Tag Archives: education

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

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

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

 

Teacher Tips for Back to School 2013

20 Aug

 

Back to School Pic

 

With the first day of school fast approaching we educators are extremely busy trying to prepare for the New Year, organizing our classrooms, attending meetings and churning out engaging lessons. Our students are anxious for knowledge and we don’t want to let them down. Not only do I plan to start the New Year right, but I also plan to keep the momentum going throughout the year with the following proven techniques.

1.  Education is not just for children– It is imperative as educators that we become life-long learners. Every year new initiatives are promoted in an enthusiastic attempt to reach our students, especially in the area of technology. Attend as many staff developments as possible to keep up with the latest educational trends and subscribe to social media that allows you access to constant information.

2. Try different things– Think about all of the things that have consistently worked for you and refine them if need be, but, also think of one thing or way of doing something that did not work so well for you last year and come up with a specific plan to change that process and try something new. Many times we keep the same processes despite the fact that they may not work most efficiently for us because they’re comfortable. Good is not always comfortable, just think of a pair of cute, new shoes!

3.  Preparation, preparation, preparation– Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare. Lay out a game plan, regularly, so that you will be prepared when your students walk through the door on the first day and every day after. Preparation will help to ensure a smooth, fun and educational year.

4.  Take care of yourself- Build your decompression activity into your daily schedule. Whatever it is that relaxes you, whether it’s yoga, running, baking, cleaning, (I wish I had this problem) etc find time to do it regularly. Your students take their cues from you and whatever attitude you bring into the classroom will be reflected by your students so make sure that it is a good and healthy one.

These are just some of the techniques that I use throughout the year to keep me on track. What activities, routines and techniques keep you on track?

Toshila Darjean

@5StarStudents