Halfway There! It’s a Great Time to Reset Your Classroom Environment

Congratulations! You made it to the halfway point of the school year!

Mr. Myers from Howe School of Excellence greets a student before class starts. It's a small routines like this that contribute to a caring and productive classroom environment.

Mr. Myers from Howe School of Excellence greets a student before class starts. It’s a small routines like this that contribute to a caring and productive classroom environment.

Athletic coaches will often use this halftime opportunity to look back at the first half and give advice for how to improve coming out of the locker room. As a teacher going back into the classroom for a new semester, there are so many aspects where I could coach someone who is looking to flip a bad first half. 

How do you get the most out of this new semester? I have found that focusing on building a better classroom environment is the one area which enjoys the most benefit from the least amount of effort.

It’s so important to build positive trusting relationships with your students, and it’s even a component in the Chicago Framework for Teaching. Domain 2a is specifically about creating an environment of respect and rapport in the classroom.

So how does a new teacher go about building these positive, trusting relationships?   Read more

Stepping Back: 7 Ideas to Transform Student Science Discussions

“The person doing the talking is the person doing the learning.”

stem-blog-121317There is little point in covering material if students don’t have the time to process and internalize it. We need to stop trying to fill students’ brains with so much information and focus on depth over breadth.

Now that we have Google, there is a plethora of information right at our fingers. We don’t need to store random facts in our heads. Carving out time for students to make sense of and apply those facts to new situations will have a much stronger return on investment in the long run.

Not only should teachers NOT be the ones articulating the science content to students (as this only serves to deepen the teachers’ understanding), but they should NOT be the only ones evaluating students’ ideas.

Put the onus on the kids! Read more

Special EDition: Behavior Junction, What’s your Function?

The AUSL Diverse Learning Professional Development Series is up and running! The October session, Understanding + Developing High Quality IEPs, was held on October 15 at Phillips High School. Participants attended one of three sessions focused on different aspects of the IEP. Click on the sessions below to access the presentation deck and related materials shared at each session.

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 3.43.28 PMThe next DL PD, Changing Challenging Behaviors: Conducting FBAs, will be offered on both November 19 and December 3 from 4:30-6:30pm at Phillips Academy High School. Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) is based on the understanding that all behavior is a form of communication and serves a function. Conducting an FBA is the process of collecting and analyzing data on unwanted behaviors to determine the purpose or function of the behavior. This is the first step toward developing interventions to teach and reinforce more positive behaviors.

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Video Playlist: Reviewing 5 Essential Strategies

As a mentor and later a mentor resident coach, I often saw my residents and (yes) my mentors forget the basics of management and instruction as the school year progressed. Burnout has a lot to do with this lapse and since we are so close to a well-deserved break, I am betting that many of these essential strategies have slipped your mind and your practice.

Let’s get your classroom and your mojo back by taking a little time to review…

OneSpot

100%

It’s never too late to reteach and reinforce 100%. This short clip shows a simple structure for giving your students directions by delivering them from one consistent spot in your classroom.

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Classroom D.I.Y. #6: The Winner of Best Way to Beat the Winter Classroom Slump is…Joy Factor!!!

Or as John Travolta would say, “Jadele Fazeem.”

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Jerry Taft says more snow is on its way but who cares, right!  Spending what feels like three fourths of the year in one, very cold, very long season isn’t all that draining on one’s physical and mental health, right!  Right?!?

Well, maybe not for people who have the right “gear” to weather it!

This installment of the DIY blog will give you tips and strategies to employ Joy Factor in your classroom tomorrow to get things moving and feeling like Spring has sprung.

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School Suspensions: Supporting Students During a Challenging Time

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

― Maya Angelou

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In a 2013 study, the Civil Rights Project estimated that more than two million students were suspended during the 2009-2010 academic year.

This means that if you are reading this blog, one of your students probably has been or will be suspended from school.  Whether the suspension relates to your classroom or an issue beyond it, you’ll have to decide how to relate to the student involved.

How will the student be welcomed back into your class? How will your relationship with that student move forward in a productive, positive way?  Read more

Ending the Year on a High Note

As much as I love the summer, the end of the school year has always been tough for me.  The classroom can become a family of sorts – complete with all the good times and challenging times that can come with being a family.  Although I always looked forward to getting to know a new group of learners, it was important to me to honor our classroom community, and all the memories we had made, at the end of the school year.  Here are some of my favorite ideas:

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