In the Classroom: 101 Ways to Rock Your World was written as a gift to teachers -- new ones and the ones who have been in the trenches for years. Where would anyone of us be without a teacher at some point in our lives? I'll bet, no matter what your age, you can still name a teacher that had an impact on your young life. Mine was Mrs. Griswold in the 2nd grade at Houston's Sutton Elementary. She encouraged my love of reading, made me feel confident, and let me sit next to Dale Clarke, the boy I had such a crush on.
Here are some of our favorite tips from the book:
- Excellent teachers not only believe in their students and believe in their vision of education, they believe in themselves. Standing in front of students with various motivations is tough; even elementary students will eat a tentative teacher's lunch. Work through your fears, and just do it - until you learn what works and what doesn't.
- If you've accepted a position on a campus, you must commit to immersing yourself into the campus culture. If you are a veteran teacher on that campus, you have no excuse. Not doing so will set you up for failure. And when new procedures and processes are introduced, make an effort to try the new things. You may be pleasantly surprised. And, if not, keep detailed notes and give possible solutions - not just complaints and problems.
- Who was your favorite teacher? Why? Be that teacher. Times have changed but kids are still pretty much the same as you were in school, looking for the same things. Write down the characteristics that made you remember your favorite teacher. Now, poll your network about their favorite teachers. See a pattern? Follow it.
- The days of teachers staying isolated in their classrooms and doing their own thing are in the past. Education today requires all educators to be team players. If your team plans together, be willing to share your ideas and knowledge. Teaching is not a competitive sport; teaching is about letting the students succeed and shine, not the teachers. Part of teaching is sharing knowledge - with other teachers and letting students share with you and each other - and being involved in the day-to-day activities that make schoolwork.
- In this age of electronic media the "human touch" can have a huge effect on the recipient. It can be a thank you note to a parent, a student, or a colleague. Or it could be just to let a parent know something good happened in class today. Or send a note to a student and praise them for something they have done recently, maybe you have seen a great effort or nice improvement, a better attitude, something - many students will hold on to these notes for a lifetime. A hand written note is like pure gold.
- Giving up is not an option for your students, why should you think it's an option for teachers? Successful people never give up. You got this!
My co-authors, award-winning teachers Linda Lee and Cheryl Evans, always recommend you buy this book as a gift for teachers and include a check or cash. Many (most) teachers spend their own money to set up classrooms for your kids. Looking for a company giveback? Adopt a local classroom and help the teacher with what she or he needs to teach the kids - from cash to supplies to mentors.
Education is the key to the future success of our country. It doesn't take much to be a part of that effort.