Sunday, March 29, 2015

Tips for Being a Traveling Teacher

Hey there!  It's Alison from Learning At The Primary Pond (formerly Ms. Lilypad's Primary Pond).  Today I have some tips to share with you about being a "traveling" teacher!  This may be helpful to you if you are a reading specialist (like me!), speech/language teacher, some other kind of specialist, work in several different buildings, or just don't have your own classroom to teach in.  But keep reading even if you are a classroom teacher with a room all to yourself, because a lot of the tools I use to stay organized will be helpful for all teachers!

This school year has been my first year as a reading specialist, and my first time not having my own classroom.  I do have a small area in our reading room to myself, but I share the space with 2 other reading specialists and at least 5 program assistants.

At the moment, I work only with Kindergarten.  The Kinder classrooms are at the other end of our (rather large) building.  Instead of bringing my students back to the reading room, I stay closer to their classrooms to maximize instructional time.  I was working in the hallway for a while, but thankfully have been able to move into a smaller room near their classrooms.

Not being able to teach in my own space has been challenging, but I've adapted.  Here are some things I've done that have made my life easier:

1.  I invested in a great teacher bag!  The bag in the photo below is from Amazon (click the image to check it out).  

It has 6 pockets on the outside that are perfect for storing markers, pencils, and other materials.  The inside has a flat bottom so that most things will stand up in it.  I love it!!

You could also definitely try a rolling cart if you have to move around a lot within your school or between schools.  I only have to carry my bag to my teaching spot and then back again, so it works just fine for me.

2.  I store materials in places other than my office.  I see 10 students for interventions, and I have a large plastic folder for each student.  I realized that it just didn't make sense to carry the folders back and for the very single day.  So I put them in two small plastic baskets and asked another teacher (who works in the small room where I teach) if I could store them in her space.  She didn't mind one bit!  This works out great, and whenever I want to use the folders to plan, I just go to the room, take down the baskets, and start working.

3.  I use a tabletop stand to display anchor charts and learning objectives.  This little stand has been a lifesaver!  I use it to display an alphabet chart, other anchor charts, and daily learning objectives for my kids.  Having chart paper or a pocket chart is out of the question since I travel, but I have been just as happy with this.

It's totally collapsible, inexpensive, and has protective sheets for 20 different pieces of paper!

4.  I use a simple "sticky note system" to stay organized.  One problem I found was that I would think of things that I wanted or needed to do while I was teaching...and then I'd completely forget them by the time I got back to the reading room.  It was an "out of sight, out of mind" thing.  Because I wasn't teaching in the same place where I get my materials ready, I was forgetting what I wanted and needed to do for the next day.  Fortunately, the solution to this turned out to be pretty simple.  I make sure that wherever I am teaching, I take out a pack of sticky notes and pen and have them ready to go.  When I think of something I need to do, I write it down.  When I'm ready to return to the reading room, I take the sticky note off the pad, carry it with me, and place it right into my planner (which stays in the reading room).  Then I have a ready made to-do list in a place that I know I'm going to look each day. 

5.  I bring my own cleaning supplies.  When I had a classroom, I knew that a table was clean (or not), because I was in that same room all day.  However, all bets are off when you're working in a space that multiple people (and many germy kids) use!  I keep wipes in my teacher bag and wipe down the table before I start teaching each day.  And every time I do it, I'm glad I would not believe the dirt that comes up!!

Well, that's what I've learned so far - what would you add to this list?


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