The Reason I Teach

Since it is Christmastime and the air is filled with cheer, I thought I’d post a cheery update! We talk about how there are reasons for the season of Christmastime, so I thought I’d share the reason for my season of teaching!

The reason I teach: the students. That is the only reason! I was talking to one of my students and she said, “I hate school and I hate teachers. Because teachers hate kids.” I couldn’t help myself from chuckling and saying, “Do you really think I’d be a teacher if I hated kids?” But really, I teach because I love the students!

My principal recently challenged me to plan something into each day that I love doing with my students, just for 15-20 minutes. I can’t tell you how much my love has grown for my students and how happy I am to see those 31 kids every day!

Just so you know a bit of the joy I feel daily, I thought I’d share some of my favorite kid-isms I’ve heard and seen over the past four months. Hopefully this will remind you of the reason you chose to be an educator. :)

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My students were working on their Christmas art projects this week. One of my students looks up from his work and says,

“Mrs. Lyon—you’re the man!”

“Um… don’t you mean woman? I’m a girl. So shouldn’t I be the woman?”

“Nope, you’re the man.”

“But that doesn’t make sense…why can’t I be the woman?”

“Because if you were the woman, that just means you are a girl. If you are the man, that means you’re like the best ever.”

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“Mrs. Lyon, can I tell you a joke?”

“Sure, bud!”

“Well, maybe I shouldn’t tell you. It’s kinda inappropriate.”

“Oh well, then maybe you shouldn’t…”

“It’s just about toilet paper! I’ll just tell you, why did the toilet paper roll down the hill?”

“I don’t know… why?”

“To get to the bottom!! hahahahaha get it?! (points to his bum) BOTTOM, eh? eh?”

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Yesterday, I was eating lunch with my “Lucky Lunch Friend” and out of nowhere he says, “I’ve got a crush on someone in this class.” He tells me who it is, then I compliment him on how sneaky he is about it. We move on and then a little later he says, “I’m reading ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid,’ and it has some great tips on how to get a girl to like you.” He proceeds to tell me that his first tip is “act like you’re not available.” I asked him what the rest were, but he said he hadn’t finished the book. This morning, he walked up and handed me this…

(My personal fave is the last one ;))

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I was telling my class to settle down. I said I was getting tired of having to yell over them. One of my kids raised his hand and said, “It’s like you’re the queen and we’re the rebels.”

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My kids got really loud today when they were getting ready to go, so I told them in a stern voice to go back to their desks and sit down. One student said to another, “Uh-oh, I think we woke up the mean teacher.”

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The nurse told me she was going to come in to do a head check (lice check). The nurse just comes around with little sticks and pushes back their hair to check for lice. Here are a few of the comments:

“Do I have lace?”

“If I have lace, does that mean I have to shave my head?”

*cough* “Ahh!! She has lice!!!” “Lice doesn’t make you cough.”

“What if I have lice, what are you going to do?”

“I haven’t washed my hair in three days. I probably have lice.”

“Ooh that stick feels funny.”

“I wish I had four arms. Two to do my homework, and two to rub my head. Now that would be nice…”

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One of my students got a blister on his hand and it popped today. He came up to me with the most adorable concerned face and could barely get his words out, “Mrs. Lyon, I hurt my hand. I pulled some skin off… and now… now you can see my MUSCLE!!” I calmly told him it was just his skin. “But Mrs. Lyon! It is PINK like my MUSCLES and it STINGS!!”

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If you can’t see how rewarding (and entertaining) teaching is, you need to get your eyes checked! Or just look at the grin on my face during a carnival!

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Happy last few weeks of school and teaching. And happy holidays!

MESSYCLASS

Three Tips That Have Bettered My Teaching Experience

I’m not very experienced as a teacher (as I constantly am reminded), but I have found that there are a few things that have helped me a lot more. Here is a list of three things that I have found to make my teaching experience a better one for all involved:

  1. Don’t forget that YOU still exist outside of being a teacher.

My husband teases me constantly on this one. He always will refer to me as “Mrs. Lyon” and just roll his eyes. I didn’t get what he was saying until a week or so ago. I really had lost myself in teaching; I didn’t do anything but prepare to teach and teach! Being a teacher is exhausting in itself, so make sure you take time for yourself. A few things I’ve done to remember to take care of myself are:

  • Set a time frame to get to school and come home. For example: I’ve decided I would like to be at the school by 7:30 a.m. and leave the school no later than 5:00 p.m.. Obviously there are (many) exceptions, but it helps me to not lose myself.
  • Find a hobby and do it. Mine consist of word searches, Dr. Phil, crossword puzzles, and cooking. I’ve recently tried yoga as well. I feel like I’ve had to get to know myself a lot better in order to have the energy to keep going.
  • Go to bed early. I NEVER went to bed before 11 p.m. before I became a teacher. Now if I’m not in bed before around 10 p.m., I’m exhausted the next day.
  • Eat healthy. Be healthy. Realize that your kids are counting on you to stay healthy so you can be there every day!
  1. Lucky Lunch Friend

This was my genius idea last week and my kids have LOVED it so far. I pick one person each day to eat lunch with me. The kids love the one-on-one time with the teacher, I get to know my students better, and I don’t have to eat alone. It’s a win on all sides!! A lot of my students struggle with some tough home situations, so this is my way of giving them attention that they may not get at home. I’ve also heard that even giving 2 minutes of attention to a child with a behavior issue will increase their positive behavior. I’ve noticed that in my classroom. Kids respond to a teacher they personally know.

*Keep in mind that it is important to be a PROFESSIONAL, not just a friend ;)

  1. The Clean Up Games

The Clean Up Games in my classroom take about 10 minutes, make our classroom neat and tidy for me, and let students have fun by helping! The Clean Up Games currently has four rounds. Every round has a winner who earns tickets (our reward system). I usually give the kids 2-3 minutes for each round. In order to win the round, you have to be sitting quietly in your desk when I count down to zero.

Round 1: Straightest Desks

I have a student in my class to whom I have given the job of desk monitor. He makes sure that all the desks are straight and cleared off at the end of the day. My kids’ desks slide like CRAZY throughout the day, so getting them back into place once a day helps a lot. I’ve also noticed that this game encourages students to self-monitor during the day.

Round 2: Secret Scrap

I choose a piece (or three or ten) of trash and award tickets to the students who pick them up. But let’s be honest, I pick the kids that are working the hardest to clean up and then tell them they found the scrap.

Round 3: What’s Bugging Mrs. Lyon?

I find something in the room that is “bugging me” like how messy the library is, or that some crayons tipped over on the floor, or that there is a lot of trash that didn’t quite make it into the trash can, and then ask the kids to find it and fix it. The winner earns tickets.

Round 4: Magic Number

The students that won Round 3 and 4 go out in the hallway and pick a number between 1-28 (the number of students that I have minus themselves). When they come back in, I randomly number my students off to get ready to go home for the day. Say the number is 16. My two winners get to watch the magic number person (the child who was given number 16) to make sure they get their backpack, coat, lunchbox, stack their chair, and sit quietly on the rug in order to win. Once everyone is on the rug, my two watchers (previous winners) get to award tickets to the person with the magic number. The best part is they don’t know if they are being “watched” or not until the end, so all my kids don’t forget things any more!! Then they are all sitting quietly and I can do a read aloud before it is time to go.

These tips have only come to me after many trials and many more errors. It’s taken me a long time to figure these out, so hopefully these will help you in managing your own classroom!

Let’s Play Possum

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The ring leader. Every class has one. A student who seems to come to school just to spite you. With a turn of their head, they can derail any lesson or plan no matter how organized. So how do you deal with such trouble makers? In my own classroom, I have tried a few techniques that have worked beautifully to stop the ring leader and bring the entire class back to focus. One of these strategies is to play opossum. This game consists of a few easy parts. The object being that the student who can be the most silent and still for the longest wins.

  1. I count to ten, giving the students ample time to position themselves on the floor.
  2. Once the students are laying on the floor (giving the teacher some much needed silent time), the teacher walks around looking for movement or speaking, especially giggling.
  3. One by one each student is taken out, because of a twitch here or a snicker there.
  4. They then line up silently by the wall until a winner is chosen.

This game is wonderful. I use it during those times when I have had enough or the ring leader has fought and won. This makes being quiet a game and one where my ears can take a quick break. By the time the students finish playing possum they are ready and willing to sit quietly in their seats. It makes being quiet and still a game. In my own classroom the students beg to play opossum. Let me know what techniques you have used in your classroom!

First-Year Teaching

Don’t Forget The Little Things

Ever heard of the “Phases of a First-Year Teacher”*? If you haven’t, I’m sure you will. According to the studies, I am in the disillusionment phase. This means at this point I am more likely to get sick from being highly stressed and I’m beginning to feel inadequate as a teacher. How right they are! I am exactly at that point.

Every day, I come to my classroom with renewed zest for teaching and try to think positively about the day. Lately, it seems no matter how much I plan or stress, I still am dissatisfied. My parents and husband would say this is because I am a perfectionist, but I’m going to blame this one on the disillusionment phase.

I heard one of my colleagues say in a meeting, “I just don’t understand how I am supposed to do this. I put everything out there, put all of myself into planning for these kids, and it still doesn’t seem to make any difference.” One of the senior teachers wisely responded with, “What are you talking about, you are making a difference!” She then went on to explain that sometimes we don’t always realize the difference we are making.

I have found it so helpful to take time to notice the little things in my classroom. Maybe I’m just an emotional and stressed teacher, but I find myself tearing up over the littlest things that happen in my classroom. These things remind me that I am not a failure and that these kids are learning from ME! Let me share with you a little of the sunshine that I have noticed in my otherwise stormy and stressful days.

About a week ago, one of my students looked into his desk and could not find his tickets (tickets are a reward system in our classroom and throughout the grade level. You would think they are equal to gold…). This student frantically started tearing through his desk to find them. He then began sobbing uncontrollably. Before I could step in, my tough-guy, football-player student walked up, patted him on the back, and asked what was up. Tough guy returned to his desk, took out his tickets, and then put them on the other student’s desk and said “Keep ‘em.” Next thing I knew, this little boy’s desk was piled with tickets from our class.

So it turns out that they were listening during our kindness lesson! And these acts of kindness haven’t stopped! I hear daily from my students things like, “Mrs. Lyon–I did an act of kindness today!” or “Mrs. Lyon! Charlie did an act of kindness for me today!” We even had a chance to sit in a circle and share compliments we have for one another. Here are a few of the highlights:

“I really like Ariel because she never gives up and she tries really hard.”

“I think Hector needs a compliment because he is smart and a great friend.”

“Karl is a good example to me because he is nice to everyone.”

and of course…

“Mrs. Lyon needs a compliment because she is a good teacher and works really hard for us.”

Push me to tears why don’t ya!?

So when you are teaching, whether in practicum, student teaching, an internship, or in a career, take the time to notice the little things. Look over at the one kid that is on task and breathe a sigh of relief that at least one kid listened. Celebrate that 53% your low student got on their test, it’s an improvement from the 30% last time! Really listen to those sweet compliments your class gives you, kids don’t lie! If they say they love you, they really do!

Get a calendar and write down a quote a day from your students that made you remember why you are teaching. When you get down, look back on those quotes. In teaching, it isn’t the big breakthroughs you’ll remember, it will be the little things.