Meet Your Teacher

I decided to introduce myself to my Early College students and parents a little differently this year. Instead of a PowerPoint, I decided to use a “Meet the Teacher” handout. Although I was able to find a few templates online, none of them were well suited for a high school audience (a little too elementary oriented). So, ultimately, I ended up making my own from that collective inspiration and I was able to customize it exactly the way that I wanted.

**This version omits my school’s contact information, but it is present on the final version that I will print and pass out on paper. I also plan to electronically post this handout for parents on Bloomz.**

So what do you think? Do you like my “Meet Your Teacher” introduction handout? I know it is rather simple, but I truly hope my students and parents enjoy reading it. 🙂 

PS. If you are interested in using this template for your classroom, please visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store

meet the teacher (blog version)

A Happy Heart…

A popular expression says, “Teachers encourage minds to think, hands to create, and hearts to love.” Well last week, I received some of the fruit from my labor when my Early College students chose my classroom door to decorate for a Valentine’s Day contest.

My students worked for weeks to complete an elaborate design for my door, a Sweethearts box with my name spelled out in the window and a Valentine’s Day poem. 🙂

This sweet gesture was absolutely the best design in the entire school. Needless to say, my students won the door decorating contest and made me feel extra special in the process.

 

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Started From the Bottom … Now We’re Here…

OMG!!! I’m so excited. Our iPads finally got a much needed upgrade from being charged on rigged up dish racks. 

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Now we have have a re-purposed C.O.W. (computers on wheels) laptop cart that we can use to charge, store, and transport our iPad minis.IMG_0040

 I’m so grateful and appreciative to finally have a secure storage solution in my classroom for our iPads. 🙂IMG_0042

 

WHY YOU NEED TO HAVE REAL WORLD TALKS WITH YOUR KIDS (PART II)

A few weeks ago, I  shared with you the importance of having “Real World” talks with your students. Here is the hyperlink, if you would like to read part one of Why You Need To Have Real World Talks With Your Kids.

If you have already read the first part, here is the process for setting up your own “Real World” talks with your students.

“Real World” Talks (The Process)

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Materials:

  • Slips of paper or Post-it notes (*Although I tend to use Post-it notes, I recommend slips of paper because Post-it notes are expensive.)
  • A large container. (I prefer a bowl or shoe box.)
  • Timer
  • One clear topic to discuss.
  • 15-20 minutes (for the first “Real World” talk. After the initial one, you can limit “Real World” talks to 5-10 minutes a session.

Process:

  • Have students pick up slips of paper at the beginning of class.
  • Explain the “Real World” talks process, i.e. your norms, expectations, time limits, and purpose. 
  • Briefly explain the general topic that you would like to discuss with your class. 
  • Give students 2-5 minutes to write out at least one question on the topic. Please adjust your time to make it appropriate for your students. It is easier to add time than take it away, so I would start with the smallest amount and add if necessary. Your first talk will likely take the longest to set up.
  • Have a set designation for the bowl in direct eye sight, so that students can deposit their questions.
  • Select a question out of the bowl and preview it for appropriateness. Then answer it as honestly as you can. You don’t need to be a know it all. If there is a question I am unsure of how to answer, I say so. I  ask for clarification and then I either promise to research it or give the question (as appropriate) as an extra credit opportunity for the class and we discuss it later. 
  • This is mostly a question and answer kind of process that lends itself towards personal narrative.  The storytelling element usually evolves into a discussion. I make sure to invite students to ask clarifying questions to learn more or to redirect me if I am misunderstanding the intent of their questions. The goal is to make the talk lively, fun, and informative.

Tips for Success:

  • Students of all ages can benefit from a “Real World” talk. It’s a matter of adapting the talk to your students by carefully selecting the topic, making sure the proper scaffolding is in place where it will be successful, and making the topic age/cognitivity appropriate.
  • Teach your students how to write clear questions and appropriate questions. I recommend modeling this and showcasing questions that are effectively written. Understanding how to to write clear questions will minimize confusion in your response, reduce the time needed to start the activity, and prevent disruptive 
  • Have the slips of paper at the door waiting for students to pick one up, so that you do not need to take extra time to pass them out.
  • The first “Real World” talks will take the longest because establishing the rapport, process, and expectations.
  • Wait a few weeks into the school year so that rapport is properly developed with your students.
  • Set a specific time limit on how long your “Real World” talks will last. 
  • Have students write their name on the bottom of the slip of paper or sticky note that they used. This is used for clarity, accountability, and classroom discipline purposes. If you misunderstand the question, you can ask the student author to clarify what they mean. Use of the question writer’s identity also helps deter students from writing inappropriate questions that may disrupt the class and not taking the discussion seriously.
  • I know you may be tempted to skip the paper slips and bowl, but I do not recommend it. These are the kinds of talks when I want all my students to ask the questions they are often to afraid to ask. While there are times, I want students to tough it out and speak out, this is not that kind of session. Since these talks deal with “real life” and some students may be too shy to ask a question out loud, the fish bowl technique ensures that their question receives an answer with a certain level of anonymity. 
  • After modeling the first “Real World” talks, you can ask students to bring a written out question for the talk as a homework assignment. This will help you save time with starting the talk.
  • During the “Real World” talks, I discretely share my successes and failures during my schooling process. These kinds of talks are not about being Mr. or Ms. Perfect; students need you to be “real” about your schooling experience. Transparency is important. However, please use discretion in what you share with your students.
  • You can adapt “Real World” talks for many age groups. Possible topics could include:
    • How to succeed in middle school, high school, or college.
    • How do you select a college?
    • How to receive a scholarship.
    • How to pick the best first job.
  • Once you have the “Real World” talks working well in your classroom, you could adapt this process to use with guest speakers or even build a panel for a topic your class would like to discuss. 

Example from My Classroom:

My terrorists (also known as my seniors) graduated high school as few weeks ago and here are a few questions they asked about transitioning from high school to college.

  • What is your best advice for college?
  • How do you eat for cheap on campus?
  • Is college easier than this class?
  • Is it easier to have a job and go to school or just to go to school?
  • What is a good price for an apartment?
  • Is it better to live on campus or off campus?
  • How do you buy a house?
  • How do you learn to balance time between school and work?
  • How should you manage your money?
  • Is it better to work on campus or off?

 

Please let me know what you think of this idea. Is this something you would use in your classroom? If so, how would you tweak “Real World” talks for your classroom? 

Happy talking! 🙂

 

A Fresh Start

Welcome to the new home of “A Teacher’s Life” blog!!! As you may know, the previous site for “A Teacher’s Life” was http://nhill8.edublogs.org/. However, I am relaunching the blog under a new site address because I would like a fresh start and the opportunity to take “A Teacher’s Life” in a new direction.

Ultimately, what I would like to accomplish in the new and improved version of “A Teacher’s Life” is more authenticity and transparency. In my previous blog, I think I lost myself. I shared ideas about educational leadership and gathered inspirational resources, but my life, ideas, and practices as a teacher were pretty much absent.

In many ways, the old version of my blog was hopelessly optimistic and that’s not always the reality of my teaching life. Don’t get me wrong—I love teaching, but there is plenty I am frustrated with and I want to be more open about that.  While I don’t want this blog to turn into a gripe fest, it’s also not going be all sunshine and roses either.

In fact, my inspiration to education blog was Mrs. Mimi’s “It’s Not All Flowers and Sausages” blog. Her blunt honesty (although achieved anonymously) about her second grade classroom and the insanity of public school teaching made me long for a voice of my own. [Although Mrs. Mimi’s blog is currently inactive, I dare you to key word search her blog for “The Weave.” These stories left me in tears from laughing so hard and it’s an added bonus that my school looks like paradise compared to hers.]  So with that said, please excuse the dust while I build anew. 🙂 

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