Reflective Teaching

Article by Christy Vacchio

In order to be an effective teacher, one must use the mirror to see what was learned, and develop a plan to improve instruction. In the beginning of my teaching career, I would often get frustrated at students’ misconceptions and my lack of effectiveness during lessons. Classroom management was not my strength, but I had a strong foundation in content knowledge. It wasn’t until I worked in retail management for a few years, that I learned how to actually become a better teacher.
[Read more…]

Standards Based Grading

Article by Mike Ross

Ask any teacher, administrator, or parent about standards-based grading and you will likely get as many different responses as the number of people you ask. For some reason, standards based grading has a negative connotation. This could result from misguided attempts to implement this in a building or simply because some think standards-based grading can’t fit in a classroom already “crowded” with class discussions, cooperative learning, project based learning, or whatever the school’s new initiative is. Fortunately, this is not true. Standards based grading has a place in any classroom and can actually make the life of an educator much less stressful.
[Read more…]

Consistency When Implementing Change

Article by Katie Currens

When it comes time to implement change, more times than not it is met with great trepidation, sometimes even downright displeasure. So why is that? What has happened that causes us to bristle at the idea of change? Let’s explore the reasons and how we can change that feeling!
[Read more…]

Questioning Strategies

Article by Sandi Sumerfield

If there were a “holy grail” of education, student engagement would be close to the top of the list. As teachers, we all want to create a community environment where students explore ideas in-depth, passionately consider all aspects of a topic, and listen with sincere interest to the ideas of others. An important foundation in establishing community is creating an environment where rich and engaging dialogue exists and a safe environment is established for all learners to openly explore possibilities they may not fully understand. Effective questioning strategies are a critical component in creating such an environment.
[Read more…]

Malleable Misconceptions

Article by Chad Huelsman

Everyday our students enter our classrooms with preconceived notions about knowledge and their abilities. It is imperative that we, as educational influencers, identify these preconceptions and take the proper measures to support students in advancing their learning. David Ausubel (1963), an American psychologist known for research work on “meaningful learning,” stated “the most important single factor influencing learning is what the learner already knows. Ascertain this and teach him accordingly.” Even though Ausubel’s insights into teaching and learning are critical to advance new knowledge, Audrey Sewell (2002) posits that our students’ prior knowledge can either be a “bridge” or “barrier” to new learning for them, especially when it comes to addressing student misconceptions.
[Read more…]

Classroom Routines

Article by Kathleen Jones

Imagine a classroom environment that has clearly established routines. What words come to mind? Peaceful? Safe? Fun? Productive? Now, imagine a classroom environment that has little to no evidence of classroom routines. What words come to mind? Chaotic? Unsafe? Stressful? Dysfunctional? Without routines and structure, opportunities for students to learn are minimized.
[Read more…]

Staff Culture’s Impact on Student Culture

Article by Katie Currens

One thing I’ve learned with my own kids is that children watch and listen to everything. Literally everything. Those moments when you are joking about buying an island and running a banana stand will soon turn into questions from the teacher or their friends because “I heard you’re moving!” We know how observant kids are and we learn this during our educational courses. Yet sometimes we forget that they are also observing our interactions with our colleagues and make assumptions based on what they see.
[Read more…]

Beyond Compliance: Understanding Best Practices

Article by Jenni Stadtmiller

“Make sure you have your standards and objectives listed on your board.”
“You better have your agenda up.”
“I’ll be coming around to look for your lessons plans for the week.”
“Don’t forget your exit tickets.”

Do these phrases sound familiar to you? Some days education can feel like you are checking off boxes on a list for all the things your administrators are coming around looking for. However, these items are not meant to be a compliance piece, where we put them up and don’t think about them again. Research shows that these items actually have impact on student learning. Let’s find out how.
[Read more…]

What’s in Your Suitcase? Unpacking Standards

Article by Dorothy Reynolds, Sharon Cooley, and Pam Groach

Why is unpacking the standards an important aspect of teaching?
Imagine yourself on a family vacation with your suitcases filled to the brim! Your spouse wants you to quickly gather your beach items and head to the beach. But wait! Where did you put the sunscreen? Which suitcase has the popup shelter? How about the swim suits? And your wide brim hat? Yikes! Before you make your way to the beach, maybe you should unpack the suitcases and organize your belongings. After all, you do have multiple events scheduled this trip. You do not want to find yourself on the beach without the essentials.
[Read more…]

Starting the Year: Remember to Establish Habits!

Article by Dora Daniels

When thinking about the beginning of the school year, it’s important to plan for classroom transitions and how things are going to flow. Here are some good prompts for opening the year:

  • How are students going to enter the classroom? What are they going to do when they walk in?
  • How are students going to be prepared for the class?
  • How are students going to know where they are sitting?
  • How are students going to transition and turn in papers?
  • How are students going to transition at the end of class?

All of these items need to be practiced for the first two or three weeks of school. While we might want to introduce such ideas once, many students need multiple exposures before these behaviors become habit.
[Read more…]