1. ACT and SAT prep courses are great, but often they cost $$$ that some of our students don’t have. Even if schools have them for free, they may not fit into the schedules of busy high schoolers. There are many good prep videos available on Youtube and teachertube. It’s not enough to know the material, you must also know the strategy for finishing the test in an accurate way. In particular, I like Super Magnet Man’s guide to taking the science portion of the ACT.
2. In middle school, one of our challenges is to teach students to be prepared and to be responsible. They are terrible about coming to class unprepared. Getting a student their supplies takes precious minutes from teaching. Here are some suggestions. I keep pink paper and green pens available for borrowing. They must be signed out (a student is always assigned to this task before I begin teaching.) I have a record of how often students are coming to class unprepared and am able to speak to parents, if needed. Sometimes being unprepared is part of a larger problem of not being on task. When parents see that 25 days out of 20 little Susie came to class without her book, folder, assignment book, paper and pencil they get a good picture of what part of the problem is. Please note: students who speak to me privately about financial problems are always given enough supplies until they tell me they need more. I buy extra when they are on sale for this purpose.
3. Teachers are extraordinary at their capacity for giving. At our High School, athletes are supposed to dress up on game day. For boys, this means khaki pants, dress shirt and tie. Many students don’t have these clothes and could not afford them. Our teachers buy them the outfits and no one is the wiser. Sometimes they are wearing a pair of khakis that a teacher can’t fit into anymore, or a tie that was given at holiday time that the teacher cannot use. Be on the lookout for things like these. Set aside shirts that may be a little tight—there may be a boy that needs it for game day, college or job interview, or Trivia bowl competition.
4. We have a nice tradition at our school where we bring things to the teacher lounge we no longer need and these things are either given away or sold. For example, someone had very nice quality sheets given to them that they could not use. They were offered at half price and I grabbed them quickly! Start this tradition at your school!
5. I have a friend who is a very harried High school math teacher who needed her coffee first period to be alert for doing math. She noticed that her students commented on her coffee and liked the smell of it. This grew into a tradition in her first period classes that if they brought a covered cup, she would provide the coffee. The student’s parents have volunteered to keep the supply of coffee grounds and creamer flowing. It’s a little thing, but it really was a special touch her first period math students enjoy and brought them closer together. She says they are very close now.
6. Kids love traditions and special rituals. Special occasions aren’t just for the youngest students. This is especially true for middle and high school students who are still bouncing back and forth maturity-wise between adulthood and childhood. I like to introduce historically significant dates into my curriculum even if it’s the kind of thing we do after our work is done. One good place for finding out Birthdays of authors or famous people, National Holidays, Monthly celebrations to use in your planning is the teacherscorner.net. The event calendar for November is located here:
7. I like to keep a classroom set of plastic page protectors for using classroom copies of things. Saves money on laminating and you can always change what is in them, Or store several things in them and only use the page on top. With these the students can highlight important text and wipe off again. Or they can use them for say, math worksheets. By writing with a dry erase marker, they can be used again and again. A new sheet can be popped in each day! Another advantage is that it is a very “green” idea.
8. Help Campbell Soup Company help our schools by donating to the Future Farmers of America organization. Even if you don’t have one at your school, it is a terrific program for students. Go to check out http://www.helpgrowyoursoup.com/ . Look especially at the “Nourishing Minds” tab. When you click on the red barn, Campbells will donate $1.00 to the National FFA Organization.