December is filled with gifts.
It’s the end of the semester, most likely. It’s the end of the calendar year. We are inching towards a long break.
With all of this in mind:
Figure out what to say and do about gifts–NOW.
Ideas for the classroom:
- Create a center for card-making, picture-making, etc. Extol the merits of a handmade gift, after all there is nothing else in the world quite like it.
- Be creative. We live in a materialistic world, and it can get extra materialistic around this time of year.
- Gifts I “gave”: homework passes, extra recesses, no shoe hour, bring a stuffed animal to school day
- Favorite responses when asked what I wanted:
- in kindergarten: “Greatest gift in the world is knowing all your sight words.”
- “I have everything I need.”
- “A clean desk.”
- “Tissues.” (or some other school supply for the classroom)
Advice for the rest of the school environment:
- No one says you have to attend the party
- No one says you have to contribute to a potluck, a gift card for administration, etc.
- If you can afford it great, but if you can’t then do not feel you have to buy anything (treats, clothing for spirit days, decorations, etc.)
Gifts are beautiful. However, they are not expected–not from you, and not from your students. Just make a plan–figure out what you can say and do to be kind, gracious, and generous in your own way.
The theme of my last “Things I never knew . . .” post was sickness. Why?
It’s November–cold and flu season is upon us.
This time of year, I cannot stress this enough: stockpile tissues and paper towels.
Got a 6-pack of tissues? That’s not enough, get more. Got a 12-pack of paper towels? That’s not enough, get more.
Go to Costco, go to Sam’s Club, go wherever there are large packs and good sales. Ask families for more of these items–even if you have a few on-hand. This stuff goes fast!
Cold and flu season is here. Kids will come with coughs, fevers, and runny noses. Your co-workers will have the same. You may be afflicted with illness. You never want to run out, so start asking, and start stockpiling, immediately.
Whatever you do, make sure to have lots of tissues and paper towels.
Five things I never knew . . . until I became a teacher:
- how long I could be sick–that first year I was sick for three months straight
- how sick I could be, and still go to work–sick days are few the first year, not to mention sick days are difficult to take anyway as a teacher
- how worthless all those immune booster drinks and powders are–they are no match for school germs
- how much Kleenex are consumed/can be consumed in a single day–between my sick self and my sick students, I can go through several boxes in a single day, it’s ridiculous
- how many kids come to school sick–it’s a lot, and often
November is a short month.
In the United States, in November, we have Veterans’ Day, which sometimes turns into a 4-5 weekend. Then, we have the Thanksgiving Day holiday, which is increasingly turning into a whole week vacation. In addition to these days, there are staff development days, maybe furlough days, or perhaps you already have a 4-day work/school week.
So, in November, while we have 30 days in the month, we have very few actual instructional days. Therefore, my greatest advice is review. Before the semester ends, this is probably the best time for review and extension. Instead of trying to cram a new concept, especially a complex standard or new set of standards, insert review lessons and extensions.
As we know things are forgotten over a weekend, let alone a long weekend or a week-long vacation. So it makes sense, in a month filled with multiple gaps, to insert lots of review (and a little less new).
- Bring back a center–their favorite one.
- Bring back a center–one that was “too hard,” and give it another chance.
- Add another layer to learning–modify a previously completed experiment, add another component to an existing center, etc.
- Create a make-up hour/day for students that have missed assignments or want to redo assignments.
- Have students re-imagine, or reapply, an existing assignment to another text.
- example: if a student was required to research the time period of a text that you assigned, this month have the student pick a different text/time period to practice those same research skills
This month: review and extend. Your students will benefit, and you will be providing them a much deserved opportunity for added success.
There are many things I have learned as a teacher–let this be the beginning of many wonderful posts on the things I never knew . . . until I became a teacher.
Five things I never knew . . . until I became a teacher:
- how long I can go without a bathroom break–it’s pretty long
- how much caffeine I can consume–it’s a lot
- how much noise I can block out–it’s insane
- how much I love mystery meat–it’s kinda gross to admit it, but sack lunches with their mystery meat sandwiches are my favorite 🤤
- how much I hate breakfast for lunch–it’s terrible, syrup and 1000s of children should be outlawed
Why do I teach? This is a multi-dimensional, evolving question that cannot be answered in a single post; so, let’s start with the first three things that come to mind.
I teach because:
- it’s my passion
- it’s fun
- it’s rewarding
Teaching is a special line of work.
I picked teaching, initially, because I thought I was going to be a professor someday–and that someday could still happen, it just doesn’t seem to be in my near future.
I picked teaching in the K-12 setting because I wanted to make sure I enjoyed teaching, and could teach, before I pursued teaching at the highest academic level (university setting).
The good news: teaching became my passion, and it’s fun, and it’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.