Monday, December 28, 2015

Calling All Teachers! Find Your Motivation... Your Students Deserve it.

The Holidays are coming to a close and the weather is entering it's "less-pleasant" phase. Though I love my job, jumping out of bed, full of excitement can be difficult to do this time of year. 

However, I will be entering 2016 without excuses. My students deserve better than a teacher with a Holiday spirit hangover or a case of the weather grumps. 

My students deserve a teacher that is as excited to come back to school as they are. My students want to know what new and interesting things we will learn about. My students deserve a teacher that is focused on student engagement and innovative learning. Your students do too.

Finding that motivation can be intimidating. However, it can be much easier than you think. Here are 6 quick ways that I get my educational groove back:

1. Find Your Tribe

If you have heard the fabulous Kristin Ziemke speak lately, you have heard her talk about her tribe. Your tribe is your group of people that inspire you, motivate you, challenge you, and excite you. You trust them and they trust you. 
In education, your tribe members can be next door to you or hundreds of miles away. While some of my tribe is in my district,  I choose to have most of my tribe come from many locations so that I can be inspired by people who hear and see education differently than I do. 

I have found my tribe through conferences, classroom visits, twitter chats, edcamps, and daily hallway conversations.  

Your tribe can help you through almost any jam but most importantly, you realize that you aren't the only one with these "crazy" thoughts about education. 

Call to action: Go to your prefered social media outlet and interact with an educator that inspires you. #somethingnewedu

2. Try Something New

If you are like me, you begin each school year with a long list of amazing new tools and ideas to implement with your new group of kiddos. 

Again, if you are like me, that list is sitting on the top of your desk with very few items crossed off. Well, it's time to dive in and cross another one of those items off. Feeling ambitious? Try to tackle two items. 

For me, I tackled my first one over break and am really excited about it. I created an easy, streamlined Pinterest board for my families and fellow teachers. 

You can follow me here:

The second item I would like to tackle is a way for students to recommend books for each other. I'm still working through pieces in my head though. I can't decide if I would like them to write it on their blogs, someplace a little more visual like our board, or just a quick post-it note to a buddy. When my students and I return, I will pose this situation to them and get their feedback as well. 

Call to Action: Leave a comment below or tweet it out. What will you try in the 2nd half of the year? #somethingnewedu

3. "I'm listening to a freaking TED talk!"

Wait... am I the only one who has screamed that at her husband as he interrupted her precious TED Talk time? 

You know how it is... You are pacing around your kitchen, listening to your favorite Ted Talk. You are not sure how you got there, you know you are not cooking anything. However, it seems as if the speaker is talking directly to you and reading your mind. Then your husband walks in and asks who you are talking to and shouting at. Gosh! Can't he see that I'm in my zone!

Oh, maybe it's just me...

TED Talks are a fabulous way to regain your motivation and learn about some very interesting speakers. They are short, sweet, and to the point about innovative teaching and learning. 
Here is a great link to some seriously inspirational TED Talks.
 TED Talks from Inspiring Teachers

TED Talks - Re-imagining School

Call to Action: Listen to one and comment about it below or Tweet about it. #somethingnewedu

4. Clean

This is an easy one. I know you... I know how teachers are... We are all the same...
We see that pile of crap on the counter and think to ourselves, "Now, If I can just make it to Winter Break, I can sort through that pile then."

It's true. We only have so much time in our day. I choose to focus on student-centered tasks during school hours and teacher-centered tasks on my time. So, all of my grading is done at home or after school so that I can take the time to comment in their observation notebooks or pick the perfect guided reading books for the next week. Cleaning is obviously pretty far down on that list. 

However, remember when the year started? The day before the students came? The room was spotless and organized. Remember how good that felt? Remember how you knew that this year was the year that you would actually keep it that way? Well, now is your chance to get back on track! Go in and clean. It will be worth it. 
B.S. (Before Students 2015-2016)

Call to Action: Tweet out a picture of your newly cleaned classroom. Even better, try and before and after shot! Those are SO satisfying. #somethingnewedu

5. Connect With Your Students

I can't 100% distance myself from my sweet students while on break. I choose not to, I suppose. My students have one shot at 2nd grade and it is my job to make it the best that it can possibly be. So, to say that I am going to turn it off for 2 weeks is not possible. My mind is always going. 

Well, why not get the minds of your students going as well. Each break, I invite my students to stay connected with each other through our Kidblogs. They can blog casually about their daily happenings or participate in one of our challenges. This is our current classroom challenge:


Kidblog not an option for you? Try something different like Today's Meet or Padlet. It still offers you a way to stay connected but it is a bit more casual and those options are free. You will be surprised at how much your students have to say and how motivated they are when they return to school. 

Call to Action: Leave a comment or tweet about how you connect with your students or plan to. #somethingnewedu

6. Finally, Read a Good Book...Then Read Another. 

Take this time to find yourself as a reader again. Read a classic, try something new, reread a favorite, or a great trashy novel if you wish. Anything that reminds you of what it feels like to get lost is a great book and how impossible it is to put it down. Not only will this be fun and enjoyable but it will make you a better reading teacher as well. It will remind you of why you enjoy reading and help you guide your students that way as well. For me, I am rereading the first Babysitter's Club book.  It was the first chapter book that I read and it made 10 year old me (a hater of school and all things involved) love to read. I need to find this piece for some of my students as well. 

Now that I have you motivated to read, think about the stack of professional books that you have been dying to put your nose it. My stack is getting higher by the minute. Take this time to dive into one of those books that you wanted the day is was released (Amplify), the book that you purchased after hearing an amazing speaker (Invent to Learn and Passionate Learners), the book that you ordered after meeting the author at an EdCamp (Learn like a Pirate), or the one that will help guide you toward conquering a tricky subject area (The Reading Strategies Book). The amount of professional books out there can be overwhelming. Try ones that you know will speak to you directly and authors that you trust, know, and respect. When you are able to picture them saying the words that they have written, the book will become one of your staples. 

My Current Must-Read (or finish reading) List:

Amplify by Katie Muhtaris and Kristin Ziemke
Invent to Learn by Sylvia Libow Martinez
Passionate Learners by Pernille Ripp - Join her Facebook Book Club Here
Learn Like a Pirate by Paul Solarz
The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serrevallo 

Call to Action: Tell us what you are reading! #somethingnewedu

I hope that you find something from this list that works for you and your students. 

I would love to hear from you. 
What gets you ready for the 2nd half of the year?


  1. Nice one here, even though the job can be so tough, it is important to stay positive, thanks!