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

Out of Bulletin Board Ideas? Build a Domain Wall!

bulletin-boardWe all create bulletin boards for our classrooms and hallways, and we are all aware that they serve a variety of purposes, from highlighting student work, as an end of unit/module showcase, to that one board you create every year that never changes. You intend to mix it up, and yet, somehow it never happens. It gets to the point neither you, nor your students, even see that board anymore, and it ends up taking up valuable classroom wall space that could be used in a much more meaningful way.

It’s time to change up this practice by replacing the bulletin board with a Domain Wall.

You may be thinking, “But I love my Autumnal Poetry board, so why should I scrap my tried and true bulletin boards of years past?” 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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Spring [Your Science Instruction] Forward: 5 Steps to Implementing MBI

Model-Based Inquiry (MBI) is an engaging, NGSS-aligned, research-based approach to scienceinstruction (Windschitl, Thompson, & Braaten, 2008).

There are 5 steps to implementing MBI:

  1. Plan your instructional units around meaningful real world phenomena
  2. Elicit and work from students initial ideas
  3. Engage students in ongoing and in-depth sense making
  4. Provide students with opportunities to revisit and revise their thinking
  5. Have students apply their learning to a new, related phenomenon

In the following video, we introduce you to Model-Based Inquiry and provide you with a peek into what it looks like in action (in our very own AUSL classrooms). After you watch the video, scroll down to read more about the 5 steps to implementing MBI, as well as 3 tips for improving your teaching practice immediately. Enjoy!

Welcome to MBI

 

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Special EDition: Reigniting the Co-Teaching Flame

bandCo-teaching involves two adults paired together for a significant period of time to share the responsibilities of educating and raising children. Perhaps this is why co-teaching is often referred to as a “professional marriage”. This arrangement allows general and special educators a unique opportunity to blend their expertise to create a powerful partnership. But the honeymoon doesn’t last forever and now that it’s November, many co-teachers have already lost that loving feeling and are wondering…how can we reignite the co-teaching flame? Don’t file for divorce yet! You and your co-teaching partner can get back on track by revisiting a few of the following co-teaching basics:

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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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Bird is the WORD? Word Walls: Operational vs. Interactive

Bird is the word

Disclaimer: This is NOT a blog post intended to freak you out because you don’t have your word walls up nor does it have anything to do with the fact that a certain test that will remain nameless is upon us.  This blog is intended for the sole purpose of ensuring that your classroom is set up DAILY for students to succeed in mathematics by building their vocabulary through discussion and use of visual models.  The timing of this post is purely coincidental.  Finally, the bird is the word.

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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

This Week on TchAUSL: December 5, 2013

Give Thanks!

Blogs: Great Math Lessons and Integrating Science and Literacy

New Video: Inside Look: Classroom Design

 

Greetings!

Go right now to our Tch Tasty contest from last week, where we asked you to tell us what you are thankful for as an educator and read entries from your AUSL colleagues. Doesn’t it make you feel good about what we do as educators? It’s now your turn to add your own thanks and vote on your favorites in Q&A by Friday, December 13. The most popular entry wins a tasty prize delivered to your school. Read more

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

Congratulations!

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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