One Less Defeat

Maya Angelou once said, “We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.”

Reading this reminds me of a recent situation that I encountered with students. Several of them were really struggling with a new skill. My philosophy has always been to push kids to excel by stretching their limits. This particular group of students does not respond to this. On this particular day, all of the inappropriate language and teacher bashing hit a critical point in which I was forced to make a decision: stay engaged with the group or leave them be. Ultimately, I chose to stay engaged and posed a challenge to them: offering them a choice to be creative in your insults, i.e. no swearing allowed. This indeed took them by surprise, as I opened an “outlet” for them. Immediately, we took a quick break and tackled the next work task without any fail.

Food for Thought:

Know your students

Anticipate difficult spots and plan accordingly

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Hear Me

Ram Dass once said, “The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear.” When reading this quote I am often reminded about all the missed opportunities for our students for peer-to-peer discourse activities.

Food for Thought:

Less teacher talk and more student talk

Daily reflections for students to share thinking

Circulate and watch and/or listen to the kids

Think About Tomorrow

According to my Chinese fortune cookie, school is a building which has four walls with tomorrow inside. This particular fortune makes me wonder what we do as effective educators to make our students more college and career ready on their journeys to “tomorrow.” Think about one way you can stretch at least one kids thinking in your next lesson.

Food for Thought:

Increased amounts of rigor to expand thinking

Increased opportunities for students to share and/or explain thinking

Increased amounts of accountable talk

Be Still and Listen

Robyn Jackson once said, “When teachers help too much, they reinforce the idea that it’s about getting it right and not about the struggle for learning.”

I will be the first to admit, as a 22 year veteran teacher, I still struggle with letting go so the kids can “struggle”.   However, when I/we do let go, the results are amazing. Think about one tweak you can make to your instruction that allows for more student led discourse.

Food for Thought:

Increased opportunities for students to share thinking and/or explain thinking

Celebrate successes as a class

Let students “work through” the struggles

Never Say Never

Nelson Mandela once said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

With the start of a new school year, this statement strongly resonates with me as I reflect on year-end data and begin to set performance goals for the upcoming school year.

Think about a Student Learning Goal you might want to accomplish this year. Break that goal into small chunks (daily intentions) to help you reach that goal. Remember to check in each day with your intentions.

Dream big and reach for the stars.

Winding Down

Dear Colleagues,

As we approach the final weeks of another school year, take time to reflect. Think about the Top 10 and Low 10. Are you sending them with tools to succeed in the next grade?

Food for Thought:

  • Reflect on Strengths and Challenges
  • Reflect on current interventions
  • Think about next steps – what can you share with new teacher that will make this child successful

Windows and Mirrors

Sydney J. Harris once said, “The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.”

Think about each and every opportunity you have provided for your students to “shine”. Think about different ways to recognize students each day.

Food for Thought:

  • Reinforce positive behaviors
  • Provide incentives for most improved students weekly and/or quarterly
  • Accentuate the positives with parents and/or families on a regular basis

Invite parents in for a “showcase