REPLACE: Don’t Just Add

Someone recently had this to say about a colleague:

…they’re interested in the CI things I talk about, but I guess they’re so busy with traditional teaching that they don’t have time to research and change practices…

This is a common problem, and I’ve figured out a solution…

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Bountiful Brain Breaks & Bursts

I’ve seen pictures of brain breaks & bursts written on Popsicle sticks for students to draw at random. This, or some other system of randomly selecting one, is an excellent idea…

No Popsicle sticks?
Just write on folded paper!

At a certain point, we don’t ever need to plan a break/burst, or specify what kind on our agenda. How? It’s simple. Once a brain break makes its way into the rotation, write it on a stick, or tiny piece of paper to put in a hat (or drum, Corinthian helmet, etc.). When students begin to lose steam, have someone choose the next break, or burst. That’s it. This especially helps for brain bursts when I’m not feeling creative in the moment. In fact, why not do the same for all TPR, pre-writing funny chain commands ready-to-go? You could also use separate hats/drums/helmets for the bursts (e.g. the one pictured that lasts just seconds), and other breaks that might take longer (e.g. draw/color for 2 minutes).

Recently, I took inventory of my breaks & bursts, making note of the ones I no longer use at the end of the list. Some of those were helpful when I first began comprehension-based communicative language teaching (CCLT), and couldn’t really sustain an hour-long class in the target language. Others just weren’t that fun. However, give them a try and see how they work in your context.

#teachersunday: No-Prep Monday

OK, so it’s still holiday break, but we can celebrate the third #teachersunday in a row, especially to get more teachers on board after the New Year (just post a pic of your Sunday in the Twitter sphere, and/or FB). Even though it’s still break, I’ve already heard teachers beginning to plan their upcoming week. Not me; I took care of that work—at work—before I left work. In fact, I’m not even sure what’s been planned, and don’t really need to know until school begins Wednesday. Come to think about it, I don’t even really have to plan for Mondays at all because the options are bountiful. Having some Monday routines on hand are a must for teacher sanity…

Before you check out my #teachersunday activities from this week, here are some favorite no-prep options for every Monday so you don’t have to think very hard on a Friday, and definitely not during a holiday…

  • Weekend Talk/Holiday Talk/Card Talk + Simple Survey (e.g. “What was good? What was bad?”)
  • Calendar Talk
  • Special Person Interviews
  • MovieTalk (always have the next one cued & printed)
  • One Word Image (OWI)
  • Free Voluntary Reading (FVR)

Also, whatever you do, make sure it’s something without printing (do all that by Friday). Heading to the copier Monday morning is about as bad an idea as driving back to any major city on a Sunday afternoon.

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Making some house compound gin (i.e. legal infusing, not illegal distilling)
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This ambient music show is free on Sundays, and you can stream the show all week free on the app.
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OK, so watching double bass videos isn’t exactly relaxing, but #teachersunday is more about not planning for school than it is about chilling out. #teachersunday is about making sure you retain free time, and doing what you want with it.
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Calm Quincy water from a cozy corner at Aunt Pat’s.

#teachersunday

It’s always depressing to hear how teachers spend their Sundays. For many, their weekend is over early that morning with school planning weighing on their minds. For some, that weight is felt every night of the week.

Enough, already!

This tweet from Angel Wilson appeared in my feed:

Angel is talking about super teachers; the ones who are seen to be praiseworthy models of education and teacher expectations. Those expectations are unreasonable. How about the teacher who’s effective day in and day out, but also has a personal life beyond the classroom?! Why aren’t we praising consistency resulting from a healthy, balanced work and personal life?! Students are keen to diversify their resume for college acceptance (no one wants someone too focused on just one thing, right?), so why aren’t we modeling that as well? Why are teachers working on the weekend?! And remember that we can plan so we never have to do that, right?

So, on Sundays, I’ll be tweeting (@magistermrp) pics of what I’m doing under #teachersunday and I encourage you to do the same. Join me starting next week to show the world that successful teachers are leading healthy, balanced lives by enjoying their weekend just like everyone else! Here’s a snapshot of my day:

Morning espresso and reading.
Skype w/ a friend.
Late afternoon brew & snack next door.
Movie #1 of…2…3? Because after this is sleep, then starting work in the A.M. (but not before).

Organizing

The most practical daily practices aren’t really taught to teachers. None of us received training in how to best take attendance, minimize the paper trail, organize digital files, or transition between classes. The lucky teachers have found a good system. Unlucky ones are still searching for more efficient systems, or don’t even know that alternatives exist at all! This is a companion post to How To Plan So Your Plans Never Get Messed Up with some tips on organization…

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