Kansas State University


College of Education

What’s in your desk drawer?

desk-drawerWe asked some of your Curriculum and Instruction professors what five items new teachers need the most in their desk drawer. Here is their growing list of responses. (Feel free to email us your own go-to items in your desk drawer!)

Cyndi Kuhn (Technology) –

  1. Flash drive
  2. Power cords for technology (go buy a second set and keep a set at home)
  3. Advil
  4. Kleenex
  5. Your favorite motivational quote, so every time you open that drawer, you are inspired.

Dr. Brad Burenheide (Secondary Social Studies)

  1. Gum
  2. Notecards
  3. A great pen
  4. Flash drive
  5. A picture of your spouse or significant other to look at when times are rough

Dr. Todd Goodson (Secondary English, Speech/Theatre, Journalism)—“Forget about the drawers. They will be full of clutter and useless in a week. The most important thing you can have on top of your desk is a book (appropriate for the age group you are teaching) that you are currently reading. If every teacher in the building demonstrated a lifelong love of reading for students, that would do more than any instructional program to improve students’ literacy skills.”

Dr. Sherri Martinie (Secondary Math)

  1. Crackers for hungry kids.

Dr. Lori Levin (Literacy) –

  1. Breath mints
  2. Band aids
  3. Granola bars (both for you and for the child who never seems to have had breakfast or bring a snack),
  4. Chinese take-out menu,
  5. Lots of post-it notes (invaluable for jotting notes, collecting data, and last-minute exit tickets).

Kaylee Myers (Elementary Education)

  1. Safety pins
  2. Colorful writing pens
  3. Chapstick (talking lots=dry lips)

Dr. Tom Vontz (Elementary Social Studies)

  1. Coffee cup
  2. Kleenex
  3. Laptop
  4. Grading folder
  5. Parent contact info

Dr. Tonnie Martinez (Secondary Language Arts) –

  1. Mints for the face-to-face conferences (for you and the students)!
  2. Hand-sanitizing lotion that smells good
  3. Vending machine change
  4. Granola Bars
  5. Tylenol

Dr. Vicki Sherbert (Secondary English/Language Arts, Speech/Theatre, Journalism)

  1. Band-aids
  2. An extra flash drive
  3. Colorful pens
  4. Encouraging notes you’ve received from students and parents
  5. Tic Tacs

Dr. Phillip Payne (Music Education) –

  1. White-out
  2. Calculator
  3. Pencils
  4. Pens
  5. Audio recorder

Before you take that much-deserved break….

hand with keyBefore you walk out your classroom door for a well-deserved winter break, spend a few extra minutes preparing for the new semester that will be here sooner than you think. By taking care of some of these before break, it’ll be a much more welcoming room when you return.

  • After the students are gone from the building, tidy your room. (I know – I sound like a parent, don’t I?) Collect stray papers and materials. Get your students’ texts and other resources neatly stacked under their desks on on a book shelf or wherever is appropriate.
  • Now clean up your desk. File any extra papers. Make your work area as uncluttered as possible.
  • Now – pull out a few resources you’ll need to start the next semester (textbooks, handouts, etc.).
  • Make a list of tasks to do once you return from break – no matter how minute they may seem, so you’ll be more prepared when you return.
  • Want to try a different room arrangement? Need to streamline the students’ path to some materials? Now is a good time to experiment.
  • Take a few minutes to write a brief note or two or verbally thank some people for their support during your first semester. A librarian who signed you up for the computer lab when you forgot? A custodian who cleaned up that spilled coffee for you without even grumbling? An office person who chose not to scold you when you messed up your third purchase order form? (OK–that one is based on personal experience…I’m not sure I EVER filled out a purchase order correctly during my entire teaching career.) Be sure to let them know you appreciate their help.
  • Before you close that classroom door and lock up for several days, take one more glance around your room. You’ve made it through the semester! Congrats!
  • Now…walk out that door, lock it, and enjoy a rejuvenating break taking care of yourself, spending time with family and friends, and (hopefully!) not grading a single assignment!

In the Classroom: Megan Reed

Megan Reed, left, stands with Sylvia Kvacik, her colleague and mentor.

Name:  Megan Reed

School district: USD 240-Twin Valley

City/State: Bennington, KS

Class/content area taught: 9th/10th/11thEnglish

What you are most excited about with your new career: I am most excited about being around so many new people and, while it’s very hard for me, learning about and improving my own weaknesses. It sounds odd, but if I don’t look forward to the fact that I will need to face my own vulnerabilities, I won’t feel comfortable no matter what I do, so I learned to see those things with a slightly more positive mindset.

What you enjoy most about teaching: I love my students. They are all so unique and watching them become more courageous as they face challenges is so inspiring to me. I also love and cherish the moments when my students figure something out or when they realize that maybe they were a little more capable than they may have originally thought. My students can also be exhausting and I find myself hiding in my blankets by the end of the day sometimes, but that just helps me to realize that I am investing what I can in their lives and I’m OK with that trade-off. I pray it’s helpful somehow.

Ways your school/district has supported you: My school and my co-workers are very supportive of my military career, which is extremely important to me. When I’m gone due to military activities, they help me figure out how to prepare for the absence, and they also give me a little courage when I come back after my absence. It can be difficult to jump back into teaching lessons again when you have been gone for a couple of days and you’re exhausted because you didn’t get the weekend to rest a bit like most of your peers did. My school family support me in that way, but they also remind me everyday that it is OK to be human and, as a first-year teacher, to just be that–a first-year teacher. It helps me because I am very hard on myself, so having people about me who understand me and guide me, helps to take some of the pressure off.

Ways KSU especially helped prepare you for your new career: K-State helped me prepare for this career because the college instilled in me the discipline and understanding necessary for teaching. I took courses in college that gave me a base later on, such as my curriculum classes and my “internships” every semester. I would never have continued with teaching had it not been for the professors I had and the way they taught and the passion they taught with. It was a wonderful influence.

Specifics about your background that make teaching the perfect fit for you: My mother was a teacher and my father taught a little, as well as being an officer in the military. I would, with 100 percent certainty, say that my parents helped prepare me for my teaching path because they made me face every challenge I came across as a child and young adult. The phrases “I can’t” or “I quit” were never allowed in my lexicon. My family gave me courage, belief, and a swift kick in the rump sometimes, when I wanted nothing more than to back away from challenges, and in this job, you can’t back away. You have to have a certain amount of tenacity and fire. You have to be willing to fall on your face, get back up, do it again, and so on. My father once told me that when you’re walking down the road of life and find an obstacle in your path, you have to find a way around that obstacle, whether that is climbing over it, going around it or just blowing the sucker up. You figure it out. So, I use that to try and work out the “obstacles” in my day as a teacher, whether that is when a lesson plan goes completely off course or students needs a little extra understanding and they are showing it in a way that can be a little more exhausting than anything else. You find a way.

Megan’s classroom is ready for her students.

I can also say with 100 percent certainty that my husband, who has the patience of a saint, taught me more about seeing life from someone else’s perspective and walking in their shoes than I ever learned before I met him. I try and keep that mentality with me wherever I go because every student I come across is fighting his or her own battle. I’m naturally a little harsher by nature, which I think is what is necessary sometimes, but the same could be said for someone like him- calm and understanding. There is a golden mean here, and learning how to be more calming and understanding helps me find mine.

Probably the last two, though just as important, specific details about my life that, I feel, have helped make me a perfect fit for teaching would be my military career and my faith. Honestly and truly, I started out in my early life feeling so scared of everything and so unsure about myself as a person, but the military has a tendency to build you up and help you see what you’re capable of. It helps build up your weaknesses and add to your strengths and allows you to see that if you can overcome those kinds of things, you can also do this kind of thing. I am more self-confident now than I was before. My faith has done that as well because I feel that if God gave me this life and these professions, than I must have something special to give in return through them. I appreciate and trust that. My faith leads me and has never led me astray.

Suggestions/encouragement for new teachers: I think the only thing I can say is: Be OK making mistakes. Be OK being human in front of your students. It’s OK to fail because that, at least, means you’re trying and you’re learning to be what you’re supposed to be as a teacher. I can say that because I’m still struggling with it, and I notice how different things are when I’m OK with my human faults vs. when I try and be perfect all the time.

It’s time to write home…your COE home, that is

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What’s up?

Why don’t you send us a photo of you at work in your classroom! Or, do you have a question about classroom procedures? A suggestion for a topic we should address in Before the Bell? Want to add your name to our mailing list? Or provide a different email for our list? At the very least, just email and say hi!

Early-career teachers, feel free to jump in and offer suggestions to those who are following your career choice!

We’d love to hear from you, so please email us at lagoodson@k-state.edu.

Go, COE Cats!

Just ahead

januaryIf school were a football game, you’d be at halftime! Be sure to check out our January issue when we offer ways to prepare for your second semester. Look for the following newsy items to keep you on track:

  • Winter School Issues
  • Snow Days!
  • Books to Inspire You