This post originally appeared on the blog Tween Spirit.
Are you a new teacher or a veteran teacher who is changing grades?
I see you! I’ve been you!
In my 15+ years of teaching, I’ve taught 7 grades! Teachers are not always given the luxury of time to plan for changes, either. Quite often, you catch word that you are being moved in August, then you are so worried about setting up your classroom that you can’t even begin to think about curriculum!
Been there, done that!
I hope that some of these suggestions will help you in your quest to make this your best year yet! Take a deep breath, believe in yourself, and let those who have walked before you help you get started on your new path! Click on the pictures above to find out more about my best-selling products in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store. To get you started, you can click on the two pictures below to download some ready-to-use TODAY freebies!
Tip #1 Make Learning Fun for Them, and Easy for You!
When I first moved up to middle school, I had to remember a lot of grammar rules, terms, and tricks that I had stored in the far reaches of my memory bank. Since I know how teachers feel when they get bumped from grade to grade, I decided to make some products that would make teaching grammar skills easy for veteran teachers and new teachers alike! Your students will like these activities, too, because they aren’t boring fill-in-the-blank worksheets or diagramming sentences! I’ve even created some holiday themed grammar activities to make holidays fun while learning is still going on.
Tip #2 Don’t Reinvent the Wheel!
Something else I would have loved to have as a new-to-grade teacher is pre-made, ready-to-go lesson presentations and activities to start my year off right and RIGHT AWAY! There is no reason a teacher needs to customize every single lesson. Until you are comfortable with your new curriculum, feel free to use lessons that have worked successfully in other classrooms. Borrowing lessons from experienced teachers is a great way to ease into new or unfamiliar curriculum.
Tip #3 Read, Read, Read!
Yes, it is important for teachers to read professional books and to read curriculum carefully, but don’t forget to read for pleasure, too! I think that most English or elementary teachers have a secret crush on books. I freely admit that I am a book addict! I love books of all kinds, board books on up to novels! My primary goal as an ELA teacher is to get kids to LOVE reading. I love reading aloud to kids, even middle schoolers! I love recommending books, I love doing novel studies, I love discussing what students are reading in their free time. However, as teachers, we have to do more than just read with kids for pleasure. We are required to teach reading comprehension strategies and other vocabulary and writing skills, which aren’t always as enjoyable. I’ve created some novel study guides that offer more than just your basic comprehension questions and get students deeply involved in the story – not just lists of vocabulary words and comprehension questions! These novel study guides won’t take the joy out of reading by burying students in busy work.
Tip #4 Teach with Music!
Students often have difficulty understanding theme and mood in literature, but they totally get T.V. shows and popular music! I’ve created these two products to help students understand complex literary elements. Each activity starts with an exploration of popular theme songs, either from T.V. shows or movies. Kids often learn better through music, so these activities spark interest and grow dendrites, too! I love to use these activities at the beginning of the year because students LOVE them and I love learning more about my kids!
Tip #5 Use Interactive Notebooks!
I’m a BIG FAN of Interactive Student Notebooks, too! I like to think that after my students leave my class and head to high school, they will have an ELA reference “Bible” to take along with them! These notebooks are essentially a collection of skills learned throughout the year. My students find themselves referring back to notes in their ISN at different times of the year to refresh their memories or to review for tests. Here are a few of my favorite ISN templates and activities:
I hope that some of these suggestions will help you in your quest to make this your best year yet! Take a deep breath, believe in yourself, and let those who have walked before you help you get started on your new path! Click on the pictures above to find out more about my best-selling products in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. To get you started, you can click on the two pictures below to download some ready-to-use TODAY freebies!
Christine Barnett has over 15 years experience teaching elementary and middle school ELA. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development and a Master’s Degree in Teaching and Curriculum both from Michigan State University. She has been creating curriculum and activities throughout her career, and began sharing them with other teachers on Teachers Pay Teachers in 2015. She has also published parenting articles for magazines and contributed to a tourism book for parents traveling with children, titled “In and Around Zurich with Kids” while she lived in Zurich, Switzerland.
Christine’s TpT store Tween Spirit reflects her desire to make learning fun for students in her class. She often incorporates movement, hands-on activities (coloring, cutting, pasting), games, and technology in her elementary and middle school lessons. When she is not teaching or creating products for Teachers Pay Teachers, Christine can be found reading, running, or shuttling her two children to dance and soccer games. You can also follow Christine on social media. Just click the links below!