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Stop Hoping for Better Students and Focus on Better Teaching in Your Classroom

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Quit Complaining About "These Kids."

Seriously, stop it.

We spend a lot of our days visiting districts, observing classrooms, and talking with teachers, and I'm starting to hear something more often than I should. I keep hearing teachers say things a long the lines of: "This would work, but 'these kids' can't do it...next year will be better."

I've had my share of "bad classes" and I admit,I've succumb to this statement earlier in my career. But as I grew as a professional I realized one simple fact: It's not the students job to change...It's my job to adapt. So I did.

Shift Your Focus.

I know it's really easy to focus on all of the problems your students have, cause, and bring into your classroom. Those are also things that can be hard to control, and focusing all your attention on things you cannot control gets you nowhere. Instead, try focusing on the things you can control.

When a farmer's crop doesn't grow, they rarely blame the seeds, because he/she knows it's is usually the environment that needs to change. So the farmer looks for ways to improve that environment by providing more/less water, adding fertilizer to the soil, or maybe deterring parasites.  The same goes for your classroom; whether it's the first five minutes of a class period, the way you redirect students, the relationships you build, or the engagement level of the instruction you provide, there are always things you can do to improve the environment for your learners.

Student's CAN'T be the Problem.

Ok, so this statement is a bit over-simplified, but it's an undeniable truth: without students we would have no-one to teach.

I understand that it can feel like they are "out to get you" and that sometimes they are the most difficult part of our job, but without them the institution of education has no purpose. It is for this very reason that the children you teach simply CAN'T be the problem. If they are the problem, we might as well just stop, dismantle education, and give up now.

Yes, without a doubt, certain groups of students are more challenging than others. But it is our job to teach every single learner in our classrooms...not just the easy ones.

What You Can Do:

The next time you find yourself saying: "these kid's just can't do it!", STOP and try to focus on what you can control. Try to find reasons for their difficulties, outbursts, management issues, or lack of effort. What can you do the next day to make the experience better? Focusing on the students as the problem will never fix anything in your classroom. Harnessing that same energy and frustration and using it to find solutions, on the other hand, just might change everything for you...and your students.

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After receiving his Bachelor’s Degree In Biology, Chad Ostrowski or “Mr. O” as his students fondly call him, set his sights on education. He was chosen as one of only 50 individuals in the state of Ohio to be granted the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship through the Ohio STEM Learning Network.  Through this fellowship, he received his Master’s in Science Education and gained intensive training and expertise in STEM education, Problem Based Learning, Inquiry-based instruction as well as other cutting-edge educational research and modern pedagogical theory. 


Ostrowski has since presented research at the NSTA National Conference onProblem-Based Learning in the Gifted Classroom and Continues to develop and research modern innovative educational practices. Chad has been teaching  Middle School Science in a high needs urban district for 4 years. In that short time, due to his dedication to teaching, innovative teaching methods and educational leadership he has been named Science Department Chair within his building, Building Leadership Team member and District Co-chair of Middle School Science Curriculum. 


It is through these foundations that he has created and developed  the The Grid Method - Mastery Learning System in order to synthesize his knowledge of best practices in education into a system that allows ALL of his students to meet and exceed  their potential. 


Chad has now left the classroom to shre his innovative practices, techniques and strategies with educators all over the country. He does this through speaking at conferences, providng teacher development and workshops, as well as producing blogs, and videos.

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Guest Sunday, 23 July 2017