Posts Tagged ‘teacher tips’

Summer Smackdown! How to Kick Summer Gap to the Curb

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Summertime Learning Grade KIf you were to ask your children what their favorite part of the school year is, I bet they’d say summer.  And why wouldn’t they?  To them, it’s a time to sleep in, catch up on TV and movies, hang out with friends, and send even more text messages.  It’s two months of freedom from homework, written reports, and classroom speeches.

Unarguably, my summer breaks used to be my favorite part of the school year, too.  In fact, I still remember my middle school summer routine as if I had just practiced it.  Each day, my head was consumed by one “major” thought:  at which friend’s house was I going to sleepover that night.  (Sibling torture was a definite consideration.)  And the only studying I did was of reading about Kristy in The Babysitter’s Club, scanning the pages of Tiger Beat, or watching Dylan McKay on 90210.

Summertime Learning Grade 1

My middle school summers, as well as many modern summer routines, don’t sound too terrible.  On the contrary, they sound fun and even stimulating.  But are they educational?  Not quite.  And, unfortunately, a couple months of this behavior is like a minor car accident to your children’s education—they’ll recover, but it may take a while.

Think about it this way:  Students solve math equations, write paragraphs, and learn about historical events for ten months; then they get two months off.  In this time, they seldom solve, write, or learn anything of an academic nature.  When they return to school, their brains, much like unpracticed athletes’ bodies, are out of shape and require retraining.  In some cases, they have to relearn what they have already been taught.

Summertime Learning Grade 2Researchers call this the Summer Gap because, simply put, during the summer, a gap in learning is formed.  Fortunately, there are ways to combat this gap.  Aside from going to the public library and checking out its recommended (and age-appropriate) reading selections, you can also buy materials that will support your children’s education.  We’ve just finished a new Summertime Learning series, which centers on summertime activities and resources that will engage your children.  Each book contains eight weeks of language arts and math activities.  You’ll also find a recommended summer reading list, journal topics, educational and free Web sites, and stickers.

So let your children sleep in for a while.  They can even catch up on some TV and movies.  But be sure to give Summer Gap the smackdown and prove to your children that summertime learning can be entertaining, easy-going, and, much like Dylan’s McKay’s Porsche, a fun ride.

Summertime Learning Grade 3Summertime Learning Grade 5Summertime Learning Grade 4

20 Ways to Prevent Burnout for Teachers

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Although it may seem like the school year just started, it is always a good idea to learn about the different ways you can prevent burnout before it happens or how to combat it when it does. Here are 20 ways to help prevent teacher burnout:


1.            When you feel overwhelmed by the demands of school, use some of the excellent videos, films, and TV programs that will enrich your lesson plans and give you a momentary break.

2.            Make use of seasonal activity sheets to jazz up routine lessons.  Keep them as simple as math facts written inside of hearts for Valentine’s Day or pumpkins for Halloween.

3.            Go to workshops.  Perhaps your district will pay.  But, even if you have to pay for them yourself, they are worth the money in terms of the new outlook and enthusiasm they engender.

4.            Take some classes that get you credit on your district’s salary schedule.

5.            Take some classes just for fun.  Try some areas that have little or nothing to do with education or children.  Exposure to almost anything will eventually pay off in the classroom, and you will have fun and meet new people.

6.            Attend art gallery showings and bookstore signings.  You will see that there are adults in the real world and get rid of that “trapped” feeling one gets from being too long in a classroom with thirty young children.  Besides, they are free.

7.            Incorporate more art in your lesson plans.  It can be a real enrichment to your literature and social studies units, and besides, it gives everyone’s spirits a lift.

8.            Learn a lot of new classroom games and play them.  Don’t save them for special times; intersperse them throughout the day.

9.            Have parties from time to time for no special reason other than to have fun.

10.         Try acting the way you would like to be feeling.  There is a psychology school of thought that holds that we begin to feel the way we act.  Go around smiling and looking happy and enthusiastic and see if you start to feel that way.  It is certainly worth a try.

11.         Jump-start your helper system if it has started to fall apart on you.  There are certain times of the year when parents get busy at home and begin to send regrets instead of coming in to help.  Send home a note asking for assistance.

12.         Spend some time re-bonding with your class.  Things sometimes start to go sour halfway through the year.

13.         Take a vacation.  The next time there is a three-day weekend, go somewhere.

14.         Consider having someone come in and clean your house or complete a longstanding household project.  Even if it is just for one time, it will give you a wonderful new start.

15.         Sit at a different table for lunch in your teachers’ room.  Talk to someone new.

16.         Take on a volunteer position for some charity that appeals to you.  Doing something for other people often lifts one’s spirits tremendously.

17.         Get a part-time job.  Sometimes the change of pace (and the extra cash) is just what you need to prevent burnout.

18.         Work through your lunch break and meet a friend after school for a late lunch at a restaurant.

19.         Stop saying you are “going to school.”  Say you are “going to work.”  It’s a real job.

20.         Read and implement everything you can find about self-esteem techniques.


Got a great tip for preventing teacher burnout? Share how you get re-energized by posting to our comment roll!

20 Money-Saving Ideas for Teachers

Monday, November 17th, 2008

1.                  Use the plastic “popcorn” from packages for art projects and math counters.

2.                  Ask at your local newspaper for leftover newsprint for art projects and drawing paper.

3.                  Scout out companies that use computer paper.  They often discard the last few inches of a stack of paper rather than risk running out while printing.

4.                  Swap and share with other teachers rather than buying duplicate supplies.

5.                  Check magazines and newspapers for coupons and free offers.

6.                  Invest in fade-proof paper to back your bulletin boards.  It will last all year.

7.                  Save all kinds of containers—margarine tubs, coffee cans, oatmeal cartons, and so on—for storing games and math manipulatives.

8.                  Send home a monthly class newsletter and ask parents to save things for art and science projects.

9.                  Buy or borrow a book such as 500 Free Things for Kids to Do and Send For.

10.              Use macaroni or other pastas in different shapes for counters, art projects, and so on.

11.              Ask stores for used seasonal advertising displays—hearts, bunnies, Santas, and so on.  Cut off or cover up the advertising and use them for dramatic bulletin board accents.

12.              If your district has a media lab, use it to create games, charts, and activities.

13.              Ask students to bring a favorite (or extra) game from home to use in the classroom on rainy days.

14.              Ask parents and students to go through their books.  If they are no longer using them, they may want to donate them to your classroom library.

15.              Look for children’s books at garage sales and swap meets and add them to your classroom library.

16.              Stir up some salt and flour modeling dough.  You can keep if for quite awhile in airtight containers for reuse, or you can bake the results of the students’ projects for use as permanent ornaments, paperweights, etc.

17.              If you buy treats for your class, purchase them in large quantities at discount stores.

18.              Look through the advertising materials you get through the mail at work.  They often contain posters, maps, or stickers.

19.              Keep leftover activity sheets.  Use the backs for scratch paper.

20.              Remember that time and money are interchangeable.  Spend time to save money.

Teacher Survival Kit

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

Considering that teaching is often a very taxing job, all teachers could use a survival kit.  A survival kit will remind us why we chose to be teachers.  Here are some items to include in your kit:

(Note:  Phrases taken from a poem by an unknown author):

·         A pencil so you can write down your blessings

·         A piece of chewing gum to help you remember to “stick with it”

·         An eraser to help you remember, everyone makes mistakes, even teachers

·         A candy kiss to help you remember that we all need hugs now and then

·         A toothpick to remind you that you can pick out the good things in anyone

·         A smiley face to help you remember a smile takes less muscles than a frown

·         A seed to remind us that things grow and mature and things can change


Teacher “Picker-Upper”

Sometimes teachers need a bit of pepping up.  Try this idea for a teacher friend.  Obtain several medium-size empty pill bottles from the local pharmacy.  On a large adhesive label, write the “prescription” below for a teacher friend or other co-worker.  Paste it to the pill bottle.  Fill the bottle with some type of small candies.  Place it on a friend’s desk or in his or her mailbox.  Just the idea will help brighten the day!

                        RX# 12345                   100 mg

                        Dr. (your name)             For:  (Whomever)

Directions:  Whenever you are feeling down in the dumps, take one or two of these for an energy boost.  Refill as necessary.


Check out these two books for more teacher survival tips: