Topics: tips for teachers
With all that's been said about how we can include students in the process for helping to design—and therefore improve—student learning, there must be a good reason to do it. I always discourage teachers from following educational fads. They might seem great at first, but with all the time required to change course, we only want to do so with a proven strategy.
So why should teachers begin to personalize learning for students? I use these four Ms when thinking about personalized learning: motivation, metacognition, modeling, and making connections.
Technology has helped improve the educational experience for students in a variety of ways. One of the best ways for teachers to leverage the use of technology is to provide students with resources that allow them to access it anytime.
Some teachers use this to flip their classroom. I believe every teacher at every grade level could benefit from the knowledge of how to do this, even if they don’t intend to flip their classroom. This is because it frees up the teacher to provide snippets of instruction both when the teacher is in the classroom and when they are not. It can be efficient and engaging for the students.
Topics: Education Technology
Because of the excessively violent situations that have occurred in schools over the past 20 years, school safety has been a hot-button issue. Many schools have moved to create a more secure environment by controlling access, locking doors, and conducting drills so that students and staff are prepared if something happens. And while all of this is good and necessary to some degree, I believe we must keep the bigger picture in mind as educators
Unfortunately, the concept of being safe must include a discussion of risk. When lawmakers make decisions about things like stoplights, speed limits, and other traffic laws, they consider the possible danger and how that weighs against normal operations on a roadway. For example, we could put a stop sign at every intersection in the country, which would create safe roads, but it would also hinder commerce, travel, and many other endeavors. There must be a balance between safe roads and the purpose of the roads in the first place.
Topics: tips for teachers
Unfortunately, I have seen a number of teachers come and go throughout my 20 years in education. And for every teacher who leaves my school, there's a different reason for why they left. However, I would say that I've seen some patterns in the departures of teachers in terms of both why they left and in the manner in which they departed the school.
And reflecting on this—all of which is based on my observation, not on any research—I believe it might be helpful for school leaders and for the teachers who remain to process the departure of their colleagues. Maybe some of these ideas can help the “professional breakup” to go more smoothly than it sometimes does.
Space: The final frontier. A topic that is touched on in many science classrooms, but rarely finds a foothold in the major learning of our students. Learning about space provides opportunities to not only teach the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), but also allows students to think, dream, and wonder.
As a classroom teacher of science or any other discipline, the topic of space can be a great crosscutting concept. As teachers dive into the NGSS, they can use these cross-curricular ideas to engage and deepen student learning.
Professional learning is not only a huge investment for a school district, it’s also a great opportunity for teachers to grow in their profession. Because it’s such a critical part of improving the educational experience for our students, we are looking at how to make it most effective for our teachers. In the first two parts of this series, we covered issues with professional learning and how to make learning more timely for teachers. In this third part of the series, we’ll focus on the implementation portion of any professional learning. We hope to answer the question of how teachers can practice and implement the new strategy in the most effective way.