Tch Tips: Five Ways to Recharge with Summer Learning

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Your long-awaited summer break has arrived! While teachers are especially good at filling up their calendars with neglected to-dos and preparation for what’s next, be sure to pause and take your well-deserved break. You’ve earned it.

The world moves fast and, for a teacher, the summer moves even faster. You probably won’t conquer everything on that ever-growing list. But if you choose just a few things to work on this summer in your personalized professional learning plan, you’ll return to your classroom refreshed, recharged, and ready to take on the new school year.

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Photo by Sai Kiran Anagani on Unsplash

Here are five ways you can recharge and level up on your own terms this summer.
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What to Watch 2018: Sarah’s Sizzlin’ Strategies

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The temperature is on the rise, but nothing’s quite as hot as Tch Laureate Sarah Brown Wessling’s strategies for student success. Whether you’re inside and staying cool, or just chillin’ by the pool, watch these Tch videos to build your strategy toolbox this summer.

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Family Fun with the Fathers of Science

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My father is my hero, my inspiration, and one of several people I credit for my journey to becoming a science teacher. Whether it was dissecting cow hearts or cleaning a creek, he always taught me to embrace a sense of wonder and to question the natural world.

In this summer season, many of us are away from our classrooms, but Father’s Day is a perfect time to think about the “fathers” of science — in addition to our own. And it can also be an excellent time to plan some lessons with the family that may be applied in the classroom this fall.

Meg's dad holding newborn Edison


Meg’s dad holding newborn Edison.

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I Want to Get Better at… Differentiation

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Differentiation is one of those things that never seems like it can be 100% mastered. Once you have your differentiation strategies dialed in for a particular set of students… you get a new set of students! But with these new students comes a new opportunity to learn and refine your teaching approaches.

This summer, build up the differentiation strategies in your toolbox so you’ll be more equipped to meet the needs of your future students. Start with these ideas:

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3 Steps to Successful Student Collaboration

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Why We Hang In There

Deep sighs, rolled eyes, slumped shoulders, and hanging heads, met with eyes yearning for hope… No, it’s not a summons for jury duty, it’s the reaction I get from teachers when I say, “student collaboration.”

#realtalk for a moment: Getting students to work successfully in a group is REALLY hard!

And yet, despite the complete exhaustion it brings us, we hang in there. Why do we do it? Because we know our students need it. And not just because there are flashy frameworks and graphics that tell us collaboration is important in school. And not just for their future career, college, relationships, or global competition; but because it helps students develop into more empathetic and cooperative human beings. And regardless of what our future looks like, we’re going to need those!

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Why It’s Hard

If you’re responsible for any number of human beings, you know that it’s difficult to facilitate effective group work — whether you’re working with children or adults. It’s hard to work through our differences — actively listening, embodying selflessness, and orally communicating one’s thoughts is a challenging process to navigate. Not to mention that issues of status and equity rear their ugly heads during any sort of group discourse (see Horne, Boaler, and Cohen). That’s a lot to manage in a classroom where available minutes continue to shrink with competing initiatives and demands. But all hope is not lost. With some basic systems and structures in place, the conditions for effective classroom collaboration can be established — read on to find out how.
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Home Stretch: Finish the End of the School Year Strong

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Sponsored content provided by Concordia University-Portland.

Any teacher will tell you that school doesn’t really calm down. The end of the school year is one of the busiest, most stressful times of the year. Testing, spring fever, events, final projects, grading—the home stretch is a doozy. While it can be easy for students and teachers to mentally slide into summer, here are a few ideas for how you can make the month of June truly memorable, impactful, and manageable.

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Tch Tips: Four Ways to Gather Student Feedback

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As another school year comes to a close, I’d bet that you and your students are looking forward to summer break. While these last days of school can be crazy, they’re often reflective as well.

You’ve probably asked students to self-assess their learning, and you’ve probably been busy assessing their learning in final projects, portfolios, and report cards. Of course, all of this assessment of student learning is important — but remember, you were the one who guided them on their learning journey!

As an educator, it’s just as important to take time to ask yourself about your year.

  • What went well?
  • What will you change next year?

And, while you still have your students in the classroom, why not ask them for a little feedback? Sure, this idea may seem scary at first, but with the right setup, you can truly learn a lot from your students.

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Starting from the Beginning at Year 20

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Have you ever taught a lesson and realized too few of your students learned what you taught? You’re not alone! We’ve experienced this numerous times in our years as classroom teachers and in our current roles. In this blog post, Gabe shares his experiences from teaching and his role as elementary school principal. Together, we share insights from our collaboration and shared experiences.

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Gabe:

After 20 years of working with elementary school children, I finally started to find answers to the pedagogical questions nagging me since my first days teaching mathematics. I also realized how powerful it is to expand my understanding of math concepts beyond the narrow scope I’d experienced — and taught — my entire life.

As a systems thinker, I’d constrained math instruction to a series of prescribed steps, completely disconnected from the mathematical concept. I streamlined tasks into a sequence that could be introduced and modeled — steps that students could rehearse as many times as necessary. Most lessons were a version of,

Here’s the lesson objective, relevant vocabulary, and the steps we need to follow. Now, we will practice these steps as many times as we can before lunch.”

Over the past two years, I began to emerge from my constrained view of math instruction. More than any other aspect of teaching, math instruction is the domain I would revise if I could revisit my years as a classroom teacher. Now, as the principal of an elementary school, my role is to be the lead learner. To me, this means I must first experience the steps it takes to learn new instructional strategies and implement them in classrooms at various grade levels. To do this, I schedule the time to co-teach math lessons in classrooms at the school where I work.

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