Thursday, September 3, 2015

Work Smarter and Harder

Thankfully, I made it through my first year of teaching. It wasn't without its hiccups and bumps, but it was worth it. What's interesting, is that I thought my second year was going to be so much easier than my first. Boy, was I wrong!

This year, I realized just how much I did wrong last year. I realized that there is a high amount of effort that you have to put in if you want your students to actually learn what you have to teach them. Last year I would basically "wing it" with a lot of the assignments I did. I've come to realize that doing that was both more difficult for me, and unfair to my students. 

By taking the time to prep lessons before class, I teach better and the kids retain more information. It also makes my class time MUCH easier. I don't have to worry about how to fill extra time, because I now have a plan for it. I also find that the students respond totally different to a teacher that is prepared.

My new philosophy is that this year, I am going to work harder and more than I did last year. It's worth it, and it will make future years to come much easier. I have truly committed myself to making my curriculum the best it can be and finding new and interesting ways to engage my students. 

I am constantly looking for ways to get them interested in class projects and keep them excited about what we are learning. This is my passion now, and I truly love it. 

If you are a first year teacher, my advice to you is don't make the same mistakes I did. Realize that while you have a lot on your plate, your students deserve the best education they can get and it is your responsibility to provide it. It won't be easy, but it will be worth it when you see them succeed.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Time Management is Number One

As a new teacher this year, I can remember feeling pretty lost at the beginning of the year, which for me was actually October. I got hired after the year had already started, so I came in about 6 weeks after all the kids. After spending 7 years in the television broadcast industry, it was a real shock to move to education. 

I spent the first half of the year just figuring out what I was doing, how to make an effective lesson plan, and battling classroom management woes. Not to mention keeping up with grades, and constantly taking work home so I would have lesson plans done. 

Now, almost at the end of my first year, it is so much easier. I can tell you that a big part of my problem the first semester was time management. My conference period and lunch time have become my best friends. These are my quiet times when I can get lesson plans worked on and my teaching webpage updated. I can also grade assignments and post the grades for the kids and parents to see. Now, I hardly have to take work home except for special projects because I am able to get most of the tasks completed during the school day or for the half-hour to an hour after school.

On top of all that, I also have been able to take on other responsibilities as well, such as managing the school web site. All of this has been accomplished by managing my time well.

The best advice I can give to a new teacher, or any teacher, is to try not to get overwhelmed with everything you have to do. Take a deep breath, and plan out your day. You'll be surprised how much time you actually have when you do this. Effective time management can make your life so much easier, so do yourself a favor and give it a try.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Your Best Resource

As a new teacher, your first year can be very overwhelming. Trying to figure out what to teach, what kind of discipline plan you need, how to reach all of your students, and even how to decorate your classroom can be a lot to handle. Then of course, you also have to know the district and campus rules and dress code. 

While all of these things are items that need to be addressed, you don't have to do it alone. Your best resource are the teachers around you. After all, they have faced the same challenges you face now, and they're still rocking it. I know I would have been lost without my mentor Courtney. She has been my rock this year, and anytime I have a problem or question, she's been there to help me out.

I also have spent quite a bit of time checking out other teacher's classrooms. Sometimes the simplest ideas just escape you, like a cup for spare pencils and erasers, or a hallway pass on a lanyard. Even using crates to separate notebooks from one class to another. All of these ideas came from just observing how other teachers have organized their classrooms. 

Another idea that I picked up is having a tardy book by the door for students to sign when they come into class late. This helps by keeping you from having to stop class to discuss why a student is late. 

I have gotten so many ideas this year from observing and asking other teachers. They really are the best resource you have, so don't be afraid to ask for help and advice. I can tell you from experience that anyone you ask will be more than happy to help.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Be Patient!

As a tech geek, everything with technology has always come easy to me. So naturally, I assumed it was the same for everyone else. Surprise! It's not.

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in the lesson I am working on that I forget that my students do not all learn at the same pace I did. I tend to write my lesson notes as far as necessary for me to understand the topic. Of course, my students are not me. They are also not all the same. So after I have written them once, I have to go back and expand on each topic so that someone who is a beginner at the program or concept I am teaching can appropriately learn it.

It's so easy to forget that you are an expert at what you teach. You've done it, you've taught it, and with each lesson you expand your skills with it. Your students, on the other hand, are either unfamiliar or not as versed in the concept. They will take more time to grasp what you are teaching.

My advice for today is to be patient. I will be the first to tell you that patience is not a virtue I possess, but in teaching it is a necessity. Kids are smart, and they adapt well to just about anything. They will soak up the knowledge you have to teach them, if you allow them to. Give them time to learn, and don't rush them. Your patience will pay off, I promise.

Monday, May 4, 2015

New Tech for the Class

One of my very favorite things about teaching a technology class is when we get new technology to play with. My broadcast program just acquired a new switcher system to replace the Wirecast that we have been using. As a former director for a television station, this was a huge deal to me. 

It's absolutely a blessing to be able to have an actual switcher to direct our video announcements with! I honestly think that I was more excited about this thing than my kids were. Of course, my brain is now in the place of what else can I use this for? What other elements can I add to my announcements? 

While I would love to just add a whole bunch of cool things to my announcements, I constantly have to remind myself that while I can easily adapt to the new things and can already use this switcher like a pro, my kids are brand new to this technology. I have to give them time to learn how to use it before adding any more new things for them to master.

So, my advice to you is this. Any time you get new equipment in your classroom, give yourself the time to set it up and master it. Then and only then, introduce it to your students and begin teaching them how to use it. Then, give them time to conquer it. They will, it just takes time.

Friday, April 24, 2015

My Story

My name is Stacey, and I am a huge tech geek. I started loving technology at an early age, and as I grew older, it became more of an obsession. When I was in college I started working for a television station, where I would spend the next seven years. During that time, my technology obsession was nurtured and got even worse. Today, I have a ton of tech in my house. Computers, tablets, smartphones, game systems, and more. You name it, I probably have it. 

Several months ago, I found the perfect job for my obsession...teaching technology to middle school students. Why is this perfect? I get to teach kids how to use the technology I love so much. Now, I can honestly say that I have a pretty fun job. I spend all day teaching kids to use computers to enhance their lives. 

Some of you are probably wondering what I mean by that. The classes I teach learn how to use Photoshop, iMovie, Final Cut Express, and much more. I really do get to teach the fun subjects. I also love that I can pass on my technology obsession to the kids. Tech is such a huge part of our lives now, and I think that the best way to be successful is to embrace it. 

This blog is going to be my daily log of what happened today in the technology classroom, and of course, my rantings about what cool technology I have encountered.