As I conduct classroom walkthroughs with my fellow administrators, we often discuss the role of technology use in the classroom. One of the indicator areas on our form is “student technology use,” which we mark if students are using technology. The next indicator, “technology is used to enhance the lesson,” is a little more tricky. There are times when technology may be used, but we have to consider whether or not it is really enhancing anything about the lesson.
Become a Makerspace Rock Star While Saving Time and Money
You are a progressive, cutting-edge classroom teacher who knows the benefits of project-based learning and how it incorporates both critical thinking skills and 21st century learning. You have been reading about a trending idea to meet the needs of today’s learners: a makerspace.
In the current climate of education—at least in my state—accountability is at an all-time high while financial support is at a historic low. Every teacher I know is working with fewer resources and more challenges each year. What is a school to do?
As a child, I was a good student. I paid attention in school, did my homework, and generally managed to get As in my classes. School was fun and mostly easy for me from kindergarten into college, and I could usually score an A without much effort. However, things changed during my junior year of college when I took a Spanish class that sent me reeling, testing me in ways my other courses had not. I couldn’t understand my fast-talking instructor, and when she handed out an article written in Spanish for us to review, I didn’t know most of the words. I was astounded that a class could be this difficult.
The start of a school year is a great time to consider endless possibilities. So consider this: What if we educators approached our personal well-being the same way that we approach student improvement and intervention? What if we had the same passion about our personal health that we have about students’ learning?
How to Begin
Consider the typical tools of motivation: honor roll, certificates of achievement, and recognition at school assemblies. These are the traditional tools used by teachers and schools to recognize and motivate students to achieve more, and students tend to love these awards. But for those who embrace the growth mindset (the core belief that abilities are malleable and not fixed), these awards don’t always make sense. Some students achieve good grades easily and make the honor roll all the time, while others feel challenged every step of the way and have to learn a great deal just to achieve a C. For the latter, these tools of recognition and motivation are out of reach.
The truth is that underachieving students aren’t motivated by things that seem unreachable. None of us really is. The honor roll may not even seem like an option to them. If I were to offer you one million dollars to make a hole in one, could you do it? If you didn’t make it, would it be an issue of motivation or a lack of skill and capacity? If I increase the motivation to 10 million dollars, would that change the result?
12 Tips for a Successful First Year
Dear New Teacher,
Summer is coming to an end, and soon you will be walking into your first classroom. You are probably excited, nervous, and maybe a little naive about the year ahead. Try not to worry. I have been in your spot twice in my 21 years of teaching. The first time I was 23 years old, fresh out of college, and starting a job as a high school English teacher. That year was my hardest year of teaching thus far, but I also made great friends and great memories. My first year in the classroom taught me so much about the teaching profession, kids, and myself.
If you’re searching for something to pack in your bag for some lunchtime or after-school inspiration, check out these must-reads! Whether you’re a teacher, administrator, or just a lover of good books, these texts will engage you and help you power through the school year:
August, I swear, is the shortest month of the year. The 1st rolls around, and all of the sudden it hits me that I have 22 days left to get my classroom, curriculum, children, and myself ready for the new school year. Adding to the mayhem of this year, my beloved husband, who spends most of his time as a stay-at-home papa, is gallivanting off with the Marine Corps for two and a half weeks, right as the school year is set to begin.
I thought it might prove useful to you all to share some of my personal strategies and tips for getting ready for the new school year. I have had the good fortune to learn some things from some amazing teachers and moms – advice on how to stay balanced and establish smart routines in my home and classroom. These strategies help me to stay sane during the start of the school year, and I want to share 10 of my favorites with you:
School district budgets get tighter every year, leaving teachers with minimal finances for classroom supplies and for replacing old, outdated learning materials. And you know all too well what it costs to make sure your students have what they need to learn – budget or no budget!