Tag Archives: teaching

How to survive and thrive your first year teaching!

Guest Q and A with a kindergarten teacher.

Erica, is now half way through teaching her second year in kindergarten.

I reached out to her to get some advice about how she survived and thrived during her first year teaching kindergarten. Here is some of her great advice:

Where and what grade do you teach?

I teach kindergarten in The Grants Pass School District.

One of Erica’s students creating chalk art

What was your favorite thing about your first year teaching?

My favorite thing about my first year teaching was building such strong relationships with my coworkers. When you are student teaching you build relationships at your school but the most important relationships are still related to your college. During your first year it’s really important to create strong relationships with the people around you because they will help you with understanding the curriculum, helping specific students, and making sure you get the supports you need to be successful and thrive.

What was the most challenging thing about teaching your first year?

The most challenging thing about teaching my first year was accepting that I can’t help every single student but instead I can only give them the tools to be successful. It was painful to let some of my kiddos who didn’t reach all the grade level standards or who didn’t get the proper supports in kindergarten go to first grade. Accepting that I can’t fix but instead can only support has made my second year emotionally easier.

What surprised you the most about your first year teaching?

What surprised me the most about my first year teaching was how much poverty/ trauma  there is in Southern Oregon. For some of these kids, we are ALL they have. Some of my students have gone through life events that I could not even imagine going through as an adult and all we can do is give them a hug and make sure school is full of love and support.

What is your advice for handling challenges communicating with parents?

I think the best thing you can do is rely on your teaching team and principal when it comes to challenges with parents. If you have a parent who is being unkind, I would advise telling your principal and asking for advice. Always ask for advice when you don’t know how to handle a situation. 

How have you navigated work/life balance?

This is one of the biggest challenges that every teacher faces. You always have a long list of things to finish and it never seems to end. Remember you are allowed to say no! I made a promise to myself that unless there are special circumstances I will not stay past 4 PM and I do not go to work on the weekends. I work through my lunches and prep during every prep period so I can leave on time. Its worth it for me! I am a planner so Sunday nights I pre-plan dinners with friends during the week to make sure I still socialize. It’s easy to make school your life but balance is so important. I always plan a special event for the weekends as well so I have something fun to look forward to(this can be as simple as a Saturday morning hike)!

What are some ways you have taken care of yourself this first year?

Self care is so important! Some things I do include going to the gym after work, taking my dog to the dog park, meal prepping on Sunday’s so I have healthy food for the week, leaving work by 4pm, going to bed at a decent hour so I have energy for the next work day, and talking about how I feel with friends, family, and/ or coworkers. Remember that you can’t be your best self for your students if you aren’t taking care of yourself.

As a student teacher, what are the best ways you can prepare while in your teacher preparation program?

While in your teacher prep. program take advantage of the opportunity to learn about different teaching styles and classroom management systems. You will develop your own teaching style/ management system but it’s wonderful when you have ideas to build off of.

What advice do you have for job seeking when the time comes?

My advice for job seeking is to apply to as many districts as you can via the online portals. There are so many amazing job opportunities in the Rogue Valley, and outside of the Valley, and you will find the best fit for you. Don’t give up! Job interviews are very stressful but when you find the right school you will know!
When it comes to interviews you need to be yourself. You will be asked questions about concepts that you learned in your prep program but that’s only about 30% of the interview. The other 70% is if you would fit into their school culture. Be honest about who you are and what you believe!  

THANK YOU Erica for taking the time to share your insights and wisdom with us!

We are so proud of you and know you are making a huge difference every day when you show up for your students!

Changes In The DSM-V For Autism

What is the DSM-V? The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (fifth edition) which was just revised in 2013 and written by the American Psychiatric Association. The diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has been modified based on the research literature and clinical experience in the 19 years since the DSM-IV was published in 1994. It is important for teachers to know this because the DSM-5 is used in part, to determine ASD diagnosis and eligibility.

Here is a quote from the DSM-5 to further describe what the DSM-5 is:

“The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is a classification of mental disorders with associated criteria designed to facilitate more reliable diagnoses of these disorders….

DSM is intended to serve as a practical, functional, and flexible guide for organizing information that can aid in the accurate diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. It is a tool for clinicians, an essential educational resource for students and practitioners, and a reference for researchers in the field.”

A full pdf link can be found here DSM-5.

Here are the major changes from DSM 4 to DSM 5 in the area of autism:

  • The APA has gotten rid of the sub-categories Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), Rett’s Syndrome and Childhood disintegrative disorder and replaced it with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
  • Another huge difference is that Asperger’s Syndrome has been removed from the DSM-5. It has been replaced with the term ASD level 1 without language or intellectual impairment. Most professionals are still referring to Asperger’s Syndrome in describing the disability because the term is widely used and understood in the general public.
  • The new diagnostic criteria for ASD have been rearranged into two areas: 1) social communication/interaction, and 2) restricted and repetitive behaviors. The diagnosis will be based on symptoms, currently or by history, in these two areas.

  • DSM-5 has also added a category under restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interest or activities called hyper or hypo-reactivity to sensory input or unusual interest in sensory aspects of the environment.

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Symptoms must be present in early childhood but may not become fully manifest until social demands exceed capacities. Symptoms need to be functionally impairing and not better described by another DSM-5 diagnosis.

Symptom severity for each of the two areas of diagnostic criteria is now defined. It is based on the level of support required for those symptoms and reflects the impact of co-occurring specifier such as intellectual disabilities, language impairment, medical diagnoses and other behavioral health diagnoses.

The DSM-5 includes a new diagnostic category of Social Communication Disorder that describes children with social difficulty and pragmatic language differences that impact comprehension, production and awareness in conversation that is not caused by delayed cognition or other language delays. This diagnosis looks a lot like Asperger’s Syndrome to most professionals.

Hopefully this brief overview of the changes was helpful for teachers and parents who are on the diagnois journey.

5 Ways To Support Students With Autism During Transitions

Transitions are when a student moves from one activity to another in the classroom. Going from small group work time to large group work, lining up for lunch, going home and going to P.E. are all examples of transitions. 

Transitions are commonly a time when children who experience autism struggle. Wait time, uncertainty, and needing to go from preferred to non-preferred activities all contribute to this breakdown. Staying one step ahead of the curve and supporting the student with autism will help the school day go smoothly. Here are some tips for creating success with transitions during the school day.

Give ample warning for transitions: Use a visual timer and gently alert the child verbally about the upcoming transition. Why I love My Time Timer for Visual Support

Time Timer

Time Timer for visual support

Minimize wait time during transitions Hurry up and wait should not be the motto for your transitions. Waiting in line for example can exacerbate anxiety, frustration and uncertainty for students with autism. Continue reading

The Importance Of Classroom Jobs-Community Building

I wanted to share some examples of classroom job charts I have seen out in the field. If you have a great job chart, take a picture and post in the comments. Having examples will help you for when you set up your classroom in the fall. Take pictures of everything now so you will the examples later 5 Things To-Do Before Student Teaching Is Done

Room 51 staff

This is a 6th grade classroom job board which include the following jobs: Lunch Manager, Custodial, Desk Doctor, Pet Patrol, Materials Manager, Teacher Assistant and Secretary.

What are the benefits of having classroom jobs?

  • Provides structure for students who benefit from knowing what their role is in class
  • Creates a sense of community where all learners are committed to the good of the classroom
  • Encourages students to give back and become helpers

    Job Chart 2nd grade

    This job chart is from a second grade classroom. Jobs include paper passer, line leader, door holder, flag salute, lunch tub monitor, chair monitor, librarian

 

How many jobs should a classroom have?

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1000 Books Before Kindergarten

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I learned about this prchool reading program called 1000 Books Before Kindergarten from a friend who lived in another state. Her library had a program in place to track and provide incentives for children to read 1000 books before entering Kindergarten. Our local library had not yet started a program so my son (who was an infant at the time) and I logged the books we read with the phone app. The phone app. can be downloaded and used on your smart phone. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/1000-books-before-kindergarten/id779280401.

Program Mission for 1000 Books Before Kindergarten 

The 1000 Books Foundation is operated exclusively for charitable, literary, and educational purposes.

The objectives of this organization are:

  • to promote reading to newborns, infants, and toddlers
  • to encourage parent and child bonding through reading

Certificate:  After each milestone, 100, 200, 300 etc. books read, I printed from the website a certificate showing how many books had been read. The website provides certificates that can be printed out if you want to follow along at home. Click the link here to find the printable certificates https://1000booksbeforekindergarten.org/1000-books-before-kindergarten-program/

This program is perfect for homeschooled preschoolers, as a summer reading incentive program and preschools can adopt this program as well!

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Certificate

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5 Ways to Avoid Teacher Burnout

As teachers, we may start the school year full of enthusiasm, excitement and a positive outlook, but as the year goes on, we may start to feel teacher burnout. Over years of teaching this burnout may intensify and become obvious to colleagues, parents and your students.  Here are some signs of burnout and a 5 ways to avoid teacher burnout.

 Signs of teacher burnout:

  • Feeling hopeless and overwhelmed by the paperwork and workload of teaching
  • Feeling as if nothing you do will help your students
  • Not wanting to go to work
  • Withdrawing from your work colleagues
  • Catching yourself always speaking negatively about your colleagues or students
  • Mental, physical or emotional exhaustion that persists over time

Five ways to avoid teacher burnout
1.) Send out an SOS

Reach out to your support network. Tap in to the supports you have in your life including friends, family and trusted colleagues. If your mental health is suffering, set up a time to talk to a mental health counselor. If you teach at a public school, the school counselor may be able to give you a referral for a professional to talk to.

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Create A Student Teacher Resume That Stands Out

pexels-photo-590016.jpegBeginning teachers may not have as much teaching work experience to put on their resume but job recruiters often like the enthusiasm and eagerness of a pre-service teacher. Here are a few tips to enhance your teacher resume. Have a few people look it over and stay open to their feedback.

  • Keep the resume one page in length if possible.
  • Unique resume templates can be found on google docs and teachers pay teachers.  Many of these templates are free.

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