Saturday, May 20, 2017
Tid-BiT: FIve Things I Should Be Doing As A Teacher, That I Don't
This morning's post is brought to you by Pinterest and not in the way that you might think. If you have read my past posts, you know that I am not a huge fan of Pinterest or TPT, and if you have been on my Pinterest page, you may also notice that I don't pin often and if I do, it's normally to post something practical (which I don't find often).
HOWEVER, this morning I had an email from the Pinterest Gods, stating that they had some boards that they thought I might like. None of which I did. In fact, that damn email took me down the rabbit hole and immediately the feelings of guilt and self-loathing started to seep in. Again.
You see, this is why I don't get on the site often. But, it did remind me of why I quit getting on there in the first place and of all of the things that I quit doing as I was burning out.
I really do respect it. Really I do. I have gotten some good, basic ideas from Pinterest and it is helpful when I am in a pinch and can't think of what to do when I am faced with a problem to solve. However, when I was on there this morning, I was shaking my head at how complicated things like Class Dojo were made. I'm talking bulletin boards, coloring sheets where kids keep track of their points daily, 20 different ways to reward and punish kids with points, depending on their behavior. I actually laughed. Are people feeling that this is normal?
I am not coming down on you if you promptly give each student 5 points each day for turning in homework, after you fight to collect it, grade and correct every problem, and then pass it back. I really am not, but know that there is a simpler way. Which brings me to my next thing...
My daughter was on the phone with my mom the other day and they were talking about homework. My mom asked her if I give homework, I said, "No." She asked, "Why?" I said, "Because I don't want to grade it!" It's as simple as that. I get enough proof of whether or not a student needs more support at school. The students also work hard enough during the day, that they don't need to go home to more work.
Communication with parents is key, however. If a student is really struggling. Parents are made aware and I give them suggestions. If they really want to help their child at home, they will either use the resources I suggest, or not. Parents have never been surprised by grades or report cards, because we communicate often, when necessary, in order to support their child.
This was something I quit about 3/4 of the way through this year and I wish I would have quit 11 years ago, when I started teaching. Why did it take me so long to quit this obnoxious use of paper and my time? There was always great participation for the first two weeks, and then my highest readers were the only ones filling them out.
Alice Keeler inspired me to ask myself this question, "Why do we ask students to do unrealistic things that adults would never do in real life?" Such as, write down the number of pages we read and record our thinking every time we read a book at home?
Don't get me wrong, OF COURSE I encourage reading at home. OF COURSE, I have ways of getting books into the backpacks of my students. But, just as my philosophy stands with homework, either a parent is going to take that suggestion to read to and with their child, or not. All I can do is grow a students' personal love of reading as much as I can at school so they WANT to read at home. Am I growing their love of reading by making them mechanically fill out sheets of 'proof' that they did it? Nope.
Before I lose you and you write me off as a terrible communicator who is closing the door to my classroom and letting no one in, let me make this very clear: I am AWESOME at communicating with parents of my students. I am very clear on all of the ways that they can communicate with me and ask me questions several times throughout the year and especially those first few weeks of school.
I send home many different pieces of information about daily routines, ways to get ahold of me, what my expectations are, and consequences for not respecting those expectations in my classroom.
My favorite ways of communicating with parents are Seesaw and Remind.
With Seesaw, parents are able to see, to the hour, what and how their child is doing at school. They see videos, picture posts, and notes that their child is working on every single day, several times a day. Isn't that better than me just stating the standards or learning targets that we are working on each week? I'm gonna say, yeah. It is. I also use it to send quick updates on classroom happenings and upcoming events.
Remind is a free texting and emailing app that lets me privately send texts and/or class announcements to parents reminding them of upcoming events or updating them on their child's behavior, if that is what their need is. Instant, short, and practical. Done. Parents can also text me with questions and concerns. We often schedule conferences through this service too! All numbers are made private and it is really easy to set up.
Our classroom is organized, low maintenance, organized, clean, organized, and safe. Did I mention that it's organized?
My students know where everything is, how to get the things they need, where to put them when they are done, and where to go to find any resource they need. IF they can't find something, they know what to do then too... ask three friends for help. Still can't figure it out? Ok, NOW you can ask me. AND I DON'T NEED TO BUY OR MAKE A SIGN TO HOLD UP THAT STATES, "ASK 3 THEN ME." (Yes, I saw that on Pinterest today.)
Of course I get interrupted when working with students or small groups. They are six years old and I have 30 of them! I'm in the career of education. I deal with it.
The students don't need colorful labels on all of my drawers. They don't need all of my walls plastered with smiling cookie-cutter children or frogs. (I'm referencing my first year of teaching here.) They need a safe, well-organized, and balanced classroom. They need love. They need to learn to be independent and that if they need something they know where to go to get it. They need a space that is theirs and OURS, not mine.
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