Wednesday, July 27, 2016

10 Things You Never Knew About Your Teacher

Being a teacher most definitely has its ups and downs. It's tough, yet rewarding at the same time. Like many other professions, it's hard to understand until you're actually in it. As an experienced teacher, (yes, I can officially say that!) I've encountered a lot of emotions throughout the years. In those eight years of teaching, I've taught in five different schools, planned and taught too many different courses to count, completed my Master of Education degree, got married, had a baby...by the end of the day, this gal is wiped! I came up with this blog idea a long, long time ago, but like many things, I had so many things on the go that I never got a chance to officially get all of my thoughts down. Phew! It's done.

10 Things You Never Knew About Your Teacher - The Classroom Sparrow
Here are a few things that I bet you never knew about teachers:
  • We are workaholics: Our work day does not end when the clock strikes 3:30 p.m. Teachers continually log hours at home, in the evenings, during both the week and on the weekends. The next school days' plans are always on our minds. We work day and night at planning, designing, creating and ultimately reflecting. Our work never ends!
  • We have feelings: Teachers are caring by nature. We become attached to our students. We are happy for them when they share good news and we are sad for them when they share bad news. We worry about them when they are absent. We are concerned about them when they are sick. We truly care about them like they are our own. 
  • We lose sleep: Whether it's a problem that arose in class that day, a negative interactive with a colleague or parent, a lesson that didn't go as planned, a poor observation, or students in general, we have a tendency to replay these events at night, while trying to sleep. I lost the most sleep at night during the first few years of my career (teachers, I bet you can relate!) I came up with the best ideas....unfortunately, at 3:23 a.m.
  • We need to have a sense of humor: Classrooms are like a stage and we have to preform to an audience, every day. If we got hung up on every mistake or every blunder that were to occur, we would go insane. For this reason, teachers have to maintain a sense of humor. Laughing at ourselves is the best way to move on and try again. 
  • We have thought about quitting: Many teachers, in the first few years or even later, have thought about quitting their job. We have wanted to walk out that door and never return again. However, we love our job, we love our students and we don't want to give up on them. 
  • We break rules, sometimes: No food in the classroom? No cell phones allowed? Yeah, sometimes teacher break their own rules. It happens. These Classroom Meme Posters are a must for my classroom this year!
(I wish I was kidding!)
  • We are stressed: Teaching is a very stressful job. This may be hard to understand if you've never been in our shoes. We have demands from our administrators, students and students' parents. We have standardized testing that heavily reflects on our teaching abilities. We have professional development and evaluations that we have to worry about each year. It's more nerve-wracking than anyone can believe. If you're having one of "those days" (basically any job that has human interaction) you may enjoy some of the things that I have been pinning to my Words of Wisdom/Funny Stuff board.
  • We don't always LOVE our content: Many teachers do not feel warm and fuzzy about everything that we teach. But we understand that if we show that we are not interested, then we cannot expect our students to be interested. 
  • We are not in it for the money: Some school districts pay very well (enough to not have to live paycheck by paycheck that is), while others do not. So, while we are all doing the same job, some of us are being compensated more than others. It's those teachers in particular, the ones that are not making the money that they warrant,  truly deserve the award for loving their job. If they did not love it, they would NOT be there.
  • We are more than just teachers: Teachers have a variety of roles and wear many hats on a daily basis.We are role models. We are counselors. We are leaders, just to name a few. We are whatever that situation insists we be, on that particular day.
Regardless of your teaching experience, I can bet you can related to at least a few, if not all, of the above. Those who are not teachers, I hope this shed some light on your previous teachers or those you may know who are currently in the profession. Even the slightest kindhearted gesture can light up a teachers day, no matter how rough it may have been! Try it, you'll be remembered for it! :)

Teachers, what else can you add to this list?

Monday, July 18, 2016

Teachers: What They Actually Do on Their Summer Vacation

Summer Vacation: Two of the sweetest words both a student and teacher can hear. Both need a break and while it may be for different reasons, the summer break helps all of us to refresh and recharge. Every school year has its ups and downs, its frustrating moments, and its rewards. We have to face new students, new colleagues, new administration, new school-wide initiatives (because last years weren't enough!) and new evaluations. A day in the life of a teacher, whether you are an elementary or high school teacher, is both exciting and stressful. No two days are the same and just when you think you've got it figured out and things are going smooth, BAM! The 3:30 bell couldn't come soon enough!
Most people think that teachers have the easiest job ever. We draw and color all day. We hang out and watch movies. We get days off for every holiday. Oh, and we get the entire summer off to do nothing, but sit around at the beach or at a pool, sipping on a refreshing beverage and basking in the sun rays, for a solid two months. Really? I wish! (Okay, maybe a few weeks of our holiday looks like that...)

SO, WHAT EXACTLY DO TEACHERS DO WITH THEIR "SUMMER OFF"? 

1. Celebrate: It is essential that teachers celebrate the end of another successful school year. Whether it is lunch with friends, cocktails by the pool or BBQ's with our neighbors, we all need to take time to sit back, relax and enjoy life (necessary in every profession). Cheers!

2. Relax: Turn off the alarm and pull down the shades. Sleep past 6:00 a.m. It's okay! Now is the time to stay in bed a little longer, take afternoon naps, and just let your mind relax. Nobody understands the 24/7 working mind of a teacher, like a teacher. I can't count how many times I've woken up in the middle of the night with a new lesson idea for my students. I grab my phone, write down my idea, and (hopefully) fall right back asleep.

3. Organize: Think labels, seating charts, wall charts, planners, binders, bulletin boards, posters, etc. CLICK HERE for the link to some cute decorating ideas that I've been pinning!

4. Pinterest: Come the middle of summer, teachers find themselves browsing more frequently for new classroom organization ideas, new ways to incorporate technology into their lessons, new classroom management tips and tricks, and new lessons and activities for their classes (hello, Teachers Pay Teachers) Life saver! We could spend days browsing and pinning, while imagining all of the engaging things we can do with our students next year.

5. Lesson Planning: Teachers spend hours after hours perfecting their lessons from last year or coming up with new ones. What went wrong? How can I make it more successful? What new technology can I incorporate into my lessons?

6. Work: Many teachers do not get paid for 12 months of work, so they spend their summers working. So much for that relaxing!

7. Supplies: To a teacher, the Staples "Back to School Sale" is right up there with Winter and Spring Break. Freshly sharpened pencil crayons, colorful new notebooks and stickers galore! It truly is the most wonderful time of the year! While my aisle frolic would not be as jovial, in comparison to the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, it is pretty darn close for this time of year.

8. Socialize: It's hard being a working parent. I feel like I see my students more than my own child, which I unfortunately do, due to working full-time. That feeling isn't pleasant for anyone. Summer is the time to plan fun trips and spend time with family and friends that you normally wouldn't be able to during the school year. There is truly no better feeling than that!

9. Professional Development: Some teachers have the option to take professional development courses over the summer. Many do and most of them are not paid for by their respective schools. Just people wanting to make their classrooms a more engaging learning environment. This professional development is also a great way for teachers to network and share their ideas with others.

10. Read: Teachers use their time in the summer to not only read for their own pleasure, but also for their classroom. This is the time when we can actually take our time and pick out books that we feel our incoming students may be interested in (often suggested by students from the previous school year). Summer is when I tend create new novel studies for my classes. For example, I just finished reading Wonder, by R.J. Palacio! From that, (and taking a step back to #5) I started a Useful Resources Pinterest board, so that I can share ideas and teaching resources with other teachers.
 (Yes, this actually happens!)
I hope this post gave you a better idea, as to what teachers actually do on their summer break. The majority of teachers truly use their summer break to organize, plan and decide how they can incorporate new technology and trends into their classroom for the upcoming school year. 

It is, however, fair to say that some teachers have more downtime than others (sorry new teachers, you'll get there some day!) We do deserve some R&R after all that we experience in a school year. However, by the end of summer, most teachers are honestly ready to get back into a routine, enjoying the last few hours of the freshly-waxed floors and the pristine overall organization in their classroom. So long, classroom! See you in the fall! 

What are you most excited to use in your classroom next year?