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Visit TheApple.com to enter to win my book, Road to Teaching: A Guide to Teacher Training, Student Teaching, and Finding a Job.  It’s really simple.  Good luck!

This a great book for aspiring teachers, student teachers, and job seekers.

Book Description

Maximize your teacher training, excel at student teaching, and find your ideal teaching job. This book addresses these unique stages of becoming an educator by providing 50 valuable strategies and insightful advice, allowing for a smooth transition from student teacher to exemplary teacher. Learn how to differentiate yourself through your coursework, create a positive relationship with your cooperating (master) teacher, establish effective classroom management, perform well in your interview, and much more.

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

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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 roadtoteaching.com – a free site that supports pre-service teachers.

Here are the responses:

  1. http://www.abcte.org – 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
    http://www.charterteacher.com – help for future charter teachers
    http://www.newteacherhotline.com – podcast for new and aspiring teachers
  2. New Teacher Center: http://www.newteachercenter.org – 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. http://www.cashforcreations.com – 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 scholastic.com. Advice is free. 🙂
    http://community.scholastic.com/scholastic/board?board.id=emergency
  5. A few more ideas: for parental involvement, especially with the growing Latino student population, try Colorin Colorado at www.colorincolorado.org. On my LinkedIn profile page there is a list of sites specifically for improving parental involvement. Another idea is Teachers Pay Teachers at www.teacherspayteachers.com. It contains a lot of inexpensive resources that will benefit new teachers. I also suggest connecting with professional learning communities like edWeb at www.edweb.net. Good luck!

RESOURCES

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    A student teacher asked me when should he begin working with their CT?  The student teacher was a bit nervous because he is being placed in the Fall for his field service, and he has yet to learn who his CT will be. I explained it’s not time to worry. If he hasn’t learned of his placement by early-mid August (school starts in September), then he should contact the responsible party for his placement.

    If he does learn the details, he should contact his CT as soon as possible to set-up a meeting. During this informal meeting, discuss expectations, students, curriculum, etc. At least this will give an opportunity to begin devising lesson plans and freshening up on the curriculum topics.

    It’s likely that his CT will ease him into the classroom, allowing him to take a more active role over time and develop relationships with students. Maybe in a week or two the CT will then gradually hand over teaching. HOWEVER, this varies from CT to CT.

    My CT was awesome. We worked together to set an appropriate pace for my involvement and taking control of the class. Also, I was able to have almost free reign over how I could deliver my lessons, creating an environment of experimentation of instructional best practices that I learned in my education training. On the other hand, some CT are not so easy to work with by limiting the amount of initial involvement student teachers have with their students and expecting their student teacher to follow their curriculum and instructional style. Regardless of who you get as a CT, just be sure to effectively communicate (the good and bad), keep a positive attitude, and take away as much from the experience as you, even if it’s not ideal.

    We can’t get through the day with0ut hearing about the economy.  Well, the bad economy has impacted education, specifically teacher hiring.  In some districts, hiring has been frozen.  Why?  Districts have no money for new hires or they are waiting to see how the stimulus money will trickle down from the the federal level to the state level to eventually the district level.  This weekend I spoke with a principal who said his hands are tied.  He can’t move on any hiring until this summer (when the District will release their budget).  This is extremely frustrating to principals who tend to want to wrap up their teacher hirings in April and May.  Its even more frustrating to aspiring teachers (job applicants) who are wondering when they will get an interview.

    I asked the principal what his advice is to those teacher job applicants.  His advice was to ” keep being persistant.”  Here are some other ideas:

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    Concern

    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

    Problem/Solution

    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 (eric@road2teaching.com) and I will post it as well.

    RESOURCES

    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.

    Here’s another recent comment about addressing poverty in the classroom!

    Previous Post- “Poverty is a big problem! It does affect my students’ ability to learn. There are just some things teachers can’t solve”

    I completely 100% disagree with this comment. I am a student teacher and am going through the program now and I believe that there are lots that teachers can do to ENCOURAGE their students. If having the mindset that teacher’s can’t solve some things, this is just an excuse to not give effort. Sure- teachers can’t solve or find an end to poverty, but for the number of student’s in their classroom teachers can do their part to ensure all students are having the opportunity to learn.

    Creating an equal level playing field in the classroom is a good way that teachers can help. It is a good likelihood that student’s that are induced in poverty don’t have high self- esteem (this is not always the case) and we as teacher’s can do our part to make everyone equal. With the mind set that poverty affects student’s learning this is not providing the motivation and support they need! Student’s shouldn’t be given special treatment but they should have the same opportunities.

    It is shown that fine arts is perhaps one of the best areas for student’s to be equal. Math and science are sometimes more difficult for these students as they may not have time to do homework or recieve help. Fine art is something that all students have a chance at and provides opportunity for everyone. If the teacher is worried about overty affecting the students learning- perhaps you could start a tutoring sesson at lunch and/or after school for ALL students. This way the students that are in poverty have the OPPORTUNITY to recieve help and again, it levels the playing field. Not all children get help at home, and some will most definitely need it.

    Teacher’s that are concerned about their students need to go the extra mile to make a difference. If teacher’s want to make a difference then they must do their part to exceed and succeed. Pointing out the benefits and motivating all of their student’s to do the same… go the extra mile! Teacher’s CAN be the ROLE MODEL for these students. Yes, student mentors are great but so are teacher’s themselves because student’s can trust teacher’s and therefor, the teachers can be the role model.

    Overall, every student needs to be given an opportunity and motivation and support! Teacher’s can TRY to make a difference! Even if it is to the two or three students in poverty in their classroom. Every little bit of effort helps!!

    Do you have a comment?  Should teachers ignore poverty’s impact?  Click here to post your comment.

    Jessica Merritt at Smart Teaching.org 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.

    Thank you.

    Since its’ launch last summer, Road to Teaching has grown considerably.  Over 11,000 aspiring, student, and beginning teachers visited this website, learning about teaching strategies and topics, discovering resources, and finding support.  

    This growth couldn’t be possible without the voice of our contributors, teachers collaborating, and people around the world emailing in their insights, stories, and teacher interview questions.

    We recently won “Best of the Web” by TeAchnology.  Also, we parterned with TheApple.com  to futher support student teachers.

    What’s New

    Road to Teaching continually focuses on three areas:  talking about student teacher topics, providing additional teacher interview questions and answers, and expanding our list of effective vocabulary strategies.

    Student Teacher Topics

    Our number of posts addressing student teacher topics continually expands.  To make it easier for our visitors, we have started to categorize the various topics: parent/family communication, stress management, and much more.

    Teacher Interview Questions

    Recently, we launched possible answers to teacher interview questions.  These are excerpts from the book Road to Teaching: A Guide to Teacher Training, Student Teaching, and Finding a Job.

    Effective Vocabulary Strategies

    Check out our new page dedicated to gathering effective vocabulary strategies. Please send your strategies to eric@road2teaching.com