Download the New Teacher Handbook or continue reading below.
Welcome to a wonderful career and a great profession. Welcome to teaching.
The West Virginia Education Association (WVEA) welcomes you to the teaching profession! We hope this handbook will help you get your career off to a great start. Additional resources and information for new teachers can be found online at www.wvea.org.
This New Teacher Handbook is intended to provide resources to connect with every student. It includes teaching tips, techniques, best practices and resources by teachers, for teachers. Let it serve as a reminder that you are never alone in the classroom. WVEA’s dedicated staff, known as Organizational Development Specialists along with our Help Center staff meet or talk daily with teachers across the state to provide resources, opportunities and direction on professional issues. Your WVEA staff and colleagues are here to answer your questions, and to help you succeed in your chosen profession.
Together we stand up for ourselves, our students, our profession and West Virginia’s future. Your WVEA membership includes many benefits all aimed at helping you survive your first years as a teacher – and thrive as an educator. Our goal is to strengthen the teaching profession by providing opportunities for quality professional development, networking and resources. We work to create better working conditions because our teaching conditions are student learning conditions.
Your membership earns you special access to career-building opportunities, workplace protections and exclusive rewards. These range from resources to help stretch your budget and improve your finances to helping you enhance your career. Find these resources at wvea.org/MemberBenefits.
Importantly, WVEA represents you in the legislative arena, which affects everything you do, everything you learn and everything you earn in the classroom. We work tirelessly for public schools – and for those you who provide our students with the best education possible. You’ll find there are so many great benefits from belonging to your professional organization. Have a great year!
Your West Virginia Education Association
WVEA Help Center
|Dept. of Education
|Humana (Medicare retirees)
|NEA Member Benefits
|The Health Plan HMO
WVEA’s mission is to advocate for education employees and to unite our profession to achieve the state’s promise of a high quality public education system for all students.
Our Core Values
These principles guide our work and define our mission:
- Equal Opportunity – We believe public education is the gateway to opportunity. All students have the human and civil right to a quality public education that develops their potential, independence and character.
- Advocacy – We believe employee rights play an integral role in maintaining a quality public education system. Therefore, we advocate for the interests and working conditions of our members.
- Professionalism – We believe the expertise and judgment of education professionals are critical to student success. We maintain the highest professional standards and we expect the status, compensation and respect due to all professionals.
- Unity – We believe individuals are strengthened when they work together for the common good. As education professionals, we improve both our professional status and the quality of public education when we unite and advocate collectively.
Code of Ethics
The educator, believing in the worth and dignity of each human being, recognizes the supreme importance of the pursuit of truth, devotion to excellence, and the nurture of democratic principles. Essential to these goals is the protection of freedom to learn and to teach, and the guarantee of equal educational opportunity for all. The educator accepts the responsibility to adhere to the highest ethical standards.
The educator recognizes the magnitude of the responsibility inherent in the teaching process. The desire for the respect and confidence of one’s colleagues, of students, of parents, and of members of the community provides the incentive to attain and maintain the highest possible degree of ethical conduct. The Code of Ethics of the Education Profession indicates the aspiration of all educators and provides standards by which to judge conduct. The Code of Ethics can be found in its entirety at wvea.org/aboutwvea.
WVEA HELP CENTER – 1.866.568.WVEA
You are never alone in your classroom and your one-stop shop is the WVEA Help Center. A Member Advocacy Specialist will answer your questions from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each school day and will call you back if you leave a message. Just call 1.866.568.WVEA.
Can’t get to a phone? Then e-mail your requests directly to the Help Center. You’ll get a speedy response. Help is just a phone call away – 1.866.568.WVEA
FORMER WVSEA MEMBER? GET A REBATE!
Did you belong to the West Virginia Student Education Association (WVSEA) during your college years? If so, WVEA will rebate to you $10 for every year (up to four years) of student membership. In addition, NEA will rebate to you $20 for every year of student membership, up to four years. That’s up to a $120 rebate of your student dues!
To qualify, you must be an Association member paying active dues and the application for rebate must be made during your first year of educational employment in West Virginia. Learn more about wvea.org!
YOUR TEACHING LICENSE & CERTIFICATION
If you are a newly licensed teacher in West Virginia, you have already cleared your first professional hurdle and you hold your first teaching license. After your initial licensure period, you will need to qualify to renew your license.
You are responsible for keeping your license up to date. Failure to do so could result in the loss of your job. No one may teach without an up-to-date West Virginia teaching certificate. Again – you are responsible for renewing your own license. School systems have no choice but to terminate your employment should you let your license lapse!
A few tips to guide you through the renewal process: Be sure to read the information on your license carefully and make sure it’s accurate. Keep a copy of your teaching license in your personal files.
- All licenses and certifications expire on June 30 of the last year of validity. The application for renewal must be submitted after January 1 of the year in which the license expires.
- In order to renew a professional certificate an applicant must complete six semester hours of appropriate college/university coursework reflecting a 3.0 GPA and related to the public school program as defined in Policy 5202 unless the applicant holds a minimum of an M.A. plus 30 salary classification based on the awarding of a master’s degree. The coursework for conversion must have been completed subsequent to the issuance of the certificate being converted (the process to upgrade from one level of certificate to another) and within the five-year period immediately preceding the date of application.
- Your certificate may also be renewed by completing two WVDE e-learning courses and earning two certificates of completion. Keep in mind that the e-learning renewal option will only renew your certificate. The e-learning option will not count toward hours needed to advance on the salary scale. Renewal by college coursework will count towards renewing your certificate and as hours needed to advance on the salary scale.
- The college renewal option requires six semester hours of appropriate college coursework related to the public school program. The six semester hours must meet one of the following options: 1) courses relevant to a master’s degree in a curriculum related to the public school program, 2) courses related to the improvement of instruction and the applicant’s current endorsement areas, 3) courses needed to qualify for an additional endorsement or 4) credit prescribed by the county as a result of an applicant’s evaluation. Waivers of the renewal requirement will be granted only for extenuating circumstances. The lack of knowledge or understanding of the renewal requirements is not a valid reason for requesting a waiver.
Note: All licenses and certificates expire on June 30 of the last year of validity, regardless of the date issued.
Permanent Professional Teaching – Does not need to be renewed
WV Teaching Certificate – Form 4
Must be renewed every 3-5 years, depending on whether it is an Initial Professional Teaching Certificate or a Professional Teaching Certificate
Must have 6 hours of college credit (degree or non-degree) in education-related courses
Complete 2 WVDE E-learning courses and receive 2 certificates of completion
Must have a Master + 30 salary classification
Must be age 60 and present a birth certificate
Must have recommendation from county superintendent
Substitute Permit – Form 2
Must be renewed every 3 years
Must have 12 hours of County or approved in-service
6 hours of college credit
Must have recommendation from county superintendent
Have questions about the renewal process or encounter problems? Call the WVEA Help Center – 1.866.568.WVEA.
Go to this WVDE website: wvde.state. wv.us/certification where you’ll find answers to most of your certification-related questions.
Go to this WVDE website: wveis.k12.wv.us/certcheck where you’ll:
- Find certification forms
- Can check your license and renewal status
WVDE’s Certification Toll-Free Line is 1-800-982-2378.
YOUR PROFESSIONAL RECORDS
Maintaining your own up-to-date personal and professional records is every bit as important as keeping your lesson plans and grade book organized. Having the appropriate documentation on hand can be critical to placement on the salary schedule, clearing up misunderstandings, making sure your evaluation is fair and accurate, etc. Proper written documentation can help keep a problem from becoming serious or being a problem at all.
Keeping Organized is Critical
Professional educators should have the following documents on hand:
- Professional employment contract
- Record of in-service or advanced academic credit earned
- All evaluations and growth plans
- Proof of membership in the Association
- Record of college attendance, dates, and degrees
- Transcripts of undergraduate and graduate credits and degrees Supplemental contract(s)
- Record of accumulated sick leave days as received from the county Records of commendations, awards, honors
- Copies of teaching schedules and assignments for current and past years
- Records of incidents involving discipline, violence, or other disruptive student behavior
- Records of disciplinary referrals of students and methods in handling specific classroom problems
- Copies of letters to/from administrators and board members
- Copies of letters to/from parents, colleagues, etc. Yearly salary notices/annual salary schedule Copy of all documents in the personnel file Monthly payroll stubs
- Records pertaining to retirement
- Phone numbers and individuals to call for assistance and information
If you have questions about how or where to obtain some of these items, call 866.568.WVEA.
The Basics: What Else You Need to Know
If you already know where to park and you have your grade book in hand, here are some more things to know and have on hand. Be sure to check with your WVEA colleagues or staff if you have questions.
- Your classroom and curriculum duties and responsibilities
- Additional duties and responsibilities such as bus, hall and lunch duties
- The county and/or school policy on:
- Employee Code of Conduct
- Dispensing medication
- Referrals to special programs
- E-mail and Internet usage
- Fire drills and lockdowns
- Field trips
- Procedures to follow in case of a personal emergency, sick day or personal leave day Who to contact in case of a classroom or school emergency
- When faculty, team or other regular meetings are held Where and how to get classroom supplies
- How to communicate with parents
- How to fill out school forms
- How and when you are paid; payroll deductions
- When is open house and what is the policy or procedure for it?
Have (In Your Professional File):
- Required district forms such as W-2, insurance enrollment, teaching license Grade book or other student record forms
- A copy of the student handbook
- Forms you will need during the first week:
- Accident reports Absence reports Hall passes
- Discipline Referral forms
BUILDING YOUR NAME, CREATE A PROFESSIONAL IMAGE
First-year teachers come into a school district with the opportunity to build a great reputation. As with any profession, your behavior and interaction within your work community and your community at large will define your image and polish your reputation. Your action will also affect the image of your profession, your WVEA local and school as a whole.
Here are some ideas to help you succeed:
- From Day One, let parents know you believe a working partnership with them is best for students.
- Give students practical writing experience. Teach them to write and send letters or emails to community members. The letters may relate to specifics of a class project that ties to a community activity or state an opinion about how young people might be persuaded to participate in community affairs. Students learn how to state a suggestion tactfully and gracefully; how to write with a positive tone; and how to make clear, concise points.
- Send messages home about what parents can do to support learning.
- Each November, send home a list of good books for parents to consider for holiday giving or to check out of the public library. You might also divide your students’ names into lists according to the month of their birthdays. Send home a book gift list the month before each student’s birthday, making the distribution a first-of-the-month activity. In May, distribute book lists for June through September birthdays.
- Assign an essay or paragraph with the topic “The Best Thing About My School Is…” After using samples to discuss form and content, submit three or four of the best to the newspaper, expressing pride in these students’ perceptions of their roles as learners.
- Send home requests for a parent/grandparent to jot (in a space on the request sheet) a note about a strong memory or an anecdote from their own lives in reference to a topic being studied in class.
- Display degrees, certificates and your WVEA professional certificates. Many professionals have these documents framed on their office walls. It has a positive effect on students and parents.
- Let parents know of their child’s successes. If parents only hear from you when there is a problem, they transfer those negative feelings to you.
- Send letters or emails of welcome to new students. When students transfer in, they and their parents often have questions. Put together a survival kit for new students with links to a map of the area; locations of favorite student hangouts; dress code (or what’s normal – perhaps a student could write this part); homework expectations; and a list of what has already been covered in each subject.
- One other idea: Get involved in any community projects your local association may initiate, or represent your WVEA local in organizations you’re already involved in. Your visibility builds your recognition and reputation.
- Get organized > Start off the year by getting your personal papers organized. You never know when you may have to produce a document related to your job. Your certification, past evaluations and professional development records are very important. Set up a good record-keeping system. Consider keeping it all in an electronic file on a flash drive.
- Keep tax records > During the year you may have expenditures that may be used as business deductions on your income tax return. Now is the time to set aside a place for keeping tax records and to start keeping track of them. Keep your receipts and be sure to note on the receipt the exact purchase. Those used books you buy at garage sales add up!
- Improve yourself > Set your sights on improving your professional ability in at least one area during the coming year. Then decide how best to go about it. WVEA has many resources and opportunities to help new and experienced teachers improve their craft. Ask your local president or Organization Development Specialist (ODS) for details – or go to wvea.org.
- Develop resources > Develop your own sources of information and your resource list. To help get you started, ask a WVEA colleague or check out the tools and resources at wvea.org. For online filing consider Evernote, Diigo, Google Drive, or another online file storage system to organize lesson plans and materials. Build relationships > Be friendly to the school secretary and the custodian. Network with your WVEA site rep and colleagues.
- Check school policy > If you plan to do anything new or unusual this year, make certain you mention it to your principal in advance. In the classroom, keep your personal views on religion and politics to yourself. Have plans on how to deal with parental concerns about content and curriculum.
- Give your classroom some class > Check out Pinterest and other online sites for organizing and decorating ideas. Put your personality into the classroom decoration to help build relationships with your students.
- Introduce yourself > Create a video or slide show to help students get to know you. Consider a fun true/ false quiz based on you. Sometimes a student may find something in common with a teacher and is able to strike up a relationship that could be a positive learning experience.
- Establish the rules > Establish class rules, consequences and rewards right at the beginning and let the students have a role in establishing them. If they feel part of them, they will have a tendency to follow the rules. There should be no more than five rules posted where all students can see them. Remember to revisit the rules throughout the year, especially after breaks, as students tend to forget. Consider posting rules as memes.
- Be realistic > Don’t let your sincere concern for each child turn into a depressing experience through a fear of failure. You will not win every battle with every student. Sometimes it is months or years before our positive influence is felt.
- Do your best > Determine what factors may keep you from doing your job during the school year. If you’re not sure how to deal with a wide range of abilities, seek out the school psychologist, resource specialist or special education teacher. If you’re having difficulty with disruptive students, ask a seasoned teacher for help.
- Look for some hope > Get in the proper positive frame of mind by watching for something hopeful. It may be those students who give you an indication they learned something new. Check online forums, for example, #edchat, #edutwitter.
- Find a shoulder > Every teacher needs a colleague to turn to for special advice or simply to unburden yourself about a special classroom challenge. If you don’t have a “buddy,” find one, or reach out and be a buddy to someone else. Ask your local chapter representative if there is a buddy system. It’s ok to be assigned a buddy, regardless how long you’ve been teaching.
- Know your rights > Read or reread your contract so that you know your rights. Study district policies to know other rights. When you have questions, ask your WVEA staff member or call the Help Center at 866.568.9832.
- Be prepared for special students > You may have students with special learning needs or physical challenges. Plan from the beginning how you will deal with them in the best interest of the student, yourself and the rest of the class. Before school starts, check with the special education teacher(s) if any of your students have IEPs, and if so, make sure you get a copy of their IEP before school so you can review accommodations and instructional needs.
- Foster curiosity > Keep in mind that if you want your students to be curious, you have to set an atmosphere that encourages curiosity and doesn’t stifle it.
- Build an attitude > A smile goes a long way on the first day of school. You have the opportunity to help your students determine whether school is drudgery or a serious undertaking that can have its fun moments. If you give the impression that being in class is positive, that attitude will be reflected by your students.
- Don’t overlook the gifted > Once you determine you have students in your class who could be considered gifted, don’t delay in making arrangements to have them tested and to meet their specific abilities. Communicate with parents and guardians early and often > Determine how you will involve parents and guardians in your students’ education during the coming year. Consider having a website so parents can easily contact you and ask questions. Elementary teachers may have a class blog to update parents that includes pictures and videos of student work. You will need parent’s permission when posting pictures or videos. Consider a classroom notification system, such as www.classdojo.com or www.remind.com. Verify a working email address with parents; don’t depend upon school records. Send home a class letter and consider a monthly email newsletter. WVEA has resources to help.
- Sharing about you > Do NOT give parents or students your cell phone number – communicate with students via email or a learning management system such as www.edmodo.com or www.schoology.com. In your initial contact to parents, you might want to introduce yourself and tell the parents a little about you, your background and family. Let parents know when you are available and the process and times for getting in touch with you. Include your policy on homework. Check your county policy on communication, as well.
- Health-related tasks and your students > Make an early determination about how you will handle students with special health problems. Consult with your school nurse for suggestions. Some students might have a health plan, which your school nurse will contact you about. If asked to perform health related tasks, consult your site representative immediately.
- Support your local WVEA > Join your county WVEA local for the moral support of people who understand the difficulty of your job and the valuable resources the association can provide. WVEA and NEA offer a wide variety of instructional resources, websites, conferences and staff support.
- Set a positive tone > Send a positive note home with every student at some time during each grading period. Catch the kids being good!
- See your site rep if you have overages > Your contract dictates how many students should be in your classroom, which only applies to K-6. If you have “overages” (more students than contracted for), contact your site representative.
- And finally...Keep these three qualities of good teaching in mind: be flexible, be patient and have a sense of humor.
An effective teacher is a leader, not a boss—someone who can motivate students and show them why it’s in their best interest to learn. The day-to-day reality, however, is that you’re also coping constantly with minor annoyances, squabbles and other disturbances. How do you create and maintain a positive learning environment?
Experts agree that prevention is the key. Try these tips from your colleagues:
- Create a supportive classroom. Be approachable. Let students get to know you by sharing something about yourself, your family and your pets. Notice and acknowledge students; let them know that you care about them, respect them and think they can succeed.
- Be aware. Good teachers know what’s going on in the classroom at all times, so they can anticipate trouble and head it off—a quality sometimes referred to as “eyes in the back of your head.” Arrange your classroom to make this possible.
- Structure the time in your class. Students need a predictable schedule to feel safe. Start each class with an attention-grabber such as a word of the day, trivia question or math problem – whatever enhances your curriculum.
- Try to minimize students’ frustration levels. The most important behavior intervention may be an academic one. Arrange lessons so that students can succeed if they work at it. Allow them to choose ways to satisfy the requirements of your class. You may eliminate many frustrations that lead to disruptive behavior.
- Teach study skills along with subject matter. Many students do not know how to study, develop an outline or use a reference book to prevent their frustration from boiling over into behavior problems. For example, you might review graph-reading techniques and charting procedures in math or note-taking techniques in other subjects.
- Give students specific ways to ask you for help. Some students aren’t comfortable asking you in front of the entire class. Arrange for students to give you a signal when they need help, such as putting a book on the corner of their desk or let them know they can meet with you briefly after class.
- Be the one in charge. Students want you to be the adult, not the buddy. They don’t want you to tolerate disruptive behavior. Let each student know it is his or her responsibility to control his or her behavior.
- Know your stuff. The better you know your subject and pedagogy, the better your students will respond to your teaching. If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so and try to find the answer if it’s relevant to the class.
- Dress for success. If you present a professional appearance, you’ll get more respect from students, parents, administrators and colleagues. (Dress for the job – elementary teachers sitting on the floor which would be different than a high school teacher with older students. PE is different, etc.)
Bring Balance to Your Classroom
Our students live and will work in an increasingly diverse society. Ethnic diversity in student populations is increasing, immigration is bringing new languages and cultures, family structures are changing, and men and women continue to take on new roles in society.
The challenge for educators is to meet students’ diverse educational needs while preparing all students to understand and appreciate differences in culture, learning style, interests and values. Here are some suggestions:
- Look beyond group stereotypes and treat students as individuals. It’s important to assess the needs of students individually so each can develop his or her potential.
- Affirm and validate students’ ethnic experiences. Include experiences of various cultural groups in the classroom through curriculum, projects, presentations and displays.
- Recognize and understand cultural differences. Be aware of such cultural elements as clothing, time, space and duties. Try to learn more about your students’ cultures by reading, taking classes and talking to people from the groups represented in your classroom.
- Make sure your expectations are the same for boys and girls. Challenge all your students and make sure you interact equally with boys and girls.
- Vary your teaching style. Students bring different experiences and learning styles to your classroom, so use a variety of approaches to be sure everyone is successful.
- Build on diversity in your everyday teaching. Students’ multicultural perspectives are assets that can be used to help all students develop literary and critical thinking skills. Make connections through instructional themes relevant to many cultures.
- Familiarize yourself with your county’s harassment policies. Every county is required to have policies on racial and sexual harassment.
- Watch for signs of bullying in your classroom, hallways and playgrounds. Cultural differences, including sexual orientation, often result in physical or emotional bullying. Report these behaviors to your building administrator.
- Examine cumulative record folders for each student or randomly selected students, depending on the number of students and classes you teach.
- Note names of parents or guardians (don’t assume they will have the last name of the student!) and how they can be reached.
- Note outstanding strengths, weaknesses, interests and talents—academic and non-academic.
- Make a note of whether students are/were enrolled in special programs; (e.g., speech therapy, gifted and talented, special education) be sure to obtain and read the Individual Education Plans (IEP) for special education students.
- Note any chronic health problems, including allergies and asthma.
- Create a file folder—or have students create their own—in which you’ll store records, work samples and other information.
- Keep an open mind; avoid forming negative opinions. Use the information you have to design instruction that meets the needs of your students.
FIRST RULE: SET RULES
Since the beginning of organized education, the responsibility for good student discipline has mainly rested in the hands of the classroom teacher. Without a comfortable disciplinary situation, a teacher’s job becomes frustrating and often unbearable, and as a result, little teaching or learning takes place.
It is important that you establish clearly and immediately the behavior pattern and expectations to be followed by students. Students usually welcome rules, especially if they help to develop them, and reasonable discipline. They will respect teachers who follow a consistent policy.
Ask for copies of discipline policies for your district and/or building. Your classroom policy should reflect district guidelines.
Veteran teachers offer the following ideas for classroom discipline:
- Get to know students: This will help you anticipate problem situations (without listening to other teachers’ opinions).
- It’s all relative: Know the characteristics of the age group and what is regarded as ‘normal’ behavior. Don’t judge students by adult standards.
- Be consistent: Be fair in application of discipline in your requirements and assignments.
- Be courteous: Show courtesy to all students. Display trust and confidence in all. Avoid showing dislike for any student.
- Vive la différence! Your class is composed of individuals. Don’t require the same response of every pupil.
- Recognize signs: Some situations lead to discipline problems, including tardiness, disorder, disobedience or insolence.
- Hear both sides: Let students tell you their side. Be willing to consider mitigating circumstances.
- Mum’s the word: Talk about the misdeeds of students only to those who have a right and need to know. Avoid openly comparing one student to another.
- Maintain poise: Discussions about class work are invaluable, but arguments are not.
- You may be wrong: If you’ve made a mistake, admit it. Apologize if you’ve treated a student unjustly.
- Make the discipline fit: Make sure punishments are appropriate for the misbehavior. Explain to the student why he or she is being disciplined.
Good classroom discipline should not be viewed as being strict, but as a cause-and-effect relationship. The student should be made aware that certain types of behavior will cause unpleasant results, while others will elicit teacher recognition and praise. If you use this cause-and-effect approach, most students will naturally develop good behavior attitudes and responses.
In summary, you can achieve good classroom control, acceptable student conduct and real student achievement if you are firm, fair, friendly, consistent and prepared.
40 WAYS TO SAY “GOOD WORK!”
A little praise goes the distance in the classroom. But praise really needs to be more than just the same few phrases repeated over and over. Your students need more than the traditional “Good,” “Very good,” and “Fine,” if encouragement is expected. Here are some other ideas:
- That’s really nice.
- Wow! That’s great.
- I like the way you’re working.
- Keep up the good work.
- That’s quite an improvement.
- Much better!
- Keep it up.
- What neat work.
- You really out did yourself today.
- This kind of work pleases me.
- That’s right! Good for you.
- I’m proud of you.
- You’ve got it now.
- You make it look easy.
- You’re coming along nicely.
- Excellent work.
- My goodness. How impressive!
- You’re on the right track now.
- Very creative.
- Now you’ve figured it out.
- Superior work.
- That’s a good point.
- I appreciate your effort.
- That’s ‘A’ work!
- You put a lot of work into this.
- That’s the right answer.
- Nice going.
- Very interesting.
- That’s clever.
- Good thinking.
- Exactly right.
- Congratulations, good score.
- You should be proud of this.
- Quality work!
- You had your thinking cap on!
KEEP CONNECTED WITH WVEA
Visit WVEA’s website – www.wvea.org is the place to find resources, breaking news, answers and to contact WVEA.
- ‘Like’ @IamWVEA on Facebook – facebook.com/IamWVEA is the place to engage, learn and share about what’s happening in education and WVEA.
- Follow @IamWVEA on Instagram is the place to see photos, images and memes of all things WVEA and public education.
- @IamWEVA on YouTube is the place to watch the latest videos.
RESOURCES FOR NEW TEACHERS
WVEA – wvea.org/TeachingLearning
A one-stop portal to numerous professional development resources.
NEA edCommunities – www.mynea360.org
An open professional learning network for educators to connect, collaborate, learn and share.
National Education Association Tools & Ideas – nea.org/professional-excellence/student-engagement
Resources from members for members on lesson plans, classroom management, events and tools to help your students succeed.
TeacherTube – www.teachertube.com
Share classroom ideas, videos, docs, audio and photos.
The Teaching Channel – www.teachingchannel.org
Lesson plans, tips, strategies and teacher videos.
PBS Teachers – www.pbslearningmedia.org
Classroom resources, including standards-aligned videos, interactives and lesson plans for K-12.
Edutopia – Edutopia.org
A spotlight and examples of best practices and what’s working in public education.
Tech&Learning – techlearning.com
Free tech and learning online tools, ideas and resources.
Learning Policy Institute – learningpolicyinstitute.org
As education leaders, these resources on policy, best practices and issues from Linda Darling-Hammond is a must read. Don’t forget to scrub digital identity!
S.O.S. = SURVIVAL OF SUBSTITUTES
You’re not planning on it but someday you will miss a day of school. Prepare now for that day – and for that substitute. Many times, the same questions you have now as a new teacher are the same questions a substitute teacher will have. Subs do your work when you’re not there, and they’ll do it best if you make sure all the tools and materials are handy. Label a file folder or notebook “Substitute,” and keep it in a place anyone would logically look. If you travel from class to class, jot a note in your sub folder as to the location of the file.
What to include in your substitute folder:
- Your schedule of classes, including regular classes, special classes (day and time) and an alternate plan in case special classes are canceled.
- Names and schedules of students who leave the classroom for special reasons such as medication, remedial or gifted programs, speech, etc. Class roll, including your seating chart for regular activities and special work groups.
- Opening activities: absentee report, procedures for reporting lunch count, etc.
- Lesson plans or where to find the plan book. Include alternate plans in case the lesson depends on resources you may have with you. Classroom rules and discipline procedures (include any policies and notes about special cases).
- Location of all manuals and materials to be used. Procedure for use of technology and equipment. Names and schedules of aides and/or volunteers. Names of pupils who can be depended upon.
- Name and location of a teacher to call upon for assistance.
- Procedures for sick or injured students—location of nurse’s office, policy on dispensing medication, notes on allergies or special needs.
- Procedures for regular and early dismissal.
- Floor plan of building including emergency drill routes and procedures. Where the lounge and/or bathroom is located (map of school, highlighted?).
- Remember to say thank you
- Substitutes are professionals, just like you, and have the same goals for students. Let your principal know when your substitute does a good job.
PARENTS CAN BE YOUR BEST ALLY
When parents become involved in schools, children do better, teacher morale improves and parents rate the school higher. The entire educational process benefits. Start the process by finding ways to open the lines of communication with parents. Here are some guidelines for communicating with parents and involving them in their children’s education.
- Take the initiative. Contact parents through phone calls, email and personal notes. Provide information at the beginning of the year on what is covered in the class and what is expected from each student. Be sure to share positive as well as negative feedback about students. One idea that works well is to catch students doing something good or noteworthy in class and then generate notes or postcards to mail to their parents.
- Consider a variety of communication tools. Ask parents to complete a short questionnaire on their children’s likes and interests. Create a classroom website or newsletter. Have students log their assignments and activities briefly in a notebook and take it home each day.
- Tap into parents’ knowledge. Give them a chance to share their talents and experiences in the classroom, on field trips or before school-wide audiences. Send them a survey asking how they’d like to be involved.
- Encourage parents to spend time at school. Add a “parent section” to the school library and provide office or lounge space where parents will feel comfortable. Invite parents to spend a day in school with their child. Give parents a hands-on role in their child’s school success. Ask them to sign off on homework. Encourage them to provide their children with a quiet study area, a good breakfast, time to read together and supervision over television viewing and computer use.
- Remember, not every child has a parent at home. Be aware of the special challenges facing students who live in non-traditional settings.
CONFERENCE TIPS THAT WORK
Your only contact with some of your students’ parents might be during conferences. Here are some suggestions to help make your meetings with parents productive and successful.
Bridge communication gaps. Find out in advance if you need an interpreter for parents who are deaf or hard of hearing, or who don’t speak English well.
- Schedule wisely. Provide times when working parents can attend. Allow enough time for conferences and stay on schedule. If you are scheduling back-to-back conferences, give yourself a short breather between each.
- Get organized. Have your grade book, test scores, student work samples, attendance records and a flexible agenda ready. Be ready to talk about student progress, strengths and goals and to answer parents’ questions about their students’ abilities and achievement.
- Open with a positive statement about the student’s abilities, schoolwork or interests and save at least one encouraging comment for the end.
- Stress collaboration. Let the parent know you want to work together in the best interest of the student. Hear parents out, even if they are upset or negative.
- Be specific. Give examples and practical suggestions, rather than talking in generalities. End with a summary of actions you and the parents will take. (If it doesn’t go well, offer to pause and bring the principal in as support.)
- Make completion of homework a family expectation.
- Show interest in their student’s classes by asking specific questions.
- Use question-and-answer sessions to help the student prepare for tests.
Prevent and manage conflict
Conflicts between teachers and parents are hard on everyone. It pays to establish positive relationships early and maintain good communication throughout the year.
- If possible, call parents to introduce yourself before the school year begins. Make positive contact during the first few weeks of school via a phone call, note or newsletter. Use back-to-school night to establish rapport with parents.
- If it becomes necessary to deliver bad news, don’t do it in writing—call or arrange a meeting. Try to make sure parents hear the news from you first.
- Handle disciplinary episodes carefully. Touch base with the student before he or she leaves your room to dispel hard feelings and review the reason for the discipline. Inform your principal afterwards.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you may be confronted by angry parents. Remember, it’s usually not about you, or not only about you—you are part of a team at school. Don’t hesitate to seek advice and support from your principal or experienced colleagues.
- Don’t respond right away when you’re upset by an angry email. Calm down first, then call the parent instead of writing.
- When you meet with parents, the best thing you can do is listen. Let them express their feelings, note the issues that are being aired and ask questions that show you are trying to understand their point of view. Once they have calmed down, you can begin to give them missing information and redirect the conversation to how you and they will work as a team to ensure their child is successful.
- Don’t get put on the defensive. If the parents are unwilling to listen to you, ask respectfully if they will meet with you and your principal to discuss the situation.
- Remain professional at all times. Choose your words carefully. Never argue, yell or use sarcasm.
- Try to keep the focus on the future—what you and the parents will do to make sure the problem will not recur.
- Set a date for a follow-up meeting or conversation to go over the plan and determine whether any changes are needed.
- Document both positive and negative contacts with parents and keep the records in a file for future reference.
- If your supervisor asks you to meet with parents to apologize for your conduct, contact the WVEA Help Center or your local CEA president before you agree to do so.
WHAT TO DO WHEN PROBLEMS POP UP
Despite your best efforts to prevent them, discipline problems can occur. You will have to gauge the appropriate response for your class, depending on the situation and problem and your students’ ages and abilities.
Here are some tips for dealing with problems:
- Check school policy. Get a copy of your school’s discipline policy, as well as the state board’s student discipline policy, and read them thoroughly. Be aware of behavior plans for special needs students.
- Outline your expectations early in the year. On the first day of class, either present your rules or work with students to establish class rules and consequences. If these are clear, and especially if they are the result of consensus, students are less likely to think they’re being treated unfairly.
- Review the rules. Post your classroom rules and review them periodically, especially after school breaks. Be fair. Be consistent in your discipline methods. Apologize if you make a mistake or accuse someone unjustly. Listen to the student’s side of the story.
- Don’t use sarcasm or ridicule. Be aware of how students may perceive your comments. Something you intended as a joke may be viewed as sarcastic or critical. Never use threats to enforce discipline. Don’t point out a student’s mistakes on an assignment in front of the entire class.
- Let it be. If the event is a brief and minor disturbance and no one is being harmed, forget it. Use eye contact to let the student know you saw what happened.
- Provide a warning. If the situation starts getting out of hand, clearly explain to the students involved the consequences of their actions, then follow through. Record what happened, who was involved, what you did and who witnessed the incident.
- Watch for bullying and intimidation. Address it immediately. Let students know they can tell an adult when they feel unsafe and make it clear that bullying and put-downs will not be tolerated in your class. If a conflict is serious, potentially violent or ongoing, remember these steps:
- Know your county’s policy for reporting incidents. You should receive ongoing training to deal with potential situations.
- Never use force unless it is reasonable force and unless it is necessary to restrain a child from injuring himself/herself or others or causing serious harm to school property. Never hit or strike a student. Never touch a student in disciplining him or her.
- Avoid acting alone, if at all possible. There are times when discipline may not suffice and the incident may escalate to the point where the use of reasonable force may be necessary to correct or restrain a student or prevent bodily harm or death to another. Defer to a school administrator to remove the student.
- Consult with the special education teacher to deal with disruptive behavior from a student with special needs. Better yet, ask to be a member of the team that develops the student’s individual education plan so the team can determine appropriate methods of discipline. Ask the parents how they deal with disruptive behavior. Make sure a behavior plan is in place and is effective.
- Explore conflict mediation. Many schools are implementing such programs. The idea is to get the parties to talk face to face, identify the problem and outline acceptable solutions.
- Take precautions to avoid situations where your behavior could be misinterpreted. Use team teaching, teaching assistants and volunteers to assist when possible. Invite parents to observe classes. Keep classroom doors open. Exercise caution and common sense.
When in doubt about what to do, ask your mentor, a colleague, your association’s building representative, or contact the WVEA Help Center.
CODE DEFINES PROFESSIONAL BEHAVIOR
Each teacher, upon entering the profession, assumes a number of obligations, one of which is to adhere to a set of principles that defines professional conduct. These principles are reflected in the West Virginia Employee Code of Conduct (Policy 5902). Violation of the code of conduct may result in disciplinary action against a teacher’s license.
The West Virginia Board of Education recognizes that the capabilities and conduct of all school employees greatly affect the quality of education provided to students in the public schools. The state Board of Education further believes that all school employees should be intrinsically motivated by the importance of the job that they do. The purpose of the Employee Code of Conduct is to establish appropriate standards of conduct for all West Virginia school personnel.
- The code applies to all school personnel employed by a county board of education whether employed on a regular full-time basis or otherwise. It provides that all West Virginia school employees shall:
- Exhibit professional behavior by showing positive examples of preparedness, communication, fairness, punctuality, attendance, language and appearance.
- Contribute, cooperate and participate in creating an environment in which all employees/students are accepted and are provided the opportunity to achieve at the highest levels in all areas of development. Maintain a safe and healthy environment, free from harassment, intimidation, bullying, substance abuse, and/or violence and free from bias and discrimination.
- Create a culture of caring through understanding and support.
- Immediately intervene in any code of conduct violation that has a negative impact on students, in a manner that preserves confidentiality and the dignity of each person.
- Demonstrate responsible citizenship by maintaining a high standard of conduct, self-control and moral/ ethical behavior.
- Comply with all federal and West Virginia laws, policies, regulations and procedures.
- The Code of Conduct also requires that West Virginia public school employees respond immediately and consistently to incidents of bullying, harassment, intimidation, substance abuse, and/or violence or any other code of conduct violation that impacts negatively on students in a manner that effectively addresses incidents, deters future incidents and affirms respect for individuals.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
You know you are a good teacher. Your $1 million liability policy is a great safety net – so is knowing and understanding your professional rights as an educator. Every year, fine, professional educators find themselves in a job-threatening situations. WVEA members have quick access to help and assistance. Whether it’s a disagreement with an administrator, a question of proper salary schedule placement, or a complaint filed by a parent, WVEA’s Advocacy team works to make sure that members are treated fairly; according to the law; and by school policy.
There can be outside threats to a teacher’s job, too. Anyone may file a complaint against a teacher at the county or state levels. Without proper representation, such a complaint places a teacher’s career at extreme risk. As a member of WVEA, you are entitled to WVEA staff or attorney assistance or litigation for any incident that results in a job sanction, a grievance, a criminal proceeding related to corporal punishment, or a complaint.
WVEA staff has responded to reprimands, poor evaluations and complaints from parents and patrons. Those efforts to protect teacher rights can take the form of local complaints, grievances, complaints to state or federal agencies, and even litigation. WVEA regularly works with teachers to improve their teaching skills, as well as scores of other issues.
Open personnel file
All teachers have the right to inspect their personnel file upon request. Teachers have the right to file a written statement responding to any material in the file that they believe is inaccurate or untrue.
- Teachers should inspect their personnel file occasionally.
- Educators should also know that the file does not follow a teacher to a new district or county, unless the teacher authorizes, in writing, the sharing of the file.
- State statutes state no other person, except school officials while engaged in their professional duties, shall be granted access to such file, and the contents thereof shall not be divulged in any manner to any unauthorized person.
- In regard to student files: Students and/ or their parents have the right to inspect the student’s file. Teachers should be aware of this and be careful that whatever they place in a student file is accurate and can be documented.
WVEA’s Legal Services Policy gives members protection in the event they are facing criminal charges specifically related to the alleged use of corporal punishment. The WVEA provides legal services for a criminal matter flowing from allegations of corporal punishment up to a limit of $5,000. Any costs in excess of $5,000 are the responsibility of the member.
If you have a complaint or grievance, in most cases it’s best to contact an appropriate representative of your local association for assistance and referral to WVEA, if necessary. If for any reason you need or prefer to contact the WVEA directly, please do so, by calling the Help Center at 866.568.9832.
Did you know that a member of the public could place your job at risk? Anyone can file a complaint against a teacher, which simply means that someone alleges an educator has violated the teaching profession’s Code of Ethics. Without proper representation, such allegations can put a teaching license, and therefore a teacher’s livelihood, in jeopardy. Upon receiving notification of such a complaint, your immediate first step should be to make a request for legal services to your local leaders and the WVEA Help Center. More importantly, do so before discussing the notification or allegations with anyone else.
If your request for legal service is approved, WVEA and NEA will share all costs of your defense related to investigation—both before the Professional Practices Commission and before the county or State Board of Education, should the matter go that far.
YOUR LIABILITY POLICY IS ADDED PROTECTION
As a professional educator, you might be held responsible if someone is injured in a classroom or school-related incident. You may be personally liable for damages if, in the performance of your duties, your actions or your failure to take action result in harm to pupils, other teachers or others. You face the possibility of lawsuits for negligence, slander, libel, malpractice or assault and battery (arising out of classroom disciplinary actions).
Remember that when you belong to the WVEA, you are automatically covered by a $1 million liability insurance policy which protects you if a civil suit is brought against you as a result of teaching duties. However, these six precautions can reduce your chances of being sued:
- Be familiar with school rules, procedures and board policies. Develop your own set of rules for classroom activities and make sure your students understand them.
- Check your classroom work area for hazards. Notify your principal in writing if you find any. Until repairs are in place, keep your students away from problem areas.
- Never leave your class unsupervised.
- Follow state law and school board policies on student discipline.
- Use caution on field trips. Get permission slips from parents of all students participating. Make certain students know rules that will apply during the field trip. Make sure there is adequate supervision.
- While details are still fresh, write a description of incidents you believe may have the potential to create liability problems later on.
WHAT IF A COMPLAINT IS FILED AGAINST ME?
If you are called to a meeting with administrators and the meeting becomes an accusatory proceeding where you are asked questions that could lead to disciplinary action, do not answer the questions. Do not tell administrators, or anyone else, what you did or did not do. You have a legal right to refuse to answer such questions without association representation. Know your Weingarten Rights*.
Until you have a chance to discuss the situation with your association representative or a Member Advocacy Specialist at the WVEA Help Center (1.866.568.WVEA), do not reply to any questions or charges presented to you. Request an adjournment of the meeting and immediately consult your representative. It is important that you get advice early instead of waiting to “see what happens.” Your Member Advocacy Specialist will see to it that you have the benefit of legal advice and counsel, if needed.
You should always cooperate with your association advocates regarding any written statements involving accusations. Do not submit any written statements to administrators unless your association representative has reviewed them.
Be sure to keep copies of any written statements submitted or received. Also, keep all correspondence related to your situation, including postmarked envelopes. Arrange to be accompanied to your administrator’s office by an association representative. The representative could be your building representative, a local association officer or your Organizational Development Specialist. Beware of proposals offered by administrators. Do not agree to any proposals without first checking with your association. If offered an “opportunity to resign,” do not do so without first conferring with a WVEA staff professional.
If the media learns of any accusations, they may try to get you to make a statement. Do not make any public statements whatsoever.
- Exercise your Weingarten Rights.
- Do not make spontaneous responses to charges brought against you.
- Do not appear at any accusatory hearing unless accompanied by a representative. Do not attempt to defend yourself alone.
- Do not accept “an opportunity to resign.”
- Do not agree to any proposals, either in writing or orally, without consulting a WVEA representative. Do not submit any written statement to supervisors without consulting with your representative.
- If you suspect a complaint:
- Write down immediately everything that happened – a narrative, including time, date, location, names of involved persons, witnesses and actual words spoken.
- Get advice early from a WVEA representative; don’t wait to see what happens. Keep all copies of correspondence and papers relating to the situation.
- Take notes at any conference during which charges are explained.
“If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, or affect my personal working conditions, I respectfully request that my union representative be present.”
NLRB v Weingarten, Inc. 420 U.S. 251 (1975)
By law, if an employee has a reasonable belief that discipline or other adverse consequences may result from what he or she says, the employee has the right to request union representation. When the employee makes the request for a union representative to be present, management has three options:
- Stop questioning until the representative arrives. Call off the interview.
- Tell the employee he or she will call off the interview unless the employee voluntarily gives up her/his rights to union representation (an option the employee should always refuse).
SOCIAL MEDIA & YOUR DIGITAL IDENTITY
By Time Walker and Rebecca Logan
You might have forgotten about that off-color joke you posted to your Facebook page four months ago, or that unfortunate photo from what started out as a quiet Friday night late last summer, or that expletive-laced tirade against a political candidate you posted to a popular blog two weeks ago.
You might have forgotten but the Internet didn’t.
Years of social media saturation led by Facebook and Twitter and way too much oversharing has created an online archive documenting much of the daily lives, thoughts, and misadventures of millions of Americans. Everyone has a key to this archive—your family and friends, your students, their parents, school administrators, and any prospective employer. Someone who doesn’t know anything about you may get to know you through some of your more embarrassing or unsuitable posts. First impressions, including digital ones, can be hard to shake.
There is a heightened awareness about the horror stories regarding the use of social media. What is unfortunate about this is that it scares educators away. Educators need to be in these spaces helping to teach youth how to communicate effectively and treat each other kindly.
So, the answer is not to wipe clean from the Internet anything and everything related to you and abandon it. That’s overkill. But if you live and share a good part of your life online, you’re probably due for a spring cleaning. Once that’s done, there are steps you can take to manage your content and avoid damaging your reputation.
Find Out What’s Out There
The first step to your digital house cleaning is to find out what’s out there about you. It might be painful but sit down, brace yourself, and key in your full name into a search engine, such as Google or Bing to find out what the Internet has on you. When evaluating the results, focus on the first three pages. People usually don’t bother to look beyond the few pages of search results. Once you know what is out there, you can make a plan to address it.
A good goal to set is to “take over” page 1 of search pages looking for information about you. The best way to do a quick cleanup is to simply change your profile picture and perhaps your “about” info on your Facebook page. If old posts or out-of-date information comes up, see if you can take it down or update it. Maybe someone you know posted embarrassing or personal content about you. Ask them to remove it. If you’re
nervous about any other digital dirt, add positive information to the Internet so that the positive results come up first. By perhaps starting a blog and/or website, you can point employers to what you want them to know about you. If you’re a frequent commentator on websites and blogs, be aware that you generally have to log in through Facebook. That means whatever you say can be traced to you. Check to see if you have posted comments that might be perceived as derogatory or inflammatory.
Update Your Privacy Settings
If you want to keep some of your personal information private, use the privacy settings on your online profiles. Still, things aren’t as private as they seem partly because sites such as Facebook and Google are constantly changing those settings, which many users don’t bother to update.
Create, Manage Your Digital Brand
Once you’ve cleaned up your digital identity, be proactive and create your own digital brand. What do you want people to see when they search for you online? It could be a digital portfolio of your work, a well-written, regularly updated blog or a simple online resume. Efforts to curate your digital brand will help when it points to a collection of professional information that paints you as a thoughtful, hardworking and professional person who cares about student success.
Stay on Top of Things; Be Careful
Set up alerts via Google or some other service that will send you an e-mail when your name is mentioned in news stories, blogs, or videos. If you have a common name, add additional information like your school, town or city, and profession to the search description. Even if you’ve completed a thorough makeover of your digital identity, however, unless you always think twice before you post.
Creating and maintaining a secure password may not seem related to your social media life, but it is at the core of online security and privacy. It may take a little time to complete the following steps, but it will certainly be much easier than dealing with an online security breach. If your password is “123456,” change it immediately. It is the most common password and the easiest to crack. Do not use the same password or username for everything, instead think of a word or topic you can remember and use different combinations. Make sure your password includes capital letters, preferably in the middle, as well as numbers.
Social Media Guidelines Just for Teachers
Not sure what the real “rules” are about social media for teachers? Are you wanting to use social media more, but just thinking about the twitter icon fills you with trepidation? More teachers are using social media than ever before. Follow these guidelines to get started the right way. They’ll keep you out of hot water and in a strategic safety zone, whether you’re using social media for networking with other educators, following the news, getting recipes on Pinterest, for your side job or business (hey, a teacher’s gotta eat!) or keeping up with your Auntie Marge.
- DO feel free to share status updates and comment on others’ updates. In a public forum, keep it positive, light and stay away from nasty, heated discussions. Know your school district’s employee computer use policy.
- If you feel comfortable, DO connect with coworkers whom you feel safe, comfortable, and friendly with (as we are apt to do in the teaching field). Your teaching contract does not mandate you to be friends with any of your colleagues.
- If you are running a tutoring business, giving music lessons, or running a part-time business online, DO set up a Facebook business page separate from your personal or school/classroom page. Just remember that on the business page, anyone can see what you post.
- DO tag and post with care, especially when you’re posting pictures of others.
- DO unfollow negative people and relatives, if you feel the emotional need to.
- DON’T friend your students. NOTE: If you know and work with the parents, and have spoken with them, or work in a rural community, social lines can get blurry. Use your best judgment.
- DON’T mix excessive drinking and social media.
- DON’T post pictures of yourself partying or drinking alcohol, even after hours.
- DON’T post pictures of yourself engaged in drinking or serving alcohol, around alcohol, even if you bartend, wait tables, or cocktail on weekends and school breaks. What you do after hours is your business, don’t make it everyone’s.
- DON’T post pictures or videos of yourself naked or semi-clothed.
- DON’T overpost. If you post a change to your status ALL the time, instead of looking like you have an exciting life, you look like the kid who will do ANYTHING for attention. In a closed Facebook discussion group, you can post more frequently – just make sure it’s after school hours or on breaks.
- DON’T post on social media during work hours.
- DON’T write nasty comments about your students, their families, coworkers, or administrators. Remember, HIPPA and FERPA laws! Would you want your doctor writing updates about you?
- DON’T assume that you are protected by your First Amendment rights. Like it or not, teachers are held to a different moral standard than the rest of society.
- DON’T post content that would undermine your school’s program delivery. A smart rule of thumb: If you don’t want it to be on the front page of the New York Times or the National Enquirer, don’t post it.
EVALUATIONS: WHAT EVERY TEACHER SHOULD KNOW
Procedures for teacher evaluation vary by district, yet one rule should be constant for every teacher: know your county school district’s evaluation policy.
Early in their employment, every teacher should secure a copy of the state evaluation policy, as well as the forms used for evaluation. Review them, and structure your teaching strategies appropriately. At the first sign of difficulty with your performance, or if you are in disagreement with your evaluation, call your WVEA organizational development specialist or the WVEA Help Center at 1-866-568-9832. These guidelines are designed to take you step-by-step through the process. It is imperative to focus on the improvement of instruction, which is the primary purpose of evaluation.
Preparing for the Observation
Preparing for the observation is as important as planning lessons. You must show the evaluator the learning atmosphere that prevails in your classroom. Prepare by:
Selecting the area(s) of your teaching performance to be observed. Selecting the day, time and subject.
Clarifying evaluation criteria.
Making the appointment to confer with your evaluator. Preparing lesson plans for the class to be observed.
At the pre-observation conference, share the purpose and format of the lesson. Explain any special student needs and give the evaluator a copy of your plan.
The Observation – must last at least 30 minutes
The observation is, at best, awkward. Students know it is a change in routine, are sensitive to your reactions and are quick to note differences in your approach. Sometimes this affects their ability to cooperate. If possible, plan a lesson that uses techniques familiar to students.
Try to lead the class as you usually do. Have the lesson so well prepared that you don’t have to stop to read notes; doing so creates awkward pauses that students may fill with restlessness. Try to put them at ease and to make them forget an observer is present.
Post Observation Conference – within 10 Days of Observation
This conference should occur shortly after the observation when you and the evaluator have clear memories
of the event. Remember to:
- Let the evaluator do the talking. You take notes and respond to direct questions.
- Ask for clarification or elaboration of observation material. Request specific examples, for instance: What did you see that makes you say that my discipline is good/bad?
- Bring your personal summary of the observation for reference. This is particularly helpful if your view of the facts differs from the evaluator’s. If inaccuracies have occurred, be sure they are corrected and initialed by both of you.
- Accept all suggestions for improvement and request a demonstration of techniques in your classroom.
- Do not allow yourself to be put in the position of agreeing to an interpretation of poor performance. Agree only that you are open to concrete suggestions to improve your performance. Do not be drawn into a self-incriminating stance.
- Maintain focus on the actions of the class period observed and the purpose stated to promote professional excellence and improve teaching skills.
- When the conference is done, be sure you have received all written materials to which you are entitled and that your signature merely indicates that you have reviewed the written material—not that you agree to it.
Final Evaluation Conference – before the teacher’s final day in the classroom or before June 15
The final conference should summarize your year’s performance, recognize your growth, direct you in the pursuit of educational excellence, and complete final evaluation forms. Normally, only you and your evaluator are present. If other administrators are present and the situation is threatening, you may request the presence of an Association representative. Points to remember:
- Take good notes during evaluation conferences. Writing will help you focus on what is being said and it will assist you in later recalling what was covered.
- Ask clarifying questions in a professional manner, but for the most part be prepared to remain in a “listening mode.” Do not be argumentative.
- Before signing the evaluation, carefully read any statements that denote what your signature indicates. If you are uncertain whether to sign the evaluation but have been directed to do so, then add a statement such as “My signature only indicates that I have received a copy.” Before submitting a written response to an evaluation, consult your WVEA field staff for advice.
- There is no statutory time limit for submitting written responses to evaluations. If you are directed to conform to a time limit, request an extension of the deadline if you are unable to comply. As a general rule, it’s customary to submit written responses within 2-3 working weeks.
- Maintain accurate records on the date and length of evaluations, as well as dates of evaluation conferences. Be sure to keep copies of all signed documents.
Personal Records and Rules
At all points, keep a personal log summarizing the conference. The log should note: date, time, and length of the observation or conference; name and title of evaluator; copy of the lesson plan taught at the observation; your reaction to the lesson; your observation of the evaluator’s behavior; comments from the evaluator; classroom condition; unusual student reactions; action taken.
It is crucial that the teacher keep a copy of this log as well as other related documents. When in doubt— file it!
Belonging to WVEA Can Save You Cash!
The WVEA membership Access card serves as a discount card at thousands of merchant locations. The card is so valuable that you can save far more than the cost of membership each year. It offers discounts of up to 50 percent from more than 200,000 merchants nationwide, with savings on hotels, dining, clothing and more! All WVEA members, including first-time members, can access the same savings by using their 10-digit Association identification number, which appears above their name on Association mailings. To begin saving, members must activate their card once it arrives. It’s easy to do! Just go to wvea.accessdevelopment.com to sign in or sign up. You can get details at wvea.org/membership.
SURVIVE & THRIVE
Avoid Stress, Stay Healthy
Within the first few weeks of school, there will be scores of “new” additions to your life: new texts, new techniques, new schedules, new students and a complete new way of life. It will be an exciting and sometimes stressful time!
People who don’t deal well with stress can become ill – unless they’ve mastered coping techniques. Experienced teachers have found these useful techniques and “preventative medicines” to protect against debilitating stress:
- Leave your teaching at school – If you must lug home schoolwork, try to get it done early in the evening. Better yet, do it at school and leave it there. The late afternoon hours after student dismissal are quiet and focused.
- Know your limits – Most of us set unreasonable and perfectionist goals for ourselves. While we can never be perfect (or even come close), we often have a sense of failure or inadequacy no matter how well we perform. Are your goals achievable, or do they reflect an effort to reach perfection in an imperfect world? Find a friend – This probably is someone in your building; someone who can be a trusted listener. Talking a problem out won’t make it go away, but it can relieve tension.
- Exercise – After a day of teaching, you owe it to your body to shake out the “chalk dust.” Exercise helps to rid the body of chemicals that are discharged as a result of stress.
- Invest in yourself – Set aside 30 minutes each day to be kind to your mind and body by reading, listening to or watching uplifting materials.
- Don’t schedule all of your leisure hours – You live by a schedule all day long. Leave some “open space.” Sleep – If you’re tired, go to bed early. Don’t lie awake worrying about how you should have handled Johnny in class.
- Eat well – Take your vitamin and mineral supplements. Eat wholesome foods so that your body takes in a sufficient amount of the right nutrients.
- Don’t procrastinate – Do what you have to do. Having something “hanging over you” will cause more tension than the project is worth.
- You can’t do everything – You can’t and you won’t. So why worry about it?
- Keep a ‘To Do’ List – Review it daily and do at least one or two things. When you cross something off the list, you get a sense of accomplishment.
- Tolerate, forgive Intolerance and judging others can lead to frustration and anger. Try to understand the other person’s concerns, fears and pressures. This will make you feel more accepting, even if you don’t agree with them.
- Learn to plan – Plan ahead. Too many projects at the same time can lead to confusion, forgetfulness and a sense of uncompleted tasks. Develop your own personal style of getting things done in a calm, orderly way. Take on projects one at a time and work on them until completed.
- Be positive – Learn to praise the good qualities in others. Excessive criticism of others almost always reflects dissatisfaction with oneself.
- (Re)Learn to play – Escape from the pressures of life; have fun regularly. Find pastimes or hobbies that are absorbing and enjoyable.
- Don’t worry – A study has shown that 40 percent of the items people worry about never happen; 35 percent can be changed; 15 percent turnout better than expected; and 8 percent involve needless concern. Only 2 percent really deserve attention.
“How do you eat an elephant?” “One bite at a time.” That humor can serve to ease anxiety and stress, which is one of many tactics posed in this well-used list of 101 Ways to Cope with Stress, credited to the Charter Barclay Hospital in Chicago.
1. Get up 15 minutes earlier.
2. Prepare for the morning the night before.
3. Avoid tight fitting clothes.
4. Avoid relying on chemical aids.
5. Set appointments ahead.
6. Don’t rely on your memory…write it down.
7. Practice preventive maintenance.
8. Make duplicate keys.
9. Say “NO” more often.
10. Set priorities in your life.
11. Avoid negative people.
12. Use time wisely.
13. Simplify meals.
14. Copy important papers.
15. Anticipate your needs.
16. Repair anything that doesn’t work properly.
17. Ask for help with jobs you dislike.
18. Break down large tasks into bite-sized portions.
19. Look at problems as challenges.
20. Look at challenges differently.
21. Unclutter your life.
23. Prepare for rain.
24. Tickle a baby.
25. Pet a dog/cat.
26. Don’t know all the answers.
27. Look for the silver lining.
28. Say something nice to someone.
29. Teach a kid to fly a kite.
30. Walk in the rain.
31. Schedule play time every day.
32. Take a bubble bath.
33. Be aware of your decisions you make.
34. Believe in yourself.
35. Stop saying negative things to yourself.
36. Visualize winning.
37. Develop a sense of humor.
38. Stop thinking tomorrow will be a better day.
39. Have goals for yourself.
40. Dance a jig.
41. Say hello to a stranger.
42. Ask a friend for a hug.
43. Look at the stars.
44. Practice breathing slowly.
45. Learn to whistle a tune.
46. Read a poem.
47. Listen to a symphony.
48. Watch a ballet.
49. Read a story curled up in bed.
50. Do something new.
51. Buy a flower.
52. Take time to smell the flower.
53. Find support from others.
54. Find a “vent” partner.
55. Do it today.
56. Be cheerful and optimistic.
57. Put safety first.
58. Do things in moderation.
59. Pay attention to your appearance.
60. Strive for excellence, not perfection.
61. Stretch your limits each day.
62. Enjoy art.
63. Hum a jingle.
64. Maintain your weight.
65. Plant a tree.
66. Feed the birds.
67. Practice grace under pressure.
68. Stand up and stretch.
69. Have a plan “B”.
71. Learn a joke.
72. Know your feelings.
73. Meet your needs.
74. Know your limits.
75. Say “Have a good day” in pig Latin.
76. Throw a paper airplane.
77. Exercise daily.
78. Learn the words to a new song.
79. Get to work earlier.
80. Clean a closet.
81. Play with a child.
82. Go on a picnic.
83. Drive a different route to work.
84. Leave work (class) early (with permission).
85. Put air freshener in your car.
86. Watch a movie and eat popcorn.
87. Write a far away friend.
88. Scream at a ball game.
89. Cook and eat a meal by candlelight.
90. Recognize the importance of unconditional love.
91. Remember stress is an attitude.
92. Keep a journal.
93. Share a monster smile.
94. Remember your options.
95. Build a support network.
96. Quit trying to fix others.
97. Get enough sleep.
98. Talk less and listen more.
99. Praise others.
100. Stop a bad habit.
101. Relax. Take each day at a time – you have the rest of your life to live!
7 HABITS OF HEALTHY EDUCATORS
With a new school year comes the chance to get proactive about your health and fight off chronic low energy, constant sniffles and stress headaches before they pull you under. Not having a plan for your health while pouring passion into your profession will leave you fried by spring, says Mike Anderson, author of The Well-Balanced Teacher. “We have to consider taking care of ourselves as a primary part of our job,” he says. To make it easier, we’ve got 7 habits to keep your mind and body running smoothly:
- Take a mindful break – Even a few minutes of relaxation a day will help your body’s stress response. Find a peaceful place at school or home where you can try deep breathing exercises or take a short walk in the halls or outside the building. Getting a bit of nature helps us relate back to our kinesthetic selves, and before you know it, you’re noticing the roses and those stress hormones let up a bit.
- Squash allergens – Be proactive about reducing mold, dust, pollen and other allergy triggers in your classroom. Wipe down computer screens, your desktop and other places that can collect dust quickly. Tony Abate, a certified indoor environmentalist, suggests keeping a portable air purifier in the classroom and putting a doormat outside the classroom door. The mat, he says, will keep some of the debris, including pollen, from tracking into the room.
- Be vigilant about germs – Michigan first-grade teacher Jennifer Korte wipes down student desks every day with disinfectant—even before the pandemic—and makes sure kids wash hands every time they go near noses. To make sure the germs don’t travel, she washes her hands before heading to her car and changes her clothes when she gets home. Abate also suggests that teachers wipe down classroom doorknobs at the beginning and end of every day. Dozens of hands touch those door knobs all day long and might get overlooked by cleaning staff.
- Get physical – It’s not enough to resolve to move more—schedule it, says Jolene Moore. Put exercise on your calendar as a visual reminder. Or make it a date with a friend so you’ll be accountable to someone else if you’re tempted to skip. Just be realistic about your time and interests. “Don’t be afraid of the time factor. You have lunch or 10 minutes after school—do something that’s reasonable,” Moore says. The results keep your body healthy, plus it helps keep your energy up.
- Pack a healthy lunch – Tempted to skip lunch? Besides a growling stomach, you’ll also have low energy and an urge to polish off a bag of cookies after school. Plan ahead at home for your weekly meals, use leftovers for a quick lunch, or make packing your lunch part of the routine when making your kids’ lunches. Try to make lunch a balance of complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, and fat, protein and fiber. That helps keep blood sugars stable in the afternoon, says dietitian Jennifer Reilly. “This helps with attention span, the ability to multitask and patience,” says Reilly, author of the cookbook Cooking with Trader Joe’s Cookbook: Skinny Dish.
- Think before you drink – Our body needs a lot of water—half your weight in ounces, so 60 ounces for a 130 pound person—but many of us don’t consume that much. We do, however, reach for the caffeine and sugar to keep us going when we feel low on energy. While Reilly says regular coffee drinkers can count their favorite beverage in their daily water count, for some, coffee acts as a diuretic—not good when you need to stay at the head of the class—and keeps you from getting a good night sleep. For an afternoon energy boost, consider an energizing herbal tea, water with lemon or a quick walk in the hall.
- Get some ZZZs – Aim for 7-8 hours a night, advises Reilly, and you’ll be rewarded with more energy, an inclination to eat healthier and less stress. When you run on empty, you produce more of the stress hormone cortisol, store more fat and find yourself with an increased appetite for simple carbs and junk food. To make sure you get enough sleep, plan for it. Mike Anderson suggests figuring out your daily routine, and how early you need to be up, then count back 7 hours to find your ideal bedtime.