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TIP – If placing students into groups either 1) give instructions BEFORE assigning students to groups, and/or 2) provide written instructions once students are placed in groups.  This will eliminate the need to raise your voice above the chatter,and repeat instructions a million times.  In the end, you maximize your precious instructional time.


I wrote the following post on Edubloggers – a group for those people blogging about the K12 classroom including teachers, administrators, curriculum directors, professional developers, pre-service teachers, and college level educators who focus on k12 education.:

Please share with me websites or resources that would be helpful to future and preservice teachers. I am the site author of – a free site that supports pre-service teachers.

Here are the responses:

  1. – non-profit that helps people get certified to teach through an online program – we have $150 off in January as a promotion for people who want to get certified – help for future charter teachers – podcast for new and aspiring teachers
  2. New Teacher Center: – Since 1998, the New Teacher Center has served over 49,000 teachers and 5,000 mentors, touching millions of students across the country through comprehensive mentoring and professional development programs.
  3. – Educational Visual Aids, where teachers get paid for their original ideas of educational visual aids. Teachers can find other visual aids that teachers have used that have worked for them in their classrooms.
  4. I have a message board for pre-service and new teachers and answer questions about curriculum, organization, classroom management, working with parents, colleagues, administrators, etc. on Advice is free. 🙂
  5. A few more ideas: for parental involvement, especially with the growing Latino student population, try Colorin Colorado at On my LinkedIn profile page there is a list of sites specifically for improving parental involvement. Another idea is Teachers Pay Teachers at It contains a lot of inexpensive resources that will benefit new teachers. I also suggest connecting with professional learning communities like edWeb at Good luck!


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    5.0 out of 5 stars So Simple Sooo Helpful WOW, September 29, 2008

    By Eileen (Albuquerque)

    This book is a must have!! I always read reviews and consider what the reader says, well please believe me, When I say get the book. It is so simple to ready I couldn’t believe the insight it gives and tips for Students, Pre-service teachers and Student teaching. I highlighted and tagged pages. I am very pleased!! Eric did an awesome job on creating a book for the “unknowns” A lot of websites and examples, book references. Again a very great book for Teachers to be, get it early.

    4.0 out of 5 stars Good book to get you started, July 10, 2009

    By Laura (Tacoma, WA)

    I bought this book right before my student teaching, and while I didn’t use it so much before my student teaching (despite there being a whole section dedicated to the pre-service teacher), it came in handy for what to expect during student teaching and what to do after. There is a website for the book that gives you extremely helpful information, such as the most asked interview questions, to help you prepare and land a job.

    If you need some help with the unspoken “rules” of student teaching, or some tips to get a job, this book will help you. Establishing networks in bigger districts is a little harder to do, but those sections may work for smaller districts where there is only one high school, etc.

    5.0 out of 5 stars Great resource, July 5, 2008

    By Rob (Seattle, WA USA)

    This book came in handy as a student teacher and when applying for teaching jobs. I appreciated the strategies on how to jump-start my student teaching on a positive note by creating relationships with my students and CT. Even though I have now completed my student teaching, I will continue to use many of the book’s classroom management and discipline tips in my own classroom, such as the question & answer box and bellnote activity. I recommend this to any student teacher.”

    Pick up your copy today!




    In my district, I am evaluated twice.  Is that enough to identify areas of improvement, provide targeted professional development and feedback, and measure its impact on student achievement?  Absolutely not.

    Evaluation as a Tool

    Don’t wait or hope for administration to tell you how you are doing or what you can improve on.  Rather, use the single most important resource in your class: the student.  The student knows when they are learning, engaged, and in a productive learning environment.  Twice a semester (4 times a year) I ask my students to evaluate me on a series of criteria: curriculum, instruction, learning environment, teacher professionalism, and teacher support.  I do this for every class.  Sometimes I create a quantitative analysis from the results, but most of the time I can just look at the data/comments and get a feel as to how to improve.  I usually then jot down my thoughts and steps that I will take to improve.  It’s the only way I can remember it after a few weeks, plus it provides a record (baseline) that I can measure my progress against.

    It’s a little unnerving at first, but the more I do it the easier it is.  Couple tips before implementing this:

    • Give a word about how you take this serious, using this data/info to change your practice.
    • Ask for constructive feedback, reinforcing the idea that they should not hold back.
    • Tell students not to write their names on the evaluations.
    • Have a student collect the surveys in a manila folder
    • Avoid giving this right after doing a REALLY FUN activity or bribing them with candy; this defeats the point


    Once you receive this date, pick 1-2 items you can improve.  In my latest review, students ranked me lower than I would like in “listening to their needs.”  Problem is I start class right at the bell and I am off running, leading to little time for 1-1 student comments/concerns.   This is not to say I don’t address individual student needs, but its an ares that I can work on.  So, I decided to take action.  I decided to implement a question/concern box (wrote about this in my book) that I used in middle-school.  I have students put their questions (not related to curriculum or day’s objective), concerns, and/or comments in the box.  I then reply to the students within 24 hours, via note or call home.  It’s really effective, allowing for more instructional need and attention to the students’ needs.  Students are happier; not to mention, I am calling home more often, which is a positive.

    I look forward to seeing how my students will evaluate me next round in this area!

    Please see attached a copy of the evaluation I have my students use on me.  If you have one yourself, please email me ( and I will post it as well.


    Student evaluation of teacher effectiveness

    P.S. If you are a student teacher, this is  great evidence of your ability to evaluate and reflect on your own practices.  Be sure to include your reflections in your teacher portfolio.

    Jessica Merritt at Smart compiled and nicely organized a list of 100 free web tools.  Check it out here.  It will benefit any teacher.

    When I am tired my teacher desk looks like a wonderful refuge.  From there I can view students, catch-up on some small minor administrative tasks, and perhaps get grading done.  Caution!  There are downsides.  For one, the computer can be (and usually is) a distraction.  The Internet and, of course, e-mail takes our attention away from ensuring are students learning, especially when our email has an alert where  a bubble pops up for every new incoming message.

    Do effective teachers sit at their desks throughout class?  I would argue they don’t.  I recently had my ed. students list one teacher.  Then I asked the students to evaluate their effectiveness with a simple 1-10 ranking.  Finally, I had the students put a % of time they perceived that teacher was mobile, i.e. standing in front of the class, walking around, monitoring student learning, answering questions, addressing concerns, building rapport, etc.  The findings were conclusive.  Teachers that received effective to highly effective scores had mobility of 80-95%, meaning 80-95% of class time the teacher was mobile.  The ineffective teachers had mobility of >60%. 

    It’s clear that teachers that were closer to the learning environment were making a bigger impact on student achievement then those teachers who routinely assign work to the students then sit behind their desks. 

    My advice to student teachers is to avoid the teacher’s desk all together.  Don’t even tempt yourself.  If you find yourself plumped down at the desk, then simply remove it.  Push it against the wall.  Use it for your paperwork and office supplies.  This has worked for me.  When I do have time during class to grade or do paperwork, then I will sit with the students in a random desk.  It puts me right where the learning is, allowing me to quickly respond to student misunderstanding, and misbehavior. 

    Try it today.  Lose the teacher desk and burn some additional calories.

    I came across an interesting post today.  I believe it accurately depicts the pressures we, as educators, face on a daily basis.  The post is an open letter to the next president-elect.

    Dear Mr. Soon-to-be-President,

    I’m a teacher and I’m tired.

    Does that surprise you? Do you find it hard to believe that a guy who works “only 180 days a year” can be wiped out by November? Is it hard to believe that teaching can be exhausting?

    It shouldn’t.

    On top of the daily challenge of planning, instructing, assessing, remediating, and enriching to meet the individual needs of the 85-plus children that roll through my classroom each day, I wrestle with the constant mental pressure applied by a country caught in the grips of a “crisis mentality.

    Now, aspiring and student teachers can order Road to Teaching as an e-book, SAVING close to 40%!

    Preview my book at for free.  Learn how to differentiate yourself in your teacher preparation classes, create a positive relationship with your cooperating (master) teacher, establish effective classroom management, perform well in your interview, and much more.

    Purchase your copy as an e-book version ( $8.99) or as a print version ( $13.99).

    Award-winning director Davis Guggenheim ‘s documentary TEACH is now available online for free at

    “TEACH chronicles the determination and commitment of four young teachers as they fight the real fight: educating our children. 

    Davis Guggenheim’s award-winning documentary reveals the human side of the story: showing what it takes to survive the first year teaching in America’s toughest schools. (35 min.)”

    I just spoke with a friend that is student teaching.  The word “stress” popped up in our conversations several times.  He is doing what every student teacher does, putting 110% into the experience.  He is starting to feel fatigued and, overall, stressed from everything: lesson planning, school involvement, family communication, grading, paperwork, etc.

    I shared with him one of my favorite quotes from Road to Teaching that reads:

    The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs.  The chicken is involved; the pig is committed.” – Martina Navratilova

    While it’s important to be involved, my advice to my student teacher friend was not to be the pig.  Don’t over commit to activities outside of class and, in the end, you won’t get burned-out / slaughtered from the pressure.  For example, instead of committing to coach the basketball team, volunteer to be fill-in when needed or maybe even be the assistant coach.  Rather than taking lead on planning a big school-wide event, take a smaller role or just simply volunteer for a few hours.

    Also, it’s okay to say “no.”  Your cooperating teacher, other teachers, and administrators understand that you are under a lot of pressure and you have some type of personal life outside of the school.


    Road to Teaching: A Guide to Teacher Training, Student Teaching, and Finding a Job