Today's post comes from Nicole, our content editor and the author of Lovin' from the Oven. You can read more about her on our About page.
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Today, I’d like to tell you about an invaluable tool called the Great Behavior Chain. When I was in my first year of graduate school, I took a class on student motivation and we heavily studied resources from Terry Alderman and his program “D.A.T.A: Discipline, A Total Approach.” One of his group behavior contingency strategies was the Great Behavior Chain. It works something like this:
In addition to using this strategy as a whole-class reward contingency, I also used individual chains with student table groups for behaviors like keeping their team supplies organized, lining up quickly and quietly, and being the first group to have their materials out and ready for a lesson. Students loved the competitive aspect of trying to outdo another table team, and they enjoyed the rewards each time their table group reached their goal (either a class reward coupon or a treat from our treasure box, such as a pencil, sticker, or eraser).
How can you use the Great Behavior Chain strategy in your classroom? We’d love to hear what behaviors you’re working on with your students! Share with us in the comments below, or hop on over and share on our Facebook page!
Today's post comes from Nicole, our content editor and the author of Lovin' from the Oven. You can read more about her on our About page.
Are you spending more time than you should be on one particular task in a day? Check your processes for grading papers, collecting student work, even lesson planning. Is there something you can do to streamline any of these processes to make the burden less heavy for you? Check with colleagues to see how they do things.
Make sure the students are working harder than you.
This is an age-old teaching adage, but must be recognized. You should never be working harder than your students in your own classroom.
Cut ties with negative energy.
The colleague who is always complaining in the faculty lounge? Take a break from them or politely ask them to cool it with the negative comments.
Don't take on extra responsibilities if you can't currently manage them. Schools take a village and you are not the only villager. Contribute where you can and don't feel guilty when you cannot. This is true for working outside of school as well. If you get more work done at school, set a schedule where you stay later certain days to finish your tasks. You will be happier at home knowing the work is done.
Self-care, self-care, self-care.
We're so dedicated to self-care that we write about it every Sunday. Self-care is a crucial part of your recovery. You must decide what that means to you and make the time for it.
Focus on what needs to be done today.
Sometimes the big picture can be overwhelming, especially when you are feeling exhausted. Focus on what needs to be done today. Setting small goals and completing them can be incredibly motivating and will help you chisel away at the larger goal.
Find an outlet.
Reading, writing, Zumba? What do you find joy in? Do more of that.
Make friends with new teachers
New teachers tend to come with incredible energy. I personally love to listen to new teachers discuss what's going on in their classrooms. It energizes me and reminds me why I love the profession.
Don’t cause yourself unnecessary stress.
Let go of the guilt. Feeling guilty can lead to an increase in stress which will just make the burnout worse. Do what you can do, let go of what you can't.
Make a Feel-Good File.
My Feel-Good File gets me through my tough days. There is something about seeing old photos and letters that feels completely re-energizing on days when I just don't know why I'm teaching. (We all have those days.) Looking through files that make you happy and proud can truly help combat those helpless feelings.
If you're experiencing burnout, remember that you aren't alone. It is well documented that many teachers go through this. Self-care and support are crucial. You will get through it!
Teachers - how do you beat burnout? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Motivation Monday: What Happens When We Lose Our Motivation? One Teacher's Journey of Rediscovering the Passion of Teaching
I began my teaching career in North Philadelphia. The area I taught in is known colloquially as “The Badlands” and not without reason. I worked for an alternative program that services students for whom “the public system did not work” – at least, that’s what the brochure said. My school was firmly nestled inside a line of row homes; open-air drug deals, stray cats, and bachata blasting from car stereos were commonplace. When I tell people this, their reply is usually something like, “You must have worked with some really rough kids,” and that’s true. I also worked with some really sweet kids, some really smart kids, and some kids who completely changed the way I look at life.
The one word that always comes to mind when I describe my time teaching in this environment is intense. Everything was intense. When a student lashed out for receiving a bad grade, it was intense. When there was a shootout in the parking lot, it was intense. When a teacher had to call out sick, it was intense, mostly because everyone else had to cover for them – there were no substitutes. When we ran out of paper in the beginning of October, it was intense. When a teacher quit after three days yet again, when my first period class reeked of marijuana, when I tried to physically stop a fight – it was intense. When I attended my first student funeral, it was intense... and so was every one thereafter.
The intense feelings weren’t all negative, though. Sometimes, when a student laughed – really, truly laughed from the bottom of their belly – it was intense. When a student came back from an extended absence and wanted nothing more than to run in my room and hug me, it was intense. When a young couple beamed with excitement as they announced they were expecting, it was intense. When a student decided that you were worthy and they were going to accept you into their world, it was intense.
Everything about teaching in a high-stress environment is intense and very, very few teaching environments are anything but. My stressors may have included things that not every teacher is subjected to, but as I have come to realize, all educators experience stress on different levels and for different reasons. The reasons do not diminish the stress. Schools are a reflection of the communities they serve. No community is without their fair share of struggles.
Teaching is inherently human. Our job is to connect with other people on a level that will inspire them to grow. When things become so overwhelming that we lose our connection to that humanity, burnout is inevitable. Sometimes it is hard enough to connect with yourself. Add to that the expectation to motivate and inspire others on a daily basis and it becomes unbearable. That feeling — that lonely ache — is what inspired me to tell this story.
If you are an educator and you have been struggling with that feeling, know that you are not alone. So many of us, at so many different stages of our careers, and for so many reasons, have experienced burnout. I was lucky. I knew when it was time for me to move on from my first teaching job and find a new place to develop. I had the unwavering support of family and friends who helped me to recognize what I needed to do and helped me get there. I was also lucky enough to find a new environment that allowed me to grapple with these feelings and eventually find my way back to my passion for teaching. Know that if I can do it, you can, too.
Next week, I will outline ten things that helped me recover from burnout and led me back to my love of teaching. If you are an educator struggling with burnout, I hope that they will help you, too.
Teachers — have you experienced burnout? How did you cope? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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The Windy City Teacher teaches 8th grade ELA on Chicago's west side. He is also a Google Certified Educator, Level I and Level II. You can read more of his blurbs on teaching on his blog, where this post was originally published.
Congratulations on graduating, you teacher/ educator! Wrapping up your student teaching and walking across that stage is a validation of four long years of work. Now all that’s left is to find your first teaching job. Here are 10 things to remember along the way.
1. You will not have a job in May. Breathe.
Especially if you’re not certified in math, science, or special education, do not expect to have a job in May. This can be an incredibly scary and daunting position to be headed toward, but it is also completely normal. Many schools do not even start thinking about the next school year until late June/ early July. This isn’t to say you should not start your search until then, but don’t panic until August 1st.
Perhaps you’re a self-driven “go-getter” who just knows in your heart you’re going to be one of the few with a job. That’s great — be determined, but know that the system you’re headed toward does not always reward go-getters, and you’ll often feel like you’re speeding up to a red light. The people who are graduating with a job are either student teaching at a school that has an opening, their cooperating teacher is head of the department, or they return to a school they themselves attended. There is nothing wrong with using connections, but if you’re not in the one of the above three categories, it is a tough process to get your foot in the door. Thousands of teachers just like you go through this process every year. Breathe, and you will be fine.
Julie Petersen is a tutor, writer and blogger who features the latest career and educational trends in her articles. At present time, she is running her essay writing blog AskPetersen.com and working on her first ebook dedicated to online learning. You may see Julie’s latest publications and contact her via Linkedin.
#1: Make it a Group Project
If you want to get your students more engaged in the writing process, have them break into groups to collaborate on the writing project The group members can analyze each other’s work, learn from one another, or even grade each other’s papers. This can unleash your students’ creativity a bit more than if they were working individually.
#2: Don’t Read Their Papers
By not reading your students’ work, you’re opening yourself to the possibility that your students will not do the project. However, you’ll also have students who take the assignment more seriously than they otherwise would have. While it’s not a good idea to take grading off the table entirely, this might be a good option to introduce periodically.
#3: Introduce Variety into your Classroom
Students might get bored reading classic novels and poetry all the time. To mix it up, introduce other mediums into your classroom. You can have your students read contemporary novels, screenplays, modern poetry, stage plays, short stories, etc. Find out what your students want to read, and then focus your writing projects on those pieces.
#4: Allow Publication
Some students might be motivated if you have a classroom or school publication. You could create a quarterly or monthly compilation of your students’ work and send it to the parents and teachers, or you could post the work in the halls or an online forum.
#5: Advise Students to Use Online Tools
There are so many great online resources for students. If they’re not using any of them, your students are missing out. Some great websites where they can find useful information are:
#6: Make Your Classroom PG-13
Older students are used to living in a PG-13 world. They aren’t going to faint if they read a swear word or see a mildly romantic scene in a novel. By introducing more PG-13 material into the classroom (as long as you have older students), you will be able to spark more interest. They might actually want to write about the material.
#7: Host A Slam Poetry Night
Slam poetry is fun, interactive, and gives a voice to students who have an important message they want to share. If you have students who are interested in poetry, you might consider hosting a slam poetry night.
#8: Encourage Outside Reading
One of the best ways to get students excited about writing is to get them excited about reading. The two naturally go together. So, encourage your students to spend their free time reading. Let them know that they can read whatever they want in their free time.
#9: Let Little Mistakes Go
If you correct every little tiny detail, students will get discouraged and stop wanting to write. It’s fine to let the typos go if you’re trying to teach structure. On the other hand, if you’re teaching grammar, then let the structure go.
#10: Allow Illustrations
Some students might be more motivated to write (especially creative writing), if they can also create illustrations. Also, illustrations might spark their creativity in other ways.
Getting your students excited about writing might seem like a nearly impossible feat, but it really can be done! Plenty of students want to learn to be better writers. They want to create and express themselves. They just need a good place to start. These ideas will help you provide that starting point.
Today's guest post is brought to you by Amber Cichy, a 6th grade English Language Arts teacher in her third year of teaching.
Because I am also working towards my Master’s degree, I decided to use this concept as the basis for my action research project and investigate the impact of implementing growth mindset concepts on student attitude about achievement. That meant that I couldn’t begin to teach about growth mindsets until second semester despite all of the interesting activities that I found boasting about how great they would be to use to start the year. Reluctantly, I waited until second semester to begin teaching my sixth graders about mindsets, however, I am finding that the activities are much more useful as the end of the year approaches! Below is my journey with implementing mindsets into my sixth grade language arts classroom.
Today, we present the experiences of three teacher experts who have incorporated gamification in their classrooms. They bring a variety of experience to our discussion, and we're excited to introduce them to you!
Meet Our Experts
Anne is a 7/8 teacher in an elementary school in Ontario, Canada. She first learned about gamification in one of her university classes toward her Masters degree in Educational Technology. She says:
"I first instituted gamification in the classroom [because] I had a lot of adolescent boys who were gaming at home and totally disconnected from school. I felt that this might be a way to engage them in what was happening in the classroom. I hoped it would appeal to their gaming nature."
TJ, a 7th grade math teacher in southern California, first became interested in gamification when she saw a picture of the book The Multiplayer Classroom: Designing Coursework as a Game by Lee Sheldon posted on social media. After reading the book, she decided to implement some of what she learned in her classroom. She says:
"Math has traditionally been considered the hardest subject for many people, and motivation was not very high for my students. I often felt I had too much to teach in each school day, so we were constantly pushing through content. As a result, we didn't do too many fun things in math, which I felt fed into the stereotype that math is boring. I wanted to find some way to motivate my students. I wanted to enjoy teaching and have the students enjoy learning."
Ashley, a high school Spanish I and II teacher in Illinois, first read about gamification as part of a methods class. It piqued her interest, so she found an Edmodo group of teachers who were using it in their own classrooms and kept reading and learning from them. She first implemented gamification in her 7th grade world languages class. Ashley says:
"I loved the idea of gamifying my middle school class because to me, the course felt very shallow -- it was required for all students, and we taught four different languages in a 9 week class. My first days in the room, my department chair told me it wasn't about them retaining the language, it was about them being exposed to it. I wanted the students to be as engaged in the various languages and cultures as possible and not feel like it was a waste of time jumping from language to language.
An introduction to gamification in the classroom created by Anne.
The Snarky Schoolteacher is an education and lifestyle blog run by dedicated educational professionals. Our goal is to bring you relevant and fun educational content with a side of sass. Read more about our team here. Thanks for visiting, and we hope you will find these ideas and resources helpful in your classrooms and in your lives.