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It is important that all educators reflect and ask themselves questions to improve student learning. Here are some great questions to help you reflect.

  1. How do you involve students in creating and evaluating their own learning?
  2. How do you handle difficult communication issues with students, colleagues, and parents?
  3. What systems do you use to manage time and materials to keep yourself organized?
  4. How well are the routines/procedures you have established working? What can you do to improve them?
  5. How are you using technology in your classroom? How can it be more effective?
  6. What are doing to ensure an active and equitable learning for all students?



When you started the year, you didn’t know what to ask. Now you do! Research tells us that New Teachers get the most out of being mentored when they are able to ask for help; especially when they know who and how to ask.  In addition to your mentor, there are others you can ask for ideas.  Older, more experienced teachers are great resources to assist you with any questions you may have about students, curriculum, procedures, and how to end the year.  You will get helpful responses to your requests when you do the following:

  • unnamed You have the responsibility and right to ask others for help.
  •  Ask for help in different ways: email, face-to-face, notes, etc.
  •  Be willing to ask teachers outside your school for help.
  •  When you ask for help, decide whether you are asking for action, information or emotional support.

Remember to thank your mentor and others for giving you support this year.

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.

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.

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


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.

  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


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

Listed below are a few suggestions to demonstrate that we are professionals:

  • Be on time
  • Dress in a professional manner
  • Follow rules, policies, and directions
  • Have a thorough knowledge and understanding of the content you teach.
  • Learn more about current best teaching practices
  • Be organized and efficient
  • As a new teacher, be appreciative of your colleagues’ experience and expertise
  • As a veteran teacher, realize the new and fresh ideas that new teachers bring to the profession and incorporate them into your teaching practice
  • Use school resources wisely
  • Be flexible
  • Resist the urge to complain.
  • Remember to laugh every day

As your Mentor Teacher Specialist meets with many of you in your schools, the subject of your teaching license is a frequent topic for conversation:

“Do I have a Level 1 or a Level 2 license?”
“Yes, I did take a Praxis test, but which one was it?”
“ Have I taken the Praxis II PLT test and were can I go to find my score?”

The answers to these questions and many more can be found by accessing an electronic personnel file called C.A.C.T.U.S., which is an acronym for "Comprehensive Administration of Credentials for Teachers in Utah Schools".

It is important for every teacher to be aware of his/her C.A.C.T.U.S. file, have access to it, and to monitor it frequently. On it you will find your degree, license, a list of in-service classes taken, teacher employment/assignment history, record of Praxis test scores, and much more.

If you haven’t registered for your account on C.A.C.T.U.S, take a few minutes to register now. It is simple and easy to do.

Once you have access to your account, monitor it regularly to be sure all information is current and accurate.