5 Secrets of the Successful Teacher

August 5, 2019

Hey Teacher Friend, 

    It's Back-to-School season here in the Chicago-land area! I'm kind of in that ready/not ready phase right now! I'm excited for my 16th year as an educator! Over the years, I've learned a lot of tips and tricks that work really well for me. Today, I'm going to share 5 Secrets of the Successful Teacher with you!

1. Build Relationships!
    I know, as teachers, we are really, really busy. I promise you, you will NEVER regret taking the time to get to know a student. Having taught push-in Special Ed. the last 5 years, I can't tell you how many times knowing that a student had a soccer game last night or asking how his brother's birthday party went has made a difference in that child's learning for the day. A kid could come in to school in the worst mood ever, but when I ask her how her grandma is doing in the hospital, she smiles so big! Why? Because, I have taken the time to learn about her family, her likes/dislikes, and what's going on in her little 9-year-old world. 
    As teachers, we need to teach standards and objectives, but unless you take the time to build relationships with your students you are just going to be up there in the front of the room talking to yourself! Your students need to feel a connection to you to learn from you! So, please, start from day one this year, find out who your students are as people! Don't forget to share things about yourself! They need to know you are a human too! 

2.Trauma is Real!
   I know it is not a pleasant thing to think about and I wish it weren't true, but many of the students sitting in our classrooms have experienced some form of trauma. Some of the kids in our rooms have or are experiencing multiple forms of trauma right now in their lives. 
   Trauma comes in many forms: homelessness, a parent's drug/alcohol addiction, domestic violence, violence in the community, divorce, physical/sexual abuse, and the list goes on.  
   Kids can be very good at hiding their trauma. Kids who have experienced trauma may: act out in class, have trouble forming relationships with teachers/peers, have negative thoughts, be hyper vigilant, and have difficulty learning. 
   When you see a student experiencing these challenges, take the time to get them the help they need. I know your busy, all teachers are busy. But, kids experiencing trauma need our help. We need to be trauma sensitive teachers. 

3. Be a Positive Force!
   Years ago, I walked into a teachers lounge to eat my lunch. I was a long-term sub. covering a 6 month maternity leave. There were about 10 teachers in the room, all of them talked negatively about their day, the kids, and their work. After a few minutes of listening to them I got up and went back to my room to eat alone. 
   As teachers, as humans, we must decide to be a positive force in our world. Life isn't going to be perfect. Teaching is hard! But, each day I choose to be positive. I seek out the good in life. I seek out positive people in my life. If you do this you will see that being positive attracts positivity in your life.

4. Don't Sweat the Small Stuff! 
   Each day is busy and full of what appears to be important tasks for you to accomplish. I promise most of the things we busy our days with, both in and out of school, are not that important. This year, as we begin school, I want you to consider what is truly important for the success of your students this year. I promise your students do not need: a Pinterest perfect classroom, all new flexible seating (bought from your checking account), or a massive classroom library.
   Find a few things you like to decorate your room with, but leave lots of space for the students to make the room their space too. Don't feel like you need to go broke to create a classroom your students will love. Pretty classrooms don't always equal learning, but students who know they are cared for often learn a lot that year. Choose books that you love and want to share with your students. Choose books that come recommended by other kids. Again, don't go broke buying books! 
   Don't sweat the small stuff! Make sure your students know that school is a safe place where they are cared for and they will learn. 

5. Make Learning Fun! 
   After 15 years in the classroom, I can make any subject fun or I can make it the most boring thing ever studied! 
Here's how I make learning fun!

  •  Allow choice, all students don't have to complete the assignment the same way.
  • Let kids work in groups or pairs or alone, give them the choice.
  • Make it a game, if possible.
  • Involve technology and apps., kids love them!
  • Let kids draw, color, and make things to show their ideas.
  • Let kids make and build things.

  Here's to a great new school year! It's going to be amazing one! Don't forget to subscribe with your email over on the side! I've got some great things I want to share with you this year! 

Much love,
the Undercover Teacher

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