Kansas State University


College of Education

Category: February 2016

Take on Assessment Season and Win

assessment-pencilIt’s nearly time for assessments, so we’re offering some tips to help you make the most of it!

  • Let your students’ parents know about the approaching assessments.
  • Give students and parents an idea of what the assessments will cover.
  • Remind your students that they’re prepared for the assessments.
  • Encourage students to eat well – especially breakfast – before a testing day.
  • Have students drinking adequate amounts of water.
  • Encourage them to do their best – and be proud of them when they do.
  • Know that some students are taking tests in more than one content area, so understand if they’re especially stressed.
  • If your students are preparing for tests, try to balance that with enjoyable student-focused activities.
  • Smile. Your calmness and confidence will carry over to your students.

In the Classroom

Kaylie Wilson is in her first year as a band director in charge of secondary winds at Marshall Middle School, Horace Mann Dual Language Magnet and Northwest High School in Wichita.

Kaylie is currently teaching middle and high school band in Wichita, which she considers her dream gig. She was gracious enough to take time from a very busy schedule to share an update.

“I’m a traveling teacher, so I work at 3 different schools in th district and teach 7 ensembles total,” she said. “I also teach painting classes a couple nights a week at Paint the Towne (a local paint studio). It’s a lot work, but I’m loving life as a music teacher (sleep deprivation and all)!

“I have, of course, experienced some classic first year teacher moments–including the time a huge spider was running around my office…and I freaked out, jumped onto my rolling chair, scooted over to instrument repair station and proceeded to use an entire bottle of mouthpiece sanitizer to drown it, after which I hid it under a cup so the janitor could dispose of it (picture attached!). It’s been adventure to be sure, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything!”

Kaylie spiderJPG
It was a really, really big spider…that is now very sanitized.

“My students are great and it’s been so awesome getting to know them and watching them grow not only as musicians, but as people. I’m so grateful for my time at K-State and am constantly using the strategies and resources I acquired during undergrad to help me navigate the first-year teacher struggles (except for the spider–never studied how to handle that). I can’t believe how quickly my first year as a ‘real teacher’ is going by and am really excited for what the future brings!”

Silly First-year Mistakes? We’ve All Made Them!

sillyWe asked your former professors: What’s one of the funniest/silliest mistakes you made as a first-year teacher?

Dr. Sherri Martinie (Secondary Math)  “I hardly ever sat down. I stayed busy the whole day and even often ate lunch on the go. One day I was opening a pull-top can of tuna walking down the hallway and sliced my thumb. I had to leave school and have someone take me to get stiches! Lots of people teased me about it. I learned that I needed to stop, sit down, relax and enjoy a 20-minute lunch! My well being depended on it!”

Dr. Tom Vontz (Elementary Social Studies)  “I left my barn door open after lunch.”

Dr. Phillip Payne (Music Education)  “Most of these are really inside jokes among our staff! We still have a great time with them… while this is not silly, the moral of the story is enjoy every moment and don’t take yourself too seriously.”

Talk to Us! Send Us an Email!

e-mail iconDo 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!

Second-year 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!

Team Up for Some Teaching Fun

teaming-upSome of your former secondary professors provided suggestions on content areas that would connect well with their content areas. Here’s what they had to say:

Dr. Brad Burenheide (Secondary Social Studies) – “Language arts/social studies is a natural fit!”

Dr. Sherri Martinie (Secondary Math) – “Science.”

Dr. Vicki Sherbert (Secondary English/Language Arts, Speech/Theatre, Journalism) – “English/Language Arts, Speech/Theatre, and Journalism present wonderful opportunities to collaborate in all content areas. Often there are topics covered in Social Studies classes to which literary works can be paired so that students are immersed in stories that bring historical events to life. There are also more and more non-fiction texts that can be read in the ELA classroom that support science topics and inquiry processes.”

Dr. Phillip Payne (Music Education)  “ All the subjects… specifically – Visual Art, History, Language Arts, Math. These all allow for great integration projects within courses.”

Pushing Through the February Wall

february-wallIn most teacher circles, it’s called The Wall. It’s the month of February, and for new teachers, it can be especially challenging.

Throughout the school year, we teachers go through cycles – the excitement of a new school year, back-to-school night, carnivals, book fairs, the first Parent/Teacher conferences, football season, Homecoming and other fall events, followed by winter break, and then kicking off a new semester. It’s like a rollercoaster through the various events.

Then comes February – and those celebrated times are all in the past. February is that slow, shaky uphill portion of your rollercoaster ride. Elementary students’ thrills of discovering a new classroom, a new teacher, and new procedures have waned. There’s no break in sight – spring break, prom, end-of-year celebrations, graduation – they can seem like light years away. Plus, nature seems to be working against us, as well. It’s dark when we leave in the morning, it’s dark when we return home. And the drive in either direction can mean a few extra minutes scraping ice or brushing snow off our windshields. It’s times like these when we start rooting for a snow day!

Veteran teachers will tell you that February is one of those months you have to push through – as you and your students mark off the days on the calendar (well, the students who are old enough to READ a calendar).

It can be especially difficult for new teachers who haven’t hit The Wall before. So what do you do to re-energize yourself AND your students? Consider some of these ideas:

  • Create a special project just for the month of February – a poetry slam, a creative science project, or an informal art show, to name a few.
  • Celebrate with February Friday Fests – special activities (large or small) that are only for Fridays in February. It can be a 15-minute storytelling time, a special word game, or a light-hearted math challenge.
  • Set a specific goal for the month – whether it’s related to reading, geography, attendance, or whatever. Then provide a small acknowledgement of your class accomplishments.
  • Generate a special February calendar marking the days with special events, activities, trivia, and key dates in history.
  • Create a service-learning project that helps students reach out to others; create artwork for a nursing home, send get-well wishes to an ill school employee, etc.
  • Add to your February routines by giving a writing prompt that connects somehow to the month or generate a list of Fun February Facts to share each day as a class starter.
  • Take a few moments each day to enjoy the humor of your classroom. No matter what age you teach, you can find a goofy moment or a silly comment in every day you teach. Don’t lose sight of that.
  • Secondary teachers: Don’t let the elementary teachers have all the fun with art projects. Let your middle schoolers and high school students step back into their childhoods and spend a few moment playing with just-for-fun activities.

Once you’ve successfully made it beyond The Wall, get ready for a hectic end to the rest of the school year. Spring break, sports events, testing, graduation – they’ll all be headed your way!

In Our Next Issue….

marchSpring is in the air! Well, in between snowflakes–but we’re getting close!

And you are SO close to finishing your first (or second) year as a classroom teacher! With that in mind, we’re going to provide some information that should help you have an amazing finish to your hear. We’re going to focus on the following in our March issue:

  • Assessments – The Sequel
  • Spring Break Recharging
  • Purple Possibilities