Five Tips for Changing Grade Levels

New Teacher Survival Guide

After teaching fifth grade for nine years, I was ready for a change. Not because I didn’t enjoy the fifth grade content or the students — I was looking for a new experience. I wanted to expand my knowledge and experience for my own professional growth.

After talking with my administrator, we agreed that I would move down to primary and start the year teaching a 2nd/3rd grade combo class. He didn’t believe this combo class would stay long, and that I would more than likely end up a straight second grade teacher. And it happened just like that. I taught the combo for the first quarter, and then at the start of the second quarter, I was a second grade teacher with adorable seven year olds to teach. What was this experience like? Amazingly overwhelming!
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Three Ways to Help Students Master the Vocabulary Demands of Complex Texts

With the Common Core’s emphasis on text complexity (including a standard devoted exclusively to it), there’s been a renewed interest in what actually makes a text complex. Alongside teachers in Massachusetts, I’ve been doing some work on this. We’ve been determining the big idea of a text, and then using rubrics and reading closely to analyze the qualitative elements of text complexity. This includes levels of meaning, structure, language, and knowledge demands. Knowing what makes a text complex helps us decide what to target for our instruction.

Of these qualitative elements, vocabulary likely contributes the most to text complexity. Teachers often feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of unknown words students encounter. This is even more the case for students from low income backgrounds who come to school knowing fewer words (Hart and Risley 1995). Though we now know that a set “frustration level” is a myth, the fact remains that if kids don’t know enough of the words, they’re going to have a hard time understanding the text.

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Getting Better Together: What a Visit to Chicago Taught me About America’s Schools

I recently visited a set of schools in Chicago that are part of the Academy of Urban School Leadership (AUSL) network. AUSL is an amazing school-turnaround organization in Chicago Public Schools. They produce over 150 new teachers in a top-notch residency program, preparing future teachers to work in urban schools.

The incredible thing about these schools is that when you walk in the front door, you can immediately feel that the adults in each building take their work really seriously. The schools are immaculate, light and joyful, filled with student work and inspirational acknowledgments of students’ accomplishments. When I visited classrooms, they were purposeful, engaging places where kids are doing important work. When I visited with teachers, they were mulling over what they need to do to ensure that their kids succeed, and they have an excellent handle on student performance data. When I look at their work on our collaboration platform, I see teachers and coaches working together to hone their skills, to give each other feedback, and to help each other grow as professionals. When I talked with administrators, they were enthusiastically working with teachers to strengthen their learning so that the teachers can in turn lift student learning.

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Teacher Appreciation Week: Share Why #TeachersRock

For Teacher Appreciation Week we’ve concocted a weeks worth of tweets to keep teachers feeling loved and appreciated. During the week of May 4th-May 8th, come to Twitter and answer these questions.

Remember to use the hashtag #TeachersRock so we can find your answers and share them with our teacher community.

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Surveying Our Practice

According to a 2007 ABC News/Washington Post poll, 71 percent of Americans are in favor of increased video surveillance, and over 30 million surveillance cameras are utilized within the United States, recording four billion hours of footage a week. American citizens are being watched almost everywhere, and most of us are okay with being on camera — as long as we aren’t forced to watch ourselves.

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For This We Thank You

The Teaching Channel blogs we love are the ones that provide us with ideas and quick tips. Your clicks and comments tell us that. This is not that type of blog. This blog’s aim is to remind you that you make a difference, an idea just as useful and equally important as our blogs with classroom ideas and quick tips.

Days set aside for national recognition give us moments to think about why we do what do, just when we need to hear it most. May is the month we teachers often feel––simultaneously frazzled to the point of unravelling and also fulfilled to the point of pride as the hard work of the previous 8 months blooms. Teacher Appreciation Week is well timed.

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[Archive] #TchLIVE: Preparing for the End of the Year

Thank you to all who joined us as we think about how teachers can create an “end of the year” with capstone experiences and projects where teachers release responsibility and students learn because of school, not in spite of it.

#TchLIVE Reminder

Want a reminder about #TchLIVE chats on Twitter? Sign up for our Remind class and receive timely reminders:

See the Archive

First Grade Findings: Adapting Lessons to Support Students

Every teacher knows that “within the overall patterns of development, each child’s trajectory is unique.” In a class of 30, they will each fall in a unique place somewhere on that developmental continuum. Some students come over-prepared, and some woefully under-prepared. However, their level of development shouldn’t prescribe the kind of instruction they receive. Students who are ‘behind’ need time and support to strengthen their phonics and phonemic awareness skills in fun and engaging ways.

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Ten ASCD Lessons From a New Teacher

Traveling to the 70th Annual ASCD conference, I was filled with a combination of nervousness and excitement. As a second year teacher, I couldn’t help but think that I might possibly be the least experienced professional at this entire conference, and I was going to present! Despite these initial worries, I had a fantastic experience and learned a few things along the way.


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Special Download: 10 Ways to Be a Creative Genius for Teacher Appreciation Week

Celebrate a teacher or set of teachers at your school or in your district! All it takes is a little creativity, paper, scissors and glue! Well, sometimes a lot of glue…. Consider some of these ideas as a way to say thanks to a teacher in your life.

When you are finished take a snapshot of your amazing creation, perhaps even with your favorite teacher in the snapshot and share it with us on Twitter and Instagram. Use #TeachersRock so we can find and share your projects! We’ve also created a week’s worth of Twitter prompts to keep the love and support going throughout Teacher Appreciation Week.

Download the PDF of 10 Ways to Be a Creative Genius for Teacher Appreciation Week.

Don’t forget to sign up for our annual Teacher Appreciation Week Giveaway! We’re giving away hundreds of Thank You gifts to teachers across the nation. All you need to do is create an account with Teaching Channel.

Teacher Appreciation Week Giveaway

Paul Teske works for Teaching Channel Teams as an Engagement Manager, helping states, districts, and school launch and sustain professional learning in Teams.