This time of year can either drag by minute by minute (does the clock really say 8:05am?!) or it can speed past in a flurry of engaged activities that pretty soon its Winter Break and you wonder where the year went. Personally I prefer the latter experience to the former!
As a person who needs constant change and stimulation, my personal motto for the classroom has always been that if I am bored so are my students. If I am watching the clock and dragging myself out of bed every morning hating every minute, then, so are my students!
I always relish this time of year and May because it is a chance to take a small break from curriculum (I am the kind of teacher that skip holidays and stays on calendar, I know, I'm THAT teacher!) and do something engaging and fun!
A small side note, all of these activities are holiday neutral, so you shouldn't run into any issues of being insensitive to any particular group of students. This list was brainstormed a few years ago by my leadership team! Enjoy! If you do use these please tag me on Instagram @theteachinglifestyle and #theteachinglifestyle
I have one last post scheduled for next Saturday about different ways to schedule your Winter Break so that you get a balance of family time, YOU time, and a little work time! After that I won't be posting again until January 2019, about speaking to parents, since I am sure you Progress Reports will be coming up just like mine!
Burn out can happen to anyone. Let's get that out of the way right now! Yes, even "that teacher" who looks like she has it all together, even the teacher who's been working at your school for 20 years, even the cheerful teacher who seems like he never has a bad day. They have all experienced being burned out.
The problem is that most of us (even me!) don't realize we are burned out until we are already burned to a crisp. So, before I go over some strategies on dealing with burn out as an educator, I want to outline the symptoms of burn out. *I will be discussing some physical and mental symptoms, and I am not a doctor nor am I giving medical advice. Please see you regular care physician as part of your self-care strategy!*
Symptoms of Burn Out
If you have any combination of the following symptoms, you are probably experiencing burn out.
Burn Out Strategies
Consider joining the 40 Hour Teacher Work Week from Angela Watson. Burn out can happen when we use our time ineffectively, but aren't sure what is or isn't effective, this club is for you. New cohort starts January, with early bird access December 10th!
Western Governors University: The Signs of Teacher Burnout and How to Prevent it by Fiona Tapp
Learners Edge: Warning Signs of Teacher Burnout
Education Week Teacher: Six Signs of-and Solutions for-Teacher Burn Out by Wendi Pillars
The holidays can be a time of joy and celebration, but for many students it can be a time of awkwardness and exclusion. Imagine being a student who isn't Christian and doesn't celebrate Christmas having an Elf on the Shelf in their classroom. Imagine being a student who isn't allowed to participate in holiday activities coming in and seeing Christmas decor and having to skirt around holiday activities for the next month.
I am choosing to write about this now for two reasons: I am seeing a lot of Elf on the Shelf, Christmas trees, and Santa's popping up on my Instagram feed from classrooms all over the US; and that I am not a Christian and I do not celebrate any holidays during this time of year. I become acutely aware of how our students may be feeling during this time of year, because I felt the same way when I was a child and did not have the mature language skills I needed to express my feelings to my teacher. I always felt that "This is the way it is, and it isn't changing."
Last year I had a student who was a practicing Jehovah's Witness. During Meet the Teacher Night her mother was very concerned about holidays, but seemed apologetic when speaking to me about her concerns. I told her not to worry, that I rarely celebrated any holidays in my classroom, and I would run any planned activities by her. In October, we celebrated Fall. When Halloween rolled around we continued with lessons as usual. During November I taught my normal historically accurate history with articles from Newsela. During December we worked on Compliment Presents and Joy Books, both from The Thinker Builder blog. Our party was also a "Hard Work Celebration" rather than a Christmas party. In February we celebrated love rather than Saint Valentine, and I gave out non-Valentine activities. At the end of the year my student and her mother thanked me for being inclusive. My student told me every year during Halloween, December, and Valentine's Day she had to leave her other classrooms because her past teachers hadn't been inclusive.
I understand that if you are Christian being disappointed or even angry about the thought of not being able to share the joy of the season with your students, but that is NOT what I am suggesting at all! Let's discuss some alternatives to celebrating the season with your students in a way that is inclusive and fun for all!
Thank you for opening your minds and hearts to our students, and working towards being the best educators we can!
Thanksgiving is a favored time of year in America. I remember learning about it myself in school. Pilgrims from the United Kingdom sailed to the Americas in search of freedom, and found Native Peoples already living and thriving in America. Facing a harsh winter, many Pilgrims died. Starving, they reached out to the Native Peoples for food and help. Native Peoples taught the Pilgrims how to hunt, farm, and survive. In gratitude, the Pilgrims and Natives sat down together for the very first Thanksgiving feast.
The problem with this narrative is...well there are lots of problems! I am not going to go into all the problems of this tale, you can do some Googling on your own to find out where the holes are in this story, and ask people from the Tribal Nations their opinion on it.
The point of this post is to say that as educators we have a greater responsibility to our students to put forth information that is accurate and correct. Retelling this narrative time and time again, year after year, recycling the same old "Pilgrim N' Indian" craftivities (ugh hurts my heart to even type it) and sending students home with this fairytale in their minds is doing no one any good.
Before I get a bunch of angry comments and emails about the importance of this holiday, let me remind my dear readers and followers that I am an enrolled member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, and my point of view and opinion is just as valid, if not more so. I myself was taught this is school, year after year, and never questioned it until I was an adult! I really reflected on why I should be celebrating a holiday that brought death and misery to my ancestral peoples? Sorry to get deep, but it weighed on my heart. As a family, we decided to change the holiday into something that fit us.
Then I had to think about my students! As a teacher I never taught about Thanksgiving. I just avoided the holiday completely. I feel that many educators, regardless of their race and culture, feel uncomfortable teaching something that has the potential to land them in hot water.
So without further ado, some DO's and DON'Ts for this time of year!
Here is the picture and script for the Teacher Vlogger Loop. Post the picture and copy and paste the script.
Come be a part of the Teacher Vlogger Loop. We need to support each other! Here’s how to participate.
1. Follow your hosts, @theteachinglifestyle and @the_elementary_librarian, and subscribe to each of their YouTube channels (link in profile.)
2. Click on this hashtag. #TeachVloggerLoop
3. Follow everyone that has the Teacher Follow Loop picture and comment 🎥 on their picture.
4. Go to their profile and subscribe to their YouTube channel!
5. Allow them a day or two to follow you back, and subscribe to you.
6.To become a part of the loop, go to the @theteachinglifestyle bio and click the Blog link for the picture and the script, then post it on your page. Be sure your YouTube channel link is in your profile!
🌵🌵Don’t follow just to unfollow later! This is about meeting new friends and supporting one another!🌵🌵
#teachervloggers #vloggers #teachersoinstagram #letsbefriends #instagramteachers #teacherssupportteachers #openloops #thatteacherlife #iteach #teacher #teachers #teacherlife #teachersofinstagram
⭐Credit to @cloudydaze61 for their great idea & script!⭐
*All ideas presented are my own, I have not been paid by anyone to make this post about Thinking Maps, I truly just think they rock!
Are you Thinking Maps trained? Because if you're not, I highly suggest you bring it to the attention of your leadership team because it is AMAZING! I have been loosely using Thinking Maps for the past year and half in my Shared Reading block. I had gotten a hold of a popular Thinking Maps graphic off of Pinterest, and tried implementing the maps on my own. Back then I thought, hey no big deal what's to know?
Well, how wrong I was! This past Wednesday during Professional Development I got my coveted Thinking Maps binder and I was SO excited! The training itself was very intense, going over each map in detail, including how to troubleshoot certain roadblocks with students.
The following Wednesday we finished up our training with concrete ideas on how to roll out the maps for the first eight weeks of school for 2018-2019. This was helpful to see exactly how each map could be utilized, so that by the end of September every student in our school will be very familiar with the Maps.
So, you might be asking yourself, what is so great about Thinking Maps? Why should I bring this idea to my leadership team? The entire idea behind Thinking Maps is to give students predictable tools that create patterns in their brains. The most brilliant aspect of Thinking Maps for me as an elementary instructor is that I can use them for any topic or subject. That's right, ANY! They can be used for Art, Music, P.E., Social Studies, Science, Math, English Language Arts, Spanish, and the list truly goes on. They can be used for any grade level, any age level. From itty bitty Kinders, to big high schoolers, and even adults.
Be sure to check out my Instagram for Thinking Maps ideas, because since I have gotten trained I have been using them for everything! My latest project was using them for Earth Day, which accumulated into our Earth Day Collage on Friday. Check out the Home Page for pictures from that day, as well as Mae's Faves for the book I read aloud to them!
Do you want to be Thinking Maps trained? Are you already trained? What are your thoughts?
Until next time...
Knowing that I had had meetings all week, and had been routinely getting home by 7 pm, that I was exhausted, the march loomed closer. I finally made the decision that morning, pulling on my red shirt, that I would go. As soon as school ended, and after my meetings, the art teacher and I made two signs and drove over to the meeting spot.
If you joined me on Instagram March 28 you would have seen thousands of Arizona teachers descending on the State Capital to protest low teacher pay, large class sizes, and low student spending. I felt exhiliarated by the movement and solidarity with other teachers I met at the march.
Then, Thursday came around, and I started reading the comments on KTAR, NBC News, and AZCental. We made national news and I was reading comments like "They knew what they were getting into when they took the job" and "If you can't make it on 35K a year in Arizona there's something wrong with you!" and my favorite, "Summer off and you want more?!"
I was irate, shocked, angry, and saddened by these comments. These were Arizona citizens, most of them, and they just didn't understand. This blog and brand are mostly geared towards teachers, but if you happen to stumble across my humble site, here are some facts about the #redfored movement:
Please share and comment below and stay in Solidarity with the states that are fighting for better teacher salaries.
I am so excited to be back at work in the groove of things. The week went by really fast, but it was great to be back in the classroom with my kiddos. They fell right into the routines.
In this week's vlog I talk you through my Shared Reading block, my math block, and my science block; which is why it's so long (sorry!). So, please watch, subscribe, check out the links for this episode, and I'll see you next week!
Math Tech Connections | Math Sorts
25 Quick Formative Assessments by Judith Dodge
Teaching is not just a "job." You can't step away, you can't give 50%, you can't coast. It's all or nothing. These past few weeks have been testing me in all those areas. However, grief is also all-consuming. And yet, your classroom won't wait.
This past Tuesday my grandfather, my Tata, passed away. My dad ended up calling me at work to tell me, and I think at that point I would have loved to just drop everything and leave. But, I couldn't. Many people who are not teachers will not understand this. That's okay. Part of the purpose of my vlog is to show that teachers have lives outside of their job, but that our job is intertwined with our lives. A normal job would have told me to go home and perhaps given me some bereavement days, if I was lucky. My own husband was given days on my behalf for bereavement. Teaching does not afford such luxury.
On top of everything I had conferences for the rest of the week every night til six o'clock. I pushed through because that's what I do. The alternative would have been more stress on my part, to reschedule every conference and to find times that would work for all my parents? Nightmare.
So, in the end, the purpose of today's post it to outline some guidelines for bereaved colleagues.
These past few weeks have been a roller coaster. I have been prepping and preparing for my best friends wedding as her matron of honor, I've been battling being sick, and I've been trying to get through my classes for my provisional certificate.
-The Teaching Lifestyle
I'm Mae and I am an instructional Coach, 5th Grade ELA teacher, and Thinking Maps trained.