As teachers, I think that we sometimes feel the need to tackle the world single-handedly. Although we are used to being the head-honcho of our classrooms, that doesn’t mean that we need to approach everything alone. There are so many wonderful resources out there for teachers that should be taken advantage of. Here are just a few of the resources that I find most helpful:
1. Join an organization! There are national associations for pretty much every kind of subject! Since I teach science, I joined the NSTA (National Science Teachers Association). One of the reasons why I like belonging to the NSTA is that with your membership, you get a subscription to their magazine. You can choose what level you want to subscribe to: elementary, middle school, high school and college. Of course, you can subscribe to more than one (which is what I do). In each magazine, they have an awesome variety of resources that I find helpful every time I read through it. These organizations are run by people who actually teach what you teach, understand the needs of teachers, and address those needs. Check out some of these other national organizations: Science, English, History, Math, Art, Special Ed, PE, Music. A quick google search should help you find any other national teaching organization that I did not list. I would also suggest searching for your state organization as well.
2. Teachers Pay Teachers! This website is AMAZING! If you are looking for something, they definitely have it (actually, they probably have at least 20 options to choose from!). What I love about it is that it’s teachers selling their own worksheets, lessons, units, you-name-it. You can see the ratings that other teachers have given the products and you can ask the seller questions about a product directly. There are also a TON of free resources available on the site. If you get really into it, you can even start selling your own products. It’s a great resource and I always feel good knowing that I am buying from another teacher, like me, and giving my money to them rather than a big publishing company! These resources are teacher-tested and student-approved!
3. Brainpop! Who doesn’t love themed animated short videos about a boy and his robot? These videos are really cute and are entertaining for students through middle school. Although you have to pay for a full account, there are a lot of free videos and resources on the site that are thematic to national holidays etc. They have videos, games, worksheets, quizzes, further readings; they are fantastic! The full access accounts can be a bit pricey; you can get a single use account, a classroom account, or even a school account (I got our PTA to purchase the school account for us, and now all of our students have unlimited access- which is great!). You can sign up for a free trial to really give it a shot before you pay for a subscription. This site is a great way to give supplemental information to your students at home (or even for flip-learning). I highly suggest you check them out (try the free videos or a free trial)!
4. Dropbox has totally saved me on multiple occasions! Ok, this one is not entirely related to education alone. This is more of a this-will-make-your-technological-life-so-much-better kind of tip :) Dropbox is a great application that you can download to your computer/phone/iPad/tablet etc. that will store whatever files you want, and then automatically sync those files when changed to whatever device you have it linked to. For instance, I have ALL of my teaching documents in my dropbox folder on my home computer, my school computer and my phone. Why is this helpful you ask? Well, when I don’t feel like lugging my school computer home, but I want to be able to make changes to an upcoming lab and can’t find/don’t want to bother with a jump drive (what if I lose it?), I simply open my computer at home, make the changes, save it and then voila!, when I get to work, the updated file is instantly synced with that computer! IT’S MAGICAL!!! What if both of my computers simultaneously break? I can access all of my files though my account that is synced on my phone! What if my computers die and I lose my phone? I just find ANY available computer or device that can access the internet, log into my account, and BAM! There are all of my files waiting for me!! This has really saved me on multiple occasions (as well as my back! It’s nice to not have to lug that heavy school computer home and back to work everyday!).
5. Take advantage of your colleagues! I find that I get so much inspiration just from talking with my fellow co-workers. When I am having a bad day or can’t think of how to deal with a student, I seek the advice of my coworkers. Between their years of experience as well as their various teaching styles, I have a never-ending wealth of knowledge at my fingertips! I think that seeking the advice of other teachers can sometimes be a little intimidating, but just think of how you would feel if the shoe was on the other foot. If a colleague came to you seeking advice, how would you respond?
Well, that’s it for now. I hope these few resources help to relieve some of the stressors in your life and make your upcoming lessons a bit easier to plan!
-The Ardent Teacher