Wednesday, May 23, 2018

So it's your first year of teaching...

So your first year of teaching is coming up. You have graduated college with a degree in education yet you have a ton more to learn about teaching in your first year. And your second year. And your third year. And every other year for the rest of your teaching or education career. You are now a professional educator, yet it is such a unique profession because it is difficult to learn certain things in college. There is an "on the job training" aspect to teaching.  Never stop learning. Be a life-long learner.
So now that you have your first job, the real work begins. The actual work of teaching students and helping them learn. Helping them reach their full potential. You are no longer just trying to pass student teaching, or get high scores on lesson plan rubrics. You are no longer trying to plan awesome lessons to impress your university supervisor during an observation. Now it is the real deal. It is time to put into action what you've learned and heard the last few years.

Here are some tips for you as you enter your teaching career:
1. Begin building relationships with your students on day one. And never stop until you retire in 35 years.

2. Don't try to be friends with the students.

3. Attend extra-curricular events to engage students in other environments. They notice and it means a lot to them to see you at their activities.

4. Read Teach Like a Pirate every August.

5. Reflect constantly. Every day. After everything you do. "What you did" - "What happened" - "How did it go" - "good/bad and why" - "What you will do differently next time."

6. Make sure your priorities are in order each day when you enter the building: You are not there to just socialize with your colleagues. The #1 reason you are there is for the students so rather than spending your whole prep period in the lounge talking about the weekend, spend your time creating a new and engaging activity for your students.

7. Stay out of the "good old boys" club.

8. Find passionate teachers that care about kids and have a growth mindset. Surround yourself with these teachers. Ask them questions (but don't be needy or annoying). Stay away from the teachers who have bad attitudes and a fixed mindset.

9.  Get to know the support staff of the school: Secretary, custodians, the tech person and the food service workers. They may give you an extra chicken nugget on those days!

10. Don't feel like you have to teach the way the previous teacher did. Find your own style. It may take a few years, but eventually, you will find your own unique style and what you are good at.

11. Engage on Twitter. It is a great place to expand your resources and grow professionally.

12. Stay in contact with your professors for ideas, help, questions, to vent, etc. They are here to continue to help you and want to do so.

13. Don't do worksheets every day.

14. Keep a balance between your school life and your social/personal life. Don't let the profession overwhelm you and burn you out the first year. True, it will be busy, but a healthy balance will keep you healthy and sharp.

15. Don't use technology just for the sake of using technology. The best way to do something is NOT always with technology. Only use technology when it improves the learning, makes the learning/work more efficient/effective and/or allows you to do things that otherwise would not be possible.

Good luck as you embark on your teaching adventure. It's quite a ride!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Summer time!

Summer break is bittersweet for me. I enjoy getting to spend a lot of time with my kids, especially Hazel since she's at such an awesome age (4 yrs). I enjoy getting to have some "down" time to read and just reset.  I also enjoy having time to run, but so much for that! (Thanks, Achilles tear). However, I miss my students terribly. It seems the semester goes so fast and then, poof! They are gone and off to student teaching.  I find myself having a hard time waiting for the next school year to arrive because I'm excited to get to work with a bunch of new students.   So what do I do during the summer?  I'll share it here. Not that you probably need any help with coming up with stuff to do in the summer. But, nonetheless, my summer plans:

1. Read YA social injustice books - A great way to continue to build empathy within me and be able to build a library of books to recommend to students. Also, I'm always searching for a new book to use in my social injustice unit.

2. Read one book from Dave Burgess Publishing. Let's face it, Dave Burgess is the man. He pumps out a lot of awesome books for teachers that are powerful, yet not difficult to read. The book I am going to read this summer is called "Wild Card" by Wade and Hope King. I suggest you do the same.

3. Read a bunch of novels. I feel that reading novels sparks my imagination which helps me become more creative. The imagination is a powerful thing - feed it!

4. Create a simulation - I look at my curriculum, dive into some content and try to create at least one rockin' simulation for the upcoming school year. Simulation is my favorite teaching strategy because of the transformative nature of it.

5. Mine Twitter  - At least once a week, I fire up Tweet Deck to mine for new tech tools,   resources, ideas, etc that I could use in the upcoming school year.  Choose a hashtag and just spend 30 minutes looking through the tweets. I suggest #tlap, #games4ed, #xplap, #ditchbook, #sdedchat.

6. Incorporate a new tech tool in a meaningful way. I am NOT a believer in trying to use as many different tech tools as possible. I like to master one and use it in a meaningful way. I don't like using tech just for the sake of using tech. So I look at my tech tools google doc and think about what tech tool I could add to my courses in a meaningful way.

7. Unplug for school for a while. I feel it is healthy to check out from school and thinking about school. It can get to be too overwhelming if you are always in "school mode." However, even when I am "checked out," I keep school in the back of my mind just in case I come across something that would be useful for the school year.

8. Limit the amount of time I am on my phone. As the days, weeks and years pass, I am becoming more and more anti-iPhone.  It is a powerful device and I use it regularly, but it can be such a time-consuming thing! This is a real struggle for me but I am making a huge effort this summer to get off my phone, look up more and engage with the world.

9. Fly somewhere. I really try hard to fly somewhere each summer (or each year) because if you are flying somewhere, that means it was too far to drive, which means you are going to a totally new/different place in the US or World. See as much of the US/World as possible. Fly somewhere and broaden your horizons and increase your appreciation for culture.

10. Read Teach Like a Pirate, Part 1.


What do you do in the summer to recharge, prepare for school, or just have fun?
Enjoy the summer. You've earned the time off.

-Dan Klumper