Wednesday, June 24

My Biggest Mistake as a New Teacher


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Being a new teacher is not easy. I like to think of your first few years in the classroom like this; you barely know how to ride a bike and suddenly, people start throwing things at you and yelling, “catch!” You simply do your best to catch every flying object while simultaneously trying to keep your bike from toppling over. Being a new teacher is a stage five juggling act that you are in no way prepared for. I struggled hard as a new teacher. I made countless mistakes as a new teacher, but one stands out above the rest. Read more as I share my biggest mistake I made as a new teacher and what I learned from it.

 My Biggest Mistake as a New Teacher

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When I started my teaching career after graduating college in December, I was offered a long term substitute position in a third grade classroom for the remainder of that year. I remember the feeling of joy and disbelief that I was really going to be a teacher and have my own classroom. I had visions of amazing lessons and sweet kiddos who would love me instantly, however, reality hit me hard in the face right on day one. You see I was the fifth teacher to try and take over and lead this group of third graders after their original teacher had quit just a few short months into the school year. Student behaviors were beyond challenging and I was fresh off the boat with no mentor teacher (because I was technically hired as a long term substitute). I was in way over my head and drowning. Honestly, as I look back on that time now I can’t help but laugh at it all.

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Teaching is NOT easy; I made countless mistakes and learned as I went. That point brings me to what I really wanted to tell you, my biggest mistake as a new teacher. You see I had dreamed about being a teacher since I was in middle school. I feel like teaching really is a calling, and is something you just know that you were destined for. I dreamed of this job for so long and now that I was finally here, I was failing miserably. I so desperately wanted to do a good job and be the teacher I had always envisioned. That was my biggest mistake as a new teacher. I know you’re thinking “wait what?” right now, so allow me to explain. I so desperately just wanted to be a good teacher that I tried everything and anything any teacher advised me, even if it didn’t jive with me as a person. I saw veteran teachers who had spectacular classroom control and I tried to do exactly as they did, the same ways they did. I tried behavior management techniques that I hated. Nothing felt right and I was still, in my eyes, failing with my class. I was so focused on being good at teaching that I forgot all about who I was as an individual. I forgot about my strengths, what makes me special, and I just tried to do what I saw other teachers doing. After so much time struggling I have finally learned that you have to know who you are as a person in order to be the best teacher you can be. Once you know who you are, you can learn what type of teaching style best fits your personality. So new teachers, do you know your teaching style?

There are five traditional teaching styles.
Authority: Teacher centered. Typically includes long teacher lectures/ lessons where students are expected to listen and take notes.
Demonstrator: Teacher centered. Teacher shows students what they need to know through presentations, activities, and more.
Facilitator: Teacher guides students. Teacher will help facilitate student develop skills and retain knowledge through activities and more.
Delegator: Student centered. Teacher allows students to lead learning in experiments, provide student feedback, and have discussions/ debates.
Hybrid: A blended model of the teaching styles. This style blends the teacher’s interests and personality with those of the students.

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In the beginning of my teaching journey, I tried a great deal to be an “authority” style teacher. This works great for some people, but good Lord it is so not my personality. Through my first three years of trial and error I discovered that I was a “hybrid” style teacher. Now that I knew my teaching style I could research, try, and learn instructional and behavioral techniques that fit with that model. I’m happy to say that I now know exactly who I am as a teacher and I feel darn good about the work I do. I know myself as a person and the teaching style that blends with my personality.
If you are a new teacher, I encourage you to learn from my big mistake I made as a new teacher and go learn your teaching style. Take time and brainstorm what you want your ideal classroom to look like and sound like. Picture what you will be doing and what your students will be doing. How do you feel in this space? Do you see kiddos actively listening while you deliver a fantastic lesson at the front of the room? Do you see yourself listening and leading students in accountable talk and deep discussions? All five styles can lead to sensational learning opportunities for your students! Please do not fall into a trap of thinking you have to be one style to be considered a good teacher. Take it from me and learn from my biggest mistake as a new teacher; if you stay true to yourself and find your own teaching style, you will become a better teacher than you ever imagined.


Looking for some FREE tips, strategies, and more to help you rock your first few years in the classroom? Click the Download button to get a copy of my FREE Top 10 Tips for New Teachers Ebook!




Tuesday, June 9

Classroom Management Tips for New Teachers

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Hey new teacher! Let’s talk about classroom management. Let me be frank, classroom management is everything! You can have all the amazing ideas in the world but if you lack classroom management, those ideas will never take flight. Trust me on this one; it took me years to find my groove with classroom management. Let me save you some time and share some of my favorite classroom management strategies, tips, and more! Read more to learn some amazing classroom management tips for new teachers.

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Classroom Management Strategies


When planning your classroom management system for the year, create an easy to implement combination of the two strategies below. Your classroom management will be the best when you operate your classroom with both a whole group system and an individual focused system simultaneously. This is a lot to keep track of! Make your systems clear for your kiddos and easy for you to keep up with.
Whole Class- This is a strategy you use with your entire class. Such as a gem jar, beat the teacher game, gain chain, and more. Simply put, the class that works together celebrates together.
Individual- Each student can work independently toward reaching a behavior goal. This allows students to be recognized when their personal goals are reached and they do not have to wait for the class to reach a goal. One example is a sticker chart.

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Classroom Management Style


There are two things you must remember when you start to tackle this classroom management mountain; first is that consistency is KEY, and the second is to do your own thing. Let’s chat about these points some more. Children need consistency. They need to know where the limits are and what will happen if they push them. This provides them with structure and a sense of safety. I suggest making a set of class rules with your students and hang them on the wall. This will serve as a reminder to you and your students about the expectations and what will happen if they are not followed. No matter how hard it becomes, remain persistent and constant even when it is difficult.
Next, be true to yourself. Within my first few years I tried countless classroom management strategies that were suggested by my colleagues. They were great advice, but unfortunately those strategies just didn’t jive with my personality. This created inner struggle for me and I would end up braking  away and loosing that ever so crucial consistency factor. So, my advice is for you to explore new methods that you think align with your personality and educational philosophy. Here’s the big but, never feel like you are locked in once you try a style. You are a new teacher for heavens sake! Allow yourself time to experiment and explore. It may take time, but I know you will find the right classroom management system for you and your kiddos!

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Visual Classroom Management Strategies

Classroom Rule Posters- Have clear expectations posted so student can see and refer to them when needed.
Non-verbal Cue Cards- Use bitmoji cards or color coded cards to send a message to your students without needing to stop instruction. Simply explain what the cards mean ahead of time and place one on a student’s desk if needed during  instruction or work time.
Timers- Sand or digital timers can help with classroom management. These visual tools can be used for countdowns until it is time to transition, time to stay focused, time to stay in take a break, and more.
Class Reward System Posters- Keep a visual representation of class behavior goals at the front of the room. This visual reminder can be easily referred to and can visually remind students to keep working on good behavior.
Tickets/ Stickers- Student sticker charts or tickets can ban an easy way to praise students for good behavior. Having something tangible helps reinforce the good behavior paired with specific verbal praise.
Brag Tags- This visual reward system allows individual students to wear their praise in the form of a “brag tag” around their necks each day.

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Verbal Classroom Management Strategies


Call Backs- Teach students to give a choral response when you say a cue phrase. For example if you say, “oh class?” They must all respond, “oh yes!” There are so many fun call backs you can use in your classroom, or have your students help you create some!
Line Up Chants- Rewrite a song and sing it as a class when moving to line up. One of my favorites is, “show me a line” which goes to the tune of the Adams Family theme song.
Transition Songs- Create a playlist for better transition times. Students are allowed to move about while the song plays. When the song is done, students must be done transitioning and ready to learn.

There you go, now you know some of my favorite tips and strategies for classroom management. Ultimately, there are three things to remember when it comes to classroom management; consistency is key, relationships are everything, and give yourself grace. All good things take time, especially getting good at classroom management. My advice is to try out strategies, find some that you love and work at it. Give yourself some grace; you will be a classroom management master in no time!

Looking for some FREE tips, strategies, and more to help you rock your first few years in the classroom? Click the Download button to get a copy of my FREE Top 10 Tips for New Teachers Ebook!




Thursday, June 4

3 Reasons Why You Should Get a Class Facebook Group


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Facebook can be a fun platform for connecting with family and friends, but did you know it can also be an awesome tool for parent communication? I have used a private class Facebook group for the past four years; I love it and so do my students parents! Read more to learn my top three reasons why you should get a class Facebook group.

Reason #1 Why You Should Get a Class Facebook Group
The first reason I think you should start a class Facebook group is simple, it is fantastic parent communication. In today’s day and age, people are always on their smart phones. It is far easier for a parent to open a notification on their phone than to dig through their child’s backpack. Having a class Facebook group ensures your parents will receive important information in an easy and timely manner. I often take a photo of important papers going home and write in the post that the papers were sent home today. My parents love how easily information can be shared to them. Happy parents = happy teacher.

Reason #2 Why You Should Get a Class Facebook Group
The second reason I love having a class Facebook group is the ability to share pictures. Parents send their children to school each day and when they ask what happened in school, they will most often receive a, “nothing”. I love sharing pictures and videos of what is happening in our classroom! It helps the parents feel connected. They love being able to actually see what happens at school. My students love when I post pictures to our class Facebook group as well. They love being able to show their parents what we did in the classroom today and talk about it with them. Just make sure you get a signed photo release from each student before you post any pictures to your group.
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Reason #3 Why You Should Get a Class Facebook Group
The third reason I love having a class Facebook group is for the features. I can ask my students parents a question in a poll to get their quick input. I can do a Facebook live activity with my students so parents can see the great learning happening in real time. There are so many creative options to help keep your parents feeling connected and informed using a class Facebook group.


Looking for some FREE tips, strategies, and more to help you rock your first few years in the classroom? Click the Download button to get a copy of my FREE Top 10 Tips for New Teachers Ebook!




Thursday, May 28

End of the Year Digital Celebration Ideas



The end of the year is coming quickly, and what a weird year it was. What started out as an ordinary year with my kiddos quickly flipped upside down and now we are ending the year apart. However, even though we are apart, we can still celebrate together! I have gathered some great (and easy) end of the year celebration ideas that can be done virtually. Ready to get your virtual party on? Read more to check out these fun end of the year virtual celebration ideas!

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End of the Year Celebration: Student Slideshow
If you are a photo nut like I am, then you have plenty of pictures to go around. I captured so many special memories in our classroom before we switched to distance learning. I am going to put these photos together in a slide show that I can share with my students. I know they will love remembering all the fun projects they did and seeing the fun pictures.
End of the Year Celebration: Zoom Party
Why not celebrate the end of the year with a Zoom party? Let your kiddos know the day and time, and that it is just for fun. You can even have a theme for your virtual party. Why not have a PJ party, or a beach themed party? During the party you can play music and dance or do scavenger hunts. There are many creative options for Zoom celebrations that would be a blast for your kiddos!
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End of the Year Celebration: Countdown Videos
I love countdown calendars and so do my students! I take the number of students I have and count backwards from our school closing date. On all of those days in between we celebrate specific students! To celebrate virtually, I am doing a balloon pop each day and posting the video to our class Facebook page. I mailed my kiddos packages ahead of time. This way when I do my balloon pop and their name is inside, they can open the package and enjoy the treats on their special day. It has been a lot of fun! You could do a virtual countdown with an online spinner too.
End of the Year Celebration: Student Awards
I love doing student awards at the end of the year. This year I printed and mailed mine, but you could also send them digitally! Simply save the award you make as a PDF or JPEG file on your computer. Then you can easily email the award to your students! I do this with my character education end of the year awards. Core values and character education are a big part of my teachings each year, so I use end of the year awards that reflect that importance. For example, students in my room may receive an Integrity award or an award for showing great Compassion. I love this end of the year activity because my students are so proud when they receive their awards. Click HERE to check out the class awards I use.

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However you choose to celebrate virtually this year, know that your kiddos appreciate it. It has been a weird year for everyone and distance learning has been hard. Coming together to celebrate is something your students still really enjoy, even if it has to be done virtually. So enjoy your last few days of the year and go celebrate with your kids! (Virtually of course).

Looking for some FREE tips, strategies, and more to help you rock your first few years in the classroom? Click the Download button to get a copy of my FREE Top 10 Tips for New Teachers Ebook!




Tuesday, May 12

5 Must Do End of the Year Activities


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As the end of the year approaches, teachers are looking for fun activities to do with their students. I have compiled a list of my top five, must do end of the year activities! From countdown calendars to relationship building activities, it's all right here. Read more to learn my 5 must do end of the year activities!


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End of the Year Activity #1: Letters to Students

Each June I have my current students write letters to my upcoming kiddos. I present my new students with these letters on step up day. This is such a fun activity because students will share what they love about you as a teacher and what upcoming students can expect. It allows your new students to get a peak at what their new teacher will be like before the year begins. Distance learning this year? No worries! Simply have your students type their letter in Google Docs. This way you will still be able to print them and give to your new students!


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End of the Year Activity #2: Memory Books

At the end of each year I make memory books for my students. This is similar to a yearbook. Memory books are a fun way for students to reflect, write/ draw about their year, and gather friends’ autographs. Memory books are always a fan favorite in my classroom and one of my favorite end of the year activities as well! Click HERE to check out the memory books I use.

End of the Year Activity #3: Turtle Compliments

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Turtle compliments are such a fun activity to build classroom community! I like to do this activity after winter break and then again as the school year comes to a close. This classroom community building activity is super easy and free. It allows an opportunity for children to learn about compliment giving and kindness. Each child will tape a paper plate or piece of white paper onto their backs. Then, each person in the room is responsible for going around the room and writing one kind thing on each person's back. I always tape a paper to my back and join in on this activity. I like my kiddos to see me active modeling as we do this activity and to remind them that I am part of the classroom community too. This is a wonderful end of the year activity to keep that classroom community growing right until the end of school. For a distance learning version, try creating a shared Google Doc that all your students can use to write compliments to each other on.

 End of the Year Activity #4: Countdown Calendars

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I love countdown calendars and so do my students! I take the number of students I have and count backwards from our school closing date. On all of those days in between we celebrate specific students! On their special day in the countdown, the chosen student will sit in our VIP desk and everyone else will write them compliments on our white board to start the day. I teach students all about giving compliments and celebrating one another. You can do many creative visuals for countdown calendars. From balloon pops to spinners, there are so many fun ways to countdown and celebrate your students in this fun end of the year activity. Check out the VIP student resource I use, click HERE. I you are distance learning, do a video countdown calendar! Record little videos each day that help students count down to the last day of school. This is what I will be going this year, along with mailing my kiddos their VIP badge and end of the year awards.

End of the Year Activity #5: Student Awards

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I love doing student awards at the end of the year. We host a little class party and each child gets a chance to be recognized for something wonderful. Core values and character education are a big part of my teachings each year, so I use end of the year awards that reflect that importance. Instead of giving my kiddos silly end of the year awards, I recognize each student for a character trait we learned during the year. For example, students in my room may receive an Integrity award or an award for showing great Compassion. I love this end of the year activity because my students are so proud when they receive their awards. Click HERE to check out the class awards I use.


Looking for some FREE tips, strategies, and more to help you rock your first few years in the classroom? Click the Download button to get a copy of my FREE Top 10 Tips for New Teachers Ebook!








Monday, April 27

10 Must Have New Teacher Essentials


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Hey new teacher! Are you getting ready for an epic first year? Then sit down, get cozy, and read all about my 10 must have new teacher essentials. Trust me, once you read these new teacher essentials you will see how they were total lifesavers for me, and honestly still are. Are you ready? Read more to learn my top 10 must have new teacher essentials.

New Teacher Essential #1 Comfortable Shoes:

I know some teachers can rock it in heels and crush the whole professional diva chic thing, but trust me you do not want to go down that road. As a teacher you will be moving and grooving with your kiddos all day. You need shoes that will support you with every class line you stroll down the hallway and recess duty you walk around for. I have discovered that I am a much better teacher when I have happy feet. Now, just because you need comfort, doesn’t mean your teacher shoes can't be super cute. Check out some of my cute and comfy teacher shoe picks below.


New Teacher Essential #2 A Good Thermos:

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This one is of the most important items. In case no one told you, as a teacher you will never again drink all of your coffee while it is still hot. Honestly there are some days I only take a few sips of my coffee at all. Days when the classroom runs on full screech, it is common to put your coffee down for a second, and return an hour later when its ice cold. So you need a good thermos to keep that coffee warm (or cold if you’re an iced coffee fan) all morning. Check out some of my favorite thermoses below.


New Teacher Essential #3 A Support System:

One of the most crucial things a new teacher can acquire is a tribe. You are embarking on a challenging new journey and you need the right people by your side. Find your support system and don’t be afraid to lean on them. If that means you call you mom on the drive home to share the joys in the classroom that day, or you stay after to chat with a colleague and vent your frustrations out. All are great options, just make sure you find people you can trust.
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New Teacher Essential #4 Your Own Pens:

Get your own pens! My students are welcome to use just about anything in our classroom, except my ink joys and flair pens. Having colorful pens is definitely a teacher must have. From correcting papers to writing notes you want to have something that makes you happy to write with, and trust me keep them off limits!

New Teacher Essential #5 Emergency Sub Plans:

Can I get an amen! Oh my stars you need a sub tub, emergency sub plan pack, or sub bin. Whatever your system is, you NEED to set up emergency sub plans ahead of time. Trust me on this one friend; you just never know what is going to come your way. Having three days’ worth of sub plans done at the beginning of the year is one of the best decisions you can make. This way if you wake up violently ill or have an unexpected emergency come up you don’t have to spend hours writing and sending sub plans that morning. You simply notify the correct person where they can locate your already made sub plans in your classroom. It’s as easy as that. If you want to check out the sub plan templates I use, CLICK HERE.
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New Teacher Essential #6 Water Bottle:

This may seem silly, like what does a water bottle have to do with teaching? It has everything to do with your health. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to enjoy all this year will have to offer. So why is a water bottle a new teacher essential? You need to get a water bottle and keep it in sight so you remember to stay hydrated. It is so easy to fall into a pattern of not staying hydrated at school, because you don’t remember to take care of yourself, or know you won’t have time to use the restroom if you drink too much. Either way, do not fall into this pattern. Get a cute water bottle you want to see staring you down every day and stay hydrated!

New Teacher Essential #7 A Sturdy Teacher Bag:

You are about to start carting piles of paperwork, curriculum, and random coffee mugs back and forth to school each day. Find a bag that has sturdy straps and a lot of pockets/ compartments to help keep you organized. I have gone through a variety of teacher bags over the years, no matter what bag I chose for the year they all have one thing in common, they are easy and comfortable to carry. Check out some of my favorite teacher bags below.

New Teacher Essential #8 an “Everything I Forgot Box”:

LIFESAVER ALERT! You must have an “everything I forgot box.” What on earth is that you might ask? It is a small box you keep in your classroom that has any basic necessity you could forget on a crazy morning. My box has everything from deodorant and dry shampoo, to eyeliner and Advil. You can’t leave work for an hour long lunch and stop at a store to pick up possibly forgotten items mid-day. Nope, as a teacher once you get to school, you’re there for the day. So, find a cute box and fill it with all of your favorite daily essentials. You can thank me later.
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New Teacher Essential #9 All the Snacks:

Good teachers need good snacks. This is my personal opinion, but honestly you need to keep snacks in your classroom. Some days you will be starving right after lunch and sometimes a student might need a little extra something to eat. Whatever the reason you should always keep some snacks on hand, especially chocolate. Keep a secret stash of that hidden. Trust me good sweets can get you through even the toughest of days in the classroom. I keep chocolate caramel squares hidden in my room at all times.
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New Teacher Essential #10 Self Care:

This is one of the most important new teacher must haves on this list. Self-care is so important. You are entering into a career where you will look after others all day and night, yes at night your teacher brain will struggle to turn off. Start the year with a self-care routine. This way it will be easier to keep up that routine when the craziness of the school year unfolds. My self-care routine is as follows; Monday is my night for smut TV shows, Wednesday is my “bring nothing home” night, and Friday is date night. These few things keep me charged and ready to tackle what the week has to bring. Be sure to take care of yourself and your needs so you can be the amazing teacher you were born to be. If you want to read more about teacher self-care check out my blog post all about it, click HERE.

Looking for some FREE tips, strategies, and more to help you rock your first few years in the classroom? Click the Download button to get a copy of my FREE Top 10 Tips for New Teachers Ebook!







Wednesday, April 22

Collect and Organize Your Teacher Evaluation Evidence Like a Boss

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Let’s talk about teacher evaluation evidence for a minute. I know what you’re thinking, umm I’ll pass, but did you know that teacher evaluation evidence collection and organization doesn’t have to be a daunting task? Read more to learn the strategies I use to stay on top of my teacher evaluation evidence collection and organization like a boss.

Collect Your Teacher Evaluation Evidence

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When you are trying to plan out evidence for your teacher evaluation try and think of things you will already be doing. For example, if your teacher evaluation goal is to increase student engagement, stop and think about what measures you are already taking. Are you writing lesson plans that show engagement strategies? Check, put those in your teacher evaluation binder. Are you researching new strategies to increase student engagement? Yes, print out the ones you are using and put them in your teacher evaluation binder. Are you teaching and using strategies to increase student engagement in your classroom? Um yeah, well videotape yourself and use it as evaluation evidence! You don’t need to recreate the wheel when it comes to teacher evaluation evidence collection. Think smarter not harder. Think what am I already doing/ using that could be great evidence? Stop and jot all the systems and methods you are already doing that could be used as fantastic evidence in your teacher evaluation. Then, make a plan to make sure you collect that evidence you are already doing.

Organize Your Teacher Evaluation Evidence

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In order to organize your teacher evaluation evidence like a boss, you need a good system! Something that has really helped me stay on top of my teacher evaluation evidence collection is to start early. I can’t tell you how stressful it is when the end of the year is approaching and you realize that you haven’t been collecting evidence and now have to put a whole binder together. Ugh.
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Now I start each year with a binder. Inside I put my teacher evaluation goals for the year, important dates, and the methods of evidence I plan to use. Getting an organization system going as soon as possible is so important. As I collect evidence throughout the year it will already have an easy to access place to be filed. Easy peasy. Starting my teacher evaluation evidence collection early and with a clear system has made my life so much easier! Want so check out the editable teacher evaluation templates I use? CLICK HERE.
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Stay on Track with Collecting Your Teacher Evaluation Evidence

With the craziness that each day in the classroom brings, it is so easy for me to forget to collect my teacher evaluation evidence. This is why I put an “important dates” section inside my evaluation binder at the beginning of the year. This way I can give myself checkpoints throughout the year and make sure I am collecting that data and evidence like a boss.
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Looking for some FREE tips, strategies, and more to help you rock your first few years in the classroom? Click the Download button to get a copy of my FREE Top 10 Tips for New Teachers Ebook!