Resource Guide & Expert Advice for Teachers
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Dr. Jesse Moon Longhurst is an Assistant Professor of Education at Southern Oregon University. She is a former high school English, social studies and theater teacher. Her research interests include rural education, place-based education, indigenous and traditional education, and culturally responsive teacher preparation. She continues to develop partnerships with educators, researchers, and rural communities from Oregon to the West Indies and from New Mexico to the Bering Straight.
This guide is designed to connect busy teachers and teaching students to resources and support services to make their days more seamless while providing opportunities to connect with their students in meaningful ways. We’ve included apps, websites, real-world resources and advice from a former high school teacher who now spends her days preparing future educators for success in the classroom.
CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT & COMMUNICATION
Students thrive in a well-managed learning environment. The goal of any teacher is to provide engaging and fascinating lessons that captivate students and help them learn required concepts, but none of these goals can happen without classroom management. According to a research project by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, students with teachers classified as the most effective gained 52 percentile points in terms of their achievement during the active year. Conversely, students with teachers deemed the least effective gained only 14 percent over the same time period.
Online Classroom Management & Communication Resources
6 Classroom Management Tips Every Teacher Can Use
Provided by the National Education Association, this list of tips can make the difference between chaos and order. Use the blog tag “classroom management” on the NEA website to find more tips.
This website hosts a range of helpful information for new and seasoned teachers alike, including an effective classroom management context that can be utilized at different grade levels. Some of the ideas suggested include arranging the classroom in a specific way, setting behavioral expectations, and managing student work appropriately.
Used by 90 percent of all K-8 classrooms, this free, interactive app connects students, parents, and teachers to build engaging and thoughtful classroom environments. ClassDojo can be used on computers, smart phones, and tablets.
Classroom Management Teacher’s Modules
The American Psychological Association hosts a comprehensive guide on why classroom management works and how to enact it successfully based on psychological principals.
Reducing Student-Behavior Problems: Notes from a High School Teacher
EdWeek shares this empowering story from a veteran teacher in Kentucky who has found the key to managing student behavior in the classroom.
Real-World Classroom Management & Communication Resources
Face-to-Face Training Opportunities
Whether hosting a seminar at school for all teachers or sending an ambassador to a conference on the subject to report back, many professional development credits are available in areas of classroom management to help teachers gain the confidence and skills they need to utilize successful techniques.
Positive Learning Environment
If other teachers or parts of the school don’t have the same expectations of good behavior and listening skills, students may feel confused by what is required of them. Rather trying to go it alone, consider working with the principal or other teachers to create a school-wide positive learning environment that exemplifies all the qualities a student should exhibit at all times of the day – not just in your classroom.
Elementary and secondary teachers spend approximately 15-20 hours of their work week lesson planning, preparing and marking. According to the Department of Education’s Teacher Workload Survey, planning is one of the most time-consuming activities, and it often has to happen outside school hours. Teachers surveyed reported that they spend an average of 13 hours working in the evening or on the weekends, and the majority of this work is related to planning or marking. Because a good lesson plan is crucial to meeting learning objectives and ensuring students understand material being presented, it’s important for teachers to have access to great resources, be they online or at their school.
Online Lesson Planning Resources
Used in 150 countries by more than 125,000 schools and institutions, ClassFlow exists to help teachers provide interactive, technologically-driven lessons that foster collaboration, help students learn how to use cutting-edge programs, and encourage parents to be involved in their children’s learning.
Lessons & Ideas
Scholastic provides this exhaustive catalog of teaching guides, lesson plans, vocabulary lists, discussion guides, extension activities, and unit plans for lessons ranging from art to zoology. These are available for all grades and are provided free of cost to teachers.
Share My Lesson
An effort powered by the American Federation of Teachers, Share My Lesson exists to bring together teachers, administrators, parents, and learning partners to ensure all students have access to high-quality lesson plans no matter their grade level, location, or economic status.
Teachers Pay Teachers
Developed for teachers by teachers, this innovative website allows teachers throughout the country to connect and support each other by buying and selling lesson plans. Covering PreK-12th, lesson plans at TPT are tried and tested to ensure they translate well in the classroom.
This online teacher resource is home to thousands of worksheets, lesson plans, rubrics, printables, and other teacher resources covering all school subjects at every grade level. In addition to these resources, the website also has a range of tips to help teachers implement their lessons.
Real-World Lesson Planning Resources
Teachers, especially those who have spent years in the classroom, often have extensive records of their lesson plans over the years and these can be valuable to new and seasoned educators alike. Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel five days a week, consider asking a teacher at your current school or at a nearby location if they have any relevant lesson plans for upcoming topics in the curriculum. While it may not work to use the lesson plan verbatim, it will at least help establish a groundwork for what should and should not be covered that day.
Some weeks will be busier than others, but that doesn’t mean lessons need to suffer. If a teacher knows they’ll be away from school or unable to complete a lesson plan during a particularly busy season, consider finding a guest lecturer familiar with the topic at hand who can fill class time on those days. Options include other teachers in your school district, community college professors or professionals in the area.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 150,000 new teaching jobs will be created between 2015 and 2025, but a report by the National Commission on Teaching and America’s future found that 20 percent of all new teachers leave the profession within the first three years. Being a teacher is always demanding, but new teachers face challenges and pressures that can be overwhelming during the first few years. Rather than focusing on trying to do and learn everything at once, new teachers must remember to be patient with themselves while also taking advantage of resources and leaning on their teaching community.
Online Resources for New Teachers
Resources Toolkit for New Teachers
Edutopia offers this comprehensive set of blogs, videos, files, and resources designed to help new teachers with tasks like planning, designing a learning environment, integrating technology, and working with parents.
One of the professional resources offered on the website is a whole section devoted to empowering and helping new teachers. For those currently preparing for their first day of class, be sure to read over the four basic strategies offered as guidance.
Whether still in school and trying to put together your first teaching resume, preparing for an interview, putting together a portfolio, or looking for behavioral management tips, this website has it all.
This interactive online community for teachers features chat boards, job postings, forums and resources to connect new teachers with other educators throughout the country. There is also a range of free online workshops and teacher meetings to help new teachers settle into their roles.
What I Didn’t Learn in College…and Wish I Had!
The National Education Association spoke to a number of veteran teachers to find out what they wish they had known during their first few years of teaching, how they learned to manage their classrooms and what keeps them going after so many years in the classroom.
Real-World Resources for New Teachers
In many schools, new teachers are assigned mentors to help them navigate the complexities of their first year while also introducing them to key members of the teaching community. Mentorships are excellent opportunities for new teachers to ask questions, receive feedback and get support. While most schools assign mentors upon hiring, don’t be afraid to ask about setting up such a relationship if the school doesn’t have a formal program in place.
Whether looking to be part of the Association for Middle Level Education, the National Education Association or the National Council for the Social Studies, new teachers have countless opportunities to be involved with both niche and overarching organizations that can provide support and assistance in meaningful ways. These organizations typically have annual conferences, local chapters and events spread throughout the year for teachers to learn about the latest research in their field while also making contact with other teachers in similar roles. TeachersFirst maintains a list of current professional organizations within primary and secondary education.
According to a recent report by The Education Market Association, nearly all teachers spend their own money to ensure the children in their classrooms have access to necessary supplies – to the tune of $500 per year in 2016. While teachers understand some of their student’s parents are unable to supply necessary items and many school districts are strapped for cash, it’s important that teachers have access to affordable supplies so lesson plans and learning objectives don’t have to be sacrificed due to lack of materials.
Online Teaching Supply Resources
A one-stop-shop for school supplies, Classroom Direct provides discounted prices for items commonly purchased by teachers due to the sheer volume of their sales.
Discount School Supply
Operating somewhat like a Costco for teachers, Discount School Supply allows teachers to buy needed supplies in bulk to save money in the long run. Items available run the gamut from infant and toddler supplies to advanced art materials used in high school. The site often offers additional coupon codes or discounts throughout the year.
Hoot of Loot
Created by a veteran educator who still teaches in Oklahoma, Hoot of Loot answers the question of what to do with usable teaching materials at the end of an academic year or when a teacher is moving to a different grade level or subject area. Benefiting both teacher-buyers and teacher-sellers, buyers can get a discount while sellers won’t have to worry about unneeded supplies collecting dust in the garage.
National Autism Resources
Teachers working in special education may have a slightly different shopping list than their counterparts, and NAR exists to ensure those items are available at reasonable prices. Their current inventory includes handwriting helpers, oral-motor supports, visual supports and reading comprehension helpers.
Teacher Created Resources
Designed by teachers for teachers, this educational publishing company provides affordable textbooks, classroom decorations, and student supplies to help teachers ensure their students have all that they need for an effective learning environment without breaking the bank.
Real-World Teaching Supply Resources
Donations from Local Stores
Before spending their own hard-earned dollars, teachers should check with local businesses to see if they would be willing to donate supplies. While larger national chains may not have the authority to provide free inventory, smaller home-owned businesses may be willing to either donate their own stock or consider sponsoring a classroom to provide all the necessary supplies for the academic year.
We have all seen canned food drives taking place at stores or events, but how often has this idea been leveraged for school supplies? Consider asking local businesses or the organizers of upcoming events if they would be willing to let patrons or participants know that representatives of the school will be on-site collecting new and gently used school supplies for the upcoming academic year. While it may not cover all the necessary items, it’s a good start on the yearly supply list.
There are countless tools available that keep teachers from having to reinvent the wheel to accomplish their goals. As technology becomes more prominent in the classroom, educators are learning how to incorporate these tools into lessons, assignments, projects and examinations to not only provide fascinating learning opportunities, but also to ensure students are familiar with these tools and can utilize them properly.
Online Teaching Tool Resources
An excellent tool for educators ranging from art to science, ComicMaster is a free program that allows teachers to create graphic novel comic books tailored to course content. Whether sharing the tale of a daring scientist out to find a cure for pneumonia or a mathematician working to break Nazi code during World War II, ComicMaster allows stories and concepts to come to life in exciting ways.
If you’re a teacher who loves using visual aids in your lesson planning, look no further than Gliffy. This interactive tool allows teachers to make diagrams, flowcharts, infographics and other designs to help children think about a concept or learning standard in a pictorial way.
This online tool allows teachers a digital space where their presentations can be stored for future use or shared with other teachers working in the same subject area. Teachers are also able to access other web-ready presentations that have been uploaded, all of which are free with the basic version of the service.
As the world’s number one survey platform, Survey Monkey is a great tool for educators who want to get in touch with the families of their studies without spending hours writing emails or making phone calls. Whether scheduling an end-of-year celebration or gathering information about student learning styles, this tool makes it easy to collect and organize information effortlessly.
Teachers looking for worksheets that can be edited and printed easily should look no further than this website, which hosts a large digital library of crossword puzzle makers, weekly assignment generators, word scrambles, and science lab generators for easy use.
Real-World Teaching Tool Resources
Whether sharing the contents of a piece of paper or transferring a website onto a smart board, projectors are often a teacher’s best friend in the classroom as they make it easy to convey information in various formats quickly. Many projectors are now equipped with document cameras, meaning teachers can place any item under the camera and it will immediately appear on the screen for the entire classroom to see. This is especially helpful for types of documents that otherwise may not easily show up on the screen.
Scanners and Printers
While it may be a stretch to say that teachers spend most of their working days making copies and stapling packets together, it’s not far from the truth. With some teachers having more than 400 students for whom they are responsible, having enough copies of reading materials, assignments, quizzes and explanatory papers is key to a successful lesson. While rules on scanning and printing vary by school district, most allow teachers unlimited use as long as they provide their own paper.
Teaching Websites & Apps
The sharing of free information via the Internet has revolutionized the teaching profession, making it easier for educators to gain access to materials and resources related both to their subject area and best practices in teaching and learning initiatives. No longer do teachers need to sift through books to find relevant information; instead, websites and apps make it easier to create engaging lessons that weave together digital media alongside content students must absorb to be successful in the classroom. The resources listed below are examples of how teachers can glean valuable information from the internet.
Online Website & App Resources
Overseen by the Discovery Channel, educators can review a range of digital textbooks related to studies in science, social studies and math while also gaining access to thousands of high-quality video streams in the same topics.
A great resource for teachers seeking information on common questions they may have about their daily classroom activities, including developing responsive classrooms, preparing materials for substitute teachers, partnering with parents and finding the right amount of homework to assign.
PBS Learning Media
The Public Broadcasting System maintains a wide-ranging selection of materials for educators, no matter their grade level or subject area. As an bonus, the website is responsive to location and provides lesson plans and materials on regionally-specific topics.
As one of the largest providers of educational materials in the country, Scholastic offers many free and affordable resources to aid teachers in their classrooms. Aside from free lesson plans and a comprehensive list of tips and strategies, Scholastic also regularly hosts book fairs at schools throughout the nation.
Overseen by the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, this inclusive website is a treasure trove of teaching materials, online resources, lesson plans, and opportunities for educators to take part in professional development initiatives.
General Resources & Support for Teaching Professionals
Even the most organized and seasoned teacher will one day come upon a question they can’t answer or an idea they’re not sure how to implement that doesn’t fit into the categories given above. The following resources were designed to provide further support and help teachers think about how to leverage the resources around them – even while on a tight budget.
Online General Support Resources
School Pen Pals
The Teacher’s Corner provides this service, which connects learning communities to other classrooms throughout the world so students can understand different cultures and ways of living. Along the way, students will also make international friends. together.
Summer Reading Lists
Want to help students stay motivated to learn while school is out but don’t have the time needed to compile a reading list? Bright Hub Education has you covered. This organization provides a variety of lists for elementary, middle, and high school learners.
While the idea of continually learning about how to be a better teacher is a goal of all educators, finding time to step away from the classroom can be tricky. Education Week provides a series of free webinars and virtual broadcasts to help teachers stay up-to-date on the field without neglecting their classrooms.
As an educator, Laura Candler is devoted to ensuring teachers have the resources and support they need to thrive. Her website features a range of printable lessons, classroom strategies, training opportunities, and a “file cabinet” for teachers seeking specific resources for their subject area.
Top 10 Resources for Special Education Teachers
Saint Joseph’s University provides this list of activities, games, curriculum/classroom techniques, and IEP/504 plan resources to support teachers working with exceptional children in special education classrooms.
Real-World Teaching Support
School librarians can provide qualified insight to help students synthesize ideas and information. Teachers working in partnership with a librarian can ensure students have access to proper materials when completing assignments and projects while also helping students learn how to properly use primary and secondary sources in research. Many librarians also oversee computer areas, providing the opportunity for students to learn how to use technology in a supervised and supportive environment.
School counselors help students in areas of academic excellence, social development, career decisions and navigating their personal lives. While teachers may struggle to find time to address these areas of a student’s life outside lessons, school counselors’ primary role is to provide direct service to learners and their families. If a teacher suspects a student is having problems at home or struggling to focus, school counselors are their allies in ensuring the student is cared for and any issues are addressed.
Meeting Today’s Teaching Challenges
As technology continues to become more pervasive in the lives of both adults and adolescents, cyberbullying is on the rise. According to the nonprofit No Bullying, 25 percent of teens have been repeatedly bullied via their cell phone, while 52 percent of young people overall report having a cyberbullying experience. Though it can often be difficult for teachers to ascertain who is being bullied and by whom while also trying to lead class, the University of Chicago at Illinois offers tips on how to keep an eye out for signs while also providing information on what to do once cyberbully behavior is recognized.
The goal of every teacher is to provide a safe space for their students to learn, ask questions and gain the skills they’ll need to succeed in life. Classroom security is a topic that must be addressed to ensure these goals are possible. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that public schools have increased safety and security measures in recent years to prevent further tragedies in today’s learning centers. 93 percent now have controlled access, while 75 percent use security cameras for monitoring. While no teacher can anticipate a security violation, there are ways to be prepared if the unthinkable happens. The ALICE Training institute provides a list of seven tips to guard against safety issues in the classroom.
Managing a Classroom
One of the top challenges teachers across the world face is ensuring the individual needs of every student are met while also providing overarching, engaging lessons. Finding the perfect balance for a class – each of which has its own personality – takes time, resources, and most importantly, realistic expectations. While it may be a new teacher’s goal to only ever teach highly engaging lessons that tick every box, this may not always be possible. Over time, however, teachers will gather resources that allow them to focus less on planning and more on engagement.
Personal & Professional Life Balance
Despite the average school day lasting 6.7 hours, a study by Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation found that teachers actually work an average of 53 hours per week – without counting extra work done during the evenings and on weekends. Most teachers are supremely dedicated to their students and indeed feel called to the profession; still, it’s important for them to find work/life balance if they want to avoid burnout. Education World offers five different strategies to help teachers disconnect from work and rejuvenate from long days.
Navigating Parent Involvement
Ask any teacher, and they will often tell you there seems to be two types of parents they deal with: those who they can never get in touch with and those who are staring over their shoulder. Having a good relationship with a student’s parents is incredibly important to ensuring a student feels safe, supported and engaged in their learning, yet some parents don’t make it easy for teachers. Monster’s Teaching Community provides a helpful list of how teachers can work with five difficult types of parents.
Expert Advice from a Teaching Professional
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