<![CDATA[Basic Girl Teaches - Blog]]>Mon, 10 Dec 2018 00:14:05 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Learning is Loud!]]>Mon, 22 Oct 2018 02:04:03 GMThttp://basicgirlteaches.com/blog/learning-is-loudin one of my last semesters of college, I had this fabulous professor, Lily Taylor. She wore tennis shoes with all of her dresses because she insisted on being comfortable while she taught. She had a wealth of knowledge about effective classroom management strategies and she had a way of speaking that drew you in and made you want to listen. Professor Taylor was wonderful. Of the countless things I learned from her, the most memorable lecture is summed up in this quote: The people in the classroom who are doing most of the talking are the people in the classroom who are doing most of the learning. 

I have reflected on this quote frequently and often remind myself to stop talking and give the students room to discuss what they are learning. I believe that learning is LOUD and I incorporate instructional strategies that align with this belief. Are you wondering how to get your students talking about content in your classroom? Here are some ideas about using conversations to increase learning.
I use this strategy in EVERY lesson. I’m not exaggerating. It’s quick and easy, it can be worked in anywhere and you can establish the routine instantly. My students sit in tables in groups of 4. I teach them that they have three partner groupings at their table:
  • Their adjacent partner (someone sitting directly next to them)
  • Their “other” adjacent partner (whoever sits on the other side of them. I use this if I have them talk to multiple partners during the discussion time)
  • Their opposite partner (the person sitting across from them)

Here’s how it works.
  • After a period of direct instruction, I will tell the students to turn and talk to their partner. I give them a prompt, like: “turn and talk to your adjacent partner and tell them the steps to follow to use this strategy,” or “turn and talk to your opposite partner and tell them everything you remember about yesterday’s circuit lab,” or “turn and talk to your table about these new vocabulary words.”
  • I specify which partner I want them to talk to, or I will tell them to talk to their entire table.
  • I walk around and listen in, but I don’t make any comments or remarks. This time is purely devoted to students talking to their peers.
  • I do not give them very much time to talk, only 30-45 seconds. Then I regain their attention, and we continue with the lesson. This keeps the conversations very focused and helps keep students engaged in the lesson.

The greatest value of this strategy is that talking about content helps students make connections in their minds, which leads to deeper understanding. It is a complicated skill to explain something you recently learned to someone else.

This is another strategy I use every day. It takes a little more time than turn and talk, but is still very quick and easy. I use the same partner groupings that I use for turn and talk.

Here’s how it works.
  • I ask a specific question, such as “when would be a time that you would use this strategy instead of the strategy we practiced yesterday?” or “why do you think it is important to understand the difference between insulators and conductors?” or “”what do you remember from last week’s lesson about the state symbols?”
  • I instruct the students to think about the answer to the question and give me a thumbs up when they have an answer.
  • When nearly every student is giving me a thumbs up, I will tell them to turn to their adjacent/opposite partner and share their thoughts.
  • I walk around and listen in to conversations. I try to select two or three students who shared good answers and I ask them if they will share with the class.
  • I regain the students’ attention and ask for students to share either their answer or their partner’s answer. I make sure to call on the students I selected earlier in addition to a few other students.

The greatest value of this strategy is that every student has the chance to share their idea, even though I don’t call on every student.

If you're looking for more ideas on this topic, stay tuned! I have more talking strategies coming in a post later this week. Until then, Happy Teaching!

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<![CDATA[The Stages of Your Teacher Instagram]]>Thu, 02 Aug 2018 16:00:00 GMThttp://basicgirlteaches.com/blog/the-stages-of-your-teacher-instagramHey y’all! I’ve been sharing a lot of strategies and advice about creating your Teacher Instagram. If you want to read what I’ve already written on this topic, you can click here.

Today I wanted to clarify the different stages I’ve talked about: starting, building, growing, and maintaining. In my experience, it is essential that you go through these stages in order. If your goal is to create a memorable brand, you need to run the marathon, not a sprint. I’m not here to give you quick tricks to get a thousand followers in a week - I’m here to guide you through the process of intentionally designing a brand that will make a difference.

Each stage is defined by the moves you take, NOT by the number of followers you have. I’m hoping to break the misconception that more followers equals more success - this is not the case. Curious to know what stage you’re in? Keep reading.
This is the stage when you’re just getting started. You haven’t completely settled on a name, you haven’t posted anything yet (or you’ve only posted a couple of times), and you’re still unsure about what exactly you’re doing. Don’t worry - everyone has to start out as a beginner. If you’re in the starting stage of your Teacher Instagram, the best thing to do is just start. You can read more about this here.

Once you’ve started, you enter the building stage. This stage is where you set up a basic foundation for your account. You’ve made a few posts and you’re ready to be discovered. The purpose of this stage is to gain your initial followers and begin developing relationships with other accounts and people. This is when you are finding your voice, navigating the different tools of Instagram, and finding your ideal followers. You can read more about this here.

The growing stage is the most important part of the process. This is where you establish your vision and purpose for your account and begin the turn your instagram into a brand. You’ve figured out how to use Instagram as a tool, you’ve started to attract engaged followers, you’ve been posting consistently, and you’re ready to start moving forward. You can read more about this here.

Once you’ve settled on your vision and built relationships with other accounts, you enter the maintaining stage. Most of this stage is about automating and optimizing your processes, and creating a community with your followers. This is where you turn your vision into a brand that people will recognize and seek out because they know that you have something to offer that they need. When I post more about this topic, I will link it here.

The Teacher Instagram community is a fabulous place to collaborate, find ideas, make new friends, and share your vision. Remember - your success is measured by progress toward your goals, not by progress toward other people's goals. 

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<![CDATA[Back to School Must-Haves]]>Mon, 30 Jul 2018 20:00:09 GMThttp://basicgirlteaches.com/blog/back-to-school-must-havesThere are tens of thousands of resources on Teachers Pay Teachers. I love searching through for the perfect resources over the summer, but sometimes I wish it was a little easier to find exactly what I was looking for. 

I've put together this list of all my favorite resources from TPT that I use in my classroom over and over and over again.
During Back to School time, there are a few types of resources that I'm always looking for: planning, classroom set-up, classroom decor, meet the teacher, and activities for the first week. I've gone through my classroom and my plans and create this list of all the resources I couldn't live without. To see the entire list at a glance, click here.

Happy shopping and happy teaching!

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<![CDATA[How To Grow your Teacher Instagram (Part One)]]>Fri, 27 Jul 2018 04:36:47 GMThttp://basicgirlteaches.com/blog/how-to-grow-your-teacher-instagram-part-oneHey y'all! I'm back again with more thoughts about growing your Teacher Instagram. If you're just starting out and wondering where to begin, you can read my suggestions about How to Start Your Teacher Instagram. You can find all the rest of my posts on this topic here.

Whatever your purpose in creating your account, and whatever your focus or vision is, you most likely have a desire to grow your following on instagram so that you can have more of an influence. Wondering what to do to grow your instagram? Here are some suggestions.
You need a vision and a purpose. Why did you create your account? Your first thought may be that you wanted to generate a following. Which is fine. But....simply focusing on finding followers might attract a large following, but won't ignite a long-term movement. Defining your vision is what will transform your account from just another account to a memorable brand.

I started my teacher instagram account because I had a message I wanted to share with people. I wanted to connect with and support other teachers like me, teachers looking for:
  • easy to use, no-fluff resources
  • no-nonsense approaches to management and planning
  • encouragement
My efforts and work to generate a following have all been part of that same goal - I want to share with as many people as possible because I know what I have to say can help someone. Learning how to start, build, grow, and maintain my own Teacher Instagram was hard! There wasn't a ton of information out there about how to do it. This caused me to pivot my vision a little bit. I realized that I wanted to provide honest and straightforward information and advice about developing a teacherpreneur brand. When I got clear about what it was that I was sharing, my following increased exponentially, almost over night. I tripled my following in less than a month. Why? Because people wanted to hear what I had to say. They knew what I was offering and they wanted more of it. I know you can have the same success. 

You have things that other people need to hear! Find what you're passionate about, and share that passion. Give people a reason to come to your account. Use your profile bio section, the captions in your posts, and the things you say in your story to be upfront about exactly what your purpose is. Don't leave your followers wondering what exactly it is that makes you different from the literally tens of thousands of other accounts they could be following. Click here to download a free planning sheet to help you narrow down your specific vision.

Once you have a clear vision, set specific and measurable goals for your account. Here are examples of goals I have set in the past:
  • find 10 new accounts that represent my ideal follower - someone who has a similar vision and passion as I do
  • Like and comment on 20 posts every day
  • Make three new instagram friends in the next three months by commenting on their posts, replying to their stories, and using genuine DM interactions to get to know them
Set goals for your content, building relationships, and being an engaged follower. Those are all things that you are in control of.

​Be consistent! If you've been reading my blog for a while, you may feel like I'm turning into a broken record on this topic, but that's because its ESSENTIAL. If you don't do anything else, the number one thing to do to grow your Teacher Instagram is to be consistent. Be consistent in your message, but most importantly be consistent in your presence. Show up and show up often, in your own page but also in conversations on other people's posts. 

When I was building and growing my own brand (and I'm still doing it), it was (and is) easy for me to get discouraged when I saw the success of others. This is silly. There is room for everyone in this community. Your message and voice have a place. Do what you love, even if there are other people already doing it. You can read other things I've written about developing your teacher instagram here. Happy Teaching, and Happy Creating!

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<![CDATA[How to Build Your Teacher Instagram (Part Two)]]>Wed, 25 Jul 2018 21:56:25 GMThttp://basicgirlteaches.com/blog/how-to-build-your-teacher-instagram-part-twoSo you want to be a teacher instagrammer. Hooray! If you're just getting started, you might be interested in my blog post about the basics of starting up your account: How to Start Your Teacher Instagram. If you've established your account, and you're ready to build up your content and increase your following, you can check out the other tips and tricks I've been sharing here

Today's post is all about connecting with your followers. Wondering what it means to be authentic on the internet? Here are some tips to get you started.
Think of your favorite teacher accounts that you follow. Chances are, you follow them because you feel a connection with them. Watching their stories and reading their posts makes you feel like you know them. You can have this kind of connection with your followers, too! 
  • Talk about your life! It can be easy to hyper focus on your teaching, your business, your brand, your products, etc. when you are creating content for your Teacher Instagram account. But...people actually want to know about your non-teaching life, too. Make sure your posts have a good mix of content about your life AND your teaching. 
  • Put yourself in your account. You need to have a picture of yourself at least in every scroll of your page. (Every 9-12 photos). This ensures that whenever someone visits your profile, they can easily see who you are and put a face to your account. These photos don't have to all be selfies, or professional glamour shots, but your followers want to know who you are! Remember, you want to find friends, not followers, and part of that is getting to know you. 
  • Don't obsess about being perfect. One of my favorite people I've discovered on the internet, Alison Faulkner of The Alison Show, said that when you're presenting yourself online, you should try to be your best version of a real person. Wear what you want, say what you want, talk about what you want, etc. There isn't a certain standard you need to meet in order to be a real person.
  • Ask questions! The best way to get engagement on a post is to ask a question at the end, but asking questions also makes you look like a real person. If you only offer advice, but never seek it, you appear untouchable. Asking for help allows you to connect with other people more authentically.
  • Be yourself. This seems self explanatory, but sometimes this is the hardest part for me. If I see that someone I follow posted a picture of their math station rotations, I think I need to post about my math rotations. If I see a lot of instastories about self care, I think I need to talk about self care. Now it's good to talk about math rotations and self care, but if that's not what you're passionate about, it's more important to talk about your passions.

I seriously cannot say this enough times. An essential part of starting and building your Teacher Instagram is showing up, and showing up consistently. Think of it like developing relationships with the people who follow you. 

The Teacher Instagram community is a wonderful place to collaborate, make friends, discover new ideas, and share strategies. Don't be discouraged when you see the success of other people! Do what you love, even if there are other people doing it too. Happy Teaching!

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<![CDATA[How To Build Your Teacher Instagram (Part One)]]>Tue, 24 Jul 2018 05:00:00 GMThttp://basicgirlteaches.com/blog/how-to-build-your-teacher-instagram-part-oneHey y'all! Using social media to grow your brand can be a wonderful way to meet new people and improve your own practice. The teacher-instagram community is an amazing place. I am constantly discovering new ideas and But, it can also feel a little overwhelming when you're starting out. Last week, I blogged about four easy steps to help you start your own Teacher Instagram account.

Now that you've started, you might be wondering, what do I do next?  Of course, you'll need to continue to post consistently and intentionally, and engage with other accounts. But what else? Here's what to do next.
Instagram has a few different tools available. Let me explain how these work:
  • HASHTAGS: Think of this like adding key words or categories to your post. Yes, this can be a way to communicate your message, but this is also a way to get your posts, and account, discovered. Many people make the mistake of only tagging big hashtags in their posts, like #teachersfollowteachers or #iteach. It's totally fine to use these tags, but they won't attract more people to your posts, and here's why: if there are millions of posts with one tag, it would take someone a long time to scroll through and find yours. You want to use hashtags that are specific and don't have very many posts, like #teacherswhoplan or #elementarymathgames. Instagram will allow you to use up to 30 tags in one post. It can be a little obnoxious to read that many hashtags in a caption, so consider adding more tags in a comment. I like to put three hashtags in my caption and then add more in a comment, but you can do whatever works best for you. I would recommend using as many hashtags as you can, especially when you're first starting out, because that will increase the number of categories people could search in and find your post.
  • LOCATION TAGS: Lots of websites will suggest that you use location tags to help increase traffic to your posts. I don't think this is useful for teaching accounts, because people aren't often searching for locations when they are browsing for resources. If you choose to use location tags and see a lot of success with it, let me know!
  • STORIES: If you don't know what an instastory is, go google it real fast and then come back. Once you've established a following, regular instastories are a great way to stay relevant. You can even share your posts to your story. It can feel a little awkward to talk in a story, but after a few tries, you'll get used to it. People want to see your face and hear your voice! They like to know that you are a real person. 

Your posts on Instagram are your property. Other people's posts are their property. Reposting something without giving credit to the original creator is stealing. It's that simple. If someone sees that you have reposted their original image and not given them credit, they can press charges. Here are a few articles that discuss the legality of reposting:
  • This post from Later talks about reposting any content, and some of the unspoken, but accepted "rule" on Instagram about this
  • This article from a legal journal discussing Instagram's TOU and a few lawsuits about reposting photos
​Let me say it again, for the people in the back. RESPOSTING WITHOUT CREDIT IS STEALING.And if you repost something with credit, but appear to claim it as your own work, it's basically stealing.Don't steal, y'all. Just don't do it. If you see something you want to share, search out the original creator and give them credit. Bonus points if you ask them for permission. 

Now that we got all that out of the way, legally and ethically reposting something can be a good way to build quality content. I like to search out quotes that are in line with the message of my brand, then type them up in my own format to share them. I always reference and tag, if possible, the original author of the quote.

Sometimes it can feel like everyone else on Instagram knows all these secrets that you don't know. I want to debunk some of the myths and help YOU create a successful instagram account for your Teacherprenuer Brand. You can find more Teacher Instagram Tips here. Is there something you want to know more about? Let me know!

​Happy Teaching!

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<![CDATA[How To Start Your Teacher Instagram]]>Fri, 20 Jul 2018 05:00:00 GMThttp://basicgirlteaches.com/blog/how-to-start-your-teacher-instagram
Hey y'all! Participating on social media is a great way to make new teacher friends, be exposed to new perspectives, and look for new ideas for your classroom. It can also be really overwhelming, and you can feel like you don't know where to start.

I'm here to show you that it's not as hard as it sounds, and anyone can do it! You don't need a lot of time, experience, or fancy pictures to start posting right away. Want to start your teacher Instagram? Here's how to do it.
There are a lot of details to consider on Instagram: photos, captions, filters, profile images, handles (that's your account name), profile information, hashtags, stories, links, etc. It can be really easy to obsess and worry over having all the details just right, but thinking about your ideas won't get you anywhere. All the little details, like your account name and profile details, are easy to change later.The most important thing to do when creating your teacher Instagram is simply to get started. Pick a name. Add a profile image. Make your first post (or three). Just start!

Once you've started posting, don't stop! Try to post at least once a day. There are lots of suggestions out there about the times of day to post, but that isn't as important as simply being consistent. People tend to follow accounts that already have posts, so you need to give them something to see when they stumble across your account. Once your followers know that you're going to show up every day, they will be looking for what you're going to share next. Think of the accounts you like to follow - most likely they post consistently about topics that you're interested in.

Give people a reason to follow you. What do you have to offer that makes you stand out? What message are you sharing? What impact do you want to have? Once you've determined what your message will be, be intentional in how you post. For example, if you want your message to be about helping struggling readers, then you need to post frequently about struggling readers. I would not recommend making every post about this topic - you don't want to be one-dimensional. But. Don't leave people wondering why they're following you.

This sounds silly, so let me clarify. Obviously, when you create your account, you're looking for followers. But if your goal is to share a specific message and have an impact, you need engaged followers in order to grow your impact. Think of engaged followers like friends. They like and comment on the things you post. They reply to your stories. They click on your links. They tell their friends about you. These are the kinds of people that you want to find, because when your posts receive a lot of engagement, the Instagram algorithm understands that your content is valuable and it makes your posts visible to more people. These are also the kinds of people that you want to find because connecting with others and finding friends is what makes participating in this community so enjoyable. Here are a few strategies for finding friends, not just followers:
  • FOLLOW OTHER PEOPLE. One of the best way to find friends on Instagram is simply to follow them! Look for accounts that have the same message as you. Think of this like hunting for your ideal follower. Who is your message for? Find those people and follow them.
  • ENGAGE WITH OTHER ACCOUNTS. Once you find people to follow, be an engaged follower. Set aside some time every day (like 15 minutes) to simply like and comment on other people's posts. Build relationships with other accounts. This tells the algorithm and other people that you are a valuable account to discover.
  • PARTICIPATE IN LOOPS AND GIVEAWAYS. There are always teacher loops and this is a great way to find other accounts and to put yourself out there for other accounts to follow. Be sure that you do this genuinely - don't join a loop for High School Science Teachers if you teach Pre-K.

Once you've followed these steps, be patient, and don't give up! Growing your account will take time. Try not to get too caught up in comparing your success to the success of others. When you're ready to take your account to the next step, you can read this post about How to Build Your Teacher Instagram. Happy Teaching!

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<![CDATA[Consequences In The Classroom]]>Fri, 22 Jun 2018 04:00:00 GMThttp://basicgirlteaches.com/blog/consequences-in-classroom-management-plan
My first student teaching experience was in a first grade classroom. My mentor teacher was fabulous. She had a practice of having the students write a letter to their parents/guardians when they misbehaved. After the students wrote the letter, she would send it home so the parents/guardians would be informed about what happened in the classroom.

​I LOVED this idea, and when I started teaching, I adopted a similar practice in my own classroom. Whenever I decide to call a parent/guardian about a student's behavior, I have the student write a note to tell their parent/guardian about what happened. I sign it, and I also request that the parents sign and return it. I still make the phone call, but I use this as a way of including the student in the conversation.
White Background, Text Reads: I Made A Poor Choice Today, I will Make Better Choices Tomorrow :)
(c) Basic Girl Teaches
Here's the gospel truth - despite your best efforts, you're going to have kiddos misbehaving every day. But. You're also going to have students doing a good job every day. So, over the years, my behavior notes have evolved into something a little more elaborate.
(c) Basic Girl Teaches
I have a tiered-level consequence system in my classroom. 
  1. Warning
  2. Teacher's Choice
  3. Parent Contact
  4. Office Visit
I have it hanging right next to the classroom rules. When students break the rules, I reteach the rule, and point to the consequence chart. ​ I spend a lot of time the first few days of school teaching this pattern to my students, so that I don't spend any time on it later. You can find it in my store here.
There are three golden rules of my consequence system: 1. Consequences are only for breaking the rules, not for not following a procedure. The consequence for not following a procedure is ALWAYS to practice doing the procedure correctly; 2. Start over every day. Consequences do not carry over from the previous day. Students enter my classroom with a clean slate; and 3. I only move through the levels for the same behavior. For example, if a student is talking to a friend during independent work and I give a warning, and then later the same student is running down the hall, I will still give a warning because these are different behaviors. I'll also add that I do not use this same system for chronic misbehavior or really big misbehaviors, like bullying, fighting, stealing, etc.

Lemme break it down for you. Level 1 is just ONE warning. I am very consistent about this because I want my students to take responsibility for their learning. The end goal of this system is to very rarely have to go past Level 1. If my students know that I'm only giving them one warning, every time, they are more likely to redirect their behavior after one warning. (clear as mud?)

Level 2 is a little more flexible. Sometimes I take away minutes from recess, sometimes I make a seat change, sometimes I take away a privilege (like station choice), etc. Using Teacher's Choice for Level 2 allows me to select the best consequence for displayed behavior. 

For Level 3, I will give the student a behavior letter. They will complete it and return it to me. During a free moment, I will privately conference with the student about the choice and consequence, then sign the letter. The student takes it home, the parent/guardian signs and returns it, and I keep it in my student files as documentation. I will also call the parent after school or send a message through Remind, one of my favorite teaching tools. ​
If the misbehavior continues to a Level 4, I follow my school system for sending a student to the office.

On the other hand, I also like to contact parents when students have something to celebrate about. I use the same type of note, and follow a similar procedure. I have the student write a letter to their parent/guardian and give it to me. During a free moment, I conference with the student, praise them profusely, and sign the letter. The student then takes the letter home. I will also call/message the parent, too.
Black text on white background
(c) Basic Girl Teaches
If you try this out in your classroom, let me know how it goes! Until next time, Happy Teaching!

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