“Sometimes God brings times of transition to create transformation.” –Lynn Cowell
“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” –F. Scott Fitzgerald
After an extended break from blogging, I am starting back up with some Monday inspiration and post on education. I hope these help!
The new school year is well under way, and educators have been working hard! This is a because of a process called front-loading.
Front-loading, in education, is a process where teachers allocate extra energy at the beginning of the school year. We do this to have a smooth rest of the year. Some examples of front-loading in education are:
- Setting up classroom rules and expectations.
- Reviewing and practicing classroom procedures so they become second nature.
- Practicing appropriate behavior during transition times.
- Setting up and practicing school-wide expectations (e.g. behavior in hallways, assemblies, etc.).
- Teaching classroom policies for things such as: how to turn in work, what to do when a student finishes early, rules for group work, etc.
- Setting up academic expectations.
- Gathering baselines for the beginning of the year.
- Learning students interests, strengths and areas of need.
- Establishing a positive tone for the class.
Front-loading takes a lot of energy It takes a lot of time thought to have a well-run class, but setting up and diligently enforcing classroom standards at the beginning of the year sets the tone for the entire school year. It’s exhausting, but well worth it!
If you are a teacher, mid-June and on is a happy time.
This is, of course, because most of us are on summer break!
Summer break refreshes you, and gives you time to process and plan in a relaxing setting–the beach being ideal! Come August, I will start up blogging again. For all those teachers and school professionals, have an amazing break!
As an educator, I’ve always tried to teach my students the importance of persistence in following your life dreams. This last year, I have been purposefully trying to practice what I teach, as I have been working diligently on my first book. I am super excited to let you know that it’s now out!
Lavalino Finds His Forever Home was just published and is available on Amazon and elsewhere as both an ebook and a print version (it is also in the Amazon lending library until March). It’s been such a passion project of mine, particularly because the central character is based on a cat who was important to our family, and I put a lot of love and work into it.
This is the first book in a series, The Adventures of Lavalino, and it introduces the scrappy and loveable street kitty as he searches for a forever home. The story is set in Sicily, Italy, and readers, parents and teachers get a flavor of the country’s people and culture. The colorful watercolor illustrations add to the story’s appeal. The back contains a glossary of the Italian phrases used throughout the book, and gives a touch of the language for young readers.
Please check out the book and let me know what you think. Positive reviews are helpful and welcome! Thanks so much!
One of the questions I like to ask parents at the beginning of the school year is:
“How does feel your child best learns?”
The choices are: auditory, visual, kinesthetic, multiple modalities.
I ask this question because if you have a dominant learning style, it is best to tap into that.
In the classroom, as multiple students have multiple learning styles, it is best to try to cover as many learning styles as possible in your lesson planning/presentation.
Here is a concrete example:
There are some great educational YouTube videos on the internet, but perhaps you are worried an unseemly political ad will pop up during your presentation. Not to worry!
This summer I took a technology course for educators, and learned how to safely share videos. Simply go to the link for Safe Share TV and run the video through that program. If you want to chop a video, I recommend Tube Chop. See links below.
When I was in graduate school, during my first couple years of teaching, a professors said, “An organized teacher is a good teacher.” For some reason, this statement really stuck with me. Now, nearly fifteen years later, I can truly appreciate her meaning. To be clear, I don’t think you have to be organized to be a good–or even great teacher, but it sure does help.
Here are some reasons why I agree being an organized teacher helps you and your students:
- Time management: It is a big time drag looking for materials and resources. If you are not organized and have your assignments and supplies readily available, you will be wasting time. In teaching, time is precious.
- Curriculum Planning: Teachers are expected to pace the year to meet certain grade level standards. While we don’t “teach to the test,” we do need to ensure our students have received the teaching and exposure to grade level standards in a timely manner (this includes before spring state testing). You need to know where you are, where you are going, and where you need to be by the end of the year; this requires pacing and organization.
- Classroom Management and Sanity: Teachers are expected to manage close to 30 + students. We are entrusted with creating rich, nourishing environments in which our students flourish. We do this while providing excellent academic instruction. This is no easy task. Having an organized class frees up your energy to accomplish this. We all know the proverbial child who acts up while his/her mom is on the phone. This is the same principle in teaching; if you are scrambling to find something or are unprepared–students are off-task and you are more likely to encounter behavior issues.
- Calm, Comfort, and Routine: A neat, purposeful and organized class gives students a sense of calm and comfort. Your students will feel safe. Anxiety is a real and growing problem for more and more of our students. For many students, knowing the course of the day is comforting–be it the daily schedule posted on the white board, in a daily planner, etc. This is especially true for students on the autism spectrum, where the need for structure is often increased.
- Frees up Creativity: If you are organized, this frees up time to focus on creativity and meeting your students needs in a multi-sensory environment. Students know classroom expectations, and can be given greater freedom to think outside of the box and learn in a differentiated classroom.
I added the last point, because I want to emphasize that organized does not equal boring; it equals prepared and thoughtful. I hope this helps!
I like to recommend good and useful books, but this month I am recommending a video. The video is called “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things” (available on Netflix and elsewhere).
Minimalism is basically a lifestyle approach where you minimize the excess things in your life, and try to be purposeful in your consumption. Winter break was a great time for me to go through my things, and give away many of the things I had accumulated. All together, I have given away over 500 things, and I am still going! (This is coming from someone who has little clutter and is organized by nature–as most teachers are.)
I did this by doing a minimalism challenge: give away one thing on day one, two things on day two, three things on day three, and so on. By the time you are done you will have given away close to 500 things.
People have asked me where I donate. My go-to places are: the Arc (benefits people with intellectual and developmental disabilities) and a rescue mission that focuses on helping get people back on track from being homeless. I try to give high quality things and clothes that will be a blessing. I, in turn, feel happy and relieved to have less stuff in my life.
Even if you have no desire to become a minimalist, I think you will benefit from watching the video. The documentary approaches the topic from many different viewpoints. It also takes a look at advertising, and how we are constantly being bombarded through technology. It’s quite fascinating.