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Teach Your Students to Love Reading: 3 Better Ideas

I'm a reader. I've always been a reader. I used to read half a book in the middle of the night with a flashlight when I was supposed to be sleeping. And guess what? There were NO incentives for me to read. NONE. No parties, no rewards, no prizes. You know what else there wasn't? There were no reading logs, no reading response homework, no parent signatures, no consequence for not reading. 

So why did I bother reading? Because I liked to. Because I was interested in the books I was reading. Because my teachers instilled a love of reading instead of a requirement of reading.

Since then, a lot has changed about how we handle independent reading at school. I wrote a post yesterday about 3 mistakes I made that made my students hate reading! Today, I want to talk about 3 better ideas I've tried that actually work... that make them want to read! 

How to Make Kids Hate Reading: 3 Mistakes I Made

Every teacher knows how important it is for students to read on their own... in a book of their choosing... outside the classroom. When it comes to encouraging students to read outside of the school day, I've made a lot of mistakes, y'all. A lot. And it broke my teacher heart to learn through anonymous Google surveys of my students that I was making them hate reading! Today I'm sharing my mistakes with you... Think of it as a step by step guide to what not to do!

Dear Teacher: You are AMAZING!

An open letter from one amazing (but less than perfect) teacher to another. You are enough. You are more than okay. You are amazing! #amazingteacher

Dear teacher,

I want to talk to you today from my heart. I know how overwhelming it can be when you look at social media and wonder if you'll be able to measure up to the things you're seeing other teachers do in their classrooms. I get overwhelmed with it all too.

I'm sorry that we, as teacher-bloggers, sometimes fall into the trap of only posting the best of the best, and not the everyday realities of teaching. 

As we get closer and closer to heading back to school, I know you're being flooded with pictures of perfect classrooms. I've seen them too. They're on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook... everywhere I turn. They're gorgeous, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with having a picture-perfect, Pinterest classroom. 

But sometimes you just can't. Even if you want to. This year, my school is moving into a brand new building. It's gorgeous! But that also means we're starting from scratch in the classroom setup department. Movers took things from our old building to the new one over the summer, but they aren't teachers. I went in today for the first time all summer, and this is what I saw:

An open letter from one amazing (but less than perfect) teacher to another. You are enough. You are more than okay. You are amazing! #amazingteacher

Teachers start back on Monday, and we have 4 days between now and when school starts to get our rooms completely put together. From scratch. Oh, did I mention that I have a husband and a 5 year old at home who need me, and I'm 8 months pregnant with our second? 

Here's the thing: My classroom won't be perfect this year. And it's ok. And it doesn't make me any less of a great teacher. 

Some people might tell you that mine is a Pinterest classroom. I'll let you in on a little secret though... It's never as clean or as put together or as perfect as I feel like it should be. And that's probably because I'm comparing my classroom to all the pictures I see on social media. 

Maybe you do this too. Maybe it makes you feel inferior. Maybe you feel like you have to settle for being an okay teacher. Maybe you think you'll be getting those "world's okayest teacher" mugs this year instead of the "world's best teacher" ones. But none of that is true. You are amazing! You are enough! You are better than just okay!

See, being an amazing teacher isn't about your classroom theme or how many hours you work after school and on the weekends. It isn't about how elaborate your back to school or end of the year student gifts are. And it's certainly not about how many trendy teacher things you have in your classroom. (Can you say cactus-pineapple themed lightbox?!)

An open letter from one amazing (but less than perfect) teacher to another. You are enough. You are more than okay. You are amazing! #amazingteacher

None of those things are what your students will remember about you. They'll remember the things that made you an #amazingteacher.

Amazing teachers like you connect with your students. You know your students' family situations, their hopes and dreams, their fears and failures. Your students know they can come to you for help, because they know you love them.

Amazing teachers like you pour your heart and soul into the actual work of teaching... not decorating, not organizing, not back to school shopping. You know that what really matters is what you do every day for your students, not what your classroom looks like.

Amazing teachers like you constantly strive to improve your teaching practices, even if what you know is best for your students might not be what's trendy right now. You aren't afraid to be different, if different is what works for your class. 

Amazing teachers like you love what you do. Even though you might sometimes feel less than perfect, teaching is your passion and it shows. Your students know it. Your administrators know it. Your coworkers know it. And it has nothing to do with anything you saw on Instagram!

Amazing teachers like you are also amazing moms & dads, husbands & wives, siblings & friends. Because truly amazing teachers know that you have to balance your dedication to your students with your personal life. You have a family and friends that need you just like your students do! 

This year, I'm going to strive to let my social media reflect what's real in my classroom (even if that means I'm posting a picture of a messy room or sloppy handwriting!) I hope more teacher-authors will join me in an effort to show that being an #amazingteacher is about so much more than picture-perfect classrooms. 

Most importantly, I hope that my being a little more transparent helps you realize that YOU ARE AN AMAZING TEACHER! You're amazing because of what you do every day for your students. (No matter what your classroom looks like!)

Another #amazingteacher whose classroom isn't perfect either

P.S. Head over to my Instagram (@chalkandapples), and tag some friends who need to know that they are an #amazingteacher too!

An open letter from one amazing (but less than perfect) teacher to another. You are enough. You are more than okay. You are amazing! #amazingteacher

The ONE box you need to pack now for Back to School

Packing this ONE box at the end of the school year will make back to school easier than ever!
The end of the year is always busy and stressful. Whether your school requires you to pack everything every year or not, there's ONE box every teacher should absolutely pack at the end of the school year to make sure you get off to a smooth start when you go back to school in the fall. If you're moving classrooms or buildings, it might even be a lifesaver if things get lost in the move! 

32 Keyboard Shortcuts for Mac Users

Keyboard shortcuts can save tons of time on your Mac! Here are 32 you'll want to know.

Keyboard shortcuts are an incredible time-saver for anyone who works on a computer. A few months ago, I finally decided to switch to a Mac after being a lifetime PC girl. I have to say, I'm loving it, but it was a little bit of an adjustment. One of the biggest things I had to do was relearn all the keyboard shortcuts I was using on my PC. Here are some of my favorite Mac keyboard shortcuts! 
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