Hello out there CEC’ers! I’m Maureen Gale, your February Blog host. I’m joining you from Orlando, Florida, where I am currently a district behavior coach. My CEC story is a long one, as my membership began in 1976 when I was a Student CEC member at the University of Florida (go GATORS!). I am always thankful for my CEC friends and colleagues and the support and opportunities I have as a member of CEC.
As a special educator for more than 30 years (where did the time go?), I’ve had a variety of interesting learning and career experiences as a resource teacher, an EBD teacher in a psychiatric hospital, a teacher trainer, a special ed. program coordinator, and a behavior specialist. I’ve also had the exciting opportunity to work as a special educator at American schools overseas in Uruguay, Japan, and South Africa. Guess it’s no surprise to my friends and colleagues that when CEC asked if I would host for a month, my only concern was not what to say but when to stop!
So, let’s get started with a few tips for this first week in February!
February Doldrums: OK, let’s be honest, this is a slump month. There’s nothing wrong with looking forward to the next vacation, more daylight hours, and warmer weather, even in Florida! And with so much to accomplish in our classrooms during this peak instructional time, we need help! How can we jumpstart our effectiveness and enthusiasm and pump energy into our students? Here’s a few of my favorite tips . . .
1. Change a procedure in your room that just isn’t working well for you and your students –- how about introducing a new attention signal? My personal favorite is a set of chimes from teacherswarehouse.org. So much fun to use and after you teach the signal procedures to your students you can add “attention signal monitor” to your list of class jobs and share the fun. Chimes can also be used to signal transition times throughout the day or to stop participation to clarify directions. Teach the desired student response to the chimes and then look at your watch to see how long it takes for them to meet your expectations. Work toward decreasing the time it takes for everyone to follow your expectations and celebrate when they have mastered the skill. Chimes work so well I use them in my teacher trainings too.
2. Start greeting your students as they enter the room. List choices on the door and honor their preferences – high five, handshake, hug, or “good morning.” Excellent relationship builder! You can end the day and say goodbye in a similar way or offer different choices.
3. End the day (elementary) or week (secondary) with compliments, thank you’s, and apologies. Student choice to share with a peer or receive comments directly from you. Awesome strategy to end the day or end a class meeting. This activity is also a great social-skills lesson and a nice way to send students home with a smile.
4. Bring a summertime activity to your winter classroom. Have a beach day in your room to celebrate a special accomplishment. Wear Hawaiian shirts, build math activities around beach info, or read books about the beach, sun, sand, and surf. Make decorations out of shells, research favorite beach spots around the world, and give students time to share their new knowledge. Join up with another class for beach information stations. Invite parents, support staff, and administration. Have fun!
5. Introduce a daily brain teaser. Riddles, math problems, guess a word, describe an object. Get parents and staff involved. Share answers on daily announcements.
6. Get your students moving! Introduce transitions with music, quick warm-up activities (especially after lunch), brain breaks, or short exercises. Get their bodies and brains actively involved. This will increase your energy level too, but only if you do it with them not just watch them!
Looking for more tips before the next Blog? Check out the CEC-published Survival Guide for the First-Year Special Education Teacher, available online at the CEC Store and on page 28 of CEC’s 2009 publications catalog.
Please join in and comment, ask questions, and keep in touch while we’re together during the next four weeks. More Survive & Thrive Tips coming your way soon! Have a great week!
All the best,