Sunday, October 26, 2014

The New Teacher Survival Guide: Staying Positive

I'm excited to introduce a new series on the blog...The New Teacher Survival Guide!
This edition is focused around staying positive on the wonderful roller coaster that is teaching.
Before I begin, new teacher, I want to let you know that we have ALL been in your shoes. You have the makings of excellence in your bones, but this time of year is notoriously rough.
Everything will be O.K.!
Does this image look familiar to you?
Image Credit: Beach Teach
People, if this is correct, you are in the midst of DISILLUSIONMENT. Your shiny new classroom may feel like a prison. You may feel like you aren't making a difference. You may be asking yourself..."WHAT HAVE I DONE?"
The good news is you are not alone. The better news is as soon as winter break hits, your period of rejuvenation will be in full swing. You will survive. I repeat, hope is on the horizon.
I absolutely love my school, and despite the amazing support and encouragement I had during my first year, I was not immune to the "disillusionment" phase. It had absolutely nothing to do with my colleagues, students, or was all in my own mind...and trust me, the feeling was real.
In a less ideal situation, I can only imagine the feeling may be worse. I tell you my story not to brag about my school, but to show you that every new teacher feels this way, regardless of their circumstances!
Once winter break hit, I caught my breath. I focused on ME during the holiday season, just like you should focus on YOU. Until that time, though, here are some helpful hints to help you hang in there:
1. Do not (I repeat, DO NOT) take work home with you.
Stay longer after school or get there early, but leave work at work. That includes checking emails. Seriously - you will burn out faster than you can count to 3.
2. Keep a journal
In your journal, write about all the positive things that happened to you during the week. Keep the negative stories out. You'll find that the positives far outweigh the negatives - and it will help you recognize all the amazing moments that happen throughout the school day!
3. Find a friend
A teacher friend, that is. Find someone in your school or another school that you can talk to about school. Why? Only they will truly understand your feelings as a new teacher. If this teacher-friend is a bit older, they can offer you invaluable advice to help you survive that first year and beyond.
Until next time...Happy Teaching!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Keep Calm and LOVE Interactive Notebooks

A few years ago, I heard whispers of interactive notebooks. Over the past several months, those whispers grew louder and those activities kept popping up everywhere! I am a huge proponent of using foldable activities with my students to help them organize their information. When I saw interactive notebooks in action...I was smitten!

Interactive notebooks are designed to provide students with the means of organizing research and activities in an interactive way. When I started designing my own this year, my goal was to make them simple and effective for other teachers to use as well. I've been a busy little bee ever since!

As a teacher, I crave flexibility. I need to have resources that I can tailor to fit the needs of my students. With that thought in mind, I love interactive notebooks that guide my instructional focus, yet leave me free to customize it for my own classroom!

I'm currently working my way through the exciting world of ancient civilizations. Most recently, I've added the Ancient Egypt Interactive Notebook to The Teacher's Prep store on Teachers Pay Teachers!

Cool Fact:
ALL of the Interactive Notebooks on The Teacher's Prep are 20% off today and tomorrow!
Happy Teaching!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My Favorite Freebies {October Edition}

Who loves freebies?

You can't see me right now, but I'm waving my hand wildly in the air. I mean, who doesn't love a freebie?!

Every month, I plan on writing a post highlighting my absolute favorite freebies of the moment. All of them can be downloaded from Teachers Pay Teachers, so click on those links and download away, my friends!

Freebie #1: Cute Halloween Kids from Lindsey Elizabeth

FREE Cute Halloween Kids {Digital Clip Art}

Freebie #2: Happy Jack-O-Lanterns from Krista Wallden
{FREE} Happy Jack-O-Lanterns {Creative Clips Digital Clipart}
Teaching in the Tongass
Stitched Ghosts Clipart Bundle
Ashley Hughes
FREE Square Scalloped Halloween Frames {Graphics for Comme
The Teacher's Prep
 Halloween Banners and Bunting Starter Pack
 (My first banner clip art!) :)
Happy Teaching!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Be Effective: Be Reflective

Recently, a colleague asked a group of teachers this question...and at first I didn't know what to say. I work hard in the classroom. My students are growing and learning every day. I feel like I'm making a difference, yet this question dumbfounded me. Why?
Before that moment, no one had ever asked me that question. So much of teaching is about collaboration and I instantly felt guilty even thinking about what might make me "better" than my colleagues. With my pen poised above my paper, I had to make a decision. He was awaiting our answers.
My guilt soon eased into reflection. My colleague was not, in fact, asking what made me "better" than other teachers. Instead, he was asking me to reflect. It wasn't about comparing myself to others. It was about discovering my own strengths and celebrating my successes.
I found this task difficult at first. Every day I celebrate the success of my students. I cheer them on and encourage them to work hard. When they succeed, I am proud - and I tell them so. Their success in daily lessons makes me feel successful...but that's not the answer he was looking for. He was asking me to think about my actions. What is my greatest strength as a teacher?
I realized then, that many teachers are probably like me. It's easy to get caught up in the fast-paced world of lesson planning, assessments, meetings, and constantly working with students. How many of us actually take time to truly reflect? As a first year teacher, someone advised me to keep a journal to measure my growth. I promised to do so...until I actually started teaching. Like trying to hold onto a rope of sand, time slips through our fingers.
My colleague made me stop and think. He made me realize that to be effective, we must also be reflective. Only then can we truly understand our strengths and weaknesses and work towards growing into better educators and better versions of ourselves.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Once Upon a Time...

This first blog post is more intimidating than I thought it would be! There's nothing quite like staring at that little blinking line on my screen patiently awaiting the first keystrokes.

As I begin my journey with The Teacher's Prep blog, I have two goals:

1. I want to share strategies, lessons, and ideas with you! As a fairly new teacher, I vividly remember what it's like to stare at a sea of young faces for the first time. I have gained valuable experience over the past few years, and I can't wait to share it with you!

2. Even more importantly, I want to learn from and connect with other educators. Teachers do not exist in isolation. We are part of a larger family working towards a common goal: educating and mentoring young people. The notion of expanding collaboration is exciting!

I hope you'll join my little blog as it sets off on a new adventure! Excitement and fun await us!