5 Websites to Save you Prep Time!

This Wednesday is the first day of school! I’ve got my classroom, school supplies, gradebook and lesson plans almost ready to go. I cannot wait to meet my new students and start my third year teaching Spanish.

I’ve taken a break from writing for awhile to make sure that I’m staying on track with the goals in my last post and enjoying these last few days of summer. I’ve also been spending a lot of time on some of my favorite teacher websites. They have saved me so much time planning and prepping and have enriched my lesson plans with great ideas and content. So I want to take some time to share with you five websites that every teacher should know about in no particular order.

  1. Pinterest.com. If you are a teacher and you have not joined the pinterest bandwagon, the time has come. Pinterest is a free site which allows you to maintain virtual bulletin boards of ideas. You can link virtually any content available on the internet. You can organize your pinterest boards by units, themes, lesson plans or concepts. Additionally, you can follow other pinterest users and see what they are pinning. I follow several Spanish teachers and love seeing their ideas pop up on my homepage.
  2. Teachers Pay Teachers This website is made up of teachers sharing content that they have created for their own classrooms. Some materials are free, while others costs money. TPT allows teachers to sell their content as well as download other teacher’s content by creating a free account. It’s a Saving Time for Teachers dream! Not only do you save time getting great ideas, but you can sell your ideas that you’ve already put the time into creating! TPT is organized by course and price and is so easy to use. It’s my go to website when I’m sick and need a sub plan fast!
  3. Twitter Did you know that many teachers use Twitter to connect with other colleagues in their discipline? For example, foreign language teachers on Twitter gather every Thursday night (#LangChat) to talk about current issues and best practice in their field. And language teachers aren’t the only ones. These chats are organized by a hashtag and facilitated by Twitter users. A simple google search will reveal several other Twitter conversations throughout the week. It’s a great way to meet other educators in your discipline and learn from them.
  4. Quizlet I love Quizlet! Quizlet allows you to create classes for your students as well as virtual flashcards that they can use to study. There are so many types of games that students can use to individually study as well as a new feature called quizlet live which can be played with an entire class. I use it to help my students learn vocabulary, but we’ve also used it to practice grammar. A basic quizlet account, which includes the features mentioned above, is free but there is also a teacher upgrade which does cost money. I’ve had great success with the basic account and am trying out the teacher account for the first time this school year. It has been a great resource for my students and is also a fun way to teach study skills.
  5. Teacher Blogs There are so many fantastic teacher blogs with posts and free resources out there! If you click on the teacher blogs link you will be directed to my favorite site for Spanish teachers, Creative Language Class. I keep an extensive list of my favorite teacher blogs bookmarked on my Google Chrome browser. One of the best ways I’ve found to find new blogs is to look at the recommended blogs many bloggers include on their own websites. Before planning new units, I often go to these blogs as a source of inspiration.

I hope these websites can help save you some time as you start the school year!


Back to School Goals

As a Minnesotan who is well accustomed to harsh, long, and cold winters, I tend to hold on to the other seasons for as long as I possibly can. I love hikes in the beautiful, fall woods, having a bouquet of tulips on the table in the spring, and relaxing on a hot, summer day at the lake.

However, I can always count on Target to remind me that the seasons will soon change. Summer Clearance seemed to start right as summer in Minnesota had just begun. Yesterday was no exception.

I spent the morning checking email and reminding myself that school is just around the corner. It’s your third year as a teacher. Time to start that early prep that veteran teachers are famous for.

I headed to Target to get a planner to help me sort through the upcoming school year and tasks at hand and got lost in their bargain section. It was filled to the brim with gradebooks, lesson plan books, and cute items that will always make me wonder if I should have been an elementary education major.

I decided to carefully approach the seasonal display at the back of the store to see if I found more of the same. It didn’t take long to see the big Back to School signs, backpack options, and rows of classroom supplies. This filled me with a mix of excitement (I mean, who doesn’t love new school supplies?) and nerves. Will there be enough time to accomplish everything that I want to do with my students this year?

I suffer from a classic case of perfectionism. I want to be a perfect wife, teacher, friend, family member, person and in one day (let’s be real…in one lifetime) it isn’t possible to do it all.

But it is possible to do the best that we can do within the constraints of our schedule.

For a perfectionist like me, that means setting goals that I can actually meet and doing my best to protect my time. It means making time for my family, friends, church, and activities that breathe life into my soul. It means setting healthy boundaries on my time, so that the time that I spend with each person in my day is time that is spent to the fullest.

So here are my goals for this new school year.

  1. Schedule time for God and for family into the weekly schedule. Physically write it on the calendar and treat it like an appointment that cannot be cancelled.
  2. Have the semester planned before the school year begins. Use the gained time in fall semester to plan the spring semester before it begins. (As a first year teacher, this would have caused me to panic. Be where you are. It’s taken me time to be able to set that goal and it’s taken other teachers time to surpass it).
  3. Set specific tutoring and test make-up times before and after school and stick to them.
  4. Establish clearer classroom management procedures that are easy to follow and be consistent in maintaining them.
  5. Maintain connections with others in my field and build new connections to foster continued professional growth and encouragement.

What are your goals for the upcoming year? As you write them, make sure that they are realistic and that you have the time to complete them. If they are realistic, but you don’t have the time – what needs to be cleared from your schedule?

Have a great rest of your summer and a great school year!