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

5 Ways to Get Better This Summer with TchAUSL

macbook-mockupLike you, I didn’t become a teacher to get summers off. I taught summer school for my first six years stopping only once I realized that there are a lot of benefits to the Restful Summer. Chief among those perks is the ability to get better at teaching at my own pace (and my own place!) Each summer I choose a new skill or two to learn and practice. When I was in the classroom, I read a lot about mathematics methods and lesson design and recently I have used the down time to work on my video editing. It’s completely unlike PD during the year when you’re too preoccupied with deadlines and lesson planning.

Now that summer is within reach, here are five ways that our site can help you become a better teacher, coach or administrator. Read more

Special EDition: Ten Ways to Practice Self-Care


So PARCC testing is in full swing, and you’ve started daydreaming about Spring break. You may feel drained, and you’re wondering how you can possibly stay motivated for the next few weeks. You know your kiddos deserve high-quality instruction, but you’re JUST. SO. TIRED.

We’re often told that we must take care of ourselves in order to care for the children in front of us. We’re told to get plenty of rest, exercise three to four times a week and drink eight glasses of water every day. If you follow these three simple steps, everything will be okay, right? I’m sure these three steps help, but what are some other ways you can unwind and revitalize on the weekends leading up to and during Spring break?

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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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Resolution: No More “Drill-and-Kill” Test Prep!


I know it seems too early to blog about test prep.  But in many low-performing urban schools, January 1st marks the unofficial start of test prep season.  I remember as a 7th grade CPS social studies teacher, I was called to the Principal’s office the week back from winter break and told to stop teaching social studies immediately.   Instead I was to use Test Coach worksheets as my “curriculum” until the test.   I felt nauseous leaving her office.  In my heart I knew these worksheets would not prepare my students with the skills they needed for high school and life.  Luckily I gathered myself and crafted a proposal to demonstrate how I’d teach social studies and prep kids for the assessment, which my principal accepted.  However, the following year social studies was eliminated to emphasize the “testing subjects” (Math and ELA). Read more

To the Resident Class of 2014: A Letter From Your Future Teacher-Self

Dear Resident Class of 2014,

First, welcome to the Chicago Teacher Residency! My name is Savannah Jackson; this past year I have been a resident at National Teachers Academy with 27 of my favorite people: 25 first graders, my mentor and my co-resident. Next school year I will be joining the teachers, students and families at Marquette School of Excellence. Go Mustangs! And this is where it all starts!

I am genuinely thrilled for you to be joining a group of passionate, energetic, relentless Chicago teachers. There are many ways to become a teacher but this program is for those committed to becoming great teachers for the students of Chicago. The residency is here to provide experiences for you to be the best at your profession, making a real impact for students in high poverty schools.

As you take your first steps in the Teacher Residency, here are some words of advice from a few of us who have been through the trenches. I took an informal poll of my resident class, and am sharing with you the common threads.

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The Power of Reflecting and Celebrating our Work

As the school year comes to a close, teachers create many unique ways to celebrate their students’ learning – from “portfolio parties” to awards assemblies to graduation ceremonies. These opportunities allow our students to reflect on the progress they have made, synthesize new information they have learned, and set goals for their future learning. As teachers, we often forget that this process of reflection and celebration is also crucial to our own professional development.


So, how can teachers reflect about their own practice at the end of the school year? Start by setting aside time to work through the questions below.

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