Archive | September, 2013

5 Things Every 1st Year Teacher Should Know

24 Sep
5 Star Student Logo

5 Star Student Logo

My first year of teaching was one of adventurous, wondrous, learning filled, unforgettable experiences. My students were an AMAZING group that not only worked hard, but demonstrated a true passion for learning. I got to know each and every one of these students, not only their classroom identities, but also what their interests were and who they wanted to become.

Each year droves of eager, first-year teachers pile into classrooms ready to change the world one student at a time. Be bold and be enthusiastic young teachers, but also take these tips so that the flame of your passion stays lit for years to come:

  1. Learn your territory:            Get to know as much as you can about your school without forming opinions from others. Make it a point not to listen to everything your peers have to say about your school, students, administrators and parents.
  2. Teach for knowledge:           Focus on teaching the content, rather than teaching to the test. Have fun in your subject and find ways to enrich your students daily.
  3. Know your kids:                    Get to know your students and show them that you are a human that laughs, plays, cries, and makes their success your number one priority. When children know you genuinely care, they will climb mountains for you.
  4. Stay ahead of the game.        Get to know your curriculum through and through and begin planning engaging activities immediately. Never wait until the last minute to create your lesson plans.
  5. Encourage yourself.              Being a teacher and molding young minds into instruments for greatness is an incredibly inspirational and rewarding job, but it’s not easy. If teaching were an easy job, everyone else would do it. At the end of every day, pat yourself on the back, especially on the challenging ones. The challenging days are the days when you have helped someone the most.

I love being and educator and while it can be difficult some days the results are worth each drop of blood, sweat and tears.

Veteran educators: What advice do you have for 1st year teachers?

Toshila Darjean


Funny Things Kids Say #2: Dollars and Sense

17 Sep

Dollars and Sense

Recently, as I was shopping in teacher heaven, also known as a dollar store, I witnessed a thought-provoking exchange between a mother and son. The young boy who could not have been much older than 4 years was bent over studying the toys intently. Already the boy had one in his hand when he reached out and grabbed another at which point mom intervened.

Mom:  Son, you only get to choose one toy.

The little guy stood up, looked at her, threw his hands up in an expression of utter confusion and disbelief and said,

Son:    Geeze mom, it’s just a dollar…

I fought hard to hold in my laughter and pretend as if I was not paying much attention. Mom looked around, a bit embarrassed, before gathering her son and getting him up to the register. I didn’t see whether or not she relented and allowed two toys or stuck to her guns and allowed only one.

While I use that very same line on myself time after time in the dollar store as an excuse to purchase more stuff than I need or know what to do with, money, its value and what it takes to earn it is something we have to begin teaching our children from the age that they begin understanding the concept of money even in the vaguest of ways.

Find ways to allow your children to earn money whether it be with daily chores or special odd jobs around the house and pay them accordingly. When you go out to stores and different places, make them spend their own money on things that they want. Soon they will begin to value money and start understanding and comparing their time and amount of work that they do to the prices of items available for purchase and you will be amazed as you watch them begin to understand the value of a dollar, hard work and how the two are closely related.

I can’t tell you the amount of joy I feel when I see the pride that my children have when they go to the store, pick out something that they want and pay for it with their own money. Ironically, I feel the same amount of joy when we go to the store and they pick up an item that they want, look at the price and put it back with the note, “It’s too expensive; I can’t afford it.” It lets me know that I am raising responsible children who will grow into adults with the tools to function financially.

Toshila Darjean

When we align, the stars will shine


Teachers Going Through “The Change”: Bringing Technology To The Classroom

7 Sep
Kids using technology.

Kids using technology.

In preparation for this school year I completed much research on the 1:1 initiative which is set to begin on my campus this fall. The 1:1 initiative is a program that incorporates the use of technology in the classroom on a daily basis as an additional resource, not as the mode of instruction. As part of the 1:1 initiative, all of the students on my campus will be provided net books for school and home use.

Apprehension regarding the use of technology in the classroom is common amongst teachers and while there are con’s, there are pro’s as well. Technology provides access to excellent sources of information on any topic you may be teaching. The purpose of technology in the classroom is simply to introduce another form of engagement. Not all students learn in the same fashion, therefore if a widespread resource such as technology may assist us in reaching and teaching children that have a hard time learning in the traditional manners then we must at least give them a try. In addition, our children are growing in a technological world in which they will be forced to compete once they leave our schools and it is our duty to prepare them for the world even if it is one that seems a bit foreign to us, as older more traditional learners and teachers. Technology should not and will not ever replace the nurturing, one on one instruction that can come only from a human, seeing, feeling educator, it is just another tool provided to us in our ongoing mission to stimulate the young mind.

Here are a few ways I am thinking of using technology in my classroom:

  1. Facebook (Yes, I said it.): Keeping parents and students informed on upcoming tests, quizzes and projects by setting up a private Facebook page that only my students and parents can join. When initiating these types of efforts, security is key. Make sure that you are taking all necessary precautions to protect your students from adverse online happenings.
  2. Online lessons: As a differentiated instruction tool, there will be lessons located in EDMODO or PROJECT SHARE which the students will complete. Those who are faster learners/workers or at a higher academic level will also be provided with an enrichment lesson. This will ensure that all students are fully engaged and receiving work that is appropriate for their level of understanding, while also being aligned with the state and district curriculum.
  3. Instant messaging: I will be providing immediate feedback to each and every student by using resources such as EDMODO and PROJECT SHARE to send instant messages to students. My students will be able to post their questions in real-time on a discussion board as I am presenting the lesson. Not only will students be able to see the discussion that day, but they will also have the option to look back at the discussion at a later date for review.
  4. Going paperless source: My students will be taking test and quizzes on their net books, which will alleviate the use of paper. GO GREEN!

In what ways are you using technology on your campus? Do you think technology in the classroom is helping or hurting our student’s progress?

Toshila Darjean

When we align, the stars will shine.