There aren't enough ways to say thank you

Thank you – An Open Letter to Daycare Teachers

An Open Letter to Daycare and Preschool Teachers

There aren’t enough ways to say thank you!

Thank you – An Open Letter to Daycare and Preschool Teachers

Everyday, I wake up, frantically plow through the morning routine, drop my child off at daycare and  pray that I actually make it to work on time.  Then for eight hours, I give everything I have to my job.  Work ends, I rush home, pick up my children, make dinner, do our evening and nighttime routines, put my daughter to bed and usually collapse on the couch.  There are days that fly by for me in such a blur that I have trouble distinguishing one from the last.  But today, I need to take a moment to stop and thank the most important people of the day, the people who makes everything possible: my daughter’s daycare teachers.  

There are not enough ways to say thank you to these amazing people.  This  letter ,I am sure , will only scratch the surface of what you mean to us, but please let me publicly thank you for all that you have done and all that you do.

As a mother and a teacher, I understand very well what it means to teach and care for another person’s child.  I understand balancing multiple personalities and needs in the classroom.  Being a teacher is hard work, however, being a daycare and preschool teacher is a whole other thing.  The grace, joy and beauty you bring into my child’s life is a gift you give us everyday.  Everyday when we leave your classroom, my daughter and I say thank you, today I want you to know exactly what I am thanking you for.

 

Thank you – An Open Letter to Daycare and Preschool Teachers

Thank you - An Open Letter to Daycare and Preschool Teachers

Your Love

I know you love my child.  I know, because she loves you.  She talks about you at home and she tells me about what you did.  I hear her singing the songs that you taught her.  She smiles when I ask about you.  And when we talk about who we love, your name is always at the top of our list.

 

Your Help

I have given up trying to balance it all, there is no way I can do it.  So some things slip, sometimes things aren’t done well or aren’t done at all.  But the help you give our family makes a big difference.  Just a tiny example of the type of help I am grateful for I see everyday in my daughter’s school picture.  As a first time mom, doing a little girl’s hair can be so overwhelming, they squirm, everything hurts and their hair grows very unevenly.  It took me a very long time to be even half-way decent at doing it.  And when school picture day came around, I was not good at all.  You were the one that made her look so cute, you put her hair in perfect little ponies and everytime I look at that picture, I think of how grateful I am for you.

 

Encouraging me

Most days as a mom, I have no idea what I am doing.  As a middle school teacher, I have a tool kit.  I know strategies and I have skills at working with adolescents.  But raising a two year old?  This is my first time at the rodeo and often I am at a complete loss.  Your words of encouragement mean more to me than you could ever know.  When you tell me about how well my daughter did something or compliment me on my parenting, you make me feel like maybe I am not totally messing up.  When you let me know that something isn’t a big deal and I don’t have to feel guilty, I take your advise.  You mean more to me than you know.  Thank you.

 

Understanding and Knowing the Age

I know you know.  I trust that you know. And I am so thankful that you know.  When I see my daughter doing something or not doing something for that matter, I look to you to see if it is okay.  I can always trust that you will know if is age appropriate, something I should get checked out or be impressed by.  You know two (and three and four) far better than I do and I am so grateful.

 

Celebrating and Commiserating

It means so much to me to have someone who actually cares about my silly little mom stories.  You cheer my daughter on, you celebrate her successes and you support and commiserate with me when things get hard.  You honestly get excited for her and when things get tough, you worry about her.  

 

Being my Friend

You may not know this, but there are days that you are the only adult I get to talk to.  When I walk in the door, you always have a minute or two listen to me about my day.  You smile, you listen and you care.  Thank you.  There are days that I feel invisible and overwhelmed.  Your kindness and concern lift my spirits and always make my day better.

 

Teaching my Baby

Because of you, my daughter has learned so many things.  She shares, she sings, she loves to color with markers.  She tells me that she is bringing home a baby bumble-bee.

You taught her that.  When things don’t go her way, she says, “It happens.”  You taught her that.  And when she sees the letter M, she shouts, “Mommy, it’s you!”.  M is for mommy, you taught her that too.  Thank you!

 

Helping me to Raise my Child

If I could, I would stay home.  I would be a stay-at-home mom.  But that doesn’t work for our family.  So I go to work and my daughter goes to daycare.  During the school year, she spends nearly a third of her day at daycare, most of the hours that she is awake.  It is not an exaggeration when I say thank you for helping me raise my daughter.  You are helping me to teach her right from wrong, to share, to be kind.  You are helping to instill the values that truly matter: be a good and honest person.  

 

When we leave everyday and say thank you, this is what we mean.  This is why we are grateful.  

Whether you know it or not, you are a part of our family.  There truly are no words to thank you for all you have done.  But please always know, no matter where you go, no matter what you do, we will be eternally grateful.  Thank you and we love you!

 

Thank you – An Open Letter to Daycare and Preschool Teachers

Starting the School Year with Kindness

Starting the School Year with Kindness

Starting the School Year With Kindness

Tips and Strategies for Starting the School Year with Kindness at Home and School

What we need now, more than ever is kindness.   We must treat each other with kindness, compassion and empathy.  We say it, we know it, but often what we forget is that kindness must be taught, it must be practiced.  Telling others to be kind is a great reminder, but as mothers and as teachers, we must teach our children how to be kind, foster and encourage the skill  By starting the school year with kindness we can embed it into our lives and the lives of our children.

Routines of Kindness

Home

Kindness starts at home, our actions are reflected to the world.  The way we treat each other at home is how our children will treat everyone they come in contact with.  If we want a kinder world, a world that treats everyone with kindness and respect, we must teach this to our children.  A way to do this is to create routines for your home that actively teach kindness.  There are many ways to do this:

  • A phrase that you greet one another with
  • A phrase that you end every phone call with
  • A prayer that included kindness before meals
  • Give a daily compliment to every family member
  • When a family member is talking, listen and make eye contact
  • Always remember manners
  • Family Kindness Tracker (Free Family Kindness Tracker download)
School

As teachers, we are role models for our students.  It is unfair to expect them to do anything without actively teaching it, this includes kindness.  We may not be able to change what we have to do in the classroom, but we do have the power to change how we do it.  If we teach with kindness in our hearts and establish routines of kindness, we create a safe and caring environment for our students.

  • Greet students at the door individually
  • Start class with a phrase of kindness
  • Have a personal interact with every student every day
  • Smile
  • Make eye contact with your students, ask them to do so in return
  • Always start a constructive conversation with a compliment

Kind Act of the Week

Home

As a family, decide upon an act of kindness that you will complete each week.  This can be completed as a family or each family member can decide on their own.  Actively taking time out of your week to do something kind directed at someone reminds us how important it is work on making the world a better place.  Possible kind acts to complete each week are:

  • Volunteering at a soup kitchen, shelter, rescue agency
  • Pack up and donate unused toys and/or clothing
  • Visit or call an older/lonely family member or friend
  • Complete another family member’s daily/weekly responsibility (cook dinner, take out garbage)
  • Take the unexpected opportunity to help another person (carry someone’s groceries to the car, help the person who broke down in front of your house
School

As a class community explain that part of being a member of your class comes with the expectation that everyone will do their best to complete a kind act a week.  Every act of kindness will be posted, anonymously, on a post it and placed on a bulletin board in the classroom.  Kind acts will be shared, but not for individual recognition, but to acknowledge all the good being done.  Ways for students to complete an act of kindness at school:

  • Helping someone carry their books
  • Picking up something someone dropped
  • Giving someone a pen or pencil when they need it
  • Listen to a friend who is having a hard day
  • Give a compliment and expect nothing in return
  • Play, share or talk to another student that appears to not have anyone else

Kindness Project

Home

As a family, decide upon a long-term project to involve your family in that will help to make this world a better place.  This does not have to be the biggest project in the world.  Often times, we take on too much and never finish it.  Start small, a project is anything you need to do more than once to complete.  Once you and your family get the hang of it, add more time and depth to your projects.  Here are some ideas to get your family started:

  • Train for and complete a fun run for a cause
  • Participate in any type of a-thon (dance-a-thon, read-a-thon) for a non-profit organization
  • Help raise money for an organization
  • Become a volunteer at a nursing home
  • Grow something at a community garden
  • Become a board member for a volunteer organization
  • Foster a rescue animal
School

A class kindness project is a great way to bring a class together and have them work on something with real world applications.  As a group, the class can decide on a project, work together on it and see how their work has helped to make the world a better place.  Spending time, returning to a project and seeing your work make difference is lesson that will stay with our students forever.  Some possible ideas to get your students thinking are:

  • Identifying a local issue and make steps to improve it
  • Design and paint a school mural
  • Create a school club dedicated to kindness
  • Write a group children’s book about kindness
  • Identify a local non-profit organization and create a relationship with them

Ground Rules

Home

Everyone gets frustrated, everyone gets angry, but by setting home ground rules before these things happen is a way to keep kindness always present at home.  Some kindness home ground rules are:

  • No name calling
  • Listen first and respond
  • Make eye contact when talking
  • Stop and try to think about how the other person feels
  • Acknowledge other people’s feelings
School

Every class needs ground rules.  These rules depend on a teacher’s style, but if we make sure our rules are rooted in kindness, we can create a place where everyone feels respected and cared for.  Some possible rules are:

  • Make eye contact with others when talking
  • Listen and let others finish talking, try not to interrupt
  • Respond to what other say, rather than just saying what we want
  • Include new people in our groups, don’t let anyone feel left out
  • Be open to new ideas, new experiences and new people

Dedicate Time for Sharing

Home

When school starts it is so easy to get caught up in the hectic routine that is created, that we forget to talk to one another.  Taking time out of the day or week to share what we done and how we feel is necessary.  By sharing we can empathize with one another, an important skill to practice and we will also have our own feelings and our family members’ feelings validated.  Ways to share are:

  • Sharing during dinner
  • A Caring about Sharing jar – Write a note about something you want share, drop it in the jar and once a week share all the notes in the jar.  (Free Caring about Sharing jar labels download)
  • Have a weekly family meeting
  • Have a family signal for when someone needs a person to stop and listen to how they feel
School

When deadline approach and assignments need to be finished, one of the first things that teachers do is begin to move a little faster, cut out unnecessary things.  But remember, listening to students, letting their voices be heard, discussing how they feel and what kind things they have done is important.  Here are some ways to build in sharing time in your class.

  • Schedule time weekly for open sharing about kindness
  • Spend time talking and sharing during passing or transition times
  • Create a weekly warm-up activity that includes sharing thoughts of kindness
  • Meet with groups of students and share about your life, listen to stories about theirs
  • Ask students questions and honestly listen to their responses
  • Share details about yourself and allow questions

 

We must teach kindness and empathy at home and school if we expect our children to act through kindness and empathize with others.  If you want the world to be a better place, you must actively try to make it better, just talking about it doesn’t change it, you must do something.  We have all heard the phrase from Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”  If you wish to see a kinder world, be kind and teach kindness.  By starting the school year with kindness at home and school, you will embed it not only your life, but in your children as well.

Don’t forget to download your freebies!!  They are a great way to help with starting the school year with kindness.

Family Kindness Tracker

To use the Family Kindness Tracker, hang in a very visible place in the house.  Write every family members name down  on the top of the tracker.  Every family member gets a check for every day of the week that they are kind, have good manners and follow directions.  Checks can also be earned by completing random acts of kindness, showing kindness to your family or any other way the family decides.  Check are added up at the end of the week.  The higher the family total the more kindness the family has shown.  Use it to challenge your family and yourself.

Caring about Sharing jar labels

Attach Caring about Sharing labels to a mason jar.  Every time anyone has something that they would like to share, but no one is around or everyone is busy, write a note and drop it in the jar.  Schedule a time once a week to read and talk about every note.

We all need more kindness in our lives.  If you have any other ideas we can add to the list of Starting the School Year with Kindness, please share your ideas in the comments below.

 

If you like Starting the School Year with Kindness, consider reading, A Dream of Kindness.

Starting the School Year with Kindness

 

Creating and Assigning Work for Google Classroom Blog Title

Creating and Assigning Work for Google Classroom

Creating and Assigning Work for Google Classroom

Stepping away from paper and entering a digital world can feel overwhelming.  Just the idea of creating and assigning work for a Google Classroom can feel scary.  However, it doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems.  As a matter of fact, once you get the hang of it, moving towards a more digital classroom has a tremendous amount of advantages, not to mention the incredible amount of TIME that can be SAVED!!  Follow along and before you know it, you will be creating and assigning work for Google Classroom.

 

creating and Assigning Work for Google Classroom Video Tutorial

Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1

Make sure you are logged into your Google Drive account.  If you are on a chromebook, this happens by default.  However, if you are on a desktop, you must click the silhouette of a person in the upper right corner, login to your account and click link data when prompted.  All this means is by logging in this way, you have simultaneously logged into your Google Drive, Classroom, Calendar and every other feature Google has provided.

Once you have done that open a few tabs in your Chrome Browser.  When you can bounce back and forth between your the topics you are working on you will find that it is a time saver to have everything open at once.  So, open a tab with Google Drive and a tab with Google Classroom.  Within the Google Drive tab, click New, then Google Doc.  I personally like to sort all of my work into specific folders (if you are interested in a tutorial on how to do this, or anything else please leave a comment below), however, this is optional.

Creating and Assigning Work in Google Classroom How to 1

Step 2

Create your work.  Within the document you just created, you will create the work you are asking the students to complete.  You can add links of article for them to read, links of videos to watch or write questions for them to complete.  In the example I provided, the students will be answering a question.  I insert a single box from the tables tab as the space for students to answer questions.  This keeps the worksheets organized and makes grading easier.

Creating and Assigning Work in Google Classroom How to 2

 

Step 3

Assigning the work in classroom.  This is actually the easiest part.  Once your assignment is created, you go to the Google Classroom tab we opened and start by selecting your the class you are assigning work to.  Within the classroom stream, click the plus button on the bottom right hand corner and select assignment.

Creating and Assigning Work in Google Classroom How to 3

Step 4

Set up the who, what and when.  Who will you assign the work to?  What are you assigning?  When is it due?  All of these options are provided on the screen.  If you want every student to complete the work, leave the default all students.  However, if this is a make-up assignment or extra credit that only a few students are receiving, you can individually select each student.

Next, attach the assignment.  When you use all of the Google products, it truly does work seamlessly.  Of course, many of us still use other programs.  You can attach other forms of documents, but as I said in the video, you get far more functionality from a Google Doc.  If you are using a Google Doc, select the Google Drive triangle and select the file you want to assign.  Then decide what permissions you are giving the students.  Is it a view only? Edit?  Or assigning to each student?  If you are using it as an assignment, you want every student to have their own copy.

Once the work is attached, all you have left to do is set a due date.  The default due date is the next day, but you have the ability to set it to the minute.  This could be used for in class assignments or quizzes.  Now that all of options are set, click Assign and the students will receive there work (a lot faster than handing out papers).

Creating and Assigning Work in Google Classroom How to 3

 

And that is all there is to creating and assigning work for Google Classroom.   Technology can seem overwhelming because it isn’t always clear where to start.  But the purpose of these tutorials are to give you stress-free, practical guides on how to bring technology into your classroom.

If you missed our post on How to Create your First Google Classroom, you can find the post and video here.  And please comment with any technology tutorials you would like us to create.

 

 

Creating and Assigning Work in Google Classroom

Step-by-step guide - Create Google Classroom

How to Create your First Google Classroom

Setting up your first Google Classroom can feel intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Watch the video provided and follow the steps and by the end of this video, you will have your first Google Classroom up and running.

STep-by-Step Guide for Setting up Google Classroom

Google Classroom is an incredible tool for every teacher, no matter how comfortable you are with technology.  Whether you have everyday access to technology in your classroom or you are just beginning to introduce it, Google Classroom is the perfect choice for you.   Google Classroom can be used everyday, once a week, just at home or for only one assignment.  It is versatility and customization.

Step-by-step guide - Create Google Classroom

How to Create your First Google Classroom – Step-by-step guide.

 

What is Google Classroom?

Google Classroom is an online organization tool, which allows teachers to share information and post assignments.  It also allows students to organize information, collaborate and complete assignments.  Google Classroom creates a social media type setting for work to be shared and discussed.  This format is straightforward, yet very engaging for students.

So let’s get started!

 

Step 1

Go to classroom.google.com  or type Google Classroom into a search engine.  Google Classroom’s functionality works best with Google Chrome.  If you are used to using a different browser (Safari, Explorer), consider switching to Google Chrome.  It is great for teaching!

Once you are on the Google Classroom web page, select that you are a teacher.  This step is very important,  it is very annoying to try to reset your account if you select student instead.

Step 2

The screen you see now will be your home screen and from here, you want to create your first class.   Begin by clicking the plus button on the top right of the screen.  You will be prompted to either select create a class or join a class.  As a teacher, you can join classes, but for today, click create a class.  This will begin creating your first Google Classroom.

 

Create your First Google Classroom

 

Step 3

Name your class.  I find that creating a class for each group (period, section, block) of students you see is the easiest way to manage things.  If you put every student you have in one classroom, things get overwhelming and lost.  So, when naming this first class, make it the first group of students you see.  If you use specific names for your groups, or just want to name it based on the time of day you see them, it is totally up to you.  I personally use periods, but I can be rather straightforward.   You will give the class a name, identify the section and subject.  Once you click CREATE, you have done it.  You have created your first Google Classroom.

Create Google Classroom - Naming

 

Step 4

Navigating Classroom.  Once the class is created you will go to your classroom’s home screen, it is called the stream.  This screen is where most of your work will take place.  You can share documents, create assignments, and post videos (Don’t worry there will be more tutorials).   Before you begin posting assignments, you need to finish setting up the classroom.  Select the About tab on the top of the screen, this is next to the Stream and Students tabs.

Creating First Google Classroom - About

 

Step 5

Once you have selected the About section, you will be able to add additional information about your class.  You also will be able to invite co-teachers to collaborate within the class.  The About section also provides you with a direct link to this classroom’s Google Drive folder (where all the work, documents, sheets, slides and images are stored).

About Creating a Google Classroom

 

Step 6

Invite students to join your class.  Without students in the class, there is no reason to have a Google Classroom.  Once the students join, you can post a question for discussion.  You can share a video for the students to watch either in or out of school.  You can create worksheets and distribute an individualized copy to each student.  The ways to use Google Classroom are truly endless, but we need students in before we can do anything.

Select the Students tab from the top menu.  On this screen, a class code will be provided.  Display the class code for all of the students to see, have them go to the Google Classroom web page and they will select join a class.  The students will enter the code provided and will automatically join your classroom.

Students in First Google Classroom

 

From here, you will be able to post, work, comment, share and grade your students work.

I truly want technology to help you as a teacher, not to feel like an additional responsibility.  I have been able to regain hours of my life by properly using technology in the classroom.  It is an amazing tool to be used to assist a teacher, not to replace one.

Please feel free to comment or email with any questions you have about Google Classroom or any other classroom technology.  I am here to help you become more comfortable with classroom technology.  Stay up to date with all we have to offer by subscribing to Mother Teacher Dreamer.

 

 

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Back to School Anxiety

Reduce Back to School Anxiety

Reduce Back to School Anxiety

7 Ways to Beat the Butterflies

 

As the end of summer approaches, every teacher begins to feel those butterflies in their belly.  Whether it is your first year or your thirty-first year, back to school anxiety is real and it can affect any teacher.  There so many reasons for back to school anxiety: new students, new colleagues, maybe new administration, almost always there is a new curriculum or new standards.  And while our reasons for feeling anxious may not go away, there are some ways to reduce the stress.  Here are 7 ways to reduce back to school anxiety.

7 Ways to Beat the Butterflies

 

1.  Go For a Walk

Going for a walk is truly the greatest stress reliever.  Changing your location can easily change your mood.  We all know the countless benefits of walking, but when the pace of our walking matches the flurry of butterflies in our stomachs, it begins to be easier to forget they are there.

2.  Brainstorm with a colleague

Spending time with a colleague is a great way to beat the nerves of the new school year.  Discuss strategies, share struggles or plan events.  Go out, get a cup of coffee and chat.  Often just acknowledging the anxiety is enough to make it go away.  

3.  Learn a new tech strategy

Teaching with technology is an ever-changing world.  Taking a few hours to immerse yourself in a new teaching tool will completely get your mind off what is making you nervous.  Not only will you feel better, you will learn something that will help your students.

4. Go teacher store shopping

This of course can be dangerous, because what teacher hasn’t spent WAY TOO much money in the teacher store.  However, going in, checking out all of the things that are available, realizing that you have created things on your own that they are selling, is a great way to remind yourself that you know what you are doing.  

5.  Go Set up your room

This option is always a little bittersweet.  Once you go in and set up, you are acknowledging that summer, is in fact, over.  But does that have to be a bad thing, one of the great parts of teaching is the new beginning.  Go in, get started, maybe this year you can be the Pinterest perfect classroom.  Once things start getting into place the nerves will calm.

6.  Lesson Plan

Once the school year starts, the paperwork starts.  Beginning of the year forms.  Beginning of the year assemblies.  New regulations, required trainings.  Most of our stress comes from knowing that we just don’t have enough time to do all we have to do.  Of course you will make modifications once the year begins, it is such a relief to know your plans are ready to go.

7.  Make copies

Why not?  There are copies that have to be made.  Beat the lines, the heat, the inevitable breakdowns and go into school for a few hours a week or two early and get it done.  You will be able to check one more thing off your list and have one less thing to worry about.

Everyone feels something about the ‘going back to school’ season.  Whether it is tremendous joy (you know those parents that cannot wait for school to start) or nervousness of a second year teacher (who is hoping this year is easier than last year).  Now will any of these things make the night before school jitters go away?  Probably not!  I still, after seventeen years, cannot get to sleep the night before the first day of school.  But it is because we care so deeply about what we do.  

 

How do you beat back to school anxiety?

If you have any other strategies, please leave them in the comments.  Sharing is caring and we are all in this together.

Back to School Anxiety

How to respond to the statement, it must be nice to have summers off.

It Must be Nice to Have Summers Off

It Must be Nice to Have Summers Off

How to respond to the statement, it must be nice to have summers off.

It Must be Nice to Have Summers Off. 6 Fun and feisty ways to respond/

There are many things that you learn your first few years of teaching.  You learn how to write lesson plans, how to talk to parents and how to keep 30 children on task.   But one of the things that you won’t learn that first year and possibly for many years is how to respond to that statement, “It must be nice to have summers off.”   

 

During the school year,  most people appreciate teachers.   You hear comments like, “Wow,  you teach middle school.   I could never do that” or “Teachers don’t get the respect they deserve.”  But the minute summer vacation begins all of the appreciation is thrown out the window and all a teacher hears is,  “It must be nice to have summers off.”

 

The phrase, ‘It must be nice to have summer off’ isn’t necessarily a bad phrase.  But after you have heard it ten times and always with the condescending tone, which is attempting to imply you teach for summers off, your head comes very close to exploding.

 

Next time you come close to completely losing it, consider using one of these fun and feisty ways to respond to that statement.

Respond to Summers Off

It Must be Nice to Have Summers Off. 6 Ways to Respond.

 

  1. Yes it is.  

It is the last thing that they will expect to hear.  They are saying it to put you on the spot, so throw it back.  They want you to defend yourself.  Don’t buy in.  Simply state, “Yes it is”.  Then stare at them until they think of something else to say.

  1. I work the same hours.

Review with them the hours a teacher works.  We work 7.5 hours a day at school and provide extra help / run clubs or coach for an additional 1.5 hours a day.  We go home and grade and plan for another 2 hours.  Then we usually must dedicate an entire Saturday, usually about 10 hours a month to grading and data input.  That puts a teacher at 2300 hours of work in 10 months.  A person who works 40 hours a week and gets a 2 week vacation works 2000 hours a year.  So we have worked longer in 10 months than they do in 12 months.  So, summer break is just giving them a chance to catch up.

  1. This isn’t a classroom.

This is just a fun way to make a silly statement just go away.  Start looking around wildly saying, “Wait, what? This isn’t a classroom.  I’m not teaching right now.”  Eventually they will go away.

  1.  Even when I’m off I’m still learning.

You could take the high road and remind them that teachers use this time to grow professionally.  We read, we learn, we plan and we reflect.  We  use this time to do our best to become the best teachers we can be.

  1. Huh?

This is a strategy that I have learned from my two year old daughter.  Whenever I say something she doesn’t really like, such as, “Stop jumping on the couch,” or “Don’t try to feed the dog crayons”, she looks at me with big, startled eyes and simply says, “Huh?”  What a great way to respond to things you don’t what to respond to. Continue reading

Mother Teacher Dreamer - Teacher Blog

10 Reasons Why Every Teacher Should Blog

Mother Teacher Dreamer - Teacher Blog

10 Reasons Why Every Teacher Should Write a Blog (And how to do it)

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Every Teacher Should Write a Blog

Pinterest perfect classroom.  We hear the phrase and often a colleague comes to mind.  We can picture the image, but we don’t always realize that behind that pinterest pin was a blog post, most likely written by a teacher just like you and me.  What makes them different?  Probably nothing! Nothing, except they decided to share their talents, not only in the classroom, but online as well.  If you ask me, I believe every teacher should do it and here are 10 reasons why every teacher should write a blog.

 

10 Reasons Why Every Teacher Should Write a Blog

Share your passion

1. Share your passion – Every teacher has a fire burning, in fact, every person has a fire burning in their soul.  There is something that they live for, that they could talk about endlessly.   Writing a blog allows you to share that passion with the world.

Blogging is teaching

2. Blogging is teacher – Teaching is what we do.  We know how to break things down.  How to explain a concept so others can access and digest it.  Blogging allows you to share these ideas in another format.  Creating a blog allows you to move your classroom from one physical place to the whole world.

We are experts

3. We are experts in our field – We are an authority, we know what it is really like.  The expertise we have is valuable and people are looking for the answers you have.  Blogging about your experience offers your knowledge to the world.

Share creativity

4. Share creativity – There are so many different aspect to blogging: the writing, photography, technology.  Blogs can be about anything.  Anything creative you love, you can blog about it.

Keep up in a changing world

5. Keep up with a constantly changing world – Blogging helps you keep current in an ever changing world.  Engaging in the conversations that blogging brings about and sharing your opinion will help to keep an open mind and stay on the cutting edge.

Teacher Blog - Mother Teacher Dreamer

10 Reasons Why Every Teacher Should Write a Bog

Step outside the routine

6. Allows you to step out of the classroom routine – As a teacher, everyday is different.  No two lessons are alike, but a routine is established and maintained.  Blogging is a whole different world.  Some posts take off, others don’t.  The up and down, rollercoaster of excitement that blogging brings is a totally different from the classroom.  It is such a totally different thing and it is so much fun!!

Share success

7. Share your own success – There is no better feeling than truly reaching a student.  When you finally figure out and amazing strategy, you want to share it.  We all want to help as many students as we can.  When you blog, you can share these great ideas with the world.  Imagine how many people you can help.

Create a community

8. Create a community – The purpose of blogging is to have people read what you write and engage with these readers.  By blogging you can increase your professional community, which will give you so many more people to work with, think with and grow with.

Make money

9. Make money – No one decides to become a teacher to be rich, but a little extra income can’t hurt.  There are many blogs that make money, some make a lot of money, some make a little, but every bit helps.

Keep your mind sharp

10. Keep your mind sharp in the summer months – The summer slide isn’t just for kids.  The summer can be a mindless time for many teachers.  Blogging can help you stay sharp and on top of your game.

 

Every Teacher Should Write a Blog

How to do it.

Where to start

What is your greatest skill?  What lights your soul on fire?  For me, it is motherhood, teaching and kindness.  Becoming a mother has turned me into the person I was meant to be.  I can talk about being a mom all day!! Mother

 

And I love teaching! I love the drama, the highs and the lows.  The ever-changing  landscape and kids are hysterical.  I can smile and laugh everyday at work, even on the toughest days.  I also love technology.  Teaching with technology has transformed my career and I cannot get enough.  Using tech, talking about tech and writing about it.  Teacher

 

Also, built deep in my soul is the knowledge that through kindness we can change the world. Dreamer

 An this is what I blog about: motherhood, teaching and kindness.

Mother Teacher Dreamer.

Next Step

Once you have figured out what you will blog about,  decide on a name.  Think of a fun or unique way to capture your message.  Consider brainstorming about your passion to create a name for your blog, or use your own name if it is available.  It took me a while to get to MotherTeacherDreamer, but once I got it, I loved it!

Once you have decided on a name you have to purchase the domain and hosting.  I use Bluehost and you can create your webpage and blog right here through this link!  This link will allow you to get your domain for free and give you a discount on your hosting.  Usually web hosting with Bluehost is $7.95 a month, but through this link you can own your very own website for $3.95 a month.  The support is great and you can have a site up and running in a few hours.

 

 

It may seem a little scary or intimidating, but once you start blogging, you will quickly realize how great it is.  So do it!! Blog, share your voice, immortalize  your story, give your talents to the world.  Your ideas might make the next Pinterest perfect classroom.  Your ideas matter, every teacher should write a blog, we need to hear from you!

Classroom, Fail, Motherteacherdreamer

Today I Failed, but I Know Ways to Improve.

failed, motherteacherdreamer

 Today I failed, but I know ways to improve.

It was hot, I was cranky and my normally endless patience, that I have acquired from being a middle school teacher, was oddly in short supply.  I wanted to do better; I wanted to be better, but I wasn’t.  Today, I left school glad the day was over, but feeling like I had failed.  I didn’t actually do anything wrong.  Objectives were met, assessments were taken, but the joy I want to instill in children did not come through today. Today I failed.  I was not the teacher I want to be.  Today I failed, but I know ways to improve.

 

As the end of the school year approaches, it is very easy to fall into the “it’s almost over” or “how many days are left” feeling.  But if the kids are still coming, we still have work to do.  And really after your first year of teaching, you learn pretty fast that there is no worse day in school than a free day.  If you don’t have a lesson, the room will nearly self destruct.  

If we are going in …

So if we are going in, and the kids are going in and lessons need to be taught, it really is just about changing our attitudes.  Rather than wishing the rest of the year away (I know it can be hard, because when the school year ends the glorious summer begins), let’s try to change our attitudes about what we are doing and why we are doing it.

 

We teach because we love it and we love learning.  We teach because we love kids.  But when the weather gets warm, we start to forget it.  We start to focus on how tired we are and how we need a break.  Our passion gets sidetracked and just like the students, we are take over by spring fever.  

 

Because of this, today I failed, but I know ways to improve.

5 Ways to Improve

  1. Try something new.

     A new style of lesson, a new type of technology.  As teachers we know that learning never stops and if we model this for our students, it will inspire them to learn.  Once our students are inspired, the work and the joy will follow.

  2. Focus on planning.

    Select an aspect of your planning and finish it for the year.  If it is making your copies, writing your lesson plans or creating the slides.  Once you have completed a task, it will give you a sense of accomplishment.  It will also help to bring you back to the here and now and allow you to focus on giving your best to your students.

  3. Write a note to your students.

     Whether you know it or not you have had an impact on your students and your opinion matters to them.  Writing them a note of support will not only encourage them to continue to do their best after they leave your room, it will help remind you why you do this job.  One of the best parts of this job is letting a child know that someone thinks that they are amazing!

  4. Bring out the art supplies.

     Create, build, color.  Have some fun in class.  Having students use a text to create art meets standards and makes everyone happy.  We all love to color, so figure out how you can add an artistic project to the end of the year.

  5. Be silly.

     Add jokes to your worksheets.  Put funny memes in your lessons.  Have Justin Timberlake sing “It’s gonna be May”.  Figure out a way to laugh in class.  Let your students know that you are still happy to be there, that you want to be there.  Students know and appreciate when their teacher really want to work with them.

so …

So if you, like me, feel like you may be slipping and heat (and the smells) are starting to get to you, remember, you do love what you do.  Let’s end this year on a high note.  And when the final bell of the year rings, we will know that we did the best we could and gave it our all, because we are teachers!

 

Great to be a Teacher

10 Reasons Why it is Still Great to be a Teacher

Great to be a Teacher

10 Reasons Why it is Still Great to be a Teacher

I hear people all the time, “I wouldn’t be a teacher today”.  Most of the time the reasons are things like: the Common Core, standardized tests, biased teacher evaluations, lack of funding and the bureaucracy.  The profession of teaching has been vilified to the point that even the idea (even though it isn’t really true) of summers off doesn’t hold the appeal it once did.  There are even teachers that say if it weren’t the middle or end of their careers, they wouldn’t be teachers in today’s climate.  Well, I am here to tell you that teaching is an amazing profession.  As a matter of fact, I have 10 reasons why it is still great to be a teacher today!

10 REasons Why

fun

1.  Teaching is fun.  Seriously, it is so much fun.  Maybe I am a little nerdy, but I honestly love my subject matter.  It is what I specifically studied in college and I get to share my passion everyday.  I get to teach what I love.  I spend all day surrounded by material that makes me happy and try to inspire others to appreciate it the way I do.    

funny

2. Kids are hysterical.  I get to go to work every day and laugh, real honest laughter.  When you interact with a hundred different students, someone is bound to do something hysterical.  Whether it is tell a funny joke or fart at a totally inopportune time, not a day goes by that I don’t truly laugh.  It always helps me to remember that it is great to be a teacher (and farting can be funny).

making a difference

3. There is nothing better than making a difference.  There are scary things that go on in the world and the weight of it can steal your joy.  But as teacher, you can hold your head up, knowing that you have done something to make the world a better place.  You are actively making a difference.

you can do something good everyday

4.  You can do something good everyday.  Sitting in an office and interacting with a computer really limits the good you can do.  But as a teacher, I can make someone’s day better everyday.  Whether it is encouraging a student to find their own gifts or reminding a colleague of their importance, I can show kindness everyday.

what’s cool

5.  You will always know what’s cool.  What’s cool today may be a new app, phrase or YouTube channel, but as a teacher you are surrounded by what current.  Students will keep you on  your toes and on the cutting edge.  Teachers know what is in and we always know when things are out.  Being a teacher will keep you young.

learning

6.  Never stop learning.  Whether it is a new technology or a teaching strategy, a teacher will never stop learning.  We work in schools and our purpose (no matter what anyone says) is educating and inspiring children.  When you are surrounded by learning, you will continue to learn.  

new beginnings

7.  There is always a new beginning.  Every school year ends and a new one begins.  But in all reality, if things didn’t work well in the classroom today, there is always tomorrow.  Reteach, review and reflect.  Teachers always have the chance to do it over.

Everything changes

8.  No two days are the same.  Some people live their lives doing the same thing over and over, every day is more of the same.  However, when there are 30 different personalities interacting in the same room, the only thing you are guaranteed is that no two days will EVER be the same.

bonding

9.  Teaching is bonding.  Okay, so some days as a teacher are hard, really hard.  But being a teacher awakens something in your soul that will forever connect you to other teachers.  Whether you teach for three years or thirty, when you meet another teacher there is a bond that you have, an understanding of what the job is that allows you to share, commiserate and laugh in ways that people who never taught, will never be able to understand.

read and talk

10.Paid to read and talk.  This is really one of my favorite things to say about my job.  I get paid to read and talk, it is what I do and I love it.  What other job in the world pays you to talk about what you love, read about what you love and get paid to do it.  It is a dream come true.  

Of course people will continue to blame teachers (more about that here) for the ills of the world.  Teachers will be evaluated by unfair and biased measures,  but it really isn’t all bad.  If you feel in your soul that you were meant for the classroom, do not let money, retirement, standards or public opinion diminish your passion and drive.  Another career may pay the bills, but as the old adage says, “Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life”.  If you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, remember these 10 reasons why it is still great to be a teacher and why we do this job everyday.  We are helping children become the best they can be.

Classroom changes

5 Changes to Make in your Classroom

5 changes to make in your Classroom

Every profession makes technological advances.  Every patient expects their doctor to know the latest and most cutting edge techniques.  When asking a contractor to create a custom kitchen, you expect to have top model appliances.  Yet, in the classroom, there are subjects covered and lessons taught just as they were fifty years ago.  How can we expect to prepare students for the an unknown future, when we teach lessons from the past.  As teachers, we must realize that changes must be made.  Here are 5 changes to  make in your classroom, that can add a whole new dimension to your teaching.

Although changes can feel terribly hard to make, they are necessary.  Often we can begin to feel comfortable in our own routine.  When we reflect upon our practice, it is easy to say that the students are passing the necessary exams, so I must be doing the job that I need to do.  But is it really true?  Is our job to have students pass a test or is it to be prepared for life?   The following list gives ideas for 5 changes to make in your classroom that won’t be too painful and will have a big impact on students.

Changing Teaching

Group Work

  1. Group Work

The structure of the workplace has evolved a great deal.  People spend less time in cubicles and more time collaborating.  This type of shared work is not easy or comfortable for many people.  Practice is needed to learn how to set common goals, work around schedules and to truly share the workload.  By provided students with the opportunity to work in groups, they will have the opportunity to hone the skills needed for the workplace.

Student Led Learning

2. Student Led Learning

Relinquishing control in the classroom is terribly difficult for a teacher.  We often believe that without our direct instruction, the classroom could simply not go on.  But the truth is, students are often much more demanding teachers than teachers are.  Children are inquisitive and creative, when given the opportunity to stretch, they will.  Begin by giving the class a topic and allow them to come up with the assignment or project.  When students are empowered in the classroom, their passion and productivity increase.

Technology

3. Technology

The world has changed and the biggest change is the technology we use.  We went from microfilm to saying “Ok Google” to our phones.  The children we teach will have as many, if not more changes in their lives.  It is our job not only to teach them how to adapt, but to model it as well.  Of course a student can “learn the content the old way”, but then all we are teaching is content.  If we take the time to learn a new program, access a new webpage or embed a new technology, we then teach not only our content, but that new technology as well.  Two birds, one stone.  More about teaching and technology here.

Timed Work

4. Timed Work

Although this may seem like a high stress, traditional and dated activity.  It actually provides many different opportunities for student learning and simulates a real life situation that creates motivation for students.  Timed work can come in the form of writing, reading or completing an activity.  After the time period is completed, both teachers and students can evaluate of effective the work was in the given time.

Research

5. Research

Creating opportunities for students to complete authentic research allows them to put all we teach into practice.  As teachers, our end goals is to support children and allow them to learn how to teach themselves.  Our end goal for student learning should not be to have students memorize facts, but to learn how to learn.   Research provides the avenue to work on all of the skills needed to become lifelong learners.  Research can come in a variety of forms, however, it is up to us to select the research strategy best suited for our work.

By using these 5 changes to make in your classroom, we can far better prepare our students for a life of learning.  Of course it is easy to continue to do the same thing, especially if we see students passing tests and hitting benchmarks.  But as educators, we must push ourselves and model how to be the best we can be.  When students see us evolving, changing and growing, it will inspire them to do the same.