Teaching Tips

Screen Shot 2013-09-01 at 6.17.34 PMI have been teaching since 1994 in Texas, Germany, Greece, and many other places worldwide. This means I’ve often met new learners of various ages (from 2 to 80 years-old) in various classroom settings and situations. I don’t think I will ever get comfortable with meeting new learners, because each year my learners come with new challenges and personalities. About 5 years ago, I fooled myself into believing I was a pro with facing new learners. I was in Germany, teaching about 20 children between the ages of six- to seven-years-old who spoke and understood very little English. On the first day, I received a less than warm welcome. The children ran around the classroom flying paper airplanes. They climbed the walls, literally, because there were apparatus where the mats should be hanging, not the children. I cried that day when I went home and promised myself the week would get better. It did, because of many of the survival tips I am sharing with you below. The trick is to remember as a teacher we should prepare ourselves for meeting new learners and anticipate challenges.
As a teacher, I know I will make an impression on my learners; whether, this is a positive or negative impression is up to me. I like to start on a positive note and ensure I walk in my class everyday with a purpose in mind, to positively impact my students. I hope the following tips and resources will help you with your first month of school and beyond. Feel free to click on the presentation below and download a free pdf to pass to your teachers or others who can benefit from these tips!

My Survival Tips

1. Walk in motivated!– you will have the rest of the year to feel stressed so walk in believing you can and will make a positive impact on your learners. During that first week, start creating routines and habits. Before you meet your learners make sure you got enough sleep, ate a good breakfast, and gave yourself a pep talk. Read more tips for avoiding burn-out as suggested by other teachers.
2. Engage parents– During the first month, make it a point to contact every parent with positive messages about their children before you have to contact them about negative behavior. Also, get them on board with the technology you want to use by hosting a parent workshop. The resources below will provide you with more ideas.

3. Set-up your classroom to support the various learning styles- Setting up learning stations has been the most helpful in managing student behavior. This presentation will provide you with tips, The How To of Learning Stations. The resources in this blog post are also helpful.
4. Encourage learners to take part in creating their own learning environments

  • Have them graffiti on butcher paper on the wall
  • Have them post their inspirational quotes on the wall
  • Have them design the class website, wiki, or blog

5. Be preventative and proactive when it comes to managing your classroom– Come up with rules together. Add the rules to a student code of conduct that you and the student sign. The code should be phrased with I will statements learners can understand. This post has many ideas, The Teacher’s Survival Kit for Classroom Management.
6. Unbind yourself  from course books– You know what your students need to learn so feel free to pick and choose what will work in the book and try having students be the main content creators of materials. This post has many ideas, Bring Your Textbook to Life: 15+ Tips & Resources.
7. Create your teacher survival kit– Every teacher needs a cart, bag, and/or shelf of tools and tricks to pull out in case a lesson doesn’t go well, the learners are restless, there’s a fire drill or other event that takes most of the class time, or the technology doesn’t work. In my kit, I include a timer, ball, Playdoh, flash cards, board games, and more. Check out my Teacher Survival Kit shelf for ideas.
8. Build relationships– Classrooms are communities. We need to take time to implement community building tasks in order for a classroom to be a successful community that learns, collaborates, and works together. Our students must spend countless hours together daily with the goal of learning as much as they can. Students need to build relationships with their peers in order to prevent issues with bullying and ensure the support of one another in succeeding in learning goals. These can include team building activities, icebreakers, getting-to-know you activities, relationship building activities, and collaborative tasks that teach students how to respect each other and build a community of trust. You can find a list of icebreakers for teens and adults here and activities for kids here.
9. Integrate technology effectively- Pedagogy first then technology. When we use technology it should support students ownership of learning, allow students to be content creators,engage and motivate students to be continuous learners, and support effective communication, especially with peers worldwide. Find 14+ Tech Integration Tips & Resources here including Kelly Tenkely’s Digital Blooms.
10. Have fun– Each day make it a point to enjoy what you do. You will feel better about being a teacher, it’s much healthier, and your students will be motivated to continue learning. 

More Resources

These are more resources to help you:

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1 Comment

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  1. 1
    Barry O'Leary

    Hey Shelly,
    Great post. I’m looking into survival tips at the moment to write about as well. Loved these tips and will tell all the newbies we get next year. For me the most important is to build relationships, not only with peers but also students. Thanks for the refreshing advice.

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