"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world"
Nelson Mandela

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Teaching is Challenging This Time of Year

Teaching is challenging this time of year, we are getting ready for state wide tests and we start to realize that there is only 4-5 months left in the school year.  These are added on top of being an effective teacher, keeping our relationships strong no matter the discipline problems that may arise, creating engaging lessons, meetings, grading papers, professional development etc…… This does not include our lives outside of teaching.  This is the time of year that we need to pay special attention to ourselves and how the stresses are affecting us.  Signs that the stress may be getting to you are finding yourself withdrawing from social interaction with colleagues, not sleeping well, a feeling of being overloaded, you become negative about situations, not enjoying activities that you normally would enjoy.  We need to remember to take care of ourselves, the 2014 Kansas Teacher of the Year, Jeff Baxter  compared self care with putting on an oxygen mask on a plane, put your mask on first before you help someone else.  Sometimes we forget about our well being because we are so concerned with everyone else.  This is a characteristic of being a teacher; this is why we are amazing people doing amazing things.  What we forget is how to take care of ourselves.  Make sure you take 30 minutes if not more a day for yourself.  If that be working out with a colleague, read a book (non educational), breath, take a walk, or call a friend.  We cannot be effective teachers if we do not take care of ourselves.  Take a minute and think about what you are doing for yourself.  If nothing, make that change today, your students are depending on you to stay engaged. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Supporting Teachers

A shocking statistic in our profession as teachers; 40%-50% of new teachers leave the profession within the first 3-5 years.  WHY is this happening?  We are losing teachers because they do not have support or the support is inadequate. Teachers do not feel validated in the profession and new teachers do not have time to get things done.  They are expected to accomplish what a veteran teacher does everyday in the same amount of time. There are other reasons but these are the three main reasons my fellow colleges of the class of 2014 National State Teachers of the Year discussed.

What we need to be doing in our schools and districts in order to keep the best and the brightest in our profession is have the resources available to these teachers.  Mentors, teachers that help guide new teachers into the profession.  Have someone who is not in the same curriculum guide them so they are being mentored on classroom management and best teaching practices verses being critiqued on curriculum. Coaches, someone who asks questions and be a resource so the teacher can evaluate themselves instead of being told what to do.  We need to make sure our novice teachers an new teachers to a school or district feel like they have something to contribute.  Especially 1st year teachers who are coming into the profession with new eyes, new rigorous ideas and amazing energy and passion.  Give these teachers time to acclimate to the profession or new school.  We are asking novice teachers to jump right into the profession and be able to handle the load of a veteran teacher.  Give them a time to plan, research, watch other teachers teach with their mentor so they can collaborate on what is happening in the classroom being observed.   I feel that our system is set up for failure instead of success and I know we do not set our schools up for our students this way so why would we do it to our teachers.

Brain Break; Get Up and Move

You have just finished an intense rigorous lesson, student's minds are fatigued and you still have 30 minutes of instructional time left.  Renergize your students minds so they can continue to be engaged.  Have your students stand up and walk in place, increase speed to a jog.  Than move into standing jumping jacks, move into fast feet ( que them to be as quiet as they can but move their feet as fast as they can). Now start a cross over movement to engage both sides of the brain, criss cross foot slap; have students stand and using left hand to right bottom of foot behind their back and switch right hand to left bottom of foot.  Do movement multiple times then switch to the front of the body.  To finish out have them walk in place then stand with eyes closed and take deep breathes.  Now your students should be ready to be engaged.  Reminder do not let these activities last longer than three minutes, so you don't lose instructional time.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Active Body has an Active Mind

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Career Highlight

On May 11, 2014 I had the honor of meeting an extrodinary leader of our nation.  In the blue room of the White House I had the opportunity to shake hands with President Barack Obama.  Following my meeting with him I stood behind the president while he addressed the nation on the strengths in education.  I would not of been standing there if it was not for my hard work in education, tenacious spirit and above all the support of my family.  Thank you to all that made this journey happen.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Brain Break.......Simon Says

Hopefully we all remember the game Simon Says.  If not, Simon Says is a game that you instruct to your students, you give instructions saying Simon Says before each instruction.  For example Simon Says put your hands on your head, Simon says jump up and down, Simon says touch your knees.  Eventually you don't say Simon says and just give an instruction and students should not follow that direction.  In this brain break the student is not out of the game, its just a time to laugh at your mistake and move on.  This exercise is great for transitions from one activity to the next keeping the students in one spot. At the end of the brain break you can use Simon says to get students ready for the next activity for example Simon says get your book out to read.   This exercise engages the body and the mind, so Simon Says try the activity.

Inspiration, For a New School Year

I get so excited this time of year because of the opportunity that’s ahead of me.  I get to TEACH!!!   As a teacher we have one of the most impacting jobs there are in our society.  We are in constant contact with children to ensure they receive a world class education and will be successful after school in a career or college.  We should be proud of what we do on a daily basis.  We are amazing educators who care about our students so make sure you share that passion with everyone.  Let your voice be heard.    I wish more people had the opportunity to feel the thrill of teaching.  

 Before you get into full teaching mode take a minute and think about a teacher that impacted you.  What did they do, how did they make you feel, what made them different from all the other teachers you had.  Could you take on everyday with all of your students the same way that teacher took on everyday with you? 

Mrs. Nancy Burke was a high school physical education and health teacher at South Lakes High School in Reston, Virginia. She also was an amazing athletic trainer.  There were frustrating days in high school where I did not see the value of my education.  There were times that I wished I was not a school.  I never went to Mrs. Burke for help, she just took the time when she saw me down to chat, check-in and see how I was doing, most of the time I would say I'm fine, even though I wasn't.  That did not stop Mrs. Burke she kept on asking and eventually I opened up.  She became an integral part of my education, she was a mentor.  Whenever life got hard, demanding or confusing she was there with encouraging words, failure was not an option.  She was also there in my accomplishments and triumphs celebrating with me.  Did Mrs. Burke have to take extra time out of her day to mentor me, no, but she did it anyway because she cared.  She wanted me to succeed in all aspects of life.  Because of her influence I have vowed to never let a student think they are a failure.    

I challenge you to reach out all of your students, make sure their voices are heard.  Give them the opportunity and resources to be successful. I truly believe its not about how smart our students are but about how hard they work and the ability to never give up.  I also challenge you to advocate for our great profession, we truly are heroes, sometimes even superheroes.