Teacher Tips

Here are some "tricks of the trade" that I use in my classroom:

Label notes: I keep a sheet of white labels on a clipboard (30 to a sheet size) and jot down names and dates on them in the morning. If I am looking to see who is progressing with a certain skill, or I want to note a particular milestone or accomplishment, I can note it quickly on a label for use later; e.g. "Writes whole first name!" or "identified four shapes!" When I have time later, I open up my assessment binder, which holds blank sheets labeled with each child's name, and stick the labels in! I can see, at a glance, who needs more "eyes on" time and assessments are ongoing and appropriate!

Sitting down with parents and being able to chart accomplishments with dates and anecdotal evidence is priceless - you feel like you really have a handle on what's going on and so do your parents!

Stress safety first: I always tell my classes that my first job is to keep them safe - we spend extra time on that at the beginning of the school year and it always pays off. Usually, if there's a problem between students "He's grabbing my block" or "she cut my paper," it's easy to defuse by referring back to safety as the root of the solution. "The block could fly and hit someone" or "using scissors that way could cut someone" is easier for them to grasp than just "no!" and makes for less rule-making - just STAY SAFE! When defusing a situation, ask the involved party what they think they're doing wrong and how they could do it differently - use these "teachable moments" to remind the whole class of SAFETY FIRST!

No Idle Hands:  I like to have something available to my kids if they finish something ahead of the class - I keep Play-doh in individual portions for use in making shapes or letters (great for practice!) or small containers of stringing beads or pattern blocks, so they can make patterns or designs quietly while waiting for others. If they have a caddy for pencils, crayons, scissors, I just add these little containers to the caddy, so they're within reach!

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