Monday, May 18, 2015

Summer's Coming! Are you ready? 10 Tips for preparing for Summer Break

I know you are winding down and can only think about summer vacations, getting some work done around the house, and spending more time with your family (or at least away from your classroom), but do a few of the things on this list now and save yourself time in the fall when everything is happening all at once!

  1. Get your first week handouts copied and put in a folder for next year – so you aren't waiting on copiers or printers when you come back in the fall.
  2. Get end of year awards and handouts ready to pass out. 
  3. Make a list of things you didn't get to this year that you really want to teach next year.  Schedule them as things you will do the first Monday of each month throughout the year or every Wednesday first thing, etc.
  4. Update your required supplies list for next year’s group of students.
  5. Fill out your calendar with next year’s days off, in-service days, testing dates, etc. – Color-code them for better organization. 
  6. Set up classroom organizers for next year. Go ahead and color-code those folders, print new labels, and alphabetize everything.
  7. Clean your white boards/calendars/take down items pertaining to this year’s group of students.
  8. Have students start cleaning out their desks/lockers – have them take home items they will no longer need this year.
  9. Get prepped for next year’s lessons. Check out our Literature Activity Guides (Over 400 titles) and/or our Differentiated Bloom’s Units (over 50 topics) in either Hard Copy or E-Unit!
  10. Do you have storage containers for each section of the year (Fall poster boards/wall decor, winter holidays) – go ahead and get them in order for next year. Update anything that was damaged or discolored to have a fresh clean look for next year.

You may be putting in a little extra work right now, but you’ll appreciate everything you did in the fall!

Comment in the section below what you do the last few weeks of the year…

Here are some great options for quick activities to take up spare time and/or for independent work:
But I Only Have 45 Minutes
Thinker Cards
Mesmerizing Math Puzzles
Independent Study
Task Masters! Series

Research topics/professional development for yourself for next year:
Successful Teaching in the Differentiated Classroom
Teaching Tools for the 21st Century
Teacher’s Book of BIG Questions
Cultivating Classroom Conversation
Creativity X4
Primary Education Thinking Skills Curriculum

Monday, May 4, 2015

4 BIG Reasons to get Excited About Teacher In-Service Days!

Teacher In-Service...

To a student these are exciting words to read on a school calendar.  It means a day off for no reason!

How most students imagine Teacher In-Service Days

How most teachers imagine Teacher In-Service Days
However, for a teacher, in-service days often bring images of long days spent listening to a speaker when you could be working in your classroom and getting caught up on your grading, lesson planning, etc.

As a company that offers speakers for Staff Development Workshops, we know the value of staff development workshops because we have seen the results from them.  So, as an in-service day approaches, keep in mind the following reasons why Staff Development is important.

1.  Staff Development allows teachers to learn new, exciting, and innovative ways to teach.

In education, strategies and methods are constantly changing.  Many teachers feel like as soon as they learn one way of teaching, things have already changed.  However, not all of these changes are bad.  We are constantly discovering more about how children learn and how we can better cater their school experience to their needs.  This is where staff development comes in.  A good staff development presenter will take a new idea or strategy and help you learn how to implement it in your classroom in a way that is effective for the student and doesn’t cause more work or stress for you, the teacher.

2.   Staff Development unites teachers to work together as a team.

Teaching is often not a team sport.  Often times, teachers feel isolated from the lack of conversation with adults.  Staff Development days are a good time for teachers to bounce ideas off of one another, talk about problems in their classrooms, and unite as a team of teachers.

3.    Staff Development gives the opportunity for teachers to ask the administration questions.

With the business of a typical day in a school, there is often not enough time to ask administration questions about policies, new rules or expectations, and overall general questions.  Staff development often gives the administration and teachers a forum to discuss problems, questions, and expectations.

4.    Staff Development gives teachers a chance to re-evaluate their methods.

In all things, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut and do things the way you've always done them.  The same is true for teaching.  Staff Development provides you with the opportunity to research new methods and ideas and re-evaluate how you are teaching.

So, next time you see teacher in-service on the school calendar, try not to think about all the other things you could be doing.  Instead, see this time as an opportunity to become the best teacher you can be for your students.

For more information about staff development or Pieces of Learning’s Innovating, Interesting, and Imaginative Staff Development Workshops, contact Peggy at!