janssen_al@hotmail.com'

About Andrea_Physics_CL

I am a '99 Phoenix TFA Alum where I taught middle school science. Post-TFA I taught high school physics for 7 years. Currently I am a co-Community Leader for the Chemistry and Physics Community in TFA net. I love teaching physics!

Help Your Students Study: When tests are after the break

studying

(Photo credit: English106)

I grew up in the Chicago Area and when I was in high school, midterm exams were INTENSE. Looking back, they were equivalent to the level of challenge as my college exams. I studied and studied and studied. My dad used to have to suggest that I take a break and go get ice cream just to get my nose out of a book for a few minutes.

The most difficult part about studying for these exams was the fact that they usually occurred on about January 10th. This meant that my winter break was not a real break. I always had those upcoming tests in the back of my mind.

My teachers often seemed to overlook the fact that we had these exams coming up. It seemed like they were more ready for the break than we were. (Now I know: They were.) Because of this, teachers often did very little to help guide us on how to prepare for their exams during the break. I guess they figured that no one would really start studying.

As a teacher, I am determined that my students come back from their break feeling ready for my exam:’

Looking Ahead: How to start thinking long term

GREEN CRYSTAL BALL

You don’t need a crystal ball to plan for the future. (Photo credit: MIND’S EYE PHOTOGRAPHY BY- D.S.Owens)

As a new teacher in TFA, one of my biggest challenges and stressors was planning in advance.  I knew (although I hoped nobody else could tell) that although I had made it through another day of teaching, I often had little idea of exactly how tomorrow’s lesson would look until I went home that night and planned the details. Not to mention the fact that planning ahead for the next week or the next unit often seemed like an impossible task to accomplish.

After a few months of playing “keep-up” with my planning, I realized that this would not be sustainable. I felt out-of-control of what I was doing, which made me unhappy.  Although I continued to spend time each evening solidifying my lessons for the next day, I made some changes in the overall structure of my planning.

When Discipline Systems Fail: Try the power of positivity

(Photo: stevendepolo, flickr)

During my first year at my placement school with TFA, my co-teachers and I had what we thought was a great system to hold students accountable for their behavior.  In reality, rather than expecting the best from our students, we were actually bringing out the worst in some cases.

Students moved as a group from class to class and there was a detention clipboard which moved with them. If a student earned a detention in my class, for example, it was recorded on the clipboard and the student’s next teacher could then see the detention when the student arrived for the next class.

For the average “challenging” student, we might record one detention per week and he or she would shape up so as not to earn any more. However, one student, let’s just call him Joe, definitely did not come to that conclusion on his own. Not only did he earn a detention which was recorded on the clipboard every day, he earned a detention in every class nearly every day!  He had earned so many, that by October he had begun to lose his lunch privileges into 2nd semester!