Friday Five: Teacher To-Do List for the Summer

So now that you’re done with school, the time to decompress and recharge has arrived. Whether you’re at year 3 or year 30, teachers need the summer to relax and build up that energy reservoir for the next year. Summer professional development is important and useful, and I know many of you will do training, meet with teachers, attend conferences, and read professional books (I will, too). But here’s a summer to-do list for teachers that will help you really relax and recharge so you can return to school ready for students.

1. Binge watch that one show all you students were talking about. Especially if you wouldn’t normally watch it. Even if you just watch 3 episodes in a row, you’ll at least know the characters and the basics when you see your students next. (Pro tip: ask students via social media like twitter which show to binge watch). My high school students recommended, among other shows, both Orange is the New Black and 13 Reasons Why.

2. Stay in your pajamas all day and do not cook one meal. Pretend you’re back in college and do not be productive for one entire day. If you have kids, they probably won’t mind pjs and cereal all day. Allow yourself one full day with no responsibilities. This can be hard for us, since we’re so used to getting things done, and the summer is time to get things done you can’t do during the school year.  However, you need to take a full 24 hours off from doing things. Order in, or just eat from your cupboards. Ask your significant other or kids to make food. If you’re not sure how to *not* do things all day, try #1.

3. Leave your computer and phone and go outside all day. We’re so connected, even during the summer. Whether you’re checking the news, finding summer PD, or trying to work on curriculum, give yourself a day without any screens. No TV, no computer, no phone. Go enjoy the natural world. This will allow you, as Thoreau says, to “maintain a little bit of summer, even in the middle of winter.” Recharge your nature batteries, whether it is at the beach, on a hike, or in your backyard. Just don’t forget the sunblock.

4. Call a non-teacher friend and go out to lunch. You should go out with teacher buddies, too, but this one is important. If you go out to lunch with a non-teacher, it means you will probably not talk about school, lessons, administration, students, parents, or curriculum.  It means you’ll have conversations about family, the news, movies, or the food you’re eating.  Enjoy a full conversation and meal without being a teacher, you’ll just be a friend.

5. Freewrite about what you never have time for and then do it. OK, so this is kind of an assignment. Take out a piece of paper and a pen. Freewrite for five minutes without stopping on this prompt: What do you feel you never have time to do, but really want to do? I did this and was surprised. I thought I would discover I wanted to write more. You know what? Deep down, I want to cook more elaborate meals, and in the summer, I have time to do that: time to chop veggies, simmer, prepare complex dishes that normally would not happen when I come home from school. Freewrite until you figure out what you actually wish you were doing. Then take some time this summer to do it!  In the meantime, I’m headed to the grocery store to buy ingredients and start cooking.

Happy Summer!

Posted by Kate, Blog Editor and Book Reviewer for PCTELA

Friday Five: Teacher To-Do List for the Summer

Where’s Your Diploma? Claiming Respect as Teachers

So here’s an idea for all my friends who are educators drawn from my recent presentation at NCTE…

Where’s your diploma?
Where are your credentials?

When I go to a doctor, lawyer, dentist – even my mechanic and the young man who cuts my few meager hairs, they have their diplomas and other credentials framed and on their walls.

Where are YOURS?

We teachers do a TERRIBLE job of “tooting our own horns.” That sets us up for a massive amount of disrespect from administration, parents, community, even fellow teachers. What do we know? We’re “just teachers.”
Well, we know a lot. To quote Fredo in The Godfather, ” I’m smart! … I’m smart and I want respect!”

So, in the subtlest, way possible, let’s claim a little respect. A small gesture. An action at an entry level to greater advocacy.

POST YOUR CREDENTIALS. Find your diploma that’s buried in a box in the attic. Find your certificate. Some of you may have them framed (but are they in your office or classroom?). Some don’t even know where they are! If you’re unwilling to frame and post the originals, just make a photocopy of them and post them on your bulletin board. Have fun. Mount them on construction paper. Make borders. Color the copies. Put them on the wall. Make a new copy every year.

Post items that certify or indicate that you were at a professional development workshop, took a class, attended NCTE. (I used to prop up my program book from NCTE in the chalk tray. Some student would always “bite” and I was afforded the opportunity to tell them about all the great people I got to meet and from whom I learned.)

Let everyone know that YOU ARE A PROFESSIONAL. That you are studied. That you know “current best practice”. That you are learned. ADVOCATE for YOU and for your profession!

Let’s start a movement. When you do it, take a photo, post it, share it with me. I respect you. You’re smart. You know things. Let the rest of the world in on it. If you like this Idea, spread the word.unnamed

Bob Dandoy is a Past President and Executive Director of PCTELA. Although still active in PCTELA and NCTE, he is now retired from the classroom after 38 years of service.

Where’s Your Diploma? Claiming Respect as Teachers

5 Teacher Discounts You Might Not Have Known About

As we prepare to return to our classrooms (or maybe you already have!) I thought I would share some of these discounts for teachers.

1. Office Depot: If you get their teacher card (free), you can buy 4 times the amount of supplies on special. This means if folders are one cent, and the limit is 10, you can buy 40. They also have a Star Teacher program where you get 10% back,  and a teacher appreciation day. My local store’s teacher appreciation day gives out a free tote bag and has a ridiculous buffet of breakfast. And it is this Saturday! Find your nearest store and when they have teacher appreciation day here.

2. Ann Taylor Loft: This is one of my favorite places to find professional clothes, and who knew they had a teacher discount! Go here to sign up for special discounts (including 15% all purchases!) and to find out when they have teacher appreciation nights.

3.  Michaels Arts & Crafts: I wish I’d know about the  15 % off at Michael’s (with your school ID) years ago! I have spent a lot of time in that store finding things for class–whether it is paper or props or office supplies.

4. AT&T /Verizon/Sprint: did you know you should have 15%-20% off your bill for your cell phone if you’re a teacher? Check with your service provider.  I know my discount comes from who my employer is (the school district) but I am sure if you contact your cell phone provider and ask if they have an educator discount, they will help you out.

5. Find your own discount…check out this website that lists 100+ discounts for teachers!


Posted by Kate, VP Secondary



5 Teacher Discounts You Might Not Have Known About

Top 5 reasons I love visits from students who graduated at this time of year

5. I love to learn from my old students. They’ve usually gone off and read books I want to read, learned things I didn’t know, and had experiences I never had, and they tell me all about them. For example, last week, a student who had been to Uganda helping out at a hospital and orphanage was telling me about his experiences.  Then, another student shared with me that she had joined the Fencing team, and yet another talked to me about a book she’d read in her education class that sounded fascinating.

4. Seeing them connects me to others. I love hearing about other former students–how they are, how the gap year went, what successes they have. I’m generally the last to hear about the adventures of former students, as I’m not connected with many on social media, so meeting up with one, means I hear about ten others.

3. We can share tea like adults, and I don’t have to censor myself or pretend not to have opinions. When I teach, I try to mediate conversation and not interject my own opinions or thoughts on the matter.  When I meet a student for a cup of tea, we can have a conversation like adults, and I can share my views with them.  Sometimes, it surprises students to hear me voice my opinion on something.  Often, it doesn’t.

2. They remember class fondly, or at least, they are appreciative of what they learned. More than once I’ve had a student say something like, “wow, I didn’t realize how much I would be prepared for college, but I’m so far ahead of my peers.” This is always gratifying, and it reassures me that in the face of so much standardized testing, I’m still teaching students necessary skills and knowledge for life beyond high school.

1. It reminds me that students are listening, especially at a time of year where I’m convinced not many of them are. Former students remind me of a specific event, or saying, or comment from class–sometimes things I had forgotten about.  Not only is it funny to be reminded of memorable class jokes or situations, it is gratifying to know they listen, even when we don’t think they are. 

Posted by Kate, VP secondary schools

Top 5 reasons I love visits from students who graduated at this time of year