Kansas State University


College of Education


finishWith just a little less than 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 six to eight weeks. You still need to have a strong finish!

Use 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 about 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 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 few weeks left, you still have time to make changes, mend fences, and make the most of their time with you!


One more teacher to-do list

clipboardWhile the school calendar may be slipping away, you still have plenty to accomplish in your first year of teaching. Consider these points before you make your summer plans!

  • Look at your yearlong curriculum map. How much content do you still need to cover? Are you behind schedule? If so, revise your April and May lesson plans and calendars, making sure you address all of the critical content you need to cover. Prioritize! And, if you need help determining what must be covered, visit with your mentor or a colleague or administrator to get their input.
  • Review your gradebook. Are there any issues? Missing assignments? Do any of your students need a little more time with you (after school, at lunch, before school) to address some academic areas of concern? You still have a few weeks left in the school year to help them succeed.
  • In the last few weeks, do you have any “wish we had time” assignments? Something that you’d love to work into the schedule? Is there a way to fit them in?
  • Are there items or projects or papers that need to be sent home? Use these last few weeks of the school year to review and reorganize! You may need to create folders or envelops for each student to organize materials that need to go home.
  • Spend a few minutes composing some brief notes to each student’s family, addressing some of the major accomplishments their children have made through the year. It’s great to remind parents and guardians of the steps their children have taken, but it’s also good for YOU to remember those as your year comes to an end. Try to make one more personal contact with each child’s family before the end of the school year. We have a tendency to focus on the issues a student may have in class, but we need to celebrate the positives. Share, share, share!
  • Create an end-of-the-year to-do list for you AND your students. It might be something as simple (and extremely meaningful) as sending a note home or it might be following up on overdue library books or money for their lunch accounts.

So, just how cool is your secondary content?

school suppliesWe asked a few of your favorite professors why their specific content is so important in schools today. Here are some of their responses:

Dr. Brad Burenheide (Secondary Social Studies)—“It is the backbone of the mission of schools and the core subject matter of education for the past 2500 years in the western world.”

Mrs. Kaylee Myers (Elementary Literacy)—“At a young age my kindergartners and second graders were so excited to be in school.   I loved molding them into independent thinkers who believed they could try anything and it would be okay. That learning and reading were fun!”

Dr. Sally Yahnke (FACS)—“Family and Consumer Sciences is important because it teaches Life Skills that can help students be successful in whatever career they choose. The skills learned in FCS prepares student for work life and home life. They learn to be parents, purchase and prepare nutritious meals, consumer skills, money and time management, communicating with others, decision making in real life scenarios, problem solving.”

Dr. Todd Goodson (Secondary English, Speech/Theatre, Journalism)—“To me, a high school English class is about reading and writing. We read to understand this world that exists all around us. We write to discover what we believe and how we feel and to leave some evidence behind that we were here. What could be more important?”

Dr. Sherri Martinie (Secondary Math)—“Math is applied in science courses, business course and the real world. Math is important to making sense of the world around us.”

Dr. Vicki Sherbert (Secondary English/Language Arts, Speech/Theatre, Journalism)—“Reading and writing are essential in order for our students to function as literate members of our society. They need to possess literacy skills in order to gain knowledge in other subject areas and to express their learning and understanding.”

Ms. Cyndi Kuhn (Technology)—“Technology is expected to be used at all grade level and in all content areas; embrace it!!”

Dr. Phillip Payne (Music Education)—“Music provides insight into one’s self more profoundly than any other subject. Music allows for self expression and also connects us to our school, our community, and our state (among others). Providing students with the cognitive keys necessary to access who they are as a person is one of the most influential acts we can do as music educators.”

Share your news!

e-mail iconWe are waiting for an update from you!

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!

Coming up in our next issue….

Many of you are about to wind up your first year of teaching! Congratulations! Be sure to read next month’s newsletter for:

  • Some of your favorite professors share their first-year teaching memories.
  • Saying goodbye to your first class…it might be harder than you think!
  • Keep an eye on August. We’ll offer some summer suggestions.

In the Classroom: Katie Meek

Katie Meek sits at her desk at Junction City High School.

Name: Katie Meek

School district: USD 475-Geary County Schools

City/State: Junction City, KS

Class/content area taught: 11th Grade U.S. History/12th Grade U.S. Gov’t

What are you most excited about with your new career? I’m most excited to continue to learn alongside my students! I teach U.S. Government, so a lot of the content is easily tied to current events. Every day something new can change or help deepen our understanding—it’s fun to be able to learn about these events and topics with my students.

What you enjoy most about teaching: I love watching students determine what they’re passionate about. I know full well that for the large majority of my students, history and government aren’t their greatest passions. I love that as a teacher, we can provide learning opportunities and experiences that help students determine what they are passionate about. My hope is that I can help show students what enthusiastic, life-long learning looks like so they can grow and develop and share their passion with others.

In what ways has your school/district supported you? USD 475 really prides itself on professional development—and they haven’t disappointed! We had a full week of New Teacher Orientation, which had so many incredible professional development opportunities focused on supporting new teachers (introduction to AVID strategies, teaching about Safe and Civil Schools, a classroom management-type program, etc.)

Students debate in her classroom.

What are some specific things you believe KSU especially helped prepare you for your new career? I will forever be grateful for the practicum experiences we had through K-State and the College of Education. Having hands-on experiences with both teachers and students has proven to be such a huge asset. I’ve been able to spend more of my time as a first-year teacher on what I call the “nuts and bolts,” rather than big picture, structural things, because I already had a conceptual grasp on those from practicums. (Through these practicums, I also spent 4 semesters working in USD 475 schools, and fell in love. Because of those experiences, I am now in this district, teaching at a school I love!)

Are there specifics about your background that make teaching the perfect fit for you? I come from a large family of educators, from the elementary through post-secondary level. I’ve thought about teaching since I was in kindergarten! What is even more amazing, however, is that 3 of my aunts and uncles and one of my cousins all started their teaching careers with Geary County Schools—now I’m continuing that family tradition!

After graduating from K-State, I took a year away from the high school classroom to work at the Staley School of Leadership Studies at KSU. While I am so grateful to have had that incredible opportunity, I desperately missed interacting with 14-18 year olds every day. After being out of the secondary classroom, I am fully energized and excited to get to work with young adults every single day!

Dressing up for a project.

Suggestions/encouragement for new teachers: Go see your students outside the classroom—at band concerts, sporting events, fundraisers, even their workplaces. The excitement on their faces when they realize you are invested in them outside the classroom is well worth the 2 hours you’ll miss of planning/grading time!