Questions to Ask at a Job Interview (1/2)

Questions to Ask at a Job Interview (1/2)

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Hello and happy Saturday. I am very excited to write this post because it has been in the making for months, and I truly feel that the information I’ll be sharing with you will be useful, especially if you are starting to interview for positions as a teacher and you need an idea of what to ask.

I consider myself very lucky because I got my first job at a school a few months after graduating from university and by then I was already working at an afterschool, so I’d already had some experience with the whole interviewing thing. Let me tell you, it can be daunting and nobody really prepares you for it. Sure, my parents gave me pointers, but they’re not teachers, so there were things I would discover along the way. During the interview process at that first school, I don’t recall asking many questions, and thankfully I didn’t get any ugly surprises simply because I didn’t ask, but now I have this list with me so that I am sure all the fronts are covered. Let’s get started, shall we?

Uniform/ dress code

I cannot stress how important asking about this is. If you have a uniform, chances are you’ll have to pay it yourself, but at least in those cases, your work clothes and your everyday clothes are separate. I’ve worked at schools where you’re given a lab coat, which is cool because your clothes are protected. When asking about dress code, also ask what they think about tattoos and piercings. A workplace cannot discriminate you for having these, but they might ask you to cover the tattoos and even in some cases to remove the piercings while you’re working. Sure, you can give them a fight about this, but is it worth it? Is this the kind of place you want to be working at? You’re in an interview, you haven’t yet committed to work in this place, and by asking this simple question you might change your mind. Also, if there’s a dress code, remember that you’ll have to buy and wear clothes and that this might impact your lifestyle outside school as well.

Grading system

This, of course, is a question that you must ask if you’re already pretty certain about the school, but trust me, it’ll save you a headache. Ask about the grading scale, ask about how testing works, and even what happens when a student fails. Be sure you’re at least introduced to as much as you can about grading before you’re even in the classroom so that you avoid making mistakes because you didn’t ask. I once worked at a school in which two different grading systems applied, so I would give qualitative grades to my younger students and quantitative grades to the older ones. In this sense, I’d also ask about the report cards system. Do you have to write a comment for your students for every subject? Do you have to make one general comment? Is there a template or a format the school follows? Asking these questions will help you be organized ahead of time, and not panic when the time to actually grade comes.

Subjects you’ll teach

This one sounds like a no-brainer, but trust me when I say, some teachers get to the classroom and still don’t know what they’ll teach. For example, in the school I’m currently working, the homeroom teacher is in charge of grading ICT. This means that we must create the standards upon which the students will be graded and assign a grade. We also work within the IB framework, so we must design achievements for transdisciplinary skills and give students a grade, but again, the grading system for this is different. When I tell you to ask for the subjects you’ll teach I don’t just mean actually teaching them, but to ask for the subjects you’ll be responsible for and the implications of this.

Homeroom

I think in the States this works differently if you’re an elementary teacher, but in Colombia not all teachers are self-contained, so not all teachers are homeroom teachers. I am both, but then again, this is still something that each school determines. Of course, it is important to ask whether you’ll be a homeroom teacher and what this entails. Usually, homeroom teachers have more work with their class: they’re asked to write general comments about their students, they spend more time with them in the mornings and at certain times of the day, and the school might even assign them other tasks. In some schools, being a homeroom teacher means you get paid a bonus, so also ask about that if applicable.

I think I’ve overwhelmed you enough, so I’ll stop here and I’ll continue with part two of this post some other time. Meanwhile, I want you to think about key questions to ask at any job interview and share them in the comments below.

Happy teaching!

Love, Miss Camila

 

 

Making Signs For My New Classroom

Making Signs For My New Classroom

Hello and happy Saturday. One of my favorite things about being a teacher is actually decorating my classroom, and as I’ve said in previous posts I’m a midpoint between being a DIY queen and buying everything already done or just printing it. Today I’m showing you my process to make cute signs for my classroom. Let’s get started, shall we?

Step one is to print the blank letters. I used a font I found in Word and used the WordArt options to make it look 3D. Then I traced the edges by hand with a black marker. Of course, I’m sure there’s an option to have the letters come out with black edges, but where’s the fun in that?

 

 

You’ll see that I colored and cut each individual letter, so to make the process of setting up the bulletin board easier, and also to ensure that nothing would get lost or misplaced, I got a Ziploc bag and inside I wrote the actual message from the sign. I do that with every piece of decoration in my classroom so that it’s easier for me to store everything.

 

 

 

 

I colored each letter with markers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laminated the whole thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then cut each individual letter.

Do you make your own signs for the classroom or do you buy them made? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy teaching!

Love, Miss Camila

Teacher Stuff Haul

Teacher Stuff Haul

Hello and happy Saturday. Today’s post is about all the cute stuff I own as a teacher, that either I’ve purchased or have been gifted. Let’s get started, shall we?

I customized and bought this tumbler so it looked like me when my hair was long. I love it because it has my face and my name and because it holds enough water to keep me hydrated throughout the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the other side of the tumbler. Again, you can customize the name and even I think the font too up to some degree. If you’d like to get this for yourself or someone you love, go to Upick-IT.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Harry Potter mug was the gift of a former student, and I love it so much that I think I’ve only used it once or twice. It basically serves the purpose of being pretty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This stamp comes in a set of four, which I have in my classroom. It was also a gift from a student, and if you want to get something like this and you live in Colombia, you can click here to contact the seller. I love this particular stamp because I have to sign my students’ agendas every day and now my aide just puts this instead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This pad is from Upick-IT too, and it was a gift from a friend. Yes, that’s my full name, in case you didn’t know. The inside has the name on top and a smaller version of the drawing (no color, only the outline) on the bottom left corner. The paper is lined, and I use it to write long notes to parents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are my grade books, but I’m currently using none because the school provides me with grading spreadsheets. The one with polka dots was a present from my best friend, the red one is from Teacher Created Resources, and I bought the other one in Spain and wrote a post about it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This cute little thing was a present my grandmother gave me forever ago. I used to have it on my desk when I had a fixed spot in the teachers lounge. In the school I’m currently working, there’s no assigned seating or a real desk, just tables, so the cute owl is now on my bookshelf.

Which of these items would you like to get for yourself and why? Let me know in the comments.

Happy teaching!

Love, Miss Camila

Teacher “Never Have I Ever” pt. 1

Teacher “Never Have I Ever” pt. 1

100th day (3).pngHello and happy Saturday. Going back to school has been a wild ride, and not just because of work-related stuff. I feel like there’s someone looking at me from up there and saying “well, she’s finally stable again, let’s shake things up a bit,” because man, I can’t seem to get a break. Work is awesome, just so you know, but I feel like I need something to lighten up my mood and give my little brain a little break. This is why today I bring you a very fluffy and light-hearted post in which I’ll tell you what I’ve done and I haven’t done based on this post. Let’s get started, shall we?

1. Never have I ever… cleaned out my classroom in under 12 minutes on the last day of school. It’s summer, baby!

I don’t have a classroom yet. I mean, technically, I do, but my students are still on vacation, so this is a NEVER for me. I will experience the bliss of having to clean my classroom a lot throughout this year, but that’s going to happen later on.

2. Never have I ever…had a student bring me bouquets of dandelions after recess. So sweet!

I have. I worked at a school where I had to wear a coat, so I’d thread the flowers in the button-holes (that doesn’t sound right, someone help me) or put them on my ear so that they’d look like they were a part of my hair. That being said, I don’t like when kids take the flowers to give them to me.

3. Never have I ever …felt pure joy and giddiness over my own new school supplies. Flair Pens! Sharpies! Highlighters! Post-Its! Swoon!

Hello, my name is Camila and I’m addicted to school supplies. In fact, I have previously posted about them and I have some other great posts about teacher essentials coming up.

4. Never have I ever… had to use the EpiPen. Teachers are trained to use it, and every one of them hopes they never need to.

No. I was going through some of this questions with my man, who is going to become a teacher soon, and I told him that in Colombia the situation when handling medicine is very strict. Only the nurse can administer drugs to students and only when parents have authorized. I have not been trained to use it, and as far as I know, my students don’t carry one. When it comes to allergies, we are informed of them, but they are mostly food allergies, which are handled by the school’s nutritionist.

5. Never have I ever… stood by an open window or doorway in my classroom to get a break from the aroma of 20+ sets of armpits and feet. And let’s not even get into the farts.

I have worked with young boys and with teenagers, so you can imagine the amount of smells that can get trapped in a single classroom. This year, I bought a “home perfume” from L’Occitane, which I hope helps to have the classroom smelling as fresh and clean as possible.

6. Never have I ever…been slightly freaked out by a student based on the personal items they brought to school.

I have been blessed when it comes to my students and how normal they are. I’m sure the teenagers brought all sorts of stuff, but they didn’t show them to me (thankfully). As for the little kids, no, never.

7. Never have I ever… spent an inordinate amount of time on classroom decorations.

I actually haven’t started decorating my classroom and I’m kind of freaking out about it. I will have time next week, but seriously, there are four bags full of stuff sitting down on my bedroom floor, looking all sad because I haven’t been able to put them to use. I can’t go into my classroom on a weekend to decorate my classroom or stay after hours like teachers in the States do, so I have to be super efficient with the little time I’ll be given.

8. Never have I ever…tried to come up with a way to work movies or outdoor play into a day’s lesson plans because all the brains in the room need a break, mine included.

Obviously, and whoever says otherwise is lying. I love playing movies in the classroom and there are times when movie time is needed because kids are exhausted, or we’re done with the topic and it’s not worth to start a new one when we only have a few days before going on vacation. I actually used to schedule a movie-viewing time with my kids for Christmas. And yes, they all celebrated Christmas because it was a Catholic school.

9. Never have I ever …wished I could bring the laminating machine home with me.

I laminate by hand, even though in this new school I work at we can get things laminated. The truth is, I don’t know how often I’ll be using this service because those things take time. I would rather use my roll of contact paper and do it myself.

10. Never have I ever… totally killed it without a lesson plan.

No. I am still a pretty newbie teacher to get to that level. I also deal with anxiety, so I just can’t walk into a classroom without a plan and try to wing it. In the cases where I’ve had to cover for a teacher, I’ve just tried to use something I’d already planned. Sometimes I also give the students the class to do their own thing.

 

 That’s the end of part one, so stay tuned for the rest. In the comments below, answer some of these based on your own experience.

Happy teaching!

Love, Miss Camila

Teacher Essentials

Teacher Essentials

 

Hello and happy Saturday. I know that as teachers start working and gaining experience, and as the school year progresses, we start getting more and more supplies that we deem as essentials. This can seem overwhelming for a new teacher, but in reality, I think that if this is you’re first year, you’ll be fine if you have four things. The rest is clearly optional.

1. Blue, black, red, and green board markers

These are the most basic colors, and this is why I listed them first. If you have a whiteboard, you’ll need board markers, and there’s nothing better than to have your own. I like the four pack because I just can’t write with only one color. I feel that’s sad and also I’m a huge fan of color-coding in class.

2. Colorful board markers

I think these are essentials, especially if you teach younger students and you draw a lot. I also love using different colors because I feel that they make everything happier. Make sure to label yours so that they don’t get mysteriously lost. Also, remember that if you lend one it might as well be gone forever.

3. Thin markers/pens/whatever you like to write with

I love thin markers to use for grading, writing notes on agendas or filling out my grade book. Pens are sometimes too thin for me, so markers do a better job at being more noticeable. I have flare pens, but I’m kind of over them. Maybe I’ll change my mind at some point of the year, but for now I’ll do with my thin markers. And like I said before, label all your supplies.

4. Highlighters

Bright shiny pens aren’t enough. Sometimes you need highlighters. I use them to cross out items from my to-do list or lessons I have yet to execute. I also use them to draw big happy faces in my students’ works, and I think because they’re brighter, they have a greater impact. If you’re teaching students how to write, highlighters are also great for you to either trace the line where they have to write, or write something and have them go over it with a pencil.

Which essential you think is missing in this list? Let me know in the comments.

Happy teaching!

Love, Miss Camila

 

My Happy Face System

My Happy Face System

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Hello and happy Saturday. I want to take today’s post with a grain of salt, I want you to really think about your situation in terms of the students you currently have and the way they respond to your classroom management strategies.

By the title of this post you maybe thought that I’ll be talking about something I do with kindergarten, but no. Today I will tell you how I applied behaviorism at its finest with my 9th graders. I learned about behaviorism in university and I have to admit that I’ve always been fascinated by it. I think sometimes we have to appeal to the most basic stimulus-response-reward procedures in order to shape or model behavior.

I used a more sophisticated way of behaviorism with my first graders using a Loki pop funko. You can click here to read about that. The system I’l explain is way more basic but strangely, it was super effective.

When I got to the school where I had to teach high school I noticed my students refused to work unless the assignment was graded. They had no motivation other than the grade, and they didn’t even expect to do well, they just expected to pass. I needed them to work, though, I needed them to write stuff in their notebooks, to practice, I didn’t need to grade every single thing. So I started giving happy faces to students who finished their classwork and would show it to me, just like I used to do with first grade.

Now first graders were happy enough with a happy face. That was their reward. Ninth graders weren’t so nice. They even thought the idea of getting a happy face in their notebook was ridiculous, and let me tell you, it was, but it started being something to look forward to when I told them that every time they got five happy faces, I would give them an extra tenth of a point.

Let me explain that better. Our grading system was from zero to five, but you could get tenths, so you could get a 3.5, which actually was the minimum passing grade. For every five happy faces, I’d give my students 0.1 points. That’s nothing, and I was very aware that I was nothing, but I wasn’t going to give them more because I wasn’t going to reward them for doing what they were supposed to. I was giving them the illusion of a reward, though.

What started happening was that students would do their work and show it to me so that I could give them a happy face. After they got the five happy faces, they would approach me and we’d count them together. It became a thing! At the end of the year, when we were counting the final happy faces, some students asked me whether they could transfer their happy faces to someone else because they had only three and couldn’t do anything with them. I said no, obviously, but I thought it was cute.

Would I try this system again? No. I think it was an emergency situation and it required a quick fix. I only taught those students for three months, and I basically needed them to pass English at the end of the year. Something about behaviorism you have to keep in mind is that the strategies used rarely last a prolonged amount of time, so you either have to modify your plan or replace it altogether. My students responded to this strategy because it was a short-term thing, but I doubt that the hype would’ve stayed alive after a semester, even less after a full year.

What are some strategies you’ve tried to get your students to work? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy teaching!

Love, Miss Camila

How I Keep Students Engaged: Kahoot

How I Keep Students Engaged: Kahoot

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Hello and happy Saturday. Today I’m opening the doors to my imaginary classroom to bring you a three-part series of strategies I used to keep my teenage students engaged. Needless to say, these strategies actually worked and this is why I’m sharing them with you.

The first strategy is Kahoot. Now, I found out about it because one of my Portuguese teachers used it a lot in class, and since I’m super competitive I ended up loving it and wanting to try it in at least one of my lessons. Kahoot is basically a platform in which you either create interactive quizzes or you can use one that already exists.

For this, both you and your students to have either a computer, a tablet or a phone. Through your device you will have to project the questions and options, and through their devices, students will select the correct answer. What I used to do was connect my computer with a HDMI cable to the TV so that everyone could see, and I had students working on their own devices, in groups.

I will be honest with you and tell you that I’ve only used the quiz-like feature, although I know there are others like puzzle and I don’t know what. I have yet to explore the other wonders of Kahoot. I used Kahoot when we needed to review grammar and language use topics, but I sometimes took questions from the workbook so that the students could have a reference if they wanted to study more, which didn’t really happen.

Now, I think I used Kahoot like three times during those three months I was teaching my students, and because I needed them all to have a device for our final review, I was able to borrow tablets from the IT department. My suggestion here would be to always ensure that all your students have working devices. The best way to do this is for the school to provide said devices, so if you don’t know whether your school has tablets available for your students, maybe ask around before having your Kahoot class. Maybe try and see if the technology room is available that day and have each of your students work on a computer there or something.

I have been thinking about ways to use Kahoot with younger students, who are learning to read, and I’m sure adaptations can be made, so if and when I execute my ideas, I’ll share them in here. And if you have any suggestions on how I might achieve this, let me know in the comments.

Happy teaching!

Love, Miss Camila