Archive by Author

Growing Pains: Adjusting to the new year

3 Aug

Growing Pains Pic

After being an educator for many years we can sometimes get in a cynical space. We think we know everything there is to know about our professions, then we get a new administrator or a new group of students and suddenly we’re discombobulated, not because those folks are completely out of whack, but because they are different and do things in a way to which we are not accustomed. We feel uncomfortable and trapped in our own classrooms or buildings. These are the “Growing Pains.” At first it seems like a hindrance, what we’re doing is no longer working, it’s no longer changing student behavior, it’s no longer moving the needle on your scores, it’s no longer part of the changing culture of your campus. In actuality these situations are opportunities to learn innovative ways of doing things and to better ourselves. Similar to the feelings in childhood when your body is pained from its growth and change, we tolerate the pain because we know that on the other side is a stronger, better person. Here are some tips to reduce your “Growing Pains”:

  1. Seek clarity – If you don’t understand a change, ask targeted questions about it, not to poke holes in its perceived necessity, but to truly try and gain an understanding of the purpose.
  2. Adjust softly – Take a step back and allow the change to happen, you may grow to love the new ways. Pick your battles.
  3. Focus on building relationships– When we take a deeper interest in our co-workers and students we can get a deeper understanding of not just what they are doing but why, we can better understand their perspective and as a result communicate more successfully to make sure that the transition and growth benefits everyone involved.

If you are experiencing “Growing Pains,” stay confident that once you reach the other side of that obstacle you will find that you have grown, professionally and emotionally. Seek to understand the purpose of certain changes, find a piece of it that you believe in, grab it and run with it. You got this!

Toshila Darjean

@5starstudents

5starstudents.com

Collaborative Motivation

9 Dec

Collaboration 2

As an educator, one of the most important parts of my job is motivating my students.  When they come in dragging or feeling that they will never understand math or any other subject in which they have challenges, it is my job to continue to believe in and encourage them that they can and will be successful, however in order for student motivation to work and be sustained, it must be a home and campus wide initiative. Parents, teachers and administrators are the most influential sources when it comes to academic motivation and our kids need to know that we are behind them 100%!

Here are 3 tips to inspire collaborative motivation:

  1. Welcome Assembly– At the beginning of the school year; arrange an assembly where the administrators discuss student expectations, discipline plans, GPA requirements, and standardized testing requirements. This will also give administrators a platform to introduce themselves and give the students a motivational pep talk.
  2. Academic Pep Rallies– Pep rallies are not just for athletics anymore. Sometimes we need some serious pom pom stimulation for our brains. Throughout the year organize academic pep rallies to encourage students to do well on state and district-wide tests. These rallies will keep them aware of the importance of meeting test standards while challenging them to meet those standards in a way that is fun and supportive.
  3. Campus-Wide Competition– Maybe it’s just my personal nature, but I love a little healthy competition. Organize fun ways for different classes of students to compete for prizes or awards (nothing like good old bragging rights) with their test scores and percentages. This will not only motivate individual students but will allow students to motivate and help one another.

For anything to work everyone must be on board.  Try out some of these campus wide initiatives to motivate your students, but even when this is not possible, find small ways to motivate them each day and they will continue to improve.

Toshila Darjean

@5starstudents

Funny Things Kids Say #3: I can’t sleep alone.

4 Nov

Sleeping Baby

Not long ago my youngest son, who is eight years old, came into my bedroom just before his bedtime.

My son:                Mom, I want to sleep with you.

Me:                        Why can’t you sleep in your own bed?

My son:                I don’t like sleeping alone in the dark.

Me:                        You always sleep in there.

My son:                I know and that’s the problem, I have been sleeping in that room my whole life and I’m tired of it!

This was not the first time that my son has asked to sleep in my bed; as a matter of fact he comes into my room and tries to make a case for it about once every six weeks. My son is so adorable, I am almost tempted to allow him, but I resist because I know that it is in his best interest to sleep alone (actually, with his brother in bunk beds). Although there are circumstances when it is okay to allow your child to sleep with you) for nurturing purposes (when they are sick, when there is a particularly dreadful storm, etc.), for the most part, children should sleep in their own room because, not only does it build their independence and confidence, but over the years it helps them to develop a sense that they are safe in their home (there are no monsters under the bed and no werewolves in the closet, no matter what Wes Craven says).

Most of the time, a parent allowing their child to sleep with them, fills an insecurity in the parent more so than it speaks to the inability of the child. We want our children to remain babies forever, we want them to need us because it makes us feel good and we want to keep them close, but remember the job of a parent is prepare the child for a world and a life where you will not always be just a few inches away on the other pillow.

Sleep tight!

Toshila Darjean

@5starstudents

Communication is Key

20 Oct

 

Communication is Key

 

For any relationship to work there must be communication. In education, the relationship that parents have with their child’s teachers and administrators can make or break the connection with the student. Because parents trust schools with their children, 5 days a week, 8 hours a day. It is imperative that schools have an open line of communication with their parents and stakeholders.

Here are five ways to create continuous communication with your parents:

  1. Introduce yourself at the beginning of the year– I know that this can be  long and tedious for teachers at the upper levels, but the first impression is the lasting one. Call or email your parents to enlighten them about what they and their child should expect throughout the year.
  2. Create a Class Website– This will keep your parents in the loop about everything taking place in your class. No parent wants find out on Tuesday that “Math Night” is on Wednesday. The more you keep your parents informed, the more likely they are to participate and communicate.
  3. Make Positive Phone Calls– Parents have become accustomed to receiving phone calls from their child’s school with dread because it seems the call always brings bad news. Make it a point to call and give good and positive news. This will not only boost students’ self-esteem, but the parent will feel a sense of pride in the job they are doing with their children.
  4. Spotlight Nights– Have each department display their students work for parents to come to the school to review. Parents are always amazed at their student’s creativity and accomplishments. This also lets parents know that you want them on your campus to help support the vision of the school.
  5. Remind101– Have all of your parents subscribe to Remind101, to ensure they are receiving day-to-day information on school happenings.

With the parents, teachers, administrators, and students working together, anything is possible.  Keep your parents in the loop and make them feel welcome on your campus, the community spirit will spill over into your halls and success will be inevitable! Parents want to know how their students are doing and what they can do to help, open that line of communication and become a team.

Toshila M. Darjean

@5starstudents

 

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

@5starstudents

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

@5starstudents

https://www.facebook.com/pages/5-Star-Student/615318448499526

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.

@5starstudents