Ideas for Teaching

Hello, long time no chat. This week is my last week at foursquare. I know I will have a lot of free time next week so I keep procrastinating about a new blog post. I keep thinking, “Oh, I’ll have so much time to do that next week.” This is true, but I thought I would post something today.

I would also like to mention that today I was rejected from Teach for America. I didn’t even get to the interview stage. I felt pretty poor about myself for a few minutes, but you know what? I have my whole life to become a good teacher.

Here are some of the things I plan to do when I become a teacher.

1. Have Clear Academic Expectations for Students.

  • Create an website for myself (possibly through the school if they offer it) to post class assignments, class expectations, assessment dates and my contact information. This could be a resource for students with computers at home. It could also be a way for parents to monitor their students assignments.
  • Always post the days objectives and homework/assignments on the board.
  • A portion of the “Do Now” time at the beginning of class will be reserved for copying down assignments.
  • Rubrics, Rubrics, Rubrics! I would create them when necessary, mostly for essays and projects.  We would always take some class time to go over the rubric material. I would remind the students to check over the rubric after completing their assignment to make sure they had completed all the requirements.
  • Provide a review day before every test
  • This goes along with the rubric, but I would always devote some class time to fully explain a project or essay. I would also take time to periodically remind the kids to continue working on the assignment on the days leading to its due date.

2. Have Clear Behavioral Expectations.

  • Create a class contract. This is an idea I would like to play with if I ever teach. On the first day of school the students would be required to think of important rules we should make that everyone would abide by for the whole year, and we would put this in a class contract. We would talk them over together and I would show my main rules that I thought needed to be in the contract. (Respect others, come to class prepared, complete homework, etc) The next day I would come in with the finished product. The students would be responsible for signing the contract and agreeing to the terms and conditions. I would post a large copy of the contract at the front of the room. Students who disobeyed our contract would be dealt with accordingly.
  • Similar to what I was just saying, class rules should be posted somewhere in the class.
  • There should be a punishment policy. Something like “Minor offense/1st offense= warning. Offensive behavior/2nd offense= lunch detention. Major offense/3rd offense= referral and ejection from the classroom.” I hate taking kids out of class, but sometimes when they are a distraction to others, it needs to be done. Also, a lot of kids also stop misbehaving when the threat of being kicked out happens. (some kids are unfazed though, unfortunately.)
  • Sometimes other punishments can happen. For example, if groups are trying to gain points during a review game, i could deduct points for bad behavior.
  • NEVER ARGUE with a student. The second you argue, the second that you have validated the claim that they actually have a point to argue against.
  • Along the same lines, keep your cool. Kids are entertained seeing a frazzled, angry teacher and you also lose respect.
  • When things get too chatty or crazy, switch assigned seats.
  • Have plans that should cover the entire period to eliminate down time.
  • Call/email parents. It matters!

3. Have a Routine.

  •  Have a “Do Now” every day when the students walk in. For me, this typically included copying down homework assignments and some sort of short answer question about the previous days material.
  • Post Aim/Objectives on the board everyday. (This is required by many schools.)
  • Unit Vocab Sheet: I created a vocabulary sheet that the students brought to class everyday. We would fill out the definitions in class. This sheet became a great study guide for the students, and a really easy A when the students handed it in for a grade on the day of their test each unit.
  • Always provide unit review sheets/Unit Review day. I’m a big fan of creating a review sheet and playing a review game the day before a test. This way the students realize if they are unprepared and it ensures that they did at least a little bit of studying/review before a test.

4. Differentiate.

  • I LOVE routine, but that doesn’t mean you class needs to be boring!
  • Make sure lessons and assessments are both differentiated often.
  • Differentiated Assessments include: Tests, Quizes, Homework, Essays, Art Projects, Computer Projects, Group Projects, Presentations, etc.
  • Relate any content material you can to current events! Sometimes new events pop-up that coincide well with the content material. For example, a lot of people have been referring to Occupy Wallstreet as an act of civil disobedience. If you are teaching Indian Nationalism or the Civil Rights movement… incorporate this new stuff!
  • Try to work with another teacher to pair units together. For Social Studies you could work with an English teacher to teach a history Unit that coincides with the literature they are reading in English class. I also think you could do Geography based things with a Science teacher.
  • I love class field trips, but make sure the trip can relate to what you have been studying. If the students can take a trip and see the knowledge they gained in the classroom is relevant in other places they will be more engaged in the the trip. Also, make sure they go somewhere interesting! (I went to way too many Revolutionary War battle sites as a kid.)

5. Work Hard.

  • Have lessons fully planned at least a week in advance. Make sure you have all the materials and copies you will need as well.
  • Make sure your unit plan has clear objectives and a basic time line of events/topics before you start.
  • Keep your room and desk clean and organized.
  • Only assign work that is meaningful, don’t give kids busy work for homework.
  • Return work in a timely fashion. This will show the students that you take their work seriously.

6. Be Involved.

  • Go to the students extra-curricular events. (Talent shows, concerts, games, plays, meets.) You should know what achievements your students are making in and out of the classroom.
  • Chaperon trips, advise clubs, coach teams if time allows.
  • Praise students for positive achievements. Call parents when a student has made great improvement!
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