Teacher Tuesdays 8.21.12

For this week's Teacher Tuesday, I have a guest! My friend Beth from Bethie Goes to Dover is here to share some of her teaching tips with us! Welcome Beth! I am so glad to have you here today. -------


Hi everyone! Thanks to Marissa for letting me guest post this week (I originally typed “quest post,” which would also be a lot of fun.) My name is Beth, and I’m here to help. :)


For some background on me: This is my fourth year teaching. I currently teach ninth grade English in Delaware, but I have also been a senior English teacher, a 10th grade English teacher, and a drama/stage tech teacher. My first year was supposed to be a job that lasted nine weeks, but kept being extended a few weeks (or months) at a time, so I always felt like I had to be ready to hand over my room at a moment’s notice. For my second job, I floated into an auditorium and three different classrooms, so I didn’t really have a space of my own. Last year, I finally got my own classroom. This is the first year I am in the same space, teaching the same thing.


It’s really nice having my own space.


Yesterday was my first day of inservice, and as I wandered the school, I was thinking about what best to share with you here on Teacher Tuesday. There’s so much that goes into the beginning of the year, both mentally and physically. I’ve decided that I’m going to talk mostly about physical space, because that sets so much of the tone for the class. Plus, getting a room prepped is such a hard thing, and it can be daunting, especially for newer teachers. Nobody but teachers really realize how much organization is needed, and how hard it is to be creative but informative at the same time.


I should note now that I am not nearly as crafty or artsy as Marissa, so please don’t judge. I work with what I’ve got.


Last year, I found that my students wanted to know their grades all the time. I decided to post grades in the back of my classroom.  I designated part of my bulletin boards for that purpose.


Around the same time, I decided I wanted the kids to keep track of their own grades. To help, I tried to keep a list of things I’d assigned them on the front board. This year, instead of writing it down on part of my board (messy and hard to read) I’m going to staple a copy of each paper to this bulletin board. (The kids always asked to see what the paper looked like, anyway). I’ve tried this in different forms each year; I’ve used a binder that the kids have access to, and I’ve also just gone through my own stuff and picked out what they have been given and then shown it to individual students. Neither really worked.  I’m not sure how this year will go, but I’ll keep you posted.


One of my biggest problems as an English teacher is organizing the large number of papers (mostly essays) that come in. In my first year, I had students tell me that I lost their papers, when in reality they just never gave them to me in the first place. The first thing I did when I got my own room this year was create a Turn In Bin. All papers go into there, no matter when they were due. Each class has their own folder, clearly labeled. It’s in a central location, and any time a student tries to hand me a random paper, I tell them “Turn-In Bin!” This helps me to not lose papers on my own desk or from my own absentmindedness.



I teach ninth grade, and sometimes it is hard to get their attention to the important things. Last year, a student was going to throw out a foamboard Batsignal, and I stole it from the trash. This year, I am going to use it to call attention to things like quiz or test dates, or important due dates. It’s something tiny, but something I think kids will notice pretty quickly. I also found blue and gold folding baskets (school colors!), which I use to hold post-it’s for kids and myself, as well as pencils, pens, and markers for the year.


As for the rest of my classroom: My closets will be turned into Word Walls for Vocab.  My back board will become a calendar for the week, and a quarter of my front board will be devoted to the day’s Essential Question, Homework, and “Do,” which is what we will physically do that day in class. In my first year of teaching, my seniors became enraged when I didn’t do a good job of telling them what was expected each day, which led to a whole class period of us just discussing how best to get information to them. We found that the day’s information in the front and the week’s calendar in the back of the room really helped them focus on the day while still planning for the week. No matter which way you do it, I highly suggest having a weekly schedule up in the classroom somewhere. It helps you plan and gives you the ability to tell the kids “You knew this test was coming! No excuses!”


So that’s what I did to get my classroom in order. You’ll notice that I didn’t do too much with decoration. I prefer to decorate with student work. However, I do suggest you personalize somehow. Last year I had up an old-timey poster for Kennywood and a picture of the Eiffel Tower, to show my love of Pittsburgh and travel. I also put purple and green rope lights on my desk, which the kids loved. Some teachers go all out with content specific posters, but I find those are really expensive. No matter what, it’s important to make your room your own somehow.


Whew! Sorry kids, I was trying to keep it short but informative. I hope this gives you some ideas for your own classrooms. I’d love to hear what you all do to keep organized throughout the year. J




Thanks Beth for sharing!! Please take a minute and stop by her blog and say hi! (Sorry this week is so rushed!) {[widgets_on_pages id="LinkUp"]