Over the last five years, attendance for my school, my district, and my state has plummeted.  Students are simply not coming to school.  There are many reasons for this, but in the end, it leaves students lost and so far behind in my Social Studies class when they miss day after day.  To make matters worse, I am one of those "change the room around, set up the Center, transform the class into a Walking Tour" kind of teachers.  These elaborate lessons take up days of class time for students to complete, and those who are absent... Well, often times, they just miss out.

In the past, I have resorted to my mortal enemy to help those who miss the big events in my class.  Despite my hatred, and despise, I hand my lost students over to... the textbook.  It is always with regret that I reach over to the dusty pile of books and pull one out, searching for the appropriate pages, to hand to the student who has missed it all.  But what else could I do? 

Then it hit me...

I have many followers of my TpT Store that comment on how they love my "Walking Tours" and Centers activities.  But, they too, have struggled with how to work the "make-ups" for those who miss the lessons.  Still, it didn't click.  Then I had a fellow teacher tell me she loved my activities, but there are some topics she just needs a quick fix for with all of the required testing and other time her classes must spend off the normal schedule.  Ah, ha! 

At first, I thought I would call them "One Page Wonders."  A quick coverage of the key facts on specific topics in history.  Other teachers (and workbook publishers and textbook companies) call them handouts or worksheets.  I finally decided on (after being unable to get it down to "one page") "Front & Back" Reading Assignments!

Early Renaissance in Florence
Northern Renaissance
 So, when you have students that miss the big events, or your class time gets stolen for that important pep rally - here you go.  The quick review of the key topics!  Finally... but why didn't I think of this 15 years ago?!

Michele Luck

Evaluation Time!

For many, this is the time of the school year where the administrators begin coming in to the classrooms to do the official evaluations on teachers.  Remembering back to my first year and my first evaluation, I now think, "What was I thinking?"  My lesson was a debate on the 2nd Amendment with a FRESHMAN class.  Did I mention they were freshmen?  Oh, wow!  My administrators comment at the end... "You were daring!"  Was that a compliment?  I'm still not sure!

Now that I have grown in my classroom and my tenure, and having worked with many new teachers through my mentoring programs, I feel confident in giving advice on those oh so important evaluation lessons!  My first piece of advice - Don't stress!

If you look back at your interview, you really did not get your job based on what you knew, or even based on what you provided on paper for the interview process.  You earned your teaching position because you showed confidence.  You were most likely the candidate that showed confidence in effectively managing a classroom, in planning and teaching the required standards and content, and in effectively working with students to help them build their own confidence.  That's what a good teacher does... they teach confidence!

So, as we discuss the evaluation process, think about it in the same manner.  Be confident.  Be ready.  Be excited!

In most states, your administrator is required to evaluate your teaching multiple times in the school year.  Be excited about this.  It is a good thing for administrators to be in the classroom, and you should be welcoming and inviting.  On that note, do not treat them like they are a foreigner.  Instead, include them as though they are a new student in the room.  Ask them the questions you are asking the students.  Expect them to complete the assignment as the students do!  Now only will this give the administrator a better understanding of how students feel in your classroom, but it will also show them you are confident in what you are doing there.  You are in charge of your domain!

Now, you should be meeting with your administrator to discuss you lessons before the evaluation and after to discuss the outcomes and impressions.  Do not fear these meetings.  Use them as you would a college course.  Go into it thinking, "What can I learn?"  And make sure your administrator knows you are still learning and will always be learning.  It's what will make you a better teacher!

Finally, teach!  Do what you do best.  Be prepared for the class.  Have detailed lesson plans.  Have a curriculum map that shows you know where you are going next.  Have already established a community in your classroom with good rapport and relationships.  And finally, hold high expectations - for your students and for yourself!

Don't be afraid of evaluations.  They help us to improve.  They help us to be the most effective teacher we can be in our classroom for our students.  And in the end - it is just one day in your classroom, a snapshot of your year.  If it is a bust, make things better.  In the long run, you will learn that teaching is not about being successful every day.  It's about coming back each day to try again!

Need some organizational tools and creative ideas for your evaluation?  Take a look at my TpT products to help you be the best in your classroom!

To establish and build rapport for a classroom community - Free Identity Bag Homework Assignment

To maintain effective classroom management - Free Behavior Contracts

To plan solid standards based lessons - Free Curriculum Map & Free Lesson & Unit Plan Template

To create a fun and differentiated classroom - Creating Game Boards & Human Game Board Pieces

To assess student progress and help students self-assess - End of Unit Student Study Survey

To assess your own impact in the classroom - End of Unit or Year Survey

And in the end, it doesn't hurt to have a bit of good luck!  I wish you much!

Michele Luck

Fall Break!

It is so hard to believe that we have already been in school for 9 weeks, but it is true!  And, starting Monday, we are on our 1 week Fall Break!  Where will I be?  Of course... Disney World!

As I join my favorite friends for a week, I want to remind those of you in the classroom... Sometimes it is important that we are not all serious!  Sometimes it is important for us, as teachers, to just be kids!

 On that note... I'm going to suggest one of my favorite units ever - My Lorax Service Learning Unit.  I use it every year in every class.  It takes us out of the norm, and even at the high school level, it just lets us all be kids again.  And yes, of course, there are valuable lessons - Community Service, Peer Tutoring, and even Reading Skills!  So, if you must be stuck in the classroom while I am playing at Disney, make it fun!


Michele Luck