Do you ever feel like a Mom-teacher and want to tell all the new teachers, don’t do as I did? I feel like I wasted so much time and energy in the beginning. I stressed myself when there were much easier ways to do things. Maybe it is because I am the mom of a teenager so I am in the teaching-life-lessons stage of parenting . . . . I find I am doing the same thing with my blogging, too. I want to share all of the things that helped me as a teacher so you can avoid mistakes-hassles-stresses (you pick the word) that I made.
Teacher Life Lesson #1: It took me 10 – yes you read that correctly – TEN years of teaching before I figured out how to do morning messages in a time saving fashion. The first decade of my career, this was quite a chore – to say the least. I wrote my messages on chart tablet or a white board. To be perfectly honest, there were days when I was not as consistent as I should be. Why? Well, life happens when you are a teacher. I knew the value of morning messages, yet I didn’t always get the message written, it wasn’t a quality message, or the skills being reinforced with the message weren’t what they should be. Can you relate? Then I began planning for a maternity leave, which was a game changer for me. I came up my Easy Morning Message system and it was love at first sight. You can read more about it HERE and HERE.
Morning messages are a great way to enforce important reading skills. Skills are taught in a spiral throughout the year which builds confidence in students. I loved hearing all of the “this is easy-peasy” comments. These same skills were often a challenge in the beginning. Students were soon successful because of the guided support and seeing the skills revisited over and over thanks to the spiral review.
New skills were introduced during my circle time lesson. Not all of my students were ready to learn about the skills though. With morning messages, I reinforced the skill so the students who weren’t ready yet would continue to see the skill so they would eventually be successful.
It enriched my students who needed a challenge, too. Skills I had not introduced during circle time are included. A mini-lesson during morning message time about these skills is all these students need. I looked at morning messages like a t.v. commercial. My students could always sing a jingle or two or their favorite ones. Why? Commercials are short and shown over and over. Morning messages for me worked the same way. The lesson was quick and repeated throughout the week.
One of the questions I could count on from parents at every and I mean EVERY Back to School night was “how do you challenge your students?”. The differentiation system in my morning message system was one the tools in my teacher toolbox that I shared.
I used the system below to differentiate my morning messages when I taught kindergarten, 1st grade, and 3rd grade. This is great when you have class with a wide range of abilities.
One of the questions I am asked is about my schedule. My schedule varied a little so I did not do it every day. On Fridays, we did a Star Student book. Read more about it HERE.
There are also crazy years and crazy times of year when your schedule is unusually hectic. You know those weeks when you have to practice for a PTA program, go on a field trip, and half your class is getting pulled for something or rather. For the hectic times, you can set the system up as a writing center. Great for teachers who don’t have time in their schedule for morning message each day. I still recommend doing morning messages as guided practice as often as your schedule permits. But, this does give you an alternative.
Click HERE to read tips about setting up morning messages as a writing center.
This post has some FREE samples of my morning messages packets. Try them out and let me know what you think!
Teacher Life Lesson #2: Sub Resource Binder
Writing sub plans is one of my least favorite jobs. It seems like it happens at the worst possible times, too! I’m either sick, my child is sick, or I’m having one of those, “Oh-my-gosh, I-have-a-staffing-this-MORNING” day. Do you ever forget those meetings that pull you out of class?
If you leave less-than-stellar plans for the sub, you WILL pay the price when you return. How often have you returned to notes or calls from parents? Or colleagues on your doorstep ready to share how utterly chaotic your class was without you?
If any of these scenarios sound familiar, then it is time to organize a Substitute Resource Binder. When you pull out your binder, the heavy lifting for sub planning is already done. You will thank your lucky stars that you spent the time making a resource binder the next time you have an OMG day. Think of it like the movie, Pay It Forward. The time you spend now will pay BIG dividends at the time when you need it MOST! The best thing is once you organize a binder; you will need to spend only a minimal amount of time at the beginning of each year in the future to update it with your new schedule and class list.
Read what other teachers who have used it have said about the resource binder. Best of all it is EDITABLE in Powerpoint so you can personalize it to fit your needs.
Do you have any life lessons for teachers to share?