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.