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So You Want To Teach? http://www.soyouwanttoteach.com Providing HOPE for educators since 2007 Sat, 12 Mar 2016 15:11:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.11 Frozen And The Value of Quality [VIDEO]http://www.soyouwanttoteach.com/frozen-and-the-value-of-quality-video/ http://www.soyouwanttoteach.com/frozen-and-the-value-of-quality-video/#comments Tue, 18 Mar 2014 04:49:36 +0000 http://www.soyouwanttoteach.com/?p=33861 So recently some friends of mine did a video of themselves singing Love Is An Open Door from the movie Frozen. It showed up as a blip on the radar, but I didn’t act on it until today. I saw their clip again, but this time it had been picked up on another website and was starting to gain a little bit of traction across the Internet. So I watched it. It was nice. It was cute. It was adorable. I shared it on Facebook.

Then I began to think about it a bit more. So I watched the original and realized it was some parents lip-syncing their way through the movie soundtrack. Like what you or I have ...

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youtube-topic-pageSo recently some friends of mine did a video of themselves singing Love Is An Open Door from the movie Frozen. It showed up as a blip on the radar, but I didn’t act on it until today. I saw their clip again, but this time it had been picked up on another website and was starting to gain a little bit of traction across the Internet. So I watched it. It was nice. It was cute. It was adorable. I shared it on Facebook.

Then I began to think about it a bit more. So I watched the original and realized it was some parents lip-syncing their way through the movie soundtrack. Like what you or I have done in the bathroom mirror 100 times before…okay, so like I have done. So I saw there were other versions floating around out there and discovered that they are all either professionals, lip-syncs, or high school kids singing way out of tune along with the recording. But check out their video here: Parents really sing Love Is An Open Door from Disney’s Frozen

This drew my mind back to a few times I have seen school musicals. The one time I played in a musical happened to have high school senior Kelly Clarkson singing the lead role just a couple of years before she won American Idol for the first time. She was hands far and away better than the other high school kids who were in the show. Another show I saw was my college’s first attempt at putting on a musical and the vocal ability level of the music majors was vastly different from the vocal ability of the theater majors, though clearly they were better at the whole dramatic acting thing.

Then I started thinking about when I used to play in a semi-professional mariachi and people would want to hire the group (15 musicians), but would not want to pay $300 for an hour. It was a good group, we played the songs from memory and presented the real deal, but we would only make $20 an hour for a show. Mind you, what went into that hour of performing was somewhere around six hours of my time: 3 hours of practice and preparation, an hour of travel and setup before and after the show, and the hour of actual performance time. I got out of the group after about a year and a half because, honestly, the time was not worth the money that I was making. I had enough stories to tell, it was time to move on. Haha.

So how does this apply to our lives as teachers? Well, what is the value of the quality of your teaching? How often do you undervalue yourself? Of course others undervalue us. Everyone undervalues other people all the time. But, how often do we disregard our students’ effort and seemingly insignificant progress? What if their self-worth is wrapped up in someone…anyone noticing that they put forth a little bit (or a lot for them) of effort?

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5 Reasons I Loved Teaching Middle Schoolhttp://www.soyouwanttoteach.com/5-reasons-i-loved-teaching-middle-school/ http://www.soyouwanttoteach.com/5-reasons-i-loved-teaching-middle-school/#comments Mon, 10 Feb 2014 04:41:05 +0000 http://www.soyouwanttoteach.com/?p=33852 This past summer was a whirlwind tour for me and someday I may share a bit about the amazing experiences I had traveling by myself across the country (including three nights stranded in airports, a fourth of July parade in a small town outside of Boston, following my beloved Texas Rangers to Saint Louis, New York, and Baltimore, a ride to the airport from Shelly Terrell, and an amazing time in some of this country’s finest cities). But now is not the time for this.

Now is the time to address the biggest change in my educational life. After 11 years of fighting in the trenches, I have finally moved on to the major leagues. I moved on from my ...

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teens-995276-mThis past summer was a whirlwind tour for me and someday I may share a bit about the amazing experiences I had traveling by myself across the country (including three nights stranded in airports, a fourth of July parade in a small town outside of Boston, following my beloved Texas Rangers to Saint Louis, New York, and Baltimore, a ride to the airport from Shelly Terrell, and an amazing time in some of this country’s finest cities). But now is not the time for this.

Now is the time to address the biggest change in my educational life. After 11 years of fighting in the trenches, I have finally moved on to the major leagues. I moved on from my previous job where I taught middle school for 9 years into a high school on the south side of San Antonio. My years at the middle school level were necessary for me to get to the place that I am in my teaching. But with that being said, teaching high school is extraordinarily different. Next time I will write more about my observations about high school teaching, but today I am in a nostalgic mood. So I present to you 5 reasons I loved teaching middle school.

  1. Middle school kids are hilarious
    The fact that people go from not having a clue how to respond to sarcasm in 6th grade to being able to present formidable sarcasm barrages by the time they finish 8th grade is priceless. Not that I would ever employ sarcasm in addressing students, of course. Not me…never. Okay, maybe once or twice…
  2. Middle school kids need direction
    Love them or hate them, you must admit that middle school kids are some of the most awkward creatures on the planet. I have no clue how anyone gets out of 8th grade alive, but somehow most of us manage to do so and live to tell about it. Having respectable, responsible, passionate adults in their lives makes that wild transition so much easier.
  3. Middle school kids generally enter band with little, if any, musical training
    They don’t know how boring practicing can be. They don’t know what misbehaviors they might be able to get away with. They don’t know anything except what we teach them. If you teach them well, they will go on to high school and become absolutely phenomenal musicians.
  4. Middle school kids are difficult
    If you can make it through the first few years teaching middle school, you can do anything. Classroom management is by far the biggest weakness of most new teachers and starting out at middle school forces you to confront this weakness. High school students generally will let things slide because they have learned about working together for the common good. Middle school students? Middle school kids smell blood and don’t relent. If you are weak, they will humiliate you to no end. But once you find that sweet spot, oh man. It is thrillng.
  5. Middle school kids are forgetful
    From an educational standpoint, this fact is terribly annoying. But from the standpoint of you learning the basics of the instruments (and it could easily be applied to pre-algebra, grammar, life science, etc.), having to repeat the same instructions day in and day out to the same students forces you to remember them. I started my career having never played a saxophone and I had only spent a few weeks as a flute player. I was the “woodwind expert” in my district because I had a couple of semesters of clarinet experience. I walked out of my 11th year teaching absolutely confident that I could teach the fundamentals of sound production on any band, orchestra, or mariachi instrument.

So what about you? What are your favorite things about teaching middle school?

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Top 10 Ways To Improvise Your Way to Being A Better Teacherhttp://www.soyouwanttoteach.com/top-10-ways-to-improvise-your-way-to-being-a-better-teacher/ http://www.soyouwanttoteach.com/top-10-ways-to-improvise-your-way-to-being-a-better-teacher/#comments Mon, 24 Jun 2013 12:00:35 +0000 http://www.soyouwanttoteach.com/?p=33839 This summer I made the decision to go on a somewhat extensive tour of a few of the major cities in the Northeast United States. During the process, I reconnected with my friend Nelson, with whom I marched drumcorps 17 years ago. I haven’t seen him in the intervening years and so it as been great to catch up with him the past few days. It turns out that he has spent the last few years doing comedy in and around the Chicago area.

We went to The Second City Comedy Club last night and watched a completely improvised musical about a Golden Fleece. We have talked extensively at meals over the last few days as well. Some of our ...

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108250_mcThis summer I made the decision to go on a somewhat extensive tour of a few of the major cities in the Northeast United States. During the process, I reconnected with my friend Nelson, with whom I marched drumcorps 17 years ago. I haven’t seen him in the intervening years and so it as been great to catch up with him the past few days. It turns out that he has spent the last few years doing comedy in and around the Chicago area.

We went to The Second City Comedy Club last night and watched a completely improvised musical about a Golden Fleece. We have talked extensively at meals over the last few days as well. Some of our conversations have clued me in to the fact that a lot of skills I have learned in my eleven years of teaching are exactly the same skills that he uses when he does stand-up and improv comedy. So in David Letterman fashion, here are Joel’s Top 10 Similarities Between Teaching And Stand-Up Comedy:

10. Help each other out
In improv, one of the basic rules is to set the other guy up for success. Sometimes helping may come in the form of giving the other guy a chance to assume the role of your

9. Be kind to everyone
From a good friend to the manager of the comedy club to the hostesses working at Uncle Julio’s to the cleaning lady at some museum, be nice to everyone. Take an interest in everyone. It costs you nothing, but when we got the the restaurant on a Saturday night in downtown Chicago and didn’t have to wait in line before our table was ready, it made sense.

8. Come into every situation with a basic outline
Know your oplan. Know where you are headed. You cannot accomplish a goal that you don’t set.

7. Whatever happens, roll with the punches
Life will not work out as you want it to. Maybe like me this year, you’ll have a fire drill during the passing period while students are in the hall and don’t know where in the world to go or whose class to go with, following the fire drill and finally getting your class settled down, the superintendent and an entourage will come into your classroom and stay there for 20 minutes and ask your students why they like your class. Maybe that won’t happen. In an ideal world, that kind of stuff doesn’t happen. If you live in an ideal world, let me know!

6. You won’t get anything that you don’t ask for
Nelson told me about a game that he made up years ago called “The Free Game”. He will sometimes play it with friends and they basically spend a set period of time seeing what they can get for free; whoever gets the most wins. I’ve never personally done it as a set game like that, but I know I do that from time to time. In teaching also, you practically never get any favors you don’t ask for. Unless you’re dealing with a vindictive bully (not that any of us has ever met such a mythical creature as this), the worst that can happen is you won’t get whatever it is you asked for.

5. Embrace mistakes, as they are your path to future success
If you mess up, that simply means you’re human. Admit it and move on. There is a time to pretend that you’re right, but there is also a time to admit that you’re wrong. Know the difference and take charge.

4. Every day is a new day, learn from your mistakes
Don’t make the same mistake over and over. Repeated mistakes are ingrained bad habits, which is a far worse problem than a simple misstep. If it’s a major issue, it will take intense effort to root out the problem, so you better get to working on it now. It’s never too late to overcome a problem. No matter how old you are, now is a better time to start than earlier.

3. Pay attention to your surroundings
If your audience is zoning out, it’s time to change things up a bit. He told me about one gig with Los Improviachis was improvising a song and it ended up turning into a playful song about one of the audience members who was messing with her cell phone throughout their entire performance.

2. Some people will clap for anything, others will clap for nothing
You cannot judge the quality of your performance based on the response you get. I know I have had experiences where I think my class got something so well and they show up the next day completely oblivious to all the work we had accomplished yesterday. Other times, I feel completely worthless until a few days down the road and I overhear one of my students mention to another about something that we worked on during that entire “wasted day”. As long as two people have heard you, you will always have fans and you will always have haters. Always. Get over yourself. Please! :)

1. Confidence is Key
Without question, the biggest element of a successful joke is the confidence of the one who delivers the joke. If your audience can tell you are passionate about a topic, then no matter how mundane, they will grow more passionate about it as well. Even something as mundane as Hot Pockets. As evidenced by this video of Jim Gaffigan.

So anyway, Nelson has a video podcast that he does. It doesn’t apply to teaching directly, but I invite you to watch it, follow him on Facebook or Twitter, and see how he models some of these points.

Feel free to check out:

His blog – Musical Chairs Podcast
Like – His blog’s Facebook page
Follow – His Twitter feedHire – Los Improviachis

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From Burnout Into Ignited Passion: A Short Story About How Blogging, Information Overload, and Working Out Have Made Me A MUCH Better Teacherhttp://www.soyouwanttoteach.com/from-burnout-into-ignited-passion-a-short-story-about-how-blogging-information-overload-and-working-out-have-made-me-a-much-better-teacher/ http://www.soyouwanttoteach.com/from-burnout-into-ignited-passion-a-short-story-about-how-blogging-information-overload-and-working-out-have-made-me-a-much-better-teacher/#comments Wed, 29 May 2013 00:27:36 +0000 http://www.soyouwanttoteach.com/?p=33821 I don’t care if it’s your teaching job or your personal habits or your social life or what it is, we all face burnout at one time or another. Or another or another or another. At times, I can feel like we are in a dark tunnel with no escape and we don’t have the energy to escape. Ummm, not that I have ever experienced that, of course.

ANYWAY, you may or may not be struggling with this now. I would guess at this point in the school year, none of us in the United States are wanting to ever teach another school year. It happens. So I present to you an autobiographical short story that addresses this concept.

Once ...

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1139526_communicate_2I don’t care if it’s your teaching job or your personal habits or your social life or what it is, we all face burnout at one time or another. Or another or another or another. At times, I can feel like we are in a dark tunnel with no escape and we don’t have the energy to escape. Ummm, not that I have ever experienced that, of course.

ANYWAY, you may or may not be struggling with this now. I would guess at this point in the school year, none of us in the United States are wanting to ever teach another school year. It happens. So I present to you an autobiographical short story that addresses this concept.

Once upon a time
I was listening to the audiobook of Quitter by Jon Acuff the other day, and in Chapter 6, he starts talking about how he started focusing way too much on blog statistics. So much so that he would write another post in the afternoon if his morning’s post didn’t get enough page views or comments or whatever. That got me reminiscing…

I realized that I had done the same thing with my blog. I started my blog as an outlet for me to journal through my learning process as I went from bad teacher to good teacher and, hopefully to master teacher. Somewhere along the journey, my blog started receiving a bunch of attention. Maybe it’s because those were the way early days of edublogging, maybe it’s because I had a few well-timed accidents that brought some attention to it. I don’t know, but I know that I started looking at pageviews way more often than I was writing posts.

Then I decided to open myself up to guest posts and started receiving some great content. Then over the months, much more not-so-great content began trickling in, then flooding me. If you’ve read my blog for very long, you have surely noticed that I fall off the face of the earth for months at a time. I had been wondering why it is that I used to love blogging, but it suddenly became a real chore to the point that I just stopped.

Why did I stop?
I figured it was a combination of information overload and increased responsibilities of my job that drove me to slow and finally stop blogging. But that wasn’t it. There was a time when the other band director at my campus had a stroke and I was unexpectedly thrust into the position of teaching all of his classes and my classes. The stress from that caused me to have an incident with a student a couple of months into the newfound position of me teaching 8 classes in 7 periods. My blogging through that time helped me to tremendously through that time and I apologized to the student, slowed down, reflected, and learned a great deal from that experience. But That’s the thing, I was extraordinarily busy then, but was able to find time to blog. Because it was necessary.

I stopped blogging, because it was no longer adding value to my life. I wasn’t writing what I wanted to write, I was writing to try to get more visitors to come. If a post was popular in the search engines, I would try to replicate that same concept and bring in more people. If it was popular on Twitter, I was sure to write about that topic more often. Lists seem to do well, so I wrote more and more list posts. Lots of fluff, very little content, and I got people coming to the blog. But I was passionless.

Losing the passion
The last week or so, I have been thinking more and more about my blog and why I started in the first place. I lost that. I was writing about subscriber numbers, Twitter, Facebook, Quitting Teaching, etc. I didn’t write about these because I wanted to. I wrote about these topics because I figured more people would float on over to my blog to see what I had to say. Then I started posting more guest posts. As I read the submissions that were sent to me, I started having to reject more and more. Again, information overload. Lots of comment spam were posted because I simply couldn’t get through the emails. So I shut down comments entirely for a while. I since reopened them, but limit the window that comments are allowed on new posts.

To put it plainly, I was sick of blogging
I was proud that I had a site up that was bringing in 1,500+ viewers a day, but I didn’t want to continue the work. I compared myself to Angela Maiers and Shelly Terrell, and saw that their blogs had been around about as long as mine, but they were way more popular then mine. I was overwhelmed. I had lost my love of it. I focused more on teaching and pouring myself into my students and less on reflecting.

Then it struck me
What I failed to realize is that Angela and Shelly don’t deal with 250+ adolescents (and their parents) each day. They don’t go to marching contests in the fall, have concerts two or three (or eight) times a year, march in parades, spend hours and hours and hours refining one 3-minute band piece. In fact, I bet they couldn’t do it. And that’s not their job! They inspire educators, and they do a phenomenal job at it! I’m inspired by them. I’ve met up with Shelly on a couple of occasions and every time I go away inspired. She’s just a passionate amazing human being. But I can’t be comparing my blog’s success with someone who is a full-time educational social media guru. It’s not fair to either of us.

So I have to get back to me being me. I inspire people simply by being me. You do too. But do yourself and me and everyone else a favor and go out there to be the most awesome, amazing, passionate version of you that you can possibly be. When we get to that point, look out!

So there it is.

There what is?
The key to igniting my passion (or yours or whoever else’s) is to not compare yourself to other people. To not base your self-worth or job effectiveness or whatever else on how other people perceive that it is that you are doing. No. Measure yourself by how passionately you are working on your dream, or how awesome you are being, or how hard (and intelligently) you are working toward that goal. Those are things that you can change. If my level of “being awesome” isn’t panning out, then I just have to dig deeper and be awesomer.

Dig deeper?
There’s the final piece of my puzzle. So you may remember that a few years ago, I started running after years of being sedentary. I even started up a weight loss blog with my blogging buddy Carol. Well, in the spring of 2011, I lost 45 pounds. I ran a half marathon in November of 2011 and proceeded to gain the weight all back over the next 9 months or so. Somewhere last spring, a few friends had been mentioning P90X and Insanity workout programs. When school let out for the summer of 2012, a friend let me borrow her copy of Insanity and I left it laying around for a while. I finally started messing with it in July and really enjoyed it after a few weeks. When school and marching season rolled around, I really didn’t have the time and energy to continue the program. So I left it setting around.

Then I completed my second half marathon in November of 2012 and it was more than 20 minutes slower than I had been a year before (remember those extra 45 pounds). I also did another half marathon in January (about the same time). Then I decided to push play again and get back into the Insanity thing. The trainer Shaun T is passionate. His attitude is contagious. Yes, there are times when he’s annoying, but he keeps inspiring me to get back up, to “dig deeper”, and to push through to the end of the workout.

Facebook
So I found him on Facebook and started following him. He’s the real deal. He went through the Insanity Program on his own in the 60 days leading up to his birthday this spring and he would complain, but he would push through. So I started getting my So You Want To Teach? page on Facebook a little more active. I started motivating people. I started regaining my passion. I share stuff with my friends on Facebook all the time, but had sort of let the SYWTT page grow stagnant. I changed that and started getting a little more inspired myself.

So what have I learned?
It’s huge. See, I have learned a boatload of things through this whole process. But most importantly, I have learned that I need to stop focusing on the opinion of other people. If an administrator criticizes something I’m doing, I go back to my question, “Is this in the best interest of the students?” If it is, then oh well. I don’t know about you, but I got into the business of education so that I can teach students and help do my part to make the world a better place. But ya know what I’ve found? Most of the administrators that would criticize me for doing something that is in the best interest of the students are either criticizing my methodology or they are criticizing me because they are insecure in themselves. Both of those are not things that I can address. So criticize all you want.

Application
A number of years ago, I went to a clinic at the Texas Bandmasters Association Convention entitled “The Heck With The Judges…Let’s Talk About The Music!” The clinic was given by the renowned Paula Crider, and she talked about not worrying about the rating we get at contest, but about focusing on making beautiful music. Since that time, I have lost track of that advice and have found myself pushing the kids to play better for the rating, and not for the sake of the music. I’m done with that. I’m done with doing things simply because someone else tells me it is urgent to get it done.

Many of you are coming to the end of your first year of teaching. If I can give you three pieces of advice that will make you a better teacher, they would be these:

  1. Remember why you started in this business
  2. Reflect often
  3. Always always always be passionate, your passion is contagious
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5 Questions To Ask Before You Teach Each Classhttp://www.soyouwanttoteach.com/5-questions-to-ask-before-you-teach-each-class/ http://www.soyouwanttoteach.com/5-questions-to-ask-before-you-teach-each-class/#comments Mon, 27 May 2013 15:39:52 +0000 http://www.soyouwanttoteach.com/?p=33631 As I was going through some old paperwork a couple of weeks ago, I came across the binder that I used with my band three years ago. I remember that was a difficult year because the classes were terribly large. My first period brass class had somewhere around 60 students, and my second period woodwind class had just over 70 students. As you might imagine, this posed a number of classroom management issues from time to time and really had the potential to wear me out. In the very front of that binder, I found a pre-class checklist that I had come up with and was flooded with memories. I think most of these questions will, if applied on a ...

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960692_questionsAs I was going through some old paperwork a couple of weeks ago, I came across the binder that I used with my band three years ago. I remember that was a difficult year because the classes were terribly large. My first period brass class had somewhere around 60 students, and my second period woodwind class had just over 70 students. As you might imagine, this posed a number of classroom management issues from time to time and really had the potential to wear me out. In the very front of that binder, I found a pre-class checklist that I had come up with and was flooded with memories. I think most of these questions will, if applied on a regular basis, help everything we as teachers regardless of class size or subject taught. I present these 5 questions without further commentary.

  1. Will my present attitude promote a positive learning atmosphere?
  2. Are all my thoughts focused on creating an educational experience throughout the class?
  3. Do I exemplify the standards of excellence I expect from my students?
  4. Am I properly prepared to make the best use of time by highlighting the growth of every student?
  5. Have I dismissed my own agenda of personal considerations so that this class will be directed toward serving students in a disciplined format of meaningful learning?
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Work from Anywhere, And Touch Other Lives by Teaching English Onlinehttp://www.soyouwanttoteach.com/work-from-anywhere-and-touch-other-lives-by-teaching-english-online/ http://www.soyouwanttoteach.com/work-from-anywhere-and-touch-other-lives-by-teaching-english-online/#comments Sun, 30 Sep 2012 03:03:42 +0000 http://www.soyouwanttoteach.com/?p=33615 Aileen Pablo is part of the team behind Open Colleges, one of Australia’s leading providers of Open Learning and distance education. When not working, Aileen blogs about education and career.She is often invited as a speaker in Personality Development Seminars in the Philippines.If you are interested in featuring her works in your blog, you can find her on Google+.

People get into teaching for a variety of reasons, but two of the biggest are the ability it gives you to personally connect with students and continue learning and growing yourself.

At first glance, becoming an online ESL teacher might seem like an odd way to do this. How can you connect with people when you’re not even in the same ...

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Aileen Pablo is part of the team behind Open Colleges, one of Australia’s leading providers of Open Learning and distance education. When not working, Aileen blogs about education and career.She is often invited as a speaker in Personality Development Seminars in the Philippines.If you are interested in featuring her works in your blog, you can find her on Google+.

People get into teaching for a variety of reasons, but two of the biggest are the ability it gives you to personally connect with students and continue learning and growing yourself.

At first glance, becoming an online ESL teacher might seem like an odd way to do this. How can you connect with people when you’re not even in the same room? Are you really going to learn anything new when you’re teaching your native language?

But people who think this way don’t understand how online teaching works. Unlike 15 or even 10 years ago, lessons aren’t conducted just using email and written tests, or even recorded video where you lecture students using a static script and lesson plan. Online English language teachers today use video chat programs like Skype, integrate social media and other interactive tools, and have more ways and opportunities to connect with their students than many teachers in traditional brick and mortar institutions.

Here are just a few of the ways online learning makes that possible.

One-on-one time
While some teachers conduct virtual “classrooms” with several students at once, many prefer to offer their services one-on-one. This means that they have more of a chance to connect with their pupil because their entire focus is on that
person for the time that they are with them. And students like the online one-on-one model more because it’s convenient and often cheaper than in-person classes.

Personalize the learning
There are a host of tools that you can make use of online to determine how your pupil learns best and tailor your lessons to fit their needs. For them, this likely means better grades and better learning; for you, this means getting to know them better.

Express yourself
It can be hard to go off script and really interact with your students in a personal way in a school setting, but if your “school” is your home office, you can use whatever techniques you want to engage them. If you have an artistic bent, why not draw pictures to use as flashcards? Or use your love of writing to craft a story for them in English and discuss it. And you can use anything the internet has to offer in your lessons – blogs, pictures, and videos are just the tip of the iceberg.

All of that is fine and good, but where does that whole bit about helping you to continue to learn and grow come in? Actually, it’s right in front of your face in a number of different ways.

Master new technologies
If you’re going to be teaching online, you’re going to have to become an expert at using new technologies. This could be as simple as learning how to Skype, but it could also mean you get to play around with things like social media, online language programs, recording video and audio, and any number of things that might find their way into your lessons.

Meet students around the world
Sure, there are things you can learn from the same 30 students in Minnesota, but imagine teaching someone from each continent. With the internet, it is not only possible, but highly likely that you will have students from around the world. While you’re teaching them English, you can also learn a lot about their cultures and backgrounds.

Have more time for hobbies and studies
Take a quick look around online and you’ll see stories from people all over talking about how they make $50 to $80 for each 40 minute online English session with a student. Make that kind of money on a regular basis and you can probably cut back on the hours you work and have more time to devote to learning about and doing the things you want to do.

Gain the freedom to travel
Online English lessons can be conducted from anywhere that you have internet access. That means that you can take that vacation to Europe you’ve always wanted and still be earning money. Or live like a digital nomad and travel the world, stopping only to offer your English lessons.

The best part about teaching English online is that you’ll find tons of people eager and ready to learn. English is still the language of business and media, and everyone is desperate to know it to better their chances in life. By becoming an online ESL teacher, you can become a part of that.

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Why Experience Is The Best Teacherhttp://www.soyouwanttoteach.com/why-experience-is-the-best-teacher/ http://www.soyouwanttoteach.com/why-experience-is-the-best-teacher/#comments Thu, 06 Sep 2012 03:01:41 +0000 http://www.soyouwanttoteach.com/?p=33606 “You’ll understand when you’re older.”

We tell that to our students, and they don’t like. We hear it when we start out in the teaching world and we don’t like. I remember an experienced band director told me once that he would tell me how to be a better teacher if he knew. He just knew that experience would help me get better. That frustrated me to no end.

I’m a step-by-step guy (if you haven’t noticed by reading other articles on this blog). “Just figure it out” is annoying to me. The way I like to figure things out is to look up the answers and work from there. “Experience is the best teacher” didn’t quite do that for ...

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“You’ll understand when you’re older.”

We tell that to our students, and they don’t like. We hear it when we start out in the teaching world and we don’t like. I remember an experienced band director told me once that he would tell me how to be a better teacher if he knew. He just knew that experience would help me get better. That frustrated me to no end.

I’m a step-by-step guy (if you haven’t noticed by reading other articles on this blog). “Just figure it out” is annoying to me. The way I like to figure things out is to look up the answers and work from there. “Experience is the best teacher” didn’t quite do that for me.

But…he was on to something
As I have progressed through the first decade of my teaching career, I find that I do so many things now that I never specifically learned from anyone other than trial-and-error. Sure, I made efforts to surround myself with mentors and I asked tons of questions, but I also  have been in enough situations where I was forced to learn on my own.

And ya know what? I did.

So how does it work?
Well, I think it’s crucial to take a methodical approach to learning how to teach. I think there are certain steps that we can follow that will definitely make that experience-gaining so much more pleasant. At the risk of repeating myself, here is the general outline of how I get better.

  1. Recognize a problem
    Whether it be a misbehavior in the students (talking incessantly, getting out of seat without permission), a behavior in myself (repeatedly saying “umm”, checking Facebook on my phone), low understanding of a key concept, or whatever it may be. I see the problem and make steps to root it out, or at the very least drastically reduce the frequency of its occurrence.
  2. Identify the desired outcome
    Presumably, this would be something along the lines of “students remain quiet and engaged in the learning process” or “I don’t check Facebook while at work” or whatever. Keep it simple and concise.
  3. Imagine what it would take to get to the desired outcome
    What steps must you take to make that happen. Set stricter consequences? Have a heart-to-heart with the students about how much time is wasted when they talk? Delete the Facebook app? Whatever it is, make a list of a few things that might be necessary to get you there.
  4. Formulate a foolproof plan
    Okay, so maybe the plan won’t be foolproof, but it should be as thorough as you can make it. I’ll go into more detail later on why I like step-by-step, other people like lists of ideas. Whatever works for you is what you should try.
  5. Reflect
    I love the idea of recording classes. Video is not necessary, and a long time is not necessary. Ten minutes should be enough to get all the information you need, but feel free to record more if you feel it necessary. Whether you record or not, reflect on that one specific problem area. Are things better? If so, great! Move on to another area. If not, try another approach and go at it again.

Some specific pointers

  • The whole cycle should take about a week
  • When I was really working to get a lot better faster, I worked for a week, let my mind rest on Saturday, and reflected/planned for the upcoming week on Sunday evenings
  • One thing at a time; avoid multitasking here — the power of single-focus makes this run much smoother
  • If it’s not better after three cycles, find another problem area and push this one aside to come back to later
  • Raise your level of absurdity; ask yourself, “if your classroom were the best class in your school, would this behavior be acceptable?”
  • Work at your own pace
  • The goal is not perfection; the goal is improvement
  • Even if things never feel like they are getting better, you need to trust that they are

Before you know it, things that take so much effort now will end up happening without you even noticing them. I used to have to tell kids to throw their gum away. Now, I just look at them and they know. I can’t tell you how, it is just experience!

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20 Dead Simple Classroom Management Ideas, Tricks, and Tipshttp://www.soyouwanttoteach.com/20-dead-simple-classroom-management-ideas-tricks-and-tips/ http://www.soyouwanttoteach.com/20-dead-simple-classroom-management-ideas-tricks-and-tips/#comments Wed, 05 Sep 2012 04:24:43 +0000 http://www.soyouwanttoteach.com/?p=33602 I have written extensively in the past about classroom management and I admit I have glossed over some things while belaboring other points way beyond the point of exhaustion. Below are a few of the common classroom management pieces of advice and a handful of simple tricks to use in effort to make those things happen. Try one or two and see if things become easier…

  • Work on your pacing
    • Slow down your rate of speech; kids don’t comprehend information as fast as we do
    • Be silent more often; silence allows kids to reflect more on what has been said
    • Communicate urgency without getting frantic
    • Be in control of what you say and how you say it
    • Don’t argue with
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I have written extensively in the past about classroom management and I admit I have glossed over some things while belaboring other points way beyond the point of exhaustion. Below are a few of the common classroom management pieces of advice and a handful of simple tricks to use in effort to make those things happen. Try one or two and see if things become easier…

  • Work on your pacing
    • Slow down your rate of speech; kids don’t comprehend information as fast as we do
    • Be silent more often; silence allows kids to reflect more on what has been said
    • Communicate urgency without getting frantic
    • Be in control of what you say and how you say it
    • Don’t argue with kids; nothing loses power faster than an adult who argues with kids
  • Set clear expectations
    • Check for understanding; don’t assume the kids understand the first time
    • Give examples of what is and what is not allowed/expected
    • Check for understanding again
    • Write important things down
    • Check for understanding again
  • Minimize off-task behavior
    • Move around the room
    • Redirect off-task behavior as quickly as you can
    • Address repeated off-task behavior
    • Before given a chance for off-task behavior, students should be reminded of the rules and expectations of them
    • Avoid spending too much time working on a particular concept; when I am fixing a problem with my band, I will usually have them play that section no more than three times and move on, even if it’s not better — this avoids the bulk of rehearsal being focused on
  • Create a safe learning environment
    • Encourage the heck out of your students; people thrive on encouragement
    • Put a stop to criticism of other students immediately; “We don’t do that in here” works wonders
    • Set clear behavioral expectations and consequences, and follow through
    • Admit your fears and weaknesses
    • Avoid mocking wrong answers or allowing other students to do the same

While many of these may be no-brainers to most people, I’m certain that a number of you can benefit from reading these things laid out like this. I know it would have helped me when I was starting out. So have you heard any classroom management tips from more experienced teachers that simply don’t make sense to you? Post in the comments and hopefully someone will be able to help you out with them.

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What To Do When You Hate Teachinghttp://www.soyouwanttoteach.com/what-to-do-when-you-hate-teaching/ http://www.soyouwanttoteach.com/what-to-do-when-you-hate-teaching/#comments Tue, 04 Sep 2012 03:02:54 +0000 http://www.soyouwanttoteach.com/?p=33598 Disillusionment is common to most of us involved in the teaching profession. We all deal with it at one point or another. Here’s the general path many of us take:

  • You major in education because you want to change the world
  • You realize that in order to teach, you need a find a job
  • You go through disappointing interview after disappointing interview and are told if you had more experience, you would be perfect for the job
  • You get frustrated that the only way to get experience is to get the job they won’t give you because you don’t have experience
  • Some school district that was not your first choice offers you a chance…finally
  • You take the job because it
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Disillusionment is common to most of us involved in the teaching profession. We all deal with it at one point or another. Here’s the general path many of us take:

  • You major in education because you want to change the world
  • You realize that in order to teach, you need a find a job
  • You go through disappointing interview after disappointing interview and are told if you had more experience, you would be perfect for the job
  • You get frustrated that the only way to get experience is to get the job they won’t give you because you don’t have experience
  • Some school district that was not your first choice offers you a chance…finally
  • You take the job because it may be the only chance you get
  • You sign your contract and start to get excited
  • Then you show up…
  • Things are not as they were presented to you in the interview
  • You only have 30 minutes for lunch
  • That storage closet where you stored all of your new classroom supplies you bought was cleared out last weekend to store outdated textbooks…and your stuff disappeared
  • You get bus duty from 7-8am and from 3:30 to 5pm twice a week
  • Oh, and faculty meetings are held in your classroom every week
  • So are the make-up faculty meetings for those who missed the first one
  • And the make-up-make-up faculty meetings for those who missed the first two
  • Your classes are overfilled, but the school has put in a requisition for new desks and money should be available shortly after the new budget is approved September 1st

And while you are dealing with all of this, you are expected to teach children who would rather be home playing video games and eating bon bons. They were texting all summer long, and no dumb teacher is going to tell them no.

Oh wait, I’m sure I’m the only one any of this has ever happened to.

So after all of this, it’s no wonder so many new teachers run to Google searching for “I hate teaching” and “how to control kids in class” and other such terms. I know because these things drive people to my blog every fall. So what do you do? You have a few options:

  1. Quit in the middle of the first month of your teachingcareer – This doesn’t bode well for your future career, even if you leave teaching. You either have to hide that job on your resume or admit that you bailed even before the first grading period was over.
  2. Tough it out exploring other options the rest of the school year – This isn’t fair to you or the kids. No sense prolonging the inevitable and making the students suffer through an entire school year living with one of the most dispassionate people on campus.
  3. Figure out how the great teachers do it – I like this option the best, so we’ll explore it more in-depth.

During my first two years of teaching, I hated teaching. But I stuck with it because I knew that I liked the concept of teaching. You can read more about them here: Why I Hated Teaching During My First Two Years

So what did I do? Here’s a sort of step-by-step procedure of how I saved my teaching career.

I asked questions
I annoyed the oldest teachers in my school and other band directors I had worked with by asking so many questions. Specifically, these seven Questions That Will Save Your Career:

  1. How Do I Keep My Students Quiet?
  2. How Do I Keep My Students Engaged?
  3. How Do I Keep My Students Interested?
  4. How Do I Keep My Students Learning?
  5. How Do I Keep My Students Away From Me?
  6. How Do I Keep My School Administration Happy?
  7. How Do I Keep My Sanity?

I recorded my classes
I listened to what I said, how I said it, what the reaction was, and how much background noise was going on in the classroom. Using these recordings…

I identified problem areas
I noticed when some things didn’t go the way I expected and sought out corrective solutions. I went back to some of my mentors and had new questions to ask them. And, I also sought out answers on my own…

I researched solutions
Along with asking all sorts of questions from all sorts of people, I found books. Nowadays, many people just run to Google to search for the solutions to these problems. Or Facebook. Or Twitter. In all odds, this is how you came across this site!

Ultimately, it boils down to whether you will be reactive or proactive. Whether you will take charge or play the role of victim. Here’s the takeaway: Millions of people have taught kids and done so exceptionally well. You can too, it’s a matter of whether you will seek out the solutions that are available. My recommendation: Stick with it!

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50 Things Every First Year Teacher Should Knowhttp://www.soyouwanttoteach.com/50-things-every-first-year-teacher-should-know/ http://www.soyouwanttoteach.com/50-things-every-first-year-teacher-should-know/#comments Mon, 03 Sep 2012 04:26:02 +0000 http://www.soyouwanttoteach.com/?p=33588 I am in my 11th year of teaching now. Where did the time go? One of the top search results that sends people to this blog is “First Year Teacher” so I thought that the beginning of a new school year would be a great time for something like this. I’m sure there are tons of other things that first year teachers should know, but here are a handful of tips.

  1. Persevere
  2. Learn from the wisdom of others
  3. Avoid gossip
  4. Work diligently
  5. Leave room for a personal life
  6. Live on less than you earn
  7. Students are a reflection of their parents
  8. Students are a reflection of their teacher
  9. Persistent problems are usually caused by something you are doing/allowing/omitting/forgetting
  10. Find a
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I am in my 11th year of teaching now. Where did the time go? One of the top search results that sends people to this blog is “First Year Teacher” so I thought that the beginning of a new school year would be a great time for something like this. I’m sure there are tons of other things that first year teachers should know, but here are a handful of tips.

  1. Persevere
  2. Learn from the wisdom of others
  3. Avoid gossip
  4. Work diligently
  5. Leave room for a personal life
  6. Live on less than you earn
  7. Students are a reflection of their parents
  8. Students are a reflection of their teacher
  9. Persistent problems are usually caused by something you are doing/allowing/omitting/forgetting
  10. Find a core group of other young teachers and learn together
  11. Mistakes happen; admit when you are wrong
  12. Parents often know about problems before class is over; students text crazy fast and subtly
  13. If a parent complaint is going to hit an administrator’s desk, make sure they are prepared beforehand
  14. Take “mental health” days off from time-to-time as necessary
  15. Don’t try to understand why kids do what they do, try to planhow you will respond
  16. We’re all making it up as we go
  17. Don’t take anything personally
  18. Love your students
  19. Don’t let anyone walk all over you
  20. Smile more (read You Better Smile Before Christmas!)
  21. Plan your lessons, but don’t tie yourself to your lesson plan
  22. Fire drills happen
  23. Bus tires don’t always stay inflated
  24. Bus wrecks sometimes happen too
  25. Before you yell at kids for not staying focused, think back to how your acted during your last inservice
  26. Don’t argue with anyone in front of anyone else
  27. Choose your battles (I used to have kids call home about chewing gum, now I simply have them spit it out)
  28. Practice THE LOOK (authoritative, but not condescending)
  29. Study your body language
  30. Shut your mouth more often
  31. Strive to eliminate these words: Umm, uh
  32. Minimize the use of these words: Like, cool, well
  33. Ending your directives at a lower pitch level will greatly increase student compliance
  34. Audio record 20-45 minutes of teaching a week (however much you can bear to listen to); find one area to fix and write it down in a journal
  35. Write that same focus area on a post-it note and keep it with you whenever you are teaching
  36. When you listen to the recording the next week, figure out if the problem got better; if not, address it again
  37. If a problem persists for three weeks in a row, move on to another problem and come back to this one later
  38. This same process works with your students too; if they are having a particular problem, address it three times, then move on and come back to it later
  39. Go observe other teachers as much as you can
  40. Find at least one mentor
  41. Create a Culture of Encouragement rather than a Fortress of Fear
  42. Remember that your students are real multidimensional people
  43. Teenage girls are crazy; Teenage boys occasionally have brains and use them even less often
  44. Respect comes when people feel safe
  45. Be as consistent as you possibly can be
  46. If you must be inconsistent, make every effort to at least be fair
  47. Make someone’s day every day
  48. Say “thank you” more
  49. The secretaries run the school/district; treat them accordingly
  50. Don’t seek out special recognition

What are your best First Year Teacher tips? Share them in the comment section below.

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