Before coming to work at Teaching Channel, I taught English for two years at a high school in Japan. While I was there, I thought a lot about what kind of teacher I wanted to be, and about the educators who have impacted my life. And while I’m so thankful to have been influenced by so many intelligent, passionate, and caring individuals, I found myself drawing parallels between my life and one person in particular.
Miss Farmery was my 5th grade teacher. We were living in Mexico City at the time, and I was not adjusting well. Miss Farmery’s class made me feel present and engaged for the first time in over a year. She regaled us with stories of the far-off places she’d lived and traveled, and introduced us to exotic things like Mondrian and the sitar. She was warm and funny and took a special interest in each of us, encouraging our strengths, and helping us to improve when needed.
Thank You Teachers
As a principal and a teacher, I have encountered many youth that share my same childhood experience. They, like me, grew up with a single mother — a mother, who faced the daunting challenge of raising her children alone without the emotional and physical support of a father. The reasons fathers are absent are varied: incarceration, divorce, abandonment, or as in my case, death.
My biological father was killed before I could even form an image of him in my memory. Althea Bogany, my mother, found herself thrust into the responsibility of sole guardianship of two boys. With only a high school diploma, she would be in charge of making decisions and choices that would impact her life and the lives of my brother and me. My mother is strong, and her choices, values, beliefs, and thinking have definitely helped sculpt who I am today. When I look into the faces of my students and listen to their stories, I understand the impact their mothers have on them. And when I look around my schools, I see and respect how female teachers nurture, guide, inspire and positively influence our students.
Still, in my role as an educator, I have also witnessed the emotional and psychological stress that both mother and child face when a father is absent and how it plays out in schools. In child study, IEP, and discipline meetings, I have heard and seen the harsh impact on a child’s sense of self and self-worth when a father is not at the table.
How to Engage Fathers
The Teaching Channel Teams crew is heading to Learning Forward, a conference dedicated to offering education leaders (you!) the tools, learning opportunities, and resources you need to implement effective professional learning in your schools. Teaching Channel Teams will be there showcasing our private collaboration platform for schools, districts, and education organizations which enables teachers and teacher leaders to work together.
Our booth number is 116/118. Stop by, say hello, get some Teaching Channel Teams goodies, and enter our raffle to win a SWIVL™.
This is the time of year that I always start to feel a little harried, a little frayed at the edges. And even though I think I don’t have time for it, I know the best way to find my center again is a little self-reflection and quiet. Recently, someone posed these three questions to me and in them, I found a trail of breadcrumbs back to what’s most important. Perhaps your own busy selves will to be able to carve out a little time and space to reflect on these as well. And when you do, please share your responses with the rest of us in the discussion below.
What are the three things that make a successful teacher?
There are many qualities that come together in successful teachers, but here are three that I think you’ll find over and over again:
- Passion: Great teachers are truly passionate about what they do. It isn’t just a job, but their life’s work.
- Empathy: Incredibly important because on the other end of any lesson is a person, full of potential and complexity and humanity. We must always see the humanity in what we do and in who we’re doing it for.
- Grit: Teaching is hard work. There has to be a tenacity in the day to day routine and a willingness to see past the routine and into the unique moments waiting to be realized.
Being around young children can be exhausting. With questions like, “What is that?” and “Why is it like that?” they act like they’ve never seen the world before. And oftentimes they haven’t! Young kids approach the world with a wide-eyed sense of wonder, constructing meaning from every new experience.
I’ve spent much of my life straddling the world of young children and the world of adults. While there are many things young children can learn from adults (how to tie shoes, how to read, how to get along nicely), I’ve also learned that there are many things adults can learn from young children. Teaching young children taught me to see the world through new eyes, embrace my curiosity, and to focus on fun.
Teaching Channel recently partnered with First 5 San Francisco to create our first batch of early childhood videos. In these videos, we see children questioning, wondering, and working together to make sense of the world around them. When we allow students a chance to wonder freely, we help them become passionate and driven learners.
Here are three ways to cultivate a sense of wonder across grade levels:
Ask Questions, Find Answers
Conversations with young children burst with questions. By building instruction around students’ questions, we can create buy-in and excitement around learning. In this lesson, Nadia Jaboneta has her students share hypotheses about bugs. After sharing their hypotheses, students get a chance to test their ideas and provide evidence for why they did or did not work. It’s important to not only allow students a chance to ask their questions, but also give them a chance to find answers.
Are you attending the National Council of English Teachers Annual Convention? Are you looking forward to seeing Teaching Channel’s Sarah Brown Wessling? You’re in luck! Sarah will have 3 sessions at the convention, and she’d love to see you there.
1. “Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn: Transforming Leadership and Literacies in a Diverse Society” Session H.10 Sheraton Commonwealth Room, Third Floor, Saturday November 23, 11:00 – 12:15
2. NCLE Roundtable Session: Closing Message: “Detours and Collaborations” Session IJ.01 Hynes Convention Center, Room 210, Level Two, Saturday November 23, 1:15-3:45
3. “Core Standards: Minding the Gaps (An Ignite Session).” Sarah Brown Wessling: “Reading in Liminal Spaces” Session L.19 Sheraton/Republic Ballroom B, Second Floor, Sunday November 24, 8:30-9:45 AM
Follow Sarah Brown Wessling and Teaching Channel on Twitter for updates during the convention. And follow the hashtag #NCTE13 on Twitter for up to the second convention updates.
Here at Teaching Channel, we’re excited to add early childhood education (ECE) videos to our library. To support our new collection of early childhood videos, we went on the hunt for helpful ECE resources. Learn more about these organizations and enjoy some free resources.
Early Childhood Education Organizations
1. National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC): The NAEYC is dedicated to providing educational equality for children from birth to age eight. Here’s a link to research, including several publications focusing on professional development in ECE, ideas for lessons, and a peer-reviewed journal on ECE topics. More professional development links here.
2. First 5 California: A California initiative created by a statewide referendum that designs programs tailored to children ages 0-5. Programs include health and nutrition, literacy and language development. The parents’ page has activities, tips, and information that walks parents through the stages of early childhood development.
3. Dept of Education: You will find lots of great links here to ECE programs like Head Start and others promoting literacy, health and nutrition, learning through educational TV programming, etc. Links to resources for parents, teachers and administrators, as well as PD for teachers and links to research.
Through a grant from the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Foundation, Teaching Channel and First 5 San Francisco teamed up to film six diverse preschools across San Francisco. The resulting video series focuses on early literacy, dual language learners, science, math, social-emotional learning, and strategies for early childhood education. We’re excited to expand our Teaching Channel library to include best practices for teaching this important age group.
Interactive Read Aloud
Sandra Davis engages her students in an interactive read aloud, asking comprehension questions and explaining new vocabulary. Watch how students build understanding by engaging in a dramatic reenactment of the story.
Developing Literacy Skills Through Storytelling
Sandra Davis dictates her students’ writing as they tell the stories behind their art. As they work together, Ms. Davis develops her students’ phonological awareness by pointing out the sounds and letters that she is writing.
My classroom was a pretty organized place. My students had cubbies and folder boxes where they kept their materials. The classroom library was full of baskets of books carefully sorted by topic, and all my students’ materials had homes.
But behind my desk was a different story. There lived piles upon piles of papers, clipboards with notes scrawled on them, and bursts of random sticky notes. Strips of paper taped by my desk said things like, “Rose–level D” and “Next step for writing workshop: sensory details.” Papers shoved in a binder housed anecdotal notes about students’ reading, and stacks of math work held crucial information about my students’ abilities to explain their reasoning.
Amongst the meaningful clutter, I realized the challenge wasn’t just to organize paper. If it had been so simple, I would have brought out the recycling bin and thrown half of the paper away. The real challenge was to organize the assessment data that I was constantly collecting. Lately I’ve come across several tech tools that I wish I had had when standing behind that messy desk:
WOW! Today, the 400,000th teacher registered to be a member of our amazing community, and last month more than a half million educators visited Teaching Channel. This news gives us great encouragement that we’re on the right path. All of us at Teaching Channel are committed to offering you the tools to grow your practice, whether it’s the hundreds of videos we produce, the free resources we offer, or special “events” like September’s Q&A Month with Common Core experts.
Even with nearly 800 videos in our library, we know our work is just getting started. So I want to give you a preview of what’s coming soon:
Early Childhood Education Videos: You asked for it, and this week we’re adding 10 new lesson videos on best practices for teaching early literacy, dual language learners, science discovery, and social and emotional development. We’ll follow that with 10 strategy videos with ideas you can use on Monday. Watch a trailer of the series.