Welcome New Teachers!

Welcome to a world where no day will ever be the same - teaching.

Motivation & Inspiration

Put your Teaching Inspiration Front & Center

Identify Your Why!

Knowing and reminding yourself why you are a teacher is key to success.  It will help you focus on your students, increase your own resilience, decrease the likelihood of burnout and weather the bad days! Check out this video blog for a better understanding of how you can identify your why.

Keely - Identify Your Why

 

Video Transcript:

Hi, my name's Keely from Learners Edge. And I'm here to talk to you today about identifying your why.

Why did you become a Teacher?

When you're able to identify your why this can help you really know how to focus on your students. And it can also help you decrease burnout and increase your own educator resilience.

Simon Sinek, author and also presenter, writes in his book start with why about the importance of knowing your why. And this is really about your passion. It's important for you as a teacher to know what your why is and why it is you're in education in the first place. You can also help to share this with your students at the beginning of the school year so that they know that you're truly there for them.

Another author that I found is James Kiger and he wrote the book, "The Spark." And it's overcoming burnout and finding your passion. He identifies the passion as your why as well.

So either way, you're looking to identify your why so that you can remember on the very difficult, challenging days of teaching, why you're there in the first place.

Take some time to reflect on your why. Download this help sheet and rekindle your inspiration!

 

Classroom Organization

Your Classroom - A Blank Slate!

How rearranging your classroom can facilitate learning

As a new teacher, it's the perfect time to make the classroom furniture arrangement work for you. Read through the information below and understand how your classroom arrangement can help facilitate great learning!


The beginning of a new school year is the perfect opportunity to redefine how your classroom looks and operates ensuring that the space is used the most effectively and efficiently. In previous eras, classroom design was built around "chalk and talk." Student desks were in rows, often with chairs and desks bolted to the floor. Students were required to focus on the teacher who stood at the front of the room and taught.

However, in recent decades, this rigid view of learning has been altered dramatically. The teacher now has taken on more of a "coach" or "guide" role which has resulted in dramatic changes in classroom design. In this ideal learning community, work flows throughout the classroom, rather than only from the teacher.

Here are some ideas on how to build your ideal classroom: 

  • Ensure that work flows throughout the classroom
  • Keep materials ready & abundant - including books so that a student can engage in casual reading if they have a spare moment
  • Create a place where students can meet and feel secure - students learn from each other, they need a consistent environment where they can have face-to-face interactions
  • Make technology easy to access
  • Place teacher's desk at the back of the room rather than the front- this lends the classroom to maximizing student learning through communication, reflection and reinforcement rather than the traditional "chalk and talk" setup

Check out some ideal classrooms through the illustrations below:

Slide1

 

Imaginary_classroom7   CLASSROOM

While you might not be able to completely redesign your classroom into your ideal classroom, there are some minor things you can do, include in your decor, or layout to engage and excite your students about learning. Examples of how other teachers have done this are included below:

  image005       image004-1

 

Each teacher's ideal classroom is unique and creative and can be a great community-building opportunity between you and your students. Be sure to have your students draw pictures of how they would like their classroom organized. Invite parents to offer their suggestions as to what they think would engage their children in active learning. Treat your classroom as a blank slate and turn those boring walls that look like a box into your ideal classroom. 

Ready for More?

Download this PDF  - Setting Up Your Classroom Furniture - for even more ideas!

Setting Up Your Classroom Furniture

Classroom Procedures & Expectations

Think about this...

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

proverb: it's easier to stop something from happening in the first place than to repair the damage after it has happened.

What does this mean? Here are a few strategies to help new teachers (or those teachers who may need a refresher) develop classroom procedures and routines to ensure your classroom runs like a "well-oiled machine!"

  • Procedures are critical to effective classroom management
  • Developing and following routines positively affect students' learning and behavior
  • Proactively developing procedures and routines can have a large impact on classroom culture and student behavior
  • Tighter procdures = Less misbehavior and a calmer, more productive learning environment
  • It's always better to be overprepared than underprepared
  • It is easier to loosen structure if it isn't needed than it is to tighten structure

Consider Developing Classroom Routines for (this list is a starting point, but NOT all inclusive):

Do This!

  • Write down everything your students do from the minute they arrive until the minute they leave.
  • Cross-check your building policies and handbooks to ensure your procedures and routines are consistent with them.
  • Look at your list to determine which tasks on the list need a procedure to ensure a calm classroom, efficiency, and positive behavior.
  • Ask a mentor or colleague what you may be missing.
  • Write a step-by-step procedure for each task so you can teach the routine day one and review as needed (break it down if it feels to over-whelming - document one or two procedures per week).
  • Revise as needed.
  • Teach, practice and review the routines with your students. 

Lesson Planning

You've inherited curriculum...

now what.

Creating-Your-Curriculum.jpeg

Walking into a classroom for the first time can be daunting. And, when you find an entire repository of lesson plans and curriculum from past years, where do you start?

  • Most importantly, make it your own.
  • Tackle one topic at a time.
  • Transfer existing curriculum into your own Lesson Planning Template. This action will help you organize your thoughts, interpret the objectives and consider whether the lesson needs a little enhancing or if it is sound on its own.
  • Students will catch-on and lose interest quickly if what you are teaching is not your style or in your own voice. Don't be afraid to add your flair and charisma into the lesson. 

Remember:

  • Organization is imperative - find or create a system that works for you and stick with it!
  • It is always better to be overprepared than underprepared.
  • Share your great resources with your colleagues - you don't need to recreate the wheel every day! 
Download Lesson Planning Template!

Classroom Instruction

It's kind-of like riding a bike...

Gradual Release of Responsibility (GRR)

This method of teaching moves the responsibility learning from the teachers to the students. It's not a linear model, just like riding a bike, sometimes students will move back and forth through the levels as they master skills or content.

GRR-Model.jpg

Download Strategies for GRR Model Implementation!

Classroom Management

Relationships with Your Students

Prioritizing Each Student

Starting on Day 1

Girl with a computers teacher looking very happy.jpegHow do we even begin to prioritize each child?  What does that mean or look like?  Successful school years start, build, and end with creating connections and caring relationships with every single student.

Every single student?  How is that even possible? Has your back-to-school anxiety catapulted to “Code Red?” Try breaking it down to individual daily connections. Any touch point counts: a simple smile, greeting by name, or commenting on a student’s favorite t-shirt. Intentional actions add up to build a strong student-teacher relationship, which is the foundation for all successful teaching and learning.

Before any extra ideas and inspiration, here is one quick suggestion:  you must learn how to correctly pronounce each student’s name. This may take some research (former teachers, office support staff, parent phone calls), but it’s a mandatory requirement for getting to know your students. Write down phonetic spellings and ask each child when you meet them to verify your pronunciation. Speak each child’s name 3 times during the first day. Make it your goal to know every name within 2 days. 

“When you greet someone heartily with a warm smile and  

a friendly salutation, all is well in that person’s world

if only for a fleeting moment.

The person feels a sense of validation,

that their existence in the universe has

been acknowledged and recorded.

That they are known.”   Jewish maxim

Daily greetings and knowing names will always provide the kickstart you need. You can stop reading right here. But, if you’d like a few more ideas for your plan-book, here are some getting to know your students' activities and strategies: 

  1. Postcards or letters (downside: postage costs), phone calls home (yippee: free!) - talk to parents and ask to speak to the child a week before school begins. 
  2. My Name - any ice-breaker activity that involves sharing names in class throughout the first month.  Here’s a link to a few Name Games
  3. Peer interviews - design your own or here’s an idea: Peer Interviews
  4. I-Pads - family introduction videos - create a short list of family intro items for students to film using their school-issued notebook. This is a great visual connection for students of all ages. Share in pairs, small groups, or daily on the classroom projector. 
  5. Family Interview assignment - create a short survey with 10 items for students to ask family members - allow for a week, then have students come back and share in pairs, small groups, or one-on-one with you! 
  6. Walk and talks - switching partners every loop - sharing preset conversation topics intended to connect students and you, too, as you walk together.  This builds meaning, moving relationships! 
  7. Circle of Us - create a list of 20 likes/dislikes - (i.e. Dogs are awesome!); then circle around and have students listen to each item and step in if they agree (it’s true for them) or stay put if they don’t agree.  This gives students a chance to learn about each other’s tastes and make connections by noticing who steps in or stays put with them for each item. 
  8. Student Interest Survey - research supports this important engagement tool for every teacher and every classroom every year.  Here’s a sample you might like to try: Student Interest Survey
  9. Guess Your Classmate - use the completed Student Interest Surveys or select 5 items and have students record answers on an index card; collect cards and use them to play “guess your classmate” during the first few weeks of school. Use the guessing game as a transition task for a few weeks until you have included every student. 
  10. Morning Meetings - should include greetings - incorporate “getting to know me” elements in your morning routines. Responsive Classroom has a great framework and some sample starters to try with this Morning Meeting booklet
  11. Name poems - have each student write their name and add an adjective that describes for each letter - simple, but works for all ages.  Check this link out!

Oh, and one last thing- don't forget to share a bit about yourself. If you give a student interest survey, take it yourself and post your answers so students can read about you. Write a bio/welcome note and hand it out on the first day. Make some references to pop culture that will automatically connect you to various students. Pop culture topics you could consider:  movies, TV shows, songs, professional sports, video games, hair, clothes, shoes. This may sound superficial, but research proves pop culture connections are effective for building relationships with young people. Besides, it’s universally fun to find fellow super-fans to share any crazy obsession! Teachers who prioritize positive relationships by making constant connections will be more successful with academic achievement outcomes than those who just wait awhile and listen in to learn about their students over time.

Looking for More?

Relationships-Checklist.jpg

Download Relationship Builder Checklist!

Relationships with Students' Parents

Did you miss the day in college that taught you how to work with parents? 

We've got you covered!

Parent-Partnerships-Screen.jpgWe often hear from teachers that they feel woefully unprepared to work with the parents of their students. Dealing with challenging parents is also cited as a major factor in teacher burnout. 

In this insightful presentation, Keely Swartzer will share strategies and techniques she used in dealing with difficult parents throughout her twenty year teaching career. Come away with ways to reframe your perspective, templates to run effective meetings and suggestions on conflict resolution. Parent-Teacher Communication does not need to be the most stressful part of your teaching career. With preparation and perspective, you'll hardly break a sweat! 

Access the Webinar Now!

 

Teacher Self-Care and Reflection

Taking Care of You!

This may be the most important skill to acquire as a new teacher

Build strategies and simple habits to keep you healthy and loving your career as a teacher!

Susanne - Educator Self-Care

Video Transcript:

Hi, I'm Susanne from Learners Edge, and I'm here to talk to you a bit about self-care.

As educators, we are all aware that we often take care of others before we take care of ourselves, our friends, our family, and, of course, our students. So I have a few tips to help you so you can take care of yourselves and in turn, take care of others.

#1: The buddy system: Make plans to meet a friend to exercise. You're more likely to show up if you're making plans with a friend.

#2: Schedule your workouts: In other words, put the workout in your calendar like you would a dentist appointment or a doctor appointment, and you won't miss.

#3: Shoes: Yes, shoes. Keep your shoes in your car, in your office, or at school, that way when you have the opportunity to go for a walk, you'll be ready to go.

#4: Nutrition:  Be purposeful and mindful about the nutrition that you have available to you. Cut up fruit and snacks, so you have them available during the day if you need them. And lastly...

#5: Protect Your Sleep: We all know that we're much happier when we get a good night's sleep.