10 Steps to Helping Graduate Teachers

Let's be honest, being a Graduate Teacher is hard work. No university course or placement can fully prepare you for what you are about to be responsible for. The teaching, students, grading, reports, parents, school politics, after-school meetings, before-school meetings and lets be honest, running out of photocopier credits is enough to send us over the edge some days. I remember how hard it was to be a graduate teacher and I was so lucky to have some wonderful mentors in my first school, I just had to do a little bit of searching to find them! No question was ever silly, no assistance was ever knocked back and I received the love and support I needed. Not everyone is this lucky, so when I was given the opportunity to mentor a Graduate teacher, I took the role very seriously. We need to support new teachers and keep them in the profession!

Today I am not posting about advice for new teachers because really, they are already overloaded with information and they simply DO NOT have time to read yet another blogpost. Instead, I am sharing some things we, experienced teachers, can do to help new teachers survive the first month of teaching.


1. Put together a new teacher basket of treasures.
Some items you might include are:
- picture story book
- inside ball for games
- stickers
- whistle
- highlighters
- hand sanitiser
- antibacterial wipes
- foam dice
- sharpies
- correction pens
- bulletin board letters and borders
- sturdy box or container (teachers can never have enough storage)


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The Power of Positive Reinforcement

I am a reflective sort, seriously, I am. Like when I had my son I wanted to start again at 12 weeks so I could do a better job. Typical teacher the Midwives told me.... But being a substitute or casual teacher has really had me reflecting lately. What is my behaviour management strategy? Why do I leave (most days) feeling calm and cool? Was teaching always like this for me? The quick answer is OF COURSE NO! But I do feel after more than a decade teaching, and teaching different year levels in different schools and different countries, that I have learnt a thing or two about behaviour management.

Do I have a quick fix for that student who stresses you out everyday, no sorry. Or that student who hurts someone at recess everyday, no, sorry I don't - but I do have some wisdom to share that has made my day to day teaching a better experience. So today I going to share how I use the power of positive reinforcement in my classroom.


As a disclaimer first, I am in no way an expert on behaviour management, I simply love teaching, try to teach as much as I can with minimal interruptions and reflect on my teaching on a daily basis.

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Five Minute Fillers

Recently I blogged over at the Australian Teachers Blog about Five Minute Fillers and thought I would share the post here also! Enjoy - I hope you get some new ideas too!


Working as a relief teacher, I need to have a full bag of tricks to keep the children motivated and engaged throughout the day. That's when some handy, no prep, 5 Minute Fillers come in handy! 
Here are a few of my favourites that can be used across a number of year levels.


Balance
Children make a circle. Number the children off “one, two, one, two”. Holding hands, ask the “number ones” to lean in and the “number twos” to lean outwards, can you all stay up standing? Switch around. 

Number Heads
Two children sit on chairs in front of the whiteboard. Write a number behind each child and give them a clue (eg. Your number is between 1 and 100, or your number is a decimal number between 1 and 5). Children take it in turns to ask questions to the audience (only yes/no answers) to try and guess their number. 

Roll and Skip
Children sit with a whiteboard. Roll a dice to nominate the number they are counting by. Give children 1 minute to write down the correct number sequence starting from 0. How far can they go?

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Tips for Teaching Calendars

We all know how important it is to read, interpret and manage a calendar, but my question is who should be the one teaching it? Should it be parents or teachers, or both?

As a relief teacher, I visit different classrooms and year levels on a weekly basis. I was recently in a Prep/One classroom (Kindergarten or Foundation) and was talking about the calendar when a little girl started to get very confused and worried. She stammered "but, but, what happens tomorrow?" She could see that June ended on the 30th and there were not more cards on the class calendar. So what about tomorrow? She had no concept of what exactly a month was and the idea that when July starts, the dates start at 1 again. As cute as her misconception was, it made me wonder how many other children are there in schools who haven't been exposed to calendars at home and haven't been incidentally or explicitly taught about calendars in the classroom.

I did a quick scan of the Australian Curriculum and the US Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.
In the US Common Core State Standards for Kindergarten I found no mention of teaching days of the week, months of the year, weather or calendars. I looked at the First Grade and Second Grade outcomes, then decided to do a keyword search. I found nothing! We can be thankful that teachers have common sense and many explicitly teach calendars as part of their morning routine, I just can't find the specific standard that addresses this!
In the Australian Curriculum I found links at Foundation and Year 1 beginning with making connections to events and days of the week, then naming and ordering the days of the week and months of the year. In Year 2, students should be reading and interpreting calendars.


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