Five Worthwhile Risks for New Teachers

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The concept seems contradictory, right? You’ve been trained to keep your head down, do your work, and try not to get noticed. You’re a new teacher; tenure is two to four years away, and you’re just trying to survive. But these first few years are not only pivotal in creating your own teacher identity but also, and perhaps more importantly, to establishing your own happiness in the field.

Teacher retention is a huge issue in education today, and I’d argue that one reason (out of a litany of other reasons) newer teachers choose to leave the field is because of this very concept: self-imposed isolation until tenure.

There are a million books out there that provide tangible strategies for new teachers, offering suggestions on the importance of classroom management or connecting with kids and so much more, and all of that is great. But I’d like to present to you, the new(er) teacher, a paradigm shift: don’t wait to take risks. The time is now for you to be you, and here are five areas in education for you to begin taking risks as soon as yesterday.

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Tch Tips: How to Keep Going Even When You Feel Like You Can’t

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Making Teaching More Manageable

We all have days (or weeks, or months) when we feel like we can’t keep teaching. Often these times come at the end of the year, when we’re exhausted and overwhelmed. The good news is that sometimes small tweaks can make all the difference, giving you the energy you need to power through.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try these tips:

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How Many Days Are Left? 10 Tips to End the Year with Positivity and Purpose

Tchers' Voice Great ideas from passionate educators just like you

Inevitably, when educators get to April or May, the question of “How many days are left?” is uttered frequently, and with so many different variations in tone.

There is the Freaked Out — pure panic because “I still have so much material left to cover,” or “My kids are not ready for the AP test.”

Or the Exhausted, when this question is quietly mumbled with a tone of “I cannot do it; I won’t make it that long.

Don’t forget about the Angered, whereby one basically screams the question, with the certainty that the answer will be an unreasonable number.

At times, you might even get the Practical. This one is probably heard the least, but typically involves the initial question asked in a reflective tone and followed by a concrete plan to make it through.

And if you’re lucky, you might just get the To Hell With It. A personal favorite, this educator might not even finish asking the question because he or she has just reached a point where they don’t even care anymore. It’s not that they don’t care about their job or their students, but they just don’t care, for better or worse, how many days are left.

The educational reality is that we’ve reached the time of year when you probably can see yourself in one (or more, depending on the day) of these responses. And if the weather where you are is at all like it is in Chicago this “spring,” there are probably days when you don’t even have the disposition to ask the question, because you’re so annoyed by it all.

While I’m no psychological expert and certainly don’t have all the answers, I’d like to present to you ten things you can do to help make it through the rest of the year, bad weather and all, with positivity and purpose.

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Setting the Tone for All Learners with Visual Cues

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Inclusion practices have moved many students from special education rooms into mainstream classes, and as I’ve traveled the states as Oregon Teacher of the Year, I’ve heard one message loud and clear:

General education teachers need help adapting their classrooms and lessons for a wider range of skills.

We have classrooms with students reading at the Pre-K level sitting next to kids who read at the pre-college level.

Teachers need help.

These differences in ability are not just academic. Think of your own classrooms and the different behaviors and social skills you navigate each day. We have kids all over the place — so we teachers are going to be teaching all over the place.

Teaching Channel has invited me in to look at their amazing video lessons from inspiring teachers and imagine some adaptations that might help out your learners with IEPs (Individualized Education Programs). This is not to critique their outstanding work, but rather a special education teacher thinking about what one of my students might need to succeed — in that classroom, and with that same lesson. I want to set the tone from blog one and let these amazing teachers know how much they inspire me.

And on that note, I can’t think of a better video lesson to start with than Nick Romagnolo’s Setting the Tone from Day One. Hats off to Nick, because had I seen this video as a student teacher, I would’ve had a much better start to my career!

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Teachers Who Stay Connected Teach Longer

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As a new teacher, the demands of the career can be overwhelming at times. During my first year of teaching, I felt alone and I was unsure about whether I was doing a good job. So I turned to the internet, and I was both surprised and delighted to find that there was a bustling teacher community around every corner.

Building community is essential for teachers to feel connected, supported, and to share their ideas with peers. And when teachers feel heard and supported, they’ll be more satisfied with their career and more likely to stay in the classroom with the kids who need them. If you’re a teacher with a strong support system, online communities and social networks can be a welcome addition. But if you feel a little more like you’ve been making a go of it alone, these spaces can be a much-needed lifeline.

Teacher blogs, Facebook groups, and Twitter are three online resources that have helped me to stay connected, engaged, inspired, and to continue learning with a community of like-minded educators.

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Mid-Year Check-in: Assessing Your Year So Far

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Congratulations: You made it to January!

For many experienced educators, January can feel like an exciting time to reboot. For new teachers, January can bring back feelings of disillusionment that may have started around November (be sure to read this post on staying energized if you’re in the latter category).

Whether you’re feeling dismayed or excited for the rest of the year, taking just a few minutes to reflect and plan can often make you feel a little bit better.

At the beginning of the school year, Teaching Channel launched our Back to School Starter Packs, a set of checklists and resources organized by grade band to help you start the year off on the right track. Now that we’ve reached the midyear point, we’re offering you a simple review sheet to see how well you’ve done with all of your plans.

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What to Do for the Most Challenging Students in Your Class

Tch Deep Dives: New Techer Survival Guide

You’ve set up your classroom. You know your kids and curriculum. You have the basics down.

Everything is running smoothly, except…

There’s one student who disrupts your class on a regular basis. One student who doesn’t respond to the expectations of the classroom.

The whole situation may have you feeling frustrated and discouraged.

Stop right there.

The first thing you need to realize is that this is not about you.

As personal as some students can seem to make it, your first task is to change your own perspective. Children who misbehave or adolescents who act out are almost always expressing an emotion or a problem that’s just beneath the surface. The key to improving their behavior is to figure out what function that action serves and then address the root of the problem.

So, where do you start?

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Tch Tips: Four Tips for Surviving December

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It’s that most wonderful time of the year. Well, sort of.

Teaching in December can be tricky and sometimes downright difficult. You may find yourself digging deeper and deeper into your bag of tricks. You may need something fresh to keep you and your students on track. You may simply need a break.

You can survive and even thrive in December! Here are four tips to get you through the holiday season.

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3 Tips for Staying Energized During the School Year

3 Tips for Staying Energized During the School Year

October and November are often characterized by teachers as a period of survival mode or a time when feelings of disillusionment come to the forefront — the work is hard, the hours are long, and no one has had a break in quite a while. Come on, Thanksgiving break!

Now seems like a great time to talk about teacher wellness and retention. Specifically, about how teachers, new and veteran alike, can take care of themselves in order to remain the fabulous teachers they are for years to come.

Read on, weary teacher. You can do this.

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Tch Tips: Four Ways to Communicate with Families

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Depending on when your school year started, you’ve probably made it through the initial sprint of setting up routines, establishing the foundation for your class culture, and everything in between. Now as you move into the fall, it’s time to evaluate and refine your communication with families.

  • How are you letting them know about your classroom’s activities?
  • How are they learning about the progress of their children?
  • How are you getting families involved?

Check out these four tips for communicating with your students’ families throughout the school year.

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