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Showing posts with label #primarychalkboard. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #primarychalkboard. Show all posts

Tell'em What's Up Night! [A.K.A. Back to School Night/Open House]

If you are a teacher, you have been there.

You madly prepare, you sweat, you stress, you make your classroom orderly- perfect even. You
might have projects carefully and lovingly set up on display, and you wait at the front of the room OR at the door with a nervous smile on your face, ready to share those items you feel will most benefit the parents of the students in your classroom. You are confident that this presentation will help ensure the success of all your students. 
Then the reality- if you are like my school- you get 4 parents that show up. Disheartened at the small number, you paste the smile on your face, give your presentation, and then take home a large amount of cookies to your significant other or pet. Cookies that were meant to be refreshments and an enticement to mingle with you and other parents for a few minutes.

OR, in a different scenario, you have your open house stations all ready, papers to fill out, treats to share, excitement to spread. And, during the 2 hours you are there to greet your new students and parents, you get 4-5 that wander through, most with little enthusiasm. They fill out your paper work, take a treat, and shuffle out the door.

We have all been there. As a teacher it STINKS! It frustrating, and hard. After all, you were there- prepared and ready to go. A big smile and lots of hard work. And it seems ALL FOR WHAT?

But, let's rewind these situations for a minute and look at this in a new light! Going from Teacher to Administrator has given me a new perspective on this whole tradition of Back to School/Open House  nights.

First, I tried to find in the history of school where this tradition of back-to-school nights/open house came from. Sadly, Google hath failed me in my quest. HOWEVER, I want to remind you that it is just that- a tradition that was most likely started by a teacher, administrator, and/or school somewhere that wanted parents and students to feel ready to start the year. And, I have also noticed that this seems to be a trend mainly in elementary schools.

Second, I  think that part of the push for a back-to-school event was that it helped teachers think big picture for the year in academics, to review discipline procedures, and prepare mentally. That alone, makes back-to-school/open house worth it from an administrator's point of view.

Third, we, as educators do what we do because we love serving our students and parents. And, if that means that only 4 could make it to your event, that is four kids that you got to meet and help feel special. Those four kids will come to school knowing that they are going to be loved and safe!

So, what does all this mean?
I think it means that when we have those parents and students in our classrooms, we DO need to "Tell'em what's up". AND, we need to embrace that we will rarely get every parent, or even a majority, to attend. Parents are busy, and, when faced with a choice between something they feel they have attended a bazillion times, or getting a chore done, a few extra hours of work, or something else that to them is more pressing, they will choose what will reduce the most stress- and sadly teachers, it won't be back-to-school night. It's okay- we've got this!

This leads me back to the line of thought I have had as principal, and this new perspective where I am coordinating the entire event. I love my teachers dearly, and do my best to ensure they have everything they need to be successful! I kept thinking of all the stress it was to be ready for back-to-school night AND prepare for the first day AND prepare for this...and that...

I truly wanted to simplify teachers lives and reduce stress. But how?

 This, I have decided, means that teachers, administrators, and schools need to start looking for non-traditional ways to share this same information with these busy parents, who, do want to know and be involved, but truly can't attend.

How about trying something like this:

=A prerecorded video that can be emailed or put on a school server/wiki/blog/youtube? This can include the teachers, administrator, librarian, computer lab managers, paraprofessionals, and anyone else that the school deems needful to be included.

=A short written handbook that is mailed out to the parents with the registration papers, or handed out at school registration.  (Could also include links to the videos talked about above)

=A motivation to come. If the school provides a simple dinner (hot dogs, spaghetti, etc.), served at the end of the event, parents will be given one less task at home to deal with, and hopefully feel more enticed to come. The secret is to give each family a ticket to eat for free. These are only given to parents who attend a full session in one or more classrooms.

=An Open House and Back-to-School Night all in one, where parents can come during a set period of time and meet the teacher, but then also schedule 1-2 set presentations during the last hour of the event. (NOTE: This is the option we are piloting this year- and my teachers are excited for it! We are also having a hot dog BBQ at the end to encourage parents, students, and teachers to mingle. IT IS GOING TO BE AWESOME!)

=Others that your amazing school dream up!

 Back-to-School Events aren't going away anytime soon. But, the stress associated with them doesn't need to hang around. Talk with your administrators, your peers, your parents/students. Ask them what needs to take place to make it most useful for them and YOU!

Make it your mission to change it up next year- to cause a little disruption- for good- in your school! I think you will be amazed at the results.

-John Hughes
Elementary Principal
Owner, Created by MrHughes\
Proud Member of The Primary Chalkboard

To find out more about me and my teaching ideas click below.
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On the Second Day of School FREEBIE

The first day of school is important. But the second day of school is important also, and it can be incredibly overwhelming. In fact, I am usually at least TWICE as stressed on the second day.

All of the forms you sent home on the first day will start coming back to you. Also many of your students will bring in their school and classroom supplies, if they didn't bring them the first day. There will also be a few parents who will insist on walking their kiddos down for the second day in a row. They will want to ask you questions about the previous day. Then, students who were excited about the first day of school may start acting out on the second day because they have come to the realization that summer REALLY is over. They may have to be coaxed into your room and out of the hallway. Along with getting to know and taking care of 24 +/- new little people, this can make the second day of school particularly challenging.

That is why I always make sure that I have a morning work activity that is SUPER engaging, so that I have a little extra time to take care of "business."

Click here to download a free "Second Day of School Book" that you can use with your own class! (Recommended for grades 1-3).

Chalkies LOVE Back to School TPT Sale

It's that special time again! Time for the HUGE annual Teachers Pay Teachers Back to School Sale! 

A special thank you to Mrs. Jones' Kindergarten for making our super cute sale button!

We are so excited to share with you some NEW awesome products from our stores! Click on any of the links below to visit our personal blogs and see what we've been up to! :)

An InLinkz Link-up

When you are checking out on August 3rd & 4th don't forget to enter the Promotional Code: BTS15 for additional savings! 
Also, remember to leave feedback so that you can TPT Credits towards future purchases!

Getting the Most Out of Professional Development

You hear it announced at the beginning of the school day and you dread it ALL. DAY. LONG! Or, you are happily enjoying your summer break and you get an email or text that makes your heart drop... PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT SESSION- attendance "optional", but not really, if you know what I mean.

Yup, we have all been there before. I will admit that in my 15 years of being in the world of education, I have sat through some pretty crumby professional development sessions/classes where I felt I knew more about the topic being presented than the presenter. I was grouchy and didn't want to listen or hear what was being discussed!

On the flip-side of that, I too, have sat through many AMAZING sessions of professional development where I left inspired, invigorated, and ready to get the proverbial party started!

I have spent the past couple of weeks reflecting on this topic. I am now an administrator who will be giving these professional development opportunities to my staff. What made some sessions so amazing, and others so lame?

I realized it was ME! It dawned on me that I played a HUGE role in the value I got out of those professional development sessions. I also realized that there were some key components to getting the most out of each and every session- regardless of the topic, the presenter, or the time of day!

So, read on, dear PD'er! I am excited to share a few of these tips with you!

1) Have A Positive Attitude
No I am not just saying this because I am a new principal. I have been a negative Ned most of my life. I tend to be very pessimistic about many things.  However, I found that when I had a positive attitude, even if I had to "pretend" I was glad about the PD session, that I was more attentive and willing to listen to what was being shared. I tried to smile more in the session and remind myself that something in this presentation WILL make me a better teacher!

Also, be sure to avoid or shut down negative talk about professional development. A simple, "Really? I am looking forward to our meeting today!" is usually enough to get the negative Nellys and Neds to zip it!

2) Get AND Use A PD Notebook/Journal
I learned the value of this from my second principal- Jane Friel. She was a ROCK STAR at modeling for us as teachers things to do and try in our classrooms during PD sessions and Faculty meetings. Each year we would get a new composition notebook that had our name, grade, and year on it. Sometimes were "required" to take notes or reflect on the the learning of the meeting, but mostly it was a place to write down key ideas and take-away points from articles/presentations that were part of the on-going PD at that school. I still have all THREE of the ones I received while working in her school. Even better, I still flip through them from time to time and find the learning still relevant to me today!

I found that when I listened with the foreknowledge of wanting to write down the key ideas, I was able to focus and truly listen. It made a HUGE difference in my learning and understanding.

3) Have A Discussion ASAP!
I have found that when I sit down, whether it is later that day or the next, with a colleague that also attended (or even one that didn't) and discuss key points, that I am able to better retain the information, get new insights from the person I am sharing with, and have a more positive experience overall. In fact, knowing that I will be sharing with someone else, makes me take better notes and ponder about ideas.

However, note that sitting next to your besties and talking off-topic the whole time will NOT be a helpful activity. Side-conversation is distracting to others around you and a real downer for the person presenting. To top it all off, it makes you look unprofessional as well- something we ALL want to avoid!

If no one wants to listen to you when it is all said and done, then write a Facebook post, blog post, share your ideas on Instagram, or even do a quick Periscope video- someone out there will listen and respond! I know I would!

So, I want to make it clear that I understand that some professional development will just suck eggs. That's all there is to it! Sometimes the required topics are annoying- or "just another thing" we have to do. But, if we refer to Tip #1, we will find that regardless of the topic- something useful, positive, and constructive can truly come from ANY training, in-service, or session you are required to attend.

And, if the offering is optional- make it a point to go. Knowing you are there because you CAN be and not because you HAVE to be, will also make a huge difference in your attitude and learning.

Now that I have shared my TOP 3 TIPS for GETTING THE MOST OUT OF PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT with you- it's YOUR turn! I would love to hear what tips you have to offer about how to get the most out of professional development! Leave your thoughts in the comment section below! I can't wait to hear from you! SCORE!

Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful WEEK! WAHOO!

John, Created by MrHughes

Join me on my journey with one or all of these sites:

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Periscope (@createdbymrhughes)

Don't miss the other AWESOME posts from this month. 
Click on the picture to learn and read more! WAHOO!

4th of July Fun at Home

Hey guys! It's Jessica from Second Grade Nest. I am coming to you today with ideas on making 4th of July memorable for your children. From crafts to snacks to summer learning, here are some fun and exciting things that I think your children will really love. 

 Need crafty ideas?
 Are you entertaining children at your house for a 4th of July party? Want to keep the kids occupied and leave many fun memories that will stick with them? As a child, I always went to summer camp, which was filled with arts and crafts. Doing summer crafts is a fond memory of mine!
(Source: Mess for Less)

Teaching summer school? All year round? Want summer learning for your children?
This may not be the most popular idea to have your children working over the summer, but for those rocking moms and dads who may want to have an educational morning, these ideas are for you! Or if you are a teacher in the middle of summer school or year round school, here are a few ideas for you, too!
Here are my fictional and nonfictional stories about Fourth of July!
 Here is Autumn's Watch, Think, Color for patriotism! This could be a fun morning activity done on the computer. 
Or how about Vicky's $1 product that gives kids a glimpse of their country with facts? 

Need snack ideas?
This may not be teaching related, but these Pinterest finds are TOO much fun to pass up. Check these out and let us know if you plan to try any!
(Source: DIY Ready)

Need night time activities without fireworks? 
Sparklers were about the extent of my firework abilities until the age of 16. Kids want in on the action at night, but at such a young age, they are limited to what they can do. So why not make some fun games for them to play after the sun sets so they feel like they can join in on the 4th of July nighttime fun?
(Source: Create Craft Love

Want more summer fun? Check out my June and July Pinterest board here!

 Thanks for reading! 

End Of The Year EDITABLE Awards FREEBIE!

Hey ya'll!  Mr. Greg here!   Is everyone else crazy from the end of the year madness?!?!   Summer is almost I want to do something to help ease that stress!!!!

How about some free editable end of the year awards!

We don't do big end of the year celebrations in our kindergarten class.  I make a super simple video featuring all of our pictures and fun from the year.  We invite parents and we sit together and relive our amazing year together.  I give each child a personalized award!   Each child gets an award that is personal to them!  

This year I have the following awards:   Best And Largest Hair Accessories Collection, Most Words Ever Spoken In a Kindergarten Class,  Most Sassy-ness,  Best Mohawk, and so on.  Each award means something to each child because it reminds them of something that we've celebrated and shared and giggled about all year!   As I hand out each award, I explain the significance of the award and why it is so meaningful!

Then I cry.  And that brings our year to a close!

If you would like these free awards, click on the picture and head to The Kindergarten Smorgasboard to grab yours!

6 Ways to Re-Energize Your Class This Spring

Hi, friends! Laura here from Peace, Love, and First Grade!

Are you as excited as I am about SPRING?
My azaleas are blooming, the sun is shining, and recess could last all day!
Spring is here at last!

Hmm...the weather is absolutely beautiful, so what is it then (testing, worry about the fence sitters, I could go on...) that causes teachers to feel out of sorts in spring??

If you feel the spring time exhaustion, you are not alone. I'm with you, along with thousands of your closest teacher friends!
What's a teacher to do?

Well, there's always the adage, "This, too, shall pass." 
But, let's be honest, when you're in the thick of things, that's not very helpful.

I can't calm the winds or take away the full moon days, but I can share with you a few things I do when the days seem to draw out forever.

1) Try a New Activity
Dig out an activity you love and you KNOW the kiddos will love! 
We have an Author's Craft unit we do each spring, and not only do I love it, the kids love it, too.
You can feel the energy in the room during these lessons.
Dig deep if you have to, but find a lesson or activity to re-energize the class!

2) Read Your Favorite Children's Book
Apply the same tip from #1 to your favorite read-aloud. My firsties eat up chapter books during spring. They love Mercy Watson and Judith Viorst's LuLu, and I know breaking out a book from one of those series will make ALL of us smile! 

This is also a great time to break out a favorite from YOUR childhood to share with the class. I have always loved The Boxcar Children and adore sharing it with my kiddos. I mean, quite honestly, the original Boxcar is about as good as it gets!  

Pull out your favorite picture books, too. I love sharing Russell Hoban's Frances series during spring.

3) Do Something Different
I know. I know. That takes energy! 
But spring is the perfect time to try something new. 
Plan and plant a garden. 
Go outside and have class. 
The clouds are beautiful right now. Take advantage of that and learn about them. Send everyone out to sketch those babies! you've never tried online Brain Breaks before, 
give them a shot.
My kidlets would GoNoodle or Move to Learn all day if I would let them.
Brain Breaks are seriously good for refreshing students AND teachers! 

**Let me preface #4 by saying I don't mean do this every day, and I am not advocating all day recess, just a ONE TIME BREAK.
4) Give Your Kids (and Yourself) a Break
Skip the spelling test this week...or homework...or an incredibly boring lesson in the math program that causes you to breathe deeply for 30 minutes afterward. You know what I mean.
We've all been working hard and we all deserve an unexpected break

5) Get Student Input
Ask your kiddos what they are interested in learning about and plug their ideas into your lesson, even if you just find books about their favorite topics. 
Create a class chart where children can add their suggestions or interests. Children love knowing their opinions matter and feel valued when you take the time to include their interests in your lessons.

6) Spring Clean
Take some time each day to clean out! Spend 20 minutes cleaning out a bin or a drawer. We all know the feeling of accomplishment that comes with a tidy workspace. 

Get the kids in on the act, too. All my littles have class jobs, and those jobs change every 9 weeks. Let your students apply for the jobs that interest them and start assigning tasks. Set aside a time each day when everyone does his job. Your kiddos will love it!

Let's face it! Teaching is an exhausting profession. 
It's a wonderful "wouldn't want to do anything else" adventure, but it's exhausting. 
I hope one of the ideas above inspires you this spring.  
And, remember, if all else fails, "This, too, shall pass."

Have a fabulous week!! 

Who Wants to Go to VEGAS?!?!

 Have you ever been to VEGAS?!?!?!
Sparkling lights, amazing sights, and delicious bites...can't you just picture yourself in VEGAS?


Well Primary Chalkboard and SDE are giving you a chance to visit LAS VEGAS!

That's right!  Primary Chalkboard and SDE are giving away your choice of any SDE session in Vegas.

But that's not all, we're also giving away a $25 gift card to the Crystal Springs Bookstore, so you can have a little something to take home with you!

Still, that's not all!  Primary Chalkboard is also giving you $300 in cash to help pay for your transportation, room, food, or whatever expenses you have!

NOW can you "Picture Your Selfie" in VEGAS?

I'll bet you're asking yourself how can you enter to win this fabulous prize, right?

Well, here's how to do just that.

Each of us has a "tip" for visiting Las Vegas.  You simply visit and "like" each page below.
On each tip, you will find a card and on that card is a number.  Keep track of those numbers and add them together.  You will enter that on the Rafflecopter below.

You can also get an additional entry by posting a selfie on Instagram holding a sign telling us why you want to come to Vegas.   
Be sure to use #primarychalkboardsendmetovegas so it will count.

We hope we see YOU in VEGAS!