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Please list your best teacher tip...
Old 07-20-2006, 09:41 AM
 
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For example:

My first year I had a parent that never signed the Friday folder or helped with homework when it was brought up in a meeting with the principal about her son, the next day she went back and signed all the missing dates to make it look like she had been signing weekly. So now I know, always mark a dash through it so parents can't come back later and sign it!

Anyone have a good piece of advice?


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Use a stamp
Old 07-20-2006, 09:44 AM
 
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I have a thin stamp from Office Depot that says, "Signature needed." But you could get one made that says, "Missing Signature."
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document...
Old 07-20-2006, 10:03 AM
 
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Document everything! In this case, photocopy it all. I use 1/2 sheet of paper forms in my Friday folders for parents to sign. It has space for comments also. When they come back on Monday signed... they go in my file for that student... if I answer a question or comment, I photocopy and staple it and write the date the note went home. This way the parent has no excuse later! I also have a sign and return stamp and when it gets signed and returned I file it.

Saving notes from parents has also saved me more than once. It is just a good idea to keep stuff and document behavior etc.
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Old 07-20-2006, 10:08 AM
 
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I keep a file for every student in class (I taught 4th last year). Every time I get a note from parents, I put it in the file. I also file examples of their work and things like that. It's good for conferences.

I recently re-read Harry Wong's book, which I first read before my first job 3 years ago. He says that papers should be passed sideways instead of forward/backward, since students often can't see what's coming to them. I'm definitely going to use the sideways pass this year because I had problems passing backward last year.
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Old 07-20-2006, 10:11 AM
 
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I just read that chapter. I am re-reading as well! You can never have too much classroom management. I am also upgrading my procedures, expectations, and rules. I have already printed out some posters of some things I like the kids to learn about listening.


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Homework
Old 07-20-2006, 10:13 AM
 
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I collect homework by calling each child's name and checking it off in my gradebook right then. That way I can see who hasn't turned the work in. When they just turned it in the homework basket, I sometimes didn't find out until a day or two later who hadn't done their work. It took more time, but I found that by being on top of it I got more work in. (6th grade)
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Tip
Old 07-20-2006, 10:42 AM
 
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Something I started doing last year that really helped was having a "file folder holder" (don't know the correct term, but it's slotted! )and having file folders with names of all the subjects I teach on each one. When my students have completed their assignment, they know to put it in that particular subject folder. It is definitely a time saver for me because before, I had just a generic place for them to put competed work and I had to sort through all the papers. Now, it's already sorted and all I have to do is take out the papers, put them in alphabetical order, and grade them (if only I can find a system for them to put their papers in alphabetical order, I'd be REALLY good to go! )

It is also great because none of my students can say that I lost one of their papers because I tell them from day one that if it is not in the folder when it is due, it's an incomplete. I also make a joke with my students that my desk "eats" papers that I don't put on there myself so if they ever put a paper on my desk, odds are I won't be able to find it!

I also have a file folder in the back that is labeled "Incomplete work" where students can put incomplete work. They always know that if they finish early with an assignment, they should check to make sure there is no work in that folder for them to complete. I usually "clean sweep" all the folders Friday afternoon.

Hope this helps someone! Great thread...I'm always looking for good teaching tips!
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I have a few for you :)
Old 07-20-2006, 11:06 AM
 
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I've been teaching 6 1/2 years...my best teacher tips are:

1. Never tell the students your age. (I started teaching at age 22, and looked very young.)
2. Always leave some tampons/pads in your personal drawer (make a personal drawer in either your file cabinet (only if it locks), or desk...for your personal stuff.

3. Dont' bring your purse inside your classroom.
4. Don't tell the kids where you live, or even the neighborhood you live in.

5. if you SAY you're going to do something...DO IT....(this is a toughie...i know...trust me...but the kids will respect you more for it, and they'll know that they can depend on you to keep an orderly classroom, and come to you if they need something.)

6. keep a pack of crackers. snack in your desk, (or chocolates, candy...if you prefer), for those days when you don't think you can last until lunch.

7. Keep a bottle of water on hand, to help YOU stay rehydrated through the day.

8. Know where the bathrooms are....just in case...(It took me three days before I got up the guts to ask my very first year teaching.)

9. Know where the copy machines are, and copy limits, if they have any.

10. Find out where you CAN and CAN'T park...each school is different...

Those are just a few I thought about, things I would've liked to have known before my first day...

Also...this is one of the most important ones....make friends with the custodians, and the secretaries...you never know when you'll need them. It was THEY who volunteered to help me get my wheelchair out of the car, and put it back in again, when I was in a wheelchair for two months at the end of the school year, year before last..because the school, by law could not FORCE anyone to help...they volunteered so I could continue to teach every day. And, I was thankful I had made some allies.

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My quick idea...
Old 07-20-2006, 11:31 AM
 
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I kept a sheet of when parents called or I called parents-date, time, who I spoke to, and what we spoke about.

I think it's important to document communication with parents so you can prove you called or spoke to them about an issue in case it ever comes up and they say, "You didn't call and discuss that with me". You can then access your file and show them the information.
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This one I started this past year...
Old 07-20-2006, 12:32 PM
 
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I got email addresses from all parents to have email accounts. I kept the list at my desk, right next to my laptop. In the mornings while they do bellwork, and after homework managers check homework, I email the parents whose kids did not turn in their homework. I also emailed about behavior throughout the day. Parents replied quicker with emails then notes or messages, and communication was on going.


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Question for REB
Old 07-20-2006, 01:47 PM
 
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REB - where do you keep your purse? I don't have a locking cabinet in my room, and my credit card was stolen at my last school. I don't want to leave it in my car, though. I am curious how you handle your purse. Thanks!

As far as advice goes, here's what I can add:

Hang student work with their name under it in large letters. Remind your students that you might hang any piece of work without warning. This makes them take ownership in their work as they don't want to put junk on the walls. Take a long piece of construction paper, hang it vertically, put a clothespin on the top part, and write his/her name on the bottom. This is a great was to display work.
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Texas Gal....
Old 07-20-2006, 01:57 PM
 
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Hi! I keep my purse locked in my trunk, if I have to bring a purse to school...or I lock my wallet in a locking file cabinet, (I have one), when I bring just a wallet. I only bring a purse with me, if I absolutely have to...many days I brought just a small wallet instead.

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Old 07-20-2006, 02:01 PM
 
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I would definitely buy a locking filing cabinet. You can find them with 2 drawers. It would be safer than just hiding your purse. Dishonest people can be quite crafty when it comes to ripping you off.
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poker chip questions
Old 07-20-2006, 02:15 PM
 
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You know those times when the line to ask you a question is longer than the number of students at their desk doing the work?

To solve the problem of having my kids ask too many questions rather than figuring it out on their own:
At the beginning of a particular lesson (or day if you want), I hand out one poker chip per person. That poker chip represents one question. Once they ask me a question, I take the chip away. This makes them think about their question twice and possibly using some of the other resources around the room (posters, dictionaries, classmates, etc.) to help them. Also, if students continually ask the same question, I know that concept needs to be retaught.
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Popsicle sticks
Old 07-20-2006, 03:59 PM
 
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I put every child's name on a popsicle stick and keep them in a small can. Whenever we are doing something where I will be calling on several children I pull a name stick out of the can. Keeps me from calling on the same people over and over, the children know they might be called on even if their hand is not up and it also helps avoid the "I never get called on" whines because they know if their stick is out of the can, they did get called on.
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Old 07-20-2006, 05:14 PM
 
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Document EVERYTHING.

I use duplicate receipt books for missing assignment notices so I have a copy of when they got the notice.

I have students fill out a "no work" paper when they don't do work in class or don't have homework. They must fill out the date, their name, the assignment, and why they didn't do it.

I keep a spiral notebook where I write down every phone call, every email, and every parent meeting--positive and negative. I also write down things students do that aren't good. That's handy for those kids who don't do anything HORRIBLE, but lots of little things that keep adding up. It's also handy for parents who think their child never does anything wrong.

I keep all unclaimed no-name papers.

Stay organized.

I function best when everything is put away properly and everyone knows where things are. Subs always leave me a note that says how much they appreciate how organized I am. It makes their day go much better.
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mailbox
Old 07-20-2006, 05:36 PM
 
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I LOVE my mailbox to sort graded papers! I used to use a file folder and it took me so long to get them filed! Now I have a nice mail slot for each student - they go quickly in the slots as I get them graded. Then on Friday I just slide them out easily, staple them, and put them in the child's graded paper folder. Wonderful!
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Old 07-20-2006, 05:53 PM
 
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I have all my students assigned a number (which I give to them so it's in alphabetical order as well) and as they turn their papers into the file for whatever subject, they have to put it in in numerical order. Then when I collect papers at the end of the day, they are all in alphabetical order. The only thing that doesn't work with this is when I get a student part way through the year. I don't reassign everyone's number, so that one student is out of order. But, I can handle one compared to 25. My substitute that I had last year while on maternity leave actually came up with this idea and when I came back to work, it was a lifesaver for me! If anyone else has a better idea, let me know!
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Binder for parent notes and calls
Old 07-20-2006, 06:05 PM
 
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In the past I had a binder with page protectors that I used to keep notes from parents. I had one for each child. Then I would keep notes about phone calls in a sprial notebook. Today I bought a pretty binder that will stand out from the others on the shelf. It will be easy to find in a hurry. I bought subject dividers that are numbered 1-30. After each number is a few sheets of paper and a page protector. Each child will have a section based on their student number. I will use it for notes from parents that will go in the protectors and notes for phone calls, conferences, etc. will be written on the paper. When I get my class list, I will type up a list with names that match the numbers and put that in the front for a guide. Hopefully this system will keep everything together and I will use it!
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Cell Phone Stolen
Old 07-20-2006, 06:28 PM
 
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A child stole my phone from school! She finally answered it at after school care and her family brought it back to me the next day. The little girl cried and cried.

I photocopy all the notes I send home to parents. I know it seems paranoid but when I taught in a middle school I would write thank you notes and sometimes I would also address the children (students) in the note and I always wanted proof of what I wrote. It is a weird world out there.
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Old 07-20-2006, 06:39 PM
 
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Phone calls and notes sent:

At most office supply stores you can find a duplicate message book. Actually it is for incoming messages but I used it for outgoing. The top one I wrote on was like a post-it note. It duplicated itself underneath.

I wrote down who I called and the phone number. I wrote it down even if they didn't answer, talked to a machine, number was disconnected, or if I was returning their call. In the message space I wrote what the call was about. The one on top was put in their file. Since it was like a post-it I could keep the phone calls in a date order. I still had a spiral book in order of phone calls. This proved I wasn't just putting something in their file to look good.

Work:
I have a plastic drawer container from walmart. I have one drawer for each period. The students turn their work into the drawer.
Each student gets the number on the gradebook line. It starts out alphabetical but doesn't stay that way when students leave and come. However, by using the gradebook number they will be in the order you record them in. Also if a student leaves and comes back they can still have their number.
You can list the numbers vertically in several rows and run copies. A student can mark off turned in papers. This will also get no names claimed.
You can also buy a date stamp and stamp things as turned in. This is great for daily or spot notebook checks when you only take them up once a week.

Grading:
If you are a home grader you can buy a big 3 ring binder and dividers to take the work home in. Get a zipper pencil holder to put your grading pens, stickers, stamps, e-z grader, etc. in.

Dry Erase:
Use socks to erase with. It will keep you cleaner and you can throw them in the wash.
Clean the board with rubbing alcohol. It's cheap, does a good job, and disinfects the board if you have children writing on it.

Items used to teach with:
Get cheap plastic pant\skirt hangers for overheads, sentence strips, etc. you are going to use that day and hang them from the chalkboard. You won't have to go hunting while the students get off task.

Keys and Pens:
Hang them around your neck and use pens that click close that you can hang from them. That way when you get to the other end of the building and need a pen you will have one.
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I ...
Old 07-20-2006, 06:40 PM
 
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1. document everything. I document when I had a phone conference of any kind.

2. I keep ALL notes that have anything to do w/ illness, lateness, homework, etc. I also keep all the good notes!

3. be nice to the secretaries and custodians. they will like you better for it, and you will like them better because of it.

4. Magic piece of trash. I hate a dirty floor at the end of the day and while the custodian is responsible for sweeping and vacuming, s/he is NOT responsible for cleaning up my kids' junk. So. At the end of every day, all the kids pick up as much trash (besides food, that goes straight in the garbage) as they can find and put it in my special box. I paw through it when the floor is clean and choose a piece of trash. Whoever found it, gets a handful of Skittles, or a Starburst or something like that. And I check off their name on a list so we keep track of who has found it and who hasn't. Once kids reach five finds, they have to choose a friend from the list who participated but hasn't found it at all or only sometimes. The kids LOVE this. I have been doing this since year one. I don't tell the sub to do it - the kids do!! =)

5. Make things as visual as possible for kids - job lists, bathroom signout, lunch tickets, etc.

6. Compliment your colleagues. I write notes to classes when I notice their bulletin boards specifically.
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Old 07-20-2006, 07:01 PM
 
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Thanks so much for the suggestion! I do assign numbers to my students, so I will have to try it. I guess I was afraid of letting them take those papers out of the folder to put their paper in alphabetically and then accidentally dropping them everywhere because I seem to get all the clumsy kids!
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Supply Kit for "Work room"
Old 07-20-2006, 07:08 PM
 
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I don't know about y'all's workrooms, but our workroom/mailroom/copyroom at my school is woefully inadequate. We have one of those die-cut things for letters and shapes, a butcher paper holder, three paper slicers, and a few baskets of "supplies" that are empty most of the time. I got so frustrated being in there during my off period (when another teacher is in my class) and not being able to work due to lack of supplies, that I finally did something about it. I put together a supply kit which I kept in my mailbox. It was a student size supply box that contained:

mini tape
mini stapler
staple puller
black, blue, red pen
mechanical pencil
mini scissors
highlighter w/post-it flags
mini ruler
black sharpie
one hole punch

This saved my life more than once and my team thanked me for it too (I let them know it was OK for them to use it as well).

Jenny
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I keep supplies in my mailbox too!
Old 07-20-2006, 07:26 PM
 
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Another thing that I have that I love is a little plastic bin that has magnets on the back. I got it at staples and I think it is for metal file cabinets. Anyway, I stick the little plastic bin to my dry erase board and throw my markers in there. I have seen them at walmart too. Okay, the one I am attaching looks huge. Mine is much smaller but you get the idea. It is a little magnetic holder that you can throw stuff in.

http://www.staples.com/webapp/wcs/st...&cmArea=SEARCH
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Fantastic Idea Richard
Old 07-21-2006, 05:12 AM
 
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It reminds me of the buckets we used to carry to the dorm bathroom. Yes I'm so old we did not have bathrooms in our rooms.

Thank You, you just made my life easier.
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top tips
Old 07-21-2006, 11:02 AM
 
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Here are a few things that have worked well for me:
-I bought a copier for my classroom and it has been wonderful. (It's actually a printer/scanner/copier and you can get pretty good deals on those sometimes, esp. with the upcoming back to school sales.) I don't use it for class sets of copies usually, but for when you need one or two, or a student has lost their paper (there are consequences, of course, but I still need them to have the work). It saves me or them a trip down to the office.
-For messages I use all the time I have had self inking stamps made or I make labels to print off.
-I make a map of my blank seating chart on the computer using Word (or a drawing program) the first time I use it. Then I print it off and fill in the names. Since I save the maps, I have lots of ideas for desk configurations ready when we are ready to switch seats
-I have a spreadsheet with students' names down the left side and a place to write in each assignment for the week at the top. I use these when I'm checking to see who has completed assignments each day. I have one sheet per week, and each quarter is printed on a different color paper. This is a great reference for me so I can see who was absent and owes work, whose work was late, who had to redo, etc., so I know who to hunt down. I also like to have these available for conferences.
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Magnetic, etc.
Old 07-22-2006, 11:45 AM
 
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Rubywater reminded me...

During Back to School time, a lot of the 'locker' items are discounted too. I used the magnetic locker pen holder on my large whiteboard to hold stuff. I also liked the superstrong magnets for holding up large posters, etc.

Last year in second grade, with the workshops and hands on math, our room (student desks included) was a disaster area. We went back to basics and had baskets for all supplies and folders. We cleaned out and turned our desks inward and made a daily effort to put things in their place. It worked well, but we lost academic time in the process. This year, we will START with that message and make the daily effort. I have labels for baskets and shelves that will make it easy to put things away.

Another idea is that I used inexspensive cheap tubs last year to put our leveled books in. Well, more than once, they 'fell' off the shelf. They split in pieces...this year, I went to the dollar store and instead of the thin plastic tubs, I bought washpans. They are made with thick plastic and are a lot more durable than last year's tubs.

laminate-this summer I have spent a lot of time covering game pieces, maps, file folder games, etc. with clear laminate or having things laminated. When using clear laminate, I cut off 2 pieces that were as long as the scissors I was using so the length would be the same and I wouldn't waste the lam. Then I took the paper off one sticky side up. I put my game pieces, etc. on the lam. and put that aside. I then took the second piece and took the paper off of it. I laid it down sticky side up. I then took the first piece (with the pieces on it) and carefully laid it down on the second piece. Once it's down, look for bubbles and carefully use your fingers to smooth them out toward the edges. I also did this with covering paper books that we will be using this year...and by just covering the outside, the inside can be used.

Thanks for all of the other tips!!
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Old 07-25-2006, 01:52 PM
 
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Each student as a magnetic clip attached to the front of his/her desk. One of their morning routines is to attach their homework to the clip. At a glance I can see who has not completed his/her homework.

I am so sick of pencils all over the floor, so this year I bought inexpensive, colorful plastic cups at ikea. I will write each student's name on a white label and attach it to the cup. I plan on putting velcro on the bottom of the cup and the desk top so that the cup will not fall on the floor. I will fill the cup with pencils, erasers, and a pencil sharpener with a receptacle for the first day of school. (I used to fill a small gift bag, but this will be more practical.) I got things sooo cheap at Staples a couple of weeks ago. The pencils sharpeners were a penny!

I also made a poster of all the lunch choices available and laminated it. I can write the daily hot lunch on it because it it laminated. I hung it from some ribbon. Each student has a clothes pin with their name on it . When they arrive in the classroom the first thing that they do is make their lunch choice. Any clips not put on the poster shows who is absent that day. I have used the same poster over and over again for the last three years and it's still in great condition. I just clean it with white board cleaner.

I also hang the boys and girls bathroom passes on ribbon that can be put around the child's neck when using the restroom. That way the pass is not put down somewhere in the bathroom where it will get full of germs.

Hope these hints help.
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