Things for Teachers

Post(s) tagged with "reflecting"

What happened this summer?

I completely dropped off the face of the Internet (sans the occasional Facebooking). 

Life got the better of me, Tumblr. Things for Teachers was an easy routine for me to continue until May hit. I was still teaching through mid-June, but I decided to start grad classes and my summer job around the same time mid-May. One week, I worked 30 hours outside of teaching- and still had schoolwork to do.

Summer came and I kept thinking, “I’ll have more time next week.” With my part-time job, grad school, and a month-long moving process that consisted of a million shopping trips (I needed to furnish an apartment!) my summer seemed scheduled down to the minute. 

My last class of the summer ended a week or so ago, around the same time I finally finished moving. I’ve had a little more time to reflect on teaching and think about the upcoming school year (plus received some encouraging words from mikemewborne). School starts in two weeks here in Southern NJ. Throughout the summer, I was invited to do a couple of workshops at school- and I know it was because of my involvement in new technology last year. 

This will be my third year teaching, and I still feel like a new teacher striving to become a better teacher. I have been thinking about how I grow as a teacher and I realized in this thought process that I can’t abandon Tumblr because this IS my process of becoming a better teacher. Tumblr motivates me to read my RSS feed, check Twitter out, and pass on new things to all of you. 

School starts in 2 weeks. My next grad class starts in 1. I will still be working part-part-time outside of school. But, I resolve that I will try my hardest to stick around here. 

End of the year - Student evaluations and self reflection ⇢

From History Tech:

So I started talking more with my kids, both informally throughout the year and formally at the end. Questions about the classroom environment and arrangement, did I provide enough time for projects, how well did I respond to student questions, did I create a friendly learning climate, what strategies and activities worked best, what sort of communication works best, more or less technology and what they liked / disliked in general.

Click through to read the rest of the post, and to access a very comprehensive student evaluation form (PDF form). I’m considering using it this year.

Three Good Questions For Teachers to Ask Themselves ⇢

Larry Ferlazzo discusses three questions that were posed to him; he discusses them and answers them in his post.

We’re almost to April; now is a good a time to reflect on this year as any!

What have you gotten better at this year?

What do you still need to figure out or work on?

What’s keeping your kids from making big time gains (that are within our control)?

My answers:

I have gotten better at creating routines, keeping my classroom website updated, and creating more cooperative/interactive learning activities (although I still am working on improving this!). I think the biggest stride I have made this year is developing positive relationships with my students. They know I care about them and how they do in school.

I need to work on fine-tuning my classroom management. I have made progress this year since I have a positive relationship with my students; now I have to mesh this with my management strategy. I want to work on creating more long term, ongoing assessments and creating lessons that are relevant to my students’ lives.

I have to think about the third question. I think more horizontal curricular planning would create huge strides in my students’ success. Consistency across teacher policy/grading would help them.  

The Flaws of Teacher Evaluation ⇢


Bill Ferriter has won numerous awards, yet his knows and admits his weaknesses in the classroom. He epitomizes the teacher we all strive to be; one who is always questioning what he does in the classroom, who notes what does and does not work, and who knows the teacher evaluation system is flawed and cannot be counted upon to provide the feedback he craves.

Using Edmodo as a formative assessment tool

Check out my earlier posts discussing my experiences with Edmodo:

I started using Edmodo mid-September and my students have had weekly Edmodo assignments since then. Now, we’re going into the first week of November.

In my “Week 2” post I explain how my students were required to post something they learned that week in class. It’s a simple assignment; my goal was to get them to look at their history notes outside of the history classroom. This worked for a couple of weeks. After that, my students started to get sloppy and post very basic stuff. The assignment was losing meaning.

I reflected on my purpose of the assignment. I wanted students to look at their notes outside of class, but I also wanted to use Edmodo as a formative assessment. Students got credit if they completed the assignment; not if what they posted was “correct” or “incorrect.” I like Edmodo because if students post something that demonstrates they are confused or misunderstood something, I can directly message them correcting their error.

The past 2 weeks I’ve created an “essential question” for the week that forces student to reflect on the week’s topic as a whole. For example, one week they had to answer the question “In your opinion, what Chinese philosophy would be most effective in influencing government and why?” Reviewing their answers allowed me to see if they understood the material at hand.

This past week, as my students were completing their assignment, I realized that many of my students were confused. This occurrence really drove the point home to me that Edmodo is great tool for formative assessments- it’s easy for me to access, quick to read, and doesn’t add to my paper pile. It allows me to respond to specific students if the majority of the class “got it;” but it points out when the majority of the class “didn’t get it.” Then, I can adjust my future lessons.

Last year, I struggled with an efficient way to provide formative assessments. Edmodo is solving this problem for me.

Miss Brave Teaches NYC: 10 Things I Wish a Teacher Had Told Me ⇢


2. If you can put off until tomorrow what you planned on doing today…you might want to think about it.
I realize this sounds an awful lot like procrastination, which to most teachers is a dirty, dirty word.  But as a new teacher, you’re going to be staying in your classroom until nightfall anyway.  Your classroom is going to become a time-sucking vacuum of dry erase markers and despair.  (That was poetic, no?)  So if you really, really wanted to plan out your entire week’s worth of math lessons, but it’s after 5 pm and you’ve got at least an inkling of what you’re going to do tomorrow — go home.  You’ll take care of tomorrow tomorrow; tonight, you have to take care of you.

3. You can only plan what you can plan.
You can’t build a house without bricks.  So if you’re itching to start planning your word work period but your workbooks haven’t come in yet, don’t make yourself do the same work twice.  If you’re a brand-new teacher, it will kill you that you have empty boxes in your plan book.  Trust me, you will fill them with something.  Probably forty-seven somethings that you won’t finish.  Which brings me to…

4. There is no such thing as empty time.
When I first started in my own classroom, I used to panic about how I was going to fill all the hours in the day.  Then I quickly learned that at no point in your teaching career, ever, will you look around the classroom and say, “Well, kids, we’re all done for the day!  Let’s knock off for a bit!”  First of all, if you have elementary schoolers, everything will take seven times as long as you think it will (except, of course, the activities you actually want to drag out).  And you can always ask the kids to read.  Or write.  Or practice their math facts.  Or…you get the idea.  If you’re relatively innovative and have a good head on your shoulders, you will always come up with something for your students to do.  That said…

5. Be prepared for anything.  Really: anything.
Preps get canceled.  Field trips get canceled.  Assemblies get canceled.  Push-in and pull-out teachers cancel.  You know who never cancels?  Your naughtiest student, that’s who.  It always pays to have extra activities on hand — or at least in the back of your mind — that you can pull out when the copy machine breaks and you can’t hand out your social studies worksheet.  Because idle students are restless students, and restless students are troublesome students.

6. Improvise.
I used to love it when my math teacher’s guide instructed me to display something on my overhead projector. Because guess who didn’t have an overhead projector?  Or when I taught reading AIS and wanted to construct the same chart in all five of my classes, but desperately needed to save paper.  That’s when I discovered that contact paper + dry erase markers = reusable heaven.  Work with what you have, and as Tim Gunn would say: “Make it work!”

Click through to read the entire list.  I agree with everything on it!

A Teacher's Thoughts: Weeks 3-5 Using Technology ⇢

One teacher’s reflections on using an iPod Touch, Wallwisher, blogging, and other technology tools in the classroom. There are some useful ideas in here.

How the Internet has made me a more reflective educator

  • I can bounce ideas off of other educators at any time using Twitter; I am constantly finding new ideas and resources from them that I may not have been able to find on my own.
  • I subscribe to other educators’ blogs via Google Reader, and reading their reflections then causes me to reflect on similar topics/practices in my own classroom.
  • Keeping my own blog forces me to constantly stay updated on what’s out there for teachers and reflect on what I think is useful or helpful to share with other teachers. Since I feel a sort of obligation toward my readers, I am motivated to constantly find new resources and share them. 
  • It has made it easier to reflect— I am using a private Google Calendar (thanks @mrpotter for this idea) just for reflecting on my daily lessons. I find this easier to access and organize (for the purpose of reflection) than using other tools that exist out there.
Keeping Our Eyes on the Wrong Prize ⇢

A great reflective post by Larry Ferlazzo about compliance vs. what we really want for our students. It will certainly make me think twice about how to get a student to keep his/her head up in class.

Guys, it’s only Monday and I’m so excited about my Edmodo: Week 2 post.

I also created a private Google Calendar to reflect on my lessons daily. This morning I reflected on last week’s lessons. It’s good to know that I will have this resource to turn to as well as my lesson plans in the future.


Who I am: A fourth year high school history teacher at an urban(ish) high school in New Jersey.

What I blog about: Stuff related to education I like, and stuff I hope can help other teachers out. Technology, deals on supplies, helpful books. My focus lately is on educational technology & related resources. Occasionally, I also post things related to education reform. Because I post articles that I feel will be of interest to teachers with varying views, the political-related posts made here do not necessarily reflect my beliefs or opinions, nor do they reflect the beliefs of my employer.

What I like learning & reading about: Other teacher's opinions about and experiences with teaching & education. How I can enrich my classroom and reach out to my students. If you write about this stuff, let me know, because I probably want to read it.

What you should submit: Anything that could help a teacher.

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