“The test will come and the test will go. Let’s focus on students.”


Try to keep these points in mind:

testing tipsYou’re in charge of your performance

Don’t forget that of the many factors that affect success on standardized tests, the one you can control the most is your teaching performance — regardless of the attitude of your students, their support at home or the role of the school administration. Will good teaching be the sole decider in your students’ success? No, but it will play a major role.

Focus on what you can influence

When issues are swirling and people are choosing sides, the best thing to do is to focus on what you can control. For a teacher, that means honing the quality of your instruction in the classroom, understanding of the curriculum and designing lessons that help students the most.  Try not to spend time spinning in circles over something that’s either beyond your control or hasn’t yet been firmly established.

Set a constructive, professional tone

Regardless of your feelings on the quality or necessity of testing, remember to keep a professional tone when discussing the tests. Your primary responsibility is to ensure the learning of your students, so don’t get caught up criticizing a test that has yet to be administered. Be judicious in your comments about the testing. Never involve students into the middle of these debates.

Deconstruct the test

There is nothing wrong with spending time teaching your students the best way to take the test. Breaking the test down into smaller pieces, practicing the computer-based interface and highlighting the important parts of the test are all reasonable uses of your time. Focusing too greatly on the test, shutting down instruction in other areas due to the upcoming tests, or sending home worksheet after worksheet isn’t a good use of your time. It’s OK to analyze, just don’t obsess.

Recognize the benefits

One point that many supporters of standardized tests bring up during these discussions is that formal “sit-down” tests are a part of life — most professions require formal tests of some sort, and the testing will become more frequent as jobs become more highly skilled and demanding. Putting the standardized-testing discussion in that context supports the idea of taking the test.

While the test plays a larger role in both the child’s school evaluation and the teacher’s overall performance, it is not a major player in the overall school experience of the student.

“The test will come and the test will go. Let’s focus on students.”

 

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owl holding heart Teachers online share the joys of teaching. It is those small moments with students that give us JOY!

“I teach because if I make the difference in the life of one little boy or girl, I have made an impact on the world.”

“I teach because when I teach I learn…and I LOVE to LEARN.”

“Each day I not only live, but I love, laugh, and learn. This is why I teach.”

"As a teacher I can relate to the Love and Joy of teaching students!"

Contest Rules:

  • Write a paragraph about why you teach.
  • Share the Joy and Love of teaching students!
  • Include your name, school and grade level.
  • Email your entry to: patricia.bennett@jordandistrict.org
  • Contest ends March 1, 2017
  • Winners’ paragraphs will be posted with permission on the Mentor teacher website.
  • Prizes will be presented to the Winners
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At this time of year, when so many of our students are in the thick of test taking, it seems natural to think about our own year's growth. How high have we climbed in the last year on what John Hattie calls the "ladder of excellence?" Whatever role in which we are presently cast, we might ask the same question. Whether a seasoned veteran mentor or a wide-eyed newbie, we are each somewhere reaching ever higher.

One of the primary objectives of a new teacher and mentor program at a school ought to be a focus on accelerating this rate of climb for new teachers and mentors alike. If the relationship is truly collaborative, both are enriched through the mutual benefit of experiences and expertise.

The type of growth hoped for in a mentoring relationship can only occur through a process of dialogue. As Paulo Freire describes it, dialogue is dependent on both members of the relationship having an equal voice and working together to construct an improved understanding. He says that "no one can say a true word alone—nor can she say it for another, in a prescriptive act which robs others of their words. Dialogue is the encounter between men, mediated by the world, in order to name the world."

In such a complex profession as education, if we are to advance, we must engage in a constant process of naming and renaming the world. At the core of the work of an educator is something like what Wallace Stevens describes as a "response to the daily necessity of getting the world right." And to really get it right, we will need to share in the expertise of others who are similarly engaged in the same process.

 

 

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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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In a recent article in the Salt Lake Tribune, we read about something that many educators have known for a long time. We are in the midst of a transitional time in our profession. In many schools, there have been a significant number of new teachers for a few years. In just a few years a majority of a given faculty could be completely turned over.

The excitement of change in this current condition also comes with some cause for concern. In some schools, the number of people in need of a mentor exceeds the number of mentors in the building. All this points to the need for educators to consider taking upon themselves the role of mentor and to be trained.

Once trained, relatively new and mid-career teachers find that working in this role enlarges their own professional capacity, builds collegiality, and helps to ensure a consistent level of student achievement. Whether a person is assigned as a mentor or wants to be ready in case they are assigned, every teacher should consider participating in mentor training.

It is reasonable to predict that a majority of teachers will at some point be asked to mentor a new teacher. In some cases, there have been teachers training as mentors while they are still being mentored.  Although this may seem funny, such is the state of our education profession.

We offer many chances each year for teachers to become trained as mentors. Look in JPLS to find more information on the options available to you.

Utah needs teachers, but college students don't want to major in education

The boss over Utah's largest teachers union believes the shortfall is a symptom of issues facing education. It's a national problem, with a 30 percent drop in teachers from 2008-2012, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

 

How Mentorship Can Help Teachers Succeed

Just like having good mentors is important to student teaching, as newly hired educator, having a mentor at your school is incredibly important, too. Mentor teachers can provide invaluable help to new teachers. Mentors are experienced, patient, knowledgeable veteran teachers who are selected and trained to guide new teachers.

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The return to work after an extended break is often accompanied with a mix of emotions.  During the time off, many remember that they enjoy spending time with family and friends.  In fact, the time of rediscovery is something more veteran teachers eagerly anticipate and plan for.  Looking forward to time off is nice.  The return to work/reality is not always as eagerly anticipated.  However, the question that must be raised is whether there could be another way.  Is there a way to enjoy life between the breaks?  Is it necessary to put family and self interests on hold with each return to work?  This is a problem that many new educators struggle to solve.  Striking an acceptable balance between work, home, and self interests is a tricky one.  One source suggests that there are some steps that teachers can take to more easily arrive at a sort of equilibrium of work and personal life.  Additionally, Andy Puddicombe makes a compelling case for regularly doing nothing.

Work

  • Work smarter, not harder

  • Make friends

  • Give yourself a break

  • Invest in your development

  • Celebrate accomplishments

Life

  • Draw a line between work and home

  • Cultivate a life outside the classroom

  • Schedule a time to do nothing

  • Get your ZZZZs

  • Practice reflective writing

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This time of year we may see new teachers looking haggard and feeling stressed and depressed. They might be saying, "Is this worth it?" and "This is so much harder than I thought!" If you are a mentor to a new teacher experiencing this phase of disillusionment, there are some things you can do to help your new teacher through this phase.

Emotional
Emotionally we can support new teachers by providing encouragement and listening. We can give positive feedback and help them keep perspective. Continuing to develop that trusting relationship and lifting their spirits can be one of the most powerful things you can do as a mentor. Find out their favorite treat (chocolate works wonders) and bring them an encouraging note.

Instructional
Teachers going through disillusionment may benefit from positive feedback on things you see them succeeding at. They may images-1need help/support with lesson planning. Sitting with them to reflect on their teaching highlighting positive things they have done may boost them back up. This may also be a good time to model lessons for them or video one another to observe teaching in both classrooms. Support them in planning and scheduling testing as they move forward.

Logistical
Parent-teacher conferences can cause some anxiety and stress for new teachers. Help them with planing for conferences and offer advice as needed. You can help with finding resources to help them and getting supplies ready for them. They may need a reminder of grading policies and help with copies. Be observant and you might see ways you can alleviate some extra stress from their life.

 

For more information on teacher phases, check out this article.

 

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We have made it to Spring Break! We hope that you take time to relax and enjoy your time off from work. Here are some fun ideas of things to do or places to visit that might help you to rejuvenate:

Go walking in a park
Go on a hike
Take a bicycle ride
Go bowling
Visit a museum
Take a nap
Visit a library & check out a book for fun
Invite guests for the first BBQ of the season
Prep the soil for your flowers/garden

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Check out some place new such as the following:

 

  • Museum of Natural Curiosity
  • The Leonardo
  • The Aquarium
  • Tracy Aviary
  • Clark Planetarium
  • Red Butte Garden

 

 

 

Take time to smell the flowers and enjoy your spring break.

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