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Posted by on in General

Superhero girl

Are you focusing on small classroom victories?

Teaching can be exhausting, and it can seem like a futile endeavor at times. The amount of work that goes into a single day or unit of instruction is tremendous, without a necessary guarantee of student success. So when a unit is finished, or a hard day is done, it's easy to look at your results or the big picture of student data and get discouraged if things didn't go well.

I recently had a great conversation with a teacher at a school who is implementing our Mastery Learning System and she said that since switching to mastery learning she is still exhausted at the end of the day (as every teacher is) but now it's a "good exhausted" because she knows how much of an impact she is having and see's the small victories and growth each student has in her classroom each day.

It is this mindset and shift in focus, from the big picture to the small success stories, that can help you stay motivated and focused through even the most difficult stretches of the school year. This can be harder than it seems, but it can be done and can help you change the way you look at the impact you are having.

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Posted by on in Classroom Management

As I was watching my favorite hockey team the other day, I noticed something that struck me during one of the brawls that (for whatever reason) still occur in the almost every game. I was amazed as the guy wearing the black and white striped shirt held two huge athletes at bay and got them to stop fighting without even being phased. He calmly talked to both players, they released their stranglehold on one another, and the game continued (after penalty minutes were distributed, of course). I immediately thought about so many issues that I've seen with classroom management, and how this guy might have the solution.

I know what you're thinking: "what does this have to do with me, my students, or my classroom?" 

Let me explain. The ref was able to calm down two extremely angry players, and continue the purpose of the event because he didn't get emotionally charged, maintained his expectations, and focused on getting the game going again. This is exactly how we as teachers need to address disruptions and management issues in our classrooms.

Before I get to far, I want to point out that there are systems, routines, procedures, and a myriad of other pieces that go into good management, such as building relationships. For right now though, I'd like to keep talk about re-focusing students and reducing the stress level of a situation that has gotten 'out of hand'.

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Posted by on in Leadership

hero woman red cape blue sky

A teacherpreneur? What's that?

Ok...this is actually a term that has been growing over the past few years, so you may have heard of it. If you haven't, a "teacherpreneur" is an educator who uses their talents and business savvy to share their work, passion, and philosophy with others. (You can read more about them here)

This could be something as simple as becoming an educational blogger, consulting, speaking at conferences, writing a book or even creating a website (like this one!). This can also include taking on more leadership in your own district. I've been a teacherpreneur full-time for a few years now, and there are some amazing benefits that I want to share. 

1. It Increases Your Impact.

As a teacher myself, something I always hated was the limit that a single classroom had on what I was doing. I'm not trying to downplay the impact you can have as a teacher on 30 or 100 kids a year (depending on your grade level), BUT...no matter how good you are as an educator, you are limited by the number of kids in your seats.

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Posted by on in General

STUDENT MOTIVATION: 

Motivating students is probably one of the hardest things we do as teachers. Delivering content is meaningless without a student motivated to learn and apply it. During our workshops this is one of the most common topics that come up. While this is usually in the context of Mastery Learning the general advice I give us universally applicable to any instructional model.

While there are a lot of tips and tricks to motivating students, most of them come down to one simple philosophy: INCREASE STUDENT OWNERSHIP 

SIMPLE BUT TRUE...

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Posted by on in General

Self-paced learning can be a great tool.

If you've ever tried to implement mastery or self-paced learning in your classroom, or attempted a long-term project that is student-centered, you've probably tried it (or are still doing it) because, frankly...these things work. Anytime you can make your classroom more student-centered and meet the needs of more students, you're going to increase achievement for your learners.

When self-paced learning goes wrong...

Regardless of how much positive data and research exists for learning that allows students to master material (by the way there is a lot...you can even google it if you want), even the best pedagogy can be destroyed by improper or poor implementation. As I work with schools and districts to implement mastery learning there is a common misconception that can cause this to happen. A lot of educators think that because students are accessing content or curriculum at their own pace that they are also supposed to learn on their own. This couldn't be further from the truth. Self-paced learning is NOT self taught.

Self-paced learning should mean more teaching, not less.

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