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  • Writer's pictureMegan Mariano

8 Thing I No Longer Do as a Veteran Teacher

As I write this, it's nearing the end of my 16th year of teaching. I'd consider that a veteran teacher although I still feel like a kid most days haha. Full disclosure, I'm 39 and have learned a thing or two over the years.

The following 8 things are what I've changed in my practice. I am not saying that, if you do these things, you're an awful teacher. I just want to share what I've learned and found to be effective.

Organize my classroom library by reading levels.

I am not sure who said it originally, but reading is about love, not levels. Forcing students into a specific level in middle school is NOT the way to get students to engage in reading. Let them pick what they want, see how they do, and go from there.

For elementary, I do feel it can be beneficial to have them labeled, but by middle school, it should not be the sole focus of a classroom library.

I organize mine by genre. Below is an OLDER picture of how it used to be!

This was from my first year out of college in 2008! I can't believe I still have pictures from then. I was actually a classroom aide in this classroom. They were a very level-focused school.

Hassle veteran teachers for their lesson plans.

My very first year of teaching in my first district, I was so clueless and I’d always ask to see my grade level teams’ lesson plans. Every week. Of every day. I would just copy word-for-word their lessons all year and didn't come up with any of my own ideas.

Of course, veteran teachers should be willing to help out new teachers. We should be there to help them learn how to be true to the themselves. Offering them ALL of your lesson plans that you spent hours and hours on, I personally find to be a a self-sacrifice you don't need to make. Getting them started, allowing them to see some and use some, sure! But, I really don't think we should be expected to give up everything.

Share your scope and sequence. Share a unit plan. Or just share what you're comfortable with sharing. Some people didn't like this comment on my Instagram, but I am not implying you should hoard all your stuff.

Ultimately, the administration should be providing materials for new teachers!

This is an example of something I would most definitely share with teachers.
Give out raffle tickets and prizes as my behavior management system.

I had a roll of raffle tickets, a prize box, the whole thing. I am not into this now. It didn’t work and kids only tried because they wanted prizes. And it was SO MUCH work to keep track of. Now, I focus more on respect both ways and encouraging students to find value in the results of their good pizza parties needed.

Read more about this here (specifically about rewards) and here (my behavior management system).

Also from my classroom years back. This may be good for the real little kids, but it's just so not worth it in middle school.

Expected complete silence majority of class time.

This is still very tough for me. I swear I have sensory issues, but, ever since having a kid myself, I’ve learned that kids just CAN’T be quiet all the time. They are social beings. They are in school all day AND a lot of teachers are expecting them to be silent all the time. This is TOUGH.

Of course, I have “quiet times”, but I’ve been incorporating much more time to chat. I give them a minute or two at the start of class and during ALL transitions within the classroom. But independent work is quiet time.

Read about my daily routine here.

Ugh. Covid. If I learned ANYTHING from that dreaded time it's that kids NEED to socialize!
When student asked me why, I'd say, "because I said so..."

The “it’s my classroom that’s why...” mentality is not the way. Students want answers. Teach them how to ask respectfully, and we should respond respectfully.

You can have a constructive conversation without it being a battle. Their brains are still developing so they may not know how to do it without it coming off as disrespect.

Students advocating for themselves should not be discouraged. Wouldn't we want kids to speak up if there are injustices happening in their classrooms? Let's teach kids how to communicate their concerns in a professional, respectful way.

Post DAILY updates on the parent communication app.

During COVID, I posted updates every single day. It was ridiculous actually. They will get ignored and DID get ignored. My logic was, if a parent complained, they'd have no reason because it was posted. This is actually pretty good logic, but it's just generally not fair to overwhelm them daily.

Definitely keep parents in the loop...just every other week or so.

While I love this format, I posted this EVERYDAY for parents during Covid. It was just too much everyday.

Here are some things you can use to do that BUT NOT EVERYDAY!:

Assign homework.

That's it. I used to give a separate assignment that was specifically was not even based on the lesson. It was a daily writing prompt for reading and writing. Ridiculous.

Kids don't need homework in Language Arts besides reading. That's their homework for me. I do assign a weekly book log for that, but they can do it in school on Fridays.

I should say, I am not being 100% truthful. They do sort of have's if they don't finish things in class. I try to plan all my work during class time to get done during class. However, if students don't finish they must finish at home. If they are focused the whole time, they won't have homework.

An actual Doc I gave my students in my first years. It's too much! I do NOT do this anymore.
Do a daily reading log.

I have a whole blog post about this, but these were just another added stress for kids, parents, and ME. Checking that thing daily, chasing kids for it...annoying. It just breeds resentment toward reading.

Instead, I do a Reading Record, recording books as they read them. Plus, they use their independent reading books during all of my lessons, so that's how I truly determine if they're reading.

This is an example of what I currently use instead. It's done whenever a student finishes a book.

I also have a simplified version of the above.

The major way I assess their reading is:

Bottom Line

As teachers, we always have to be willing to grow and adapt, but it's also okay to stick with what you know works. So, I write this as my OWN experience. I share this to help you not make the same mistakes I did. Ultimately, we know what works for our classes, but some of us need some guidance...heck, I still do!

***Want a CUSTOM BUNDLE from me? Click below!***

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