Thursday, July 24, 2014

New Teachers: Get to Know the Secretary, Media Specialist, and Custodians in your Schools



I recently read a blog article titled 10 Things I wish I knew My First Year of Teaching by Terry Heick. Great commentary! I hope that you will read it! Several of her items bring back many memories because they hit so close to home. 

My favorite is #4. Get cozy with the school custodians, secretary, and librarian. She says, “You’ll need them.” She is so spot on!!! 

My first year of teaching, I had moved from one state to another. No one knew me. I had to create my own network. After substitute teaching from August through November, I got my first teaching job at a high school at Thanksgiving time.  

I was told that I would float (no classroom…I moved between rooms) and that the position would be eliminated at the end of the year because of dropping student numbers. 

I didn't care. Are you kidding?! I was too excited!! I had my first teaching job! Yahooo!!! 

I quickly learned that the librarian (media specialist) was my best friend. She gave me a place to put my stuff, work between classes and during my planning period. She helped with teaching me the culture of the school and how to get things done! What was really cool is she did this for other teachers and we kind of developed the floaters club in the media center.  


The custodians were also my number one friends. They helped me find extra furniture for the classrooms I was in and they helped me find places to leave some of my materials in storage closets near the rooms I was assigned to use. They would keep an eye out for things that might be useful to me and make suggestions in my travels throughout the building and the many classes I visited. Invaluable!!!


Finally, the school secretary helped me stay on top of forms that needed completing and where to and when to submit them. She explained to me the ins and outs of the building like where I should eat, parking and acquiring additional supplies. 

My first year and subsequent years, I learned that the media specialist (librarian), custodians, and the secretary were people who truly knew the building and could help make your life easier. 

As you start the school year, get to know each one. Take the time to go to each individual and introduce yourself and ask for advice. 

You will be forever glad that you did!!!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tuesday, July 22nd is the run-off for State School Superintendent...Take time to Vote!

Elections are Very Important! Especially this one!

You need to take time to be there...your vote matters...but don't just vote...know who you are voting for and whether he or she actually supports public schools.

If you haven't thought about this...take a look at this clip and then visit the Georgia My Voter Page

There are four candidates for State Superintendent of Schools in GA. 

Here is a link to a page called project Vote Smart which gives you some background information on each candidate as well as links to their web pages. 

Don't miss voting. 

You can still vote early if you won't be in town on Tuesday. 

When you go to the Georgia My Voter Page it has a link to tell you where you can vote early. 

Most places are available until 5 PM this Friday.

The future of our schools is in your hands. 

Please get involved. Vote as an informed voter!

Thank you!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Classroom Tip: Popsicle Sticks and Learning the Kids Names Part 2



If you don't know my name...how can you help me learn?

This week’s podcast, Episode 27: Learning and Using Kids’ Names (look at the right column of this blog for the links to go there and listen) is all about the need to learn the names of the kids and to use them.


Last week’s blog post introduced using popsicle or craft sticks to help you learn and use the kids’ names.

Today’s entry is a continuation of the popsicle theme with some other ideas for using the sticks to help with understanding student progress. (Formative Assessment).


The sticks coupled with mini-whiteboards and a teacher made chart are extremely useful for helping the teacher develop an understanding of who is getting the content and who isn't.  


Take a look at the pictures I have included.  Take a mini-whiteboard (Look in my archives and you will learn how to make these) and draw a quick chart that will allow you to use the sticks to remind you of the performance level of the kids.(Remember to keep this out of their sight because information about each individual is not to be shared with anyone but who the commentary is about.)


The teacher has a quick way of keeping track of student progress. Then the information can be transferred to a paper or electronic chart after the teacher has visited each kid and made an observation about their level of understanding.


How many different ways could you create to make use of the sticks for learning names and helping you get feedback? Three? Four? Ten? I'll bet you could put these sticks, whiteboards and charts to great use in your classes.

So what are you waiting for? 


Go get the sticks and get to know your kids!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Classroom Tip: Getting to Know and Use the Names of the Kids


In a previous blog post I talked about the games that I played with the teachers.

I avoided being called upon.

It was a game I was very good at…but I really needed to answer questions and go to the board to demonstrate my understanding.

Instead, I smiled…looked like I was paying attention, turned my work in on time and never got called to the board.

So…How can you make sure that a kid like me actually has to demonstrate understanding in the classroom?

Well…the first thing you need to do is to develop a way to know who you have called upon and who you haven’t.

For this I suggest using popsicle sticks.





If you took popsicle sticks and had the students put their names on them…you could have an easy device for calling upon the kids and keeping track of who you called upon.  

After the kids have placed their names on them, 


color code them if you have more than one class, 


...place them in your favorite mug and pull one out when you want a child to answer a question or come to the board. 


Cool! Easy way to know who you called upon! 

What other ways could you come up with for using these sticks? 

Think about it. 

A by-product of using the stick is that it helps to make the other kids pay attention because they could have been called upon. 

How about this…more collateral help…if you use a second cup…you could make sure that you went to that cup and re-pulled someone to make sure that they don’t visit another planet after having been called upon once.

This is a great way to start using and remembering the kids names as well as making sure that if you have a kid like me...he doesn't escape having to answer your questions or showing you what he knows.

Now go get some sticks!


I will write another post soon and show how you could use these sticks with a chart to help you remember how the kids answered and whether they demonstrated what you wanted them to.