A Different Kind Of Summer
Summer is here and this is usually the time for picnics, barbecues, family and friends gatherings. Because of the pandemic, things are definitely not the same. instead, we have to monitor who we visit, how we visit, and where we visit. Even the smallest group of people could be at risk if we don't take precautions.
This is enough to create a lot of uncertainty and anxiety. People are social creatures and it is difficult to isolate oneself and have minimal contact with others.
Here are some tips to help you take care of yourself as you prepare for Back to School.
As we approach the end of July, some teachers are already making plans to head back into school. Others are still about 6 weeks away. The uncertainty this year is creating added stress for teachers, parents, and even children. No one knows what to expect.
Self Care Is Important
Self care is really important now. If we want to be able to help our students through this, we need to take care of ourselves first. Take time now to do things to relax and refresh your spirit. Go for walks, explore nature, read books, do a craft or hobby. Do something for yourself. You deserve it. Don't feel guilty about it either. If you don't take care of yourself and add some positive moments to your day, you will not be able to recharge and stay healthy.
Stop focusing on the news about the pandemic and all the worries of what it will be like when you go back to school. I know this is easy to say, but it is important to do. Negativity builds more negativity and this leads to worry and anxiety. Stress is bad for your health. We have so much negativity around us right now that it is easy to get caught up in it and sometimes it is difficult to get out. We need to protect ourselves from this.
It may seem difficult at the moment, but try to focus on some positive things that are happening because of the pandemic. Many people are getting a chance to spend some time with their children or parents because they are home instead of running around trying to get through life.
As my husband and I go for walks each day, we notice many people taking time to work on their gardens, or do some renovations that have been on hold for awhile. People are keeping their distance, but still saying hello and waving as they pass others along the way. Many people are getting outdoors and enjoying the summer weather, but in a different way.
Teachers, parents and children are stressed out from the online learning this spring, the uncertainty about school re-opening and what it will look like, and the worry surrounding the virus. It is so important that everyone do things to de-stress. For each person it will be different. Perhaps families should discuss what they think might help in their situations. Teachers can find support with their families or colleagues. Whatever it takes, find ways to enjoy life and de-stress.
We often feel guilty when we do things for ourselves. Taking care of yourself is not selfish. We need to take care of ourselves in order to give our best to others.
I hope you find these tips helpful and that will have a happy and successful year with your students.
I would love to hear from you. If you have any things that you would like to share or add to this list, leave a comment below.
I would love to be able to connect further with you through email and blog updates. If you are interested in joining my email list, I have a special gift for you. Click on the image to get your copy. This is a set of calming strategy posters that may be helpful when your students are stressed out. They will also work for adults!
June is the time to celebrate fathers and other special men in our lives. Check below for some activities and things that I have done with my students and some special cards that I have created for Father's Day.
This special bug kit was created for Dads to have handy when barbecuing. To find out how to create one of your own, check out this blog.
Wordles are a great way to make something cool for Dad. Just think of all the special words that describe Dad and then put them together to make word art. Here are some examples made by a couple of my students. I put them in glass frames from the dollar store. To find out more, click the image below.
Games are fun to play together. Here is a travel tic tac toe board that we made. To get the directions for your own diy board, click the image below.
Whatever the gift, it was always fun to make the wrapping paper to go with it. All you need is some newsprint and markers. This made every gift special.
Here are some Father's Day cards that I just created that can be printed as is in color or printed in black and white so that the children can color them and make them more personal. Click the image to see more.
Click the image below to get a free card for Dad and Grandpa.
Happy Father's Day to all the special men in your life.
It is that time of year when we celebrate our mothers. Sometimes, we have other special ladies in our lives that we want to celebrate as well. Here are some ideas and suggestions for creating a special day for that special lady.
I don't know about you, but I always appreciated the special gifts that my children made for me. I took a couple of pictures to share some with you. Of course, over the years there have been many others, but they have been carefully put away and I can't access them at the moment.
Candles and vases have always been popular. These ones are a little worse for wear, but they still grace the shelves as a reminder of my children.
A little paint and glitter can turn a simple picture frame into a work of art. This was done by my granddaughter.
Word art is another great way to create something special. Here are some samples.
As I thought back over my days of teaching, I remember doing so many special crafts and activities with my students. Unfortunately, I didn't keep pictures of them. Here are some of the ideas that you might be interested in trying.
A recipe book with special recipes from family members
A calendar with special photographs and dates
A small jewelry box made of popsicle sticks
A modge podge flower pot with a plant
A book of poems or special memories
A pencil holder made from a tin can with cinnamon sticks around the outside
This word art was created for a different purpose, but it could also work for this occasion. Just add a picture of Mom and a special word that is her power word. Mine is Believe, so this was the one I created.
Here are some booklets, certificates, and special coupons that I created. You can find them my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Click on the images below to get them.
Special cards are also a hit for most moms. Here are a couple that I created today.
Here are some other products that I created a few years ago. Sometimes we have a special lady we want to honor. These writing papers, cards, and covers are also useful for them.
Hopefully these ideas and products will help you to celebrate your special day with a loved one.
For free resources, tips, and ideas, sign up for my newsletter. Subscribers have access to several free resources in my featured resources of the month.
Distance Teaching And Learning
Our world has been turned upside down and parents and teachers are struggling to figure out how to incorporate distance teaching and learning. This has become the new method or reaching our students. Parents are taking on new roles as teachers at home and teachers are trying to find the right materials and methods of using them in a digital way. There are many challenges ahead, but as always, we will find a way to meet them.
Teachers are creating and converting material to digital formats and they are using different video platforms to provide online instruction as well.
This is a steep learning curve for some teachers. They are used to having access to paper copies and books. They work well with large groups, small groups, and one on one in the classroom, but with online groups there are unfamiliar challenges.
Ideas To Support Parents At Home
Parents are scrambling to find time for instruction, scheduling assignments, going to work or working out of the home, making meals, and finding time for themselves.They are overwhelmed and need to have some space too.
The kids should not be doing academic instruction for several hours a day. Academics are important, but they can be scaled back for now as people adjust to the new method of learning.
Children need some brain breaks, emotional breaks, and family time.
This is the perfect time for real life learning
Math can be part of the meal preparation, setting up schedules, building things and creating things.
Reading and writing can be part of the family time. If children have siblings, they can read to each other and maybe even create story boards, comics, or other things that relate to the stories read. They can use these as writing prompts or create some games with them. Maybe they could write letters or emails to friends and family and keep a journal of their days and activities as writing projects.
Social Studies activities could include using Google Earth and exploring different areas of the world. It could also be following other current events. Covid-19 does not have to be the only focus of current events.
Science experiments can be lots of fun to do at home. There are so many different ways to learn about things. Make volcanos, grow plants and learn about the life cycles, do research on animals, learn how things work, invent things, etc.
The arts are also important because they help balance out all the academics. Music soothes the soul and it is a good brain exercise. Art unleashes the creativity inside.
Teachers are working hard to find a balance of what needs to be done and what families should be expected to do.
Have patience as we all work together to get through this.
If you are looking for some resources to use at home, I have started creating and converting some materials for online learning. Check them out in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
Communicating Student Learning
Communicating student learning is important. Many teachers still use a parent/teacher format, but I have found that the student-led model is far more effective. I am retired now, but this is the model I used for over 20 years and the feedback was always positive and very helpful. I never experienced a time when it wasn't effective or well-received by both parents and students.
Conducting student-led conferences requires management that allows for sharing, communicating, and reflecting. In my classroom, there were up to 3 families at a time. They all had an agenda to follow and several different things to do. One of those things was to meet with the teacher. There was also flexibility to come and go if the family had multiple children and conferences to participate in.
Why Student Led Conferences Work
Student-led conferences work because they include the child in the process. They empower children to be the leaders in sharing their learning. When they are done well, there are opportunities to share what has been learned, work together on activities with parents that relate to what they are studying, look at evaluations from both the child and the teacher, and discuss concerns and goals for future learning.
Student-led conferences are a blend of sharing, reflecting, and setting goals for future learning. It is important to prepare the children for these conferences. Role playing and practicing helps them to understand what to expect and sets them up for success.
Scheduling enough time in the conferences is also important. Children need time to share their successes, participate in activities with their parents, and discuss their learning with the teacher and their parents.
The materials and activities that you use for your conferences should reflect what is happening in your classroom. I have created a package with some materials that have worked well for me. They can be used as a sample that can be adapted for your conferences.
For more specifics and to see what is included in this package, check out this post.
Two years ago I wrote a post called Retirement Musing. As I was looking back at it today, I realized that some things have changed, but many things remain the same.
People often ask me how I am liking retirement, but I've realized, I don't know what retirement really is. I am technically retired, but I am still doing most of what I was doing before I retired. I am not living what most people consider a retirement lifestyle.
What does retirement mean to me?
Freedom to help family when needed
I am lucky to have the time to spend with my family and help out when needed. I often take trips down island to look after my grandchildren and do things for my kids and my mother-in-law.
Less reliance on the alarm clock
Although there are times when I do need to get up early and be places, this is not an everyday thing any more. I get up early on the mornings when I help out at school or I have rehearsals, but on other days I can get up when I feel like I am done sleeping.
Even when traveling, I don't have to leave early in the morning unless I have specific plans to do so.
Afternoon naps possible
When l was teaching, I would be so tired that I would want a nap when I got home, but life didn't allow time for that. Now that I am retired, if I feel like taking a nap, I do and I don't feel guilty about it either. A power nap gives me the energy I need to complete my other activities without feeling exhausted.
Time to do what I love
It is no secret that I love teaching. I enjoy working with children and seeing their faces light up when they get a concept or they finally understand something that made no sense to them. I love to play games with them and work with them in small groups. I love sharing who I am with them and learning about who they are outside of the classroom. Those connections are so precious.
Some future goals for my retirement years
Find a balance between commitments and me time
Although I enjoy teaching, and working with ukulele groups, sometimes I get so busy that I forget to find me time. I need to find the balance that will allow me to enjoy what I love doing and yet take care of me. Over the years, life has been so busy, that I haven't spent much time with friends. I need to change that.
Create more couple time
My husband and I have done many things together over the years, but usually for others and not just for us as a couple. We teach ukulele groups, we perform in ukulele groups, we have worked with choirs, taught over 30 years, taken groups on trips, and done things with our kids and grandkids. It is time for us to do things for the two of us. Last Christmas and again this Christmas, the kids gave us tickets to shows in Victoria. This is a start. We have also gone to a couple of performances nearby. It would be nice to take a trip somewhere as a couple instead of as leaders of a group. Hopefully this will be possible in the near future as well.
One of the reasons I retired was that many of my good friends were getting very sick, and some died before reaching the age of retirement. I decided that my health was more important than working until 65. My husband needed to retire early because of health issues. At the time, he fought it, but now he is thankful that he did because he has been able to continue to do what he loves and remain healthy at the same time. Health is more important than money. Working for full pension and then not being healthy enough to enjoy retirement is not the way to go. I am glad that we both are able to do so much still and I hope we will be around many more years to live life and make memories.
Well, there is my update. I wonder how it will change in the next couple of years. Maybe I will have to do a new update then.
Going back to school can be exciting for many children, but it can also be a bit scary for some. Here are some tips for getting to know and understand your students better so that the transition will be a little easier.
Getting acquainted with your students and their families will make communication and understanding easier. Parents have a totally different perspective of their children and they feel included and heard if you give them opportunities to share this with you. They will appreciate you asking for information and getting to know and understand your students better.
Communication Is Key
Communication is key to gaining support as you progress throughout the year. Times may arise when difficult situations need to be shared and worked through. If you have open communication regularly about progress and successes or concerns, these difficult situations will be easier to work through.
Hopefully no difficult situations will come up, but being prepared helps just in case.
At the beginning of the year, I gather information to help with getting to know and understand students better. I only get to see a small part of who they are while they are at school. The Getting Acquainted form above is helpful for gathering more information about your students from their parents.
It is important that the parents know that this information is only for the teacher. It is for getting to know and understand your students, not meant to be shared with the class. Note: You can download this form for free by clicking the image.
Use Interest Profiles Or Activities
Doing an interest profile with the students is another way to get more information about them. When I begin writing activities with my class, I start with them filling out a heart of things that are important to them. Not only does this make early writing experiences easier, it also provides lot of insight into what they care about.
There are several different versions of this type available for use in the classroom. Doing an interest form or a "This is Me" type of form helps you gather more information for getting to know and understand your students and what is important to them.
These are just a few ideas. What kinds of things do you use for getting to know and understand your students? Let me know in the comments below.
Who said being retired would be relaxing. It has been 2 1/2 years since I retired and I am busier than ever. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining, just commenting.
I still go to school and work with kids. The difference is, I am now a volunteer. I get to do reading groups and help out in classrooms, but I don't have the assessments, meetings, and politics to deal with. I just get to do what I love, work with kids.
I also do some French tutoring and I work with several ukulele groups.
I often wondered how people that are retired remained motivated to create materials. I didn't know if I would be able to feel connected enough to do so. I was wrong. I am creating materials for my tutoring and then translating them to English. I am also creating materials for my reading groups.
When my son and daughter-in-law were working on their teaching degrees I also had the privilege of creating materials for them to use in their practicums.
The fun part is trying out my games and little books with the kids at school. It is so rewarding to see them engaging and learning. I also learn what works and what doesn't from them. I am able to make changes and fine tune things when needed.
My family sometimes gives me a hard time about spending so much time at school, but they don't understand that I love what I am doing and I don't feel stressed out when I am at there. Some of the other commitments can be more daunting, particularly during concert seasons. It is important to continue to do things you love.
I LOVE TEACHING!
This is an update to a previous blog post. I feel it is still relevant today so I am re-sharing it.
Building Relationships is one of the most important things we can do when we get our new students. We need to help them to understand that we are there for them, we care about them, and we want them to be successful. I feel that this is crucial for a successful year.
Team building and getting to know each other is essential. Everyone will do this in different ways depending on their personalities and interests, but that is okay. It helps with learning to accept uniqueness and diversity.
Getting to know your students is very important. Who better to ask than the parents. Every year I send home a form called "Getting Acquainted". It is a way for parents to share some insights about their child and the family. Since so many parents are now working, it is harder to have face to face conversations with them. They want to be involved in their child's learning, but sometimes we have to be more creative to make sure this happens.
It is important to keep the lines of communication open so that we can have the frank conversations when necessary. I believe that each day is a fresh start, so if I can focus on what is right in the classroom and help my students to do the same, this can be communicated to the family through notes, phone calls, or face to face conversations when possible.
Often parents will ask what they can do at home to help support the learning that is happening at school. I believe that the best way to help is to read with their child and give them lots of real life experiences that use the skills and concepts taught. I send home a paper that explains how to go about doing Home Reading so that it can be effectively done and a positive experience for everyone. It is amazing how stressful home reading can be in some homes otherwise.
Here are samples from my letters. These are also available in my Back to School Start Up Forms package.
Maintaining a positive relationship with support staff is also very important. They can be great allies throughout the year. We need to help them to feel appreciated for all that they do. Sometimes they can feel like they are taken for granted and a smile or a friendly comment can make their day. A special note also makes them feel special.
Using projects evolved from a need to help students share their learning in a variety of different ways. I discovered early in my classroom teaching experience that some students had a wealth of knowledge, but that they were unable to truly share it in written activities. I decided to try using projects for representing their learning, and I have never looked back.
Here are some of my most popular social studies projects as well as a couple of other special projects.
This 3D community project started out as a class project where the class created the community from beginning to end based on what we learned during our study of what a community needs. Our celebration was our chance to share what was learned during this unit.
Check out one of our communities below.
I find that Social Studies lends itself well to projects. Most of my projects deal
with Canada and the provinces and territories, but I have also done some
projects that are more global.
Our Solar System was one of my first school/home projects that required the children to choose from a variety of activities to share their learning. It also contained a criteria marking sheet so that they knew what was expected and
how it would be graded from the beginning. It was amazing to see how they rose to the challenge. Including the families when it came time to create the projects was a great way of communicating what we were doing at school.
Check out some of the projects that my students created. The greatest part
was when they shared them with the families and other guests. Their pride
and the positive atmosphere made it all worthwhile.
Here is a summary of some of the lessons and a couple of pages to go with lesson 5. Click on the grid if you would like a copy.
I hope that you have found these ideas helpful. I would love to hear about how you use projects in your classroom to represent learning.
About Me Charlene Sequeira
I am a wife, mother of 4, grandmother of 9, and a retired primary and music teacher. I love working with kids and continue to volunteer at school and teach ukulele.