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Few subjects get teachers fired up more than discussing homework policy.  Should you give homework?  How much?  How often?  Should parents be involved?  What about late penalties?

Here’s a good post on teachers’ perceptions of homework.

http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teacher_in_a_strange_land/2010/07/fair_and_unbalanced.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+TeacherInAStrangeLand+(Teacher+in+a+Strange+Land)

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I bunkered down in the elementary school library to catch up on some reading.  Shortly thereafter a veteran teacher guided a young student to a table and chair about 20 feet from me.  I continued to read, but listened to the student – teacher exchange.  The student was learning about math, receiving remediation during summer school.  The student looked up to the teacher- eyes wide open – and excitedly inquired: “Wow.  How many books do you think are in here?”  The teacher responded, “Not sure.  Start your math worksheet.  Hang tight and I’ll be back.”  The student exhaled and just stared at the worksheet.

What happened?  Teacher, you missed a fantastic opportunity  to engage the student in the world of math.  Why didn’t you launch an investigation based on the students’ inquiry?  You could’ve incorporated exactly what the student was learning in meaningful way, assisting the student in unraveling the importance of number sense (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and estimation).  You missed the beauty of taking a real-life problem, and then COACHING the student through PROBLEM-SOLVING.

I couldn’t resist.  Once the teacher left, I jumped in.  Within minutes the student and I were plotting our journey to figure out the number of books in our library.  This made me reflect on how many “teachable” moments we miss as teachers, AND how we – all educators – frame and project our views of math to the students.

Check out this video:

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/dan_meyer_math_curriculum_makeover.html

In recent weeks the number of visitors and their emails have been flowing in.  Mostly these are aspiring teachers and job seekers, preparing for an interview or looking for strategies to land a teacher job.  Of course, the teacher interview page, receiving over 200 daily visits alone, and the numerous blog posts are a big hit.

Good news! To further help, I have lowered the price of the e-version of Road to Teaching: A Guide to Teacher Training, Student Teaching, and Finding a Job to $5.49 .  This is a fantastic resource for any job seeker looking for a teacher job, especially in light of the tough job market.  This price reduction is 27% off the original e-version and 61% off the Amazon.com print version.

This offer will only last until end of April.  I hope you will use this book and Road to Teaching’s online resources to help in landing your perfect teacher job.

Good luck on the job search!!!!

Eric

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

I learned a valuable lesson this week: sometimes it’s best not to constantly fight a student to do his/her work, but rather just listen. Case in point, is a student in my computer class. His attendance is atrocious, missing more than 60% of class. When he arrives he does nothing. He is polite and when given direction he’ll do some work, but the second you walk away it’s over. He knows the game. His grade is, as you can gather, a F. Yet, I don’t want to give up on him, especially because he has moments when I see his intellect shine.

I decided to take a new approach – just shut up and listen. I asked the student why he won’t work and what his plans were. He explained that school bores him and he has never been successful within the traditional school model. He went on to say he is signed up for Job Corps and he will be leaving in a few weeks. He said that he learns best with his hands, and he wants to open his own business at some point. I told him that I understand and that I am glad that he is joining the Job Corp versus just dropping out of high school. I asked him what he wanted to learn from our curriculum to be successful in the Job Corps and eventually open his own business. He said, “Excel.” “Okay, Excel is what you will learn then,” I replied. Being this is computer class, Excel is eventually covered. Therefore, I told him that he can create his own projects with Excel and I will be there to guide him when he needs me. He agreed that this was a good idea. For this entire week, he worked on and learned Excel. He even smiled when I showed him how to drag the formulas and create a chart. My only regret is not having an in-depth conversation with him earlier.

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.

A friend tells me that her husband is entering into teaching because it is a “solid job”.  He lost his job and has been looking for work for some time.  She suggested that he become a teacher.  He is in an alternative certification process and will begin teaching within a year.

As her friend I understood the need to provide for the family and have a secure job.  I don’t know if he will make a great teacher or not, but I began to wonder if we have set the bar too low for people to enter into the teaching profession.  As it stands, we have a systemic issue of not identifying and getting rid of low performing teachers, so do we really want to create an environment where someone can earn their degree online and begin teaching in a year?

Wouldn’t it be beneficial to raise the rigor of entering into teaching, forcing future teachers to demonstrate high-levels of competency in their instructional abilities and content knowledge?  Then, amply reward those that make the cut with a professional salary on par with lawyers?  In this scenario, would we need to worry about attracting the best and brightest?  I don’t think so.

My argument is that once we begin treating teaching as just a job, allowing people to earn certification and teach without proper teaching training or proving competency, then, at this point, teachers’ ability to take control of the conversation that teaching is a profession becomes difficult.

What is the impact of a teacher?

How far does it extend?

How many students do we positively affect?

We can’t accurately answer this.  Teachers are told we make a difference, and in our hearts we know we change lives. Yet, it’s hard to point to hard data that really captures the full extent of our impact.  Rather, we see glimpses of our impact: students coming in to thank us, or an email noting how we changed his or her life.  When evidence of our impact bubbles to the surface, it is powerful and refreshing, refueling our passion to teach and make a difference.

I read my high school students’ teacher belief statements this weekend and I had to share what I found.  I assigned this to my students enrolled in our school’s teacher academy – a program that encourages students to enter into teaching.  I was struck by how many of my students were going into teaching because of one teacher’s impact: emotionally, intellectually, or inspirational.

Here are 3 excerpts:

“There are a lot of reasons I chose to teach, but the most signficant one was this teacher I had during 7th grade – Mr. B.  He challenged us to learn at our full potential even though sometimes we learned difficult concepts.”

—-

“It all started when I was in third grade, my teacher, Mrs. K showed us that education could be fun!  She showed me a lot of individual attention that I hadn’t received before.  I could say I loved my teacher.  As I look back on what she did and how she went about it, I think about myself, how I act, and how I care about people like she did.

—-

One day in Language Arts class, Ms. B cried over a student that died due to a disease, and seeing that changed me perspective about teachers; teachers actually cared about students.  I thought since they cared so much and so do I about other people, that maybe teaching could become my career choice.

—-

I will scan the students’ belief statements and email them to the students’ former teachers with a simple note that reads, “You make a difference.”

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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    I spent yesterday guiding my students through the process of developing their belief/philosophy statement on teaching.  I participated alongside my students.  To spend a significant block of time to reflect on my values and beliefs regarding education, teaching, and learning, was quite refreshing.  I haven’t seriously reviewed my belief statement since I was student teaching.  I was amazed and inspired by how much of my teaching practice was reflected in my belief statement.  It makes sense though.  As I write in my book:

    An education philosophy statement is the bedrock of any master teacher; it encapsulates the principles and beliefs you bring to your teaching, creating the foundation to guide your teaching practices.

    If you haven’t review your belief statement, then I encourage you to reflect and answer the following questions:

    • What motivated you to go into teaching?
    • What values and beliefs would an ideal teacher have?
    • What are your beliefs about students, learning, behavior, respect, school systems, etc.?
    • What changes would you like to see happen in our education system?
    • What values do you want to model for the students inside and outside the classroom?
    • Of your beliefs, which ones are non-negotiable?

    Interestingly, one of my students proposed a longer school year for a change she would like to see happen.  Then I asked the class if they would like a longer school year.  Eyes began to shift.  I reassured the students their responses would not leave this room.  Nearly 75% of the students raised their hands in favor or a longer school year.  Hmmmm…

    If you are in the process of writing a belief / philosophy statement then read my post on Topics for Philosophy Statements, especially if you are have trouble writing one.