It’s the conversation we all dread: telling a parent their child a) is failing a subject, b) needs to be tested for a disability, c) doesn’t have any friends, or d) all of the above. Your stomach is twisting and turning just thinking about having to confront the parent.
So, what do you do? Here are a 10 tips to help you share bad, difficult, or sensitive news with a student’s parent and get the best possible outcome.
There are few things that annoyed me more as a teacher than picking up my students from P.E. or lunch, or having a small group return from a resource room pull-out class only to discover that some students had been completely out of control while they were gone. With some classes I taught, it seemed like the moment I was out of sight, there was almost guaranteed to be an incident of disrespect to another teacher, a physical altercation between students, or something even worse.
The good news is that while you can’t control what happens when you’re not around, there’s quite a bit you can do pro-actively to prevent the problem from reoccurring and to open the lines of communication between you and other teachers. Listen in as I share 6 strategies to help you do just that.
One of the big principles that we’re always coming back to in The 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club is that implementing small changes right away is more effective than hoping you’ll feel like implementing big changes later on. We often make the mistake of assuming that our future selves will somehow be less stressed and busy and more disciplined and productive, and therefore we’ll able to handle making positive changes LATER.
The problem with that logic is that those qualities of being less busy and more productive later don’t just happen on their own. This summer or next year only seem like they will be slightly less crazy than right now because all the unexpected interruptions, emergencies, and new obligations haven’t cropped up yet. Unless we’re actively taking steps now to set our future selves up for success, things really aren’t going to change very much.
In this episode, I'll share how to break that cycle, and embrace the fact that your willingness to adapt what you’re doing NOW has the ability to save you countless hours and immeasurable stress in the new school year.
There’s no question that being a new teacher is tremendously stressful. But when I reflect on my teaching practice and how it evolved over the years, I realize that I created a lot of my own stress simply through the way I chose to perceive my work.
The mindset that I held toward my students and their parents, as well as how I viewed my role in the classroom, often made an annoying incident feel maddening, and a challenging situation feel impossible to overcome.
Today, I’ll share four specific ways I sabotaged my own success as a teacher, as well as how and why my thinking changed over time.
Every teacher needs more class time. And every year, it seems like there’s more and more content that needs to be covered and less time to teach it in. Fortunately, there are some easy ways you can create more time for teaching. There are lots of things happening in our classrooms that either waste time or just make lessons take longer than they need to. If you struggle with lesson planning because you just don’t have time to teach everything you’re supposed to, these easy tips and productivity hacks will help you maximize every moment with students.
In last week’s episode, I explained why ‘reward’ isn’t a bad word and argued my case for why rewards can be an integral part of your classroom. If you have a problem with rewards or just want to know why I think rewarding students is appropriate, check out EP9 for the the WHY. In this episode, I’m going to share the HOW. I’ve found that the most effective way to use rewards with students is by creating a culture of appreciation in the classroom and using unexpected now-that rewards. Listen in to learn more.
I wanted to do an episode about how to reward students responsibly--in a way that considers the long term results and the type of character and work ethic we’re building in kids, not just how to get compliance here in the moment. And I realized that before I could do something like that, I needed to first address the question of whether teachers should be rewarding kids at all. “Reward” has become a bad word in many education circles. In this episode, I'll tell the story of when I was called out by a district administrator for giving what she felt was an inappropriate reward, and explain why I’m advocating for the return of the reward, anyway.
Listen in as I answer the following question from a Truth for Teachers listener: "We teach students and prepare them for exams--of course we have some expectations around their performance, and begin to feel frustrated when they keep making the same mistakes over and over again. We may start questioning the purpose and the quality of our work. So my question is, how can I let go of expectations--those 'shoulds' and 'supposed tos' around testing and results?"
Lesson planning is too important (and too challenging / time-consuming) for you to try to do all of it on your own. It’s wonderful to utilize the experience of other teachers and time-tested instructional strategies so you don’t have to spend as long planning out your lessons. However, many teachers plan with their grade level or subject area teams and find it’s not working particularly well: either the meetings consume massive amounts of time or personality conflicts keep the endeavor from being productive. In this episode, I'll share 6 strategies to help you efficiently co-plan your lessons.
Listen in as I answer the following question submitted from an exhausted teacher:
“How much is enough time to give to each student? There are students who have behavior problems, academic challenges, IEPS, family problems, those whose parents you need to catch after school or speak with the principal about...it never ends! Student issues, dealing with emails, and talking with parents is so time consuming. When is it ok to say 'enough, I've done all I can and need to move on'?
Some of you are barely making it through the school year, and the idea of going into school each morning just makes you sick with stress and anxiety. You want to quit more than anything but have no idea what the alternative would be. I get it. I have been in your shoes.
Others of you still love teaching, but you’re feeling an itch to do something different. You want to make a greater impact for kids, or you want a flexible schedule, or just feel like there’s something more out there for you. I’ve been in that position, too.
You see, I’ve quit teaching twice: once because the school environment was so toxic that I hated my job, and once because I wanted to shift into a different role in education. I’ll share both of those stories with you in this episode, along with 5 things I learned that might be helpful if you’re thinking about quitting for either reason.
How do we get kids to go from saying “Just tell me what to do!” to truly taking ownership of their work? In this episode, you'll learn 6 strategies to help get kids on board with the sometimes daunting task of student-directed learning.
In last week’s episode, I shared 10 growth mindset shifts you can take to enjoy teaching more, and gave examples of negative, fixed mindset thoughts that can reframed into something that helps you perceive your job as less stressful and more meaningful.
This week, I want to go deeper with that, and talk to you about how the story you tell yourself about teaching is probably not true, and ways you can choose to see things differently. You can reframe your work to recognize and appreciate what a tremendously important job you are doing every single minute of the day.
As much as we’d like to believe that we’re growth mindset oriented, most of us (myself included!) will likely discover upon reflection that there are old fixed mindset thought patterns that we haven’t quite let go of. Fortunately, we can examine these self-defeating thoughts and replace them with growth mindset thoughts that are empowering and energizing. See if you can recognize yourself in any of these 10 fixed mindset traps, and practice exercising a growth mindset instead.
It’s always tough to strive for great teaching AND a great personal life, but that battle seems to ramp up exponentially during the holidays. If you’re feeling pulled in a million different directions, check out the tips in this episode which help you prioritize and make time for what’s most important.
Have you lost patience for refocusing your class and fallen into the trap of just barking at the kids (“No talking!”) or pleading with them (“I'm waiting for quiet!”) all day long? Ironically, it’s more tiring to keep repeating your request for silence, since nagging kids puts us in a bad mood and the kids just tune us out, anyway. Here are 5 ways to grab kids' attention in a fun and engaging way.
Everyone knows that a new teacher is not going to perform at the same level as a 30 year veteran. But which areas are most important to focus on? Learn how to figure out where cutting corners is okay, and how to minimize the impact on students.
Do you wish you had more support and encouragement from other teachers in your school? Consider virtual mentorship! Lisa Dabbs shares why she's so passionate about new teacher mentoring, and how you can get involved (as a mentor or mentee) in her New Teacher Mentoring Project.
If you’re feeling completely discouraged right now and don’t know how you can possibly make it until June, that is completely NORMAL! In this episode, I'll share why October can be such a tough month for teachers, and how to gain the perspective you need to push forward with confidence and enthusiasm.
What do you do for a student who continually chooses to misbehave? What happens when you feel like you've tried everything, and you're starting to turn into the type of teacher you never wanted to be? Here are 7 traps to avoid when dealing with extreme student behavior.
The foundation of using your time effectively and being efficient is knowing how to prioritize your tasks. In this episode, I'll share 7 guiding principles to remember when figuring out what to get done first.
Whenever I mention a 40 hour workweek for teachers, people tend to have one of two objections. Either they think it’s not possible, or they think it’s not aspirational—that you can’t do a good job in 40 hours a week, so you shouldn’t even try to attempt that as a teacher. In this episode, I'll share my own experiences and observations, and share ways you can cut 10+ hours of your workweek.
“Grit” is a huge buzzword right now that’s used to refer to perseverance and resilience. Many schools are rushing to adopt grit curriculums and character education programs so they can teach their students about how to put in the effort and determination that’s needed in order to be successful.
But here’s the thing about grit. I’ve done a lot of research on this topic, and I’ve seen grit get a lot of pushback because it’s been misused and misinterpreted. And while I believe in the value of teaching grit to students, I think we as educators have the responsibility to be informed about what being “gritty” really means, and what it doesn’t mean.
A TfT listener wonders how to cope when her cohesive team is mocked by other teachers in the school. How can collaborative groups of teachers prevent their positive, innovative attitudes from wedging a divide between them and other colleagues? In this epsiode, I share 6 tips for extending a bridge to distrustful co-workers and reaching out to isolated teachers who may be interested in joining the collaborative spirit.
High school teacher and author of "You've Gotta Connect" James Sturtevant shares practical, concrete ways he builds relationships with students in his social studies classroom. Listen as James helps you find ways to share YOUR stories and personal life in your classroom using a template he calls “Show and Tell."