Little Miss Teacher Blog

By Clara Fiorentini

Sunday, 15 January 2017

10 things everyone should know about teacher life

The world of a teacher. It's a weird and wonderful place. It's hard to imagine another job that can have such an array of emotions, events, calamities and celebrations all in the first five minutes of the day.

If you had to tell someone 10 things about teacher life, what would you say? Here's what springs to mind for me:

1. Bladders

Is there any bladder like a teacher bladder? Programmed literally by clockwork. We're in a job where we have to keep drinking water to protect our voices but then alas, you're trapped without a toilet break until the bell rings. ( Unless, on those miraculous days when you get a knock to the door from a visiting teacher and can make a quick exit!)

2. The Look.

All teachers will have perfected 'the look' shortly into their career. The reaction to convey a multitude of emotions. Disappointment. Exaggerated shock. Whatever is needed at that moment. However, if like me you have younger siblings, you will be regularly reminded not to use 'the look' or your 'teacher tone' with  on them. So to all teacher siblings out there, we apologise. It's not intentional, some actions just automatically will result in 'the look'.

3. Laminating Pouches

You will lose track of the amount of laminating pouches you purchase. When they're in the office they will be like gold-dust. While I always find something therapeutic about laminating,  your ears will become hyper sensitive to the tuning of a creased laminating page and it's no joke, a little bit of your teacher soul will die inside every time that happens. Also, you will break at least one laminator in your teaching life. Don't beat yourself up, I've broken three since 2008.

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4. Having a Love Hate Relationship with your Photocopier

This machine needs to be treated with love, care, calmness and in all cases, patience. They sense stress. They know when you're in a hurry. No photocopier likes to be rushed. If he senses your urgency, he will jam, run out of toner or simply start beeping for no known reason. Mysterious, mysterious creatures.

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5. Sarcasm does not work

Sarcasm has no place in the classroom. It doesn't work, the younger children don't get it and let's face it, it's just plain mean! Just no.

6. Supermarket Sweep

You will become adept at recognising voices of children and parents  in the supermarket without actually seeing them. You will become an expert at swerving round the aisles and you will feel super, until you meet another one of your children at the till having the ultimate meltdown. Guaranteed.

7. Brace yourself

Not all dealings with Parents will be positive. But it is a good idea to take a step back and think why they might have a guard up or be coming at you in a certain way. People will take their negative experiences of education out on you. Not everyone in life will have had positive experiences with school or education. This can feed through from parents  to their children too. Remember making your school / classroom a welcoming place for parents is just as important sometimes as for the children.

8. Mugshots

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Whether you like it or not. You will be immortalised on the walls of the school for decades to come. After teaching the confirmation classes and infants for several years now, there are at least  six class portraits, each with a waxy looking me in all. It also really makes you reconsider a lot of outfit choices and hair styles every time you pass them!

9. Children have no filter

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You will hear every thing. Whether you want to or not.  You could be teaching the most wonderful lesson in the world about the life cycle of a  Hedgehog and you will be interrupted  to be told all sorts of gorey details and stories from home. That of course will have no relevance what-so-ever to the topic in question. After the first few hundred of these instances, you will become immune, simply nod and be completely unfazed.

10. Multi-tasking Extraordinaire

We are only paid to be teachers. HOWEVER! In a typical day, you will have most likely also have taken on the role of  counsellor, psychologist, doctor, nurse, mother, mechanic, engineer, plumber, IT technician, shoe-tier, coat-zipper-upper, lunch opener, actor, singer.....I could go on.
Basically, having the additional limbs of an octopus would be beneficial.

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Image from: Busy Octopus Image

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Happy Sunday one & all,


Thursday, 12 January 2017

Making the most of the cold snap

With the Winter sticking right with us this January, it makes the Polar Projects and Winter Art activities all the better!

I've shared some of these before however, here's some of my favourite winter activities I did with my last 6th class.

Emperor Penguin Poetry & Paintings:
Emperor penguin display...penguins at bottom, sketched and painted by students, lighter penguins at top are penguin shaped poems! Blue speech bubbles are facts about emperor penguins!:

Report Writing & Fact files on Antarctica:

Winter theme... Welcome to antarctica... Report writing on life of emperor penguin... Integration of art by sketching and painting adult emperor penguin. Reading material displayed beneath...selection of books on antarctic/polar wildlife & explorers!:

I've treasured this until I can use it again. A sketch of Tom Crean by one of my former 6th Class Pupils! Amazing right?
Yes, one of my 11 year old students sketched this picture of tom crean...from observation!!!:

A lovely project on Tom Crean and his Antarctic adventures:

Tom crean display...senior primary school writing :-):

Experimenting with tone & still life drawings. The blues are nice for this time of year and it's always easy to get your hands on some plastic bottles!

Painting still life images... Bottles and blue paint...great for linear perspective and use of tone! #art #primaryschool:

Walking in a Winter Wonderland:
Winter art for senior primary classes...incorporates detail, linear perspective, sketching & use of tone :-):

'Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening'. A lovely poem to trigger some great images from the imagination.


Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Martin Luther King Day 2020

This year Martin Luther King Day takes place on Monday 20th January 2020.
As many of you will already know Martin Luther King day is celebrated every year on the third Monday of January - which is generally close to his birthday, January 15th.

Martin Luther King falls into the History books usually for 5th/6th class but is an extremely interesting character from history for children in other class groups to learn about too and obviously secondary school too. Funnily enough, I see it is listed as a topic in my little boy's creche this month too - we're never too young to explore diversity and inclusion. Regardless of the age group, it's a topic leads to great opportunities for writing, discussion, projects, stories, artwork - through all subjects - as I'm always saying, endless possibilities!

Use old magazines to create a meaningful MLK project. Students find and build words and phrases that represent MLK and the man that he was. See more examples and a how-to at Funky in Fourth.:

I love these silhouette word collages made with magazine cuttings. Image from Pinterest.

The Best Martin Luther King Jr. Crafts for Kids | Carrots Are Orange could even use when you talk about "all about me" and several other themes:

Diversity experiment. Image from Pinterest.

~Joy in the Journey~: Martin Luther King Quotes & Activities:

A nice activity "Inside the Head of a Future Leader" from Joy in the Journey.

The Bubbly Blonde: The Crayon Box That Talked Freebie Writing Papers:

The Crayon Box, a fabulous, thought-provoking poem. This image is from The Bubbly Blonde Teacher.

Martin Luther King Day  Apex Elementary Art:

I love Pop Art and this Martin Luther King Jr. themed piece is fabulous. Found this on Apex Elementary Art

And how relevant is this? "If Martin Luther King Jr. had Instagram". This brilliant display is from 6th Grade Tales. Download my FREE instagram template to get a head start on this activity. 

My class has recently been deeply involved in studying Martin Luther King, Jr.  My students have spent a great deal of time creating videos...:

For more ideas on how to use Instagram as a writing prompt, see my blog post on INSTAGRAM POSTS IN THE CLASSROOM.


Looking for some ready to go resources for teaching a topic on Martin Luther King Jr. ?

My own Martin Luther King Bumper Resource Pack is FREE TO DOWNLOAD - 10 resources, enough for at least a fortnight of project work on MLK.

There's Pinterest board on Martin Luther King Teacher Ideas on my Pinterest page for more inspiration.


Don't forget. Martin Luther King's powerful speeches are one of the most brilliant examples of expositions - useful if you're doing work on the genre of expositions for literacy.

What's an exposition again?!
An exposition is the critical evaluation of ideas involving argument, persuasion, or debate.
The purpose of an exposition is to develop an idea and supporting details in order to present a logical argument from a particular point of view.
The main focus of expositions is logical reasoning.

Loads of scope for lots of lovely cross-curricular learning!

Image result for martin luther king inspirational quotes


Friday, 6 January 2017

Carry on Complimenting

Something which I enjoyed doing after Christmas when I was up in the senior classes was promoting paying compliments to  one another. It's something nice that you can easily model and is great for giving the classroom a really positive atmosphere. Start as you mean to go on and all that!

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Image from Pinterest

Have you ever heard of giving complimentary flowers?

This is such an easy activity to organise and if done well, can work really nicely! I've done it with 4th, 5th and 6th class but it could be definitely done with down as far as even 1st class. It would even be a lovely activity to do on T.P. with your new class! Or a nice bonding activity for any class at any level of the education system really.

How does it work?

Print your flower template onto card. Every student gets a flower and write their names in the middle section. The flowers are then passed around. The petals are where the compliments go. Students can write one, meaningful compliment on a petal and decorate it. When they are finished they pass it on.
When all the petals are full, the flowers are returned to their owner. It was always lovely to watch the children's faces beam when they read their compliments and notice some of the lovely traits and talents that their peer's notice and appreciate about them. Makes for a lovely display too.

Here's an example:

Complimentary Flowers -

I've put my copy of the template, sample and instructions up on Mash, you can download it for **free** here.

Be sure to let me know how it goes!


Thursday, 5 January 2017

17 Ideas For 2017

We can get very caught up in the fads of resolutions after Christmas. Fair dues  to anyone who sticks to them but I think it's common knowledge that many will fall by the wayside after the first few weeks of the new year. School on the other hand is a great place for fulfilling new resolutions and goals and the new year, especially after the nice winter break, is a great opportunity to freshen things up teaching wise.

Hopefully you are all heading  back to work on Monday refreshed, rejuvenated and ready for action. Don't bombard yourself with a mountain of goals - you'll never achieve them all! Why not pick a few and if they're going well add to them as the year goes on.

Here are 17 ideas to try at school for 2017:

1. Walk & Talk
Do you have planning meetings? Team teaching meetings? IEP meetings? Why not break away from sitting at tables and chairs that are too small for you and walk some laps of the yard or hall! We're supposed to walk 10,000 steps a day, and despite teachers being on their feet all day, you'd be surprised at the few steps that actually equates to!

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2. Music
Unleash creativity, promote a calm working environment - play music in the classroom. While the children are working why not play some classical music or calming music to help keep noise levels low and concentration high. My infants love when I play 'brain music' for them during written activities.

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3. In-class fitness
New Year, new me. We hear it all the time. Why not try and incorporate a little bit of exercise during lessons. Marching during times tables practice, jogging on the spot for spellings, star jumps for counting in two's - endless possibilities and could be another way of adding up time on if you're trying the 'Run a Mile' initiative in the new year.

4. Newsletters
A lot of your lovely work and activities happen and disappear into history without many knowing they actually ever happened. On the last day of school in December, 2nd class in our school circulated a class newsletter. Every child wrote a little snippet of information about something they did in class that month. It was lovely and a great way of sharing some of the lovely memories the children had about their learning experiences. A fun activity for ICT time perhaps?

5. Inclusive learning.
I love the phrase 'LESS ME, MORE WE'. Why not incorporate this into your teaching? Less isolated learning activities, more group work, pair work, teams etc. Allows for a lot more oral language opportunities which the New Primary Language Curriculum is crying out for.

6. Share your time
Make a conscious effort to give even just a moment of your time to every child. Even if it's just a greeting in the morning, let everyone have a little moment. It's always going to be the case that certain students will take up a lot more of your time that others but it's nice to think that no student would ever be overlooked simply for being quiet, behaving and getting on with their work.
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Image from Pinterest 

7. Compliments
Make someone's day. Share a compliment with each of your students. It's an easy way of promoting positivity. Model complimenting for your students and encourage it. This easily promoted in any class and could tie in nicely with a kindness challenge for your class. Also, why stop with your class, colleagues will appreciate compliments too. Here's a link to some inspiration - 7 Reasons Why You Should  Pay Compliments To Others.

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8. Record the light-bulbs
I read online recently about a teacher in the United States who recorded the 'Ah Ha!' moments his students had. You could share these later or just simply reflect back over them after a tough day at the office!

9. Variety
Our New Year isn't the only one and it's important your students know this. You don't have to get bogged down in resolutions and our traditions, why not let your students investigate Rosh Hashanah 
(Jewish New Year) or the Chinese New Year. Lots of lovely learning opportunities.

10. Communicate
Sometimes we can overlook the good things and can focus too much on highlighting what students are doing wrong or what you don't like about what they are doing. Why not take a different spin on this? Write a note or letter to a student or two each week sharing reflections on what you admire about them. What you like about them as a student or learning. Let them know how great they are!

11. Turn that frown upside down.
It drives me absolutely BATS when people tell me to smile more! Why so serious? Cheer up! Ahhh!! I'm not being grumpy, it's just the way my face chooses to sit. However, I do plan to challenge myself to smile more. Facial expressions are everything, children are very sensitive to them and I know myself I read way too much into people's expressions too. And if anything, it burns more calories to smile rather than frown!
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Image from: Pinterest
Why not get your students to write their own poetry about smiling?

12. Involve the Parents
There's always opportunities for more parental/guardian involvement. Invite them in for Maths for Fun, Parent & Child Art, Library Time. Or how about changing up homework assignments, send home language games, riddles, interviews for family members! Grandparents are great for getting involved too.

13. Network
There are so many online resources for teachers. So many facebook pages, blogs, websites. Explore, see what you can find. Subscribe to websites - you'd be amazed at how many great free resources you can avail of too. Don't be afraid to contact them either, they wouldn't be online if they weren't willing to communicate with counterparts. I love hearing from followers and talk to teachers most days via Facebook Messenger, Twitter & emails. Don't be shy, come and say hi!

14. Social Media
So many schools and classrooms now are jumping into the world of social media. I did two summer courses on social media and it's place in schools and I have to say they were so informative. Why not set up a Twitter account? Check out the hastag #edchatie for some great ideas and inspiration!

15. Balance
I'm an absolute divil for staying late. Faffing around jumping from job to job in the evening. I want to be 'out the door by four' this year. I'm going back to getting the train in the new year because I feel like I spend my life sitting in traffic, I don't like the stress of it and I actually enjoy getting the train! So this year, who's with me for not staying late in the evenings? No excuses. D.E.A.L - Drop everything and leave!!
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16. Leave it at school
Step away from that bundle of correction. If it's not done, don't take it home. This is the first year that I haven't taken any correction home and it's great. You soon get over that teacher guilt!

17. Embrace the mess
I say every year that I'm going to keep my desk tidy. No more bundles and stacks. This year I'm turning that resolution on it's head, My desk is an ornament. I rarely sit at it during they day, so if things pile up on it then it's just a sign of how busy they day has been!

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Have you any good school resolutions you're planning on trying this year? Be sure to let me know!

Happy New Year everyone and enjoy the last few days of the break.

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