Sunday, August 28, 2016

Almost finished!

Besides some final touches of labeling and decorating, my classroom is pretty much done! We painted the bulletin boards purple (Thanks Emily!) and moved in and organized most of the supplies (Thanks mom!).  Here are a few pictures I took just before leaving Friday afternoon:



I have been living at the Dollar Tree lately.  There are about 5 locations within 20 minutes of my house, and I have been bopping from one to another all week in search of bins, posters, nameplates, bulletin board decorations, and so on.  I'm loving the bright colors and peace sign decorations! 
Here are the name plates I got for the student desks:
I like them because they have clock and money references, as well as a number line and ruler.  Plus, they were only $1.  Besides some great Dollar Tree finds, I have invested A LOT of money into my classroom, as most teachers do.  Don't forget to save those receipts come tax time!  On the agenda for next week is PD, open house, and lesson planning.  I have a lot to do and a lot of copies to make!  To close, check out this cute dress I got from JCPenney!
Have a great week!


Thursday, August 11, 2016

2nd Grade, Here I Come!

I got a job, I got a job, I got a job! I guess some of my interview tips must have worked, because I have been offered a position in 2nd grade at a small town here in west Michigan! I went in to see my classroom today, and boy does it need a lot of work and TLC. 
Here is a picture of when you first walk in the room.  The board was a chalkboard that is now covered in polka-dot contact paper, and the bulletin boards around it are covered in black paper.
 Here is the middle of the room.  There are windows above the bulletin boards, hence why it is so bright.  I am loving the green boards, though!
 And here is the front of the room with a whiteboard and bulletin boards covered by brown paper.  My principal said I can do whatever I want to the room.  She even said I can paint the bulletin boards under the paper any color I want! Luckily, my favorite color is the same as our school color (purple!).  So basically, this is my project from now until September 6th.  Wish me luck!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Interview Tips

Welp, we have all been there.  Looking for a new job.  If you found this blog, you are probably a teacher, and therefore already have a teaching job, or are looking for a teaching job.  I am a new teacher, but not brand new.  I was an associate teacher in 4th-grade for two years, then a lead 4th-grade teacher, then a lead pre-k teacher.  I have moved schools almost every year for new teaching opportunities, and after being laid off due to low enrollment last year, this year is no different.  With all this school switching, I have sat through my fair share of interviews, and I have some tips and tricks to dish out for you.

1. Dress the part.
Dress pants, or a pencil skirt, with a blouse and a blazer for the ladies, suit and tie for the guys.  Flats, heels, and other dress shoes are fine.  I usually wear my wedge heels instead of stilettos because I don't wear heels often, and I don't want to fall on my face :p
Here's what I typically wear to an interview, sometimes with a different shirt.  The whole outfit above was purchased at Kohls (as you can see, I am still in the dressing room). Keep jewelry and perfume to a minimum. You want to be comfortable, yet professional.

2. Be prepared.
Practice, practice, practice.  There's not much worse than getting asked a question you're not prepared to answer.  There's silence. You start to blabber about whatever comes to mind, hoping you will find your answer along the way.  The interviewers nod and smile, exchanging uncomfortable glances. You've been blathering for so long you've forgotten the question...yeah, been there.  It gets easier with time and with practice, believe me.  It's impossible to know every question you will be asked, but here are a few I have been asked in almost every interview.

Tell us about yourself.
This is ALWAYS the first question. Basically they want to know what your degree is in, your teaching experience, and a little bit about your personal life.  Keep it short and sweet; they don't need your life story :)

If we were to peek into your classroom, what would it look like?
The answer to this question is of course different for everyone, but it's good to have a prepared answer.  If you don't have a classroom of your own yet, describe how you would like your classroom to look.  I usually describe my classroom as homey and comfortable for the students.  I also like to have students working in groups around the room, rather than sitting in their seats for a lecture. Make it unique to your teaching style!

What are three of your strengths and one weakness?
Sometimes they just want one strength and one weakness, but sometimes they ask for three, so it's better to have at least three prepared. I have not personally been asked to provide more than one weakness, but you may want to have more than one ready just in case.  Really think about what it takes to be an effective teacher and which of those qualities you posses.  For each strength and weakness, you want to back them up with an explanation.  You also want to tell the interviewer what you are doing to strengthen your weakness.

How would you address the diverse learning needs of your students?
Differentiation is a hot topic in the world of education.  If you've been teaching, you probably already have an answer for how you teach your academically diverse students.  If you haven't been teaching, you probably had a whole class in college about differentiation to pull from.  My answer here is groups, groups, and more groups.  Get students learning and collaborating at a level that is appropriate for them.  Sometimes you can get an idea of student's academic ability from their previous teacher, otherwise you're going to need to run some informal assessments at the beginning of the year.  Students don't always have to be grouped by ability, however.  They can be grouped by interests, or favorite genre, so a simple survey may do the trick as well.


What is your behavior management plan?
What are you going to do when Johnny acts up?  You should have a step-by-step behavior plan that is fair and consistent.  This varies by grade because my pre-k behavior management plan is much different than my 4th-grade behavior management plan.  They may take it further and ask "what would you do if that doesn't work," or "when would you bring in the principal?"  They don't want you to be running to the principal for every misbehavior, but if the situation becomes dangerous, or if learning has stopped for the rest of the class, someone else needs to get involved.

What is your teaching philosophy? 
If you don't have one, get one.  This would not be an easy question to come up with on the spot.  Mine is: "Every student can learn, just not in the same way, or on the same day"- George Evans. Be able to back it up with an explanation.

Why do you want to work here?
Um, because you're hiring and I need a job? Just kidding, don't say that. Ever. Research the school's website and find out what you like about it.  Is it in a small town with lots of community connections?  Do you know someone who works there and loves it?  They use a lot of technology? They have a garden? Find something that draws you to that school and talk about it!

Do you have any questions for us?
Always have AT LEAST one question ready.  What else would you like to know about the position or the school?  Another good question to ask your interviewer is, "What do you enjoy about working here?" 


3. Other tips:
  • You probably do not need to bring anything (portfolio, extra resumes, etc.), unless you are asked.  
  • The interviewers are usually the principal and a few other teachers.  The whole teaching staff sat in for my interview as an associate teacher, so be prepared for anything!
  • Turn off your cell phone (duh).  
  • You may want to send a thank you note to the school after your interview.  
  • Their decision may take about a week, so be patient.  Most of the time they call to let you know whether you got the job or not, but sometimes they do not call at all.   
  • Give a firm handshake.  
  • Keep eye contact and sit up straight. 
  • Try not to fidget.
  • Don't forget to SMILE!!