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

From Disillusionment to Rejuvenation: Bridging the Gap with Self-Care

You go out of your way to give that one kid in your homeroom an individualized behavior tracker and a pep talk every morning to set him up for success. You positively narrate, give wait time, and strive for 100%. You feel like things are finally starting to gel in your room.

All of a sudden, the days are shorter and darker, and routines you thought were solid in your classroom start to feel like they just aren’t working the way they were in October. Read more

We’re TchAUSL! How Can We Help You?

TchAUSL-mockupsThis year is our sixth school year with TchAUSL and I’m as pumped as ever to share exciting new practices from across our network to help you become the teacher that you want to be. TchAUSL was created to help our coaches capture and comment on practice, but I think we’ve grown into a place where every teacher can learn and grow.

What does our site have to offer you?

Our App Makes It Easy to Record, Share and Annotate Your Practice

We designed the site and our Tch Recorder app with an eye on making it simple to capture and share your practice. With just a few steps, you can record instruction, upload it to our invitation-only site, share it with others in a group or keep it private in your workspace. TchAUSL also allows annotation of video with timestamping to draw attention to specific points of your instruction. Want to learn more? This short clip will get you started and you can pick it up here if you have an Apple device or here if you’re an Android user. Read more

Special EDition: Leading Your Professional Learning

One of my resolutions for 2015 is to continue to improve my professional practice.  As an educator, I know how important it is to stay on top of the latest news, tools, and research related to my field. But I often find myself thinking that there just aren’t enough hours in the day to join a PLC, attend a conference, or read the latest issue of Exceptional Children. So what else can I do?

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Introduction the Next Generation Science Standards: 4 Things to Know

Happy 2015! It’s that time again–time to make your New Year’s resolutions. If you are a K-12 teacher and have not yet familiarized yourself with the new science standards then this blog’s for you! To help you get acquainted with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), here are 4 things to know…

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Special EDition: SPE Cyber Monday “Deals” You Need Right Now

If you’re like me, you skipped Black Friday because you ate too much and it was cold and late and you figured that if you just wait until Monday, you can score that thing you’re so obsessed with from the comfort of your own warm home (or classroom!).  While I’m not going to advertise today’s deals at the Gap or Best Buy, I will share my list of a few incredible online “deals” that educators should access right now to help meet the needs of your diverse learners.

BookshareBookshare – Can’t say enough about this free resource that makes reading accessible for all.  Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), Bookshare is the world’s largest accessible online library for people with print disabilities.  It is free for all qualified U.S. students (visual impairment, physical disability or severe learning disability) and features over 300,000 titles, including newspapers, k-12 textbooks, and popular fiction and non-fiction. Teachers can sign students up for an individual membership or they can serve as the student’s sponsor.

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Summer Reading and Resource List: Get a Head Start on Planning with these 8 Science Recommendations

With the school year coming to a close, it’s time to start making your summer plans! Sure, you probably have plans to head to the beach, travel, and partake in TONS  of outdoor activities–especially after the winter we’ve had to endure, here, in Chiberia!

Of course, you’ll also set aside time to do some reading and think about your how you’d like to run your classroom during the next school year….right?? We wanted to send you off on summer break armed with the best readings and resources to help you get a head start on your planning.

Check out these 8 awesome, free, and teacher-approved resources (click on the links in red)…

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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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Special EDition: Who’s Who in the CTR’s SPE Resident Cohort?

AUSL’s Chicago Teacher Residency (CTR) program is about to witness its first class of graduates in Special Education.  This small but mighty cohort of 11 residents will be the first to receive a master’s degree in Special Education and be fully endorsed as Learning Behavior Specialists.  All of these residents have spent the past nine months observing, planning, teaching, and learning alongside a mentor teacher and coach in an elementary Special Education classroom in one of AUSL’s training academies.

So on the heels of Teacher Appreciation Week, I thought it was fitting to feature this group of future AUSL Special Educators and get to know them a little better as we explore Who’s Who…

Back Row: Brittany Anderson, Christine Roche, John Devine, Celia Davenport, Shannon Conroy, Nathan Rosiejka. Front Row: Agata Sidorkiewicz Jean Wilkinson, Jessica Kimbrough, Sally Tabatsalis, Chris Roeloffs.

Top Row: Brittany Anderson, Christine Roche, John Devine, Celia Davenport, Shannon Conroy, Nathan Rosiejka. Bottom Row: Agata Sidorkiewicz, Jean Wilkinson, Jessica Kimbrough, Sally Tabatsalis, Chris Roeloffs.

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Talking the Talk: Tips for Engaging Your Students in Scientific Discourse

talkscience

The Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs) outlined in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) provide us with a clear picture of what inquiry instruction should look like in the science classroom:

  1. Asking Questions (Science) and Defining Problems (Engineering)
  2. Developing and Using Models
  3. Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
  4. Analyzing and Interpreting Data
  5. Using Mathematical and Computational Thinking
  6. Constructing Explanations (Science) and Designing Solutions (Engineering)
  7. Engaging in Argument from Evidence
  8. Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

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