Archive for the ‘Professional’ category

Building Positive Relationships with Support Personnel

August 19, 2016

Schools would not run smoothly without the secretaries, custodians, bus drivers, security team, or 728d6ee6ea0b81a533d0f45ed29dae10food service staff. Often their support is so seamless, we almost forget that they exist and we often take for granted, all the glitches they unglitch. So, as you are thinking about building a classroom community, take a moment out to think about how you might build positive relationships with your building’s support personnel. Here’s a few suggestions from our books, Thriving in the High School Classroom and From Surviving to Thriving: Mastering the Elementary Classroom.

  • Acknowledge support personnel with a smile, a nod, or short conversation.
  • Turn in paperwork on time. If it’s going to be late, let the secretary know.
  • Communicate with the custodian when a class event is going to result in extra trash or your classroom furniture arrangement may impede cleaning.
  • Don’t forget to let the food service staff know when your students may not be dining in the cafeteria.
  • Take time out to introduce yourself to the security team and find out what you can do to make their job easier.
  • If you have bus duty, connect with the bus drivers.

And, as we all know, it is the school secretary who really runs the school!

Check out our new products at Surviving to Thriving LjL:

mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine Discussion and Activity Guide

Homework: Show What You Know

FREE Teacher Bookmarks with Homework Quotes

FREE Bookmarks with Quotes for Teachers

Lesson Plans for the First Week of School: The Crayon Box that Talked

Seven Ways to Use Free Bookmark Quotes for Teachers

August 3, 2016

To me the sole hope of human salvation lies in teaching.  George Bernard Shawbookmark

Even teachers need reminding of how critical they are to the education of students and to maintaining a democratic way of life. We collected 16 quotes to share with teachers that reflect just how important teachers are.

Visit our Teachers Pay Teachers store, Surviving to Thriving LjL and download a free set of 16 bookmark quotes for teachers. And, here are seven ways you might use those bookmarks:

  1. Display the bookmark quote where you can see it from your desk to remind you your work as a teacher is appreciated.
  2. Copy bookmark quotes on colored card stock and cut out. Write personal notes of appreciation on the backsides of the bookmarks and place the bookmark quotes in faculty/staff mailboxes.
  3. Distribute the bookmark quotes at a faculty/staff meeting. Use bookmark quotes to form pairs, trios, or quads by directing teachers/staff members to find one, two, or three other teachers/staff members who have the same bookmark quote. Invite pairs or groups to discuss the quote and/or work in groups. Nice way to start a faculty/staff meeting.
  4. Make mini-posters out of the bookmark quotes and display them on a bulletin board near the main entrance where visitors will see them.
  5. Place all 16 bookmark quotes in a box, pull one out during lunch, read it aloud, and discuss the meaning of the quote with your colleagues.
  6. Challenge students to find inspiring quotes related to education or a topic related to the content area in which you teach. Make your own bookmark quotes for students, using the quotes that they find.
  7. Use as a bookmark.

Other FREE bookmarks to check out:

FREE Teacher Bookmarks with Homework Quotes

FREE Esperanza Rising Bookmarks

 FREE Friendship Bookmarks

FREE The One and Only Ivan Bookmarks

HOMEWORK: Show What You Know

July 25, 2016

I like a teacher who gives something to take home to think about besides homework.human-face-with-flower

Lily Tomlin

If you have looked at the research about homework, it generally does not support a connection between time spent on homework and grades (Kohn, 2012). The challenge for teachers is the expectation of homework from both families and students, but not all homework is created equal. Homework is appropriate for preparing, checking for understanding, practicing, rehearsing, and/or processing including analyzing, evaluating, and/or reflecting (Vatterott, 2009).

Meaningful homework assignments should:

  • allow for student choice and personalization;
  • provide opportunities for students to share things about themselves;
  • tap into emotions, feeling, and/or opinions; and
  • be aesthetically pleasing (Vatterott, 2007).

Meaningful homework assignments should engage students and be fun to do. We have compiled various homework assignments that can be easily adapted to a variety of subjects for intermediate and upper level grades. And, there is a list of alternative homework assignment ideas. Check it out on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Homework: Show What You Know includes:

  • Name Lists
  • Rounding Up: Adjectives
  • Rounding Up: Adverbs
  • Survey. Note. Conclude! Homework Assignment
  • Using Graphic Organizers to Show What You Know
  • 8 Alternatives to Traditional Homework Assignments with Mini-Activity Slips
  • Teacher Bookmarks with Homework Quotes (Something to share with colleagues and start a conversation about homework.

References

Kohn, A. (November 25, 2012). Homework:  New research suggests it may be an unnecessary evil. Huffpost.

Vatterott, C. (2007). Becoming a middle level teacher:  Student-focused teaching of early adolescents.  New York:  McGraw-Hill.

Vatterott, C. (2009). Rethinking homework:  Best practice that support diverse needs. Alexandria, VA:  ASCD.

Avoid Teacher Burnout: Help a Colleague

March 30, 2015

Eight_o_clockTime is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.   Carl Sandburg

The response to help a colleague may very well be connected to time: There’s barely enough time for the things I have to do—there’s just no time to be collegial. The scarcity of time is often a systemic problem, however, some teachers seem to find that time because they know that the return is energizing. Ben Johnson’s fourth step in avoiding teacher burnout in his article, 10 Ways to Avoid Teacher Burnout, is to help another teacher. He shares some excellent ways to do just that by responding to a blog or starting your own blog; mentoring another teacher; or taking an active role in your professional organization. Here’s 7 more ways to help a colleague:

  1. Share a lesson, unit, or resources for a topic with teachers who teach the same grade level or content area.
  2. Organize a grade level meeting or content area meeting to plan an end of the semester/year activity and ask everyone to bring an activity or resource to the meeting to share.
  3. Share a journal article with a summary of the article and some practical applications attached to the article.
  4. Designate a bulletin board or bookshelf in the teachers’ lounge for teachers to share resources, activities, books, lessons, etc.
  5. Follow a blog (see suggestions under Resources).
  6. Join your professional organization and share the resources from your membership.
  7. Check in with a first-year teacher in your building.  The conversation will benefit both of you.

While demands on time don’t always allow for teachers to collaborate with colleagues, when you do collaborate, the effort and end result is always worth it. My partners in Surviving to Thriving LjL have collaborated together on many projects—books, curricular materials, presentations, and workshops. For example, we are currently working on a unit and discussion/activity guide for Animal Farm. Jennifer just finished the unit. Next, I go through the unit, editing, deleting, adding, and then sending it back to Jennifer. She makes her adjustments, then it goes to Linda, who formats it expertly and uploads it to Teachers Pay Teachers. When we wrote two books on classroom management (Thriving in the High School Classroom and From Surviving to Thriving: Mastering the Art of the Elementary Classroom), we sat at Linda’s dining room table and wrote as a team—that was an amazing process. Collaboration benefits all those involved in the collaboration process and often benefits students the most.

References

Johnson, Ben. (April 22, 2014).  10 Steps for Avoiding Teacher Burnout. Edutopia.

Blogs to Check Out

Teach Thought

Middle Web

Hack Learning

Grant Wiggins

From Surviving to Thriving

Thriving LjL

Surviving to Thriving TPT

Here’s a list of some of our collaborative work:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Son by Lois Lowry

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate

Avoid Teacher Burnout: Learn Something New

March 23, 2015

You can learn new things at any time in your life if you’re willing to be a beginner. If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up to you.  Barbara Sher

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There is something about doing or learning something new that is invigorating. Sharing that experience with your students is another way to avoid teacher burnout according to Ben Johnson, in his article: 10 Steps for Avoiding Teacher Burnout. Johnson suggests sharing a new book you are reading with your students or learning about how the brain learns and sharing that. Here are five things to consider connected to doing and/or learning something new.

  1. Go to a large bookstore and browse through their magazines. Choose a magazine you probably would never even look at, let alone buy. Buy it and page through it; look for connections to your own life and/or work.
  2. Read A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink—lots of ideas and suggestions about looking at life differently.
  3. Choose a genre of music with which you have little or no experience. Share some of this music with your students and get their opinions about it.
  4. Try a new recipe every weekend and report back to your students what you tried and whether or not you liked it.
  5. Learn to do magic tricks. Share your magical ability with your students—but no disappearance acts for you or them.

One of the things I did when I was working on a master’s degree in literacy is to share new things I learned about literacy and new learning strategies with my high school students. I would tell my students that I am trying out this new learning strategy with them and after we use it, I want their opinions about how well it worked for them. This was stumbling into magic—students took the new strategy very seriously and then shared their critiques. It was awesome!

I also discovered that students love to learn about their brains and how they learn. There are so many reliable resources online connected to the brain and learning. Recently I pinned an infographic on Movement and Learning that summarizes the benefits of movement in the classroom. As for adding more movement to your classroom, again there are many resources available including brain breaks that are fun and still serve the purpose.

As my colleagues and I create teacher materials for Teachers Pay Teachers, we always include activities that get students up and moving. Check out our store, Surviving to Thriving LjL on Teachers Pay Teachers. Here’s a list of the novels for which we have developed curriculum materials.

Movement and Learning Infographic

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Son by Lois Lowry

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

References

Johnson, Ben. (April 22, 2014).  10 Steps for Avoiding Teacher Burnout. Edutopia.

Avoid Teacher Burnout: 6 Ways to Take Care of Your Health

March 15, 2015

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To keep the body in good health is a duty…otherwise

we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear. Buddha

 

How many of you made New Year’s resolutions connected to taking better care of your health? Eat healthier, exercise often, and sleep more! And, yet somehow those resolutions haven’t morphed into new habits. It may be that that we need to strengthen our willpower and it may not be as hard as we think. According to Dr. Kelly McGonigal, “Being mindful of the present moment improves a wide range of skills, including attention, stress management, impulse control, and yes, being self-aware of feelings and urges. Not only does it change how the brain functions, it physically impacts the structure of the brain to support self-control” (Migliore, 2015, p. 33). Being mindful is often associated with meditation and deep breathing exercises, which seem an easy way to increase our resolve, our willpower, to do those things that keep us healthy.

Teacher burnout is caused by many internal and external forces, one of those forces is physical health, which we have some control over. Taking care of your health is Step 2 in avoiding teacher burnout, as suggested in Ben Johnson’s article: 10 Steps for Avoiding Teacher Burnout.

Here are 6 suggestions to consider regarding taking care of your health:

  1. Meditate and practice deep breathing for 15 minutes a day.
  2. Do one thing to improve your diet: eat breakfast, drink more water, eliminate one unhealthy food, etc.
  3. Take a 20-minute walk daily.
  4. Take a 15 minute power nap (preferably not during class).
  5. Improve your bedtime ritual and commit to sleeping a healthy number of hours.
  6. Add a physical activity to your weekly schedule that you really enjoy: hiking, biking, dancing, aerobics, karate, yoga, bowling, tennis, golf, walking the dog…(power reading doesn’t count).

One way to find the time to take care of your health is to have on hand some units you love teaching and students love learning. I always think you should save one of your best units for the end of the spring semester. If you are newer to teaching, you might not have that unit developed yet or if you have been teaching for a while, you might have already taught that unit. Give yourself a break and look at some of the wonderful curriculum materials available online. My colleagues and I work hard to create teacher materials that are easy for teachers to implement and engage students. Check out our store Surviving to Thriving LjL on Teachers Pay Teachers. Here’s a list of the novels for which we have developed curriculum materials. Now go take a nap or a walk!

The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenSurviving to Thriving TPT

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Son by Lois Lowry

References

Johnson, Ben. (April 22, 2014). 10 Steps for Avoiding Teacher Burnout. Edutopia.

Migliore, L. (Spring 2015). The science of strengthening willpower and summoning self-control. Brain World. Issue 3, Volume 6, pp. 30-32.

Resources

Set Up For Sleep

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/linden-schaffer/set-up-for-sleep_b_5605957.html

Sleeping Tips: 7 Ways To Get To Bed Earlier Tonight

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/02/sleeping-tips-earlier-bedtime_n_3359469.html

Three Principles to Ponder Connected to Teaching and Learning

August 10, 2014

Paul Brock wants all of his daughters’ future teachers to abide by three principles:

First, to nurture and challenge my daughters’ intellectual and imaginative capacities way out to horizon unsullied by self-fulfilling minimalist expectations. Don’t patronize them with lowest-common-denominator blancmange masquerading as knowledge and learning; not crush their love for learning through boring pedagogy. Don’t bludgeon them with mindless ‘busy work’ and limit the exploration of the world of evolving knowledge merely to the tyranny of repetitively churned-out recycled worksheets. Ensure that there is legitimate progression of learning from one day, week, month, term and year to the next.

Second, to care for Sophie and Millie with humanity and sensitivity, as developing human beings worth of being taught with genuine respect, enlightened discipline and imaginative flair.

And, third, please strive to maximize their potential for later schooling, post0school education, training and employment and for the quality of life itself so that they can contribute to and enjoy the fruits of living within an Australian society that is fair, just, tolerant, honorable, knowledgeable, prosperous and happy (Brock, 2004, pp. 250-251).

Visible Learning HattieSchool for many will be starting within the next few weeks. While teachers are busy preparing for the upcoming school year, it might be a good time to reflect upon Paul Brock’s three principles. This quote was included in the preface of a book by John Hattie, Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning. I have only read the preface and first chapter and I am intrigued.   Then I read the following quote and now I can’ wait to read the whole book.

“This development of critical evaluation skills requires educators to develop their students’ capacity to see the world from the viewpoint of others to understand human weaknesses and injustices, and to work towards developing cooperation and working with others. It requires educators to develop in their students a genuine concern for self and others, to teach the importance of evidence to counter stereotypes and closed thinking, to promote accountability of the person as responsible agent, and to vigorously promote critical thinking and the importance of dissenting voices” (Hattie, 2012,p. 4).

This quote provides a strong rationale for teachers to create community in their classrooms by getting to know their students and students getting to know each other as well as students getting to know their teachers. Building a community of learners who care for each other takes time, but it is time well-spent. Go slow to go fast.

There are many getting to know you activities in books, on the Internet, on Pinterest, etc. Check out our two books for more ideas about building trust in your classrooms: Thriving in the High School Classroom and From Surviving to Thriving: Mastering the Art of the Elementary Classroom.

Thriving in the HS ClassroomFrom Surviving to Thriving

 

Brock, P. (2004). A passion for life. Sydney: Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Hattie, J. (2012). Visible learning for teachers: Maximizing impact on learning. New York: Routledge.

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Browse/Search:surviving%20to%20thriving%20ljl

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Thriving-in-the-High-School-Classroom-1326075

http://www.amazon.com/Visible-Learning-Teachers-Maximizing-Impact/dp/0415690153/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406818434&sr=8-1&keywords=John+Hattie

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/From-Surviving-to-Thriving-126820


Uma Krishnaswami

Writer, Author of Books for Young Readers

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