Note: I was blessed to be able to teach 6th grade with Rachel. She always had great ideas and such a fun energy that made her a successful teacher!
What grade(s) do you teach/have you taught?
10 years of teaching 6th grade!
What’s one thing you do to prepare for/get through parent-teacher conferences?
I make sure I am prepared and organized. I have a folder for each student with their report card, a progress report that shows all of the assignments, test scores, and often a note with upcoming important dates. It’s good to have water close by since I do a lot of talking. Mentally, I remind myself that both I and the parents want what is best for the student, so we need to work to be a team.
What’s one of your favorite end-of-the-year activities to do with your class?
Kindergarten Day. We have one day where we do a lot of kindergarten-type activities (play doh, coloring, calendar, story time, centers, etc). Anything that involves writing or coloring is to be done with their non-dominant hand. I teach small groups how to use a combination lock in one of the centers so they will be able to (hopefully) open their lockers once they hit middle school in a few months.
What’s one thing you do to encourage good behavior in your class?
I have my students help create a list of desired rewards, then print them in a series of boxes, and cover them with scratch-off stickers (found on Amazon). If there is a certain behavior I’m trying to encourage (working quietly, turning in assignments, etc.), each time they do what is desired I give my students a letter to spell a word, or an initial in a set of boxes on the board that they have to complete to earn a reward. When they finish the word or fill the boxes, then I draw a name for who gets to scratch off one of the stickers to see what reward they get.
Tell us about one thing you wish you’d known when you first started teaching.
Do not grade every single little thing that is turned in. So much of it is practice, and it doesn’t need more than a glance and a mark that it was completed. I made myself crazy spending countless hours grading stuff that wasn’t necessary.
What gets you through a hard day?
A chat with someone who gets it, and sometimes a good hug. Teaching is hard, and it often seems to be getting harder with each younger group of kids. I just try to remember that I am doing my very best, I’m human, and if there is one kid (or parent) that is really hard to handle, I only have to deal with them for one school year.