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Once a teacher, always a teacher

Summer vacation begins tomorrow. We will pull out of the driveway and... Head west, young man. Head west! Where to? We will tent camp across the U.S from Kentucky to Nevada and back through Texas and Florida. And I am so looking forward to this much needed vacation.

Yet, what is my husband reminding me more than anything else as we prepare to leave? "You are not a teacher on this trip!" It seems that he does not like it when I only talk about teaching as we travel on our vacations. But, you see, I can't help it! I am a teacher. I love my job. I love my students. I love planning, and creating, and implementaing my lessons! I am a teacher, and it's just what I do.

I guess he has a point that in the jacuzzi on the back of the Carnival cruise ship is not the place for a lengthy discussion on the state of education in the world today, but that other couple was really interested in all I had to say. And I am a Social Studies teacher; I teach about current events!

Now this year, as we camp, I am sure we will encounter many other travelers. And I am sure they will make comments or ask questions that will prompt me into a "teacher" discussion. But, I will try. I will try to refrain from the in-depth lesson on the state of the world and the need for more parental involvement in the schools. I will hold back on my lesson about the need of a better educated population to take care of us as we age. I will resist the urge to talk about my latest prodigy or my greatest success in the past school year.

How will I do this great task? I have decided I will take on whole new persona... I am Michele, a journalist from New York City. I write a column on special interests as assigned by my editor each week. It's a very exciting job. I meet important people, challenge wrongs, and set the record straight. I fight evil with my words, and I love what I do.

So, if you run into a journalist from NYC tent camping across America this summer, be sure to share your thoughts on the state of education. I'm sure it would make my husband very happy! :) And it would finally give me the chance to talk about what I love! Once a teacher, always a teacher...

A MEGA Contest!

A MEGA Contest has begun for great products from TpT! Go to http://tchr2tchr.blogspot.com/2011/06/teacher-2-teacher-mega-contest.html for details and to enter. Don't let this one pass you by!

It is just what we do...

As you all know, I participated in the Tpt Secondary Teachers Contest this past weekend. It was very exciting as we all planned and prepared, following the forum each day as the contest idea developed into the contest itself (Thanks Spanishplans!). And after watching all of the elementary teachers gain so many followers and buyers through their contest, we all had high hopes that our $100,000 checks would be coming soon (Deanna inspired!). But, we are secondary, and it just doesn't work that way.

So, here are my thoughts on the whole Tpt for secondary teachers situation...

We are teachers. We create specialized curriculum for our classrooms, and more importantly, for our students. It is just what we do. We do not sit in our studies and think, "Hmmm, will this sell on Tpt?" No, we plan, and create, and design for our kids. What will work in MY classes. And then, we think as an afterfact..."Oh, I bet other teachers and students will love this, too!"

Maybe that is the wrong attitude to have toward my Tpt participation, but it is the truth for me. My kids come first, and my classroom is my domain!

Now does that mean I don't care about Tpt? Absolutely NOT! TpT is incredible. It is the most wonderful resource that has popped up online since I started my teaching career 12 years ago. And I wish it had been around when I was a student teacher and a new teacher. The resources available on this site are amazing, tested and proven resources that could help any teacher make their classroom shine - and more importantly, help their students grow! What could be better?

So, secondary teachers - don't get discouraged! It's not about a contest or even about the sales. It's just what we do... Keep it up!

The BIG Contest!

The BIG Contest for Middle and High School teachers is now open! Blog and visit to win $100+ in TpT products! Visit my TpT Store to begin planning your BIG WIN WISH LIST! Visit the SpanishPlans blog for more details and entry information.

Planning, Planning, Planning

Here it is the end of the school year, and everyone is already talking about planning! Planning? Now? What about that great summer vacation that teachers get? Don't they just sit home watching Oprah all day long? Well, Oprah is gone, so we might as well plan!

And actually, for those who may read this blog that are not teachers or are new to our profession, let me preach just a bit about that teacher summer break... it doesn't exist. Summer is simply the time we have to plan, plan, and plan some more. That whole planning period is a falacy, and we must use our summers to prepare for the little ones that will walk into our classrooms in just a blink of the eye.

Summer is the chance we have to work without interruption. It's the opportunity we have to sit in a comfortable chair, research and relate our standards and objectives, and create. Now, some may not be as creative or imaginative as others, so there are options for them, too (TeachersPayTeachers), but most of us will begin the process of gathering and preparing materials for our upcoming school year.

This can be an overwhelming task. You look at the new standards and see a glob of words on the pages that seems impossible to control and contain into tangible lesson plans. But, it's not that hard. Don't let it overwhelm you!

Start with a plan for the plan!
1. Create a curriculum map for the school year. This can be a simple outline of topics with dates, or it could include your standards, objectives, and core content. I always count the days in the school year, determine the number or days each topic or unit will demand, and work my way through the scheduling process.
2. Develop unit plans that outline your unit objectives, essential questions, and daily plans. This is your working plan that can guide you through the unit and through the content. If they are planned out well, with appropriate timing, your unit tests will follow for assessment.
3. Evaluate your needs for each unit. Determine what materials or resources will be needed for the unit. Gather the items and organize the materials for daily use. Research your content to develop any needed curriculum guides or to develop the instructional materials. Prepare powerpoints or prezis for direct instruction and develop creative activities to engage your students. Or shop on TpT!
4. Before each unit begins, prepare all of your materials, make your copies, and organize your resources and handouts into daily sets.

Take a look at the FREE templates for the curriculum map and unit lesson plan template at my TpT store. And then, just do it! Before you know it, your units will be planned and your students will be entering the door of your well planned and well organized classroom! It will make all of the difference in your teaching year.

Oh, and be sure to hit the pool a few times before the "summer break" is over! Without some structured rest to go with your well-developed plans, you may not enjoy your new classes as much as deserved!

It's all over! Isn't it?

School's out! School's out! Teachers let the monkies out! One went east, one went west...

I remember singing that as a kid. Shows my age, I know. And now, I hear it every year from my peers as we finish up the school year and pack down our classrooms for the summer break. But, is it really over for teachers? Do we really close up shop? Is there ever a true "break" from being a good teacher?

For me, the simple answer is NO! I even drive my husband crazy on vacation as I sit in the hot tub on the cruise ships talking about my classroom ideas or the new lesson plan that is swirling in my head. We even started one vacation with the promise that we would "lie" about what we did if asked by anyone on our vacation. I decided I would be an investigative reporter from NYC and my husband (an assistant principal) chose to be a recruiter for a major league baseball team. It didn't work. The first time someone made a comment about a child, there I went..."In my classroom..."

So, just deal with it. It's a reality that good teachers are good teachers year round. It is in our blood and we cannot resist the urge to plan and create and CARE about our kids (even the ones we haven't met yet). And for many, especially all of my friends and teacher family on TpT, the summer is our most creative and busy time for producing and organizing our products for the coming school year.

It is who we are! And I am so happy about that. I couldn't imagine being anything else!

Now, as I rant and rave about my love of teaching and my summer break, I think about the new teachers just graduating from their college programs. You are using this summer to plan, prepare, and panic! Don't worry. It will all come together, I promise.

My advice for you, and all teachers, is simple. Do not acknowledge that your school year begins on August 11th or whatever day it is scheduled by your district. Instead, begin your work days (8-3:30 or whatever your hours will be) 2 weeks before. Go to school if you have access. Sit in your desk, and work! Plan, create, organize, prepare. It will be the most beneficial 2 weeks you have of your first year!

And one other piece of advice as we begin our summer for rest and relaxation between our teaching years... Read! Pick a good book and read. Need a suggestion? Try my book! (I had to get a plug in here somewhere, right! :)

A Lesson Plan for Teachers, New and Old! A Guide for Student Teachers, New Teachers, and the Experienced Ones!

Have a great summer everyone!