Saturday, July 9, 2016

5 Ways to Step Up Your Teaching Game

Hello friends! I wanted to jump on the blog today to share with you about the AMAZING Get Your Teach On conference!! You guys...if you have the chance, GO. GO! GO! GO! I cannot tell you in enough words how wonderful and inspiring this conference was! It has been a REALLY long time since I have been to such an amazing teaching conference!  I want to share with you some of my take aways from this conference. These are ways that *clicked* with me and how I want to step up my own teaching game this year. Hopefully, these inspire something in you:)

I can't control all that my kiddos walk in with. I can't control what happens at home, where they sleep, what they experience in their neighborhood...but I can control their experience in the classroom. I've heard it, and heck, I've said it. "How can I help them? How can I compete with their lives outside of here? They just struggle with English. They don't have a supportive home. They have a parent in jail..." It goes on and on. Excuse after excuse. How am I cheating these kiddos? I CAN control my classroom, their feeling in it, their feeling about school. My classroom should be their escape, their haven. They should LOVE to come to school. I can give them that. The question is how? How do we do that when we feel like we are already giving everything we have? We learn, we grow, we attend inspiring conferences. We create relationships. Yes, I do this. But, can I do better? Of course! Friends...I have been teaching for eight years and I get down on it sometimes but why do I do it? These kids. These kids I make excuses for. They need me and they need me at my top game. Get away from these excuses and teach that child to LOVE school!

Don't be afraid to make a fool of yourself! How do we get kiddos interested? What can we do? Songs, chants, costumes, room transformations...the list goes on and on. Don't be afraid to go out on a limb and get their interest. Hook them in. Whatever it takes. At the conference, Hope King would stand in front of a group of 200 educators and sing. If she can do that then surely I can stand in front of 25 students and do it! I need to get over the usual...the status quo. I think back to how I learned...my teachers sang, they had us create huge, in-depth projects. They didn't worry about cores...they taught. But it seems, at least for myself, that the cores came in and the whip came down. The motto became "rigor, rigor, rigor" which then was translated into "more work, more work, more work." But it's not friends! It's not about the amount of work, it's about the thinking skills that are required to do it. Let's get back to that project based learning! Sure it needs to be stepped up from when I experienced it as a student, but boy is it effective! Don't be afraid to make that change!

 For me, my wasted time is in the morning. Yes. I have it. Half of my class goes to ELL, so the rest of the class, really, just does busy work. I've always thought to myself, "I don't want the others to miss out" which is true. I don't. But, I also can be using this time WAY more effectively. This conference really made me look at my schedule. What can I cut out? They used the example of calendar and general morning routines, but I already don't do those. This summer is focused on cutting out the extras of my schedule and focusing on the learning. These kiddos need to be focused and engaged ALL DAY and to fit all the content in, I need to get rid of the fluff.

Be on it. ALL THE TIME. Something that resonated with me is the idea of "fake it until you make it." Yes, there are days where I do not want to even pull in that parking lot. But, if I want my kiddos to be excited about school, I have to be too. I need to keep my expectations the same everyday! Even if it's the worst day ever. If I give them an inch, they take a yard, am I right? I find myself in March wanting to pull my hair out because all of a sudden they forgot every classroom expectation we have! Did they forget? Or, did I get too relaxed and left the question in their minds of "will I really get in trouble for this today? Let's find out!" Be on it. ALL THE TIME.

This conference was stocked full of great ideas! They gave so many strategies and ideas to mix it up... new games and activities to get those kiddos engaged in learning. Everyday can't be the same. Sure we need routines, but within the routines we need to spice it up. Using your average games as learning tools, adding in new songs and poems, adding choice to something that normally is dictated, There are many simple ways to add interest and increase engagement.


I know I sound like a broken record, but this conference was amazing! It was so inspiring and it was a good reminder for me to step up my teaching. It provided clarity and helped me to reflect and refocus.  We spent the plane ride home planning and reflecting and my mind is still racing about it!


I hope that you all have the chance to attend a conference that is as rewarding as this was! I know that most people view a teacher's summer as a time to rest...which is true. But, for most teachers, myself included, the summer is a time to regroup, reflect and refocus. I hope that you are all having the time to do that...in some beautiful sunshine, because that always makes it better:)