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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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

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

Creative Expression and Knowledge

Albert Einstein once said, “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”

Think about the opportunities you provide for students to demonstrate their creative expression and/or knowledge.

Food for Thought:

  • Exit Tickets
  • Daily Reflection at the end of each lesson
  • Frequent check-ins during a lesson
  • Increased opportunities for peer-to-peer discourse activities
  • Use of hands-on materials as much as possible

Off the Beaten Path

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

As I reflect on both this quote and my own teaching practices, I am reminded of some big adjustments made to my own teaching this year. These changes, though difficult, have added rich peer to peer discourse opportunities for students and compelled me to interact more with students in a positive manner, thus allowing increased opportunities for students to be pushed and excel to new levels.

When is the last time you have truly reflected on your teaching experiences? What is one thing you can do at this mid-year point to step out of your comfort zone and enhance your day to day teaching?

Learning by Example

Malcom Gladwell once said, “We learn by example and by direct experience because there are real limits to the adequacy of verbal instruction.”

Think about a typical day in your classroom. How many times are you “showing” students how to do something instead of telling them? What opportunities are you providing for them to interact with each other to explain their thinking?

Think about increasing the opportunities for peer-to-peer discourse activities in your classroom. What might that look like? Sound like?