What it’s like to be an elementary school teacher – Part 9

A National Board Certified Teacher explains what an educator’s life is really like. The series is a value-added collection of Best ClassAntics Posts EVER! Each post explains something about a teacher’s life and links to ClassAntics posts with relevant teaching tips.

Part Nine: We are just one of many teachers who work with your child

A classroom teacher is just part of the educational team.  Also important are special area teachers, resource teachers, and substitute teachers.

I have written many posts about special area teachers: talented people who instruct students in music, art, physical education (PE), library skills, and computer skills.  If your child attends the same school for many years, special area teachers know him or her quite well.

I often Consult special area teachers about individual students.  For example, I might notice a child has trouble paying attention in class, and I want to know if the music teacher or librarian and has seen the same thing.

To help my students get the most out of their special classes, I make sure that they know Special area teachers are EXTRA-special!  Students like to know if their music teacher is also a performer, or if their PE teacher just completed a triathlon.

Some teachers simply drop their kids off at special classes, but in my post on How to work with special area teachers, I share simple techniques for building relationships and helping students get the most out of their lessons.

Developing a knack for working with substitute teachers can really benefit students.  I have posts on How to Help Your Sub and how to prepare Emergency Sub Plans so you never have to go in at 5 am to make copies and write sub plans.

Do you have a degree?  Consider the Benefits of being a substitute teacher.  Seriously, you can learn a lot!  Subbing is helpful for parents who want to learn about the school environment or children’s book writers who want to interact with today’s kids.

My students also work with special education teachers, resource teachers, and other professionals.  I find that students really enjoy Showing thanks with class books.  The kids can reflect on what they have learned from these professionals and provide a nice keepsake.


What it’s like to be an elementary school teacher – Part 8

A National Board Certified Teacher explains what an educator’s life is really like. The series is a value-added collection of Best ClassAntics Posts EVER! Each post explains something about a teacher’s life and links to ClassAntics posts with relevant teaching tips.

Part Eight: We manage 30 kids’ seatwork and homework hang-ups

You know how it’s difficult to get your own child to complete homework, do a project on time, and remember to turn things in?  Well, teachers go through that every day with 30 students.

First things first: in elementary school, Homework isn’t always graded.  One major reason is because the teacher doesn’t know who actually did the work, but there are other factors that come into play.  My blog posts explains the logic behind this common practice.

That said, your child still needs to get the work done.  Homework teaches responsibility and reinforces the lessons taught in class.  However, it can be overwhelming when your child racks up numerous overdue assignments.  Here are some tips for When your child has missing or late work.

Teachers have little tricks to help make seatwork and homework more fun.  We pep kids up about the assignment, set goals, or let the kids sit under their desks to work.  (Super exciting!)  If all else fails, we break out the markers and crayons, because Work Is More Fun If You Do It in color!

We try to make students understand that they need to turn in quality work.  One of the most common problems is (extremely) short answers where the prompt clearly asked for a sentence.  In that case, we devote another lesson to Teaching Kids to Write Complete Sentences and then have kids redo the assignments.

As you can imagine, paperwork piles up quickly in the classroom.  I developed a super-simple system wherein students mark their number off when they turn on assignment.  That way, it’s easy to Track Assignments as They Are Turned In.  (Click on the post for my printable keep-track chart.)   I make several copies of the chart and put them in sheet protectors.  Then I tape them to the board.  I can keep track of several assignments this way, and it’s easy for students to see what they still need to do.  The kids really enjoy crossing their number off when they finish an assignment.

Sometimes, the goal of seatwork is skill mastery.  For such assignments, I use a “fun” game called So You Think You’re Done?  Basically, the kids form a line and I quickly scan each paper right there in front of the student.  If the paper is not 100% perfect, I ask the student to fix it.  The nice thing about this system is that you know whatever papers you do collect are already A+ perfect.

I highly recommend the series of workbooks called I’m Through! What Can I Do?  They are full of fun puzzles and activities that are easy to copy and set out for students.  You can use them as fast finisher activities.  They also make good activities to leave with a substitute teacher.


Teach the Jackie Robinson Movie “42”

Today is the opening day of 42, the new movie about Jackie Robinson. Go see it opening weekend, then teach your class about it.

42 tells the story of two men whose brave stance against prejudice forever changed baseball—and the nation.  Chadwick Boseman plays Jackie Robinson.  Harrison Ford plays Branch Rickey, who signed Jackie for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Rickey said, “I may not be able to do something about racism in every field, but I can sure do something about it in baseball.” Jackie’s success became the crowning achievement of Rickey’s career in baseball.

In 1997, Major League Baseball retired Jackie’s number, 42, from every team, making it the first number in sports to be universally retired.

Visit the movie’s official website for background information, trailers, downloads, and more.  Watch the trailer here:

Teach your students more about Jackie Robinson:

I recommend you start with Peter Golenblock’s terrific book Teammates, about Jackie Robinson and teammate Pee Wee Reese.  The moment when Pee-Wee put his arm around Jackie Robinson is one of the most memorable in baseball, up there with Lou Gehrig’s farewell speech.

You will also enjoy Jackie’s Nine: Jackie Robinson’s Values to Live By. This book will help your students apply the lessons from Jackie’s courage and wisdom to their own lives. It is written and compiled by Jackie’s daughter, Sharon Robinson.

Major League Baseball has a wealth of information for teaching about Jackie Robinson.  Check it out here.

Click here to read about our First Lady’s “42” workshop for high school and college students at the White House. The panel was also attended by Robinson’s 90-year-old widow, Rachel; plus Harrison Ford, who plays Branch Rickey; Chadwick Boseman, who plays Jackie; and the film’s director, Brian Helgeland.  “We think that everybody in this country needs to watch this movie,” Michelle Obama said. “And I can say with all sincerity that it was truly powerful for us.”

Another good movie: The Jackie Robinson Story starring Jackie Robinson.  It’s a really good movie.  Jackie is a good actor.

I hope you and your students enjoy 42.

Posted in Academics,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Apr 12, 2013


The Perks of Preschool

As an elementary school teacher, I see firsthand that preschool attendance is a predictor of academic success.   This info-graphic from EducationNews.org explains the importance of preschool to success in school…and in life.  Teachers, parents and education majors will be especially interested.

We remember preschool as a place to play, eat graham crackers, and sing songs.  It’s so much more than that.  Students learn social skills, motor skills and academic skills as they do games, crafts and activities.  These fundamentals affect school performance immediately.  Any kindergarten teacher will tell you that the child who enters school not knowing how to use scissors tends to struggle in academic lessons.

Very special thanks to Allison Morris, who helped create the graphic and suggested that ClassAntics readers might like it.   Click here to see the info-graphic on EducationNews.org.

Preschool Infographic

Posted in Tips for Parents,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Apr 5, 2013