DIY #7 Top Ten Coach Approved Ways to Get Smarter over the Summer

It’s that time of the year again!  You know the time of year when you’re answer to the question, “When does school get out?” is a very detailed, “25 days, 6 hours, 13 minutes and 46 seconds.”coachapproved-angled

Summer can’t get here fast enough and we know why, too:

  • You want to dust off the stack of professional books on your nightstand and read them without falling asleep
  • You want to visit the Chicago museums and plan a purpose-driven field trip for your class
  • You want to finally read some of the young adult fiction from your classroom library so you can start recommending more than that one Walter Dean Meyers’ book to your students
  • You want to bring one of the multi-step math word problems you taught your students to a party and watch your friends struggle to solve it.

Well, we have the right list of resources for you today: Here is an AUSL Coach approved list of the top ten ways you can get smarter over the summer!

1. Stock Up on Classroom Books

Get a group and a van and head out to the next Scholastic Customer Appreciation Warehouse sales and score books at prices up to 80% off.  Or head over to one of the coolest bookstores in Chicago called Open Books.  It has books but it offers so much more!

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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.”


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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Classroom D.I.Y. #5: The 4 R’s for a Successful Re-Entry from Winter Break

welcomebackWinter break is over.

For most of you, because you got some time to unplug, relax and enjoy yourself, you are feeling something called rejuvenation.  It might seem a little foreign but trust me, it’s real – take advantage of it! This is always a good resource as you return to one of the hardest professional gigs out there.

Chances are you are also feeling something we coaches call “the pit.”  The pit is that mishmash of emotions that sits in a ball at the bottom of your stomach and makes you feel excited and a little queasy at the same time.

In order to help you regulate the pit and capitalize on your rejuvenation, here is some well-tested and highly effective advice from Shondele Gillens, one of our senior coaches: Read more

Classroom D.I.Y. #4: 1st Year Blues Survival Guide: 10 Ways to Battle Disillusionment

Are you feeling like the time & effort you pour into your classroom each day doesn’t seem to be making the ROI (return on investment) you hoped?

Not sure what happened to the smooth functioning classroom routines you once had?

Wondering why kids don’t seem to want to engage in the lesson you spent 5 hours planning?

Have you recently questioned whether you are really cut out for this work?

You might be suffering from a case of the 1st Year Blues — a very common ailment suffered by many first year teachers OR teachers in first year turnarounds. Read more

Classroom D.I.Y. #3: The Dawn of Next Level Student Engagement Strategies

You’ve got routines and procedures humming (for the most part at least, you may have an occasional hiccup here and there).

Your relationship with your kids is building day by day.

You finally got the thumbs up from your principal on your 4Ms objectives AND your kids worked at level 0 during independent work time for several minutes straight!

It’s time. Time to roll out the “next level tools” for student engagement!

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Classroom DIY #2: Motivating Your Students: Incentive Systems You Can Start Tomorrow


You have successfully navigated your way through the first two weeks of school!  You are probably steadily progressing toward the solid establishment of your routines and procedures while simultaneously carving out more and more time for robust instruction.

As you prepare to keep your momentum going in that direction, this month’s DIY Blog has a few ideas for incentive systems that can help motivate students to actively contribute to the cultivation of a strong learning environment.

Incentive systems complement your hierarchy system.  They are meant to recognize and reinforce students for positively participating in your class yet also allow students who are, shall we say, over-participating in the hierarchy system, to re-engage and participate in your classroom in a productive way.  Your incentive system is also a concrete way to motivate and normalize the positive behavior in your classroom.

Here are three field-tested incentive systems with some details to help you decide which is ideal for your classroom.

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Classroom DIY #1: Upping your Classroom “Warm & Welcome” Factor

This is the first post in a series called “Classroom DIY”. Tune in monthly for more like this!

So, you’re looking at the AUSL Classroom Environment Checklist thinking, “What?! Window dressings, lamps, plants, and additional decorative items that provide a warm and welcoming classroom feel? What does that mean?”

Absolutely! What does it mean? You are not the first to ask that question.  We often hear this as we are helping excited, yet overwhelmed teachers prepare their classrooms for the first day. They get to this component of the checklist and freeze up.

We are going to help you avoid the freeze-up by tackling this mysterious part of the checklist head on.  The following will unlock the secrets and provide you with cost-effective, relatively easy ideas that scream, “I know how to make this space welcoming!”

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