As I sit in my chair looking out at the ocean, I dream of faraway places I have only seen in magazines, or saw once in a movie. I watch the choppy waves and wonder how a cruise ship manages to get the passengers safely to their destination amidst such an angry sea. I need to shut down those thoughts and exchange them with, “I wonder what their final destination is?” I have not given up on the idea of a plane, a ship, a train, or my own car taking me away to places I long to see. I believe I could use a time-out.
It seems I am not the only one that could use a time-out to gain a new perspective in a place that is removed from the ordinary routine we often create ourselves. I teach an online course for those teachers who are seeking a teaching credential. Many are already teaching with provisions that they earn the credential. The stress of working and taking courses in the evening has many feeling drained and less than pleasant about receiving feedback. I try to frame my comments with suggestions that I hope they will find helpful. I have a series of snippy emails from a student who rushes through the work, turns in incomplete responses and makes excuses that run the gamut. I encourage each student to hold a space on the weekends for self-care, with the admonishment that safeguarding body and mind is worth the effort. One student told me that she is fine in the classroom, but falls apart at home. She desperately needs to balance school and home life, but doesn’t know how. She needs a time-out to refocus her priorities. Her home should be sacred space.
Teacher burn-out is at a record high. Many leave the profession due to various reasons, but predominately stress is the major cause. New teachers are trying to impress, and they take home piles of homework, leaving no time at home to unwind. Teaching requires that the instructor be completely present for their students. Stressed, overburdened teachers transfer those feelings to their students. A principal once told me that teachers have the job of, “fixing a train while it’s moving.”
My wish for every teacher, new or old, is to sit in a time-out chair and take a good look at what you can do that restores your mind and body. I hope each and every one leaves work at work in order to keep home a sacred place.
I have been an online instructor for a university for eight years. Each term I change my course based on what I feel would enhance the learning for my students. I learn so much from them. I love sharing my experiences and insights. This last term I decided to try a new course. I sent out an email to my course developer who put me in touch with a colleague who set me up with a course I have long wanted to teach, Children’s Literature. Whenever I try something new I get a bit anxious, and once I get into it (believe me, I research), I feel like Wonder Woman. On top of it all, I was given autonomy to make any changes I feel are necessary. Being brand new, I hardly changed a thing. To have that level of trust and responsibility given to me is life affirming. I went well above and beyond and made more work for myself than necessary. But oh, what a good class!
I now need to say goodbye to my students as they have completed the term. I received feedback from them stating how much they learned from the course. I wish the course was longer. We could have covered so much more in depth. Goodbyes are hard, but I know the students will make a difference in the lives of their own students. That’s the best outcome ever.
Update: I had a former online student contact me to tell me he passed the RICA exam! I also have students from past classes email me for advice and resources. I love staying connected to education in my “retirement.”
As a University Supervisor I have the task of observing and shaping future teachers. It’s a job I love. I try to pass on advice I’ve gained over the years. My work with both mainstream and students with special needs has shown me that for many students school is the best part of their day. They look to their teacher for validation that they are valued for their unique contribution to the class. It’s imperative that their teacher models enthusiasm, interest and compassion. This isn’t always the easiest thing to do when we have problems at home ourselves. I always tell my future teachers to bring their best self through the door of the classroom. If they have issues they cannot put aside, take a day off. Students need their teacher to be completely present, completely invested in moving students forward, and most importantly, happy about doing so.
So what can a teacher do to bring their best self to class? Get enough sleep. It seems simple enough, but looking at a screen before bed can hinder a good night’s sleep. Another useful tip is to exercise just before bed. Light stretching and deep breathing gets your body into a relaxed state. Reading a book before bed is another way to get your eyes tired enough that they close. Many times I have to reread passages not realizing that I was dozing off. Last but not least, say a prayer for everyone you know, especially the students who are in your classroom.
Use Think-Pair-Share at any point in the lesson to structure meaningful conversation:
•Before introducing new material to tap into prior knowledge
•After watching a film clip to gauge a reaction
•After reading a short text to begin a discussion
•Before students begin an assignment, such as an essay or a set of word problems, to gather ideas or formalize procedures
Ask a question. Be aware that open-ended questions are more likely to generate more discussion and higher order thinking. A think-pair-share can take as little as three minutes or can be longer, depending on the question or task and the class size.
For six years I have taught an online course for a university. I enjoy staying connected to education by instructing teachers who are earning a Master’s Degree. So far I have only taught one course on Literacy and Reading and enjoy it very much. Today I was asked to teach an additional course on The Art and Craft of teaching. The university’s confidence in my abilities mean a great deal to me.
I am grateful for the additional course and the opportunity to instruct undergraduates. I genuinely hope I can continue to be a part of guiding future teachers.
We all know when someone cares about us. Students come to school hoping they will be liked and accepted. A teacher that takes the time to know each student creates a solid foundation of trust. Learning is often connected to experiences and emotions. When a child feels secure, learning can move into long term memory.
From the start of the school year find out what your students are interested in. What do they want to know more about? Use an interest inventory. Share your hobbies, favorite sports, songs, movies. Take time to establish an atmosphere of security and respect.
Class meetings are a good way to teach social skills, establish community and foster open communication. Regularly check the status of the class. Encourage problem-solving with teacher guidance.
Give sincere compliments. Model how to show appreciation. Have students practice through role play.
Have students bring an object from home that is meaningful to them. Ask for volunteers to share what it is and why it is meaningful. You could do this on Mondays to get students to think about what was shared. Building connections in the classroom will benefit everyone.
Teachers, I hope you have a safe, productive, positive school year!
After you teach a lesson, even a mini-lesson, always make sure you scan your group to insure they have a clear understanding of what you have taught. Moving on without a check does a disservice to students. Form a small group to reteach the lesson. The hand method is a good visual that goes a step further than “thumbs up, thumbs down.”
Check For Understanding Strategy
3‐2‐1/ Fist to Five/ Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down
4‐3‐2‐1 Scoring Scale
Students communicate their level of understanding to teacher using their fingers
Students should get in groups of four where one student is A, the n next is B, etc. Each student will be asked to reflect on a concept and draw a visua l of his/her interpretation. Then they will share their answer with each other in a zigzag pattern within their group.
The capacity matrix is a charting technique used to break down topic areas into steps for achieving a specific result. It identifies tasks, knowledge levels, and understanding of the topic area.
Circle, Triangle, Square
(Circle) Something that is still going around in your head, (Triangle) Something pointed that stood out in your mind, (Square) Something that “Squared” or agreed with your thinking.
Electronic surveying devices that give instant feedback and data
Decisions, Decisions (Philosophical Chairs)
Given a prompt, class goes to the side that corresponds to their opinion on the topic, side share out reasoning, and students are allowed to change sides after discussion
Each student will be given a ticket to complete before leaving the room answering: What is the most important thing I learned today? What questions do I still have? These tickets can be given to the teacher when exiting the room or upon entering the next day. The teacher uses this information to guide the instruction.
Every Pupil Response
Each student receives a pink and yellow card. Each color represents a specific response. Students raise the card to provide the correct response to a teacher directed question.
Given a concept, students sort or write various examples/non‐examples
Given examples/non‐examples, students determine concept
Fill In Your Thoughts
Written check for understanding strategy where students fill the blank.
Check For Understanding Strategy
Flag It Function Aerobics
Handprint Human Graph Interlocking Paper Plates
Students use this strategy to help them remember information that is important to them. They will “flag” their ideas on a sticky note or flag die cut…
Students demonstrate their knowledge of transformations of functions by physically moving their arms and body
Draw your handprint. In each finger, write one thing you learned today.
A kinesthetic activity where students in the class physically move to create a histogram, where each student represents a data point rating their view .
Give One, Get One
Cooperative activity where the students write response to a prompt, meet up with another student and share ideas so that each leaves with something to add to their list
Students form an inner and outer circle facing a partner. The teacher asks a question and the students are given time to respond to their partner. Next, the inner circle rotates one person to the left. The teacher asks another question and the cycle repeats itself.
Pop It (Bubble Wrap)
Students write what they want to know about a topic on a dot sticker. Place each sticker on the bubble wrap. When a topic is covered, the student pops the bubble.
Project Study Group
Analyzing incorrect responses in multiple choice questions
Quick Writes Rubric Say Something
Student Data Notebooks
A timed writing in response to a question or prompt (can be used before, during, or after instruction)
A scoring guide using subjective assessments that is generally composed of dimensions for judging student performance.
Students take turns leading discussions in a cooperative group on sections of a reading or video
Students are divided into two teams to identify correct answers to questions given by the teacher. Students use a fly swatter to slap the correct response posted on the wall.
Check For Understanding Strategy
Timed Pair Share
Triangular Prism (Red, Yellow, Green)
Given a prompt, students pair up and share their perspective for a given amount of time, taking turns (A talks, B listens, then B talks, A listens)
Students give feedback to teacher by displaying the color that corresponds to their level of understanding
Given a set of vocabulary terms, students sort in to given categories or create their own categories for sorting
Take and Pass
Cooperative group activity used to share or collect information from each member of the group; students write a response, then pass to the right, add their response to next paper, continue until they get their paper back, then group debriefs.
Teacher poses a question and students list three items. All students stand. Teacher randomly calls students to share , if their topic is called they sit. Teacher continues til all students are sitting.