California Educator

September 2011

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FEATURE Tips BACK TO SCHOOL Start the year off right with a little advice from fellow members. Educators are very generous when it comes to sharing advice, so we asked some CTA members to share their favorite tips, resources and strategies to help get your school year off to a great start. Here are a few ideas we hope you'll find beneficial. Dan Arretche SCIENCE TEACHER ON RELATIONSHIPS: To have a successful learning environ- ment, there has to be a strong relation- ship between teacher and student. At the beginning of the year, I do an activity that's called "Four Square." I take a piece of paper, fold it into quarters, and ask stu- dents to fill out the "Four F's," which rep- resent Friends, Favorites, Fun and Family. They put a picture of themselves in the middle. It gives me information on what kind of family they come from — whether they come from a big family, small family, stepparents or single-parent households — without being too invasive. In the "Fun" and "Favorites" categories, I get to know them as people a little bit so I can appeal to their interests. In the "Friends" category, I can see who their friends are and maybe not have them sit together. It also gives me a chance to see their writ- ing style and figure out who needs to be sitting up close. I always do one first with a picture of myself from high school, and they get a good laugh out of that. Sandi Sidor FIFTH-GRADE GATE TEACHER ON SUPPLIES: If you can't get what you need in the way of supplies, go to garage sales and thrift stores. It's best before and after Christ- mas, when people are getting rid of lots of stuff. You will find primary and upper- grade books, sets of watercolor paints and lots of supplies. Go to stores like Office Depot, Office Max and Staples when they have teacher giveaways. Sometimes they have games like ring toss, and I play them again and again to win things like pencils, plastic rulers or handheld pencil sharpen- ers. If businesses are moving or employees are retiring, ask them to donate obsolete stationery. It can be used as scratch paper. Envelopes can be reused to send informa- tion home or if students lose teeth. Visit stores and go to the dollar bin for extra supplies. And if one of your teachers retires, go dumpster diving! There's lots of great stuff. PHOTOGRAPHY Scott Buschman West High School, Bakersfield Kern High School Teachers Association Smiley Elementary School Redlands Teachers Association 10 California Educator / September 2011

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