Dan Arretche, Kern High School Teachers Association
ON RELATIONSHIPS: To have a successful learning environment, there has to be a strong relationship between teacher and student. At the beginning of the year, I do an activity that’s called “Four Square.” I take a piece of paper, fold it into quarters, and ask students to fill out the “Four F’s,” which represent Friends, Favorites, Fun and Family. They put a picture of themselves in the middle. It gives me information on what kind of family they come from — whether they come from a big family, small family, stepparents or single-parent households — without being too invasive. In the “Fun” and “Favorites” categories, I get to know them as people a little bit so I can appeal to their interests. In the “Friends” category, I can see who their friends are and maybe not have them sit together. It also gives me a chance to see their writing style and figure out who needs to be sitting up close. I always do one first with a picture of myself from high school, and they get a good laugh out of that.
West High School, Bakersfield
Kern High School Teachers Association
ON SUPPLIES: If you can’t get what you need in the way of supplies, go to garage sales and thrift stores. It’s best before and after Christmas, when people are getting rid of lots of stuff. You will find primary and upper-grade books, sets of watercolor paints and lots of supplies. Go to stores like Office Depot, Office Max and Staples when they have teacher giveaways. Sometimes they have games like ring toss, and I play them again and again to win things like pencils, plastic rulers or handheld pencil sharpeners. If businesses are moving or employees are retiring, ask them to donate obsolete stationery. It can be used as scratch paper. Envelopes can be reused to send information home or if students lose teeth. Visit stores and go to the dollar bin for extra supplies. And if one of your teachers retires, go dumpster diving! There’s lots of great stuff.
Smiley Elementary School
Redlands Teachers Association
ON TECHNOLOGY: I use Apple’s iWeb to create and maintain a website with a wrap-up of what we’ve done in class that day and “links” for students who want to go above and beyond, plus a “worksheet archive” where students can download handouts. I love Quizlet (quizlet.com) for making flashcards for students to study for upcoming tests. Many of my students have smart phones (like iPhones) or iTouches. A lot of free apps sync with Quizlet. Quizlet also has a Facebook interface that I can use to let students know I’ve created a new set of flash-cards. It will appear on my Wall and on the News Feed with a quick link for students to navigate to the Quizlet site if they don’t have an iPhone or iTouch. Another cool thing is an app called Class Cards. It randomizes students to call on, allows me to rate their responses, and backs up those scores to a server. Then I can print out data about each student’s responses. It’s awesome for informal assessments and tracking student learning.
Ladera Vista Junior High
Fullerton Elementary Teachers Association
ON COMMUNICATION: It’s important to have good communication with the office and support staff. They can let you know about important things going on. For example, we had a big beehive at our school, and the first person I heard about it from was the custodian. I also try very hard to keep the line of communication open with parents. Sometimes they say they don’t have time to help with homework, but they really just need someone to listen. You get a lot of respect and support from parents by lending an ear. I let them know that some children can work independently, and that I give out homework packets that cover Friday to Friday so they can work on them over the weekend with their child, even while sitting in the laundromat. I talk to them about setting limits at home and at school and tell them how to set up “contracts” with students so they know what’s expected of them. When parents trust you, you can offer them advice on discipline so they can set limits that are reasonable and not too punitive.
Fruitvale Elementary School
Oakland Education Association
ON WEBSITES: Here are my top four picks:
Mentone Elementary School
Redlands Education Support Professionals Association
Find more useful links at www.cta.org/About-CTA/Useful-Links
Related Tags: Volume 16 Issue 1, Inside Educator, Educator Feature, Educator, Classroom management, Member, Networking, Online, Parents, Technology,