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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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Although the best way to adapt a lesson for your students who are less proficient at mastering material quickly is to respond to them as individuals, sometimes you may find that several students are experiencing difficulties. In the following list, you will find some ways to adapt lessons so that all of your students can be successful.

  • Vary the learning modalities in a lesson that will make it easier for all students to learn and use their preferred learning styles.
  • Provide more examples, models, and demonstrations.
  • Build on students’ prior knowledge.
  • Build students’ self-confidence by encouraging their efforts as well as their achievements.
  • Allow students to work with peers in mixed-ability groups.
  • Supply students with support materials such as word banks, graphic organizers,  technology practice, and outlines.
  • Give more time to complete an assignment.

Helping struggling students in a variety of ways will guide them on the road to success and make your classroom a fun and interesting learning environment for everyone.

Adapted from The First-Year Teacher’s Checklist: A Quick Reference for Classroom Success by Julia G. Thompson

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You’ve survived the craziness of the holidays and have had some time to relax. It’s a new year and with it comes new hopes, new dreams, and new possibilities.

As you reflect on your experiences so far this school year, are there things you would like to change? While all teachers can adjust their instruction, management, and teaching style at any point during the year, the beginning of a new year is always a great time to do this.

Take a few minutes to consider these tips to help you start 2018 as an even more effective and confident teacher:

  • Focus on curriculum development and teaching strategies using your newfound confidence and energy.
  • Try something new with your students and talk about the results with other teachers, even if it didn’t work out the way you had expected it to.  Now that you have made it through some difficult times, you have valuable experience to share.
  • Expand your professional network to include new and experienced teachers. Pooling ideas from multiple sources gives you many more ideas.
  • Go back and examine your vision of successful teaching.  Honestly evaluate your teaching efforts from the beginning of the school year to see how far you have come as an educator.

These questions can help you recognize your successes and determine your future actions:

  • What worked?
  • What didn't work?
  • What’s next?

Make the new year a fresh start in your classroom for you and your students.

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How Do I Spend My Legislative Money?
Have you ever wondered what is best to buy with your legislative money?

Rules Regarding the Use of Legislative Money

  1. The money should be spent PRIMARILY on consumables that you cannot purchase through the district warehouse, or that you wish to buy above and beyond what other funding allows
  2. Non-consumable items you purchase will follow you through the school district.  However, if you pool your money and purchase items with a colleague or team, the items should stay at the school where they were purchased.
  3. If you leave the school district, any items purchased with legislative money will remain at the school you leave.  Remember, this is only if you leave the district.
  4. Be sure to turn in receipts ONLY for the total amount you are given.  Anything spent over that total amount belongs to you and can go with you if you move districts.
  5. It can be helpful to write "purchased with legislative funds" or "purchased with personal money" on non-consumable items you buy.
  6. Check with your secretary for the final due date and protocol for submitting receipts,  as procedures will vary by school.

Purchasing Ideas

markers giant sticky notes
colored pencils dry erase markers
glue vis-a-vis makers
scissors mini white boards
crayons class sets of approved books
organization tubs books for classroom library
candy (for incentives and rewards/activities) picture books for teaching
pens bookshelves
pencils wire baskets
class sets of highlighters technology tools
post-it notes paper
jump drives notepads
classroom posters teacher guides
dry erase paper workbooks
rubber bands stapler
3 ring binders electric pencil sharpener
3 x 5 note cards 3-hole punch
classroom set of calculators storage crates
binder clips name badges
push pins awards

 

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Why should teachers have students practice routines? If you have ever had the chance to observe kindergarten, especially at the beginning of the year, you may see a lot of repetition of directions. Kindergarten teachers know that their students need to  practice basic skills a lot: sitting in their seats, moving to the carpet, raising their hands to talk, sharpening pencils, lining up... you name it. Kindergarten teachers are pros at establishing routines.

Routines should be established and built in all levels of teaching. It is important for teachers to set these expectations and practice them with their students, even with older grades and students in secondary schools.

In this TED Talk, How To Use A Paper Towel, Joe Smith teaches adults how to help the environment by using paper towels more effectively. Watch the video and see what techniques he uses to help his audience remember the directions.

When we give directions, we should try to follow these basic ideas:

  1. Get the student's attention and make sure you have it!
  2. Give clear, positive directions with high expectations.
  3. Limit the number of directions and steps to the directions. 
  4. Vary the way directions are given (teacher modeled, student modeled, using phrases like, "When I say go...", students repeating directions). 
  5. Be consistent and follow through.
  6. Give students time to process.
  7. Repeat directions if needed.

If you find you are struggling to have students follow directions or they struggle to do routine tasks, try using some of these ideas to help your students remember the routines and procedures for your classroom. It is never to late to polish up routines and procedures to help students be successful!

 

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