All Posts By

Melissa Nikohl

  • How Teachers Can Stay Healthy This School Year

    How Teachers Can Stay Healthy This School Year

    How Teachers Can Stay Healthy This School Year

    As a teacher, your health has to be a priority. You cannot be the best educator for your students if you’re in poor health. When I think about being healthy, I think of being healthy mentally and physically. There are so many ways to help keep yourself healthy, but these are my top favorites.

    Take at Least Two Mental Health Days Each School Year

    Some teachers take a lot of days off from work, and then there are the ones who are always at work. I am that teacher who rarely takes a day off. When I first started teaching, I thought because we have so many breaks built in our schedule, I didn’t need to take days off. The longer I’ve taught, the more I understand the importance of a mental health day. Your mental health is just as crucial as your physical health. My first year teaching, I only took off for my grandmother’s funeral. I would be at work every day, I was miserable and having breakdowns. At first, taking a day off was a hard thing to do.   The first year I took one and the next year I took three. I now take three days every year. Taking mental health days will keep you mentally and emotionally healthy. If you are drained, there’s no way you’re going to deliver quality instruction. For your own sanity take at least two mental health days each school year

    Take Vitamin C Daily

    Kids are gross. They can’t help it, they just are. They don’t like washing their hands, some refuse to cover their mouth while coughing, others will sneeze without covering their mouths, and you’re sitting at your kidney table watching the germs fly. Vitamin C supplements are life-saving. My preference is AIrborne. If you know me personally you know, I swear by Airborne. It has helped prevent so many colds and if I do get sick, I get better in a flash. When my kiddos start getting sick, I start taking a couple of  Airborne a day. Taking Vitamin C regularly will prevent you from catching that cold that is going around the school.

    Back to School Guide for Teachers

    Disinfect The Classroom Every Two Weeks

    I know some of you are thinking, that’s not my job. Some teachers look at me crazy when I’m in my classroom wiping down desk and doorknobs, but I swear this is what keeps me and my kiddos healthier. Every custodian I know works hard to keep the school clean, but they can’t do everything. And this is where we should step in to help them, ourselves, and our kiddos. Some districts have restrictions on the chemicals we can use so be mindful and do it after school so your room can air out.

    Exercise At Least Three Days a Week

    For some of us, working out is the last thing we want to do when we go home. But, working out is good for your mental and physical health. You don’t have to do CrossFit 5 days a week. Simply walking a few days a week has health benefits too! I enjoy walking, running, and yoga. I don’t want to be an athlete, I just want to be in good enough shape where I can run a few miles without stopping and walk up the three flights of stairs to my apartment without running out of breath.

    Ladies and gents! Our health should be our priority. Mental and physical. Don’t feel bad for taking a few days off, we’ve earned all of them! When more than two of your kiddos are sick, start popping an extra vitamin C, preferably Airborne. If you care about your health and the people close to you, disinfect your classroom regularly. If your kiddos are getting sick, there is a high probability you will too, cleaning commonly touched areas will help a lot. And don’t forget to find a way to move your body at least three days a week. We have to take care of ourselves, our health is all we have. Don’t forget to grab your free Back to School Guide for Teachers. This guide will make sure you’re prepared for the new school year!

  • 3 Ways Teachers Can Prepare For the New School Year

    We love decorating our classrooms and searching on Pinterest for new ideas. But in order to have a successful school year, it's important that we do more! Here are 3 ways teachers should prepare for the new school year.#backtoschool #teachertips

    We love decorating our classrooms and searching on Pinterest for new ideas.  But in order to have a successful school year, it's important that we do more!  Here are 3 ways teachers should prepare for the new school year.#backtoschool #teachertips

     

    I think teachers favorite time of the year is the beginning of the school year. We’re all well rested, motivated, and ready to go! We spend our last summer days hitting Target’s Dollar Spot or rolling down the aisles of Dollar Tree. We spend hours on Pinterest looking for ways to decorate our classrooms. But how many of us stop and reflect on the previous school year? I use to get so caught up in the newness of the school year I didn’t analyze what went well and what needed improvement. Honestly, I would forget what I did and started from scratch each year. If slow down to stop and think about how we can make this school year better, we will have a much more successful school year. Here are three simple ways you can get ready for this school year.

    Think About What Went Well Last School Year And What Did Not

    At the beginning of the school year, I like to stop and think about my strengths and weaknesses. If I did something that worked really well last school year, I make sure I do it again this year. If something didn’t work as well as I thought it should have, I’d see how I can tweak it to make it better or not do it at all. What did you do that helped your kiddos grow? What did you do that didn’t improve their growth. How can you fix a routine to make it more effective? Answer these questions to help you work smarter this school year!

    Pick One Thing to Focus on This School Year

    This school year, I want to increase my parent communication. Last year I started a new district, school, and grade level, so, my focus was just surviving. Now that I have it mostly figured out (lol), I want to make sure my parent communication is top notch. Now it’s your turn, think about something you can improve this school year. If you’re having trouble thinking of something off the top of your head, take a look at your summative evaluation and see where you scored the lowest. Working on your weaknesses will not only make you a stronger teacher, but it will also make you look good to your administration. You’re using their feedback to make improvements, and they will love that!

    After Analyzing the Previous School Year, Let it Go

    After you analyze what went well and what did not go well last year, let it go. Even if it was the best school year you ever had, let it go. It is a brand new year, and you shouldn’t expect to have the same year as you did before. Holding on to the previous year can lead to frustration, especially if your new class isn’t as high as your last class. Or you can begin the school year defeated because you had the lowest test scores in your grade level last year. By not letting go of the previous school year, you could be starting the school year off with negative vibes. Let it all go. This is the one thing I love about teaching. No school year is the same, and you always have an opportunity to start over.

    We spend most of our first weeks back at school decorating, in meetings, anxiously waiting for a class list, but rarely do we spend time getting mentally prepared for the school year. Being reflective about the last school year will help you have an even better school year than the one before. Focusing on one area improvement will help you become an expert! Letting go of the previous school year will help you leave behind useless expectations and bad memories, making space for your new kiddos. This school year will be your best yet. To ensure you have the best school year grab my Free Back to School Guide! This guide has everything you need to make sure you’re ready to start the school year strong. 

    Related Articles:

    HOW TEACHERS CAN STAY HEALTHY THIS SCHOOL YEAR

    BACK TO SCHOOL TIPS FOR VETERAN TEACHERS

     
     
  • 5 Ways Teachers Should Use a Parent Communication App This School Year

    5 Ways Teachers Can Use A Communication App This School Year

     

    5 Ways Teachers Can Use A Communication App This School Year

    Every year I hear teachers complain about the lack of parent involvement. But what are we doing individually to make it better? Complaining about it has gotten us nowhere! One of my favorite ways make parent involvement better is by using a communication app. There are a few out there, but my favorite is Class Dojo. Using a parent communication app is an easy way to get your parents engaged and an easy way to document that you are reaching out to parents. There are many things you can share with your parents when you use an app, here are my favorite things to post.

    Update 9/10/2020: I’m using Seesaw this year and I love it!

    Show What You’re Doing In Class

    As I mentioned, my favorite app is Class Dojo. They have a stories feature that looks similar to Instagram. I usually snap pictures my anchor charts or the words of the week to let parents know what we are working on. One year, I did a multiplication contest and posted weekly who won. If you’re working on a really cool project in class post it! I didn’t know how much my parents like seeing what was going in our class  until I got swamped at work and forgot to post for a few weeks! They began reaching out to me see what was going on in class!

    Give Parents Tips On How to Help at Home

    When I taught third grade, kiddos learning their multiplication facts was a big deal. On the app, I would post reminders to make sure the kiddos practiced their facts and how to help them practice at home. When I gave out new words for the week, I would show the parents different ways that students could practice memorizing their spelling words. Or I would tell parents to make sure students log in to educational websites you use in class. Whatever you do, keep it simple for yourself and the parents.

     

    Speaking with parents about their children can be intimidating. But, we all know that when teachers and parents work together, the students are more successful. This cheat sheet will help you build relationships and increase students' growth. You won't have any issues regularly communicating with parents! Grab your cheat sheet and increase parent engagement this school year!

    Keep Parents Updated On Important Events

    As I mentioned before, we know that somehow notes don’t get home. So, take pictures of important notes like field trip permission letters. Let them know that report cards are going home. Sometimes parents don’t show up to events because they never got the note that went home!  This is a super easy way to keep your parents in the loop!

    Keep Parents Updated With Their Kiddo’s Progress

    Did your kiddo make a 60% on last week’s spelling test, but made 80% on this weeks? Snap a picture and send it to their parents with a private message. Just like those notes, student work that we grade gets lost between school and home. Taking a quick pic will keep parents in the loop.

    If you reached out to a parent yesterday about a problem you were having with their kiddo, let the parent know the next day that their kiddo’s day was better. Make sure you balance out good and bad days for students who have trouble behaving. One way to get parents not to use the app is if you are always talking to them about negative things. Make sure you keep it balanced.

    Take Pictures of Important Events

    A lot of parents can’t make award ceremonies, make them feel like they were there by taking pictures. For all my kiddos whose parents can’t make the ceremony, I take a picture of them with their award. The parents who are stuck at work because they couldn’t afford to take off will so appreciate this from you! I know if I were a parent I would like to see pictures of my kiddo’s accomplishments. Check with your district’s and school’s policy about taking pictures of students first. 

    If you aren’t using a communication app to reach out to your parents, what are you doing?  Pick an app and start using it consistently.  These apps make it super easy to contact parents and get parents involved. If you need more ideas about what to share on the app, download the Free Parent Communication App Cheat Sheet. The Cheat Sheet gives you over 20 ideas on what to post. Grab it now!

     
     

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  • 3 Reasons Why Teachers Should Use a Parent Communication App This School Year

    3 Reasons Why Teachers Should Use A Parent Communication App

    Teachers, do you use a communication app for your parent communication? Do you want more parent involvement? Find out how apps like; Class Dojo, Remind, SeeSaw, and Class Tag can improve your parent involvement! #parentinvolvement #Parentcommunicationapp #parentcommunication #classdojo #seesaw #remind #classtag

    Years ago I made the mistake of giving one of my parents my phone number. It was going well at first, I was able to talk to the parent when their kiddo was having issues or let them know when they were having a great day. It all went wrong when I got a call on the weekend from the parent who wanted to talk about their kiddo’s progress. I didn’t answer. I thought we had an unspoken rule that they wouldn’t use my number on my days off. Unfortunately, I did not learn my lesson. I gave it out again the next year and got another call on the weekend. After that, I changed my number and vowed to never give it out to parent again. I did some research and found out about communication apps just for teachers, and I have been hooked ever since.

    I know there many teachers who only want to communicate with parents from a school phone or email, but in my opinion, it is an ineffective and impersonal way to communicate and build relationships with your parents. Here are three reasons why you should use a communication app this school year.

    Quick & Convenient Parent Contact

    One thing I love about using an app is that I can reach out to parents quickly. I can literally send a text while my students are getting in their centers. No longer do I have to stop class to make a phone call about Little Johnny’s behavior. I don’t have to worry about calling a parent only to find out their voicemail is full. I just send a text, and they get my message.

    An Easy Way to Document Parent Communication

    Some of us work at schools that require us to prove we communicate with our parents. The communication apps that I have used (Remind and Class Dojo) both allow you to login using the computer. When you log in you can print off whatever you need.

    Then there are some of us that have difficult parents, and using the app can prevent any he said she said conversations. Everything is in black and white. Both Remind and Class Dojo have a feature that shows when parents view your message. This feature has gotten me out of the hot seat when parents complain to the principal that I haven’t told them about something that happened at school. These apps have been a lifesaver, especially when dealing with difficult parents.

    Speaking with parents about their children can be intimidating. But, we all know that when teachers and parents work together, the students are more successful. This cheat sheet will help you build relationships and increase students' growth. You won't have any issues regularly communicating with parents! Grab your cheat sheet and increase parent engagement this school year!

     

    Increased Parent Involvement

    If you work in a low-income area, you hear teachers complaining all the time about the lack of parent involvement. When I first started teaching, I thought that the parents didn’t care. I was so wrong. What I have found out over the years is that many parents want to be more involved but, they may not have time or know what to do.

    A communication app is an easy way to keep parents in the loop of what their kiddos are doing while they are at work. You can let them know what standards you are covering in class. Snap a pic of an anchor chart or a class project and boom! They feel like they’re in the know.

    We’ve all heard about the studies and research that indicates that the more that parents are involved in their education, the better they perform. If you communicate regularly about what you are teaching in class, some parents will make sure they are working on it at home. If you make it easy for your parents to know how they can help at home, they will. If your students are working on school stuff at home, of course, they will do better in school.

    Many of you know the benefits of using an app like Class Dojo or Remind, so you know it is life changing! Parent communication is something I think most teachers dread. Using an app makes it an easy and convenient way to talk to your parents regularly. Download one now and get started! If you already use an app let me know which one you use and what you love about it! I’m all about trying something new! Don’t forget to grab your copy of the Free Parent Communication App Cheat Sheet. Once you start using the Cheat Sheet, you’ll never run out of things to share with your parents!

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