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!