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:
Get the student's attention and make sure you have it!
Give clear, positive directions with high expectations.
Limit the number of directions and steps to the directions.
Vary the way directions are given (teacher modeled, student modeled, using phrases like, "When I say go...", students repeating directions).
Be consistent and follow through.
Give students time to process.
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!
Doug Lemov calls his strategies techniques. He believes that a technique is an action, the more you practice the better you get. “My task has not been to invent the tools but to describe how others use them and what makes them work. This has meant putting the names on the techniques in the interest of helping to create a common vocabulary with which to analyze and discuss the classroom.”
Chapter 2 describes seven techniques. Three of them are; Begin with the End, Shortest Path, and draw the Map.
The technique, ‘Begin with the End’, or as we promote in JSD (JPAS indicator 25), “What will my students understand today?” (page 58), specifically tells students what they should know by the end of the lesson.
The Shortest Path is about taking the shortest path to your goal or in JSD one method is I/We/You. “Use what the data tell you works best, but when in doubt rely on proven direct, trustworthy methods…. criterion is the mastery of the objective and what gets you there best and fastest” (page 65).
Draw the map is about effective planning of student participation during a lesson. This includes the arrangement of student desks, interactions with students during the lesson and positive student participation. In JSD this technique on the JPAS is called Engagement. “It might be that a teacher wants students facing each other only for some lessons…interaction for only a part of a lesson…without structuring the classroom so that some students always have their backs to the teacher” (pages 67-68).
People, in general, sometimes think that managing students comes naturally to teachers. That opinion can change for the better or worse when parents volunteer in their child’s classroom. When teachers teach like a champion, they garner love and respect from their students and parents. As Jordan District mentors, we want to encourage all teachers to learn how to teach like a “champion.”
Our district motto is “Every Child, Every Day!”
Several times this year we will post ideas from the book, Teach Like a Champion, 2010 by Doug Lemov, that provides educators with ideas on how to improve their management skills.
The first chapter begins with teaching strategies (techniques) that set high academic expectations. The techniques in this chapter include No Opt Out, Right is Right, Stretch It, Format Matters, and Without Apology.
“No Opt Out” teaches students that their teacher cares enough to help them learn the right answer and that saying “I don’t know” doesn’t give them a pass to not learn what the answer is.
Doug Lemov reflects on advice he received from his mentor, “When you want them to follow your directions, stand still. If you’re walking around passing out papers, it looks like the directions are no more important than all of the other things you’re doing. Show that your directions matter. Stand still. They’ll respond.” This is an example of “Format Matters”.
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.
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 provideexamples 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 organizeinformation 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
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.
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.
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.
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
Increased college attendance
Increased lifetime earnings
Decreased teenage birth rates
Raised socio-economic status of community
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.
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.