As we enter August, it's that time again. Back to school supplies have been on the shelves for weeks and our Southern counterparts have already started posting first day of school photos on our feeds. We start wondering:
In New England we still have a few weeks before we start a new school year and welcome our fresh-faced students, but before then it's time to get our classrooms ready for them. If you are new to teaching or switching schools, this task can seem daunting, which is why we have written an eBook to help you out.
The First Years Guide to Setting Up Your Classroom is packed with tips, tricks, guiding questions, to-do lists, supplies lists, and much more in its 12 pages. This eBook is written by an organized teacher who knows that many of us just need to know what's possible and some advice on how to approach the task of setting up our learning spaces for our students (& us!) to be successful. We're so proud of this book and can't wait to share it with you.
Get your free eBook, "The First Years Guide to Setting Up Your Classroom," by joining our list .
We promise to not email too much, but we do want to stay in touch occasionally with news and support. We're full-time working teachers, so we get it. You have enough in your inbox to worry about us too.
Some people say that the top three reasons to become a teacher are as follows: June, July, and August. While our post-spring-break-tired-teacher-selves might be inclined to agree, generally that particular characterization of our professional motivation can be a little demeaning.
Nonetheless, there’s no denying that the respite of the summer months is a pretty significant perk of the job, especially when it comes to freeing up the headspace for one of my favorite summer activities: reading! Call me a nerd, but I eagerly look forward to the annual summer book binge, and my many trips to the local library and bookstores are truly a hallmark of the season.
I like to have books from a few different genres on hand at any given time so that there’s always something interesting to accompany my present mood. Sometimes I like taking advantage of the time away from the daily chaos of teaching to reflect on my practice with professional development books, sometimes I’m in a mood to expand my mind with nonfiction and current events, and other times I just want that silly escapist beach-read that gives me a whole new world of people and places to explore in my mind.
My husband may not love the stacks of books teetering on every flat surface of our house, but I insist that I am reading them all simultaneously and no, I can’t just do one at a time!
So, if you’re like me and looking for some great reads to dive into this summer, here’s a list to get you started. Some I’ve read personally over the years, and some I’ve heard great things about from others. We’d love to hear what you’re reading this summer as well, so feel free to leave a comment below, and happy summer reading!
I want my students to look back on their experiences in the middle school math classroom with fond memories. As a middle school math teacher, I know I play an important role in whether a student goes on to love or hate math for the rest of their educational career, which is why I’ve both flipped my classroom and embedded projects into the curriculum. While I wouldn’t consider the entire curriculum “project-based”, students do learn a great deal from hands-on experiences in my math class.
Project-based learning, at its core, is the idea of having students learn through investigation of real problems. Good project-based learning is interdisciplinary, rigorous, and student-centered.
If you’re like me, choosing a read aloud can be a real struggle. You want your students to be engaged, but you also want to expose them to different genres of books. Some books are so meaningful to some classes, but are flops in others. If you’re looking to spice up your read aloud with some new tried and true recommendations, NTR has your back! All of the following books are fourth grader and fourth grade teacher approved!
Let’s face it: one of the most difficult decisions a teacher can make is whether or not to take a sick day. In what other profession is staying home from work actually more work than going? Luckily, NTR has your back! Whether you are in your first year teaching or twenty-first, taking the time to create a “Sub Tub” is the gift that will keep giving year round!
What is it?
A Sub Tub is something that you keep in your room with plans and copies all ready to go. You won’t need to worry about writing out sub plans again once your sub tub is complete!
,Just a quick tip today. I have been working to increase the books in my classroom library recently and have been lucky to receive a small literacy grant from our school's local Rotary Club. I'm at a new school and inherited a lot of older books in my library, bur I've been working to bring in new titles along with the books I brought with me. The collection is starting to make the library shelves in my room more and more interesting.
However, I wanted to highlight books and make it look more inviting that simply the spines of the books that typically crowd my shelves. Also, since I do have some space on my shelves, my new strategy hides the space by making the area look more vibrant and exciting. Win-win.
This tip may be rather obvious to others, but it was a revelation to me. Librarians have always known that the front of the book, not its spine, is best for catching potential readers' eyes. Which is why I've given up some real estate to displays, because books are better when they're noticed and read. We've been lucky to have all these books, but what good do they do if they kids don't know what's there?
My last new addition to my library is the other recommendation tags. I created a template that you can use. It's a simple document that allows you to write a sentence or two to entice your readers to pick up something new. I print them on bright paper to catch their eyes and hang them off the edge of the shelves.
Hope you enjoy!
Ali is a career-changer who came to education in 2013 through Teach for America. She is currently a middle school English teacher in rural New Hampshire after spending her first six years teaching in Boston Public Schools teaching middle and high school English, ESL, and Special Education.
My students are working on a project in class this week and next. We've bee reading Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief in my 7th grade English class and for our culminating project for the unit, students are choosing an original Greek myth to reinterpret for a modern audience as either a children's book, graphic novel, or an illustrated short story. The artistic element is just another way to communicate ideas along with the written work and we've been doing some drawing basics as mini-lessons this week. It's been a lot of fun.
Part of the challenge, however, is managing materials and supplies that my students use in class. Enter my supply boxes...
October is one of the toughest months of teaching. March often gets the attention for being tough - and I won't lie, it is. But October is often overlooked for how difficult it can be. The honeymoon is over with the kids and there is a while before the well-deserved breaks start happening. Now that we're into November, breaks occur more often.
With Thanksgiving around the corner, there's more rest built into the weeks to come as we close out the calendar year. These breaks are important. Of course you love your students, but we need time apart from them too. If you're a new teacher, late-October and early-November can surprise you with how tired you are, but it shouldn't, because you are hard at work.
And so are we. We are busy working to get ready for the 2019 New Teachers Retreat. As our Board gets together, looking forward to the year ahead, I wanted to share some self-care resources that will help others as the year continues to ramp up.
Smiling Mind - www.smilingmind.com.au - Australian guided meditation website. There are loads of recordings that are geared for people of all ages and grouped by age groups so that their meditation for 7 year olds is different than for 17 year olds or 30 year olds.
Go Noodle - www.gonoodle.com - Great for brain breaks in class, particularly aimed at elementary school and younger middle school kids.
Headspace www.headspace.com - Guided meditation app/site that is great for kids and adults - $ app, but well worth it to hear Andy’s smooth voice.
Mind Yeti www.mindyeti.com - Another great meditation app/site for kids.
EDIT TO ADD:
Relax Like a Boss https://relaxlikeaboss.com/the-art-of-mindfulness/ - A collection of blogs about relaxation, mindfulness, and meditation. Free!
Extra bonus - you can use these with your kids too! Which is great, because as the holidays get closer, many of our kids get really antsy. Between the excitement, candy, and, unfortunately, for some of them, the anxiety of the holidays, they will really benefit from some mindfulness as well.
Hello! And welcome to our new blog.
We are hoping this will be a space to share behind the scenes at the Retreat as well as advice, thoughts, and commentary on life as a teacher. While we have a few more years under our belts, we remember all too clearly what those first few years feel like and are hoping to share some tips and tricks to make things a little easier. We also will feature past Retreat participants who will share their experiences both at the Retreat and since, including what they've implemented in their classrooms.
But we also want to hear from you! What do you want to see more of on these pages? How can we support you throughout the school year? What are your challenges? And your celebrations?
The first years of teaching can be incredibly difficult, but also some of the most rewarding. Your kids in these first years become part of your heart. We're in your corner and cheering you on!
More to come...