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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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Depth of Knowledge, DOKs, are an important part of student achievement. They are especially useful in understanding content that is nationally tested: math, reading and science. They help both teachers and students to understand content at a deeper level. Most students’ depth of knowledge is at a level one. A DOK level 1 is surface level comprehension that is simply recall and reproduction.

teacher-student-thinking

Teachers can begin by asking Questions to differentiate, classify, make inferences, and check conceptual understanding. This will help students to explain relationships, sorts, and classifications.

Next teachers can provide examples and non-examples to build conceptual understanding. Students will be able to make comparisons, and distinguish example/non-example, relevant-irrelevant, and fact-opinion.

Teachers should use Graphic Organizers to show relationships or organizational schemes. This will help students to compile and organize information which creates a deeper understanding of knowledge.
Matching readers with texts is something that elementary teachers already do and that secondary teachers should think about. This strategy helps students to gradually increase their reading ability and helps them to navigate complex texts.

The “Think aloud” teacher strategy allows students to explore possible options and connections. It also explains the steps that are needed to complete a task.

Examples of Tasks

  • Math: Solving routine, multistep math word problems, interprets simple graphs and tables, retrieves information and uses it to solve a problem
  • Reading: Creating a timeline, retrieves information and uses it to solve a problem or answer a question
  • Science: Making observations, organizing data, using models, interprets simple graphs and tables, retrieves information and uses it to solve a problem or answer a question
  • Writing: Creating a caption, paragraph, summary, a survey and using models
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Executive functioning skills allow a student to control impulses and emotions, be flexible, plan and organize.  These skills are needed for learning and day-to-day behavior. The term" executive functioning" has become a buzz word in schools and psychology offices.  It begins to show up in students in the elementary and can affect them into adulthood. Executive functions are a diverse, but related and overlapping, set of skills.  Listed below are some abilities that are covered under the umbrella term of  executive functioning.

•  Inhibition

•  Shift

•  Emotional Control

•  Initiation

•  Working Memory

•  Planning /Organization

•  Organization of Materials

•  Self-Monitoring

Additional Resources and strategies:

http://specialed.jordandistrict.org/files/All-Exec-Function-TIA-B.pdf

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/prioritizing-a-critical-executive-function-judy-willis

http://www.ldonline.org/article/24880/

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One challenge of instructional coaching is to help teachers move from an academic understanding toward a practical and real-world implementation of best instructional practices. This challenge is complicated by at least two factors.

The first of these is context. In order to make feedback most meaningful to the teacher, it should be given within the context of his or her own classroom. Doing so increases the immediacy and relevance of the feedback as well as the likelihood that the feedback will lead to improvement of practice.  Perhaps the best way to give contextualized feedback about classroom instruction is through virtual coaching.  This is done by video recording a classroom activity and having a coach provide feedback through written comments.  If the comments are time-stamped, the level of specificity of the feedback increases.

The second factor is time.  The goal should be to decrease the time intervening between when the practice occurs and the feedback is given.  It would be best if coaching could occur in real-time.  This is similar to what a coach of a basketball team might do.  It is not uncommon for a coach to give instructions from the sideline.  In a similar way, an instructional coach can give instructions to the teacher in real-time from the sideline.  Of course, the obstacle to doing this is to not create a distraction to learning.

In the video produced by The Teaching Channel, they discuss ways to make these ideas take shape in the classroom.  With the potential benefits of improved classroom instruction, it might be worthwhile for instructional coaches to give these strategies a try.

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As we approach the last quarter of the year and students are registering for classes, some teachers are beginning to look forward to next year. This seems natural to wonder what next year holds in store for us.  Some predictions are not too tricky.  We know the students will be there. We know the papers will be there.  Other predictions are a bit more challenging. What will the new IPhone look like?  OK, maybe that might not be the most important question; however, it does lead to an important point.

If we project the question of what is waiting for us in education beyond just next year, a world of possible uncertainty opens to us.  While there are many things we cannot predict, we are not left completely unaware.  In a recent article, one author suggests that there are, in fact, several points about which we can be certain.  Beginning with these as a starting point, we can begin to plan for a future education regardless of what the latest shape the IPhone might be.

fourpredictions
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What is the value of a good teacher?  It turns out that we have some, if partial, answers to this question.  In some really interesting research, economists sought to quantify the importance of improving teacher effectiveness.  They began with the assumption that improving teacher effectiveness would have positive and life-long impacts on the quality of the lives of students.  Their assumption was correct.  The impacts are significant beyond what we may think.  Incidentally, the benefits have very little to do with any specific content knowledge.  That is, the benefit of a high quality math teacher does not terminate with a student's better understanding of math.  Instead the affects of a more effective teacher appear in somewhat surprising and far-reaching areas.

Benefits of increasing teacher effectiveness

  1. Increased college attendance
  2. Increased lifetime earnings
  3. Decreased teenage birth rates
  4. Raised socio-economic status of community
  5. Increased retirement savings

In short, we clearly see that increasing teacher effectiveness has a tremendous impact on our economy.  In real numbers, the economic benefit of a teacher who is 1 standard deviation above the median is roughly $4,600 per student.  That would be $138,000 for a class of 30 (Chetty, Friedman, Rockoff, 2011).  In a very real and measurable way, the benefits of a highly effective teacher last for the rest of the students' lives.

References

Chetty, R., Friedman, J. N., & Rockoff, J. E. (2011). The long-term impacts of teachers: Teacher value-added and student outcomes in adulthood (No. w17699). National Bureau of Economic Research.

Hanushek, E. A. (2011). The economic value of higher teacher quality.Economics of Education Review, 30(3), 466-479.

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Getting students to think at a higher level is, to say it lightly, a challenge.  However, when done, the reward is great.  In a recent webinar, Kathy Glass discusses her book  Complex Text Decoded: How to Design Lessons and Use Strategies That Target Authentic Texts.  In the discussion, she gives real-life ways to get to a deeper understanding of the types of texts we use everyday.  What's more is that these strategies can be used for a wide range of texts and across all subjects.  It is important to note that student engagement will also increase as teachers lead conversations to a deeper level.  This is something any teacher would wish for.  By following the strategies presented in the webinar, teachers can learn to become more deliberate about making these discussion occur with greater frequency in their classrooms.

 

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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.

 

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

 

 

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This time of year can be a good time to fine-tune teaching strategies. These ideas deal with asking questions in the classroom to foster learning.

  • Allow sufficient wait time after you ask a question. This may be 5, 10, or 15 seconds or more depending upon grade level, student ability and the complexity of the question.
  • It’s a good idea to allow students to jot down notes so they can remember what they want to say when called upon.
  • Use factual questions to lead into higher-order questions.  After the student tells you that Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941, a follow-up question could be, “Why do you think the Japanese chose that day to attack?”
  • Use sustained higher-order questions to facilitate a deeper understanding of the objective or concept. “What is significant about the time of day of the attack?”
  • Use note cards, sticks, name tags, a seating chart or other means to make sure everyone gets a fair chance at answering questions.
  • Comment on each response to add depth to the discussion.
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