You’re in the homestretch towards winter break. You’ve almost made it. But, let’s face it, this stretch isn’t often pretty. If you’re like many teachers, your classroom is a mess, your desk is full of papers to grade, and the bags under your eyes aren’t going to go away until well after Christmas.
Teaching can be both incredibly exhausting and incredibly rewarding. At Teaching Channel, we’re here to support you in both your triumphs and challenges. Though we want to celebrate all that you’ve accomplished this year, we also want to keep it real. So this holiday season, we’re celebrating the craziness and exhaustion that can come with teaching in December.
While the messy stacks of “overwhelm” don’t look pretty, they’re a sign of your dedication. Even when teaching isn’t perfect and classrooms aren’t always Pinterest worthy, you keep going. And that’s a reason to celebrate! We’re all hobbling towards the winter break finish line, so let’s do it together.
Managing a class isn’t easy! Before you can teach content, you need to create a positive learning environment (check out our Class Culture Deep Dive for tips on how to do that). Building culture is a long process, one that eventually makes management easier. But what do you do when you need your class to calm down and focus? Or how do you deal with a student who is outright defiant?
Being a new teacher is extremely exciting and completely exhausting. So let me start by shouting this loud and clear:
We are here to help you!
Because we know that starting your teaching career can be all consuming, we’ve created our New Teacher Deep Dive just for you.
When I started teaching, I remember being overwhelmed by the many things I was “supposed” to do during a lesson. Grab students’ attention, check for understanding, make sure everyone had an opportunity to share their thinking… the list went on!
Sometimes it felt like I spent more energy making sure I checked off each part of my lesson than actually teaching. But over time, I learned to internalize all these different strategies and plan lessons using a variety of effective techniques.
In our new video series, funded by Cisco Systems and created in partnership with the Rodel Foundation of Arizona, we get to explore the approach of the Rodel Math 20/20 Initiative. Included in this approach is a three-phase lesson structure (adapted from Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics) that helps teachers make sure they are covering — and then internalizing — the parts of an effective and engaging real-world math lesson.
Winter break is upon us and, above all, I hope you’re planning on taking time off to rest and recharge. But winter break can be a great time to sneak in a little bit of professional development, too.
We asked our amazing Tch Laureates to share favorite resources to read (broken down into groups, depending on if you’ve got a lot of time or just a bit) and watch. As you browse this list of favorite resources, think about bookmarking one — or more — to dive into over break!
As a kindergarten and 1st grade teacher, I loved helping kids learn how to read. The joy in their faces as they sounded out words was priceless. I lived to see kids exclaim, “I can read!” But it wasn’t just about learning how to read. It was even more important to me to help my students develop a love of reading.
I read rich and captivating stories to my class every day, hoping to show students that reading can be magical and entertaining. I encouraged parents to read with their kids nightly, creating more opportunities for kids to see reading as fun. For families who didn’t have books at home, I sent home picture books from our classroom library. Above all, my goal was for kids to read many different books in many different settings.
So needless to say, I’m incredibly excited about the Billion eBook Gift, of which Teaching Channel is a proud partner, beginning on December 1st (#GivingTuesday). It’ll be the largest gift of books in history, with a billion classic eBooks given to families across the nation. This will be a great resource to pass on to families at your school! This gift was created to ensure that all children have access to high-quality books at home. Every family who signs up at BillionBookGift.com can get a free library of 50 classic children’s eBooks absolutely free. You’ll be able to access the books via desktop computer, your Apple or Android phone, and via iPads and tablets.
Here at Teaching Channel, we regularly film lessons from teachers all over the country. But while we’re out filming, so much more than just lessons are captured. We see how teachers use classroom management strategies, put powerfully effective charts on their walls, and encourage kids to engage in productive discussions. No matter where we go, there’s always a wealth of teacher tricks to learn.
When we edit the footage from the lessons we film, we create both longer lesson videos and shorter strategy videos. These strategy videos are designed so that teachers can quickly learn new approaches to add to their toolboxes. Unlike lesson videos, which generally are specific to certain content areas and grade levels, strategy videos can be easily adapted across contexts.
Recently, I had the chance to talk with all the amazing Teaching Channel Laureates. Afterward, Crystal Morey sent me a picture of what she was doing on our call. There she was, phone in hand, waiting at the bus stop for her son.
While reminding me of what amazing multi-taskers teachers are, this glimpse into Crystal’s everyday life also helped me to get to know her better.
In that spirit, we’re launching a “Week in the Life” Instagram project. Over the course of the next two months, the Tch laureates will share pictures from their lives at home and school. Through these pictures, you’ll get a chance to learn more about each of our amazing laureates.
Over the past four weeks, we’ve been working hard to help you fill up your back-to-school backpacks. Last week we dove into assessment resources and were inspired by the great ideas that were added by the community to our shared Google Doc. Here are a couple of my favorite suggestions:
Give Effective Feedback
The best assessments give useful information to both teachers and students. Sean McCombs shares how he makes sure he’s giving helpful feedback by having students turn in their writing with a “submission sheet,” where students self-assess on a rubric and highlight particular areas where they would like feedback.
As a new teacher, I remember my greatest fears: students would run wild, it would be impossible to get their attention, and my class would be out of control. I thought a lot about rules and consequences, making plans for different types of disturbances. Though my class still felt pretty crazy, I found comfort in my plans for order.
But all my thinking about classroom management neglected one important thing: classroom culture. I was so concerned with keeping my class under control that I forgot to spend time developing a positive classroom culture.