Our country has changed a lot in the past year. I think most educators didn’t expect the 2017 we now have. We didn’t expect the current education secretary that we have, the president we have, or even some of the other federal changes that we now have. Some of the immigration and refugee policies of 2017 have impacted our schools, along with a shift in direction from the federal government about transgender bathroom policies.
Snacks, games, songs, and assemblies—I’ve seen it all over the years when it comes to motivating students for high-stakes assessments. I’m not sure how effective any of it is, but teachers are willing to go all out when it comes to testing. Teachers know that these tests matter a great deal, so the extra effort and focus are worthwhile.
We are only about 25% of the way through the year, but there has already been a number of exciting books published in the world of education. From scholarly books to practical guides and straight-talking classroom help to intellectual political thought, there is something new to be found for every type of teacher leader.
When it comes to technology, most schools don’t assign separate grades for “computing.” Most of us in the EdTech world probably wouldn’t suggest doing that anyway. Technology should be integrated rather than being treated as an add-on; it is just part of “what we do” in the classroom, and not a separate subject.
Technology advances quickly, and some educational groups are on the cutting edge. Here are some exciting new developments that focus directly on teachers’ needs in the classroom:
Topics: tips for teachers
Whether it is a school-owned computer or a student BYOD cell phone, classroom management with devices can be challenging. Most students probably see their own device as a gaming/texting/social media gadget—and not as a learning tool. So when teachers ask students to use their devices to learn, and not to play, it can be very challenging. From social media and games to learning tools, most students are highly adept at flipping from one thing to the next, such as hiding apps they shouldn’t be on and masking their social media action. Because of all this, monitoring and managing can be difficult from the outset.
My school district—along with many others across the nation—is moving toward a more paperless work environment. This is a great idea on many levels as it boosts cost savings, can be environmentally friendly, and is many times more efficient.
These same things are true of the classroom environment. It is a great concept to go paperless, but what does that really look like for an organization? There are some learning management systems that can be used to help with this, such as Moodle, Google Classroom, Blackboard, SuccessNet, and many others. If adopting an LMS is not possible due to budget, time, or training, here is a trick to increase efficiency: To head toward a more paperless system, consider using hyperlinks.
One of the advantages to being a building principal is that I get to see what takes place in classrooms all around the school. I love seeing a great strategy in one classroom, then going to the next classroom and sharing it with another teacher. I think we can all agree that there is not nearly enough of this kind of sharing and collaboration in education.
In our school, we have been studying different approaches to formative assessment in the classroom. We looked over about twenty-five different ideas for how to formatively assess, then I asked teachers to try one of the concepts in their classroom and provide me with feedback about the strategy.
Asking students to write is one of the most difficult tasks we require. It tasks the writer with managing multiple cognitive functions all at one time: idea creation, organization, word choice, grammar rules, voice, correct sentences, and focusing on a topic. Whew. Writing this myself is taking a lot of hard work!
Because of the load that is placed on the writer, students are more successful when some of the individual tasks are broken down and isolated for them. Teachers do this in a variety of ways. We have them spell check at the end so they can focus on the ideas at the beginning. We have them review their sentences for run-ons or incompletion. We help them to organize in paragraphs. And most importantly, we try to help them with original and complete ideas.