Teacher’s Lounge Blog

Learn more about teacher preparation, test tips, online learning, professional development, and a variety of other valuable teacher topics.

Have a Great Summer!

May 29th, 2018 | Comments Off on Have a Great Summer! | Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Summer Break

“Have a great summer!” I love those words. They hold the promise of quiet, travel, and a break from the daily monotony of scheduled everything. But, can I tell you a secret? I also love teaching.

Despite feared transitions in the U.S. Department of Education, the staggering emphasis on testing, and teacher walkouts in multiple states, university students still flock to education majors. Why? Because surreptitiously behind closed doors, so many of us know that teaching is the profession where we belong—the profession where we find happiness.

Since teaching is in my heart and soul, here’s what I’ll find myself doing this summer….

I’ll pin classroom ideas. When I’m on Pinterest, looking for travel journal ideas, I’ll inevitably stray to education boards and start pinning ideas for my classroom in the fall. I’ll remember Dee Dee and how she struggled. I’ll come across another teacher’s strategy for empowering young readers, and I’ll pin her ideas.

I’ll shop for supplies. I’ll remember May when only my red dry erase marker still worked, when not one student had a pencil longer than his finger, and when coloring a world map was a group activity because each student had only 2-3 broken crayons. I’ll have a little stash of supplies so that when next May rolls around I can awe my students with a new box of crayons.

I’ll talk shop with my teacher friends. Some of my closest friends are my colleagues. We understand each other. We have the same interests that drove us to the same career. Now, we’re bound together as survivors; so, when we get together, we’ll share our passion.

I’ll rejuvenate. I won’t deny that teaching is exhausting—physically, but more so, emotionally. I’m so very responsible for the students. It takes a toll on my family, as I work long hours and short change family dinner. This summer, we’ll grill and picnic, and I’ll look long into their eyes, and I’ll find new energy.

Don’t get me wrong, I laugh at and connect with all the teacher summer vacation memes. I’m guilty of everything that is mocked. But, let’s own it. We have a great life. To my teacher friends everywhere, “Have a great summer!”

The Teacher That Students Appreciate

May 10th, 2018 | Comments Off on The Teacher That Students Appreciate | Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Education is not a thankless job. A special day has been designated as “Teacher Appreciation Day.” With our own calendar event, it’s worth asking, “What do students (and parents) appreciate in teachers? What merits appreciation?”

I’ve read some comments of students and thought about my favorite teachers. For starters, students appreciate teachers who…

Affirm Values
Teachers are trained to lead. Wise teachers recognize their power to mold the thinking of their students. They find a way to keep their classroom from being a place to push their own agenda, and they affirm wholesome values in others. They challenge their students to evaluate their positions fairly; then they empower those students to live out their values in real life.

Love the Subject
Even those students who could win an Olympic medal in scholastic avoidance appreciate a teacher who understands the nuances of the subject area. Who hasn’t fallen under the spell of a teacher who found his own subject area so engaging that he couldn’t help connecting every student-led attempt to get the lesson off track back to math…or literature…or finance?

Teach Till They Learn
By middle school, and arguably earlier, students recognize that learning comes easier to some kids than others. Students appreciate that teachers who can patiently come alongside the slow learner and at the same time facilitate genius. There are those teachers who make sure the lesson has something for the kinesthetic learner, the verbal learner, and that quiet introspective one. This teacher models hard work, commitment, and creativity through the mundane of the daily.

See the Potential
The distinguishing act that immortalizes teachers in the heart of a student is that ability to see the individual. Students and teachers alike spend a lot of time filling in circles, clicking boxes, and entering passwords. It’s easy to feel less than human. Students remember that teacher who made eye contact and then stopped to inspire the skilled hands, the quick mind, or the never-give-up heart.

This week, we haven’t celebrated “school appreciation” or “education appreciation.” We’ve celebrated teachers–the people who faithfully affirm, empower, and come alongside. Let’s remember who breathed life into us and aspire to use our position for the good of others.

“Yes! You will use this!”

January 8th, 2018 | Comments Off on “Yes! You will use this!” | Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Teacher Inspiration

Any student of history can recognize the connection between productivity and reward in the establishment of the American way of life. And what about today? Is the tight connection between work and reward lived out in your classroom?

Far too many of our students question the benefit of school. They make Google their best friend and preface every assignment with, “Am I ever going to use this?” Quite honestly, if they’re not going to have to find the volume of a sphere and if they can Google the majority of the content on your test, where does hard work fit in?

I recall that my sixth-grade teacher always had challenges around the classroom. Periodically, one of her challenges came with an enviable “five minutes free time” certificate. The first of her hundred plus students to solve the problem earned the reward. On occasion, it took weeks for anyone to find a solution, but we did it—every one of them. She not only held us to the highest of standards every day, she gave us opportunities that made us want to work even harder.

This year, have a classroom where productivity is prized. It starts with you.

  • Prepare. Teachers know which students did their homework, and the opposite is also true. Students know which teachers did their homework.
  • Create. Don’t be that teacher that downloads too many lessons from the internet.
  • Inspire. Find a way to make obscure, seemingly useless lessons relevant.
  • Require. Everyone gets an equal opportunity to excel.
  • Personalize. No teaching over the top of the head; every student deserves eye contact and a smile.

I would challenge you to go beyond an elementary-style behavioral system where the average student who humdrums through the day with minimal effort, all the while avoiding disturbance to his classmates, can achieve top rewards. While not to be discredited for its infinite value in maintaining a healthy learning environment, I’m not sure this system instills the benefits of academic achievement. Be the teacher who day after day after day shows students the connection between working today and living the life they want in the future.