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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

Have you fallen out of love?

I know that title is a little corny but, if you are in a place right now where you are having to drag yourself out of bed and into your classroom, you need to keep reading.

How Did This Happen?

You might be wondering how you got to this place. When you first started your career you were passionate, energetic, couldn't wait to change the world through education. You spoke up in meetings, shared inspirational quotes about learning and student achievement on social media, and wanted to make a difference.

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

Every learner is unique. Effective teachers know this and they work constantly and creatively to meet the needs of all the students in their classrooms. Effective teachers also know that amidst the great diversity within their classrooms, there is something that all learners share: emotional responses.

Every topic you teach connects to an emotional human experience. 

Shared human emotions create the plane upon which knowledge becomes most meaningful and memorable. 

Every topic you teach has attached to it the real emotional account of the person who discovered it, named it, battled to make sense of it etc. You can make the knowledge you teach more memorable by allowing students to experience that emotion too. By connecting human emotions with the content of the curriculum you can maximize learning and student engagement.

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

The Cycle of Failure

We've all been in the situation with that "difficult" student in our class where they shut down, let out a sign of discontent and throw an assignment aside while saying something like "I'm not doing this!". I know this can be frustrating as an educator but I want you to think about something other than trying to correct the students action but I want you to think: "Why are they doing this?".

Chances are (depending on what age you teach) that student has not been successful in school for most of their academic career. When they give effort, in return they get low grades, judgement or looks of disappointment. If this has been happening for 3, 5 or 10 years I can't really blame them for shutting down and not wanting to continue the cycle of failure they are stuck in. This can help explain no only the actions of the student but the reasons behind it. 

Re-Framing Failure as Opportunity

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

Homework clipart

Throughout all of my 15 years of teaching, there has been one word that has caused me, my students, and my students' families to shudder. If you are in education, and even if you are not, I am guessing you can figure out the word. The word is homework. Didn't take you long to shudder, did it?

The word homework causes many to shudder much like the word shot does for my six-year-old daughter when she has to go to the doctor. Not even the promise of the lollipop at the doctor's office can get her to stop her fussing over going. She dreads going days before and, of course, tries to talk her way out of it all the way up until we get called back from the waiting room. She clams up immediately when the doctor comes in, and then the tears, crying, and wailing comes as soon as she sees the shot. What should take only seconds, ends up taking emotionally draining (for everyone) minutes and minutes to complete.

Obviously shots are different than homework, but some of the emotions our children (and we) go through dealing with homework are the same. Shots have a different purpose than homework. Shots are to prevent or treat illness, where as homework is to assess student learning. Or at least it should be.

Homework should not cause students, parents, and teachers to shudder. It should be relevant, meaningful, and meet students where they are. It should be quick and manageable. It should be reflective for the student and teacher. It should be a formative assessment that helps the teacher guide instruction. It should be more for the teacher, than the students. And it should not be used against students, be it grades, placement, or punishments. 

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

best year ever

This is my 15th year of teaching, and this is by far and away my favorite year to date. It is not that I haven't enjoyed my other years, but this year is standing out already as a special year. I have been thinking a lot of what is making this year my favorite year, and what is making it different than my other years. So these are the ideas I believe are the difference makers for me this year.

Communication

This year I started using the Remind app to better connect with parents and students. It allows me to connect with parents in real-time using my smartphone or computer. In years past, I would send out emails or send home a daily report book or sorts. However, what I was failing to do those previous years is not only meet the parents where they are, but also where I am. Nearly everyone has a smartphone and nearly everyone never puts it down for more than five minutes at a time. So not only are parents getting notifications about assignments, but Remind also allows me to send pictures, send files, send links, and have individual messages with parents. It is a fast and easy way of communicating with the parents, and it has helped build stronger parent-teacher relationships than in any other year.   

Blended Learning

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