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Change-2This time of year can cause stress and anxiety for teachers as they anticipate changes that will be coming in the next year. But, change isn't always a bad thing, especially if we learn to cope with it. There are various things that can be done to adjust to change and to make it an easier transition. Take these ideas into consideration:

  1. Be flexible. Sometimes life doesn't go as planned. At these moments, recognize opportunities in new situations and seek for a learning opportunity. What can you learn from this change?
  2. Stay positive and be proactive. Get rid of the "what if" feelings and think positively. Keeping a journal of positive things each day can help to keep those thoughts focused. Don't forget to keep your sights on the most important part of your job: your students. Keep them in mind as you plan.
  3. Take care of yourself. Don't forget to keep balanced and take a minute for you. Whether that be eating healthy, exercising, taking a nap, or just reading a book, take time to rejuvenate and keep your body healthy. By taking care of yourself mentally and physically, you can face challenges as you cope with changes.
  4. Develop positive relationships. Are there teachers on your team feeling the same way? In your school? Work together to be supportive to one another. Plan and PLC together. Collaboration can help make change transition smoother.
  5. Reflect on positive things you've done before. You've made changes before. Reflect on how you overcame those and focus on those strengths you have to get through.

Sometimes, change can really hurt our mental well being. If at any point it gets to where you may need more help, don't be afraid to ask for it. Our district has help through Blomquist Hale Consulting where you can get free help 24 hours a day. Their number is 1-800-926-9619.

Change is real. We face it every year. New students, new curriculum, new bosses, new classrooms...change happens in education. Keep in mind though, change helps us get better, and through change, we can continue to grow as educators.

What other things do you do to cope with change?

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It's that time of year where we pause to thank teachers and reflect on who we are because of them. We are so grateful for our teachers in our schools and the hard work and efforts they put into helping their students learn.

 

Have you thanked a teacher? What teacher influenced your life and caused you to become better? Share about it in your own social media with #ThankATeacher

Also--many organizations recognize teachers. Check out this link for deals this week and during the year:

 

http://www.gobankingrates.com/personal-finance/9-teacher-appreciation-week-freebies-deals-discounts/

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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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imagesAround this time of year, coaches and mentors may hear versions of this statement as teachers begin their end of level testing and end of year activities. "Don't bother coming in, I'm testing. You won't see any teaching."

At first, we may believe it when we say it or hear it. Testing doesn't always use a lot of instructional strategies, exciting delivery instruction, or intensive management. It definitely wouldn't be what you would want to do for a professional evaluation. But, quite contrary to our thoughts on "seeing nothing..," an observer will be able to see and conclude a lot from watching a teacher administer a test.

Jim Dillon, in his blog post Voice of the Educator: Invisible Learning, talks of an experience with a teacher he was coaching. She was doing individual assessments on kindergartners at the end of the year. He stayed and watched her class for a half hour anyway. And his takeaways were big.

  • Students learn from everything around them and from each other, not just from a teacher.
  • Learning is not just a cognitive experience but involves emotions and the social context.
  • The teacher’s role is to provide the right conditions for learning primarily by creating a safe and supportive environment.
  • A strong and trusting relationship between student and teacher is the foundation of a safe environment.
  • A teacher needs to learn about the interests, strengths and needs of each student in order to create the right conditions for learning (Dillon. "Invisible Learning").

Each of these components are things that are not always observed immediately--but are essential to learning taking place. If things are running smoothly during an assessment, we can tell a few things right off. The teacher has taught expectations for testing, the students know the rules and procedures for that time, and if the students are independently working--they will know the appropriate management routines for that time as well. If there are some inconsistencies in these, that will be evident as well.

So next time you hear, "I'm just testing, there's nothing to see..," reflect on that thought and see if you can identify where good teaching is still happening. You might be surprised.

 

Reference:

Dillon, Jim. "Voice of the Educator: Invisible Learning."  Smart Blog on Education. 21 Mar 2016. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.

 

 

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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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PositiveIf you have attended a district training on classroom management with our amazing behavior specialists (Melisa Genaux, Brian King, and Buddy Alger), you have most likely heard the phrase: "Where attention goes, behavior grows."

What does this mean though? The Tough Kid Book, by Rhode, Jensen, and Reavis, says: "If more teacher attention is given for inappropriate student behavior than for appropriate behavior, the inappropriate behavior will increase. With Tough Kids' teachers, this attention very often takes the form of excessive prompting, reminding, threatening, reprimanding, and verbal abuse, because these reactions seem to come naturally when teachers attempt 'pain control' of their own"  (43).

Where is your attention going in your classroom? Are you feeding the negative actions of students and reinforcing the behaviors you don't want to see? What is your attention growing?

If you are feeling that some of these natural management tendencies (excessive prompting, reminding, threatening, reprimanding, and verbal abuse) are emerging in your teaching, maybe it is time to re-evaluate how you look at the Tough Kids' behavior. The Tough Kid Book has various strategies to try. You can access The Tough Kid Book in all JSD schools by checking with your school psychologist.

Strategies from The Tough Kid Book:

  • Positive Reinforcement (45): occurs when something a student desires is presented after appropriate behavior has been exhibited. All students and adults need legitimate and appropriate reinforcement.
    • Example: Calvin can earn up to ten points for completing his reading assignment correctly. The points can be exchanged for dinosaur stickers. Because Calvin enjoys the stickers he can earn, the accuracy of his reading assignments has increased.
  • Motivation and Encouragement (48): motivating and encouraging desired performance is  much the same in the classroom as it is in the business world.
    • Step 1. Tell students what you want them to do (and make sure they understand it).
    • Step 2. Tell them what will happen if they do what you want them to do
    • Step 3. When students do what you want them to do, give them immediate positive feedback in ways that are directed and meaningful to them.
  • Natural Positive Reinforcement (50): Natural (activities or things that students already find rewarding) forms of reinforcement are found in schools if you look for them. Some tips for selecting positive reinforcement:
    • Select age-appropriate reinforcement.
    • Use natural reinforcement whenever it is effective.
    • Use reinforcement appropriate to the student's level of functioning.
    • Make certain you have parental and administrative support for the reinforcement you plan to use.
    • Avoid partial praise statements, such as "I'm glad you finished your work--finally!"
    • Always make the most of opportunities to reinforce appropriate behavior.
    • Be genuinely polite and courteous to Tough Kids at all times and demonstrate concern and interest toward them. Always stay calm.
    • Do not confuse positive reinforcement or privileges with a student's basic rights.

 

For more tips and ideas, see:
Rhodes, Ginger, William R. Jenson, and H. Kenton Reavis. The Tough Kid Book. Eugene: Pacific Northwest Publishing, 2010.

 

 

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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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Join USOE and Utah State University  June 21-23, 2016 at the Davis Conference Center in Layton Utah. Pre-Conference Meetings for District and Transitions Meetings will be held June 21, also at the Davis Conference Center. As with the very successful 2014 and 2015 Conferences, this year’s program again features an amazing array of professional learning and collaborative networking opportunities.

UMTSS 2016 will host Concurrent Sessions on:

  • Leadership
  • Literacy and Numeracy
  • Behavior and Positive Behavior Supports
  • Transition to Career Pathways
  • Educating English Learners
  • Special Education
  • Effective Instruction
  • Tiered Intervention
  • Assessment
  • Many Other Topics

2016 conference flyer 012616

 

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