Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Teacher Burnout

Even the most enthusiastic teacher may experience teacher burnout.

Burnout is that sickening feeling in the pit of your stomach when you feel you want to run from the school, you struggle to get excited about anything related to teaching, you resent the constant feeling of being overwhelmed.  Teacher burnout is often a standard hazard of the job in the months of late October and November which coincides with shorter days, setting our clocks back, report cards are due, and flu and cold symptoms abound, students begin to get an attitude, more emails appear each day, and more parent conferences.

A deeper, more troublesome teacher burnout may occur when the teaching assignment requires that every 5th grade teacher must teach the same story at the same time, the same unit in math, schedule tests on the same day, which leaves little time for one's own curriculum passions.---No time for core novels, no time for problem of the month, no time for poetry.  Experiencing this rigid curriculum lock step, a teacher's spirit is broken and burn out occurs.  There must be a balance that allows time for teacher's  curriculum creativity. In addition, burnout occurs with new teachers to the profession when they find their ideas are not appreciated by their colleagues; they are left to fend for themselves; they lack even the most elemental supplies to properly run a class.  Teaching is so selfless, exhausting, demanding, complex that teachers need a great deal of support from one another to revitalize their spirit.

Excellent educators hold our nations success in their hands; we can not let burn out draw them away from the profession.  So what can a teacher do to hang on when they are in the pit dip?

* Brain Breaks aren't just for students!  Teachers need them too!   Instead of going to the teacher's room every day, maybe put on some quiet music in your classroom and spend the lunch period in your own quiet space rejuvenating your spirit.  I love the spa music channel on my Pandora App!  I also stash a few of my favorite magazines in my desk.  Flipping through the pages of O magazine is a nice brain break.  Sometimes I take the testing offices my students use and put it up on my desk. Then I literally put my head down on my desk and take deep breaths.  Privacy and Zen!
*  Give yourself permission not to grade everything.
*  Take your most disruptive student and pledge to spend 5 minutes each day talking with him/her for 5 days and see the positive results.
*  If you have a long commute, try to car pool, decide to move closer to your  school site, listen to a funny audiobook.
*  Once a month or more schedule time to pamper yourself, a massage, a hike with friends, frozen yogurt with bright colored sprinkles, improv comedy night!
*  Keep positive affirmations in your desk that will help boost your spirit.  I have Don't Sweat The Small Stuff For Women  right by my computer!
* If your grade level colleagues are not supporting you, reach out to teachers in a higher or lower grade.
* Listen to people around you; if they are saying you look tired or you are always getting sick, take their advice and schedule a day off to revitalize.
* Just like your Mom said: get plenty of sleep, eat your vegetables and get some exercise.
             This too shall pass.
*Your first year of teaching and a masters?!?!?!  I see it all the time with new teachers.  Pace yourself.  The masters will come LATER.
*Close the pinterest app! Step away from the computer and hours spent stalking teacher blogs!  You can quickly get overwhelmed by all the amazing ideas, possibilities, cute classrooms and veteran teachers doing amazing things in their classrooms.  Step away!
*Set the reminders app on your iPhone or alarm clock.  Have the alarm remind you when to leave your classroom!  No more late night holed up in your room.  Get out of there!


Friday, December 13, 2013

Saturday Sprinkles

I'm sprinkling up some Saturday classroom magic all over the blog today.  Most certainly, I am a HUGE sprinkle fanatic.  If I could sprinkle glitter on EVERYthing, I would. 

 Colorful sprinkles on frozen yogurt and cupcakes?  ALWAYS!  

I figure weekends need sprinkles, too!  Why not sprinkle some teaching magic on our blogs?!??!  If you have some time feel free to link up.  What was your class up to this week?   Use pics from Instagram or camera/phone snapshots.  Add a quick little caption and sprinkle away.  

Color By Product Elf Fun. Thank you, Young Teacher Love!  Our window is decorated for holiday fun thanks to your great TPT products. 

My second Problem of the Month with students.  The language arts and math connection is critical!  Students use sentence stems to write down the steps of their problem-solving.  

Hard at work on our opinion posters.  This poster sprinkles facts, pictures, and proof.

Blown away but the effort students are putting into their Paul Revere posters.  The details on this belfry tower are unreal! 

I rolled with laughter at the question marks above the chicken's heads.  I would have been confused, too, had Paul Revere stormed through my sleepy town. 

Just… WOW!

Would love for you to link up.  Let's sprinkle teaching magic all over the inter-webs. 

Cheers hot chocolate style 
Link Up Below:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Monthly Q & A The Sprinkle Teaching Magic Way

Questions regarding my Classroom Management techniques come up often.  Classroom Management is a HUGE topic!  I will cover parts of my classroom management techiniques here on the blog and over on my Teaching Youtube Channel.

Today, I will talk about CEOs.  What are CEOs????

Years and years of scrapped behavior management ideas have led up to a system that is working magic in my upper elementary classroom. Student's desks are separated into groups of 6.  In years past, I used table points as a group incentive.  Teams would receive tally points for following classroom rules, productivity, transitioning quickly etc.  My table point tracking system was on the white board.  Each week I felt frustrated.  Was I giving too many points to one specific team?  Some days we were in such a frenzy I would forget to give team points altogether.  By the end of the week, I wondered if the system had meaning.  I felt pressure.  The system felt broken.  Whenever this feeling comes over me I know it is time to revamp.  I scrapped the table point system.

This year my CEO system works much better! My students apply for jobs each month.  This year I have four CEO job openings (one for each table group).  Just as the name implies, a student chosen for CEO is Chief Executive Officer of their table group.  This is a coveted job, so students must prove they are responsible to be considered for CEO.

CEOs are responsible for table points.  At the beginning of the month they make weekly tracking index cards.

Each group member's name is written on the index cards.   Throughout the day, if a student is showing exemplary behavior and effort I may say, "Johnny, point."  Quick and targeted response.  When the CEO at Johnny's table hears this, a point is immediatly tallied by Johnny's name.  Each point means the student will receive one raffle ticket.  I may also say, "everyone at Table Three receives a point for _________ (insert positive behavior)."  If a CEO hears, "Johnny, check" a check is placed by Johnny's name.  A check means two tickets are owed by the student.  For example, if a student blurts out, they recieve a check.  This happens fast, and then we move on.  We do not dwell on a negative check.  It is just a quick notice from me to adjust behavior.

At the end of the day, CEOs tally points and distribute the correct number of raffle tickets.  At the end of the week, CEOs tally points for the entire week.  The team with the most points wins and receives extra tickets.

Students collect tickets to participate in the end of the month raffle.  Students also need tickets for the bathroom and drinks of water.  Raffle tickets are the incentive and classroom curency.  I have tried a money system and decided it does not work for me.  I also tried Class Dojo.  No luck.   Raffle tickets work great!

CEO's are also responsible for making sure their team is running smoothly.  I meet with CEO's through out the month. We talk about leadership techniques such as the following: giving compliments, listenting, how to stay organized, how to talk with a peer that is frustrated or disengaged from the group.  CEO's learn and practice skills to lead small groups.  Some of my brightest students struggle with leadership.  Often, their bossy side surfaces or they lose patience when working with a struggling student.  The CEO position is an effective way to grow leaders.  Students are role models and lead by example.  The other members of the group respect their CEO.

On pay day, at the end of the month, CEO's receive a set number of tickets for a month of hard work.

I love this system and it works like magic for fifth graders.

What do I love about having a CEO at each table?

-I can be anywhere in the room or on campus with my class and give out points.  CEO's remember everything! No white board needed.  I can sit and work with a small group and give out points from where I am sitting.
 -I glance at the tally cards at the end of the day.  The cards provide instant data.
-I keep the index cards for my records.  Before a meeting with a parent I have instant behavior data to use in my notes.
-Student leadership skills are encouraged
-Students are capable of taking charge and running parts of our room.  Students take ownership, which builds community.
-The system is hands off and runs itself.  What a treat!  Current CEO's will train the CEO's for the following month.
-Students want to fit in and impress their peers.  When a student suggests a classmate should do something or encourages them,  the benefit of this interaction is the gold standard.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Currently and 500 Subscriber Giveaway Announcement

Happy Saturday teacher friends!  What are you up to today?  I am snug as a bug at home.  Brrrrr it is cold and rainy here in California.  I love it!  Time to enjoy the twinkling lights of the Christmas Tree and watch Elf.

I always love participating in Farley's monthly Currently!

I am excited to announce my 500 Subscriber giveaway winner!  Congratulations Karyn Wilber.  Be sure to email me at!

Are you following me on Instagram?  I had two $25 winners.  My kitties helped make the big announcement! 

Have a wonderful weekend!  Did you participate in Farley's Currently?  Leave me a link down below in the comments so I can go check your Currently out.