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PositiveIf you have attended a district training on classroom management with our amazing behavior specialists, you have most likely heard the phrase: "Where attention goes, behavior grows."

What does this mean though? The Tough Kid Book, by Rhode, Jensen, and Reavis, says: "If more teacher attention is given for inappropriate student behavior than for appropriate behavior, the inappropriate behavior will increase. With Tough Kids' teachers, this attention very often takes the form of excessive prompting, reminding, threatening, reprimanding, and verbal abuse, because these reactions seem to come naturally when teachers attempt 'pain control' of their own"  (43).

Where is your attention going in your classroom? Are you feeding the negative actions of students and reinforcing the behaviors you don't want to see? What is your attention growing?

If you are feeling that some of these natural management tendencies (excessive prompting, reminding, threatening, reprimanding, and verbal abuse) are emerging in your teaching, maybe it is time to re-evaluate how you look at the Tough Kids' behavior. The Tough Kid Book has various strategies to try. You can access The Tough Kid Book in all JSD schools by checking with your school psychologist.

Strategies from The Tough Kid Book:

  • Positive Reinforcement (45): occurs when something a student desires is presented after appropriate behavior has been exhibited. All students and adults need legitimate and appropriate reinforcement.
    • Example: Calvin can earn up to ten points for completing his reading assignment correctly. The points can be exchanged for dinosaur stickers. Because Calvin enjoys the stickers he can earn, the accuracy of his reading assignments has increased.
  • Motivation and Encouragement (48): motivating and encouraging desired performance is  much the same in the classroom as it is in the business world.
    • Step 1. Tell students what you want them to do (and make sure they understand it).
    • Step 2. Tell them what will happen if they do what you want them to do
    • Step 3. When students do what you want them to do, give them immediate positive feedback in ways that are directed and meaningful to them.
  • Natural Positive Reinforcement (50): Natural (activities or things that students already find rewarding) forms of reinforcement are found in schools if you look for them. Some tips for selecting positive reinforcement:
    • Select age-appropriate reinforcement.
    • Use natural reinforcement whenever it is effective.
    • Use reinforcement appropriate to the student's level of functioning.
    • Make certain you have parental and administrative support for the reinforcement you plan to use.
    • Avoid partial praise statements, such as "I'm glad you finished your work--finally!"
    • Always make the most of opportunities to reinforce appropriate behavior.
    • Be genuinely polite and courteous to Tough Kids at all times and demonstrate concern and interest toward them. Always stay calm.
    • Do not confuse positive reinforcement or privileges with a student's basic rights.

For more tips and ideas, see:
Rhodes, Ginger, William R. Jenson, and H. Kenton Reavis. The Tough Kid Book. Eugene: Pacific Northwest Publishing, 2010.

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As we begin a new school year, it is always interesting to hear from our veteran teachers what they wish they had known as a brand new teacher. Here is what our department wishes we had known that we want to share with new educators.

"I wish I would have had a team to support me that first year. I felt like I was on my own and learned what I was teaching from the teacher manuals." --Patty Bennett

"I missed the whole first week of school because of illness. I wish I had known how important emergency sub plans were and that I had something prepared ahead of time in a sub folder. Thank goodness for great colleagues and mentors that pitched in and helped." --Debbie Fisher

"I wish I had realized how important strategies were.  At first, I believed that students learned through listening and doing worksheets.  Now I realize a variety of strategies can make all content more meaningful and memorable."--Judy Jackman

"The first few months in any job is challenging, especially so for the first few months of teaching. The intensity lessens in time; it does get better!   Routines and procedures will help establish consistency for both the teacher and the students.  Keep the routines and procedures simple and effective, and practice them with the students with frequent reminders and smiles.  It will also help establish a positive classroom community." --Rebecca Smith

"I wish that I had known how much fun I was going to have with my students! I don’t think a day went by where my students wouldn't make me smile. Students are the what our work is all about. I think I came out of college so concerned about programs and what I was teaching, that sometimes I forgot that it was all about WHO I was teaching." --Amy Wood

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It’s the first day of school! Our state superintendent, Syd Dickson, has invited teachers in our state to participate in the #FirstDayofSchool Twitter and Facebook movement. She would like to see how many Utah teachers we can involve in this campaign. You can participate by posting a selfie with the downloadable sign from Concordia University’s website:

https://education.cu-portland.edu/firstday/

We hope to see your beautiful selfies with your sign to honor your years as a teacher! Have a great first day and a wonderful year!

The JSD Mentor Team! Our first day was August 1. #FirstDayofSchool

Suggested Twitter tags: #FirstDayofSchool, @jordandistrict.org, #UTED, @DicksonSyd

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Beginning your first year of teaching can be exciting and overwhelming all at the same time. Getting a classroom ready and planning those first few weeks can be all encompassing. Here are a few suggestions to make your transition to teaching in Jordan District a little easier:

1. Create an account in JPLS:

Here’s a new acronym for you to learn: Jordan Professional Learning System (JPLS). This is the district portal to find professional development classes offered in the district. To set up your account, you will want to contact the Help Desk at (801)-567-8737. The link is: https://jpls.truenorthlogic.com/U/P/Channel/-/Guest/Login

2. Sign up for a JPAS class:

JPAS (Jordan Performance Appraisal System) is our district evaluation system. Each year the JPAS department offers classes to help new teachers and veteran teachers learn how to work through the evaluation. New teachers even receive a stipend for taking the course if you attend the face-to-face version. Now that you have an account on JPLS, you can sign up for a class! Here’s their course schedule: http://jes.jordandistrict.org/educators/trainings/

3. Become familiar with Employee Access:

Do you know where to enter a sick day? Employee access is where you can find out how many days you have, what your current salary is, and even get a check estimate for what your next paycheck might look like. If you need help figuring this out, your mentor may be a great resource. (Have you met your mentor yet?)  Here’s the link for Employee Access: https://skyfin.jordan.k12.ut.us/scripts/wsisa.dll/WService=wsFin/seplog01.w

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Congratulations! You made it to the end of the school year! During the craziness of the final days, it is important for teachers to take a moment to reflect on the past year and begin to plan toward the next. There are multiple ways teachers reflect. Elena Aguilar, an instructional coach in California and author of The Art of Coaching: Effective Strategies for School Transformation (Jossey-Bass, 2013), shared an article with Education Week titled Reflecting on a Year of Learning (2014).

Aguilar suggests two ways we reflect are through talking and writing. "Some people like to talk more than they like to write; some like to write more than talk. Most of us benefit from a mixture of activities." She encourages teachers to find someone to reflect with (possibly a school team), and as you reflect to use talking and writing to expand your ideas.

She also suggests teachers can draw out their year and map it from beginning to end visually using art. Reflect on the whole year and design symbols or pictures to show important events.

Need help getting started? Here are some questions to ponder and begin the reflection process:

  • What is something you accomplished this year that you are proud of?
  • What did you try for the first time this year that was successful?
  • Which student in your class showed the most improvement? Why did they do so well? What did you do to help them?
  • What caused you the most stress this year? Are there things that can help eliminate that stress or make it more bearable?
  • What things do you plan to try differently next year? What support might you need? Is there someone in your building or district that can help you?
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“Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.”

~John F. Kennedy

“The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future life.”

~Plato

“I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well.”

~Alexander the Great    Your contributions of time, talent, and support offer great opportunities to kids, truly making a difference in their lives.  

Thanks for all you do!

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As teachers, we are asked to fulfill many roles that are required outside of our own classroom doors.  One of those roles is Mentoring.  At a recent meeting, Mentors were asked, "Why Do I Mentor ?" Here are just a few of their thoughts.

  • Develop and foster relationships
  • We want new teachers to stay and build up the profession
  • When teachers succeed--students succeed
  • Give back as part of professional responsibility
  • We learn from them
  • Encourage, inspire and guide
  • Provide a unified vision to be invested in school goals
  • Assist with best practices
  • Mentors become better teachers
  • Teaching is best done collaboratively
  • Re-energize veteran teachers
  • Share our experiences and skills to help new teachers feel connected

Thank you, Mentors, for all that you do and the support you give to the new educators in our district!

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In our current world, positive interactions and good conversation skills are more important than ever.  The following article by Allen Mendler gives suggestions to help educators teach these important skills.   Fostering the skills in your classroom will create a culture and environment of warmth and trust.  

8 Tips for Speaking and Listening

While it is impossible to know all of the reasons, there is no doubt that learning to listen and talk is an extremely important way to broaden knowledge, enhance understanding and build community. Perhaps this is why the core standards in English-language arts include an important emphasis on developing speaking and listening, the basic tools for conversation. The eight tips below can be used regularly to help your kids learn good conversational skills.

1. Model a Good Conversation

Make a point of having one-to-two minute interactions, one-on-one, at least a few times each week with students who struggle conversationally. Share information about yourself as you might when meeting a friend or acquaintance, and show interest in the student by asking questions about his or her interests. Conversation enhancers include responses and prompts like:

  • "Really?"
  • "Wow!"
  • "That’s interesting."
  • "No kidding!"

If these students don't or won't share easily at first, don't give up.

2. Encourage Physical Cues

Identify procedures for having a conversation that includes appropriate non-verbal behavior. For example, you might teach a strategy like S.L.A.N.T. (Sit up straight. Listen. Answer and ask questions. Nod to show interest. Track the speaker.)

3. Challenge Put-Downs or Hurtful Comments

For example, if a student says, "I think what she did was really stupid," challenge with "How else can you say that without being hurtful?" If the student seems unaware, teach an alternative like, "I disagree with that." Ask the student to repeat what you said and then move on to:

  • "What happened to make you feel that way?"
  • "How would you have handled things differently?"
  • "Do you think there is only right answer, or could there be more?"

4. Ask Open-Ended Questions

These are questions without one correct answer, questions that stimulate discussion and can be a very powerful way to reinforce the idea that there are different views of an issue, or a set of beliefs that can be equally valid. For example: "So if Columbus came knocking on your door and told you that sailing to the New World would be an amazing adventure and there might be lots of riches there, but you might never arrive because the world was flat, would you go?"

5. Put Thinking Ahead of Knowing

When asked a question, don’t accept "I don't know." Tell students that you don't require them to "know" but that you do expect them to "think." Teach them how to wonder aloud, speculate, guess or give the best answer they can. ("I'm not sure about that, but I think _____ .")

6. Have Informal Chats

Before class begins or in the hallway, ask students about their other classes, what they think about a current event, or how they feel about the outcome of a game. Share your thoughts as well. ("I thought it was more that the Jets lost the game than anything the Eagles did to win. How did you see it?")

7. Make Eye Contact

When a student is speaking in class and you are listening, give him or her your eye contact. However, gradually scan away from the speaker and direct your gaze and movement towards other students. This will often get the speaker to redirect his or her talk toward peers, and it invites peers to get and stay involved with what is being said.

8. Encourage Turn-Taking

Use an object, such as a talking stick, as a signal for turn-taking. Teach your students that when they have the object, it is their turn to talk or pass while others are expected to listen.

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Apter, B., Arnold, C., & Swinson, J. (2010). A mass observation study of student and teacher behaviour in British primary classrooms Educational Psychology in Practice, 26(2), 151-171.

Brophy, J. (2006). History of research on classroom management. In C. M. Evertson & C. S. Weinstein (Eds.), Handbook of classroom management: Research, practice, and contemporary issues (pp. 17-43). Mahwah, NJ: Eribaum.

Rath, T., & Clifton, D. O. (2015). How full is your bucket? (Rath & Clifton, 2015, p. 5-31).

How Full Is Your BucketNobel prize winning scientist, Daniel Kahmeman states that as individuals we experience about 20,000 interactions each day. Daniels calls these interactions moments. These moments are recorded by our brains as experiences. The quality of  our day is determined by how our body and brain can categorize our moments- either positive or negative, or just neutral. Neutral moments do not make as great of an impact, nor are remembered.

Over the last decade Scientists have studied the impact of positive to negative interaction ratios in our work, and personal lives. They can predict success in live with amazing accuracy in many ways- including education, workplace performance, and relationships.

Noted psychologist John Gottman’s research on positive to negative feedback using a ratio of 5:1  He calls this the Magic Ratio. In Donald Clifton’s and Tom Rath’s Book, “How Full Is Your Bucket” – He uses the term Bucket & Dipper.

The Effect size of using positive feedback in your classroom is a 0.75 percent. In-order to make Feedback most effective, remember to provide the following:

  • Use timely prompts to our students when they have done something correctly or incorrectly.
  • Give students the opportunity to use the feedback to continue their learning process.
  • End feedback with the student performing the skill correctly and receiving positive acknowledgement from you-the teacher.

Please view these two video clips from the Teaching Channel on creating a comfortable classroom environment, and how to use some silent attention-getting techniques.  Both of these videos cover Standard 1, Positive Learning Environment / Classroom Management.  The focus is on positive behavior and using instructional supports in a positive environment.

Creating a “Comfortable” Classroom Environment: https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/building-a-comfortable-classroom

Get Their Attention Without Saying a Word: https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/silent-attention-getting-technique

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