Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What Principals Want Teachers to Do

·         Participate actively during meetings, your voice is valued and needs to be heard
·         Adhere to deadlines because they are put in place for a reason
·         Share information about special events and projects you have going in your classroom
·         Bring to my attention any student, parent, or staff issues that I might otherwise hear from someone else
·         Communicate your needs efficiently and effectively
·         Challenge my thinking.  I want to discuss all sides of an argument before a decision is made
·         Document, document, document
·         Display professionalism in all your interactions, you represent more than just yourself to the community
·         Stay current and be innovative, your students and the entire staff will thank you
·         Show your school pride by promoting the wonderful things your students and your colleagues are doing

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Subtle (and not so subtle) Ways to Convey High Expectations to your Students

·         Give students the opportunity to correct and improve their work whenever possible
·         Don’t just watch students jump over the same bar, raise it and tell them you will be there when they get over it
·         Develop a fearless attitude towards learning
·         Create class norms and revisit them often
·         Utilize wait time. By giving students a chance to think about and answer questions they will begin to rely less on you and more on themselves
·         Be transparent and clear about your expectations
·         Practice what you preach.  When students recognize that you have set high expectations for yourself they will be more likely to do the same
·         Limit interruptions when students are working productively and hold them accountable for completing their assignments
·         E.M. Foster wrote, "Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon". Don’t give students the answer, give them the tools to find it themselves
·         Recognize and celebrate learning  growth along the way, but don’t allow students to rest on their laurels, they need you to point out the next hurdle 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Ways to Encourage Collaboration

·         Publicly acknowledge how a colleague has helped improve your practice
·         Establish norms and protocols that promote a safe environment and encourage participation from all
·         When faced with a dilemma, provide groups of teachers a time and place to brainstorm solutions
·         Laugh together, because when we laugh we relax and make eye contact
·         If you come across an interesting article or resource, share it with others and then have a follow up discussion about it
·         When seeking support about a specific student or situation,  let your colleagues know their help is valued and appreciated
·          Look at student work with a colleague, and do it with the door open so others become curious and want to join in
·         Ask a colleague to observe and provide you with feedback on a specific component or skill you would like to improve
·         Keep newsletters and web pages updated because many times community members and coworkers would be happy to offer their support if they knew what was happening
·         Become familiar with your school’s mission statement because it unifies the staff and acts as a compass for the entire community

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

10 Things (other than technology) that have changed since I was a student

This list was inspired by my recent experience of teaching a lesson in a room that I was a student in 25 years ago.  The thought, “Wow, things have changed!” popped into my head and I couldn't stop thinking about why.  Obviously we are now living in the information age, but I wanted to dig deeper than that so this list intentionally ignores technology.  This is what I came up with, but I would love to hear what teachers from all generations think about this topic and what you would add to the list.

·         Children’s and Young Adult Literature.  Sure, we know and love the classics, but today’s novels and picture books often tackle some serious social issues of the day as well as introduce readers to historical events.
·         Pace.  There is much more to learn and the length of the school day and year has remained relatively unchanged, as a result we are constantly moving.
·         Accountability.  This is much more than a buzz word.  For students it means taking ownership of their learning and for teacher this means staying current.
·         Risk Taking.  Students and teachers are much more willing to take risks and not measure the success based on a final outcome but rather learn from the experience.
·         Behavior Strategies.  Educators are being more proactive in their approach to discipline and less reactive.  We still have a long way to go, but teachers are recognizing the long term effects that traditional consequences have on students.
·         School Leadership.  Gone are the days of the building manager, here are the days of instructional leaders who work collaboratively with their staffs.
·         Learning Opportunities.   Students are much more active and engaged with content, often producing information rather than consuming it.
·         Expectations.  Have you ever taught a lesson at a particular level and thought to yourself, “I didn't learn that till I was in (fill in the blank) grade!”
·         Professional Development.  Teachers are provided with more opportunity for professional growth than ever before.  (ok, if I had to sneak technology in somewhere, this would be the place)
·         Voice.  It is very difficult for student’s to become invisible.  Teachers are much more attuned to giving all learners the opportunity to express their thoughts, opinions, and ideas.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

What Motivates Learning

  • Challenging activities
  • Teacher enthusiasm for content
  • Quality feedback
  • Authentic learning opportunities
  • Recognizing and activating student’s expertise and prior knowledge
  • Relationships (teacher-student, student-student)
  • Having clear expectations
  • Creating cognitive dissonance
  • Hands on learning
  • High quality questioning

Friday, March 8, 2013

Reflective Questions for Consideration

  • Did I achieve my learning objectives?
  • Was I flexible when things didn't go as planned?
  • Did students leave the classroom smiling?
  • What must I do tonight to be ready for tomorrow?
  • Did I add a new strategy to my practice?
  • Did I provide authentic and meaningful feedback for my students?
  • Did I have meaningful and professional interactions with my colleagues?
  • What happened today that will affect tomorrow?
  • Did I allow my students the opportunity to think critically and problem solve?
  • Were the decisions I made today in the best interest of the students?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Reasons to Observe a Colleague

  • It will lead to an amazing discussion about teaching practices
  • It will encourage others in the building to do the same
  • You will come away with practical teaching strategies and management techniques
  • The students will recognize you as a lifelong learner
  • The safety and trust you build with that colleague will offer future benefits
  • You will become inspired simply by watching teaching and learning in action
  • You will be acting as a true professional who cares about learning from others
  • It is a great way to take control of your own professional development
  • It will reduce any feelings of isolation you may have
  • Your colleague will be flattered  and will inevitably want to return the favor

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Ways to show students you respect them

  • Greet every individual by name as they enter the room
  • Ask students their opinions on things that matter
  • Give students choices whenever possible
  • If it's important enough to assign, it's important enough for feedback
  • Let them know you make mistakes and that you don't have all the answers
  • Give your students clear and thoughtful directions
  • Have an agenda posted every day
  • Use humor and avoid sarcasm
  • Have one on one interactions with each student every day
  • Recognize the many skills and talents of your students