Transform Your Teaching: Developing a Personalized Professional Learning Plan

Tchers Voice Professional Learning

“To turn off your iPad, you press the button on the side. Let’s practice turning it off and on, and our next steps will be to explore the App Store.”

This professional development on “iPads for Teachers” was genuinely a great recipe for PD:

  • Hands-on teacher involvement
  • Opportunities to put ideas into action
  • Immediate followup in the classroom during the coming weeks

Unfortunately, I found myself bored to tears. The school where I’d previously taught was 1:1 with student iPads and I’d been using them in the classroom for at least three years. What I anticipated as an opportunity to enhance my instruction using digital tools turned into a daydreaming session on all of the work I could’ve been doing in my classroom.

I think it’s safe to say we’ve all been there. We’ve all found ourselves in a well-intentioned, yet not relevant, professional development session generalized for a staff of perhaps several hundred teachers. Personalized learning for students and differentiation have been a focus in the world of education for several years and considered a must in the modern classroom. However, this type of thinking around learning has not been universally adopted for teachers as learners. If we’re expected to provide personalized learning for students, what can be done to support teachers in their quest for lifelong learning?

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The Top Five Things I Learned from a Five-Year-Old About Growth Mindset

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The shiny new bicycle was forcefully shoved to the ground in disgust as Parker shouted,

“I cannot do it; I’ll never be able to ride my bike.”

To the parents out there, I venture to guess this triggers “fond” memories of youthful days gone by, but to me, not having kids, this experience with my five-year-old nephew was a first.

We had braved the unseasonably cold South Carolina weather for a mere five minutes before Parker came to this abrupt conclusion. Bundled in his winter coat and hat, he begrudgingly stormed off and sat on a rock on the side of the road. When I asked him why he was so upset, he fought back tears and explained, “Chase can ride his bike without training wheels, and I will never be able to.”

Now, being Uncle Chris, I wasn’t even sure who Chase was, but in this moment, I wanted to run to my writing notebook and sketch out this blog. However, I felt it best that I stay with the nearly-in-tears five-year-old to support him.

There’s a lot of talk about grit and growth mindset as it applies to education, and at this point, I would submit that most people reading this blog are not only familiar with these concepts, but probably way more well-read about them than I. However, in that moment, as I lovingly sat down next to Parker and put my arm around him, I had new reflections about how I would apply Parker’s learning experience to my own teaching and thinking.

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Mid-Year Check-in: Assessing Your Year So Far

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Congratulations: You made it to January!

For many experienced educators, January can feel like an exciting time to reboot. For new teachers, January can bring back feelings of disillusionment that may have started around November (be sure to read this post on staying energized if you’re in the latter category).

Whether you’re feeling dismayed or excited for the rest of the year, taking just a few minutes to reflect and plan can often make you feel a little bit better.

At the beginning of the school year, Teaching Channel launched our Back to School Starter Packs, a set of checklists and resources organized by grade band to help you start the year off on the right track. Now that we’ve reached the midyear point, we’re offering you a simple review sheet to see how well you’ve done with all of your plans.

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The Power of Student Voice in First-Person Commentaries

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It’s easy to have an opinion these days. But getting someone to see the world from your point of view — that takes a little more skill.

Enter the first-person commentary.

From newspaper op-eds to radio perspectives, there’s a growing market for content grounded in one person’s individual lived experience. Done well, commentaries can inform, persuade, and build empathy — making them powerful tools for civic engagement and fostering deeper community conversation.

This lesson on commentary writing comes to you from Youth Radio, an award-winning national network of next-generation storytellers.

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What to Do for the Most Challenging Students in Your Class

Tch Deep Dives: New Techer Survival Guide

You’ve set up your classroom. You know your kids and curriculum. You have the basics down.

Everything is running smoothly, except…

There’s one student who disrupts your class on a regular basis. One student who doesn’t respond to the expectations of the classroom.

The whole situation may have you feeling frustrated and discouraged.

Stop right there.

The first thing you need to realize is that this is not about you.

As personal as some students can seem to make it, your first task is to change your own perspective. Children who misbehave or adolescents who act out are almost always expressing an emotion or a problem that’s just beneath the surface. The key to improving their behavior is to figure out what function that action serves and then address the root of the problem.

So, where do you start?

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Let’s Talk Turkey! Transfer of Energy and Thanksgiving

Tch Next Gen Science Squad

Kathy's Third Graders doing project on floor

I recently spent some time working with third graders on motion stations.

As I watched them work, I was thinking about the transfer of energy and the unlimited possibilities for helping students understand this concept.

I started seeing energy everywhere I looked: watching a toy car move down a ramp, a pendulum swinging, and even balls bouncing. My brain was focused on moving energy and imagining the possibilities.

I was thinking about energy transfer even as I was helping students to grapple with questions of weight or height and mass, such as, “How does the height of the ramp affect the distance an object will travel?” or “How does the weight of the object affect the distance an object will travel?” The fact that I continued to return to this idea made me realize the importance of engaging our students with this phenomena… but how?

How might we engage students with the transfer of energy in the classroom in a fun and fascinating way right now?

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PodcastPodcastTch Talks 7: Sarah & Friends with Meenoo Rami

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Meenoo Rami has taught high school English in Philadelphia, written the book Thrive: 5 Ways to (Re)Invigorate Your Teaching, and is now the Education Manager for Minecraft, the wildly popular virtual building game. Sarah Brown Wessling talks with Meenoo about her work in education over the years, with a special emphasis on being new to the profession.

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Five Ways To Close A Lesson

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Most of us realize the importance of a warm-up to get our bodies and minds ready, whether we’re talking about exercising, singing, or learning. But what about the cool down? How you close a lesson is just as important as how you open it. Yet all too often, we run out of time. Or, we look at the clock, see our students are still working hard, and think to ourselves, why interrupt their flow? But there are proven benefits to taking even just one minute to wrap up a lesson.

In those last moments, you and your students have a chance to check for understanding, reflect on what you’ve learned, tie up loose ends, or make sure everyone is ready for the next part of the day. You could even just take a moment to breathe! If you’re looking for new ideas on how to wrap up your next lesson, here are five things you can try.

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Building Your Teacher Toolbox: Five Ways to Improve Classroom Management

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Managing a class isn’t easy! Before you can teach content, you need to create a positive learning environment (check out our Class Culture Deep Dive for tips on how to do that). Building culture is a long process, one that eventually makes management easier. But what do you do when you need your class to calm down and focus? Or how do you deal with a student who is outright defiant?

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