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An intriguing viewpoint posited in the article, “Rethinking Learning,” found on www.3gSelling.com, is that we often base our decisions more on what we are accustomed to than on what really works best. This is a useful perspective from which to examine expections and decisions that are made with regard to curriculum use and teacher evaluation.
It is not unusual for the directions on how to use a curriculum to include an admonition that in order to be used effectively, the curriculum must be followed as is. Doing this is often problematic because though learning takes place within a process, learning itself is not linear.
Hence, a teacher might opt to complete a particular aspect of a lesson based on what she knows about her students and not on a stipulated timeframe or, manner stiuplated by the curriculum. This type of professional judgment is integral for meeting specific needs through such vehicles like diversity, personalized learning and differentiation; all of which focus on meeting individual’s needs.
Given this recognition of varying individual needs, it is equally important to understand and accept that even when different instructional methods are used, not all students will grasp concepts at the same time. Similarly, a teacher will not always be able to address learning deficiencies during one lesson. Being able to do this is highly dependent on the nature of the lesson and student effort.
This is an especially important issue for evaluators during classroom observations. Conclusions about a teacher's practice should not be based on how many students did not grasp a particular concept at one point and time but rather they should be centered on what the teacher does subsequently and how effective it is in moving students towards mastery. This is in keeping with the true nature of learning, which occurs overtime and at a different pace for each person.
Unrealistic expectations and unsound decisions easily become the norm because they sound great and because changing them entails some discomfort. However, for learning to thrive, these habits need to be laid to rest.
I have not been a huge proponent of the Common Core State Standards. However, if education is faced with such a sweeping movement, teachers should be prepared with good strategies. Here are my Top 5 ways to improve your Common Core strategies.
Mark Barnes is the author of ASCD books, Role Reversal: Achieving Uncommonly Excellent Results in the Student-Centered Classroom and The 5-Minute Teacher: How do I maximize time for learning in my classroom? Learn more here.
In one of his academic articles, Andrew Burke reports that teachers make some 30 non-trivial work related decisions every hour and engage in as many as 1,500 interactions with students every day. No wonder teachers are so exhausted!
The opportunity to engage with students as many as 1,500 times every day presents us with lots of opportunities to “get it right”—and just as many opportunities to fall short.
While these four strategies from blogger and ESL teacher Larry Ferlazzo won’t guarantee that we “get it right” all the time, they may prove useful for strengthening your relationships with challenging students.
Simple Ways to Reach Your Challenging Students
Conduct regular student reflections
Most of us regularly tell students what we expect of them; less often do we ask them to set expectations for themselves. One way to have students take stock of their behavior and intellectual growth is by having them write weekly reflections. As an example, you might consider having students answer and discuss prompts like these:
The idea is for each student to write about how they see themselves in the context of that particular topic and determine if they are satisfied with themselves. If not, encourage them to reflect on how they can improve.
In his class, Ferlazzo begins each week by having students write a goal and closes each Friday by asking them to assess whether or not they were successful in reaching it.
Use daily evaluations
Writing students’ names on the board is one amongst many “old school” methods of discipline still used in the classroom.
Instead of resorting to this, try using daily evaluations instead.
To start, discuss important elements of a healthy classroom. This should be a conversation that includes everyone. Based on this discussion, develop a check list, have students grade themselves on each criteria and assign themselves an overall grade at the end of each day.
Self-assessments should only take a few minutes to review and comment on.
No more phone calls about bad behavior
Instead of calling the parents of a student who was not behaving well, Ferlazzo suggests telling disruptive students that you will not be calling their parents—at least not that day.
Instead, let them know that the phone call will wait until the following week so that you can report all the good things they’ve done and how they’ve improved in the last week.
Arrange a secret sign with students that lets them know they need to stop
Private conversations usually help curb disruptive behavior, but they may not be necessary if you and the student arrange a “sign” that lets the student know a specific behavior needs to stop. This may be as simple as standing next a student or tapping on his or her desk.
If you stop by Mr. Ferlazzo’s blog, you’ll not only find a collection of useful teaching resources, you’ll also be able to read the six remaining classroom management tips we mention here.
When the news that Kidblog is no longer completely free hit cyberspace, reactions poured in on this blog and on social media sites, like Twitter and Facebook.
|Kidblog CEO Matt Hardy|
Kidblog, arguably the most popular education blogging platform, recently, and rather covertly, rolled out a three-tier pricing program, which includes a premium option that costs $2.00 per student per year.
Granted, there is a middle tier that is just $60 per year (reasonable for a quality program like Kidblog), but even this is too much for many teachers, already bogged down with expenses that paltry budgets won't cover.
With traffic to the original news-breaking post increasing exponentially, Kidblog CEO, Matt Hardy, decided to weigh in on the discussion. Here are excerpts of his comments, posted here.
"Making these adjustments involved tough decision-making. . . As I'm sure you can also understand, it costs a lot to provide a great free service like Kidblog. To ensure that we can continue to provide long term value for teachers and students, we rolled out premium features for those users who need extra resources. This will allow us to maintain a sustainable business that can grow and respond to our users' needs."
In his comment, Hardy also claims that Kidblog has received "overwhelmingly positive reactions to the premium plans," although it's not clear what this means.
While I appreciate Hardy making his way to this blog to respond to upset users, and I understand that there may be a need to generate company-sustaining revenue, I'm still not happy that one minute all my Kidblog features were free, and the next minute some came with a fee.
I think an email or a post on Kidblog's own blog page, explaining the move would have been appropriate. What about asking longterm loyal users which features were most important to them, so perhaps those could have remained free -- like student choice of themes?
I have championed Kidblog as the hands-down best education blogging platform for years on my how-to video site, Learn it in 5, and at workshops. I'll continue to do this, I'm sure.
Sadly, now I have to add a footnote. Kidblog is free. . . well, sort of.
Cross-posted at Mark Barnes: where conversation begins
It seems like over the past several years, general search engines like Google and Bing have gotten less capable of delivering results free of spam or junk, or complete commercialism. After all those search engines use machine learning and evaluation far more than human judgment to determine what gets shown for a specific search term.
So, I was thinking. Would a "search engine" that incorporated more human judgment be better? In fact, would a search engine that included ONLY hand picked, but only the best sources to search work better?
More specifically, would it work better for say, a teacher searching for some free lesson plans, or learning activities to search only sites that have been vetted by a human. Since the technology for building something like that exists, I decided to give it a shot.
The Teacher's Search Engine just kicked off yesterday, but the premise is simple. Cut down on the number of sites to be searched, and include only the really good ones. And, introduce human judgment to eliminate the spam sites, sites that bait and switch, or are simply there to display ads.
I'm just testing out this little project to see whether it's worth pursuing, but I'm liking things so far. And, the best way to get a feel for it is to try it.
You can access it at http://parents-teachers.com/search/ and comments are welcome. Is it helpful?
I love getting my hands on new software, especially when it’s free, but I’ve noticed something: While all of these pieces of software are ultimately “cooler” than Power Point, student presentations aren’t necessarily more engaging or organized because of them. In fact, the presentations are almost exactly the same—they’re simply dressed up in a different outfit.
But it’s not just students who are giving bad Power Point presentations
Most of us do way too much telling and not enough showing. Instead of providing our audience with an engaging image and a half dozen words, most of us load up each slide with a bulleted list, a crutch, that we not only read directly from, but rely on to convey our message.
Power Point or not, how do we teach our students to give better presentations? And how do we start giving better presentations ourselves?
To help answer this question, I’d like to share a few ideas from blogger and teacher technologist, Clint Walters.
How to Put a Little Power Into Your Students’ Power Point Presentations
Don’t write everything you want to say on your PowerPoint slide
Presumably your audience already knows how to read, so there’s no reason to load up your slide with text and read it back to them.
Stay away from bulleted lists
Use no more than six words on each slide
Unless you are quoting someone, stick to as little text as possible.
Do use a variation on the PechaKucha (20x20) technique
If you’re not familiar with this technique, it’s all visual—there’s no text at all in a PechaKucha presentation.
Here’s how it works: twenty slides, twenty seconds of talking accompany each one. Each slide contains a sleek, visually engaging image and no more than six words.
While the 20 slides, 20 second formula is probably too much to ask of students right away, you might start with 10 slides, 10 seconds.
If you are looking for free, high-quality, creative-commons images, check out a few of the sites below:
In fifth grade, I had a teacher named Mrs. K. She was a no-nonsense kind of lady, but like any master teacher, she was able to maintain a perfect equilibrium of toughness and tenderness. She demanded excellence, but she also knew when it was time to pull back and nurture. That’s a rare and special talent.
Two decades later, I can still remember things Mrs. K said, or the way that she could effortlessly transition between teaching long division and improvising songs on the piano—songs, I might add, that included the vocabulary and spelling words we were studying.
I wager that most of us have warm feelings about at least one teacher. We may not have seen this teacher in decades, but the impression made by him or her never quite leaves us. Excellent teachers come in all forms, but I’d like to share five things about my teacher that not only inspired me as a student, but turned me into an aspiring educator.
5 Lessons I Learned From a Master Teacher
She demanded excellence
Mrs. K knew how to have fun, but that never stood in the way of her demand for excellence in both our conduct and work. Anything less than the best and most urbane was not tolerated. We learned this quickly and rose to the occasion—and she did too.
She knew that there was a time for play
The first time Mrs. K joined our recess kickball game—ankle-length dress and all—surprised all of us. At our school, the teachers rotated recess duty: two would supervise while the others ate lunch in the cafeteria or prepped for the rest of their classes. On several occasions, Mrs. K gave up her prep time so that she could join in on whatever game her students were playing. When this happened, large groups of students would migrate to the baseball field to watch. Like us, they were impressed by this playful side of Mrs. K. I’m sure they also found it odd that the same woman who scolded them for dawdling, or marched them to the gym with the precision of an army sergeant, actually owned tennis shoes and knew how to thrown down on the kick ball court.
Joining in on our games showed us that our teacher could cut loose, laugh at herself, and that she genuinely liked spending time with us.
She found a way to incorporate her talents into the curriculum
Mrs. K wasn’t a virtuoso on the piano, but that never stopped her from playing “Happy Birthday” or banging out an improvised song that included creative ways to spell vocabulary words. Not only were these sing-alongs fun, they taught us something.
The lesson I took from this: Use your talents creatively, share them with students, and find a way to bring them into the classroom. This will keep things engaging for both you and the students.
She was forgiving
I’ve never given them a lie detector test, but I know a couple teachers who claim they never cheated in school. I happen to be one that did and, as you might have guessed, Mrs. K was the teacher who caught me. The details of the incident probably aren’t that important, but Mrs. K was no pushover; she knew there was no way I could have calculated the math problems she assigned our group in my head.
Once the rest of the class left for recess, Mrs. K called me up to her desk, handed me my paper and said, “You have the right answers, but I don’t see any work. Where is it?” Before I could answer, she added, “I just want you to be honest with me about this assignment.” I fessed up and to my surprise, she smiled, held out her hand, shook mine and said, “I admire your honesty.”
I didn’t receive a detention and I didn’t fail the assignment. Instead, she allowed me to redo the assignment for homework.
What did I learn from this? When I eventually had my own students, my classroom was not exempt from cheating. After weeks of going over plagiarism and proper citation, I would always find that two or three students had copied large sections of articles they found on Google and pasted them into their own papers. I felt betrayed, insulted and frustrated with these students. I may not have always handled these situations as gracefully as Mrs. K did—but I always strove to.
She made a big deal out of greeting us
What I always appreciated about Mrs. K was the way she greeted us every morning. As we would come into the class, she would stand outside the door, smile and greet us by name. This showed the class not only that she was pleased to see us, but that she was ready and eager to explore a day of learning with us. It was a simple, but important gesture that still sticks with me.
Before I started teaching, I spent five years as a writing tutor in the Marygrove College writing center. While each student had a unique set of needs, most struggled to commit their initial ideas to paper.
Like most of us, students want to get it right on the first shot. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Writing is chaotic. It’s messy. Why? Because most of us (that includes professionals) don’t really know what and how we’re going to say what we want to say until we actually start writing.
To help students move beyond the “scary white screen,” I came to rely on a writing strategy called clustering. If you’re not familiar with this invention strategy, the student starts by jotting down a nucleus word; this should be a word or phrase that is related to the assigned topic. The nucleus word should trigger a series of other word associations that students continue to jot down quickly and without censorship.
It’s a chaotic process, but even after five minutes of clustering, most of my students were astounded by how much they knew and how many questions they had about topics they, not even five minutes before, vehemently claimed were “boring.”
While I started teaching students to cluster by having them write on a scrap sheet of paper, I eventually turned to a free web application called bubbl.us.
During our session, the student and I would read through the clustering handout (you’ll find this below). Then I would pull up bubbl.us on my laptop and turn it over to the student.
bubbl.us. is convenient for a few reasons: First, there’s no learning curve. Second, it allowed me to save a digital version of the cluster and email it to the student. When we picked up the following week, all I had to do was pull up the file and I would know exactly what we discussed in our previous session.
In my experience, this exercise is helpful with students of all ages and abilities. I even use it myself. To help you teach clustering to your students, I’ve included the handout I used with my own students below.
What is Clustering? And How Can It Help Me Develop My ideas?
Most serious and experienced writers incorporate some sort of writing strategy into their habits, so you should feel no shame in using them. In the following exercise, you’ll learn how to use clustering as a way of developing your ideas.
First, you must think of a word or phrase. You can do this with any random word or phrase, but it is far more effective to choose something that is related to the assigned topic. Say you are writing an essay about your experience with the American Dream….well, “American Dream” might be the best phrase to begin with. Here’s what to do next:
I discovered this great education infographic and thought it would be worth sharing with all of you. The flipped classroom method is a fairly new teaching concept I find interesting. It reminds me of the Montessori way of teaching because it allows students to completely master a subject before moving on, enabling them to work at their own pace. Students watch the lessons at home and are able to spend more individual time with their teachers mastering the subject content in the classroom.
Have you used the flipped classroom method? What was your experience? Are you considering using it? Please respond in the comments below. Check out the great infographic about flipped classrooms, created by Dan Grafton, below.
Thanksgiving is always such a hectic time of year. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with all of the tasks that need to be completed prior to enjoying that long-awaited, delicious dinner with family.
I sometimes find myself caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday that I forget to step back and take a moment to really think about what I’m thankful for. I’m thankful for so much, but right now I want to take a moment and say how thankful I am for all of you making a difference in the lives of children.
Your impact is HUGE. Your dedication and passion for being a leader and role model to children can’t be thanked enough.
As a special thank you, here is a poster created just for you.
Print a copy of your poster here. (http://edu.writestepswriting.com/morethanateacher)
You are so much more than a teacher. You play the role of counselor, police officer, travel agent, confidante, banker, librarian, doctor, detective, dietician, and many others in the eyes of your students.
Grades hurt your children, and I never want to grade them again. Grades are harmful in every imaginable way, and they are inhibiting your child's learning. You may not realize this, because you have only encountered one education system, and it has always been built on measuring success with numbers, percentages and letters.
What the many educators and researchers suggest is that students are conditioned to believe that numbers and letters are the sole indicator of success. When handing out assignments, teachers constantly hear, "What's this worth?" Furthermore, in virtually all cases, these one-size-fits-all measurements are subjective, because the teacher creates the activities and the tests. Where one teacher might score your child's work an A, another teacher might score the same work a C. So, you see, this arbitrary letter says nothing about learning.
Worst of all, though, is that instead of learning for learning's sake, students strive to get a particular grade -- typically the one their parents' want. If you demand A's, they will likely do whatever it takes to get A's. If you're satisfied with C's, they will decrease their effort.
What this system breeds is children who learn to manipulate a system in order to earn a number or a letter, when what we should have is independent learners, eager to acquire knowledge and to become critical thinkers and problem-solvers. Do we really want to measure these important qualities?
The beauty of this question is that the answer is so simple. Teachers and students must evaluate learning together, using an ongoing dialogue. Teachers must provide both written and verbal narrative feedback about what students have accomplished and what may still need to be learned. This dialogue, accompanied by follow-up activities and further study can lead to mastery learning.
Until school administrators nationwide realize that any sort of grading is inherently problematic, final report card grades should be decided by both the teacher and the student, in a conversation about what was learned in a marking period. If coached properly, students will understand that self-evaluation is one of life's most important skills. In the end, your child's opinion of her work is more important than anyone else's.
So, please support me in changing how we evaluate learning. I want to eliminate grades, as much as our system will allow. I will provide ongoing narrative feedback for your children and for you. Most important, I promise, my students, your children will become amazing independent learners, who never again ask, "What's this assignment worth?"
To learn more about feedback over grades, check out Role Reversal: Achieving Uncommonly Excellent Results in the Student-Centered Classroom
As an aspiring educator, I knew exactly what kind of teacher I would be: I would facilitate dynamic discussions; the students would not only read all of the assigned texts, they would devour them. Sure, teaching would be work, but I mostly saw myself as a facilitator—someone who would ask all the right questions and look on as my students marched towards intellectual victory.
You can probably see where this is going. Once I was handed the keys to the classroom, I was surprised when things didn’t magically fall into place like they were supposed to. (Does this sound familiar?)
It wasn’t that things were disastrous, but they just weren’t the way I imagined. Why weren’t students talking? Why weren’t they as excited as I was about what we were reading? Why weren’t they making connections and thinking critically about what they read?
It wasn’t until later that I discovered that I (not the students) was the reason our discussions fell flat. To spark discussions and critical inquiry, I asked my students a lot of questions. Questions are good, but most of the questions I asked students were what we would call nonessential questions.
To give you a clearer sense of what I mean by essential and nonessential questions consider the following examples from Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins’ book, Essential Questions: Opening Doors to Student Understanding.
Essential question: “How do the arts shape, as well as reflect, culture?
Nonessential question: “What common artistic symbols were used by the Incas and the Mayans?”
Essential question: “Is there ever a ‘just’ war?
Nonessential question: What key event sparked World War I?”
Essential question: “What does it mean to be a ‘true’ friend?”
Nonessential question: “Who is Maggie’s best friend in the story?”
As you may have noticed, unlike nonessential questions, essential ones are timeless. Some can even be grappled with indefinitely; they are neither immediately apparent nor can they be answered with a fact or a simple yes or no response. Essential questions force us to interrogate our presuppositions, dig in, explain, defend, question and—hopefully—grow.
If you still sketchy on the difference between essential and nonessential questions, here are seven of McTighe and Wiggins’ defining characteristics of a good essential question.
A good essential question:
There are several reasons principals should regularly conduct classroom walkthroughs.
Keep in mind that classroom walkthroughs do not need to be long, invasive or formal for them to be meaningful. If you simplify the observation process and stick to the five steps outlined in Countdown to the Principalship, your observation should really only take about three minutes.
The 3-Minute Classroom Walkthrough in 5 Steps
Observe student engagement
It only takes a split second to observe whether or not students are engaged in their work. Are they listening, writing, interacting with the teacher or other students, or working alone?
Observe the lesson and learning objectives
Assessing what is being taught and determining whether or not the objective of the lesson is aligned with curriculum and ethical standards is where you should spend most of the next couple of minutes.
Observe teachers’ instructional strategies
Now that you understand the curricular focus, you are ready to look at the teacher’s instructional strategies. Is s/he using Socratic questioning or giving feedback? Are students working alone or in groups, are they taking notes, problem solving, etc.?
Always complete the first three steps and do your best to withhold judgment; you are simply gathering data and looking for patterns in classroom instruction.
If time permits, conclude your walkthrough with the following two steps:
Does the lesson connect?
During this step, you should be looking to see if you can make any connections between this lesson and previous learning objectives. Ideally, every lesson should build upon the preceding lesson.
Observe safety and health Issues
Are there any noticeable safety or health issues that need to be addressed?
If you decide to make brief classroom walkthroughs a regular part of your routine, you’ll want to inform your staff first. Here are five things you might mention to your teachers:
Instructional leadership is essential in K-12 schools. What is an instructional leader? A second grade teacher can serve as an instructional leader. Principals and assistant principals should also be viewed as instructional leaders. A central office staff member may have the title of Chief Academic Officer or Curriculum Director, but that does not mean they are the only instructional leader in the school district. Once teachers begin communicating with teachers in the same grade level and make connections with the next level (i.e., middle school and high school transition), students will benefit from increased clarity on the essential learning outcomes.
“One of the tasks of curriculum leadership is to use the right methods to bring the written, the taught, the supported, and the tested curriculums into closer alignment, so that the learned curriculum is maximized” (Glatthorn, 1987, p. 4).
How do you 'maximize' the learned curriculum? Developing the local curriculum, curriculum alignment, analyzing assessment data, and meeting in job-alike teams are important activities. However, meetings can often become a weekly ritual that do not lead to increased student understanding. An instructional leader is constantly focused on 'maximizing' student understanding. During the No Child Left Behind Era, student achievement was defined in most schools as passing a high stakes test. When instructional leaders define test results as student achievement, most meetings focus on test prep, curriculum reductionism, and closing gaps. Closing gaps is critical and ethical work. Closing gaps should not mean teaching to the middle or ignoring our gifted students who need challenging work. Schools throughout the United States have witnessed artificial gains in student test scores by eliminating science, social studies, art, music, PE, and other non-tested subjects. Glatthorn's question is one that drives the work of instructional leaders. Does test prep or curriculum reductionism 'maximize' student learning?
3 Ways To Grow As An Instructional Leader
1. Join a Twitter Chat
I have been participating in Twitter chats for the past two years. When I describe Twitter chats to other educators, they often look at me like a deer in headlights. Why would someone teach school all day and then join a Twitter chat at 9:00 pm on a Thursday night? How could a one hour chat with educators across the world support teaching and learning in my school? I have met educators in all 50 states. As a principal, I learn from principals, teachers, superintendents, university professors, education consultants, and others who are passionate about teaching and learning. Educators share links to their blogs, school websites, curriculum maps, school goals, presentations, family resources, and more! A Twitter chat is similar to attending a national conference. You will be exposed to multiple perspectives and it will challenge your own views on education. The conversations are lively, but professional. If you ask a question, you may get answers from New York, California, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Texas. Twitter chats will inspire an instructional leader and will offer multiple opportunities for professional growth.
2. Join and Become Active in a Professional Learning Community
According to Schmoker (2006), "Mere collegiality won't cut it. Even discussions about curricular issues or popular strategies can feel good but go nowhere. The right image to embrace is a group of teachers who meet regularly to share, refine and assess the impact of lessons and strategies continuously to help increasing numbers of students learn at higher levels" (p.178). Schools throughout the United States are operating as a Professional Learning Community (PLC). If your school still allows teachers to operate in isolation, you can learn more about a PLC at http://www.allthingsplc.info.
“Schools committed to higher levels of learning for both students and adults will not be content with the fact that a structure is in place to ensure that educators meet on a regular basis. They will recognize that the question, ‘What will we collaborate about,” is so vital that it cannot be left to the discretion of each team’” (DuFour, 2011, p. 61). Instructional leaders believe in growth. Continuous improvement is possible when each instructional leader is a member of a PLC.
3. Identify Essential Learning Outcomes
It is difficult to maximize student understanding if you do not know the goals. Learning targets help instructional leaders know if students are reaching the goal. Is your goal college and career readiness? An instructional leader must define what the path to college and career readiness looks like for a ninth grade student. Is your goal to increase the number of students enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) classes? Once you define the end in mind, it will be easier to determine the skills and understandings that students need to be prepared for advanced courses. According to Wiggins and McTighe (2007), "The job is not to hope that optimal learning will occur, based on our curriculum and initial teaching. The job is to ensure that learning occurs, and when it doesn't, to intervene in altering the syllabus and instruction decisively, quickly, and often" (p. 55).
Instructional leadership supports teaching and learning. It is easy to focus on standards, assessment, school safety, school improvement plans, faculty meetings, high-stakes tests, developing your next meeting agenda, technology integration, curriculum alignment, and state mandates. While none of these topics can be neglected, it is easy to lose sight of the goals of an instructional leader. Instructional leadership should not take the backseat to meetings, planning, or activities. Parker (1991) cautioned instructional leaders to avoid motion mascquerading as improvement.
We love our job, but that doesn’t mean that teaching is easy. There will be bad days and classes that don’t go the way we planned them—there may even be days when things go so wrong that we question whether or not we are in the right profession.
We want to remind you that you are not alone.
To help you put things into perspective, we reached out to fellow teachers and asked them to share words of encouragement and their best pieces of advice for recovering from a disastrous day.
15 More Ways Real Teachers Recover From a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
“Tomorrow is another day. I remember that even the best rock star teachers have disastrous classes, disastrous days, and even disastrous weeks and semesters! I know that I'll examine the class to figure out what went wrong and take steps to remedy the situation, whatever it was.”
“I remind myself why I'm doing this in the first place and that there are going to be bad days...they are part of life. AND prayer...definitely.”
“Take a deep breath.......realize that those students are gone (and you won't have to deal with them the rest of the day!), that a new set is coming in and they need you to be at your best.
“Quickly do a run through in your head and see if you need to make any adjustments to your presentation/teaching so that the next class won't go down the same rotten path. And keep in mind that they are just kids; we don't know what kind of home life they are coming from. We have to be adult and the bigger person.”
“I keep letters from former students that were given to me in years past. When I have one of those days, I will read some of the letters and remind myself that what I'm doing does matter and is touching lives.”
“You will have good days, great days, and bad days. Remember, you are there for the students, to teach them not only academics, but how to be good people. The students that are the worst need your help, love, and kindness the most. Don't take it personal.”
“I think back to some of the positive things parents and students have told me that helps reassure me I am doing the right thing. This allows me to refocus, step back up to the line and get ready for the next period.”
“A prayer for patience—and remember that tomorrow is a new start for both you and the students.”
“I find positive things that happened in the same class period. I call home about these positive tidbits. It goes a long way with the students that actually do what they are supposed to and helps me realize my small victories. I always feel tons better after bragging on students.”
“Do your best, put your heart into it, but don't take it personally when the kids let you down. You won't actually reach all of them, but work like you can.
“Do not take it personally. Reflect on how you can change the lesson or dynamics so that the students will learn. Remember, it is not about you, it is about the students' learning. Chocolate helps too, though. J”
“I try to figure out what went wrong and why, and then take action so the same thing won't go wrong the same way. And in the meantime, a deep breath and laughing with other teachers helps.”
“It is so easy to focus on the disaster and forget about the good things. Remember that you teach students, not a subject. Don't tear yourself up. We are all human. Laugh it off. Reflect, and move on. Think of it as a memorable experience and embrace the next adventure. It can only get better.”
“They need you! Just keep plugging!”
- Mrs. Oliver
“I am honest with myself and the students. Today for example, class went horrific. They were talking too much, not grasping the material, and not 100 percent focused (mainly because I have them before and after lunch). So I stopped class and told them to put their notes away. I told them that we will try again tomorrow because the cold weather has frozen our brains. We reviewed another topic and they did another activity.
I try not to force it when class is going downhill. Chances are I will have to reteach the topic again tomorrow anyway because of how the class went. So instead of everyone being frustrated or me rolling my frustration to the next class, I change up the lesson.”
Many of us have a clear sense of what we want to be—or more specifically, what we want to do for a living—from the moment we pop out of the womb. Whether or not it’s true, I know plenty of teachers who claim they knew they were going be educators while they were still walking around in diapers. Others of us, this writer included, didn’t find our niche or career path until well into adulthood.
While we do believe that kids should be kids, we would also argue that we have a responsibility to guide our students, help them hone their talents and move towards a fulfilling future. To help your students begin assessing their passions and career interests, we’d like to share three of our favorite resources with you.
3 Sites to Help Students Move from Classroom to Career
icould probably articulates its mission better than I can: “icould is about inspiration, encouragement and discovery. The idea is to help you make the most of your potential and talent by showing how others have used theirs.”
To pique your students’ interest, icould has compiled an impressive collection of video interviews with working professionals—anyone from laboratory technicians, engineers and speech therapists to music video directors, lighting cameramen and stewards.
Teachers will also find articles, classroom resources and a database of career-related articles on the site.
Unlike other career tests, Your Free Career Test is short (52 questions) and isn’t based on psychological theories. It simply asks students questions that relate to career categories; then it uses an algorithm to match their responses to careers. Upon completion, your students will receive an assessment that assigns them to a career category, recommends courses and offers a bulleted list of example careers.
In addition to interview and resume tips and career planning advice, you’ll also find a “Jobs For People Who…,” section that matches career options to your students’ interests. Also worth checking out is the “Do What You Love!” section where you’ll find a collection of interviews with anyone from animal communicators, astronauts and filmmakers to actors, musicians and LEGO master builders.
John Rumery, Editor of Rapid Growth, interviewed Suzanne Klein (Founder & CEO) about WriteSteps. Watch the video to discover Suzanne’s inspiration for creating WriteSteps, information about investing in the growing company, the top three challenges teachers face when it comes to teaching writing, and her plans for WriteSteps' future!
Watch the video on Youtube here! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyMfsoVUKsw
What are the issues teachers face when teaching writing?
Time, knowledge, and lack of resources are the top reasons why teachers struggle with teaching writing.
When we ask teachers what their greatest challenges are, they always say time. Elementary teachers are generalists, not specialists. They are teaching all the subjects in a six hour day. When you take out recess, lunch, and any other specials students have, time is always an issue.
The second issue is knowledge. We have not seen any writing courses being taught in college that prepare teachers adequately enough to teach writing. Teachers come out of college not knowing how to teach writing. When you don’t know how to do something, you tend to avoid it.
The third issue teachers face is a lack of quality materials. That’s where we solve the problem for teachers. We help free up time, we offer training for teachers to help them learn how to teach writing with our lessons, and we have the materials.
What is your greatest challenge when it comes to teaching writing? Comment below!
30 Years After A Nation at Risk – Risky Business
By Jonathan T. Jefferson, Ed.D.
Author of MUGAMORE…
“It’s like déjà vu all over again.” In 1983, the once internationally prominent United States education system was unceremoniously awakened. A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform was released by President Ronald Reagan’s National Commission on Excellence in Education. Politics aside, it can be said that this report lead to an assessment crazed generation.
Standardized tests of achievement (not to be confused with aptitude tests) should be administered at major transition points from one level of schooling to another and particularly from high school to college or work. The purpose of these tests would be to: (a) certify the student’s credentials; (b) identify the need for remedial intervention; and (c) identify the opportunity for advanced or accelerated work. The tests should be administered as part of a nationwide (but not Federal) system of State and local standardized tests. This system should include other diagnostic procedures that assist teachers and students to evaluate student progress. (A Nation at Risk)
At the time of this Commission’s report, the United States was still among the educational leaders on the world’s stage. Thirty years later, and our country is struggling to maintain its status in the top twenty. What is the answer now? Will Common Core State Standards (CCSS) close the gap? It remains to be seen whether or not CCSS is the answer, but already risky measures are being implemented.
Statewide assessment tests are being developed to measure how well students are meeting the CCSS. In some states (e.g.New York), the results of statewide assessment tests are being used to evaluate teachers and principals. This is quite risky indeed. There are teachers who have been previously identified as highly effective who are now reluctant to teach struggling learners. These teachers are concerned that low scores by struggling learners on state assessments will reflect poorly when the teacher is rated. Other consequences of these measures may include a rush to label students with a disability (ADD, ADHD, ED, etc.). Once deemed disabled, the onus of the student’s poor test scores is no longer on the teacher or principal.
Common Core State Standards geared toward college and career readiness is a good thing. Rushing to develop assessments for an overly assessed populous, and connecting those rushed assessments to teachers’ and principals’ evaluations is a dangerous thing. When every student K – 12 has been educated since kindergarten toward CCSS, then evaluating the impact of CCSS would be justified.
We don’t have to tell you this, but teachers are not superhuman—at least not all the time. We doubt ourselves. We struggle to reach our students and, despite our exhaustion, we often lie awake at night replaying the day, wondering how in the world things could have possibly gone so wrong.
But there’s good news: You aren’t alone.
To help you put things into perspective and find constructive ways to recover from what one of our favorite authors would call a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day,” we reached out to fellow teachers and asked them to share their best recovery strategies. The response was overwhelming and for that reason, this blog is going to be divided up into two parts.
Without further ado, here is part one of 10 Ways Real Teachers Recover From a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Class.
We’d like to thank all of our friends on Edmodo for their willingness and enthusiasm for sharing their experiences with us. Be sure to check back Thursday week for part two!