The Chalk Blog

Planning Your Year in 3 Days... or Less!

Why Putting off Your Lesson Planning all Summer is OK

It’s almost time for another school year to begin! As I reflect on this transition from summer to fall, I have a confession to make. Every June, I’d head off for summer break with a bucket list a mile long —  adventures to inspire me, self-care routines to re-energize me, curriculum preparation and planning to make each year better than the last. But I’ll be honest, very seldom did I accomplish everything I set out to do, especially anything related to work. More often than not, August would arrive with a mix of panic and exhilaration, and I’d find myself pushed to complete three months’ worth of planning in three weeks (or three days, if I was having way too much fun!). Can you relate? If so, read on to learn a few tips to make the most of your remaining summer planning time!

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Topics: Teaching Advice, Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, Instructional Strategies, anxiety

Classroom Organization on Student Anxiety Levels

Do you or your students feel as though you have no where to escape to inside of the classroom? Like there are people everywhere and you can't get a second to yourself? An unorganized classroom environment can create anxious students. It's a good thing Keely is here to tell us all about how our classrooms can benefit from having 'Calm Boxes' personally designed to match each students' needs!

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Topics: Teaching Advice, Video, Social Emotional Learning

Avoiding August Anxiety

How to Avoid Letting Anxiety Get the Best of You!

It’s August, teachers. These three words summon fear of future school days ahead for many educators. Dreams of teaching duties interrupt summer slumber. For countless rational (and irrational) reasons, this third month of summer rings a familiar bell that often rolls out the red carpet for August anxiety. Ugh. Sigh. Panic and despair. Educators are becoming well-trained to identify and intervene with student anxiety, but unfortunately anxiety targets teachers, too.    

Let’s take a breath together and consider these questions:  How does anxiety meet and greet you every August? What can you do to avoid August anxiety? 

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Topics: Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, anxiety

Motivation & Engagement [VIDEO]

Do you feel as though your students' minds are all over the place sometimes? Or that your teacher-mind is scattered? Like you all, collectively, just need a little break to get back on track? If you said yes to any of these questions, check out our video blog for some ideas on how to keep your students, and yourself, motivated and engaged throughout the day!

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Topics: Teaching Advice, Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, Instructional Strategies, Video

New Course Alert! 806: Digital Citizenship in The Classroom

Empowering Digital Citizens in Our Classrooms

Digital citizenship lessons empower students to engage responsibly and effectively in the digital world. With the right guidance and support, students not only learn to be safe and responsible consumers, they learn to contribute rich ideas to online spaces and make real and lasting differences. They also learn how to find balance in their technology use in order to stay physically and emotionally healthy. Even if you are familiar with the benefits of teaching digital citizenship, you may still have questions about the best way to introduce these concepts in your classroom. If this is you, we invite you to join us in one of Learners Edge newest courses, 806: Digital Citizenship in The Classroom!

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Topics: Teaching with Technology, Technology

Why Target Causes Teacher Anxiety

Who said back-to-school supplies are necessary in JULY??

I’ve made a personal pact that I never want to move to a house that isn’t somewhat close to a TARGET.  To say that our family frequents this particular beacon of consumer capitalism would be an understatement.  We are always there.  TARGET is the destination place when I’m in desperate need of anything from home supplies to home décor….from toys to toiletries….and from socks to sandals (of course those should NEVER be worn together!).   Our family is loyal to TARGET throughout the year….It’s a store that never lets us down….until, of course, the 2nd week of July each summer.

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Topics: Teaching Advice, Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, anxiety

Your Summer is Served!


During the school year, we barely have enough time to eat lunch each day.  The afternoon bell rings and we make a mad dash to the fridge to grab either a well-constructed, thoughtful, nutritious lunch…or leftovers from the previous night.  Either way, the race is on.  We are competing against an opponent who has the upper hand throughout the school year and more often than not, wins:  time.

Isn’t this why summers are so cherished? It’s not the sun…. or the projects…or even the vacations:  It’s the time.  The school year is consumed with time-takers and the summer is a time-giver.  The school year leaves us asking “Where did the time go?” and the summer’s reply is “Don’t worry, you have plenty of time.”  If the school year was a meal during lunchtime, it would be fast food…The summer, however, is a sit-down restaurant with a full menu and most importantly, time to order, eat, and reflect on the meal before leaving.

As you think about your summer (or what’s left of your summer!), I’d like you to consider your “time menu” and what every teacher should order during their break away from school.  After looking through the summer menu, you’ll want to select a beverage, appetizer, salad, entrée, and of course, a dessert.

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Topics: Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, educator wellness

Mindfulness & Wellness Habits: The "I'll Do It" Syndrome [VIDEO]

Do you spread yourself too thin? Do you over-commit? Are you constantly saying, "I'll do it"? If you said yes to any of these questions, check out our video blog for some ideas about how to say NO to decrease the possibility of teacher burnout.

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Topics: Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, Video

STEM, Middle School, and Girl Power: An Interview with Ms. Lauren Wester


Anyone who’s ever worked in a middle school or raised an adolescent, will nod and smile when Lauren Wester says her middle school-age students make her laugh every day. “There isn't a day that goes by without a student saying or doing something that cracks me up,” she claims, adding, “I also feel like they are in this magical in between; their brains are developed enough to understand jokes or sarcasm, but still open to and reliant upon adult help. It feels like I’m truly helping shape them.” 

Ms. Wester teaches 7th grade life science and 9th grade forensic science in a large suburban school district. Her teaching targets range from fun and focused learning to serious life skills that reach beyond the classroom out into the community and global society. 

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Topics: STEAM/STEM, Gender Differences

Curating a Diverse Classroom Library

The Windows and Mirrors Model 

As a black girl growing up in a predominantly white community, I didn’t see much of myself in the books I was reading or the stories being told.  I wanted to learn more about the people that looked like me and was hungry to explore the places my people came from.  None of which was part of the standard district curriculum. Beginning in second grade I began making choices about who or what I studied, based on what was relevant to me.  For a biography project, I chose a little known black historical figure, Marian Anderson.  For my 5th grade geography project, I chose to study Kenya.   

With an increasingly diverse school-age population, making school relevant to students is critical. 

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Topics: Teaching Excellence, diversity

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