In all the conversations that surround student engagement and learning, the focus almost always leans toward student activities and away from teacher-led instruction. These activities are very important to learning. As I often tell my teachers, “Whoever is doing the most work is doing the most learning.” Most of the time, we want the students doing the work. But as leaders and teachers, we can’t focus solely on what the students are doing—we have to also consider what the teacher is doing.
Collaborating with other educators is an effective method of professional development. When teachers have time to talk, connect, and collaborate, they can expand their experience and expertise.
In many schools, finding this time can be a huge challenge. Even if teachers can find the time to meet and talk, sometimes the group is not cohesive or collaborative enough to be very productive. And other times, they might not have a person in the school who teaches the same content or grade level. Teachers who want to plan and collaborate may have few, if any, options.
Many educators would agree that there has been an increase with students displaying anti-social tendencies and a struggle with social skills over the past 10 years. There are different theories about the root cause of this, but one that I have heard recently seems very logical on the surface. It goes something like this: Adults and students are spending more time than ever interacting over devices (screens) and not face to face. This reality hurts students’ development because they are unable to interpret social cues, facial expressions, and voice inflection. This has resulted in students who struggle more with social skills like cooperation and conflict resolution than in previous generations when screen time was less frequent.
At the end of a section of learning, it’s time for the teacher to create an assessment. This could be the end of a unit or chapter, but for what we are discussing today, a summative assessment needs to be created. Instruction is over, and we need to see what the student knows and has retained.
Where should a teacher start? The first question that should always be asked is, “Do I even need an assessment?” This may seem like a crazy question. “If I don’t give a test, what will I put in the gradebook?” But if we stop to think about it, not all learning is created equally. In the mind of a student, if something is tested, it matters because it is for a grade. So as teachers, if we test everything equally, we are sending the message that everything matters to the same degree.
In February, we celebrate all of the 45 presidents we have had for the past 200+ years. It’s a great time to integrate technology, trivia, and our standards while increasing student learning about our leaders. There are interesting and funny stories to be told about each of the presidents, and each one has made decisions that defined our country.
Here are some ideas for getting students engaged and interested in American history through Presidents’ Day activities.
In some areas of our country, finding great teachers is becoming harder and harder. There are many teachers retiring, fewer joining the profession, and new teachers who don’t last more than a few years. We will focus on the third group here to consider what can be done to help retain new teachers.
For starters, we need to determine why people choose to leave the profession. After giving four years of college to the degree, why would someone abandon teaching in just a few years’ time?
Topics: Administrator Resources
Over the past few decades, there has been a great deal of interest and desire to change, and most of the time improve, public education. Some of these ideas have been innovative, and some less than so. Some have been on a large scale, while some are more at a building level. Some have had political backing (charter schools), while others have had financial backing (think The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation or Summit Education founded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg).
So, what does all this focus on “change” matter for a school building? Or does it not matter at all? Are the teachers or the principals in individual buildings impacted by these changes? Many experts, some more expert than others, have many opinions about what should or should not be going on in schools. But what impact does this have on schools that are trying to improve from the inside?
The metaphor usually goes something like this, and often when a teacher is frustrated with a class of students: “School is your job. You need to show up to work every day and work hard. Your grades are like your paycheck—the harder you work, the more you can earn in our classroom. Some of you aren’t working hard and need to be fired.”
Paraprofessionals are critical to a student’s success—I think any teacher, principal, or student would attest to this. A great para can make a difference in a classroom in a lot of ways, but they are often forgotten about. Even though they are important cogs in the educational wheel of a student’s life, they might not always be treated as such. They may not have the keys they need, the desk they need, or the training they need.
There are initiatives all across the country in the field of education and in industry that encourage girls to consider joining STEM-related occupations as adults. This is a great idea as a female perspective is highly valuable in these areas. The question is, how do we support young girls to make this happen?