Mistakes are a very, very important part of the learning process. However, I notice more and more that my students are afraid to make any kind of mistake. It appears to me that they are fearful of looking foolish in front of their peers (and even me, if we are working one-on-one). We know that teenagers can be extremely self conscious and do not want to ‘lose face’ in front of others. However, I find it valuable to teach them that there is no shame in being wrong or in making errors. In fact, I try to instill in them that these ‘faults’ are valuable and should be celebrated in the classroom.
I was having lunch with a friend recently (she is in her 3rd year of teaching) and she talked about the difficulty of dealing with students who “already know everything.” I think this is something that almost every teacher has faced at some point and subsequently asked themselves: “How do you teach a child who already knows the material?” The following are my thoughts on this common classroom issue:
I just recently got back from a conference. I love going to conferences. I mean, I REALLY love going to them. I think most teachers have a strong affinity for learning. After all, we have chosen to stay in school for the rest of our lives! I love learning. I love sitting in classrooms, I love listening to other people who are considered experts in their field, I love hearing new ideas that inspire me and make me want to try new things! If you have not been to an educational conference (or any conference for that matter), I would highly suggest it. That being said, it can be a bit overwhelming. So, here are some friendly tips on properly preparing for attending a conference.
Most teachers are well aware that we are one of the few professions (if not the only) where you have to do more work if you call in sick then if you were to just go to work and struggle through it. It doesn’t seem right that when we are feeling terrible we need to try and create or write up a coherent lesson plan that anyone could implement while taking our place in the classroom. Even if we want to just take a day off, we need to prepare ahead of time and come up with a plan-of-attack for our substitute. It’s unfair, but it is also the way things are. This is what I do to make my life easier when I am out of the classroom.
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:
It’s no secret that teaching is one of the most rewarding professions out there. It is a special bond that occurs in the classroom between teacher and pupil. We take our jobs seriously; that old saying “It’s not personal, it’s business” doesn’t apply to us. It is personal. After all, we pour our hearts and souls into these children. Our feelings run deep and that is why this job can be both a beautiful and moving experience as well as a negative and sometimes depressing one.
As teachers, we need to practice self care and make sure that we are doing things everyday to ensure that we are staying positive and not focusing on the negative. The following are just a few ways in which I keep myself positive in the day-to-day as well as during the more difficult times.
During my prep or after school, I often enjoy a nice cup of tea. The teas that I try to keep on hand in my classroom are “Good Earth” and “Yogi“. Aside from the fact that these teas are amazing, the reason why I like to keep these in my classroom is because each bag of tea comes with a great quote. I like to think of it like a daily fortune cookie that gives me something to ponder while I enjoy my tea. I have always enjoyed these teas for their delicious flavors, but now I have a whole new appreciation for them.
I have found that really working on building trusting relationships with my students is the best tool I have ever had for classroom management. Once your students trust you and respect you, the level of required classroom management drops significantly. I try to keep my classroom fun and feeling safe to them. Teenagers already feel targeted by adults and are so sensitive to any punishment; this is why I try to make my classroom management strategies more ‘friendly’ than serious as they are less likely to blow up and freak out. Here are my ‘friendly’ classroom management techniques:
I don’t know how many students you have, but each year I have around 150. To some, that might seem like a lot. To others, it might seem low. To me, it seems normal. With 150 students coming in and out of my classroom everyday, it is imperative that I stay organized. My main necessity for remaining as organized as possible is the amount of papers I need to keep track of. On average, I collect about 2 items from each student per day (usually their homework and then whatever worksheet/lab they used during class). If I don’t stay on top of my grading, I can easily have 600-900 papers on my desk. Without being hyper-organized, I could easily feel overwhelmed. Or worse: I could lose papers! Every teacher’s nightmare!! Students always think we lose their papers- but we know that more often then not they still have it in their binder or forgot to put their name on it.
Here are my various ways of staying organized: