The excitement of the holiday season is in the air and winter break is just around the corner. Amid all the hustle and bustle, a few days can seem like an eternity. Distractions come easily; that is, if you’ve managed to find focus in your classroom at all. Desks are messy, school bags are bulging, and everyone is counting the days — maybe the hours — until the final school bell rings to signal sweet, sweet freedom.
Imagine how the students must feel!
We know you’ve been working hard for the past few months to create the best possible learning experiences for your students. You’ve earned this brief time away and we’ve been wondering how you plan to spend it. In true Tch fashion, we asked our outstanding community of educators to find out.
It’s the last days of school before teachers and students are off to much deserved breaks. As my colleague Lily Jones posted last week, winter break is a great time to recharge professionally. However, don’t forget that winter break is also a time to recharge personally.
Educators spend so much time meeting the needs of others that we often forget about ourselves. This winter break, take the time to do personal development as well as professional, so that you’re refreshed and rejuvenated for the new year.
To help you out, we asked our Tch Laureates how they plan to relax over the break, and they shared fantastic ideas. Tom Jenkins is going to enjoy favorite sports by playing basketball, attending his son’s wrestling matches, and taking his son to a college football game. Josh Parker plans on embracing the holidays staycation style by creating a regional smorgasboard of his favorites: pizza, Cheerwine, and fried shrimp!
We also asked our laureates for suggestions and tips for what you, the Tch community, might do to recharge. Take a look at the list below for ideas on how you can relax over the break.
Halloween is here, which means that the winter holidays are just around the corner!
Many of us at Teaching Channel are former teachers, and we recently swapped fun anecdotes of our most memorable gifts from students and colleagues. We agreed that it can be difficult to find gifts that aren’t just “stuff.” There are gifts we want (Amazon gift cards!); gifts we need (new classroom supplies); and thoughtful gestures like homemade treats or handwritten notes. Gifts can either be professional, like a book on teaching strategies, or they can have a more personal touch, like a gift certificate to a local restaurant.
Reflection Fest Day 5: Goals for 2014
Happy New Year! On the last day of Reflection Fest, let’s think about the coming year. What goal(s) do you have for your teaching or for your students this year?
I hope to further my coaching practice by videotaping more of my coaching sessions. I did this once so far this year and found it was an invaluable way to learn about my development. Even looking at my own body language as I talked to another teacher told me a lot!
Reading the lists of goals from our Tch community is inspiring:
- “My goal is that every student I came in contact with is excited to write. Writing is power, and kids need to see that.” — Katie Novak, K-12 Reading Coordinator, Chelmsford, MA
- “Refine best practice and move students to greater independence on all standards.” — Esther Wu, High School English Teacher, Mountain View, CA
- “I want to see more students address texts in scientific contexts with the skills needed for note taking and identifying information relative to the purpose of the text.” — Shelia Banks, School Support Specialist, Marrero, LA
Share your goals for 2014 in the comments section below… and HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Lily Jones taught K/1 for seven years in Northern California. She has experience as a curriculum developer, instructional coach, teacher trainer, and is also a contributing writer for Teaching Channel.
Reflection Fest Day 4: Favorite New Thing You’ve Tried
One of my favorite things is sharing resources with teachers. Today, let’s share the favorite new things that we’ve tried this year.
I still feeling like I’m learning so much about coaching. One of the things I’ve been doing this year is bring new teachers to observe veteran teachers.
Reflection Fest Day 3: Biggest Challenge
Today, let’s reflect on our challenges so far this year. What has kept you up at night, made you worry, or tested your resolve? This may be a single moment or an ongoing struggle.
Reflection Fest Day 2: Funniest Classroom Moment
Today’s reflection is a fun one: Think about your funniest classroom moment this year.
Humor is an essential part of classroom life. I used to spend all my days around kindergartners and first graders, laughing my head off at their amazing way of approaching the world. Luckily, through my coaching work, I still go into kindergarten classes every so often — and my funniest moment this year happened when I was observing a kindergarten math lesson. As I sat in the back of the class, a teensy little boy walked up to me. Looking me straight in the eyes, he started stroking the sides of my face while whispering, “You are safe. You are safe.” It was so bizarre… and hilarious!
Teachers get to celebrate two new years: one at the beginning of the academic year, and one in January. With 2013 coming to a close, it’s a perfect time to reflect on what’s come of the 2013-14 school year so far, and use our reflections to set meaningful goals for the rest of the school year.
Reflection can be a tricky necessity. Sometimes it leads to celebration as you see how particular approaches have really worked. Other times, close examination can mean confronting hard-to-swallow truths. When I was a new teacher, I remember trying desperately to get my students to work productively in groups during math. From playing endless cooperative games to giving my students roles to play in groups, I spent a lot of time trying to help my students collaborate. But when I reflected on this process, I realized that my students hadn’t been learning enough math. I had spent so much time trying to facilitate productive group work that I hadn’t spent enough time teaching content. Oops.
Editor’s Note: We’ve teamed up with Participant Media for a special holiday event. From December 27-29, we’re giving you a free screening of TEACH, a film by Academy-Award winner Davis Guggenheim. TEACH follows the struggles and triumphs of America’s education system through the eyes, minds and hearts of four school teachers.
Before coming to work at Teaching Channel, I taught English for two years at a high school in Japan. While I was there, I thought a lot about what kind of teacher I wanted to be, and about the educators who have impacted my life. And while I’m so thankful to have been influenced by so many intelligent, passionate, and caring individuals, I found myself drawing parallels between my life and one person in particular.
Miss Farmery was my 5th grade teacher. We were living in Mexico City at the time, and I was not adjusting well. Miss Farmery’s class made me feel present and engaged for the first time in over a year. She regaled us with stories of the far-off places she’d lived and traveled, and introduced us to exotic things like Mondrian and the sitar. She was warm and funny and took a special interest in each of us, encouraging our strengths, and helping us to improve when needed.
Thank You Teachers