Posted in School, Thursday Thoughts

Thursday Thoughts: Tips from a Teacher

With less than a week until school starts, of course all I’m thinking about is school.

I cannot believe I’m starting my 21st year in education. Where has the time gone? I also can’t believe my kids are starting 7th grade. My mom taught 7th grade Language Arts for 31 years. I don’t know how she did it! She has remained friends with so many of her colleagues, and I always looked up to them ( and still do). They made teaching look so fun.

Today, I’m putting on my “teacher hat” to share to few things.

Even with 20 years as a teacher, I’m still no expert, but here is what I’ve learned through the years:

Teacher to Teacher:

  • Make your expectations very clear on day one….and stick with those rules, expectations, and standards: Kids, even your toughest ones, like structure and routine. Actually, your most difficult kids need it the most, and all kids like to know what to expect. Also, we don’t give kids enough credit…they are smarter than we think! Once you cave even a little, then it’s hard to get that control back.
  • Keep your sense of humor: Thankfully, I’m naturally sarcastic 😉 …but really…my students keep me laughing, and I try to make them laugh too! We’re all in this together.
  • Try to leave school at school: Being a teacher can be all-consuming…in good and bad ways. It took me a while, but I’m pretty good at setting boundaries now. Also, with my students, I always preach to them about using time wisely (I say this to my own kids too!) If I give 100% while at school and use my time wisely, I very rarely have work to do outside of school. I’ve also learned, that I don’t need to read school emails outside of the school day very often, so I do try to check email very minimally or not at all past 4:30. I know some who don’t keep school email on their phone, but I do. There are times it comes in handy, and I need it accessible.
  • Be approachable and relatable; show students you care: I feel like we say this now more than ever, but you never know what kids are going through (adults too!), so lead with kindness and compassion. I tell students all the time that I will give them grace, but I’m not a mind- reader…they may have to let me know why they need to put their head down, and I can understand they may be tired or sad and will check in with them but give them space.
  • Have a plan, and then have a plan B and C!and be prepared: It took a long time before I could fly by the seat of my pants as a teacher, but I still always have a back up plan for a back up plan. If students have too much time on their hands, then that may not end well.

One of my first blog posts was about The Four Agreements, and I still try to remember them both while at school and at home. I’m not perfect, but I try to keep these in mind, and do better every day.

Also, stay positive! You’ve got this.

Teacher to Student:

While going through the transition to middle school with my own kids last year, I found myself telling them some of the things I tell my own students:

  • Ask for help/advocate for yourself: This is something my kids really had to work on. They are both pretty quiet in the classroom, and would rather blend in than ask for help. I’ve told them to see teachers at the end of the day or send an email, but at least reach out and communicate with their teachers.
  • Use you time wisely during the school day: Honestly, most teachers don’t give much homework, and lots of times, homework is started during class in case a student needs help. I remind my kids to complete and turn in classwork by the deadline as to not get behind.
  • If your teacher lets you make corrections, do it!: Again, even if my kids earned a decent grade, I tell them they may need those extra points some other time. Not all teachers allow for corrections to earn back points, so definitely do so when the opportunity presents itself.
  • Learn how to study: Kids needs to be taught how to study. It’s not a given. Last year, I encouraged my kids to rewrite notes they took in class, use note cards to make flash cards, complete practice problems, and more. Also, I reminded them that all study habits don’t work for everyone. You have to find what works for you.
  • Plan for the week ahead: My kids are very busy, so I told them that Sunday would be a great day to plan ahead for the week. If Hadley knows she has three hours of dance on Monday, then the should know that Tuesday would be a great day to study. Also, I’ve encouraged them to study a bit each day for any upcoming tests, so that they aren’t cramming the night before.Planning ahead is definitely something they need to continue to work on this year.

Twenty years of saying these things to my students paid off as I began to preach this advice to my own kids last year.

Student to Student:

Sometimes I feel bad for my kids –having a mom that’s a teacher isn’t easy. My standards are high. That being said, I want them to be self-starters and driven, but I also am not asking for perfection. If I know they’ve given 100% and still earned a B, I’m ok with that. I refuse to get wrapped up in labels and test scores for my own kids. They are more than one test on one day. I want them to be well-rounded: join clubs, play sports, have outside extra-curriculars, be involved at church, play with their friends, be kind, be inclusive and more. That being said, like my students, they need structure and routine too in order manage their time and see what works best for them.

To wrap up my “tips from a teacher,” I decided to ask them what they think students should know going into a new school year, and here is what they said:

Hayden:

  • Go over new material when you learn it
  • Make friends
  • Pay attention in class

Hadley:

She texted me her response, and this is what she said:

  • Be organize (like with your backpack and schoolwork)
  • Don’t be worried about all the work people say you have (it’s not that bad)
  • Keep your old friends but also try and make new ones too.

*Maybe they have been listening when I talk 😉

One more thing before I go…

Blogiversary:

Today, is the 3rd “Blogiversary” for Show Me and Sweet Tea.

I started this blog in 2019, and to be honest, I’d wanted to start one for years. I love having this creative outlet, I look forward to writing posts, and I love sharing about family, fun, recipes, books, and more. This is my very own scrapbook of life, and I only wish I started it sooner. This SMST community is so amazing, and I appreciate my readers so much. I never imagined that I’d get to “know” so many of you and even grow as a blogger through the years.

As a thank you, I will choose one winner for a $30 gift card to one of my favorite places: Amazon, Trader Joe’s or Target. Your choice!

I believe when you comment, I will see your email address. So, I will email you and share the winner in Monday’s post.

Make sure to comment and let me know: What was your favorite year/grade in school and why?

I loved 4th grade because my teacher taught next door to her best friend. Our classroom had a wall that opened, so the classes would often be combined. Also, my teacher worked at an animal rescue, and would bring in animals that she would foster and care for until they could be adopted or released. Also, I remember being excited about being in the older grades, but not being the oldest in the school.

Anyway, I can’t say “Thank you” enough! I appreciate my readers so much.

As always, thanks so much for reading.