Life & Wellbeing

15 Teacher Dresses That Will Make You Feel Just Like Ms. Frizzle

Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus is serious #teachergoals. She’s eccentric, dedicated, and compassionate. Best of all, she’s known for her wild and wacky teacher dresses that have a way of making every classroom lesson fun and memorable.

So for those looking to improve their teacher-dress game, here are fifteen of the most magical options, 100% Frizzle-approved.

Just a heads up, WeAreTeachers may collect a share of sales from the affiliate links on this page. We only recommend items our team loves!

1. This out-of-this-world galaxy dress

Nothing says “Ms. Frizzle” like a pattern of planets and asteroids. This is a must-have addition to any teacher wardrobe, whether it’s for science class, astronomy day, or just for fun. I recommend the blue to stay true to Ms. Frizzle! If you’re not into the sleeveless look for work, try pairing it with a light gray cardigan (a vital staple in any teacher’s wardrobe).

Get it here.

2. This silly, food-patterned dress

Will your students get hungry in class? Maybe. Will they forget you? Never. Would Miss Frizzle be proud? Absolutely.

Get it here.

3. This perfect-for-springtime, whimsical windmill-dress

Every time I wore this dress from DressLily around my kindergarteners, they went nuts over the squirrels and other animals. It’s like being wrapped in a real-life forest fairytale.

Get it here.

4. This enchanting library dress

I cannot get enough of this print from Lindy Bop. The shelves, mismatched book spines, lace doilies—it’s perfect for English teachers, librarians, and literature lovers everywhere.

Get it here.

5. This dress with awesome in its DNA

Dress up this T-shirt-style dress from RedBubble with tights and a pair of heels for a chic and comfortable classroom-ready look. Perfect for science, chemistry, and biology classes.

Get it here.

6. This weather-anything dress

This fun and memorable pattern is exactly Ms. Frizzle’s signature look. If it seems short for work, pair it with solid-color leggings—check out the choices from this great list.

Get it here.

7. This wild and Jurassic dress

You don’t need to teach science to obsess over this dress—dinosaurs! a natural color-scheme! It’s educational and fashionable.

Find it at Modcloth. Or, get it here.

8. This exclamation-worthy dress

This is the most expensive dress on the list, but it’s one of my favorites. I love the classy style and make paired with the fun-loving, comic-book pattern. The white collar is elegant and teacherly. Plus: POCKETS.

Get it here.

9. This help-you-stand-tall dress

Can’t take your class on a zoo field trip this year? No problem! This fun dress is perfect for elementary teachers, science and biology teachers, and really just anyone who loves giraffes (so, basically, everyone). Pair with leggings and a sweater to complete the look!

Get it here.

10. This dress that encourages students—and you—to reach for the stars

Space and constellation prints are a staple in Ms. Frizzle’s closet. I love the length of this dress, perfect for days when you need the confidence boost dressing formally can offer. Throw a cardigan over the spaghetti straps while you’re in class, and rock the bare shoulder look after the school day for a casually chic style.

Get it here.

11. This stylish, book-print dress, suitable for any classroom

Subtler than the other bookish dress on the list, this dress is appropriate for teachers of any age group. The loose-fitting top creates a flowy, effortlessly intellectual look.

Get it here.

12. This dress makes math fun

This one is pricier than some of the others, but I adore everything about it. The fit is slim and flattering, the print is nerdy and chic, and I can’t resist the white collar—it’s classic Frizzle.

Get it here.

13. This dino-mite dress won’t ever go extinct

Yes, this is the second dinosaur pattern on the list—but Ms. Frizzle would say there’s no such thing as too many. This one is whimsical, cartoonish, and affordable. Pair it with the archeological leggings from our leggings list for a look everyone will dig.

Get it here.

14. This headline-making dress

Teaching journalism? A rhetoric and composition class? Do you just love words—or cats? This Frizzle-perfect dress is guaranteed to make you the hottest news around.

Get it here. There’s also a similar, more affordable dress available from DressLily.

15. This bright and bold mosaic dress

The full-length sleeves here add extra flavor. Best of all, I think this dress encapsulates perfectly the wild and colorful patterns Ms. Frizzle is known for—the wackier, the better.

Get it here.

What are your favorite Ms. Frizzle-inspired dresses? Show us in the comments!


8 Thoughts Every Teacher Has at Faculty Meetings

As much as you try to psych yourself up for it, the faculty meeting can be rough sometimes. You’ve just been with students all day, you have papers to grade, and you really just want to go home. Here are thoughts we’ve all had at the faculty meeting. It’s nice to know you’re not alone.

1. I hope I have a good seat.

We all have people we want to sit beside. People who understand our meaningful glances, carefully timed sighs, and sometimes, our snarky comments scribbled on the agenda. Faculty meetings are bad enough without having to sit next to that weird science teacher who never talks to anybody.

2. Are there snacks?

Fair warning to the administration: If snacks were promised and there aren’t enough for everyone (or if the snacks aren’t good), things are gonna get ugly.

3. Wait, why does everybody have their laptops?

Well, of course you read that last-minute email from the principal! Well, you skimmed it. That counts, right? Still, there’s not much more uncomfortable than showing up to a faculty meeting then suddenly realizing that you’re one of the few teachers who didn’t bring what you were supposed to.

4. Who is that?

Someone stands up to make an announcement about the upcoming food drive or science fair, and you realize you’ve never seen them before. Is he a student teacher? Did we get a new social studies teacher? What’s going on?

5. How old is that student teacher?!

The longer you teach, the younger the student teachers become. It’s shocking the first time you look at a new student teacher and think “I don’t think you’re legally able to drive, let alone teach! Holy crap! I’m old!”

6. Yeah, we all know who this reminder is really for.

That reminder about wearing jeans only on Fridays? It’s really only for Bob, the history teacher who wears jeans and a golf shirt every day. The reminder about our contracted school day ending at 3:30 p.m., so no one should be in the parking lot before then? That’s for Susan, who sneaks out the back door at 3:15 p.m. at least three times a week. Why do we all have to sit through these mini-lectures? Everybody knows who they’re for.

7. We’re never going to finish on time.

We got off to a late start because the principal wanted to use PowerPoint but couldn’t figure out how to get it to work, and that teacher asked five questions (just like she always does) about the changed schedule due state testing, even though it wasn’t all that complicated. Now it’s 15 minutes before the end of the meeting, and we’re only halfway through the agenda!

8. Is this what sitting in my class is like for students?

We secretly check our phones, write notes to our friends, zone out, doodle, and count down the minutes until we can leave the meeting. Is this what our students feel like when they’re in our classrooms?

Ok, so not all faculty meetings are terrible. Hopefully, you have attended more interesting, helpful meetings than boring, pointless ones.

Let us know in the comments below if we’ve missed any thoughts that you know we all have during faculty meetings!

Career Advice

Ranting About Your Students Doesn’t Make You a Bad Teacher

No one said teaching was easy. The profession comes with its fair share of challenges, including dealing with the behavior of uncooperative students. Some days you might want to throw your hands up in defeat, bang your head against the wall, or break down in tears. Some days you just need a good old-fashioned teacher rant.

I get it. Rants are a very human reaction to frustrating events and can be a great way to let off steam. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: Ranting—with a positive outcome in mind—can even help you become a better teacher.

While I don’t recommend ranting as the solution for every problem you face, these impassioned conversations can become catalysts for productive habits and problem solving. After all, the fact that you feel the need to rant should signify the presence of a major issue that needs to be addressed.

Still with me? Good. Now take a deep breath, and let’s use this teacher rant for good, shall we?

1. Acknowledge your rant for what it is: a rant.

Call a spade a spade—er, a rant a rant. This is a temporary expression of frustration that has a definite beginning and end. You might say things you regret, things you don’t even really mean. That’s ok, but remind yourself that this impassioned monologue is for your own catharsis, and once it’s finished, you’ll feel better if you no longer dwell in negativity. When you’re done ranting, move to another location—a different room, your car, or outside into fresh air—to leave the rant behind you and move toward a solution.

2. Don’t feel guilty.

Go easy on yourself. We’re all entitled to a few minutes of uninhibited emotion every now and then. Besides, at least you didn’t rant in front of your students, right? (It wasn’t in front of your student’s, was it? If so, that calls for a different article entirely … ) Tell yourself that you’re feeling these intense emotions because you’re frustrated about something (teaching) or someone (your student) you care about. And you’re too tough to give up on something or someone that you care about! If you care about a student’s failure—to participate, listen, or grasp a concept—you also care about their success.

3. Have a friend hold you accountable.

Whether you’re talking to a trusted friend, family member, or coworker, ask that person to first allow you to vent and then guide you toward a more positive direction. Whomever you talk to can be more than just a listening ear and can validate your emotions while offering an objective view of the situation. At the very least, this person can tell you when your rant has gone on long enough. At the very most, they can remind you why you fell in love with teaching in the first place. 

4. Pinpoint the problem so you can find a solution.

Try to identify the source of your frustration. Are you upset that a student is talking over you during your lessons or that you’re unable to get through to them? Is it the student’s or your attitude that needs an adjustment? It may be that you’re too emotionally invested in the situation to gain an objective view of the larger problem. Your friend can offer a valuable second perspective and encourage you to pursue solutions, such as a one-on-one conversation with your student or a change of classroom tactics.

5. Shift your focus to self-care.

teacher rant

The end goal of ranting is to make yourself feel better, but there are more pleasant ways to find your calm. A few minutes of exercise. A bath. An episode or two of New Girl. A cup of tea. A glass of wine, for that matter. If you don’t feel better after an hour or two of some leisurely activity, you might need to evaluate larger factors, such as your diet or sleep schedule, that could be major underlying sources of your stress. Self-care is absolutely essential to having the confidence and energy to deal with classroom problems. Above all, be kind to yourself, and your students will follow suit!  

So remember, by recognizing rants as a signal to dig deeply and do the work to course correct, you can turn what feels like a huge frustration into a positive learning experience. And isn’t that what we hope for for our students every day?

Have you ever had a rant that led you to an aha moment in your teaching career? Share in the comments. 

Life & Wellbeing

25 Instant Pot Recipes You Can Make on a School Night

It’s all about the Instant Pot these days. This new-age pressure cooker, which also does the job of a rice cooker, a steamer, a sauté pan, and even a yogurt maker, is the newest gadget to take up space on our kitchen counters. Instant Pot recipes allow you to cook elaborate one-pot meals in a short amount of time. You can also use the Instant Pot for hard-boiled eggs, potatoes and a number of desserts. So, yes, if you don’t have one, you definitely need one!

Here are 25 of our favorite Instant Pot recipes that come together so quickly you can make them on a school night.

1. Mac and Cheese


Is there anything better than mac and cheese made from scratch? And yes, the pasta is cooked in the Instant Pot, too!

Source: Pressure Cook Recipes

2. Barbacoa Pulled Pork


Use this pulled pork, which cooks in under 30 minutes, for tacos or put it over a bed of rice.

Source: Instant Pot Eats

3. Zuppa Toscana


You can make this soup faster than Olive Garden can serve it.

Source: Margin Making Mom

4. Indian Butter Chicken


This classic Indian dish couldn’t be easier to throw together.

Source: Jay’s Sweet N Sour Life

5. Honey Sesame Chicken


Not only does this dish come together quickly, but you probably already have all of the ingredients in your pantry.

Source: Pressure Cooking Today

6. Risotto with Butternut Squash


Yes, you read that right. You can make risotto without getting an arm ache from stirring it on the stove top.

Source: Blue Jean Chef

7. Garlic Lemon Chicken

Teacher_Instant_Pot_Lemon_Garlic Chicken

Even your pickiest eaters will love this simple dish.

Source: Predominantly Paleo

8. Turkey Meatball Stroganoff


Prep the meatballs in the morning. Then, cooking will only take a few minutes in the evening.

Source: Skinny Taste

9. Chicken and Rice


Gotta love that you can cook the rice and the chicken in the same pot!

Source: A Pinch of Healthy

10. Curried Lemon Coconut Chicken

Teacher_Instant_Pot_Curried_Lemon Coconut_Chicken

If you’ve never cooked with coconut milk, you’re missing out. Go ahead and give this recipe a try. Soon, you’ll be adding coconut milk to everything.

Source: Kitchen Stewardship

11. Mongolian Beef


This impressive steak dinner comes together in just 20 minutes.

Source: Living Sweet Moments

12. Chunky Potato Cheese Soup


Chunky potatoes. Bacon. Two cheeses?! I can’t stop drooling.

Source: Pressure Cooking Today

13. Crustless Spinach Tomato Quiche


Make it for dinner and then have the leftovers for breakfast the next morning.

Source: Pressure Cooking Today

14. BBQ Ribs


Believe it or not, you can have ribs for dinner on a school night. These come together in a quick 30 minutes.

Source: Leite’s Culinaria

15. French Dip Sandwiches


Save this one for an evening when you have a little more time. I promise it will be worth it.

Source: No. 2 Pencil

16. Mexican Shredded Chicken

The options are endless with this dish! The finished chicken can be used in tacos, enchiladas, salads, and anything else you can think of.

Source: Rebooted Mom

17. Beef Stew

Food for the soul. Cozy up with this classic dish, ready to eat in 45 minutes.

Source: Life Made Sweeter

18. Creamy Cajun Pasta with Sausage

No matter how spicy you choose to make this dish, it will still be packed full of flavor.

Source: Simply Happy Foodie

19. Fried Rice

Ready in 11 minutes, this Instant Pot dish sets a record in cook time. Plus, the ingredients in this dish are probably already in your pantry.

Source: Happy Foods Tube

20. Shrimp Paella

Now paella is attainable for everyone. This is going on my list for sure.

Source: My Forking Life

21. Taco Soup

If you are new to the Instant Pot game, this simple and delicious recipe is a great one to start with.

Source: Oh, Sweet Basil

22. Ginger Garlic Drumsticks

With little prep and easy clean up, there’s no excuse not to try these crispy chicken drumsticks.

Source: Living Sweet Moments

23. Chicken Pot Pie

Prep the chicken and vegetables in your Instant Pot, then finish this family favorite in the oven.

Source: Instant Pot Recipes

24. Oatmeal Jars

Make these on a Sunday evening and enjoy them for breakfast, lunch, or dinner all week long.

Source: Confessions of a Fit Foodie

25. Greek Chicken

Feta, artichoke hearts, olives, and fresh herbs take this dinner dish to the next level. Plus, it’s healthy!

Source: Wholesomelicious


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Career Advice

What Is Differentiated Instruction?

There are many questions that are just too embarrassing to ask: Do fish pass gas? There’s the speed of light and the speed of sound. Is there a speed of smell? What is differentiated instruction? You know, that phrase that gets whipped around the faculty meeting like a shuttlecock during a badminton match? There’s no way you can ask your principal or teacher friend what it is, right? That’s okay. WeAreTeachers is here to help.

What is differentiated instruction?

Differentiated instruction is an approach that helps educators tailor their teaching so that all students, regardless of their ability, can learn the classroom material. Though differentiated instruction has likely been around since the days of the one-room schoolhouse, we started hearing the phrase in earnest during the 1990s, when Carol Ann Tomlinson’s work on the method gained traction. It later came to greater prominence with No Child Left Behind.

Here’s an analogy: Imagine going into a department store to buy jeans and finding the same pair on every rack. No slim. No relaxed fit. Nothing for a person with long or short legs. Just the same jeans on every rack. That would be frustrating, right? True, many shoppers with a certain body type looking for a particular style would be more than happy to buy those jeans. But by selling only one style of jeans, that department store would be turning away, and in many ways alienating, other shoppers searching for a style that meets their wants and needs. Besides, it would be a ridiculous approach to selling jeans.

Unfortunately, many times a similar strategy is used in the classroom. Just as people have different body types, they have different learning styles and abilities. So it doesn’t make much sense to present information in one way and expect every student to learn effectively. Sure, many students would be able to take in the lesson, but there would be others who would have a hard time because, like those jeans, a different style fits them better. That’s where differentiated instruction comes in.

Differentiated instruction honors students’ diverse backgrounds and learning styles. With differentiation, teachers recognize their students as individuals with varying needs and provide them with more options for learning. In other words, teachers use multiple strategies to make sure that all students can absorb the information being taught, share what they’ve learned, and meet long- and short-term goals.

Okay, got it. So how do I differentiate?

First, teachers must know their students well. Assessment and reassessment of students are key. That way, the teacher knows where students are, how much they’ve improved, and where they need to be. Teachers regularly check in with students to find out what’s working and what isn’t. Second, teachers provide flexible learning options. For example, a lesson on fractions might include traditional instruction on the whiteboard, pictures with visual representations of fractions, and, perhaps, pool noodles for students who need a hands-on experience. Third, teachers give students options for showing what they’ve learned: How about a book report, a group-written play, or an art collage on Ben Franklin’s inventions?

That sounds like more work—which I don’t need.

Of course, with a classroom full of kids, the idea of differentiated instruction may seem daunting. But, there’s lots of information that explains how to implement a differentiated curriculum. For example, you might include leveled readers, which allow students of different reading abilities to learn about the same subjects and genres; opportunities to explore ideas in small and large groups with students of the same or different learning style and ability; and scheduled breaks for students who learn best when they have time to refocus.

Start here for simple, helpful ways to differentiate your classroom.

Learn more about differentiated instruction:

Oh, and yes, fish do pass gas. Is there a speed of smell? Kind of?

What are the ways you differentiate in your classroom? Share in the comments!


16 Retro School Supplies Every 70s and 80s Kid Loved

If you recognize any of the following retro school supplies from your school days, chances are you graduated, ahem, a while ago. Here are some of our favorites.

1. Scratch-and-Sniff Stickers


When teachers handed graded papers back, the excitement wasn’t over the A scrawled at the top. It was for the blueberry-pie-scented sticker affixed beside it that you then scratched and sniffed until the image wore off the sticker.

2. Triangular Rubber Pencil Grip


Here was an uncomfortable way to learn to grip a pencil correctly. These grips lived on every kindergartner’s and first grader’s pencils until someone created a smooth, round version that was much more finger-friendly.

3. Cardboard Pencil Boxes


Durable? Not so much, but we still loved them and loaded them up with all of our treasures.

4. Trapper Keepers


They really deserve the top spot on the retro school supplies list. They were so much more than just a binder. Not only did they contain all of your papers and folders, they sealed shut to protect those items from the wilds of school life. And opening them produced an incredibly satisfying and distinct Velcro riiiip.

5. Rubber Cement


Fondly remembered not for its use as glue, but for its likeness to snot when rolled into a ball.

6. Floppy Disks


They actually once were floppy but hardened and shrunk as time went on. They were eventually replaced by Zip drives, rewritable CDs and flash drives.

7. Erasable Pens


Both the ink and eraser were terrible, but it was such a brilliant concept!

8. Metal Compass


With enough practice, these helped us create perfect circles of every size. They also poked holes in paper, left scratches on desks, and probably caused more than a few serious injuries.

9. Slide Rules


No need for fancy calculators when you’ve got this nifty ruler!

10. Metal Safety Scissors


We snipped away until they got rusty or dull—no pretty, colored, plastic handle required.

11. Typewriter Eraser


Back when typewriting classes were required, these odd-looking erasers were a handy tool.

12. Library Punch Card Machine


Sure, rifling through the card catalog and choosing library books was fun, but the best, most mesmerizing part was watching the librarian slide the check-out card into the date-punching machine and hearing the thunk-thunk over and over and over.

13. Overhead Projector


These bulky projectors, along with transparency sheets that wiped clean with a damp cloth or the teacher’s spit-covered finger, were a classroom staple.

14. Filmstrip Machine


It was a great day any time one of these showed up in the classroom, educating students slide-by-slide with the help of a script recorded onto a cassette tape. And, oh, to be the student chosen to “turn the dial at the tone”—such excitement and responsibility!

15. Traveling Audio/Video Unit


Back in the day when teachers wanted their class to watch a video, they had to wheel this contraption into their room.

16. Manual Pencil Sharpener


Occasionally still found in the classroom today, students using these didn’t just sharpen their pencils to a perfect point, they also annoyed the teacher.

Are we missing one of your favorite throwbacks? Leave your comments on retro school supplies at the end, and we’ll add it! And if you’re looking for retro playgrounds, here’s a throwback for you.


8 Ways Getting Ready for School Is (Not at All) Like Getting Ready for the Red Carpet

Awards season is upon us. The Golden Globes, the SAG Awards, the Grammys, and the Oscars will have all of your favorite celebs prepping to look their best for the red carpet. Armed with a small army of stylists, makeup artists, and hair gurus, they have every resource imaginable to nail down that perfect look. And while you might plan and prepare for a hectic school day like a boss, the real world tends to bring even the best and most stylish teachers back to reality. Take a look at how preparing to walk the red carpet is (not) a lot like getting ready for school.

1. You have to wake up early.

Celebrities: To be red carpet ready, you’ve got to give yourself enough time to ensure everything is just perfect before heading out to the big event. So getting up early is key (after a peaceful night of at least eight hours of sleep).

Teachers: To be ready for any given school day, you also have to get up early. But that’s so you can make coffee, eat breakfast, take a shower, drink more coffee, make the kids’ lunches, finish grading a stack of essays, drive carpool, drink another cup of coffee, and arrange a parent-teacher conference, all before getting to school at the oh-so-reasonable hour of 6:50 a.m.

2. You have a skin-care regimen.

Celebrities: A lavender and sea salt facial followed by a foot massage at the trendiest spa imaginable to leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated for the big day.

Teachers: Your toddler throws applesauce on to your face, neck, ears, and grade book while you stumble through your kitchen stepping on LEGOs and screaming in agony.

3. You pick out the perfect outfit.

Celebrities: Hollywood A-listers spend weeks, if not months, consulting with top-tier stylists to put together perfect red carpet looks. Every detail must be perfect, because they know that making a good impression and setting trends are perhaps two of the most important parts of their job.

Teachers: A teacher’s dilemma: My brown blazer has a hole in the lapel. But it doesn’t have a mustard stain. My blue sport coat is two sizes too small. But I guess I can leave it unbuttoned. Oh to heck with it, I’m feeling glamorous today. I’ll wear my good suit (that I bought from the outlet store to wear on job interviews back when I was in college).

4. You answer a million questions.

Celebrities: Why did you want to play this character? What did this role mean to you as an actor? Who are you wearing? To be fully prepared for the blitz of red carpet journalists, you have to study for weeks beforehand and come up with a witty (and politically correct) answer to every possible question that could be thrown your way.

Teachers: When is recess? What was the homework? Are you grading on a curve? Why didn’t I get a better grade? Teachers, you better have answers to these questions, or it’s going to be a long day and an even longer school year.

5. You arrange transportation.

Celebrities: Before heading to the red carpet, you must make sure that you have a luxurious car, with space for your entourage, and a responsible driver to ferry you to the big event.

Teachers: Did I leave my keys in the car? Is there enough gas in the tank? Does it still smell from the Chinese takeout I left in there the other day? Oh crap! I’m supposed to drive the work carpool. I should have left 20 minutes ago. Our whole team is going to be late to school!

6. You have to stay hydrated.

Celebrities: Top-shelf sparkling mineral water is a must to make sure you’re healthy and ready for the rigor of the red carpet.

Teachers: Should I drink this coffee? Is it cold? Yes. Does it still have caffeine? Yes. No-brainer. Yes, I should definitely drink this coffee.

7. You have to prepare your speech.

Celebrities: You’ve finally made it. You’ve been nominated for a huge award, and you just might win. Time to write your acceptance speech. Make sure you thank everyone from God to your manicurist and add in an anecdote from childhood for color. You’ll have them eating from the palm of your hand.

Teachers: As a teacher, on the first day of school, you’re going to need a speech that is just as motivating and awe-inspiring as a celebrity’s award acceptance speech to get your students in the right frame of mind. But just remember your audience will be considerably younger, substantially more impressionable, and much less likely to give you a round of applause.

8. You prepare for the after-party.

Celebrities: The red carpet is done. The ceremony is over. The awards have been handed out. It’s time to party! Make sure you snag an invitation to the hottest, most exclusive after-party so you can see and be seen with all of the A-listers.

Teachers: School day’s done! Who wants $2 chips and salsa at the Mexican restaurant a block away from the school? Everyone? Let’s go!

What’s your getting ready for school routine? Does it look like Reese Witherspoon’s? Please share in the comments.

Free Printables

Free Poster: 7 Questions Students Should Ask Before Saying ‘I’m Done’

Sometimes, classwork feels like a race among students, doesn’t it? They want to get through it quickly so they can move on to the next task. We feel your pain. So we created a poster to remind your students of the questions they should ask themselves before they say they’re done. It can serve as a handy checklist for turning in work.

Download the full-sized poster here.

1. Is my name on it?

This might be the most important question on the list.

2. Can I say this is my best effort?

Challenge your students to give their best every time.

3. Did I follow all the directions?

This one is so essential. All directions must be followed!

4. Is it neat and organized?

If not, it’s time to straighten it up.

5. Did I double-check everything?

We all need to look back at our work.

6. Did I do the bare minimum?

Get your students to go that extra mile.

7. Is there anything I can improve?

This is a great final question they should ask before they turn in their work.

Download the full-sized poster here.

Life & Wellbeing

7 Ways to Boost Your Immune System When the Whole School Is Sick

Winter break may be behind us, but we are still in the throes of the dreaded cold and flu season. When it seems like an army of illnesses have taken over the school, what is a teacher to do? Following Benjamin Franklin’s advice, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” is the best way to combat cold and flu season and boost your immune system, even if the whole school is sick. Here are some tricks to try yourself!

1. Take probiotics daily.


Eating yogurt or kefir for breakfast might have an added perk—besides the yummy breakfast that it is. Several studies indicate that probiotic usage improves the immune system. How is that? About 90% of the body’s immune system calls the gut “home.” By ingesting probiotics, you are arming your immune system with all that it needs to fight off invading viruses and bacteria.

Not into probiotic supplements? No problem. A study from the Critical Reviews in Food and Science Nutrition states that even fermented milk or other probiotic-rich foods will be sufficient in boosting the immune system.

2. Brew your own elderberry syrup.


Most individuals reach for cough syrup only after the cold has hit. However, boosting your immune system may be as easy as brewing your own batch of elderberry syrup. Elderberry syrup is made by boiling and simmering dried elderberries with water, cloves, and cinnamon, and then adding raw honey.

This is not a new trend. In fact, elderberries have been used for centuries. Because elderberries are so high in flavonoids (immunity-boosting compounds), many individuals use this syrup as a daily preventative during cold and flu season. A word of warning: Raw or undercooked elderberries can be poisonous. If you’re not comfortable preparing your own elderberry syrup, you can easily purchase it.

3. Eat a balanced diet.


You are what you eat, right? The foods you consume can play a big role in strengthening your immune system. A good way to do this is by eating plenty of colorful foods. You can also look into super foods or immunity-boosting foods, like mushrooms or garlic.

4. Be nice to your liver.


Think of your liver as a filter for your body. An overworked liver won’t be able to flush out toxins as easily as a healthy liver. Eat foods that support your liver (e.g. cruciferous veggies) or cleanse the liver with lemon water each morning.

Limit foods and activities, including consuming alcohol and smoking, that stress out the liver.

5. Get some sunshine.


Most people associate vitamin C as the one and only cold fighter, but new research suggests that vitamin D (or specifically, the lack of vitamin D) plays a key role in how often someone contracts an illness. Many individuals in colder climates were found to be deficient in vitamin D, but when supplemented with fortified products, those individuals suffered half as many colds.

The takeaway: Either sneak out for some sunshine—if you can find it—or make sure your diet includes an appropriate amount of vitamin D.

6. Make exercise a priority.


We get it—being a teacher requires doing a lot of work outside of the classroom. Between planning and grading, it may seem hard to find time to squeeze in a workout, but exercise is even more important during cold and flu season. Exercise can improve health and bolster immunity by increasing circulation throughout the body. With good circulation, immune cells can move more effectively throughout the body, making you less prone to illness.

7. Reduce your stress load.


Stress isn’t fun for anyone, but constantly feeling the strain of stress can drain your immune system. Do what you can to manage your stress levels. Make self-care a priority. Meditate, try yoga, or plan a fun date with good friends.

How do you boost your immune system during cold and flu season? Leave your suggestions in the comments.

Life & Wellbeing

Why I Can’t Separate My Politics From My Classroom

I’m a political teacher at heart, but I won’t tell kids how I vote. I won’t tell them where—or even whether—I go to church. When it comes to politics in the classroom, I border on the fanatical about keeping things private. That’s because I believe that we have an alarming amount of influence over the minds of young people. That influence can’t be helped, but it should certainly be used responsibly.

I’ve never had a problem separating my politics from my classroom. But I didn’t realize when I started out how much my classroom would influence my politics.

Education was my major political issue before I was even old enough to vote. I assumed that would continue once I became a teacher, but I could not have been more wrong.

Don’t get me wrong. If we ever get a candidate who makes a credible promise to reduce standardized testing, I’ll vote for her wholeheartedly. But the promises to pay teachers more—promises that are never kept, anyway—don’t hold as much appeal as they used to.

Because it turns out, my interests aren’t the only ones that matter to me anymore.

You see, I have students who are Dreamers. They’ve lived here since they were toddlers, and they’ve worked incredibly hard to achieve goals that are now slipping away. How can I worry about my salary when Karina might be deported to the same town where her family members were murdered?

And I have students with chronic health issues. How can I vote based on my tax bracket when Mario could literally die based an election? And I have students who are poor or transgender or Muslim, whose interests have come to mean as much to me as my own.

I’ve also come to realize that voting for policies that help my students is voting in my own self interest.

My country will be a better place if Karina stays here because she is brilliant, and she has so much to give back to us. If Rodrigo is allowed to serve in the military, he will be the best Marine I can imagine, no matter what gender he was born. And letting Mario die because his family can’t afford dialysis will not make America great, no matter who preaches otherwise.

I have children of my own to raise as well, two of them. And I know that some people will tell me I should vote based on their interests, rather than those of my students. But here’s the thing; my bio-kids adore my students. How do you explain to a six-year-old that his favorite babysitter might have to leave the country? How could I look my daughter in the eye and claim that the kids she sees as older brothers and sisters don’t deserve the same rights that she enjoys because she was born in this country to a middle-class, Christian, white family?

It’s only good for my own kids if it’s good for my students, too. 

I’ve alway been reasonably politically savvy and involved, but I never expected the extent to which my teaching experience would impact my politics. For me, at least, spending my days with the coolest bunch of hijab-wearing, Spanish-speaking, free-lunch-eating people I know has changed the way I see the political process—and those who run it—forever.

What’s your stance on how teaching has affected your politics? Are you a political teacher? We’d love to hear in the comments. 

Life & Wellbeing

What to Do When Your Friends Don’t Understand Your Teaching Job

How do we explain to someone outside of the profession what teaching is really like? It’s a daily juggle of a hundred moving parts and a crazy exhausting gig, to be sure. So what do we do when friends or loved ones feel neglected or are critical of our after-school availability or energy level?

Recently, ST wrote to our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE! with such a question: “As teachers, we handle challenges and compromises all day, every day. How do you deal when friends don’t understand that these challenges and compromises sometimes take priority over our personal lives? Teaching is not a job you just clock in and out of. I feel like the teaching career is so misunderstood.”

Our teacher friends spoke up and offered these words of wisdom:

Give your friends a chance to see your side.

Rebecca Bolton suggests having an honest dialogue with friends to help them understand where you’re coming from and give them a chance to be supportive. Lindsey Steele agrees,”Ask your friends to listen to your struggle without offering advice or negativity. Best friends will just listen when you ask them to.”

Or, take a page from Kathleen Morlan’s book. She once kept a diary of a day in her teaching life, time-stamping her activities in five-minute increments, and shared it with a friend. “Her first reaction,” Morlan tells us, “was ‘you waited that long to pee?’ And her second, ‘Teachers are actors with a new script every class period!'”

Better yet, invite your friend to come in and shadow you for one day as a classroom volunteer. There’s nothing more effective for compassion-building than walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. Once they feel the energy of a classroom, see how many demands are made every minute of the day and watch you juggle your workload, they may finally get it.

Be choosy with your friends.

“I have amazing friends,” shares Sarah Mattie. “The ones who can’t handle that I’m not always available stop being in my life. It’s not reasonable to expect people to be at your service all the time. Sure, I do drop everything when a friend is in crisis. It’s what you do. But, if a friend is complaining about me not wanting to go to a concert at 10 pm on a Wednesday and refuses to understand why, that’s not someone I need.”

Redefine your boundaries.

“If friends aren’t willing to cut you some slack,” agrees Zoe W., “it’s time to adjust your boundaries, and that may mean ending or cutting way back on the friendship. Some friends may just need to be a winter/spring/summer break friend.” 

Adjust your priorities.

Perhaps in the end, it may take some soul-searching to find the answer. After all, it is possible that your friend may actually be offering you some valuable insight. As one new teacher coach puts it, if you give everything you have to your job, you will have nothing left for yourselfincluding nurturing relationships, which we all need. And if you have nothing left, you’ll burn out before you even start. 

If that is the case, take the advice of James Leatherman, who advises, “Work to live, not the other way around. Give 100% to your students while you are there and then leave your work at work when you go home.” Only you can decide the right balance between friends and work that makes sense for your life. 

What tips do you have for teachers when friends don’t understand teaching? Add your insight to the comments below.

Career Advice

7 Awesome Reasons for Teachers to Visit Their Public Libraries—Besides Books

As if we didn’t have a million reasons to love public libraries, here are seven of our favorite free library resources for teachers.

1. Digital streaming services

Some libraries offer patrons access to thousands of streaming movies, videos, audiobooks, and music through services such as Hoopla. Just enter your username and password, hook up the projector, and click play. You can find picture books that are narrated, too, which is a great story time resource when you are suffering from a sore throat.

2. Research databases

Gathering resources for a unit? Your local library may provide access to digital newspaper archives, magazines and scholarly journals, encyclopedias, photographs, and maps. These resources can also be used by students for their own research projects.

3. STEAM and STEM Support

Many public libraries have their own makerspaces, places where people come together to use available resources for do-it-yourself projects. If you are thinking about creating a makerspace in your own classroom, check out your local library for inspiration and support. In Chicago, the city’s main library offers workshops on using tools such as the electronic cutter, the vinyl cutter, the 3-D printer, and more.

4. Internet and computers

Many of us take it for granted, but not every teacher has access to a computer and unlimited internet. Many libraries allow patrons to book computers for internet access and word processing. Do you have to research a topic and create an assignment? The library may be an option for you when your school is closed and you don’t have access at home.

5. Test prep

We may hate it, but often we have to do it. With just a quick survey of my local library system, I located practice books for PARCC, ACT, SAT, and Advanced Placement classes. Why not choose a few questions, project them for the class, and discuss how best to approach them? Just a little bit of preparation can go a long way.

6. Tutoring services

If you have students who need extra help, but you don’t have enough time to offer them the support they need, you may want to contact your local library. Many offer after-school programs where students have access to tutors.

7. Librarians!                                                        

Best of all, libraries have librarians! In some systems, you may be able to arrange for a librarian to visit your classroom. Alternatively, you could take your class on a field trip to the library. If you are preparing a research project for students, a librarian can provide an overview of resources in the collection, teach students to locate the information they need, and help them navigate their way around research roadblocks.

Even if you have a fully-functioning school library, a public library can provide additional, high-quality resources without breaking your bank!

What free library resources for teachers did we miss? Please share in the comments, and we’ll add to this list.