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Some thoughts about the first days of school:

  • 1st day of school will make or break a teacher
  • Effective teachers manage the classroom more than discipline the classroom
  •  Establish a well-managed classroom
    • Students deeply involved with their work
    • Students know expectations
    • Students are generally successful
    • Little wasted time, confusion, or disruptions
    • Climate of class is task-oriented but relaxed and pleasant
    • You as the teacher will be happier
  • Main problem in classroom is lack of procedures & routines
    • Explain, rehearse, reinforce
    • Effective teachers spend time rehearsing routines
  • Design a Successful Start
    • Have room ready--be at the door and smile
    • You have assigned seats—Project on screen
    • 1st assignment on the board—short, interesting, easy
    • Have students start work immediately
    • If student enters room inappropriately, have the student return to door and enter again appropriately
    • Learn students’ names
  • Plan Routines and Procedures
    • Have room ready
    • You are at the door
    • You have assigned seats—Project on screen
    • 1st assignment on the board—short, interesting, easy
    • Students start work immediately
    • If student enters room inappropriate, have student return to door and enter again appropriately
  • Classroom Management Plan
    • 3-5 measurable, specific, positive rules
    • Examples: a compliance rule, a preparation rule, a talking rule, a classroom behavior rule
    • Plan appropriate rewards; have a hierarchy of consequences
  • Be Professional 
  • Adhere to contract hours
  • Dress professionally
  • Computer belongs to school; do not use inappropriately
  • Start Student Learning on Day One
    • Make sure students understand this is a learning environment   
    • Go through routines, rules, and procedures
    • Go over “I Can” statement (objective) every day
  • Curriculum Map/Lesson Plan
  • Develop a yearlong curriculum map based on core standards
  • Develop lesson plans that navigate through the class and reflect on map                    
  • Take Care of Yourself
  • Take care of your heath; better to prevent than to treat
  • Know how to call for a substitute
  • Develop an emergency substitute plan and leave on desk every night
  • A happy teacher smiles more and makes better choices

 

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Mindset Philosophy of Gifted and Talented

Chapter 7 challenges us as teachers to look at a process of labeling a child "gifted". Doesn't telling a child that  he /she is "gifted" manifest a fixed mindset? We never want to say, "You are so smart" but saying, "You are gifted" sends the same message-it says that the child has permanent traits, and that those traits are being judged.   Carol Dweck explains that some young people believe they simply have a gift that makes them intelligent or talented. Horowitz, Subotnik, & Mathews quote, "they may not put in the work necessary to sustain that given talent or may turn some students who are overly cautious and challenges-avoidant lest they make mistakes and no longer merit the label"  (Horowitz, Subotnik, &Mathews, 2009 p.xii).

Students need to be continually observed and evaluated through a lens of potential and possibilities. Educators must learn to recognize sparks and provide appropriate challenges.  Children should have access to challenging instructions whenever they need it, and at every grade level, in every content area.   Wherever students are being educated, utilizing differentiation, and responsive teaching strategies should be in place as a range of background knowledge, opportunities and abilities.

Mindset Philosophy in the Classroom

Reflect on the Gifted and Talented  philosophy  in your own classroom, If you do not have  a philosophy, consider building one that includes the following:

  • A conception of giftedness that emphasizes potential and possibilities
  • Curriculum development that embeds pre-assessment and formative assessment
  •  Practices and strategies that develop and observe talent/potential including critical and creative thinking
  • Identification process for recognition of potential- that are inclusive.
  • Data should be collected on all students
  • Recognition of what students need, and how these needs will be responded to both instructionally and social-emotionally
  • Differentiated  and responsive instruction- that always allows for the possibility of enrichment.
  •  Topic and content acceleration for all students.

Mindset Philosophy in the School

The goal of every school or district is to to develop an instructional philosophy that addresses the needs of our most advanced learners, at the same time allowing access to instruction for all learners.                                                     

A philosophy of gifted education in a school or district that has adopted a growth mindset might sound like this:

  • Curriculum that embeds strategies that will develop potential
  •  Allow for development of talent
  •  Infuse 21st-century learning skills
  • Nurture creative and critical cognitive abilities in all students;
  • Access to enriched and accelerated instructional opportunities
  • Instruction that is responsive to the needs of all students
  • Educators who have adopted a belief system where they embrace a growth mindset

Additional chapters not being covered are Chapter 8- that reviews some ways to help students adopt a growth mindset.  Chapter 9- reviews some ways that our school staff can maintain a growth mindset and school culture.

 

 

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Plan for Parents

Another stop along the path to a growth mindset school culture is to develop a plan for sharing information about the malleability of the mind with parents. It is important to get parents educated so that the children can hear a consistent message at home and school.

Parents often struggle with the nature/nurture debate and can contribute a child's success or lack of success to genetics. Adult role models should never blame genetics for perceived capabilities or low expectations.

Building Resilience

Children will eventually try to avoid anything where they are not sure that they will be successful rather then view the situation as challenge to arise to.  Here are some suggestions for building resilience in children

  •  Use growth mindset praise
  •  Model flexibility
  • Adopt a " glass half full" mentality in the home
  • Help children find their niche

How can Parents Communicate to a Growth Mindset Message To Teachers?

  1.  Always start with the positive- Tell the teacher something that your child loves about the class.
  2. Share what brings out the best at home-Include a relationship between resilience, motivation, effort, or other aspects you want addressed. Show how this changes the child's performance.
  3. Share what does not work-
  4. Establish the partnership- Make the teacher part of the plan of action that incorporates your beliefs, as well as his oh her practices.

Chapter 6 illustrates the importance of all three groups-students, teachers, and parents-to work together when building a growth mindset culture.  The most important of these is the adopting and of and maintaining of a growth mindset in children.

As you look to plan for next year, what are some ways than you can provide information to parents about having a growth mindset at home?  How can you  continue to build your mindset skills as a teacher in the classroom?

Chapter 7, will discuss if gifted education and a growth mindset belief can coexist?

 

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reflecting on learningThe end of the year for new teachers brings with it many feelings of excitement and apprehension. As mentor's working with our faculty we can help build a knowledge base by informing and reminding our teachers of the following items:

  • Discuss the end of the year procedures: graduation, locker clean out, book check-in,field trips, etc.
  • Discuss end of the year procedures for teachers: turning in books, keys, preparing classroom, etc.
  • Discuss concerns and student motivation
  • Discuss stress relief
  • Discuss the schools policy on student retention and the procedure for recommending that a student repeat a grade if necessary, remind of parent notification guidelines in your school.
  • If your Mentee does not get renewed for next year, offer support, possibly a letter of recommendation, help them to be reflective and prepare a resume for the job search.
  • Work with the Mentee to compile a list of the most worthwhile activities and topics to use next year.
  • Encourage Independence with your Mentee:
  • Discuss items they would not repeat next year, and make notes for planning with a year end self assessment and help him/ her get a head start for next year.
  • Review the budget or items the teacher will need to turn into the Department Chair if applicable.
  • Discuss professional development opportunities in the summer they may want to participate in.
  • Recall the reflection phase of teaching and discuss with the Teacher Mentee
  • Discuss and compliment the Mentee's growth this year
  • Assist with common practices in getting the classroom ready for next year in your building.
  • Discuss the transition to the next year. Will there be a new mentor? Will you be there next year to Mentor?
  • Remember to update your Mentor spreadsheet
  • Recognize and celebrate the successful moments, and the end of this year with your Mentee.

    Questions For Reflection

  • What are some things you accomplished this year that you are proud of?
  • What is something you tried in your classroom this year for the first time? How did it go?
  • What is something you found particularly frustrating this year?
  • Which student in your class do you think showed the most improvement? Why do you think this student did so well?
  • What is something you would change about this year if you could?
  • What is one way that you grew professionally this year?
  • questionsWho amongst your colleagues was the most helpful to you?
  • What has caused you the most stress this year?
  • When was a time this year that you felt joyful and/or inspired about the work that you do?
  • What do you hope your students remember most about you as a teacher?
  • In what ways were you helpful to your colleagues this year?
  • What was the most valuable thing you learned this year?
  • What was the biggest mistake you made this year? How can you avoid making the same mistake in the future?
  • What is something you did this year that went better than you thought it would?
  • What part of the school day is your favorite? Why?
  • What were your biggest organizational challenges this year?
  • Who was your most challenging student? Why?
  • In what ways did you change the lives of your students this year?
  • What professional development do I need to participate in during the summer?
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 How Can Students Learn From Failure?

Responding to Failure

The way we respond to failures and mistakes depends on our our mindset. When students consciously take the opportunity to learn from all of their errors, they will approach the unsuccessful task in a new way or with more effort.  If students learn more about their brains and how it works, failure is an easier pill to swallow.  Students who internalize the understanding of the plasticity of the brain and the functional changes in the brain that occur when we learn can deal more constructively with setbacks.

Some students have a "Bring it on!" approach and embrace challenges with enthusiasm .  These students realize that they may not be successful and might even fail at a task or two, but want to take the risk and stretch themselves.  It is imperative that teachers develop a climate in their classroom where failure is celebrated and students learn to reflect and redirect so that they can approach a challenging task in a new way with more effort

Motivation

Social scientist Bernard Weiner (1974, 1980) is best known for his work with the attribution theory. Weiner's theory focuses on motivation and achievement and he considers the most important factors affecting achievement to ability, effort, task difficulty, and luck.

attribution theory
a theory that suggests that successful people will often attribute their success to effort (an internal factor) while those who are unsuccessful tend to attribute their lack of success or failure to the difficult of the task and/or to just having bad luck (external factors)

Our goal is to encourage students to internalize the belief that their own actions and behaviors, not external factors, guide them to achievement or failure.  In Daniel Pink's 2009 book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, he presents the case for intrinsic rather than extrinsic rewards.

How are you motivated?  Is your classroom motivating for all students?  Do you have a balance of both types of rewards?

intrinsic rewards extrinsic rewards
the personal satisfaction of a person feels when something is accomplished outside incentives provided to a person by another individual or source, such as money, certificates, or prize


Video about Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

 Changing How Students React to Failure

Every time teachers help students with an error, they should seize this opportunity to help students interpret the errors as "data" that will help them later, rather then looking at themselves through a lens of low ability.  One way teachers can help students reflect on failure is to introduce them to a more positive outlook on failure, perhaps by sharing others' attitudes toward failure.

Michael Jordan, summed up failure in a 1997 Nike Commercial:

"I've missed more then 9,000 shots in my career. Iv'e lost almost 300 games.  Twenty-six times I've been trusted to take the game winning shot...and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life.  And that is why I succeed."

 

The next chapter in Mindsets in the Classroom, 2013 will review ideas to help schools share information with parents to help create both a mindset environment at home and school.

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“The test will come and the test will go. Let’s focus on students.”


Try to keep these points in mind:

testing tipsYou’re in charge of your performance

Don’t forget that of the many factors that affect success on standardized tests, the one you can control the most is your teaching performance — regardless of the attitude of your students, their support at home or the role of the school administration. Will good teaching be the sole decider in your students’ success? No, but it will play a major role.

Focus on what you can influence

When issues are swirling and people are choosing sides, the best thing to do is to focus on what you can control. For a teacher, that means honing the quality of your instruction in the classroom, understanding of the curriculum and designing lessons that help students the most.  Try not to spend time spinning in circles over something that’s either beyond your control or hasn’t yet been firmly established.

Set a constructive, professional tone

Regardless of your feelings on the quality or necessity of testing, remember to keep a professional tone when discussing the tests. Your primary responsibility is to ensure the learning of your students, so don’t get caught up criticizing a test that has yet to be administered. Be judicious in your comments about the testing. Never involve students into the middle of these debates.

Deconstruct the test

There is nothing wrong with spending time teaching your students the best way to take the test. Breaking the test down into smaller pieces, practicing the computer-based interface and highlighting the important parts of the test are all reasonable uses of your time. Focusing too greatly on the test, shutting down instruction in other areas due to the upcoming tests, or sending home worksheet after worksheet isn’t a good use of your time. It’s OK to analyze, just don’t obsess.

Recognize the benefits

One point that many supporters of standardized tests bring up during these discussions is that formal “sit-down” tests are a part of life — most professions require formal tests of some sort, and the testing will become more frequent as jobs become more highly skilled and demanding. Putting the standardized-testing discussion in that context supports the idea of taking the test.

While the test plays a larger role in both the child’s school evaluation and the teacher’s overall performance, it is not a major player in the overall school experience of the student.

“The test will come and the test will go. Let’s focus on students.”

 

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Why is critical thinking important in a growth mindset class culture?

Daniel Willingham (2008), professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Virginia, shared the three types of critical thinking: reasoning, making judgments/decisions, and problem solving.  Everyday we reason, problem solve, and make decisions, but they do not always require critical thought.

Critical thinking is a process that must be infused with the content; it is not something that you can just check off a list once it is mastered. We want to start thinking about critical thinking as a process of strategies that can be applied to a myriad of situations rather then a set of skills. Providing students with opportunities to develop their cognitive abilities through critical experiences impacts the child's view and contributes to a growth mindset.

Chapter 4 describes a project that was conducted to improve critical thinking experiences in schools with high poverty and low achievement.

The project involved six Title 1 schools, a total of 53 classrooms in 2nd and 3rd grade and their teachers.  Professional development highlighted places where critical thinking processes were already embedded in their curriculum (Common Core State Standards). Professional development for the first year of the project focused on ways that teachers could build students' reasoning abilities.   The teachers learned instructional strategies that included deductive, analogical and quantitative reasoning, as well as concept attainment and concept formation strategies.

As part of  the project,  they introduced engaging nonverbal reasoning games into the classroom.  The games increased the level of challenge as the children made their way up through each level. The addition of the games demonstrated to both teachers and students that critical thinking is possible at all ability levels.

5 Strategies for Critical Thinking

 

Critical thinking and a growth mindset culture go hand in hand. We can expect students to embrace challenge only if we make it available to them on a consistent basis.

Chapter 5 will discuss how students can learn from failure.

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Thank you to teachers who submitted an essay for the Why I Teach Contest.

Why I Teach
by Jamie Watkins

  • I teach because I want to strengthen the minds of our youth.
  • I teach because I want to help shape the children for their future.
  • I teach because I love the children.
  • I teach because love to see the learning.
  • I teach because that is my purpose

text conversationhttp://www.ios7text.com

Why I teach
by Nathan McCleery

  • I teach because I love learning.
  • Learning is what gets me charged up and helping others learn is the next best thing.
  • I love the moment when something new blows my mind or shifts my consciousness.
  • I try to create those moments for my students and to celebrate the learning they are doing.
  • I would be thrilled to give them that same love of learning in their life.
Why I Teach
by Natalie Nielsen..

I teach because I love seeing the creativity within students.I love watching them take a prompt and give it life, whether in movement or on paper.

I love watching students take ownership of a project and seeing how proud they are when they get to share that project with others.

And, I love that teaching keeps me young, since my students 'have my back' when it comes to music and style-ha ha 🙂

 why I teach
https://www.festisite.com

http://www.wordclouds.com

Why I Teach
by Emma Cisneros

I am a teacher because I know I have a great impact on who my students become. I know that some of my students have rough home lives where they don't get the love and support they need. They are in desperate need of someone who will love them, care about them, listen to them, push them, and yes-- even discipline them.

There are some days where I might be the only person that holds that student accountable, that talks to them about their behavior, that challenges them to become better. I can be that person for them- through my example, and through the discussions I have with them. I can help them see how important it is to be kind, to have ambition, to persevere, to be honest, and to pick themselves up and try again.
Full text

Why I Teach
by Jacquelynn Fabiszak

Last week was a good week. It boosted my mentality about teaching as I was handed letter after letter. Letters that students had written just for me.

They expressed how much they loved my class and how much they loved me as a teacher."This is it," I thought, "this is what I do it for." To be loved and adored? No, but to create a place where learning can happen because a student feels welcomed, respected, special and loved.

I love these students, they love me back and in return we learn things together. They inspire me, make me chuckle, show me kindness and most importantly remind me why it's all worth it!   Full text

 

Why I teach

Why I Teach

Why I Teach
by Rebecca Stone

Friends are the spice in life. They are there for you when you need them, and they are there for you when you don’t even know you need them. This is why I started to teach.

My friend told me about an open position that I 100% qualified for. She knew my background with kids and coaching, and knew it was the right fit. She also knew it was the right time in my life for a change.

Why do I still teach, 18 months after starting this? The students! I’m so blessed to teach a subject the students WANT to learn.

My goals are to have fun with them every day, to add a bright spot in their otherwise “normal” day. We have the flexibility with our vast curriculum to do this; we get to play with goniometers, theraband, and wrap up fake injuries.  Full text

 

Why I Teach
by Kristy Hernandez

  • So, why do I teach?  That’s easy... I teach because someone once taught me.
  • I teach because I have been chosen as one of the lucky ones to make a difference in the lives of children.I teach to help, encourage, and inspire other teachers.
  • I teach because it is fun and it makes me happy!
  • I teach because the long hours and sleepless nights are worth it when one student draws me a picture, writes me a note, gives me a hug, or brings me a souvenir from their vacation.

Full text

Why I teach

Why I Teach Why I Teach
by Jodi White

I teach for a variety of reasons,
Like watching the children learn through all the seasons!

I work with an amazing, caring, dedicated team,
Who never seem to run out of steam!

The hallways are filled with laughter and fun,
Especially when winter snow days are finally done!

The office staff fills many a role,
They always take time to mend any hole.

The parents and PTA give us a helping hand,
Without their support we couldn’t stand.

There are days when being a teacher can be hard,
But the benefits out weigh those days by far.

I teach because each day is different, challenging, and new,
I love watching the children love learning like I do!

Teaching children is a calling from above,
It has made my life meaningful- and filled with love!


 

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owl holding heart Teachers online share the joys of teaching. It is those small moments with students that give us JOY!

“I teach because if I make the difference in the life of one little boy or girl, I have made an impact on the world.”

“I teach because when I teach I learn…and I LOVE to LEARN.”

“Each day I not only live, but I love, laugh, and learn. This is why I teach.”

"As a teacher I can relate to the Love and Joy of teaching students!"

Contest Rules:

  • Write a paragraph about why you teach.
  • Share the Joy and Love of teaching students!
  • Include your name, school and grade level.
  • Email your entry to: patricia.bennett@jordandistrict.org
  • Contest ends March 1, 2017
  • Winners’ paragraphs will be posted with permission on the Mentor teacher website.
  • Prizes will be presented to the Winners
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The mindset of a teacher contributes greatly to his or her ability to see the needs of students.  It you view a child through a deficit lens, the  child will not be given opportunities to grow.   Deficit thinking is making assumptions about a child's ability based on perceived deficits such as race, income status, or English language acquisition.

What is your definition of  " Differentiation?".  Ask several of you colleagues and you will likely get five different responses.

Differentiation
the way a teacher responds to a student's needs so that each  student is challenged at the appropriate level

What instructional structures are in place to guarantee a responsive learning environment in your classroom?

Step 1: Preview and Pre-assess- find out what students know about a particular skill, or concept, or topic planning for instruction. Previewing provides an opportunity for students to activate background knowledge and previous learning prior to a pre-assessment so that results will be a better reflection of what they understand. This should take 5 minutes or less. Pre-assessment respects a student's time and prior knowledge. Front-ed differentiation allows for teachers to provide an opportunity for students to accelerate within the content topic at the beginning of the learning sequence.

Step 2: Curriculum Compacting- was originally developed by Joseph Renzulli and Linda Smith.  This  instructional strategy streamlines grade-level curriculum by eliminating content that students have previously learned.  Compacting buys time for students to go deeper and wider into the content and /or accelerate to above-grade level indicators. The pre-assessment plays a major role in determining students who would benefit from curriculum compacting.  Look for other behaviors in the classroom that may give you a clue that a student needs to be moved into a deeper understanding of the concepts.

  • show great interest or motivation in the area of study
  • finishes work early and accurately
  • expresses interest in in pursuing advanced topics
  • create their own diversions in class( filling their time with less productive behaviors)

Step 3: Flexible Grouping-maintaining flexible small groups across content areas is an essential component of a differentiated, growth mind set class culture.  Evidence of grouping should be found in an any content area and at any grade level.  It may not be an everyday occurrence at the secondary level, but it should be an important component of the class structure and used routinely.

Step 4: Management- having clear expectations are the single most important aspect of managing multiple groups in the classroom.  Carol Ann Tomlinson, author of How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed Ability Classrooms, suggests the use of anchor activities.  These anchors should enrich the learning of the content being studied.  They are similar to centers but are typically available for the duration of a unit of study, a quarter or semester.

Step 5 Acceleration and Enrichment- Every child deserves to learn every day. A growth mindset on the part of the teacher and the student is necessary.

Acceleration
moving faster through the content, allowing students who have already mastered content or who master content quickly to move into above-grade level content
                                                Enrichment
learning with greater depth and breadth;going deep and wide into the content

Whether acceleration/an or enrichment occur, it is important to look carefully at instructional experiences to make sure they are laden with opportunities to think critically.

Step 6 Formative Assessment-formative assessment, or checking for understanding, is  non-negotiable in a responsive, growth mindset classroom.  It is a reflective tool for a teacher to keep groups fluid and flexible. Formative assessment improves teaching and learning, and it allows growth for all students.

Step 7 Summative Assessment-the assessment must match the learning that has taken place for each group or, in some cases, an individual student. Grades should be based on mastery of the content that was tailored to the student.

Mindsets in the Classroom

Provide opportunities for students to be challenged from the beginning. Be responsive to their needs and the potential of all they can accomplish. With practice, effort, motivation, and yes a growth mindset, differentiated, responsive instruction  can become the heart of instruction. Responding to the needs of all learners is a responsibility that we all have as educators.

The next chapter in Mindsets in the Classroom, will look at why critical thinking is so important in a growth mindset class culture.

 

 

 

 

 

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