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Fund for Teachers: Application Deadline is January 30!

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Jan 16, 2014 1:58:00 PM

professional development for teachersWe love traveling, but like most teachers, we’re not made of money! But even if money’s tight during the summer, you may be pleasantly surprised to find out that you may still be able to design your own travel and professional-development opportunities and actually have them entirely funded by Fund for Teachers.  

Fund for Teachers: Application Deadline is January 30!

Since 2001, Fund for Teachers has invested $20 million in more than 5,500 teachers. What’s really cool about this organization is that it allows teachers to propose their own professional learning experiences.

To apply, you’ll need to meet the following criteria:

  • Employed full-time as a PreK-12th grade teacher and spends at least 50% of their work week in direct instruction with students in a classroom or classroom-like setting;
  • Intends to continue teaching in the consecutive school year; and
  • Has at least three years teaching experience as a PreK-12th grade teacher.

professional development for teachers 2Teachers may apply for up to $5,000 in grant rewards; if you and your colleagues apply as a team, you may be eligible for $10,000 in grants.

Here are a few more specifics:

All applicants must apply online before 5:00 p.m. on Jan. 30, 2014.

In addition to completing the online form, applicants must:

  • Create a 1-2 sentence project description (500 character limit), detailing What you are doing + Where you are going + Why.
  • Print the cover sheet, sign, and obtain your principal's signature (your principal's signature is only to verify the information you have included on your cover sheet).
  • Mail the original (the address is provided when you print) on or before Thursday, January 30, 2014

    Martin Luther King Jr Lesson Plans

Tags: Fund for Teachers, professional development for educators, summer vacation, summer break, professional development for teachers

5 More Things You Will Wish Someone Had Told You About Teaching

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Nov 15, 2013 2:01:00 PM

new teachersOn Thursday, I posted part I of Things You Will Wish Someone Had Told You About Teaching. Like I said in the first post, I know that having a copy of Roxanna Elden’s book, See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers, wouldn’t have solved all of my first-year frustrations, but it certainly would have put a lot of what I was going through into perspective.

I think other teachers—both new and old—can glean something from Elden’s frank advice, so without further ado, here are five more things you will wish someone had told you about teaching!

5 More Things You Will Wish Someone Had Told You About Teaching

Don’t be too worried about your students liking you
You’ve probably heard of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and even if you haven’t, you know from experience that love and intimacy are basic human needs. We all want to love and be loved—but look, you’re going to do a lot of damage when you try to earn your students affection by letting your classroom management slip.

As Elden suggests, it can feel unnatural, especially for young teachers, to “play the role of a nerdy or uptight adult,” but keep in mind that freedom is easier to give than take away.

Your students have friends—and let’s be frank, you’ll never be as cool as they are. You are an authority figure and a leader. Act like one.

Make a schedule for paperwork
Elden is right about a few things:

  • First, you’re not going to believe how much of your job is tied up in paperwork.
  • Second, the paperwork won’t end until sometime in June.
  • Third, you’re going to get tired of it—and because you’re tired of it, it’s going to be tempting to put paperwork off.

One of the best things you can do for yourself is create a realistic grading schedule and stick to it. If you know you can only grade 10-15 papers in a night, don’t bring home a stack of 50; this will stress you out and lead to exhaustion. 

Teaching is physically exhausting
Have you seen this short New York Times piece? If you’re already a teacher, you probably thought, “My gosh…it’s like looking in the mirror. That’s exactly how I feel at the end of the day.”

As a new teacher, you often drive to and from work in the dark. You’re on your feet all day and when you go home, you’ll probably think about the students that are at-risk. Even so, there’s some good news if you keep reading.

Things do get better
There will be days—and perhaps many of them—when you’re so physically exhausted and discouraged that you will consider throwing in the towel. During these times, do your best to remember Elden’s advice:

There’s a reason why so many people have chosen to become teachers: Certain moments in this profession more than make up for your worst days. Be patient. These moments will come—and when they do, you will understand.

Lock your door when you leave the room
A lot of new teachers leave their doors open because they are just “stepping out for a minute.” You’d be surprised what can happen in 60 seconds.

Grade-schoolers are cute; they wouldn’t dream of going into your classroom without your permission; they wouldn’t think about going through your desk. Right….

Wear your classroom keys around your neck, on your wrist, or attach them to your belt loop with a climbing carabiner so that you’re not tempted to leave your room unlocked.


Thanksgiving Craft Guide

Tags: new teacher, classroom management, classroom procedures, new teachers, professional development for teachers

5 Things You Will Wish Someone Had Told You About Teaching

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Nov 14, 2013 10:12:00 AM

new teachersIt’s hard to believe now, but the first time I formally stood in front of a classroom was also the day I stepped off an eighteen-hour flight from Detroit to Taoyuan, Taiwan. Jet-lagged and armed with exactly two words of Mandarin in my back pocket, I eventually—after many misadventures that would take a book to describe—found my way to the school for “orientation.” 

Allow me to describe “orientation.” Basically, it entailed signing some paperwork, receiving five textbooks and being told by the co-director of the school, “Just have fun with the kids and you’ll do fine—oh, and your first class is in three hours.”

Three hours later, there I was…in front of twenty eleven-year-olds, doing my best to keep it together for the next hour and forty-five minutes. I survived, but it wasn’t pretty—and let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty for quite some time.

I sought advice from anyone who would give it, but the most common sound bite was, “Just stay positive and have fun with the kids.” This was neither specific, nor was it very helpful.

Looking back, I know that having a copy of Roxana Elden’s book, See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers wouldn’t have solved all of my first-year woes, but it certainly would have put a lot of what I was going through into perspective.

Basically, Elden describes her book as the antithesis to the beloved Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Why? According to her, “new teachers need something stronger than chicken soup.” Most of us have heard our share of commonplace teaching advice, so let’s skip the sound bites and get to part I of 10 Things You Will Wish Someone Had Told You About Teaching.

A lot of the advice you get will make you feel worse—not better
You will hear lots of advice your first year. Some will be good, but you won’t necessarily be able to put it into practice right away. Some will be bad, but you won’t realize that until you have more experience. Either way, advice is likely to come from at least three different sources:

  • Professional development: When done right, training sessions can be quite useful, but often they overwhelm new teachers. You may, as Elden points out, hear in one meeting that students must use “learning logs” or all is doomed. In the next meeting, though, you may hear that reading comprehension only happens when you conduct pre-reading actives with manipulatives.  “What happened to learning logs?” you’ll think.  

Don’t beat yourself up for not doing every last thing that begins with the words, “Research says.”

  • Other teachers: Veteran teachers are often the best sources of information, but you may find that your colleagues are not able to entirely articulate their techniques. You may also find that these teachers give advice based on what they think they should be doing instead of what they are actually doing.
  • Nonteachers: It seems that everyone has an opinion about education, especially people who aren’t teachers. Since you are a teacher, be prepared to hear all about what you should be doing in the classroom. You’ll probably hear a lot of “Let them know you care” or, in my case, “Try making it fun and you’ll be fine.” These folks mean well, they may even offer good advice on occasion. Don’t let them get to you.

Your classroom is your first responsibility
When you’re the new teacher on the block, it’s tempting to sign up for any opportunity that comes your way so that you can prove yourself. Here’s Elden’s two cents: “Unless you were specifically hired to run a program or coach, don’t take on other responsibilities until you have a firm grip on teaching.”

Coaching volleyball, leading after-school programs and planning class trips can be rewarding experiences—but they can turn into a nightmare when you’re still learning the essentials of teaching. Learn to walk before you run.

You can’t change everything the first year—and you shouldn’t try to
You’re coming into the school with a new set of eyes, which means that you’ll see flaws or ways of doing things that seem inefficient or unfair. Always remember that your classroom is your first responsibility. Focus your attention on becoming a better teacher, not on fighting the system.  

Ask for help and accept it
New teachers often make the mistake of thinking that they have to design all of their own lesson plans, worksheets and assignments. There’s nothing wrong with designing your own resources, but you should also be open to getting ideas from other teachers. There’s a definite value in your creativity, but there’s no sense in reinventing the wheel. You’ll quickly exhaust yourself.

Your students are kids, no matter how big they are
If you are an average-sized adult and you teach junior high or high school, you’re going to be working with students who are bigger, taller, and physically stronger than you are. Here are two pieces of advice: First, don’t allow your students’ size or appearance to intimidate you; second, keep your preconceptions in check and don’t allow superficialities to keep you from caring about your students.

If you found any of this advice helpful, be sure to check back this Saturday for part II!


Principal Appreciation

Tags: new teacher, classroom management, classroom procedures, new teachers, professional development for teachers

5 ways to see the world: summer professional development for teachers

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Jun 13, 2013 1:52:00 PM

In our last blog post, we suggested 10 things every teacher should do this summer. Looking back on it, we noticed that we forgot something: travel. Even if money is tight during the summer, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find out that many of the travel and professional-development opportunities you’ll find below are actually funded by the U.S. Government. While you may have missed the deadlines for this summer, you now have the time to prepare your applications for 2014. 

5 ways to see the world: summer professional development for teachers

professional development for teachers ACIEStop by the American Councils for International Education (ACIE) and you’ll find a list of State funded seminars and exchange programs for teachers and administrators. Here are two such examples:

  • The Greece Classics Program: a six-week intensive program with the American School of Classical Studies at Athens that introduces participants to Greece from antiquity through the modern period.
  • The India Summer Teacher Program: an opportunity for U.S. teachers to collaborate with and teach with an Indian counterpart for approximately five weeks in Kolkata, India.

Because most educators have commitments for most of the year, the exchanges are short term, taking place during the summer. While you won’t be able to take advantage of these opportunities this summer, make sure that you check the site often; the summer 2014 application deadlines will start to pop up in the early fall.

professional development for teachers BECA.jpgIf nothing on the ACIE piques your interest, browse the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Exchange Programs. As with ACIE, the exchange programs offered on this site are state funded. Applications are accepted year round and programs are anywhere from two weeks to a year.

professional development for teachers DiscoveryDiscovery Student Adventures
For those interested in seeing the world with your students, Discovery offers a range of FREE travel experiences for teachers: The Arctic, China, Australia, Costa Rica.

Leave the meals, hotel booking and planning to Discovery. With an experienced guide at your side, you can do what you do best: teach and inspire.

professional development for teachersMore than 100 Bed & Breakfast discounts for teachers
Follow the link above and you’ll find a list of bed and breakfasts participating in the Travel for Teachers program. Some B&Bs offer free nights while others offer teacher appreciation packages that include discounted rates (25% off), free massages, wine and other amenities.

professional development for teachersEducators Travel Network
How do we begin to explain ETN? It’s sort of like a time-share, but for teachers. Membership (a mere $36 a year) grants you use of thousands of homestays throughout the country. Depending on the location and availability, you’ll either be hosted ($40/night) by another member or stay in the member’s home while s/he is away ($50/night).

Click on the Destinations tab to view the ETN’s complete membership directory. This page introduces you to current ETN members, tells you a little bit about them and describes their accommodations.


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Tags: summer vacation, summer break, teacher burnout, professional development for teachers

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