Teacher Tips 26 Ideas From a Mentor

As a mentor, there are so many things teachers ask. I have organized an ABC Teacher Tip list.

Teacher Tips Organized

A – Aquire. At the beginning of the year it is important to acquire all the relevant information about your students. Certainly you will need contact information and any IEP 504 documents. Getting all this information in one spot, will save you so much time in the long run.

B – Balance. Build in balance. Balance the time you plan for different subjects. Balance the time you spend in the classroom and the time you spend with friends and family. This can be an all consuming career. To prevent frustration seek balance.

C – Calendar. Calendar and plan ahead. Set up pacing guides and dates in your teacher calendar. Write in school meetings, events and vacations. Add in important personal events so you don’t get busy and forget them.

D – Decorate. Decorate your classroom for learning and comfort. Clean, well kept rooms are more comfortable for everyone. You don’t have to break the bank but if it will make you happier, I say, “get it”.

E – Evaluate. Evaluate everything! At the end of the day/week, make note of what really worked. Ask yourself, did the students learn? Activities that keep kids busy, but don’t move them forward are a waste of time.

F – Find. Find programs and systems that are effective. Once you have a system, planning is faster and students make more progress. When you know what is valuable within a program, just do that. Students will learn the routines and expectations building in self-reliance and independence.

G – Ground. Ground your lessons and expectations in the learning standards. Often teachers will do the cute or fun activity that is not appropriate for the grade, content or standard. Specifically, beware of lessons claiming to be for multiple grades. It might be they can be done by students across grades but is it what is best for your class knowing the learning expectation.

If you here because there are so many questions you have, I would like to invite you to join my teacher community. We have a facebook group and I do send out tips just like this in my newsletter.

Here is an invitation to a free Accommodation Idea Bank to help you meet the needs of students who are struggling.

H – Happy. Hang on to your happy. Some days are hard. Before you leave, write those hard things down on your board. Spend no more than 60 seconds on what made it so hard. Then lock your door and leave. On your way home, forget about it. It is over, if you need to remember, the notes will be there but, now you are off. Let it go. The next morning, erase the board and start a new day.

I – Invest. Once you find tools, programs, systems or resources that work invest in making them last. Don’t buy, cut, paste and laminate things before you know they work. But . . . when they do, invest in organizing them and making them a permanent part of your classroom.

J – Join. Join groups and communities to lift you up. Many online groups and staff rooms are cluttered with people that only complain. They are unhappy and in my experience, don’t really want solutions. Join in with happy teachers. Find the group that is looking to help all kids. A group that see the future as bright. It will help you hang on to your happy.

K – Keep. Keep in contact with all families/parents. A welcome letter is a great start. Some students will necessitate contact and those aren’t the families I am talking about. Send home positive notes or emails for the other students. Maybe the child isn’t the star but, they also are doing the best, fitting in, have good social interactions. A communication that lets them all know you see them and believe they have what it takes to be their most amazing self is deserved and necessary.

L – Laugh. Laugh at yourself when you make a mistake. It will happen. And if no one got hurt, it is probably a little funny. When students point out a mistake show them how it is ok. Laugh, maybe explain how that happened and tell them you are not a perfect person. We are all learning all the time.

M – Modify. If it isn’t working modify it. Don’t keep using a strategy, program or system if it isn’t working. Yes, I have thrown away sets of copies because after we got into it, I knew it was a waste of time and not what the kids needed. I have bowed out of traditional grade level projects as the value compared to the time was not worth it.

O – Obtain. Obtain new ideas from peers, blogs, heck, the farmers market. It doesn’t matter where but look for those real life connections between what students are learning and the world. Whenever we can connect a skills or knowledge to the outside world it is a win.

P – Parents. Parents are not all created equal. Some have a false belief that their child is perfect. Others see limitations when they don’t exist. It is sad I have to type this, some parents are the problem. My best advice is, always speak calmly, know why you do what you do and listen first. All parents first want to know their child is safe and happy then, they care about the learning.

Q – Quit. Quit doing what isn’t working. I have already touched on this but it needs said. If the vocabulary in the text isn’t the words they really need to learn – quit using it. If the color by code is taking a lot of class time quit doing the coloring in class. If morning circle is not improving language skills but is a drama fest and trauma trigger, quit it. You are a professional and you don’t have to do things that do not help your students learn and be happy.

R – Recall. There are going to be days, kids, parents and situations that will challenge you. Recall why you wanted to be a teacher. Most likely, these ick situations are a result of nothing that had to do with the reasons why. So, learn how to avoid these same situations and remember. The kids need you. If you need advice or just someone to listen, join our Facebook group. I am always here to help.

S – Sandwich tasks. There are things that you will need to do often. The list can seem too long. It is easier mentally and physically to get done a set of tasks. Sandwich them together into a system. You will build this one habit that will get several little things done more efficiently.

T – Team up. Joining forces and teaming up with other teachers, parents or community groups helps in several ways.

  • It is always more fun working together.
  • Tasks get done faster when many hands are helping
  • The best ideas come from reflection and the input of others.
  • If you have a team, you can buy cute t-shirts. (ok, maybe that isn’t the biggest benefit but I love myself a cute team t-shirt)

6 Teacher Tips From a Mentor Left

U – Umbrella. Umbrella questions are Essential Questions for thinking and learning. Having an umbrella question helps you connect the learning across subjects and to the world. An example: What makes something fair?. You can use this in games, friendships, character analysis, algebra (equal), governments, school rules, policies, the list goes on and on. These umbrella questions will make your lessons deeper in that students will be evaluating their world based on what they know.

If you want to read more about essential questions, here is a great article. HERE

V – Vision. Have a vision for yourself and help students find their own. What is their vision of themselves, their future and how they are special. What things do they value and how can they use their strengths and interests to have a happy successful life.

W – Welcoming. Welcoming is a feeling. When you are welcoming to visitors, new students and critiques on your lessons, growth happens.

Your room should feel inclusive to all that enter it. Space is made physically, “can one move around your room with ease?”

Or emotionally, “is everyone valued as a unique person with something to offer?”

Chaotic classrooms dominated by clutter, one persons interests and beliefs or disrespect are not comfortable.

X – eXecute. Execute your professional duties on time and with care. Everything from report cards to bus requests should be done professionally and on time. If you have a meeting, show up on time and prepared.

Y – Yet. Yet is the mindset I have still after more than 30 years teaching. I have put a lot of miles on my teaching tires. Each year there are fewer and fewer new things, or situations that surprise me. Yet . . . I don’t know it all, I don’t do it all perfect and I don’t have all the answers. Being a teacher is to be a learner. Yet is a permanent state of thinking.

Z – Zone. Have work zones within your classroom help set expectations and create efficiency. Keep the things you need, where you are when you need them. Reading corners, math stations and carpet time are all examples of zones. Organizing and uses spaces well help with classroom management and can save everyone a lot of time in transitions.

I hope these 26 teacher tips offered some affirmation or insight into teaching. This article was hard to write not because I couldn’t think of tips but I had to choose the best ones.

I would like to invite you again to reach out and join our community of teachers. Below are links to other posts you may enjoy.

Task cards
No matter the teaching style task cards fit in nicely.
Sleep information for teachers
Sleep is important for students
Accommodation Idea Bank for Special Education teachers

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