• The Only 3 Things New Teachers Need to Know

    Being a new teacher can be hard. All veteran teachers have been there! You'll find tons of tips for new teachers and some are good and some are unnecessary! As a new teacher you'll get tons of advice but there are only a few things you need to know before accepting a position! Are you a new teacher? Find out what you need to know now!! #newteachers #newteachertips #newteacheradvice

    Being a new teacher can be hard. All veteran teachers have been there! You'll find tons of tips for new teachers and some are good and some are unnecessary! As a new teacher you'll get tons of advice but there are only a few things you need to know before accepting a position! Are you a new teacher? Find out what you need to know now!! #newteachers #newteachertips #newteacheradvice

    As a new teacher, you’re going to get tons of advice. It will be hard to figure out what you should listen to and what you shouldn’t. In this post, I’m keeping it super simple, and sharing three easy tips that will help you survive your first year or two. Let’s get straight to it. 

    Don’t Take Work Home…Regularly

    It is tempting. I think most of us more experienced teachers have done it. Taking work home is something I would have done less of when I first started teaching. I was that teacher that took a bag full of work home. Papers to grade, lesson plans to create, and paperwork to complete. I’ve done it all!

    I felt so accomplished, and I felt like I was on top of it!. But, by November, I was exhausted. By March, I was utterly drained and didn’t know if teaching was for me. It was because I was always working. Even on the weekends, you could find me in my room getting stuff done. I’m not saying don’t do it, do it in moderation. Teaching can be crazy, so there will be times when you have to take work home, just don’t make it a habit. 

    Go Into Work Early Or Stay Late, Don’t Do Both

    Going into work early or staying after school, will help prevent you from taking work home. I am a morning person so; you can find me in my classroom bright and early. By the end of the day, I’m exhausted and ready to go home.

    If you’re not sure what works best for you, try them both out! Then, decide during which time do you get the most work done. Some of you may know that you’re not a morning person, so staying late might be your thing. 

    Remember, don’t do both!

    Back to School Guide for Teachers

    Be Patient

    You’re not going to be great at a lot of things your first year. Don’t compare yourself to the other new teacher down the hall or the veteran teacher next door. If you walk in the door having it all together, how can you possibly grow?

    The first couple of years will be hard. There’s no getting around it. You won’t know what you’re doing until year 4 or 5. Teaching is hard work. Some people enter it thinking that got it and soon realize that they don’t. It’s okay because, to become an excellent teacher, you have to make mistakes.

    Set goals and work on one thing at a time. By taking your time and learning things one by one you’ll retain information better and be more successful.

    I recommend you pick something that you’re interested in and learn everything you can about it so that you can become the campus expert. For example, at one point, I was really into technology integration. I attended a Google Education event, attended multiple technology training’s, became a Google Educator, and found different ways to implement technology in my classroom. Over time I became the go-to tech person on my campus. Once I found what I was really good at, it helped build my confidence, and made it easier to learn new things.

    Being a new teacher is going to be challenging. Just remember that your work is never done and you need to make sure you are making time for yourself. You will make plenty of mistakes, and you won’t be a rock-star teacher after your first year. You will be much better than you started if you’re patient and willing to learn from your mistakes. Don’t worry about being an expert. Each year you’ll grow and become a stronger educator. Be even more prepared for the new school year and grab my Free Back to School Guide. Remember, you’ve got this!

     

  • 4 Reasons Why All Elementary Reading Teachers Should Use Raz-Kids

    Are you using Raz-Kids in your classroom? Did you know it is an easy way to differentiate your reading block? Learn why all elementary teachers should use Raz-Kids in their classrooms today! #razkids #differentiation #differentiatedcenters #teachertips #teacherresources

    What if I told you there was an easy way to do running records every two weeks? What if I told you there’s a tool that can help you document student progress? Are you looking for a simple way to differentiate your centers? Do you want to make sure your students are reading books at home that will help them grow?

    Guys, there is one resource that does it all. Raz-Kids. We have all used those printable books from Reading A-Z, but have you tried their digital product? I first found out about Raz-Kids from another teacher, and once I activated my free trial, I was hooked. Then I was shocked that more teachers weren’t using it. My district did not have the program, so I bought it. Currently, you can purchase it for $110. I know it sounds pricey, but tally up how much stuff you buy from TPT every year that you only use once? Think about the pizza, snacks, and rewards you purchase? We can easily spend $110. Buying a Raz-Kids license was hands down the best purchase I made the whole school year. I used it every day, the entire school year, and my students loved it!!! Luckily my new district has a license for Raz-Kids, but if they ever decide to get rid of it, I definitely will purchase it on my own. It is seriously that good. Check out the reasons why you should start using Raz-Kids now!

    It is an Easy Way to Do Running Records

    Raise your hand if you enjoy doing running records? I imagine nobody raised their hands. Who has time to stop small group or guided reading to test students? I know I don’t. A lot of us know when our students are making progress and know when it is time to move them up levels, but a lot of schools want documentation. 

    With Raz-Kids, all you have to do is assign them a running record, and the kiddos can complete it on their own. Each student has an account, and when they sign in, their running record is waiting for them. Once the kiddo clicks to complete the assessment, it starts recording. The student reads the passage out loud while it records what they say. Once the kiddo is done, it will ask them to summarize the story while it records their response. Lastly, they’ll answer a few questions that will check their comprehension of the story. Once the student hits done, their work gets sent to you. 

    Now you have their running record! You can check it when you have time. I listen to their running records during my conference time. They have an app you can download on your phone, so you can grade their running record anywhere.

    It is an Easy Way to Document Student Progress

    Not only does Raz-Kids have running records, but it also has digital books. When you first use the website, you will assign your students their reading level and books. Each leveled book has comprehension questions that the students will complete after reading. When they submit their quiz, the results get sent to you, and it breaks down the questions by concepts.

    Maybe Karen got all the inference questions wrong but, missed main idea. So, you can see how they’re doing and what they need more practice on. The program will flag students and let you know if they’ve missed a lot of a concept so that you know they need more practice.

    I like this feature because it’s another for me to see if a student is getting better on specific skills. The results of the quizzes and running records can all be printed off to document student progress.

    It is An Easy Way to Differentiate Instruction

    We are continuously told that we need to make sure we are differentiating instruction and centers. Raz-Kids makes differentiation a breeze. Since each kiddo is assigned their own reading level, they are getting books just for them. Depending on their reading level, the website gives them different tasks.

    Students who are reading at a kindergarten to 4th-grade reading level will have three things they do with their book. They have to read their books twice. During the first read, the program reads the book to the kids. The second read the student does alone, and lastly, the kiddos complete the comprehension quiz. The students who are reading at a higher level don’t get their books read to them. They read their book independently and complete the quiz. Also, their books are significantly longer.

    It is an Easy Way to Grow Students

    Since Raz-Kids makes it easy to give each student what they need, they will grow! Especially your struggling students. Parents of my struggling kiddos always ask me what can they do at home, and I tell them to log in to Raz-Kids. If they log on at home, they are getting more differentiated practice. My students that use Raz-Kids at home grow much faster than those that don’t. 

    A few years ago, I had a third grader who was reading at a first-grade level. They used Raz-Kids at home, and by the end of the year, she was reading on a third-grade reading level. If you use Raz-Kids consistently, your students will grow! The students who are on level or higher get an opportunity to get pushed further too.

    As a reading teacher, this is hands down my favorite supplemental resource to use. You can meet the needs of all of your students by just using this website. Hopefully, your district or school has a license for Raz-Kids. If they don’t, I promise it is worth the purchase. This has made my teaching life so much easier, I don’t have to stop instruction to do running records anymore. My kids are engaged and are getting exactly what they need to help them grow. Most of all, I can still make sure they are getting differentiated instruction when they go home. Has anyone else fallen in love with this website? Let me know in the comments below

  • How to Grow Students in a Low Performing School

    Student growth is possible with all students. Even at campuses that are struggling. Find out how to help students grow at a school that isn't doing so well. Remember, all students can learn. #studentgrowth #differentiation

    Student growth is possible with all students. Even at campuses that are struggling. Find out how to help students grow at a school that isn't doing so well.  Remember, all students can learn.   #studentgrowth #differentiation

    All students deserve a quality education. If you work at a low performing school, then you know how hard it is to get your kids where they need to be. Low performing schools are under more pressure than any other schools. A lot of time, they expect you to work a miracle without the resources you need. To turn a low performing school to a high performing school, you have to focus on other things besides test scores. We know that we are held accountable for our students through test scores, but to get the scores you want you have to focus on some key things first. Although it is a challenge, it is possible. Here’s how.

    Build Relationships First

    I know you’ve heard this a million times before, but it is true, you have to gain your students’ trust and respect before they will work hard for you. They’ll give you more effort if they know you care about them. Children are the most intuitive humans walking around Earth, so they can tell if you really care about them. I suggest you use some of your instructional time to get to know your students.

    In the mornings we do something called Good Things. During Good Things, we go around the room and share something good. The only rule is it has to be something good! At first, it is a struggle to get them to share something personal. But, after a few weeks, they’ll tell you and the class all about their soccer game, the book they’re reading, or what they did over the weekend. My kiddos love Good Things! I mean, who doesn’t like talking about themselves? My shier students usually pass during Good Things, but when I talk to them during small group, they open right up.

    Just don’t build relationships with your students or kiddos in your grade level, get to know students across the campus. Doing this will make it easier to bond with those kiddos if they ever become your students! This is something I do, especially with the grade level directly below me. Trust me, this works! Build relationships now!

    Meet Them Where They Are

    In a dream world, all of your students would be on grade level. But, the reality is you have kids on various levels and many of them are not where they should be. It is what it is. 

    Instead of using your energy to complain, develop a plan to grow your kiddos. I think sometimes we can focus so much on where they should be, we don’t focus on where they are. If you meet them where they are, they will grow much faster than if you try to make them get ahead without the background knowledge they need. Focus on making small gains because small gains will lead to tremendous growth. Student growth is what turns schools around. 

    Set Goals

    When you meet them where they are, you can then set goals to get them where they should be. Goal setting is so important. This gives the kiddos an idea of how hard they need to work during the year. In my experience, when students know their goals they put more effort in class.

    For goal setting to work, we can’t just talk about their goals at the beginning, middle, and end of the year. We have to discuss them regularly for them to be more meaningful. That is something I’m definitely working on this school year.

    Have High Standards

    Just because several of your students are at a first-grade reading level in third grade, does not mean you can just give them packets. Hold all of your kiddos accountable. Your lowest students have the most potential to grow if you give them what they need. They should be the students making the most gains. If you don’t push them, they won’t reach their potential.

    Encourage Them

    Every year I have students that don’t meet their goals. Or always bomb district tests. No matter what I still encourage them.If they got a 50% on one test but a 63% on next one, that is a win! Celebrate their gains!

     I like to give my kiddos notes throughout the school year to encourage them. Your students that struggle the most are the ones that need the most motivation.They know they’re behind and they need people around them who will encourage them to keep going.  Find a way to let your kiddos know that you believe in them.

    Your students can and will grow. You just have to be persistent and consistent in your efforts. On the day that you think what you’re doing is pointless is the day that one kiddo is going to get it and motivate you to do more. You have to believe in yourself and your students if you want them to grow to their fullest potential.