Last year was a year unlike any other. This year is shaping up to be a similar situation:
When will we go back to our classrooms?
Will we ever go back to our classrooms?
Can we wear masks–all day?
Are shields better than masks?
How do we social distance . . . in a classroom?
How will evaluations work?
Who attends on what days?
What does funding look like?
What programs will we use online? How do we use them?
. . . there are many questions. And while we can answer some before we begin the school year, so much cannot be answered until we are in the trenches.
So this month, and for this year, my advice: just do your best. It’s the only thing we can do.
This is a new experience, and a new roadmap, for everyone. All we can do is our best.
Sometimes our best will mean the internet is great, the lesson translates via the laptop, and learning is happening as planned; sometimes our best will mean waiting for the internet to catch-up, repeating yourself because the connection was interrupted, and all that planned learning for today, happens tomorrow. As long as you’re doing your best, I am proud of you, and applaud you.
Conferences are right around the corner–are you ready?
Have you contacted each parent, at least once, before conferences? Establishing a relationship is critical to conference attendance.
Do you have a conference schedule? Have you planned some make-up time–before and after your designated conference schedule?
Do you have snacks? Conferences can make the days long, snacks and water make the day manageable.
Do you have work samples? Work samples are excellent, critical, tools to demonstrate success and concern.
Do you have an up-to-date progress report? It can get lost in backpacks. Have one handy for families to review.
Do you have talking points? Having a concrete set of items to discuss, for all conferences or for particular students, helps guide the conversation and keep it focused.
Conferences are time-consuming endeavors. Staying organized keeps you organized and limits the amount of time wasted. Conferences are incredible moments of opportunity too. Being prepared, having clear talking points and examples, allows you to maximize this opportunity to further your partnership with families and to continue working towards a year of optimal learning and growth—for your students and your practice.
I am a firm believer in making a little extra cash, a little extra money, on the side. Somehow. Whenever possible.
I don’t necessarily want a part-time job on top of teaching–though I have done it. I am not advocating it either, per se–I know we all have physical, emotional, and time constraints. However, if you are curious and you are interested, here are some education-based, money-making endeavors I have done . . . to earn just a little more money . . . and maybe a little more experience.
summer school: classic (great way to dip your toes into another grade!)
after-school tutoring: classic (can be at your school, can be at another school–at another school is a great way to scout out other schools, or see how other schools in your neighborhood are doing)
unaffiliated tutoring: this is what you find through your own network and is not necessarily affiliated with your school or your dominant subject matter. For instance, while I taught elementary I tutored a friend’s daughter in Algebra II, which led to tutoring a few of her daughter’s friends, once rumor spread I was helpful 😁.
online tutoring: this can take many forms. I joined WyzAnt one year, I had some success. I have recently looked into VIPKid, DaDa ABC, and EF (Education First)–though I haven’t started anything on any of these platforms yet. The beauty of online tutoring is not being tied to a particular location, you don’t have to travel anywhere to earn money.
district training(s): during my second year of teaching I finally had room to breathe, to have some shorter days. I could have enjoyed some me-time away from work; instead, I pursued every kindergarten training available within the district. I earned a few hours of added pay, I gained a whole new world of ideas and professional development, I expanded my primary teacher network. Win-win-win!
teacher store: I have known a few teachers who have worked at their local teacher store — Lakeshore, Learning is Fun. It was not an option for me, given my schedule and needs, but I will add it to the list for inspiration.
If you have the time and the energy, if your schedule and life circumstances permit it, I like to encourage you, people, anyone, to pursue added money-makers. Every little bit helps–and sometimes it’s not even the money that becomes the goal or the achievement, sometimes these added pursuits can lead to a new job opportunity, more ideas, and more connections–and these are some amazing added benefits too.