This important question was raised during a presentation last fall to share the work of our Reading Department through Teaching Channel. I’d raved about our becoming a Teaching Channel Team, shown evidence of our collegiality and resource sharing, and had glowed about our video analysis and participation online. But the answer to this question was, admittedly, we hadn’t really FOCUSED yet.
Our department, which I joined when I became an administrator and Elementary Curriculum Supervisor last year, had been suffering from a lack of time to meet. The Reading Team’s formerly monthly meetings had been restructured as building-level meetings. The reading teachers were feeling like islands, spread across seven buildings, and with very little time to share with colleagues within their area of specialty.
As many of you know, February is Black History Month in the United States, which can be a time to celebrate, reflect on, and recognize the contributions of the black community.
That’s not to say that learning related to our black community is something that should be isolated to one month a year, but this month designates a time to look back, examine the current moment, and think ahead.
It’s been my experience that this month can serve as a time to pause and reflect on our history and our curriculum — particularly English Language Arts — and dedicate more time to ensuring our teaching is culturally inclusive and provides students with diverse historical accounts. It may also be a time to look at current events and learn about black leaders who are helping to direct our society toward change, such as DeRay Mckesson and Ta-Nehisi Coates.
We’re lucky to live in a time when we can access amazing content anytime, anywhere.
With the click of a button, you can binge watch episodes of your favorite show or even Teaching Channel videos all night long. But with so many options available at any hour of the day, rarely are any of us are watching the same thing at the same time, which means we probably aren’t talking with each other about what we’re seeing. I personally have been waiting a long time for my friends to watch The Wire so that I can discuss it with them, but they’re too busy watching Scandal, which I’ve never seen! And the same can hold true for Teaching Channel videos. Your colleague may be watching and adapting our ever popular My Favorite No, while you’ve been watching and trying out strategies from a growth mindset video.
While all of this watching is great, we’re missing out on the now old-fashioned water cooler talks when colleagues shared connections, ideas, and questions around content, whether it be video or what just happened in the classroom. Here at Teaching Channel, we’re bringing back the water cooler!
Welcome to Tch Video Lounge, a place where you can watch, learn, and talk about Teaching Channel content together.
Maybe it’s the goodbye hug from a munchkin whose mischief you managed with grace.
It could be that you just geek out on polynomial equations. (Probably not, though, right?)
Or seeing a student, once broken, then well loved, who grew whole.
Or inspiring colleagues who return with resolve to fight for kids against mounting odds.
There are so many reasons to love the work that we do. Too often, those stories aren’t told — to ourselves, to our colleagues, to young people who might become the next wave of life-changing, nation-building teachers.
That isn’t to disregard or dismiss the challenges of being an educator today. But they aren’t the whole story. Young people are amazing. Sometimes my colleagues are straight up superheroes. Teachers definitely changed, and maybe saved, my life. And those stories aren’t told enough.
Last February, teachers told their stories and shared their love. Five million people interacted with the campaign through the #LoveTeaching hashtag — from the then-Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, to classroom teachers across four continents, and even future educators.
This is part of Maria Perryman’s Getting Better Together work. Maria and all the Teaching Channel Laureates are going public with their practice and seeking support in getting better from colleagues and the Tch community.
Technology is moving at such a fast pace. I’m trying to keep up with it, yet I can’t seem to fully grasp it. I’ve embraced social media by using Facebook and Twitter, and I just recently added Instagram. I’ve even tried Periscope!
As an educator, I feel as though I should know more about technology and eventually master it, so I can keep up with my students and be my best for them. Last school year I was very fortunate to have a student who was a technology guru. He helped solve some major technical problems that we would have had to otherwise call the district tech department to come out and fix. He was in total charge of all my technology.
I must have thought I would have him as my student forever, because I didn’t take the time to learn from him. Well, as the saying goes, you don’t know how good something is until it’s gone. This is one reason why I decided to focus on getting better with technology – and to try blogging, both for myself and with my students.
Editor’s Note: Oakland Unified School District’s ongoing partnership with Teaching Channel has involved producing videos, building capacity on Teaching Channel Teams, and creating interactive video for #TchVideoLounge.
Recently, the Oakland Unified School District partnered with Teaching Channel to launch a three-part video series on Engaging ELLs in Academic Conversations. We were at the beginning stages of using classroom discussion as a district-wide strategy to more explicitly integrate language development into content area instruction.
A little over a year later, our learning continues! Oakland teachers are still hard at work, exploring the ways they can best support both language development and content understanding through whole-group and peer discussions. We know from research that language learners need regular opportunities to rehearse new language and apply it in authentic contexts. We also know that teachers need to be intentional about engaging all students, especially our ELLs, so that no one can hide and everyone can experience success. And anyone who has spent time in the classroom knows fostering authentic conversation among ELLs is no easy task.
In this new series, we visit or revisit Oakland elementary and high school teachers taking on the challenge of integrating language instruction for their ELLs in content instruction. You’ll see them trying new strategies, fine tuning old ones, and reflecting on student learning to hone their craft.
At any given time, my computer has at least ten open tabs in my Google Chrome web browser. Not because I’m using all those pages at once necessarily, but because if I close some of them it takes me too much time to find them again.
So when Teaching Channel asked me if I’d be interested in guest curating a Pinterest board, I took it as an opportunity to put all my favorite online resources in one place. I brainstormed my most trusted math routines, places where I connect and learn with others, resources I use in professional development, and classroom resources I simply cannot live without.
Interested in learning more about the Next Generation Science Standards while engaging with colleagues from across the nation? Then join the Tch NextGen Squad!
As states adopt the NGSS and work toward implementation, Teaching Channel is committed to working alongside teachers to understand how the standards will shift instruction. As part of this work, we’re offering an online program for teachers from NGSS states to network with other teachers from NGSS states, engage in learning activities to interpret the standards, and use video to evaluate and refine practice.
We’ve all been there — a momentary, frustrated reaction to a student that’s more curt, less kind, and more gruff than it ought to be. Its roots are embedded somewhere in our lack of sleep, or a floundering lesson, or unforgiving piles of paperwork. And it’s a reaction immediately regretted, but unable to be undone.
We’re flawed human beings. So are our students. The work is challenging for everyone, so these moments happen.
I’ve learned how that moment can irreversibly color a student’s experience in our classrooms, like food coloring staining a glass of water. For children — too often bearing burdens of anxiety, a challenging home life, or the common self-doubts of adolescence — the last thing they need is for a teacher to be an adversary in their learning. Yet, I still occasionally make these mistakes. But I’ve also made the choice to be intentional in limiting and countering them. I’ve made the choice to focus on teaching with grace, so that students can learn with dignity.
Recently, I asked one of my students if I could use his reading notebook so that another student could copy some missing notes. The student with the reading notebook writes in cursive. I didn’t think this was an issue because I knew his notes were very neatly written and easily copied.
Not so. Why? Because the student who needed the notes could not read cursive. Oh my, I thought. When did this shift happen?