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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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Thoreau, the transcendentalist author, must have known something about the life of a teacher.  He said "I, who cannot stay in my chamber for a single day without acquiring some rust... am astonished at the power of endurance, to say nothing of the moral insensibility, of my neighbors who confine themselves ... for weeks and months, aye, and years almost together.  I know not what manner of stuff they are of -- sitting there now at three o'clock in the afternoon." Indeed the teaching profession can become, at times, quite solitary.  With only the comfort of a stack of papers needing grading, there arises a need for a more human connection.  Tragically, some teachers prefer to remain in their own classroom while as Mary Oliver reminds us "There is, all around us, this country of original fire."  Taking a walk through the classrooms of any school will reveal a wealth of experience.  Teachers taking walks have the potential to benefit from a formative experience as it can be used to generate new ideas. That is, if the walk causes the participant to become reflective on his or her own practice. In the webinar below, Connie M. Moss & Susan M. Brookhart discuss their book Formative Classroom Walkthroughs: How Principals and Teachers Collaborate to Raise Student Achievement.  In it, they share ways in which classroom walkthroughs can be used to reflect and improve teacher practice in an attempt to increase student achievement.  If that is the potential outcome, it is indeed worth taking a walk.

 

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Keeping learning alive and classroom management in tact through the end of the school year is, of course, our number one priority as educators in the spring.

Six important end-of-the-year considerations outside of classroom duties:

Though the protocol is slightly different in each school, the following are items to be aware of as you wrap up the year.  Ask your mentor, team leader or department head how you can assist with this task.

  1.  Book Inventory – Check to see what books need to be counted.
  1. Cleaning – Wipe down countertops, desks and chairs, then stack the furniture as the custodian directs.
  1. Summer Building Schedule - Ask for the summer building schedule and when/if you will have access to your room.
  1. Grades- Check to see if the last quarter grades are dealt with differently.
  1. Student Files– Find out what needs to be filed.
  1. Checklist - You may have already received a "year-end checklist" from your office. If not, it will be coming soon.  Start completing an item a day to ease the stress of the last week.  You'll be glad you did.

Don't hesitate to ask for help and clarification. Knowing the information beforehand can help you prepare well and avoid potentially frustrating and time-consuming surprises.

The last day of contract:   ZIP up your bags and ZOOM home.

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specific praise 1Although praise can be a useful way to motivate students to do their best, teachers who use specific praise find that it is much more effective. At its best, specific praise offers sincere and constructive feedback about what a student has accomplished.

Specific praise differs from general praise in that its focus is on students’ actions rather than on the students themselves.

Compare these examples:

  • General Praise: “You did a great job on this!”
  • Specific Praise: “Your Venn diagram is balanced and complete!”
  • General Praise:  “Good answer”
  • Specific Praise:  “I tell you understand the steps to solve this problem.”
  • General Praise:  “You are behaving well.”
  • Specific Praise:  “Thanks for following classroom rules by staying in your seat and sitting quietly.”

Specific Praise creates a risk-free environment in which students learn to control their own success and become lifelong learners.

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  1. Begin with the end in mind
  1. Keep your energy and time focused on teaching and learning
  1. Communicate expectations for students
  1. Promote collaborative practice
  1. Support learning for ALL students
  1. Analyze and make data-driven decisions
  1. Recognize and celebrate growth and accomplishments
  1. Lead with enthusiasm!

 

Adapted from 21st Century Mentor’s Handbook: Creating a Culture for Learning

 

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