Sunday, August 25, 2013

Successful Teaching Tips

Have you ever tried to make things easier for yourself and ended up making things a lot harder? I do that quite often, but occasionally, I do find success in effectively simplifying my teaching life. Below is the list I have created to share with you from my classroom experience. I’m sure most if not all of these are applicable to a homeschooling mom as well. Since I am new to the homeschooling scene, I would love for you to share tips on what has worked best for you.

Successful Teaching Tips: 

Continue to educate yourself – My students always told me I was the best teacher they ever had, but I never let it go to my head! I encourage you to attend workshops, seminars, read books, research on-line, and be open to learning from others so you can be a better teacher every day. It’s important to keep learning because teaching is not an exact science. There are so many variables that we must juggle successfully and it would take several lifetimes to learn them all, so we do our best and keep trying to improve each year 

Find mentors that inspire you and encourage you – I have been blessed to have wonderful mentors during my teaching experiences. In my brick and mortar school, Janet McDaniel and Sally Campbell inspired me, taught me, guided me, challenged me, encouraged me, and helped me to deal with those difficult days. In the virtual school, Lindy Newman was my mentor. She supported me as I learned how to teach in a completely different atmosphere! These 3 ladies are what a mentor should be! As I begin my homeschooling journey, I am on the lookout for new mentors, but I will never forget how these ladies have made me a better teacher! 

Enlist support – Whether you’re a classroom teacher or a homeschooling parent, you can’t do it all. In my kindergarten classroom, I was assisted by the best paraprofessional in the world, Sharon Bagby! Since we were a Title I school, I co-taught some lessons with a Title teacher. We also had a high ESL population, so some of my students would be supported for a period during the day by an ESL teacher. I enlisted parent support any time they were available. Even my husband, would become my lovely assistant and read with students or teach a small group lesson. If you stepped in my classroom, you better be willing to do something with my students! In the virtual world, my students were assisted by their parents/learning coaches in an individual or small group basis. Even when you’re homeschooling, it’s important to reach out to others for their expertise. Sometimes all it takes is a different person to present a bit of difficult information in a different way for the light bulb to come on. 

Blank does not mean a lot of work, it means endless possibilities – I used to think that in order to differentiate for each of my students that meant I had to create something different for each of them. Do you know how much time that takes when you have 24 students? Too much! A blank/generic game and a dry erase board became my best friend. I could play the same game with a small or large group of students, but in order for them to take a turn; they had to answer/solve a specifically designed problem for them. Sally had to read sight words. Mark read short vowel decodable words. John read a sentence fluently, and so on… A blank piece of paper worked during math journal time… Sally created and then transferred an ABC pattern to her paper. Mark counted out 20 blocks, drew them on his paper, and labeled them. John used blocks to create addition problems to 6, drew these on his paper and wrote the number problem, and so on… Instead of looking at what you can create to teach the child, think about what the child can create to learn. 

Download this game and more for free. Just click on the picture above. This FREEBIE also shares differentiating ideas!
Have fun – There are a lot of standards to teach today and as teachers, we are goal oriented to get through each and every one of them. Just remember, “getting through” the standards is not teaching them and students learn better when they’re having fun. I don’t mean that you need to stand up in front of the class and entertain them; I mean they need to learn how learning can be fun. The way they do that is by watching you. If you have fun teaching, no matter what you are teaching, your students will have fun learning it. If you are struggling because it is a difficult concept and you can’t get into it, your students will feel that as well. One of my fondest memories of teaching in the classroom happened my first year. I had just presented a lesson to my students and then got them started with an independent task. I was walking around the room to make sure everyone was doing what they were supposed to do when P.J. piped up and said, “I’m so glad we have Mrs. Schneider for our teacher. She smiles a lot.” Then, returned to his work. If he thought I smiled before, I was beaming afterwards. Although they may not always say it, kids notice these things. Figure out how to make that concept you are struggling with fun for you, and it will be fun for your student too! As we all know, the standards are not the most important thing we teach our students… A LOVE for LEARNING is! 

I hope you walk away with a bit more inspiration for this school year. Don’t forget to celebrate with me and win your choice of one of the below products! To find out how, CLICK HERE!

Best Wishes this year!

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