Sunday, December 27, 2015

Beyond the Textbooks: 3 Skills Every Teacher Should Teach


As teachers, we know that we must teach reading, writing, math, science and social studies. And we hope that while we are teaching the academics- parents are teaching social and life skills. However, more and more, kids lack these most basic skills. Teachers are having to pick up the slack because we know that these skills are vital to a child's future success. Here are three skills that every teacher must teach and some suggestions for teaching them in the classroom. 


Wouldn't it be nice if all of our students already came to us with manners? It's a dream! The reality is that most students don't even say "please" and "thank you." I feel strongly about the importance of manners and spend lots of time teaching and practicing good manners. Because of this- specialists and other school staff are always complimenting my class. The more compliments they get on their manners- the more they use them! 

I teach manners by introducing a skill on a Monday and then challenging them to put it into use all week. Some skills take 2-4 weeks. We keep working on them until we've got it down good! When I see a student doing a great job with manners, I am sure to reward them with class money. My hope is that using these manners all year will cause them to be a habit for life. Here is a look at some of the important skills that I enforce:


Depending on my group, I sometimes need to add skills related to eating!


I cannot tell you how many times I have heard a student say something like: "It's too hard! I can't do it." Or they see that the text passages are long and so they just skim them and guess on the answers. Students lack perseverance! They don't know how to tackle difficult or lengthy tasks without giving up. They don't have  growth mindset.

I like to teach perseverance when I am covering character traits in literature at the beginning of the year. I read books with characters that never give up- even when something is hard- and we discuss the characters as a class. Here are some great books to read when discussing perseverance:


Extend the lesson into your writing time by asking students to write a personal narrative about a time that they had to persevere. This helps to prove to students that they CAN do hard things! They have done it before!

As teachers, we have to make certain that we are giving students the opportunity to practice perseverance. Give students challenges! When my students work on their math journals or reading responses, I like to meet with them and show them the rubric. We talk about what they did well and their goal for the next assignment. I challenge them to dig deeper and go farther. Having a little goal to focus on makes these challenges more manageable. This is the goal sheet we use for our reading responses. Click on the picture to grab it for FREE.
I reward students who never give up. The reward can be as simple as a compliment, dojo points, class money or a positive note home. The student who perseveres is not always the same student who got the correct answer. I want to show my students that not giving up is just as important. 


I am a very organized person. My coworkers often marvel at the organization of my classroom. No piles. Everything has a place and those places are labeled. I don't have a teacher desk and I refuse to keep paper sitting on the table! Even half way through the year, my room is still organized. 


I was not born organized. I was taught how to be organized. Since I was taught to be organized, I feel that I was able to be more successful in school. No lost homework or forgotten assignments for me! 

My students have binders that they bring to school each day and take home every night. The binder has their homework, spelling words, math facts, etc. Last year I noticed that many of the binders were a complete disaster with papers hanging out every which way. When I wanted to practice math facts, it was taking these kiddos way too long to find them. Time was being wasted. Homework was being lost. Teacher was losing her mind. Things had to change. 


Fast forward to this year...


Students have page protectors for each of the resources they are expected to have in their binder. Each page protector has a cover sheet on the front and the necessary material in the back. 


Students colored their cover sheets during the first several days of school while I was busy doing beginning of year assessments. Now students can easily find their materials. We aren't wasting time waiting on students. Less homework is getting lost. Teacher is happy!

You can grab my cover sheets for FREE by clicking on the image below.


What other life skills are you teaching in your classroom?

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