Lori Goodson, Editor
Mary Hammel, Technical Editor
Calling ALL EdCats! Save the date for a FREE opportunity to gather with other early-career teachers June 7! We’re bringin’ it back to Bluemont for a day of idea sharing for your classrooms!
Genius Hour, Coding, Service Learning in Classrooms, Flexible Seating, Mystery Skypes, and MORE!
Each attendee will get some fun classroom supplies for next year! SAVE.THE.DATE! Look for the link to reserve your space in next month’s Before the Bell Newsletter, as well as EdCat Social Media!
Questions? Contact Dr. Martinez at email@example.com
With just a little over two months left in the school year, many of you are about to lose the title of Rookie Teacher. However, don’t overlook those last eight to 10 weeks. You still need to have a strong finish!
Use spring break and weekends to recharge as you set your sights on the end of the school year. Consider these ideas to help you end your year on a high note…and make your administrator thrilled to have you return for your second year:
- Now that you’ve been through several months, review your lesson plans. Make any alterations you believe are necessary to ensure the success of you and your students.
- Check with colleagues or administrators to make sure you’re aware of any end-of-year requirements—paperwork you need to have completed, special dates to put on your calendar, etc. It’s one more opportunity to make sure you’re not overlooking anything important.
- Take a deep breath and promise to enjoy your students. They’ve been your students for nearly eight months. Take a few seconds each day to simply look around the room and appreciate them.
- Remind yourself of at least one moment of progress or success that each student has experienced.
- Take another deep breath and promise yourself to focus on the ups more than the downs of your first year of teaching. With a couple months left, you still have time to make changes, mend fences, and make the most of their time with you!
She says the best thing about her new career is working with the kids, and her relationship with those kids is incredibly important.
“No two kids are the same and it is a new adventure every day,” she says. “The relationships you make to have a positive impact on their day is so rewarding. I also love being able to share my passion of the different subjects with them. I love the challenge of trying to find new ways to make new material interesting for them to learn about.”
Danielle says her school district has been extremely supportive, especially by providing “great professional development.
“I feel like I have what I need to be successful, and if I do not feel like I am being successful, my district is great about finding the solution or answer to any question that I have,” she says. “Geary County is also really great about being on the forefront of education. Implementing the latest technologies and research-driven instruction. One example of this would be STEM. Our district has STEM coaches who come into our classroom and help co-teach STEM lessons. These are fun lessons with materials that are too scarce to have in every class. My kids really enjoyed building and learning to program their EV3 robots. Their robots then had to be programed to complete certain tasks within a maze. They were so into it!”
She also credits KSU with getting her ready for the classroom.
“I think KSU was really good about teaching me how to create a unit and lesson,” she says. “They make sure their students know where to find the standards and how to interpret them. They help teach you how to make your lesson and the standards connect through the objectives that you teach.
“K-State makes sure their students know where to go to find what they need to be successful out in the field,” she continued. “However, they also make sure you are thinking through your lessons fully. That has been my biggest help with my first year of teaching.”
As she nears the end of the school year, she encourages future teachers to get out into the classrooms and make the most of the field experiences KSU’s College of Education offers.
“The more experience you have with kids, finding your teaching style, and building those relationships, the more prepared you will be for your own classroom,” she says. “All of those things work together to create your classroom environment, and that is one of the most important things when preparing young minds.”
It’s March—which means spring rain (maybe?), a much-deserved break (hopefully with a stop or two in the Little Apple), and assessments! While you may be putting in a few extra minutes in your classes reviewing material for the tests, it’s also a good time for you to consider the achievements your students have made—whether they show up on a test score or not.
As your students take the assessments, know that you have done your best. If you’ve kept a journal for reflection, now’s the time to spend a few minutes flipping through the pages and seeing just how far your students—and you as a teacher—have come.
Take time to reflect upon your teaching, how you’ve prepared your students for these assessment and, most importantly, for succeeding in your class and with your content. Flip through your past lesson plans and make note of what works and what didn’t, what needs improvement and what was successful.
As assessment results come in, make use of that data. Use the results to see how your students have progressed and to determine what general areas you may need to spend more time on or approach in a different way.
Do not, however, judge your teaching abilities based on assessment results. Assessments are only part of the picture regarding your students’ achievements. Ideally, testing would be an absolute way to judge your abilities to help students learn. But veteran teachers and administrators know other factors affect how your students do on the tests.
Do you have a question about classroom procedures? Or 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 mailing list? Or, if you’re in your first year of teaching, send us a photo of you at work in your classroom!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Go, COE Cats!
We asked some of your favorite Curriculum and Instruction professors, “What do you think is most enjoyable about teaching this age level/content area?” We think you’ll find their responses provide you with a few smiles…and some motivation to keep up your good work in the classroom.
Dr. Brad Burenheide (Secondary Social Studies)— “Everything. The content, the kids, it is intellectually stimulating and enjoyable.”
Kaylee Myers (Elementary Education)— “The students, of course. They bring a smile to my face, especially each morning when they walk in ready to go and a new day has begun.
Cyndi Kuhn (Technology)— “I love technology, and there are so many options and always a new one. Embrace them.”
Dr. Sherri Martinie (Secondary Math)— “There are so many applications of the content to the real world. There are definitely opportunities to be creative teaching math. It is also very rewarding when students that have struggled with math start to make sense of things and enjoy learning the subject.”
Dr. Tonnie Martinez (Secondary Language Arts)— “I always loved when a student would say, “I hate English class.” I would tell them, ‘If you still don’t like it at the end of the semester, I’ll give you your money back!’ It broke the ice, and sometimes I was shocked when one of the “haters” came in during the last week of school and told me they didn’t want their money back and they liked English now.”
Dr. Tom Vontz (Social Studies)— “The honest and sometimes inaccurate and funny interpretations of the world that come from the mouths of little kids.”
Dr. Vicki Sherbert (Secondary English/Language Arts, Speech/Theatre, Journalism)— “We get to bring exciting literacy experiences to our students. Sharing our enthusiasm about books, authors, poetry, drama, etc. with our students is critical to help them develop their own literate lives.”
Dr. Sally Yahnke (Family and Consumer Sciences)— “I think the most enjoyable part of family and consumer sciences is the fact that the content really allows you to get to know your students, not only in class but through FCCLA. Class content is relevant to the students for the decisions they are making today and the decisions they will be making in the future.”
Dr. Phillip Payne (Music Education)— “The most enjoyable part for me is to see students developing their love and knowledge of music. They learn to take ownership of their musicality and to see that is immensely gratifying.”
Dr. Tonnie Martinez and others are leading an effort to help beginning teachers like you thrive as you start your career! Check out #WeAreEdCats for teaching tips and to stay in touch with the COE! Check out the website at coe.k-state.edu/edcats.
Believe it or not, spring AND the final weeks of your school year are within reach! OK–it’s Kansas, so I can’t promise the spring thing, but I CAN promise that you only have a few more weeks for the 2016-17 school year.
We want you to make the most of those final weeks. To help out, here are some of the topics we’re going to be addressing in the April issue:
- The Home Stretch (that sounds good, doesn’t it?)
- Cool Things about Your Secondary Content
- Wrapping Up Your First Year