Case Study of a Teacher: Creating a Collaborative Learning Environment (Part 2)

Teacher Planning and Collaboration

Last week we got a glimpse into the collaborative, analysis-rich classroom that David Olio has created. After seeing a classroom like David’s where students work so well together, I always wonder how students got there. In these short videos, we unpack some of the strategies and routines that David has created to facilitate the collaborative learning environment that we see in his videos.

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New Teachers: Building Strong Class Culture All Year Long

New Teacher Survival Guide

At the beginning of every school year, I spend several weeks building classroom agreements in collaboration with my students. Every year, when I ask them what kind of environment they want in their classroom, they almost always say “fun,” “nice,” “respectful,” and “interesting.”

Then, I ask, “How do we get there?” Thinking backwards helps students come up with our classroom agreements. If we want our class to be respectful, we think up agreements together, like “one person talks at a time” and “listen with your whole body.”

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What Do Coaches Do in September?

Since starting this school year, I’ve been spending time getting to know the five teachers that I’ll be coaching. I began by talking with them about what they want from our coaching relationship and conducting informal observations to get to know each teacher’s class. But while I’ve been doing this, I’ve also been wondering what other coaches have been doing to start the year off right. So I decided to ask!

Get On the Same Page

“With new teachers, I begin the year by having conversations about our expectations of each other. Starting this way helps us to be proactive when bumps in the road arise. For the teachers I am continuing with, our conversations usually begin with what we have learned over the summer — are there new resources we have found? Great professional books we have read? With new and established coaching relationships, our first conversations center on goal setting. I make sure to share my professional goals as well, especially because I will want their feedback on my coaching along the way.”

– Carrie Kamm, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Oak Park, IL

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Join Our Share-a-thon: How Do You Manage the Mayhem?

Managing Mayhem in the classroom

For many of us, September signals the start of colder nights, the routines of school, and (if you’re of a certain age) the Jerry Lewis Telethon. This yearly, weekend-long television event was where we’d watch a parade of stars — John & Yoko, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. — singing and dancing to help others in need.

Tch’s new Share-a-thon series is inspired by those big-deal telethons (after all, what we do as teachers is a big deal!), and we’re going to get better together by crowd sourcing the best and brightest ideas in a type of “smart mob.” In fact, YOU will be the rock stars that shine on Teaching Channel’s stage through your tips, tricks, knowledge, and wisdom. This month, we’re focusing on Managing Mayhem. What are your favorite classroom management resources?

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Case Study of a Teacher: Engaging Students in Text Analysis (Part 1)

Teacher Planning and Collaboration

Recently, Teaching Channel got the chance to spend two days in David Olio’s literature class at South Windsor High School in South Windsor, Connecticut. We came away from David’s class with two lesson videos that show students engaging in text analysis through reading and writing. And that’s not all. These videos are a case study of how a teacher can create a classroom environment that encourages deep thinking.

After watching these videos, I’m struck by the great work students are doing and by the way David interacts with his students to make sure they feel a sense of belonging and ownership in their classroom. David greets his students with a smile and gives them 100% of his attention as they talk. At the beginning of one class, David sits right down with students and helps them explore, question, and work together. David is fully engaged with his students and, in turn, they are fully engaged in his class.

Also, solid routines — for students and teachers — are behind every wonderful lesson. In these videos, we watch his students giving each other feedback on their work, and just as importantly, we get to see David’s collaboration time with colleagues. This collaboration time gives David a second opinion on the quality of his students’ work, and feedback on how he can adjust and improve his instruction to further engage students.

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Teaching Channel Video Playlist Library

What To Watch On Teaching ChannelWelcome to Tch‘s playlist headquarters! Take the opportunity to watch teachers in action by pressing play on one (or more) of these teacher-curated lists — together, we can learn something new!


7 Minutes, 7 Attention Getting Moves

9 Strategies for Effective Classroom Management

Body Language Tips

Building Relationships with Students


Collaborating to Plan Common Core Lessons for ELLs

Deeper Learning and the Common Core

Incorporating Complex Texts

Reasoning and Constructing Arguments in Math

Strengthening Lessons for the Common Core


Deeper Learning – Complete Series

Deeper Learning and the Common Core

Growth Mindset and Deeper Learning

Kids are the Proof: Students Engaged in Deeper Learning

Teaching as a Team Sport

More Playlists

4 Big Ideas for Engaging Students (Deeper Learning)

Deeper Learning

Earlier this year, we launched 52 videos showcasing schools that focus on developing Deeper Learning skills — academic mastery, academic courage, collaboration and communication skills, global competencies, and more. Many of these schools encourage students to do real-world, authentic work in the form of internships, community outreach campaigns, and projects that expose them to careers in environmental science, robotics, fashion design, and music.

Before school ended in June, we reached out to a few graduates to ask what kept them engaged in their education. They told us strong school relationships and real-world experiences changed their lives for the better, gave them a sense of agency, and a curiosity and excitement about what is possible.

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“Show Off Your Classroom” Photo Contest: See the Winning Classrooms

A big “thank you” to everyone who took the time to submit a photo in our “Show Off Your Classroom” photo contest on Facebook. We loved taking a peek inside so many imaginative and inspiring spaces — and we heard from so many of you that this is a treasure trove of ideas. Over 160 teachers submitted photos and we’re putting them all together in an album to share with you soon.

See the Classrooms

9 Reminders and Tips for Back-to-School Night

Many of you will be hosting Back-to-School Night over the next few weeks. This is a great opportunity for you to build community with the parents of your students while communicating important information about the school year. With this dual purpose in mind, we’ve compiled a list of tips to help your night go swimmingly:

Ideas for Building Community with Parents

  • Have parents introduce themselves and share a school memory that they have from when they were their children’s age. Begin by modeling this yourself: for example, if you’re a 2nd grade teacher, share one of your own memories of being a 2nd grader.
  • Back to School Letter, from student to parentsOn the day of Back-to-School Night, have students write a letter to their parents pointing out three things in the classroom they want their parents to notice. Leave these letters on the students’ desks and encourage parents to read them when they come in. This is a nice way to connect with parents while setting the tone for open communication all year long.

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