparing for the New Year?! Comment below!

4 Ways To Welcome Your Students Back From a Holiday Break!

We are returning from a major holiday break. As I said in my Instagram description, “New Teachers: you don’t know what you don’t know.” This statement can never be proven more true then preparing to welcome our students back from a holiday break!

When your students have been gone for a significant length of time, they have to be “reintroduced” to your classroom environment, rules, and procedures. Also note that every student’s home is not pleasant–no matter if they are in a shelter or live in a mansion. The holidays can also be very painful time for some students and adults alike. Whether the holidays were gloomy or absolutely joyous for your students, you need to be prepared. Check out these 4 ways to welcome back your students…and keep your sanity and classroom
structure.

#1-TREAT THE FIRST DAY BACK LIKE THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL.

I’m not kidding at all. In fact, this is a great time to reintroduce rules and procedures in addition to introducing new ones as well! A nice slideshow presentation is nice as well (I especially have done this upon returning from Christmas Break) especially in grades 6-12. Be loving but firm. They’ve been relaxing and without rules for one or more weeks. Bring them back in with structure.

#2-BRIEFLY OUTLINE WHAT YOU DID BEFORE THE BREAK AND DISCUSS GOALS.

Your students have no idea what you all worked on before the break. To be honest, you may not either. That’s alright, but for their sake and yours, you all need a brief recap with the lesson or content.

Also, discuss goals and having students create their own is a great way to help motivate them and set them in motion before the next break. The goals are up to you. They can be personal, class, grade average, assessment goals, and the list goes on.

#3–BE PREPARED TO WELCOME NEW STUDENTS.

Holiday breaks are popular times for families to move. Almost everyone is off of work or at least sparingly. Additionally, students are home from school as well…to help! Therefore, you may get a few more students after a holiday break. Schedule changes are predominantly done after a break to give some students the feel of a new start. This is why it is so beneficial and almost critical to treat it like a mini first day of school. This helps orientate new students and helps them know what to expect from you.

#4-BE WELCOMING BUT FIRM.

I am not saying roll your eyes, and breathe “humph” then march away! Treat your students with respect and Firmness. This is not the time to be everyone’s best friend. Kids need a teacher’s stability and structure. Friends come within their own age peers. Let them know you mean business. This is not time to play.

You can do this and welcome back!

Stay in the Light–

Kia

Updating and Under Construction! Good Things Are Happening!

I always thought it was “pretty cool” when websites were updating and working behind the scenes. Well I suppose now it’s our turn! The Educator’s Light is getting a few changes to it’s site. So please excuse the little mess you see as it is only temporary (very temporary). Good things are happening behind the scenes. Regardless, everything will continue as usual! A new blog post is coming very soon but in the meantime, check out last week’s blog “2 Serious Reasons Why You Should Cherish a Good Teaching Team!” The Educator’s Light is also on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter as we are updating those as well. Have a restful weekend and Stay In the Light.

2 Serious Reasons Why You Should Cherish a Good Teaching Team!

If you are a new teacher whether in public school, private school, home school cohort, or any other innovative educational outlet, you should cherish your team especially if you are blessed with a good one. Here are 2 reasons why!

#1. If you have a good team, it is good to know someone has your back and you have theirs.

As a new teacher, your first year can be extremely overwhelming and confusing. Having a good team can not only help you, but at times they can literally “carry” you when you need it most. This is not to say you need to be a “moocher” and expect them to do everything for you. That is not their job and behaving that way will make you look like you are not capable of the job. You are grown and need to understand, either you can handle teaching or not. It really is that simple to some degree. They have their own classes and responsibilities to deal with. I am not saying get in a corner and not seek help, but use common sense.

You cannot rely on your team to save you from everything and watch you sulk day in and day out as with any career. You are an independent professional, however, to have a supportive team your first year is golden.

If they have had your back especially more than once, you have a good team and make sure you show your appreciation and on a number of occasions, try to return the favor.

Hint: Most teachers/teams love sweet notes or chocolate/treats…especially given out spontaneously at their tables… during grueling trainings or staff meetings. Also, offering to make copies for them always cheers up someone’s day.

#2. If you work with a good team long enough, it will help make you a stronger teacher down the road.

If you have a strong team, you will reap the benefits of being around effective teachers…you eventually become one of them. There is nothing wrong with asking a trusted, experienced teacher if you can sit in on a class or two and observe or schedule a good time for them to sit with before or after school and get tips, ideas or general support.

Alternative certification and even student teaching are not the end-all-be-all of learning to teach. They are important starts and I am not knocking any of these pathways to becoming a teacher, but I have seen too many teachers either think they know everything or are severely desperate of constant support or everywhere in between.

Cherish your team if you have a good one. If you are not endowed with a good team then walk this out and get the support you need as best as you can. You can DO this. Stay professional, be you, and most importantly, Stay In The Light.

Kia
©2018

Share an experience of a team you cherish below in the comments!

The #1 Reason You Will Doubt Yourself As A Teacher

**Note- Back from a brief blogging break! Let’s roll!**

I doubted myself constantly as a new teacher. My coworkers constantly doubted themselves. The ones who were conceited probably doubted themselves the most in secret. Here are a few examples:

“Am I supposed to be doing this?’

“If I am this stressed, I must be doing something wrong.”

“If I’m this at ease, I must be doing something wrong.”

“My lesson plans look awful, it’s never enough.”

“The kids did horrible on yet another quiz, time to update my resume. They deserve better.”

“I had to look up the definition of what I am teaching…I did not know what it was. This is just too much.”

“This kid confronted me in front of the class and I did NOT handle it well.”

“Based on my kids’ scores, I am a bad teacher. Oh okay, so I guess being the first one there in the morning and the last one to leave is bad. Please.”

“I cannot get half of the district initiatives and I am too embarrassed to ask for extra help.”

“I don’t think I can make it to May. Heck, I don’t think I can make it to December…I’m out…deuces.”

Life, even the span of 100 years, is a comma in the dissertation of eternity. Therefore, life is too short. You love kids. You were so passionate and to be honest, your kids love you. Why do you doubt yourself as a new teacher?

FEAR. Fear of being a bad teacher. Fear of being embarrassed by inadequacy. Fear of looking like you don’t know what you are doing. Fear of “them” finding out you really don’t know what you are doing half of the time. Fear of failing your kids, your school, your community, yourself.

STOP. Guess what? YOU are not responsible for bad attitudes , mean looks from coworkers, administrators or parents, bad meetings, etc. You are responsible for doing the best you can and what’s best for those kids with a pure heart using the best tools available to you…a day at a time. That’s it. It takes a village. Not just you. Strive for consistent progress, not perfection.

SOCIETY. Let’s be honest, teaching is really hard and in some ways, not even humanly possible. Society, school systems, and some districts can make you overwhelmed. Everything is put on teachers. Heaven forbid a sinister teacher is on the news for a crime—now we “all” look bad and untrustworthy because of their horrible criminal actions. We are supposed to be parents, counselors, administrators, nurses, motivators, custodians, security guards, marshall arts specialists and the list goes on.

No other profession has this sort of responsibility and pressure. You have a choice whether you say yes to this pressure or no. If you say yes, you will not last long. I am in no way advocating for you to disobey directives or not to do your job. That is unprofessional. I am saying do not let those directives overwhelm you and push you out the door with doubt tucked in your tote.

Tell yourself “I am doing the best I can.”

One of the best science teachers I ever had the pleasure of working with failed the teaching exam 5 times. She finally passed on the 6th time—the state said that was the limit at that time. Her kids had some of the highest 5th grade science scores in one of the largest school districts in our state…she didn’t let that stop her. I remember her worry, fear, and doubt. What a joy when she passed. Her humility and love for her kids paved the way to victory.

Some of the not so competent and conceited teachers I worked with aced the teacher exams, were high performing students in school or their prior professions and seemed to brag about every accomplishment they did with their kids all of the time. Newsflash—to be honest, they were not the strongest teachers and were always the ones who could never relate to their students but looked down on them, like few did to their other colleagues. Ouch. Put in the time, years of experience and love and respect for your students, then I’ll give you a “few” bragging rights. ‘)

Doubt comes when you are actually doing something for your kids. When you are putting effort forth, you may doubt yourself. I believe doubt comes to many hardworking teachers. I don’t doubt my capabilities in Nascar because I’m not a Nascar driver. I don’t doubt my capabilities in crocheting because I don’t crochet (yet).

YOU ARE YOUR GREATEST COMPETITION. AS A TEACHER, NEVER COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHER TEACHERS.

Social Media will have you thinking your little classroom, dollar store, startup effort is garbage compared to mega classrooms. It’s not. As I always say, be inspired, not jealous. I love looking at fun, beautiful classrooms. Admire it. If it is openly shared, grab some ideas. Some teachers have put unspoken hours, years, and finances into their classrooms. Don’t hate or feel inferior. That’s them. You do you. Both of you are surviving, just in different ways.

Don’t let fear and doubt destroy your dreams of helping your students and future generations. They need you. You are a light in the darkness. As we watch the news more and more, we see daily examples of national and international struggles, turbulence, violence, confusion, ignorance, and hurt. Keep your heart right, and for as long as you are called, teach on.

Stay in the light,

Kia
©2018

 

What are things you have doubted yourself on in your classroom or beginning teaching experience? Share below!

Happy World Teacher’s Day!

Did you know today is World Teacher’s Day? Well if not, Happy World Teacher’s Day to you!

Teaching is an interesting profession in and of itself. The heart of what we do is students. It is that simple. Any successful teacher who is respected keep their students the center focus of what they do daily–not money (ha ha), not prestige, not ambition, not overtime pay, not state scores (don’t let it distract you if you can). This focus is not just limited to the U.S. There are outstanding educators, students, and education systems across the globe.

No air conditioning, no heating, little food, lack of water, lack of adequate teaching materials, severe lack of pay and compensation/benefits, short supply of desks/chairs for students, lack of adequate uniforms and appropriate clothing for students, inundation of testing, lack of support even in the education system, and increasing societal woes, violence, and aggression  are just a few things that plague the mind of so many teachers in the U.S. and abroad.

       

Money tends to go places it shouldn’t. I tend to hear quite a bit of lip service these days about how much education is valued. I believe you fund what you value. It is really is that simple. There’s no debate, dialogue or rhetoric that can prove otherwise.

If you value golf, what do you fund? Golf equipment, club membership, uniforms and golf-related entertainment.  You value music  (I love music too)? What do you put your money towards? Concerts, downloads/streaming services, old records, lessons, etc. Save the lip service for karaoke night.

Spend the money on the kids, teachers, and resources to help them. The doctor YOU or your loved ones may need to see 20 years from now could be one of your students. Love your neighbor today, reap the benefits down the road.

Happy World Teacher’s Day. You are powerful, valued, and loved. Thank you for your courage to continue teaching these kids everyday in spite of it all…all across the world.

 

Stay in the light,

Kia

©2018

 

What are some courageous things you have done or stories you know of that have proven how awesome teachers are?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The MAIN Product A Teacher Needs For Organizing a School Year!

 

Why does it seem like everywhere I look there are some of the CUTEST ideas for organization? I have to admit it– I am a sucker for office supplies, planners, and pretty much anything that deals with planning and organization. Add gorgeous decorations and I am hooked. It’s quite motivational. Like many, I am not perfect at it, but I’m striving.

Planning for a school year can be daunting to say the least. It’s like an illusive labyrinth with the end goal being the middle that seems almost impossible to obtain.

I love so many ideas, but I would like to share one idea that has worked well for me. Teachers (both men and women) love these two words: cheap or free.

What is the main product a teacher needs to plan their year? Ahhhem…drumroll.

A cheap calendar. 

“Wait, that’s it?” That’s it. “What if I have a really nice one I just bought with cool tabs?” Don’t let your money go to waste. Use it. Enjoy the glitter on the front while your at it. Send me a picture so I can admire its adorableness as well.

That’s it.

Some of the highest progress, scores (though their not everything) best lesson plans, and best activities, came from using one. simple. calendar…with nice-sized squares. Your welcome.

Why is this the main product?

I am the type of person where I start with the end in mind or I need to see the big picture first then work backward. I have had coworkers who are the opposite–they start small then work forward a week or two at a time or anyone can be a mix of both. That’s okay too.

Using a simple calendar supports several planning types.

Stay organized. As I always like to say to teachers “If you are in chaos, your students will be in chaos.” Yes, there is the reality of papers all over your desks in addition to papers overflowing in the turn in bin. You may have to work at it, but your sanity will thank you.

How does it work?

I am glad you asked. I am so excited about including resources that can aid you in this process. Coming soon!!!

Where can I get one?

Almost everywhere. Dollar stores, grocery stores, specialty stores, or for free at some credit unions etc. Nothing fancy unless that’s your personality–then go for it!

 

Stay tuned for simple tips on planning your year.

Stay in the light–

Kia

© 2018

 

What are products you use that help keep you organized and sane? Comment below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Teachers Are Some Of The Biggest Risk-Takers Today

We have seen many entertaining shows and footage of people performing death-defying stunts of many sorts. From tight rope walking to breathing fire and everything in between, we have been thoroughly amused.

These men and women train hours and hours each day sometimes for years on end to do what they do and make it seem effortless. So do teachers. Teachers are some of the biggest risk-takers today. Let’s talk about why.

 In the midst of so much world, societal, state, district, and personal confusion, teachers continue to move forward daily working with the most vulnerable–teaching, molding and protecting.

Yep, we do it. Everyday. It like being in the midst of a tornadic funnel while holding 25 kittens, analyzing data, trying to read emails, placing bandages on the kittens,  dealing with other wind-beaten, stressed adults, and trying to protect our kittens and ourselves from disturbed humans trying to bring harm to us–while we are in the funnel…with debris flying around us.  Sometimes it is calm, sometimes it is peaceful, and then the reality of the storm ensues again. Yet we continue to move forward.

Keep doing what you are doing day after day. After looking at the news and seeing reports of increasing suicides, crime, social media negative influences, family instability, and feeling the mounting pressures of teaching, one message becomes clear: we cannot give up on these kids. You are a loving constant for our kids in today’s public society.

YOU are a risk-taker and a warrior. Never forget it.

Stay in the light–

The Educator, M.Ed.

 

What are other ways you or other teachers take risks everyday? Comment below!

The ONE Secret To Being The Perfect Teacher

It is here. After years of research, trainings and workshops, talking to numerous educators and administrators, graduate school, videos, movies, and speaking with countless students, I have found the one secret. I cannot believe I discovered this amazing secret…and I am sharing it…in 2018. Here it is, so lean into the screen closely and read:

There is NO such thing as the perfect teacher. The perfect teacher doesn’t exist. Being a teacher is like writing a college essay. The first draft you don’t do too well, but you survived. You get help and tips from the writing center online or on campus. You get a few edits, and you learn extra tips you can use along the way. By the time you write the final draft, you gave your all, still a few errors, but you are on your way to becoming a more established writer…until the next paper. Welcome to teaching.

The good news is you do not have to be perfect. Instead:

Strive for Excellence. Excellence is not being perfect, it’s striving for the best for your kids and what you do. It is doing your best to be a positive example for your students and to walk in ethical character. When you walk in that school, or any educational entity you may be a part of, your students should be your main focus, their safety and what is best for them. That is excellence.

You will mess up lessons, you will fall out your chair in front of a large class of 7th graders (true story), you will feel out of place at times, you will feel overwhelmed (for example being trained to physically defend your students from literal attacks in addition to mastering curriculum), you will be disappointed in your kids, you will even sometimes feel like you’re a joke and you’re playing teacher–whether you are new or experienced.

The secret is out. No perfect teacher exists. I dare you to strive for excellence anyway. Keep the kids’ best interests in front of you. Learn as you teach, and teach as you learn and for goodness sake, take it a day at a time.

What are simple tips you may have for striving for excellence and not perfection?

Stay in the light–

The Educator, M.Ed.

©2018

 

2 Quick Tips for Enjoying A Great Labor Day Weekend!

2 Quick Tips for Enjoying A Great Labor Day Weekend ( Or Any Holiday) Care Free.

It’s Labor day weekend! As a new teacher, you made it to your first holiday break! You have waited for this moment since the first day of school! You really like your students (or are still getting to know them), you feel like you’re stumbling, but you are surviving. You are smiling, but secretly, you are plain exhausted. I’ve been there as a new teacher and as a seasoned one.

This fabulous holiday break is just the time to catch up on loads of school work that you didn’t have time for when you were writing lesson plans at 2 or 3 am in the morning or during that planning period. Not so fast. Put that pile, backpack or storage crate of work and supplies down and read this first!

1. Tip #1 Resist the urge to spend the break working on school work.
I confess, I have been a hypocrite when it comes to this. I’ll do better. In the meantime, know this—the work will be there when you get back. Unless you have some off- the-wall, extenuating deadline looming right after the break, REST. Plus, you tend to get more done, more efficiently, when your mind and body is rested and clear. If you just have to, here’s a strategy:

Take only one major assignment/task to grade or a few small assignments or tasks. That’s all. Make it a goal to complete it in one to two hours only and time it. Put on music, a movie or show, or work in silence. No cheating.

First year teachers and some experienced teachers tend to use breaks and late nights as a time to sit down, undisturbed, and work. I know I did. Newsflash—as soon as you pull into your garage or driveway, whether single or a within a family of your own, you will have multiple distractions and personal priorities. Believe me and many others before you…it won’t get done. It’s a process to learn, but it can be learned.

Teachers have lives contrary to popular belief. Working through every break and not making time for your own family, duties, and personal care can lead to burnout—and eventual resentment. Our students need you energetic and rested. Resist the urge to drown in work. Keep it light.

2. Tip #2  Pick one outing or fun thing to do for YOU!
This will really help your soul. Also, for some new teachers, you still have not gotten paid yet (yes, we get paid monthly). There are excellent blogs and articles on fun free things to do when you are trying to save money or are short on it.

Take a planned or spontaneous nature hike, watch a favorite movie or show on Netflix with inexpensive snacks, have a potluck and catch up with friends, family or make new friends with trusted coworkers or neighbors! Also, you can clean or simply go for a walk or catch up with someone special on the phone or in person over tea or coffee. Volunteer at your church or local nursing home. Again. REST and feed your soul.

Enjoy your weekend and every break! Make it a good one and return back to school rested, refreshed, and ready to go. Those kids will be waiting on you. The future is waiting on you.

How did will/did you spend your Labor Day holiday?

Stay in the light–

The Educator, M.Ed.

© 2018