Sunday, July 14, 2013

Little Nuggets of Teaching Advice, Courtesy of YOU!

Hello, Readers!

T-minus twenty-four days until I have students in my classroom again and I will be beginning my official preparations for the school year tomorrow! After my little vacation, I'm feeling amped up and ready to go. I went to the Walmart today and they've already begun their Back-to-School sales around here, so it's time to start buying it all up. But without my husband being around. Shopping with your husband is like hunting with the game warden.

Quick note: during my absence, things around here got pretty crazy and my inbox kind of blew up. So, if you emailed me within the last week or so, I assure you that I will respond as soon as I can, but it could take a few days to get caught back up. I love you, readers, even more than I love pancakes. And I love me some pancakes.

Congratulations to our July Blog Giveaway winner, Sami S., and a great big thank you to everyone who participated in the raffle! If you didn't win, do not despair! Here are some things that might make you feel better.
  • There will be another summertime blog giveaway in August!
  • All of my templates are updated and ready! Just click the "Templates for You!" tab at the top of the homepage. These are my free black-and-white templates made just for you!
  • Do you love the Sanity Saver templates, but wish they had a little more pizzazz? Then boy, oh boy, do I have a treat for you! I'm super excited to announce that Eat.Write.Teach. now has a store on! My TPT store is slowly but surely being stocked with all kinds of teacher forms and templates, but now available with a little added flair! All items in the store are currently digital downloads. Most of my free templates are there as well, but if you want a little extra happiness in your life, you can now add some color to your Sanity Saver! Currently the Artsy Blues and the Bright and Cheery templates are available, and the others will become available soon. I would LOVE it if you stopped by! View my profile on Pre-K, Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Staff -
Those of you who have entered into my last two giveaways likely recall that, in order to enter the giveaway, you had to answer a question. You guys have some really awesome teaching advice and I thought it would be fun to share that, especially with the new teachers that tend to hang around here! So, without further ado, here are some...

Little Nuggets of Teaching Advice, Courtesy of YOU!

In June, EWT asked, "What is your #1 sanity saving trick that you use in the classroom or your daily life?" Here are some of the responses:

In my classroom, my #1 sanity saving trick is that I keep doubles of everything. I keep track of attendance in two places, grades in two places, etc.  This way if I (inevitably) enter something wrong, I have back-ups to tell me what was really going on! - Carrie

Organizing my week with a dry erase board on my fridge. - Chris

I put my seating charts in page protectors and use a dry erase marker to take attendance, mark homework, or even make notes about a student. Just wipe away and use it the next day. - Kristin

Organize, organize, organize...when finished, organize again.  You can't fly blindly playing this game! - Micky

I put my absent student's make up work in a folder that is organized by period. - Casey

My classroom organization binder - inspired by YOU. - Elizabeth

I have the kids do attendance by stamping their name on the way in. - Abi

Patience. - Britta

Right now in my classroom I have post-it notes everywhere with things I need to remember to do.  Not the best organizational strategy, but it helps me not forget! - Lindsay

I keep all extra copies in a folder so when a student loses one or is absent, they know exactly where to go! - Jen

My planner/calendar. I have 3 total. One is small for my purse, one is my Google calendar, then I have a bigger planner. No matter where I am, I can add to them and they all match! - Krista

I keep my tardy clipboard on the outside of my classroom door. If the door is closed-- you're late, buddy. Tardy students must fill out a slip and hand it to me, at which time they receive their after-school/lunch detention. The walk of shame really works. - Shannon

Another sanity saving trick I use is a hanging folder bag. I keep all papers that need to be graded, looked over, entered in my online grade book in those folders while taking them home. Cuts the chance of a paper getting lost! - Krista

The #1 sanity saver trick I use is to give the children the chance to be the teacher; they break up into smaller groups & are in charge of certain tasks, such as cleaning, helping, organizing & they make sure the people in their group do the same to help! - Tirusha

In July, EWT asked you to share your favorite first-day-of-school trick, activity, or advice! Here are some of the responses:

I tell the students they have a's a candy quiz. They are riddles and the students have to guess the candy. It occupies their time while I can take roll and pass out important information. – Mia

I always do a fun and challenging nature of science activity. I save the syllabus for later in the week. – Megan

I teach Chemistry so I do a demo the first day that usually gets the students excited for the class. – Courtney

The Marshmallow challenge from Ted TV! – Marci
(Side note: I LOVE TED Talks, but this one was new to me and I had to investigate. Check it out here!)

Have something for the students to do when the students walk in. And have a seating chart. This is a Fred Jones. Your first minutes of your first day will set the tone for the whole year. – Katie O.

I like to play Mystery Cards on the first day of school. Because the activity can be fairly long, some of it can be saved for extra time during future class periods! :-) – Katie L.

My favorite first day advice is lots of caffeine and flexibility! Most likely your plans will be interrupted! – Brooke

I enjoy playing the toilet paper introduction game with my students. They are ask to take some paper from the roll and once everyone it done I ask them to tell the class something about themselves and if they have more than one piece they have to continue until they have told the class something for each piece that they took off the roll. – Jenny

As the kids come in the room ask them to tear off as many squares of toilet paper they think they will need.  Be sure to tell them it will not actually be used in the bathroom. :) Once everyone has picked as much as they think they will need tell them to write down words that describe themselves on each square of toilet paper.  You really get to know your kids this way and it's hilarious to watch those kids who took a lot of toilet paper. – Emily B.

Always greet your students at the doorway, don’t be tucked away behind your desk. Not just for the first day of school, but everyday! – Carly

I tell the kids to get out a piece of paper and a pencil right at the beginning of the first class. A true or false quiz. They freak out. It's all about me so they can get to know me. Winner gets a prize. Then we play 2 truths and a lie so I can get to know them a bit. – Lindsay

Letting kids sit where they then know exactly who NOT to sit them by! – Emily

I love having my students write a letter to me on the first or second day of school. I can immediately see the kinds of attitudes, anxieties, hopes, and expectations they are bringing with them into my class. I can also get a good idea of what excites them, what kind of learners they are, and whether they know other students or are new to the school. On top of all that, I get a quick, informal assessment of their writing abilities right away. Kills about five birds with one stone! – Rebecca

I am using a voki from to welcome them! – Amy H.
(Side note: I’d never heard of this one either, and now I’m really interested in it!)

Asking students their favorite actor/movie. I'm a first year teacher this year, so I'm not sure yet! – Katy

Start enforcing class procedures right away! – Lindsey

Syllabus quiz!!!! Instead reading it to them and boring them to death, have them take a quiz and have prizes for the fastest team, most correct team, and best overall. – Kristin

I have students write their "math history". I tell them it's ok for them to NOT love math as long as they try their best. – Jessica

This may sound strange, but I always start off the year by diving right into the routine/curriculum.  I save the classroom tour and procedures for the second or third day. – Carrie

I always do some kind of lesson on the first day. I quickly learned that my high schoolers much prefer that over playing "ice breakers". – Ashley

In the first couple of days I like to play the game where a student tells you their name and you have to remember all the names of the students in front of them until you memorize them all.  Even middle schoolers get a kick out of it. – Tara

The Name Game: Help for those of us who are HORRIBLE with names!  After going over the syllabus and required materials for class, I begin the Name Game.  Using assigned seats, pick a row and start with FIRST names only!  Recite, in order, the names of the students, adding a name each time.  My students get the biggest kick out of me messing it up... it makes me *gasp* human!  - Teresa

Be yourself. Don't over think what you do with your students. – Casey

Greet students at the door and shake their hands! I also give them some small little "treat"! – Kari

I try to plan an activity for students after we introduce ourselves. Try a "chalk talk" question so that students are starting to think about the content. Only after we complete the short activity do I introduce the rules and procedures. This helps students to see some of the activities they will participate in during class and be a little more comfortable on the first day of school. – Amy

I like to do a "get to know you" survey. Not only does it allow me to know students, but also what they need. This year I'm trying a "Facebook Profile" print-out to make it fun! – Krista

I treat the first day of school as a celebration!  High school students appreciate the efforts made when they walk into the classroom and music is playing, a smile is on my face welcoming them, and the agenda for the class period posted on the smart board.  I always do the name game, where they have to say their name and either a career, or food that begins with the same letter as their name.  I tell them up front this will be their first test, and I do indeed test them at the end of the week.  Because I teach a class that can have multiple grade levels, it is important to me that we begin the year with a feeling of "team" spirit.  Everyone in the class has a role and all will be expected to respect each other by knowing and calling each other their name. – Theresa

Teach your procedures.  And teach them again.  I save sanity for the whole year by spending 2 days on nothing but procedures and THEN getting into content. – Cyndi

On the first day there is usually so much paperwork to get through that there isn't a lot of time for a fun activity--But! I play a version of twenty questions with them. The class can ask me twenty questions about me, which I may choose to not answer if it is inappropriate. I also tell them and show them the basic rules and expectations that I hold for them in the classroom.  – Deb

I write an intro letter to my kids, and then I ask them to write one back to me. It gets them reading and writing from day one, but they barely notice because they're writing about themselves! It helps me to 1) learn about them as individuals, and 2) evaluate their writing. – Kim

Biopoems are a great first day activity. They let the kids be creative and you learn more about themselves in the process. – Jackie V.

I give a multiple-choice "quiz" about myself that the kids try to answer. – Brandy

I'm a language teacher, so on the first day, I love to show a fun video about the dangers of using an online translator. There's a really great YouTube video where a team sings and translates the "Fresh Prince of BelAir" theme song that is just hysterical. – Wendy

One of my favorite first-day-of-school activities is to have my students write a letter to their future self. I teach English, and it is a great way for my students to warm up their writing brains--and when they open the letter months later, it's always interesting to see how things have changed. – Angi

I like to do student interest surveys to learn more about my students likes and dislikes. – Sami

Give them a multiple intelligence survey so they can identify their strengths. - Melissa

For my creative writing classes, I have them match up quotes on writing with each other to make them move around the room and talk. Then, they use a list of interview questions to interview each other. They then introduce each other to the class. – Karen

I use...Me-In-A-Minute...  It's a "within the first few days of school" activity.  The kids prepare a one minute or less "speech" about themselves and highlight it with actual objects that represent them.  It's a fun getting to know you activity. – Jackie C.

Man, you guys are good! I absolutely love the first-day-of-school ideas! You're putting me to shame and I'll definitely be experimenting with some of these great ideas this year!

So, what's missing from the list? What other little nuggets of advice would you offer up?

Happy Summer!