Teaching is easy…said no teacher ever…

I am going to try to keep this short because well to be completely honest I could talk about this forever.

When I was in college the amount of times that I heard that Education is a “lazy major” made me cringe! Sure from the outside looking in it looks easy, but have you ever tried keeping a room full of 20-30 little ones not only quiet long enough to hear instructions but interested in what you’re saying….or even worse teenagers! It’s not as easy as it sounds. And once you do have their attention have you ever thought about how difficult it is to get all of them to actually understand and retain the information that you’re teaching them?

Imagine this you have a classroom of 30 kids and you have to get those 30 kids to understand a certain topic. Amongst those 30 kids you will have a handful of visual learners, audio learners, hands-on learners, and a few students who can learn and grasp things in multiple formats. What do you do? You can’t teach the lesson in 5 different ways because that would take up way too much time and there are only about 6 or 7 hours in a school day. As a teacher I can tell you what I would do is to try and teach whatever lesson it is in a way that is going to reach the majority of my students. Why? Because then those students that need the extra help have multiple resources (myself and their classmates) that they can reach out to in order to get help fully understanding the lesson. I would also switch it up every once in a while, instead of lecturing all the time throw in some group work and some labs and other ways of allowing the students to learn than just one way.

Not only do we have to teach these kiddos every day, but it’s our job to make sure that their behavior is on point…and let me tell you that is not easy! The amount of things that I have had to remind students not to do….sometimes I think I could write a book! I’ve had to remind students not to lick certain things because they have germs on them, not to put pencils or other sharp objects near their eyes….the list could go on and on! I mean I could get specific but…..I might have to start collecting these things and make that a totally different blog post! I’m sure ya’ll would get a kick out of that!

Anyways…I think I got a little off track so let’s refocus!

Other than teaching being an “easy” profession…I think the number one thing that I hear “non-teachers” say to teachers is how we should love our jobs because we get “summers off”. Oh honey how I wish that were true!! We have personal development that we must keep up with in order to keep our licenses, we have to tear down our classrooms so that they can be cleaned and then we have to set them up again, we have to start doing lesson plans for the next school year….I could continue on with this list to be honest. A number of us also have a second job, which we often will pick up more hours at during the summer. So for all of my non-teacher friends out there…I’m sorry we don’t exactly get summers off.

Like I said, I’m going to keep this one short, so I’ll just stop there! Really this was nothing more than me venting a little bit about how some people tend to think that teaching is easy. Hopefully I didn’t offend anyone. To all of my teacher friends, did I forget anything?? Has anyone ever made a comment to you about our profession that made you roll your eyes?!? Leave it in the comments below!

Xoxo Shelby  

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I do it for the money….(NOT!)

If you’ve been here since the beginning you might remember that my very first (or one of the very first) blog posts was about “Why I became a Teacher”. You probably noticed that one of those reasons was not because of the amount of money that I get paid.

I remember being in college and so many people telling me that becoming a teacher wouldn’t make me a lot of money and that I should probably reconsider my major. I also remember a lot of people telling my that being an education major was an “easy” choice…but that’s another blog post.

I already knew that I wasn’t going to be making a ton of money becoming a teacher. If I were in it for the money I would’ve stayed in nursing school. But I wasn’t in it for the money. The money honestly doesn’t matter to me. Money doesn’t make me happy, you know what makes me happy? Working with my students every day and helping them to accomplish their goals and become better learners is why I became a teacher!

I can guarantee that if you ask any teacher; no matter where they teach or what they teach, they will tell you that it’s not about the money. It will never be about the money.

Xo’s Shelby

Classroom Update!

I’ve shared a few pictures on social media with friends and family but I wanted to do an official blog post about how I updated my room! But before I talk about it I just want to give a huge thank you to my schools, Home and School team! If it weren’t for them none of this would have been possible!

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With that being said, this is my second school year taking on the task of teaching technology to preschool – eighth grade at my school. I spent three days a week last year in my room trying to think of how I could make it more functional and more up-to-date for our students. This is what my classroom looked like at the end of the 2016-2017 school year. We were beginning to update the space by purchasing new monitors and a new smart board. But, the more I sat there the more I realized that the tables that I had in my room….needed to go! None of them matched, they were uneven, and the size was ridiculous for the amount of space that I had to work with….but for the year I made it work. I just knew that I had a vision where my kiddos could come in and have plenty of space to sit comfortably and work together without feeling like they were all sitting on top of each other.

I did my research and found some amazing tables that I knew would be perfect for the lab! After taking my proposal to Home and School, they agreed with me and with their help I was able to purchase my beautiful tables!

 

When the tables came in I was so excited and happy! I couldn’t wait to get them put together and arrange them how I wanted to. Let me just say that to have a vision and watch it actually come to life….was amazing! I couldn’t be more excited to finally have my tables in my room! It took my dad and I a whole day to put them together and arrange them in just the right place so that everything would work in the room. Talk about an exhausting day! But I am so pleased with the room that it didn’t matter. (A huge shout out to my dad for all the hard work he did to help me get my room ready….I’m really not sure what I would have done if I didn’t have his help…oh wait yes I do…I would have been sitting in my room in a corner rocking back and forth sobbing uncontrollably!)

No of course you can’t have a new setup like this without some new decorations right?!? I’m not gonna lie my room was a little sparse in the decoration department last year, but to be honest that was because I just didn’t have that much room to work with and my mind couldn’t come up with any ideas that worked with the room. But now, I have more wall space (that I can actually get to) and I was able to find some amazing decorations on Teachers-pay-teachers to help me out!

The first thing I changed up were the bulletin boards behind my desk. I added an apple boarder to the one and added a banner that I made with my Cricut (best Christmas present ever…thanks mom and dad!!) Then I changed my rules board to match my room a little more and I love it so far! (No my desk does not look like that right now, it’s actually a lot neater but I took these pictures while I was still in the process of working in my room…I promise I’m much more neat of a person than that!)

The next thing I added was a rewards system (Bitcoins…shoutout to Linda Kamp from TpT and AroundtheKampfire.com for the resource!!) The way that I am using this reward system is by having each class earn a set amount of “Bitcoins” based on good behavior, for example if they as a class stay on task and are good listeners then they earn Bitcoins for that class period and if there are any issues during the class period I will take away Bitcoins). As a class once they have reached 50 Bitcoins (preschool and kindergarten) or 100 Bitcoins (1st – 8th grade), they can turn their Bitcoins in for free time on the computer. So far the kiddos seem to love the idea (especially the older kids! They were super excited to hear about this!). The next thing that I added that I didn’t have last year were classroom jobs (for preschool – 5th grade), I am hoping that these jobs make cleanup time and transitioning between classes a little easier!!

Last year I had these wonderful colorful buckets at each table next to each computer, inside each bucket I had the headphones that went with that specific computer. Since we bought new monitors and new tables, there’s just not enough room on the tables for the tubs. Originally that made me sad because I love the idea of having the headphones in a bucket and out of the way instead of on the table or hooked over the computer monitor. My original plan was to get a bookshelf that I could fit 36 of these little tubs on so that the kiddos could come and get their headphones when they needed them. But my dad came up with the idea to use the shelves instead and let me just say that I LOVE the idea so much! Not only are the headphones in their tubs, but they are out of the way and look super cute! I also thought it would be a cute idea to have a printing station – basically my printer, paper, pencils, a stapler, 3 hole punch and pencil sharpener are all in one area so that the kiddos know exactly where everything is. So far I am loving it so much!

Of course the only thing left to do is show you the final product!!! I could not be more excited or happy with how it turned out! Again I would like to thank Home and School for helping me out with all of this, my dad for helping me set everything up (and being so patient with my when it came to moving the tables around for about an hour straight…) and of course my mom for helping my print, cut and laminate about 1,000 different things for my room!

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Here’s to an amazing school year! To all of my other teacher friends out there I hope you had a successful first week/couple of days back!

Xo’s Shelby

5 Tips for Classroom Management

As I have said before, I have not had a lot of experience when it comes to being a teacher. I’ve only been doing this for 3 years, but one thing that I made sure I had a good handle on, even during my student teacher, was classroom management.

If you have a rowdy class, or even just one or two students who tend to get a little out of hand, it is important to have a plan in your head before it happens.

  1. Start The Year Strong….then you can back off (but not too much!!): What I mean by this is, if you start the year off letting your students know who is boss (you), then they will respect you. Have your rules for your classroom set in stone, be harsh about them, do not cut any slack whatsoever. If you have clear rules and clear consequences set in stone from day one, the year will go smoothly. To help your students understand exactly what you mean when it comes to the classroom rules, show them. A large number of the population learns better when they can see someone doing whatever it is that they are being taught. Lead your students to understand your rules by example. Take the first couple of days to really hone in on the rules and show them examples of ways they would be breaking or following a rule. Then there will be no questions about it later. Then after maybe the first month or two of school you can let the reigns go a little.
  2. Be friendly and Smile: Something as simple as a smile can build such a strong relationship between a student and his or her teacher. A smile helps them to know that you not only care about them, but you are also being polite and kind, which they will then return back to you. As silly as it sounds, if your students like you, they’re more likely to want to listen to you. Another thing to add to this, say hi to your students (past, present and even future) in the hallways. You would be surprised what a simple “Good Morning, Alex” could do for a student. They could be having the worst day, and something as simple as a teacher taking a minute to say hello, and use their name, could change that completely around.
  3. Have fun! : Learning is very important, but that doesn’t mean that the kiddos don’t deserve to have some fun too! In my computer class there will be days when I have a lesson planned and ready to go, however if a class walks in and I notice that they seem like they’ve had a rough day, I might give them a free day. There is no reason to not allow them a little bit of time to relax. Or we might play a quick fun game before we start a lesson. There are so many different ways that you and your students can have fun and still be learning! Take advantage of those opportunities, I promise you and your kiddos will thank me later!
  4. Find a fun and effective way to get their attention: There are so many ways to get your students attention. You can even let them help you pick out how you get their attention that way they know what to expect. With my smaller kiddos some of my favorites are: “1 2 3 eyes on me” and then they will repeat back to me “1 2 eyes on you”. I also on occasion will clap a pattern and they know they are supposed to repeat it back to me. Now sometimes you could try every little trick in the book and they’re still not going to get it. So what do you do when that happens?? I talk in the quietest voice possible, sometimes I’ll give a command. For example; I’ll whisper, “If you can hear my clap 3 times” and maybe 1 or 2 kids will clap. Then that will get some more kids attention, keep going and soon enough you’ll have the whole classes attention. One thing that I have noticed that is not very effective (although I have been guilty of this many times, especially with my older students), is standing in the front of the room with your arms crossed….waiting. The problem with that one is then you have students saying “shhhhhhh!!!!!” and that just adds to the noise and you begin to waste valuable instruction time.
  5. Stay Calm: Yes that may be easier said than done, especially if your class is having a particularly rough day. But if they can look at you and know that you can keep it together (even if on the inside you feel like running and hiding in the corner to cry and rock back and forth…yeah we all know that feeling!), then they are more likely trust you and listen to you. Staying calm gives the students the opportunity to be in a safe learning environment which is only fair to them. If they feel safe, they are more likely to succeed.

 

Like I said, there are so many more tips that I could give you. However these are the ones that I try to focus on each year! To my fellow teacher friends out there, leave in the comments below what works for you and your classroom!

Xo’s Shelby

Back To School Countdown Begins!

Does someone want to tell me where the time went?? I feel like it should still be June…or at least July! But here we are already in August and the countdown to going back to school has officially begun!

We officially start school in 17 days…..17 days!!! I am in complete shock but I am also ready for a steady schedule again. But I am also not even close to ready…

My room is not ready for the kiddos to be in it, my lesson plans are not done yet and there are so many other things that I need to do that I haven’t had a chance to start yet. Am I a little stressed out?? Yes, definitely! But I’m trying my hardest not to be, I mean after all I still have 17 days to get my act together right?!?!

Though I may not be fully prepared (which to my defense is not fully my fault…I am waiting on tables that I ordered which will be here soon…YAY!!), there are some things that I made sure to have prepared!

  1. Classroom management plan: If you come in to the first day of school with no classroom management plan, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. I am trying something new this year (I have a separate blog post where I will talk about that more coming soon!!) Once you decide what your classroom management plan is going to be, stick with it! You can always back down, but you can’t get more strict, I can promise you that it will not work!
  2. Early Finisher Options: After last year I did some research because I did not have these in place, I mean right now I teach computer so I didn’t think I would need them. But it turns out that just giving kids free reigns on the computers was a little bit of a headache! So I’ve come up with a few “early finisher” options (specific websites) that they are allowed to go on once they have completed their tasks for the day. My hope is that it will make the computer lab a little less crazy!!
  3. Lesson Plans: Yes I know earlier I said that my lesson plans weren’t completed, and they’re not. I have all of my plans done up through Christmas break. I know you’re probably thinking “why are you worried if you planned that far ahead already?!?” Well I only teach computer one day a week, and I teach it to preschool – 8th grade and time goes by a little more quickly that you think. I would feel better knowing I have something planned rather than having nothing planned at all.

Would I like to have more things done than I do? Yes of course! But am I going to stress out about not having things done? Nope! It will all get done in due time!

To all my fellow teacher friends out there, what do you make sure that you have ready before school starts?? Does anyone else feel like summer went by way too fast?? Leave your answers in the comments below!

Xo’s Shelby

The #1 Reason I Became A Teacher

 

I could sit here and list a lot more than just one reason as to why I became a teacher. But then we would be here all day and nobody wants that!

One of my favorite quotes can sum it all up…

“To teach is to touch a life forever”

I haven’t had that many years of experience, but I can tell you that I have worked with a large number of kiddos that have helped me to realize that I was meant to be a teacher and that working with kiddos is my passion.

Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to be a teacher. I used to put my stuffed animals around a table, give them homework and then grade it. Yes…I just said I gave my stuffed animals homework and graded it! Hey I had to practice on someone right??

To be honest, I enjoy helping people in general but there is something so much more fulfilling about helping a child. The look on their face when they understand a concept or when they get a good grade…the look of pure joy…that is everything. All my fellow teacher friends out there you know exactly what I’m talking about. To all of my readers who are parents, I’m sure you’ve seen this look on your child’s face as well and you know how amazing it is to see them succeed.

Am I trying to tell you that teaching is all rainbows and unicorns? No way! Have there been rough days? Yes, of course. There have been days where I went in the bathroom and cried during my break. In fact there was one point in my first year out of college that I thought to myself…”What am I doing??” and wondered if I had made the right decision. Then one of my kiddos come up to me and give me a big hug and tell me how much they loved having me as a teacher. With each hug one of my kiddos gives me I am reminded why I love what I do and why I chose teaching as my profession. In my eyes the good times will always outweigh the bad times.

To all the first year teachers out there or to all of the college students working towards an education degree, keep going. If this is what makes you happy and this is your passion, don’t let anyone, and I mean anyone, take that away from you.

Xo’s Shelby