Third Time’s the Charm

Well, I can’t believe summer is winding down. Last time I wrote, I was writing from Perdido and now my school dreams have reappeared like clockwork this time of year.

I must say though, the first time I saw the school supply display at Target last week, I was pretty excited. Glue sticks! Sharpies! Paper clips! If you’re an elementary teacher and your heart doesn’t skip a beat at the sight of all things Crayola, I must check your heart to see if it is tickle-me-pink.

I also can’t believe that I am starting my third year of teaching. Didn’t I just wrap up my student teaching?! Time is flying and I am so excited to start my third year in second grade. I feel like I have learned so much the past two years and am excited to see how the third year treats me. Due to construction starting at my school, I will be team-teaching with one of my best friends, and I am PUMPED! I know I will learn so much from her and we’ll have plenty of adventures with our thirty-something sweeties. :-) (Germ-X will be my BIFFLE next year more than ever).

With the start of the year rolling around, I was asked to write some advice for the New Teacher Program in my county. It’s a pretty surreal thought to think¬†I am being asked to give advice. Aren’t I still a new teacher?!

(The answer is yes).

(And according to the state, I am a new teacher through the end of the year).

(And that’s what decides how many evaluations I stress have per yer).

(And all God’s people said, “Amen.”)

Nevertheless, in typical Lacey fashion, I couldn’t answer in “one or two paragraphs” like was suggested. I had to write a Top Ten list.

My Top Ten Tips to New Teachers (that I still need to follow and keep in mind):

10. Be flexible! Always know your schedule can change, you might be asked to move classrooms (I’m on my third one in three years), or who knows what else. Just roll with it and make special memories in each place!

9. Have a stash of (mini) chocolates at your desk. For emergencies, of course….

8. Documentation is your best friend. There have been a few times I have kicked myself for not jotting down a child’s behavior that day or writing down when I contacted a parent. Learn from my mistakes!

7. Help “extra” any way you can. Don’t overwhelm yourself, but volunteer to do at least one or two “extra” things around school each year (helping at Fall Festivals, staying after school for a club meeting, etc).

6. I teach second grade, so I know this is easier said than done for me compared to upper grade levels, but try to grade what you assign that day on that very day (or at least the next day). During my first year, every now and then I would have a stack growing and then I just didn’t want to look at it, which didn’t help me or my students.

5. Data is there to help you, not hurt you. This is advice I still need to take, but remember that data from test scores or anything else you measure can only help you and your students. I know sometimes it stings if they (and you) didn’t do as well as you had hoped, but learning from it is the only way it will get better.

4. Have your desk in order before you leave. I learned this last year, and I can’t tell you what a sigh of relief it would be in the mornings to arrive to a neat desk and start my day. Besides, we want our kids to have neat desk so we should model that too, right? At least most of the time. ;)

3. Communicate with your students’ parents at least weekly. Whether it’s through your website, a newsletter, or however you prefer, it will help your class’ parents take ownership in their child’s learning. I send a brief daily email to my parents called “Classroom Update” that is just that- info about that day’s lessons, announcements, etc.¬† A little goes a long way!

2. Know everyone on your faculty is still learning. Don’t be afraid to share a great idea you found, or ask for advice. Some of my best lessons have been when I finally quit being stubborn and asked how in the world do you teach __________? (In my case, possessive nouns- which I will still take advice if you know of a good idea)!

1. HAVE FUN! If you’re having fun, the kids will too and we all learn better that way. Break things up and read a funny poem or do a silly dance. Laugh with them. It will remind you why you love what you do on the stressful days (and the chocolate won’t hurt either). :)

Good luck to all my education friends (big and little & new and new-at-heart) for the new year!

Image(A portrait of yours truly by one of my second grade friends during my first year. Pretty accurate if you ask me).