Good Holiday Presents for Teachers

Many kids ask their parents if they can give small holiday presents to their teachers. Here are some gift ideas that are always appreciated:

A card with a heartfelt message

Christmas tree ornaments—your child should sign first and last name and date them (Josie Jones, 2016) so teachers can reminisce when decorating every year.

Gift card for a local learning/teaching store

Gift card to a discount store like Wal-Mart or Target

Supplies for the class: sanitizer, pencils, white board cleaner, Kleenex, etc.

A personalized gift (I love my Miss Green apron!)

Flowers or a small potted plant

Amazon gift card

Blank note cards—teachers write a lot of notes. (You can buy nice blank cards at stores like Ross and Marshalls for about $5 or less)

iTunes gift card

A recommendation letter, typed and signed, recommending the teacher. The teacher can hold this in her file and use it for applying for another job, make a copy and give it to the principal for her personnel file, etc. It can go a long, long way.

Handmade gifts: bags, decorative items, etc.

Two gifts I personally appreciate are chocolates or candy I can share with the class (Dum Dums, Jolly Ranchers, etc.)

Remember, your child’s classroom teacher is not the only important adult at school. You might want to send in cards to a specials teacher, librarian, bus driver, instructional aide, school nurse, or the custodian who always greets your child. Classroom teachers often receive many presents at holiday time, but these school workers are often overlooked. Something as simple as a holiday card with a personalized note would be much appreciated.

Posted in Holidays,Tips for Parents by Corey Green @ Dec 23, 2016

 

Teach the 2016 Presidential Election

Teaching government is most fun during a presidential election year. These resources will help you and your students learn about the 2016 election. Election day is November 8, 2016.

The following resources and lessons help you teach government basics and how to choose a candidate—while steering clear of contentious politics.

Schoolhouse Rock Election Videos

Watch these at the official Disney site and avoid embarrassing YouTube moments (scroll down the Disney page to where the “Watch Videos” section appears):

Electoral College
I’m Just a Bill
Presidential Minute
Preamble
No More Kings

Icivics has created an excellent packet to teach the electoral process. You will enjoy these worksheets with pleasing design yet meaty information.

Teach students to evaluate candidates—but take today’s politics out of it! The Icivics Candidate Evaluation packet is a ready-to-use unit that lets your students compare two fictitious candidates.

FREE online debate game: The Icivics Cast Your Vote game lets kids run the debate! Two fictitious debate important (but not too controversial) issues. Students choose which question to ask and then decide which candidate they agree with. At the end, they get to vote. A printout shows how often they agreed with that candidate and how strongly. Students will probably find that no one candidate reflects all their views; voters have to make a judgment call on what’s important to them.

Your judgment call: will you make your students write an essay about their debate game? Why or why not?

Learn about voting rights: who got the vote and when? What are barriers to voting? This Icivics lesson packet gives you everything you need to teach the topic of voting rights at the elementary level.

The classic site for teaching elections and government: Ben’s Guide to Government: this extensive site gives you materials to teach government to students in grades K-12. For branches of government to the Electoral College, all the information you need is here.

Classic election night homework: give students this Electoral College map coloring page that they can fill out as they watch the election returns. You can also do this the next day at school.

Teacher Tip: the day after a presidential election can be a rough one in the classroom. Some students internalize their parents’ politics. If their candidate didn’t win, kids can be very depressed or angry. Likewise, students whose candidate did win can be insufferably smug. You can talk with students about how after the election, the president represents everyone. Then you might want to move on to a new subject, fun art activity, learning game—anything but elections and government!

Posted in Academics,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Nov 2, 2016

 

New Orleans Halloween

bookThis year, try a New Orleans theme for your Halloween/Fall Festival party.  You can work in geography, history, culture, and Halloween fun.

I did this last year and I can tell you that both the kids and parents just loved it.  It was a nice modification of traditional Halloween-at-school activities.  Parents appreciated the educational angle and they learned something, too.

I grabbed everyone’s attention by showing them that the Disney Haunted Mansion is in New Orleans Square.  I told them that the Disney Haunted Mansion movie is set in New Orleans, too.

Once I had everyone’s attention, I showed them a New Orleans PowerPoint I created.  You can click to download & share it, too (large file: 3+ MB).  It shows pictures of New Orleans to help get everyone in the mood.  I downloaded the Disney “Grim Grinning Ghosts” Haunted Mansion song along with some classic New Orleans jazz to play while we looked at the pictures.

Everyone loved learning about the New Orleans jazz funeral.  I told the children how it evolved from African funeral customs.  A New Orleans jazz band plays a sad song or dirge on the way to the cemetery, and happy tunes for the procession out.  Click here to learn more about the New Orleans jazz funeral.  Here is a sample:

Eileen Southern in The Music of Black Americans: A History wrote, “On the way to the cemetery it was customary to play very slowly and mournfully a dirge, or an ‘old Negro spiritual’ such as ‘Nearer My God to Thee,’ but on the return from the cemetery, the band would strike up a rousing, ‘When the Saints Go Marching In,’ or a ragtime song such as ‘Didn’t He Ramble.’  Sidney Bechet, the renowned New Orleans jazzman, after observing the celebrations of the jazz funeral, stated, “Music here is as much a part of death as it is of life.”

Because I teach third grade, I don’t explain how the New Orleans above-ground cemeteries are necessary so that the bodies don’t wash out on the streets during floods.  This would be very interesting to older students, though.  For third graders,  I  show  pictures of the beautiful New Orleans cemeteries, famous cultural landmarks of the city.

Make sure to teach the kids about New Orleans food, like jambalaya and po’boys.  Explain that po’boy sandwiches can be any simple filling in bread, but that most people think of a shrimp po’boy.   My mom said that when she lived near New Orleans, red beans and rice was everybody’s Monday dinner because Monday was laundry day and the mother was too busy to cook something difficult.  Practical details like that help history and culture come alive for students.

Parents and students alike are very interested in my story about the New Orleans streetcars.  I explained that if you ride the car to the end of the line, the driver will have everybody stand up so he can reverse the seat backs.  In that way, you always ride facing forward.  Click here to see the concept.  The picture is part of my New Orleans PowerPoint presentation.

For a literacy connection, I recommend reading the New Orleans Magic Tree House book A Good Night for Ghosts.  Your students will enjoy learning about New Orleans and Louis Armstrong.  The book touches very, very lightly on segregation.  You can expand on that or wait for another learning opportunity, your choice.   (If you like, teach your students that Ruby Bridges integrated William Frantz Elementary in New Orleans.)  A Good Night for Ghosts shouldn’t be too scary for your class.  It has a mild ghost scene that turns out not to be ghosts after all, but Louis’s friends.

Happy Halloween!

Posted in Academics,Holidays,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Oct 17, 2016

 

Five tips for summer library “shopping”

Going to the library is like shopping without the buyer’s remorse. Wait, scratch that. The library can still offer buyer’s remorse if you check out too many books, the wrong books, or just plain lose books.

Here are my tips on organizing your library haul.

  1. Keep a dedicated library basket (or bag) in the car and at home. The basket at home is so you don’t lose books. When you’re not reading the book, it goes in the basket. When you’re checking out dozens of books at a time, this becomes important. Keep a basket in the car for already-read books so you can drop them off whenever you’re nearby. If you wait for a scheduled trip to the library, you might end up with overdue books.
  2. Teach your child how to select books. Librarians and teachers try, but it might mean more coming from you. Kids pick the strangest books. My third graders will show me their latest library picks and I’ll say things like,“Have you read the first five books in this series that is two grade levels above yours? No? So why did you pick this?” “This book is about the Russian Revolution. Do you have any interest in that? Then why did you pick it?”“This is a tender coming-of-age story about a girl and her horse. You like Transformers and anything about war. Why did you pick it?”Teach your child to really think about whether there is anything he can relate to—the cover, the title, the author, or the first page. If not, pass. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it’s for you.
  3. Use the five-finger method. At school, books are labeled with their AR levels. Not true at most public libraries. You can check on ARBookfind.com, or you can just use the five finger method. Encourage your child to read the first page aloud and hold up a finger for each word that’s too hard. If your child finds five too-hard words on the first page, the book is too hard. Put it down.
  4. Ask the librarian for advice. Librarians read more than anyone and they know what kids like. You can trust them to help you choose. Just make sure your child understands that while he doesn’t have to read everything the librarian recommends, he has to read enough so as not to annoy her and make her not want to help him next time.
  5. Feel free to take and check out the display books. Librarians set books out on display, like at a bookstore. You’re allowed to borrow these books. The librarian can always find something new to set out. (Hint: for picture books, sometimes it’s random. I’ve found some cool books by reading the random picture books librarians set out.)
Posted in Tips for Parents by Corey Green @ Jul 18, 2016

 

Offer a choice of two

I learned the “offer a choice of two” tip from a mom volunteer, who smoothly distributed about 5 flavors of popsicles with all students feeling like they had a choice in the treat they were given.  I realized that offering a choice of 2 has many classroom management applications:

— It speeds up questioning that’s intended to keep the lesson going, not spark deep thought.  “Should we put the apostrophe before or after the s?” instead of “Where should we put the apostrophe?”

— It gives students options without overwhelming them with choices: “Would you like to use markers or crayons?” instead of “What would you like to color with?”

— It offers students a pseudo-choice: “Would you like to calm down and do the activity with us, or refocus in another classroom?” instead of “Shape up or ship out.”  (also a choice of 2, actually)

— It teaches kids to make a decision, then stick with it.  Most decisions in life are not worth over-thinking.  Your mom’s birthday card will look good whether you use red paper or pink.  Just pick one!

Posted in Classroom Management,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Apr 18, 2016

 

Free Leap Year Worksheets Part 3

Leap Year Idioms

Teachers, here is a FREE Leap Year worksheet written by a National Board Certified Teacher. I hope you and your students enjoy it! Here is the Answer Key.

This worksheet helps you teach students about idioms—a commonly assessed concept on state standardized tests. Have some Leap Year fun with idioms based on the word “leap” or “year.”

If you haven’t seen them already, check out Free Leap Year Worksheets Part 1 and Part 2.

Part 1: Leap Year Reading and Writing

Part 2: “Fun with Leap Year and Leap Day” reading comprehension and Leap Year Math

Posted in FREE Worksheets,Fun With Literacy,Holidays by Corey Green @ Feb 1, 2016

 

Free Leap Year Worksheets Part 2

Fun Reading Comprehension and Leap Year Math

Teachers, here are FREE Leap Year worksheets written by a National Board Certified Teacher. I hope you and your students enjoy them!

Here is an enjoyable reading comprehension worksheet called “Fun with Leap Year and Leap Day.” The passage and questions are indeed fun. What other worksheet challenges you to figure out what Pope Paul III and Ja Rule have in common? (Answer: they were both born on Leap Day.)

You and your students will enjoy learning about Leap Year luck (or lack thereof), Leap Year marriage proposals in Ireland, and the quandary posed by a Leap Year birthday in The Pirates of Penzance. The questions are all opinion based—and in my opinion, you shouldn’t grade them! Give students credit for completion, then go home and kick back to enjoy the rest of Leap Day.

Next is my fun “Was it a Leap Year?” worksheet that lets students apply their knowledge of divisibility by 4. Hints for determining divisibility by 4 are at the bottom of the page. The worksheet teaches a special case: century years. Because a revolution around the sun does not quite take 365.25 days, only century years divisible by 400 are Leap Years. The worksheet gives a student-friendly explanation and challenges them to determine if a century year was or wasn’t a Leap Year.  I also have provided an Answer Key as a separate download.

Don’t forget to download the other two worksheets in Free Leap Year Worksheets Part One.

Happy Leap Year!

Posted in Academics,FREE Worksheets,Holidays by Corey Green @ Jan 25, 2016

 

Free Leap Year Worksheets Part 1

Reading Comprehension and Writing Nonfiction

Teachers, here are FREE Leap Year worksheets written by a National Board Certified Teacher. I hope you and your students enjoy them!

The first one is a reading comprehension worksheet about Leap Year.  It’s a good, basic introduction to the concept of Leap Year that is appropriate for third grade and up.

Next is a writing worksheet about how and why Julius Caesar created Leap Year and rearranged the calendar. To shake things up a little, this worksheet challenges students to write a newspaper article about the event. The article gives “notes” our fictitious reporter took at the press conference—in a handy who, what, where, when, why format.

Stay tuned for Free Leap Year Worksheets Part Two: Leap Year trivia reading comprehension and Leap Year math!

Posted in Academics,FREE Worksheets,Holidays by Corey Green @ Jan 19, 2016

 

FREE typing resource for school: Typing Club

TwoKidsAndComputerTouch typing is one of the most important skills your students can learn.  The ability to type quickly and accurately will help students at school and in the workplace.  I recommend TypingClub.com, a FREE resource.  It has so many features to help teach typing and organize a class’s efforts.  You won’t believe it’s free!

TypingClub is great because it lets you organize your whole class and customize each student’s experience.  You can set the pace, the standards of performance, and the style of lessons.  The prearranged typing program will work very well, but you can also create assignments and tests.  You can set the program to allow students to progress freely through lessons, or you can hold them back until they meet standards.  It’s all up to you, and it’s very easy to set up.

Some students are naturally motivated to learn how to type.  Others need prodding.  Here are some things that encourage my students:

  • Tell them that they have an advantage over typing students from decades past.  Thanks to texting, today’s kids know where the letters are on the keyboard.
  • Give them candy every for every five lessons they pass.
  • Set individual or whole-class goals with associated rewards.
Posted in Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Apr 13, 2015

 

What it’s like to be an elementary school teacher – Part 6

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 Six: We teach kids life skills

Teachers impart much more than book learning. We try to teach life skills and maybe even a little common sense.

I teach my kids that if they want self-esteem, they should act like someone they can respect. One must have a feeling of competence in order to be truly happy. Teacher to the rescue—we know that Chores Build Confidence. We Set up class jobs right away! Each student has a specific task to do that makes everyone’s life better. We all depend on each other to come through every day. My system for class jobs really gelled when I assigned year-long duties.  If you have a more unwieldy system wherein students change jobs weekly or daily, check mine out. I even give you the Excel spreadsheet we use to organize class jobs. Truly, this is hard-won knowledge and I would love to share it.

We have all sorts of tricks to help kids with their handwriting: some students find that graph paper really helps. You know DMV forms with one square for each letter? Well, that system really helps you write more neatly, and some kids need that kind of structure just so they can turn in something legible. Another creative use of paper: we show kids that Turning Notebook Paper Sideways helps keep math problems lined up.

We teach kids basic table manners: chew with your mouth closed, don’t talk with food in your mouth, and keep your elbows off the table. We teach little tricks like the b-d Method for Setting the Table. Students will never forget where their bread and drink go. (It also helps kids who mix up b and d in their writing.)

Kids lose things all the time, and so we remind our students to  Check the Lost-and-Found before each school vacation. Otherwise, their sweatshirts and lunchboxes will get donated to a child who might keep better track of it.

We spend a lot of time and effort to Teach kids to respect school staff. It brightens everyone’s day when kids make the effort to show appreciation.

Plus—if your students are short on common sense, they might be able to make up for it with charm!


 

What it’s like to be an elementary school teacher – Part 5

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 Five: We put time, money and energy into meeting kids’ basic needs

Teachers wear many hats, slipping each day between the roles of parent, social worker, social coordinator, and tutor. We care deeply about our students and don’t hesitate to spend our time, money and energy to meet their basic needs.

Many ClassAntics posts reflect the little things teachers do for their students. The three-part series on kids and glasses shows some of what we go through: the grief we take for referring reluctant glasses wearers, how we help obtain glasses for students, and common pitfalls we encounter each year.

Kids and Glasses Part One: It Often Begins in Third or Fourth Grade
Kids and Glasses Part Two: Common Pitfalls for Students New to Wearing Glasses
Kids and Glasses Part Three: Special Cases

I feed my class every year. It started with keeping spare supplies, but as the economy got worse and lunchtime crept later each year, my class developed a Stack a Day Habit for Saltine crackers. I keep spare treats for kids with allergies so they enjoy something yummy when a classmate brings in a treat.

I like my students to be comfortable and happy when they learn. The class has a stash of sweatshirts, because Cold Kids Can’t Think. Chapped lips are a major distraction, so we have the Class Vaseline Jar with Q-tips so students can get a dose of relief. Some kids have trouble focusing because of ADHD or some other issue; I find that Point & Focus really helps them.

Sometimes we have to help our students do the best they can with the hand life has dealt them. My post about Kids Who Miss School to Baby-sit offers advice for helping students with adult responsibilities make the most of their time at school.


 

What it’s like to be an elementary school teacher – Part 4

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 Four: Lunch doesn’t just happen

Managing a class is like herding cats. At no time is this cliché more applicable than lunchtime. We have to convince thirty children to finish their lessons, put away materials, clean up the classroom, and locate lunch supplies. Then we have to maneuver this group to the cafeteria and get everyone settled in. Some teachers have lunchtime duty; others grab a quick bathroom break, then scarf down a sandwich while doing errands and prepping afternoon lessons.

The setup for lunchtime begins in the morning, with a streamlined procedure for students to indicate the lunch they will eat today. (The cafeteria needs the lunch count so workers can prep the food.) Teachers have to organize lunch money from a variety of sources and make sure everyone’s account is current.  Otherwise, kids end up with a crummy cafeteria emergency lunch and are in a foul mood all afternoon.

Before we take the class to lunch, we convince everyone to wash their hands. Some teachers do a bathroom break; others do some variation of a hand sanitizer Squirt Procedure. We sneak in a little learning by having kids Sing Multiplication Songs During Transitions. (We can review at least four times tables in the time it takes to sanitize the class’s hands.)

Kids don’t want to keep track of their lunch box while they’re playing at after-lunch recess, so many schools have a lunch bucket to hold each class’s lunchbox collection. Our class found that The Lunch Wagon is easier to maneuver and much more fun.

Teachers really care about their kids and spend a lot of time attending to their basic needs. Nourishment is an important need, and we spend some time teaching kids how to fill up at school lunch. (Hungry kids appreciate knowing that eating their protein first is the smart way to fill up.)

Lunchtime isn’t the only time teachers manage food for thirty kids. We develop systems for dealing with birthday treats and hope parents will heed our Tips for Sending Treats to Class. We have rules and procedures to deal with Water Containers at School.

Fun fact: Lunch is an important part of the school day—but did you know it can promote diversity and build school community? The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance Mix it Up at Lunch Day has been doing just that for ten years.


 

What it’s like to be an elementary school teacher – Part 3

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 Three: Keeping students disciplined and engaged is exhausting

Elementary school teachers spend years learning pedagogy—how to teach. Then we get our own classroom and find out that most of our energy goes into keeping kids disciplined and engaged.

Before I tried my hand at teaching, I thought kids more or less behaved at school. WRONG! If the teacher doesn’t manage every single thing, the kids quickly revert to their natural state. Which is WILD! I cannot imagine what a group of 30 youngsters would be like without a teacher managing them.  Frankly, Lord of the Flies comes to mind.

We try to learn what we can from books. The New Teacher’s Complete Sourcebook helps us plan for the school year. It even gives a step-by-step plan for surviving the first day of school. A manual like the Elementary Teacher’s Discipline Problem Solver can help with problems ranging from gum-chewing to gossip. But that advice only takes us so far.

Once in the classroom, we develop our own systems. We manage kids by sorting them into table groups and launching competitions—whoever cleans their table first wins five points, etc. But when we find ourselves accidentally wronging a child, it’s time to break out Guilt Points.

To keep the kids on their toes during a lesson, we create games like Ask Random Third Grader. Students never know if they will be called on, but they have a chance to earn points for the whole class if they answer correctly. If that doesn’t work, we resort to the desperation Fun with Whatever technique to give a boring lesson a good name: Fun with Long Division really is slightly better than plain old Long Division.

We can motivate the class to behave or achieve by using the always-successful Instant Motivation: Boys versus Girls. But to launch a learning activity, we are probably going to have to give directions. Without a system for Giving directions to the whole class, only about 20% of the students will know what’s going on.

Constant argument is part and parcel of any elementary school class. Without an iron will and a strong plan to Make your classroom a tattle-free zone, every lesson will be interrupted by a tattler.

The best-laid plans go awry when something funny, embarrassing, or awkward happens. (The classroom sink spontaneously explodes into a jet of water, a two-year-old who got away from her mother wanders into our room.) It’s best to let the class enjoy the hilarity*, then implement the We are over it! procedure for getting back on track.

Teachers can discipline, motivate, and manage all they want. But, like firefighters and ER staff, we know that if things have gone really bad, It Must be a Full Moon. (The word “lunatic” is no accident—many people really do believe that the lunar cycle affects human behavior.)

*Don’t worry, we sent someone to help the two-year-old find her mother!


 

What it’s like to be an elementary school teacher – Part 2

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 Two: Classroom management: our daily struggle against the forces of chaos

Managing a classroom really is a constant fight against the forces of chaos. It takes just one little slip-up for everything to crumble. To prevent all but the most unpredictable problems, I create a million management systems.

Every single thing about our classroom and schedule was engineered by me, the teacher. Before the kids ever set foot in the classroom, I try to have the entire day thought out, the materials ready, organizational systems in place. Then we proceed through our day, following procedures for everything from turning in library books to distributing hand sanitizer.

For example, without a complicated pencil-management system, you have NO pencils when you need them. Kids sharpen pencils just any old time, interrupting lessons. Or kids hoard pencils. Or the pencils are just littering the floor. It’s a mess without…

Pencils, Part One: Managing Your Pencil Supply
Pencils, Part Two: Some Advice About Pencil Sharpening
Pencils, Part Three: The Pencil Drive

A classroom full of kids requires management systems just to keep everyone straight. First, we assign students numbers and use them to organize everything from paperwork to our class line.

Although kids have a designated place to be in line (based on their assigned number), there are still lots of ways for them to make mischief. Five tips for getting kids into line represents hard-earned knowledge on how to avoid the most embarrassing mishaps.

Teachers use student numbers to organize seatwork—but the system depends on kids putting their number on their paper. Heck, the kids need to remember to put their name. Do they? Of course not! The Name and Number Song helps, but the The No-Name Form “intervention” is necessary to deal with the 10-20% of students who constantly forget to label their papers despite having just sung the song.

Everyday decisions provide students with time to hem and haw, argue, jockey for position, and just generally make mischief. After several years of teaching, I learned to Offer a choice of two for pretty much everything.

How do teachers know which students understand the material and which need more help? Whiteboards help—they let kids work out the math problem, then hold up their answer. But whiteboards are expensive. Luckily, teachers learn things like how to make Cheap “whiteboards” for no-budget classrooms.

After a long day, the class might want to kick back with a simple art lesson. But how do you manage the kids who finish early and the ones who take forever? How do you give kids an opportunity to share their art without creating work for yourself in the form of decorating yet another bulletin board? Quick and Easy Classroom Art Gallery is a good system for accomplishing those goals. Such a simple idea—let kids display their work on the whiteboard as they finish—but I had been teaching for five years before another teacher taught me the trick.

Management systems help a lot, but nothing can save us when a bird dive-bombs our window, someone falls out of his chair, or a boy decides to take an impromptu poll of who the class thinks will win the Super Bowl. In each of those cases, the forces of chaos reigned for a while.

Fine by me! I may manage everything, but I wouldn’t want a school day to go by with out a few funny ClassAntics.


 

What it’s like to be an elementary school teacher – Part 1

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 One: Our day is planned to the minute

Elementary school schedules must be one of the great mysteries of life, because A typical elementary schoolday schedule is one of ClassAntics’ most popular posts. The blog entry explains that the schedule is determined by outside factors and does not necessarily reflect a teacher’s priorities.

The typical elementary school schedule is extremely regimented. The entire class’s schedule revolves around special areas and special interests:

  • Music class is at 9:32 and not a second before
  • Lunch is at 11:50 and if you’re late, they might run out of the good food, plus your kids will miss part of their recess and be mad at you
  • Math had better be underway by 10:35 because that’s when the instructional aide will come to help
  • Dismissal must run like clockwork—every day, even if you have a sub

This regimented schedule explains why Alarm Clocks Make Classroom Life Better: I set them to go off when it’s time to get ready for lunch and dismissal.

Teachers typically plan lessons well in advance. We have a yearlong curriculum map, goals for the quarter and month, and lesson plans for the week. Problem: we never know how long students will take to do anything!

Will they be able to complete this math lesson in the 40 minutes allotted? Will they still remember the material tomorrow or next week? The slightest change can wreak havoc on all a teacher’s careful plans.  However, teachers are happy to adjust the lessons and schedules they spent so long developing.  Our job is to teach what these particular students need now.

Elementary school teachers never have a spare minute. What looks like prep time—before school, after school, during specials, and lunch—is spent attending meetings, performing extra duties, and tracking down key personnel to address classroom issues. Really, many teachers count themselves lucky if they get a chance to go to the bathroom during the day.  Prep time happens during the evenings and on weekends.

Fun fact: while teachers never have a spare minute, kids have no sense of urgency about anything but recess. Part of this is because they’re kids, but part is because they just don’t understand time. Teaching kids to tell time and read a clock is an annual struggle, no matter the grade level.

Why kids struggle with telling time and reading a clock
FREE online resources to practice telling time and reading a clock