Photo Contest: See the Winning Classrooms!

To kick off our back-to-school celebrations Teaching Channel organized a photo contest to shine a spotlight on your classroom setups. During the contest we received over 200 photos from classrooms all over the country. (Yay!) And thanks to supportive colleagues, family, and friends, those photos got over 4,000 votes! All we can say is, “wow!” Thank you to everyone who participated.

We saw some amazing classroom setups — there are so many themes, colors, and organizational ideas that we can all use for the coming school year. We hope everyone is as inspired as we are. Take a look at the winning photos below, and leave a comment to share your own ideas.

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September is Common Core Q&A Month!

As the new school year begins, many teachers throughout America will be implementing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for the first time. But we’ve been hearing from you, our growing community on Teaching Channel, that many teachers feel uncertain about the “right” way to do this. So we’re very excited to tell you about a back-to-school special we’re launching on September 3rd, the day after Labor Day.

Back to School with Teaching Channel

September Special: Questions About the Common Core? Ask the Experts!

Throughout September, Teaching Channel is bringing together top experts on the CCSS to answer questions for our community of more than 320,000 teachers. Among those answering questions will be CCSS experts and educators from Student Achievement Partners (SAP), a nonprofit founded by authors of the standards, and people from PARCC and Smarter Balanced who are creating the CCSS assessments.

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Three Big Ideas to Reach and Guide Students

“He’s a white man trapped in a black man’s body.”

Those words were spoken about me by a substitute teacher who worked in my building. In the wake of the Trayvon Martin case and President Obama’s personal comments on what it means to be a black man in the United States, I can’t help but think about the black boys in my school. Like the president, I have my stories and my boys are collecting their own stories every day. In fact, we all have our stories.

Kevin Bennett QuoteCollectively, these stories frame who we are, how we react, and how we perceive the world. The experiences I have had growing up, working as a teacher in a Chicago public school, leading a K-12 school with two sites, and walking each day as a black man, frame who I am as a leader. They help me navigate through all that I see, hear, feel, and teach.

We, as educators, play a major role in the development of a youth’s identity. The curriculum we use connects and develops students, and the relationships we form at school are critical. We must provide opportunities for students to show who they are. We have to listen to what they have to say, and then validate, guide, and encourage their true selves.

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Three Ideas for Setting Up Your Classroom

In my first few years of teaching, I got release days to visit other classrooms. I picked up new instructional strategies and enjoyed watching teachers in action. But what I remember most is scouring walls and desks, looking for organizational tips that I could take back to my own classroom. It was ridiculous how excited I could get about new ways to organize books or store chart paper!

Organization systems are the backbone of efficient classrooms. Over the years I came up with a variety of tools that worked for me: a sign-in system with kids’ pictures, a color-coded folder system for storing work, and book bins labeled with stickers. But there were some systems that I could never quite perfect. To this day, I’m still thinking about the best way to store math manipulatives so that kids can have easy access to them while not making a gigantic mess.

Create a Special Spot for Each Student

student chair with back pocketI dabbled in many different organizational systems, but my number one favorite classroom tool has always stayed the same: chair pockets. Before my first year of teaching, my sister helped me sew 22 chair pockets for the back of my students’ chairs. Presenting each of my first graders with a chair pocket to store books was a great way to encourage excitement about reading (the kids got to keep their very own books in there) and also keep the classroom tidy (kids didn’t have to keep getting out of their seats to get books). Plus, the chair pockets were cute. They were often the first things that people noticed when entering my room.

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Celebrating 300,000 Teachers Who Love Video

Hurray! This week, we are welcoming the 300,000th registered member to our Tch community, a milestone that gives us reason to celebrate. We see this as strong evidence that you like the idea of classroom doors opening across America so educators everywhere can see great video of inspiring teachers. Thank you. But, what about opening your own classroom doors? Do you see video as a great reflection tool or just plain scary?

Teachers Using Video in the Classroom

Our June Tchers’ Voice survey aimed to find out if you are recording yourself in your classroom. All of us at Teaching Channel believe that this practice is one of the best ways to become a better educator — even if it’s solely for your own use. Teachers who record themselves teaching

The survey responses are very encouraging: we learned that 52% of you do record your practice (or have at least once); 45% of you haven’t recorded your practice yet, but would be open to trying it; and only 3% of you are not interested in filming your practice.


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Next Generation Science Standards: What’s a Teacher to Do?

CTQ: Center for Teaching Quality

How will my district handle the implementation of science standards? How will they be integrated with the Common Core literacy and math standards? Will I have to figure it all out on my own? Those are big questions for thousands of American science teachers who are encountering the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Yes, it’s going to be hard work, but the NGSS show great promise, with their emphasis on what students are able to do. How do I know? I’m a practicing teacher who was part of a committee that vetted the standards as they were developed. I know what teachers need to do to get ready.

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