Category Archives: Teacher Inspiration

teacher self-care {take a minute for you}

by Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed.

Comment on this post and be entered to win a $20 School Box gift card! Winners are drawn regularly. 

The hardest thing for me about back-to-school time is transitioning from summer relaxation to high-energy fall schedules. As teachers, we look forward to meeting our new classes, and there’s a certain unmatched energy about starting a new year with a new group. It’s fun! (Okay, most of it :).

But I find that if I don’t take a little time for self-care, I feel burned out come October. (Or September. Or August 30. :) Am I alone here, or can I get an Amen?

Here are some ideas for us educators who need a little R & R– even after our swimsuits have long ago dried and the sand is long gone from our flip-flops. These ideas don’t take long, but they provide a bit of happy in the midst of all the busy.

1. Get Social!

Fill the “off-hours” time in your calendar (evenings, weekends, Friday nights) with activities you authentically look forward to. Plan fun outings, girl’s nights out, date nights, or just solo trips to the coffee shop. Having these fun times planned and scheduled on the calendar gives you something to look forward to even on your longest days. At least you’ll know that a break is coming!

2. Just Say No.

In order to have space in your calendar (and mind) for things you enjoy doing, you may have to say “no” to invitations and activities that come your way…and that’s okay. Learning to say no is crucial to self-care. If you’re bad at it, here’s an article on how to do it well.

3. Play Music.

When you’re in your classroom during breaks or after school, put on some favorite music. It really is an endorphin booster! Here’s a play list of relaxing tunes. How pretty is Bella’s Lullaby??

4. Leave Work on Time. 

Sometimes you have to stay late at school (parent meetings, faculty meetings, PTA meetings, meetings meetings meetings). But, let’s be honest– sometimes it’s just a bad habit or a choice. Make a pact with yourself to leave on time at least three afternoons a week. It’s much more relaxing to grade papers at home with your fuzzy slippers kicked up in a recliner than with your aching feet still stuck underneath your metal teacher desk.

5. Get Physical. 

Exercise is a great stress reducer– this is no secret. But with newly packed schedules, it may be hard to find time to hit the gym or treadmill this fall. If so, try to at least get outside and take a walk, look up at the sky, notice the world around you. Even if it’s just a quick walk after dinner, getting out and moving is grounding and re-centering. 

6. Stay Inspired.

And finally, remember why you became a teacher to begin with. It wasn’t for the glory. And it sho wasn’t for the salary. It was to make a difference in the lives of children. Here’s an inspiring website that shares the stories of famous celebs and their favorite teachers. And here’s a video to remind us why we wipe down our boards, plan our lessons, grade those papers, put on a smile, and reach out and care.

Happy August! Let’s remember to invest in ourselves as we invest in our students. We’ll all be happier this month…and beyond. ♥

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Filed under Motivation, Teacher Appreciation, Teacher Inspiration, Teaching

Four Timely Reminders for all Educators

 by Mary Jane Downs

Comment on this post and be entered to win a $20 School Box gift card! {winners drawn at the end of the month}

Are you creating a teaching legacy for future generations? What wisdom can you pass down from your experiences?

My daughter graduated as an education major from Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, this past spring. As she is hunting for a teaching position and awaiting her first solo flight, I want to give her some sage advice to ponder as she anticipates the future. Here are four tips from my teaching experience that I will be sharing with my daughter, which are, perhaps, a good reminder for all of us teachers…both young and not-so-young. 

Healthy Fear

A little ‘healthy fear’ at the beginning of each year can be a good thing. You do not have all the answers yet because every class has a different make up. This keeps you willing to seek for the answers…and it can also foster a mutual respect from your students. Don’t fear the fear; embrace it as an opportunity to learn.

The Truth Behind Discipline

Discipline has a lot to do with who you are and how you present yourself. It also has to do with honesty, fairness, your example and what you expect of each student. Bad attitudes and criticism will only aggravate the challenges. Finding the good in each student and telling them so can begin to change even the most hardcore children.

Each New Day is a New Day

Let everyone have a new start each day. Don’t hold grudges against students. It will only bring more friction to a classroom. We all have bad moments, days and periods of time when our behavior reeks. Forgive and move on. Try to find out if there is a reason for a student’s behavior. Then, work to help your student learn to overcome their problems in a more positive way.

Teachable Spirit

The best teachers keep a teachable spirit throughout their career. They never think they have arrived at fully knowing everything. They continually search for the best ways to enhance their students’ learning environment. Then, when all is said and done, your students will honor and respect you for helping them learn to succeed under your watch.

Teaching is a challenge no matter how you look at it. However, starting out with the right kind of wisdom will help you build a rewarding career…and a living legacy.

Mary Jane Downs is an author, speaker and teacher who lives in the foothills of the Asheville Mountains. She loves long walks with her camera in hand, reading, hand quilting, and cooking for friends. Mary Jane has been published in Awe Magazine, Inspiredmoms.com, as well as a guest blogger. Mary Jane has found her writing and love of quilting to work well together. Quilting gives her time to think and gain insight for story ideas, and writing helps her to express those ideas and thoughts to others. Read more by Mary Jane at www.maryjanewrites.com.

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Virtual Summer Field Trips {without leaving home!}

by Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed.

Comment on this post to win a $20 School Box gift card; winners drawn monthly. 

“Van Gogh’s ear got cut off!” This was how my 5-year-old son greeted me after art & museum week at summer camp. “Yeah, it was probably cuz some kids were playing with scissors,” he wisely concluded.

Of course I found this humorous, but then, as he rattled off van Gogh’s bio and described with enthusiasm how he had painted his own Starry Night at camp, I shifted from bemused to downright impressed.

So, what had inspired my rough-and-tumble boy to suddenly declare, “I think I want to be an artist one day, a really good one like van Gogh”? Turns out it was a bevy of virtual museum field trips they’d taken during camp.

His enthusiasm in turn inspired the educator-mom in me. So, I popped open my laptop and collected a list of truly stellar world-class museum sites. No need to book a plane ticket; we can visit the Smithsonian, MET, and Louve without ever leaving our living room.

Here’s a rundown of the best:

The Smithsonian {for kids}: www.si.edu/kids

Meet Smithsonian scientists, watch the LIVE animal cams at the National Zoo, and–best part!–take a virtual interactive tour of the Dinosaur Exhibit. Awesome!

The Louvre: www.louvre.fr

Did you know that The Louvre was originally a fortress built by the French king Philippe Auguste? It was intended to protect Paris from attack via the Seine. Today, visitors can walk around the original perimeter moat and view the piers that supported the drawbridge…and you can take a virtual tour here! Or take a virtual tour of Egyptian Antiquities (mummies!).

The U.S. Mint: www.usmint.gov

Learn the history of our currency with a kid-friendly, interactive timeline where you’ll pick up some intriguing facts. (Like that our currency system was inspired by an idea from John Hancock. Who knew?)

Then, play some money games! Kids can also travel to different parts of the world to learn about their currencies, too, in this fun toon.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art: www.metmuseum.org

Almost their entire collection can be viewed online! Simply search for a piece of art, and voila! An image and information about the piece appears.

But the best part of this website is the interactive family and children’s media section. Took some digging to find it, but here are the best spots:

Cezanne’s Astonishing Apples: Learn about Cezanne and view his masterpieces.

Aaron’s Awesome Adventure: An animated read-aloud of the story of a boy who visits the Met.

And check out their TweenCasts, special podcasts produced by the Metropolitan Museum of Art specifically for adolescent audiences. Fabulous!

So go tour some cultural wonders of the world. Who knows what you might discover–aside from scissor safety, that is. 

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Filed under Art, Parenting, Summer Learning, Teacher Inspiration, Virtual tour

favorite {free} downloadable fonts

by Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed.

Write a little comment on this post and be entered to win a $20 School Box gift card! We’ll draw a winner shortly. 

Looking for a way to spruce up your classroom reproducibles? Here are some of our favorite free downloadable fonts that would look just dandy on your next parent letter or student activity sheet (or party invitation!). Happy Holidays from A Learning Experience!

Circus

This one looks just like good ol’ Barnum and Bailey’s. Super cute!

Image

DOWNLOAD HERE.

Chalkduster

Looks like, well, you know.

DOWNLOAD HERE.

Pea Lovey Dovey

Adorable curlie-q font with a whimsical vibe.

DOWNLOAD HERE.

Elegant

Appropriately named, this font is elegant but not frufru.

DOWNLOAD HERE. 

Orange

Fun, whimsy, feminine.

DOWNLOAD HERE.

Earwig Factory

Gross name. Cute font.

DOWNLOAD HERE.

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Filed under Activities, Art, Classroom Decor, Holidays, Organization, Teacher Inspiration, Teaching, technology

Live History: A Creative Project

by S. Parbhoo

Comment on this post and be entered to win a $20 School Box Gift Card! Comment winners are randomly drawn and announced every month.

Teachers, you all know that teaching history can be a challenge. After all, with Facebook and reality TV in kids’ lives, history just seems so…yesterday! Nothing can bore a kid faster than the idea of textbooks, note-taking and unit tests. But, there is a better way!

Here is a research project that will not only foster kids’ creativity, but will also put them into the driver’s seat of their own learning about the past. It’s called the Multigenre Research Project, and while I designed it for Middle School, it could easily be adapted for upper elementary or high school, as well. Here are the steps to complete the project:

Read a Historical Novel or Biography

Students should choose a book that is set in the historical period that the project should cover (as decided by you, the teacher). Both historical fiction and biographies cover “real life” historical issues that people lived through. It’s important that kids begin their historical journey by walking in someone else’s shoes; they’ll need that perspective later in the project.

Choose a Topic

After reading, kids should choose an important topic or social issue covered in their book: What important facts jumped out? What struggles did the main character go through? For example, was the book about children during the Civil War? Was the book about soldiers who fought during the Revolutionary war? Keep the topic narrow.

Explore the Past

Now is the time to find out all there is to know about the topic. Use the Internet to find articles, videos and pictures about the topic. The more knowledge kids have about their chosen idea, the better they will do in the next step.

Become a Historical Character

Here comes the really fun part! Let kids jump into the time machine of their own minds and create four to five creative original pieces. Kids should write (or draw or sing or act) from the point of view of someone in their historical era. Some ideas for them to think about:

• Write a poem or short story as an historical character

• Create a timeline of the era

• Record a video or original song as a character from the era

• Create an original magazine from the era

• Write a letter to a prominent figure of the era

• Draw a picture of a historical person from the era

Package It Up

Finally, kids will package up their work in a super creative way that fits the topic. For example, if the project was on American Soldiers during World War II, creatively package the pieces in a knapsack or backpack. If the topic was on families during the Great Depression, kids can frame drawings, poems and letters like family portraits on a display board. And Marie Antoinette findings, for example, could be fittingly collected in a jewelry box (or cake box!). The ideas are as endless as a student’s imagination!

 

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Filed under Academic Success, Activities, creative writing, History, Reading, Teacher Inspiration, technology, Writing

somethin’ fun…famous learners

Comment on this post and be entered to win a $20 School Box Gift Card!

In honor of summer, we thought we’d celebrate some of the famous brains of our time…since our brains are officially on vacation!

Below is a fun summer read: an inspiring array of pivotal personas who prove that learning is a lifelong endeavor.

For some, learning is primarily focused on formal schooling, beginning and ending with the classroom. But for others, education happens everywhere and exists as a lifelong pursuit. Whether they are learning through experience, books or other means, these lifelong enthusiasts inspire us with their tenacity for education.

  1. Arthur Ernest Morgan: A pioneer for flood control and dam construction methods, Arthur E. Morgan was a self-taught engineer. Although his education did not come from formal schooling, he went on to become president of Antioch College.
  2. Malcolm X: As an advocate for the rights of African-Americans, Malcolm X is admired by many. He dropped out of school, and after converting to Islam in prison, spent his time self-learning, eventually becoming an intellectual public figure.
  3. The Wright Brothers: Orville and Wilbur Wright conducted the first controlled human flight, and the first to invent controls for fixed-wing aircraft. These two were self-taught inventors and continued to study the field of aviation.
  4. Ansel Adams: Ansel Adams is one of the most famous and celebrated photographers in the world. He left school at an early age, but made continuous learning and innovation a priority in his life and work, allowing him to create the fine art we know him for today.
  5. Quentin Tarantino: Beloved for his films, including Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill, Quentin Tarantino is an incredibly popular and influential director. He dropped out of high school, instead preferring to learn filmmaking from his job in a video store.
  6. George Washington: The first President of the United States, George Washington had little formal education. He loved studying, particularly mathematics, and even worked as a surveyor after going on a relevant trip with his cousin.
  7. Florence Nightingale: A celebrated nurse and pioneer in nursing education, Nightingale herself was self-taught with some help from her father.
  8. Colonel Harland Sanders: Colonel Sanders, founder of the KFC empire, dropped out of school in the 6th grade. Upon reaching retirement age without much in the way of funds, Colonel Sanders decided to better himself with self-education and the founding of KFC.
  9. Nikola Tesla: Nikola Tesla is well known as an extraordinary inventor. He attended college, but preferred to study on his own.
  10. Michael Faraday: Michael Faraday’s work led to the development of electrotechnology. One of the greatest scientists in the world, he was almost completely self-taught.
  11. Stanley Kubrick: Stanley Kubrick was a celebrated director. He was a poor student and disdained school. Instead of formal education, Kubrick sat in on classes and pursued self-learning.
  12. George Bernard Shaw: George Bernard Shaw had irregular education, but went on to be awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1925. With intensive reading, debating and lecturing, Shaw was able to educate himself throughout his life.
  13. Bill Gates: Bill Gates recognizes that continuous learning and self-improvement is essential to success. He often picks up a copy of Time to read cover to cover, not just browsing, but soaking up everything to ensure that he learns something he didn’t know before.
  14. Martin Van Buren: Although his formal education ended at 13, Martin Van Buren, the eighth president of the United States, went on to study law as an apprentice at a firm.
  15. Walt Whitman: Walt Whitman is one of America’s most important poets. He was a reading lover, teaching himself to write, and even self published.
  16. Abraham Lincoln: Before becoming the sixteenth President of the United States, Lincoln was a self-educated lawyer, even though he had less than a year of formal schooling. He didn’t read excessively, but carefully studied each book he did read to be sure he completely understood them.
  17. Alexander Graham Bell: The man we know as the inventor of the telephone and telegraph was self-taught. He only attended a few lectures in college, but continued to learn and experiment throughout his life.
  18. Benjamin Franklin: Benjamin Franklin is a celebrated American statesman, and an autodidact as well. Franklin took to learning on his own, working with those with experience to understand topics like gulf streams, Italian and meteorology.
  19. Elizabeth Barrett Browning: A widely celebrated English poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning educated herself with Shakespearean plays and classic literature. She remained a ravenous reader, learning through books for her entire life.
  20. James Baldwin: James Baldwin was born into poverty and achieved only a high school education. Upon graduation, he pursued passionate self-education, using his learning to become a celebrated writer and Civil Rights activist.
  21. Abigail Adams: The First Lady to the second President of the United States, and mother of the sixth, Abigail Adams was well-educated without ever attending school. She was tutored and loved to read, simply for the desire to bolster her generous intellect.
  22. Walt Disney: The namesake and co-founder of Walt Disney, this cartoonist taught himself to draw through correspondence school and continued to learn throughout his life.
  23. John Harrison: John Harrison was the inventor of the marine chronometer and a self-educated clockmaker. He lacked the credentials of some of his peers because of this, and got assistance from the king to get credit for his accomplished education.
  24. Frank Lloyd Wright: Frank Lloyd Wright is easily America’s most famous architect. He learned and developed his own style of architecture, drawing from methods of his own creation.
  25. Ray Bradbury: Ray Bradbury was a prolific science fiction writer, with more than 30 books and over 500 works. He graduated from high school, but his impressive education is largely due to independent reading.

For more fun lists of learners, check out www.onlinecollege.org.

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Happy Teacher Appreciation Day!

Sometimes teaching is a thankless job…but not today!! For everyone who has a role in educating and impacting a child, we applaud and thank you. And, for the days you don’t feel appreciated, here’s a reminder that someone’s always watching.

When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking
By Mary Rita Schilke Korzan

When you thought I wasn’t looking, you displayed my first report, and I wanted to do another.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, you fed a stray cat, and I thought it was good to be kind to animals.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, you gave me a sticker, and I knew that little things were special things.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, you put your arm around me, and I felt loved.
When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw tears come from your eyes, and I learned that sometimes things hurt–but that it’s alright to cry.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, you smiled, and it made me want to look that pretty, too.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, you cared, and I wanted to be everything I could be.
When you thought I wasn’t looking–I looked…and wanted to say thanks for all those things you did when you thought I wasn’t looking.

And, just to add a little icing on the cake, here’s a special discount from The School Box stores. Just show your teacher i.d. to receive 20-40% off today!!

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Comment winners for March!

We have TWO comment winners for the month of March! These winners were randomly drawn from among everyone who commented on A Learning Experience posts last month. To get your name in the hat for April’s drawing, go comment on some current articles! It’s a fun way to share ideas…and a great way to potentially score $20 to The School Box– our favorite place for teacher goods, kiddie games, birthday presents, art supplies and all that jazz.

March Comment Winners!

peggy hernandez

Submitted on 2011/03/03 at 3:39 pm

Cute BB idea. The leprechaun always visit our classroom on March 17th. He turns over chairs, breaks things, leaves gold glitter all over and leaves us a piece of gold on our desks. My children are already talking about the “leprechaun visit” this year. I’m happy that most of my 2nd graders are so sweet and innocent! I love St. Patty’s Day!

Ashley

Submitted on 2011/03/30 at 9:26 am

LOVE this idea! I have already printed it out and will be purchasing my supplies very soon! We will be making these for grandmothers too! Thank you so much for sharing!

Congrats, Peggy and Ashley! A $20 gift card to The School Box is on its way to both of you.

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January Comment Winner!

We’ve got a winner, folks! Our (randomly selected) comment winner for this month is…

Comment Winner: June

Original Comment (on A Puzzling Holiday post):

I’ve added thekidzpage to my favorites. My students will love this site. I agree that it builds many cognitive skills like visual processing and reasoning and logic. Some of our students have not enjoyed the benefits of puzzles at home, so this free site will enrich our classroom. Thanks!

Congrats, June!! Pam from The School Box will be in touch shortly with details about claiming your $20 School Box gift card!

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A Learning Experience

Know what I love? The community and fellowship we achieve by sharing ideas for working with children. Whether we’re educators, parents, or both, we have a common bond: our passion for imparting the best to children. That’s what A Learning Experience is all about…and you are a vital part of this community.

For those of you who commented on our articles in the past few weeks, a big special THANK YOU goes out to you. We love (love) seeing how your thoughts add to the original articles. It’s amazing what we learn when we put our heads together.

Thanks to all of you, A Learning Experience continues to grow…and, most importantly, continues to stand out as an authentic resource for creative ideas and inspiration. I hope you keep joining us here and sharing your wisdom!

And, if you’d like to submit an article for us to publish on A Learning Experience (which scores you a $35 gift card to The School Box and a nice little addition for the ol’ resume), simply e-mail a 250-350 word article to editor@schoolbox.com. Articles on a variety of educational topics are always welcome!

Warm regards,

Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed.
Editor of A Learning Experience

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