Category Archives: Uncategorized

BODY LANGUAGE – ONE MORE TOOL IN THE TOOLBOX!

As teachers, being able to build a relationship with each child in the classroom so as to be able to motivate them to learn requires great skill. I believe that the teacher’s knowledge of age-appropriate content is only half the battle. The other half is being able to read the child’s present mental status and communicate the information in exciting and age-appropriate language.

Using Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory, The teacher needs to have dominant interpersonal and communication intelligences. Those are what they need each and every day.

Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences are:

  • People Smart (interpersonal intelligence)
  • Word Smart (linguistic intelligence)
  • Math Smart (numerical/reasoning/logic intelligence)
  • Physically Smart (kinesthetic intelligence)
  • Music Smart (musical intelligence)
  • Self Smart (intrapersonal intelligence)

Over the years, I toyed with the idea of giving teaching candidates the Myers–Briggs Personality Test. There is a short version online. You may disagree, but I always thought my teachers should be E, N, F, J!

Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I),

Sensing (S) or Intuition (N),

Thinking (T) or Feeling (F),

and Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).

There is a new paper out titled Understanding Body Language by Edward C. Blanchard (https://bit.ly/3EYFjfk) and it occurred to me that teachers sure could use more assistance understanding their students. It states,

“There are many forms of communication and sometimes a person’s body
language can actually indicate more things than the spoken word.
Learning to understand body language can be very beneficial both in
the work environment as well as on a more personal front.”

Teaching is emotional, teaching is relationship building, maybe this can help us better understand our students.

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NEED A WHITEBOARD?

When COVID19 started, the college at which I teach went to teaching online. I had to go out and purchase a white marker board in order to teach virtually from my bedroom. Although the pandemic is not over, we are now back on campus and teaching in person. But should we go back to virtual, I will definitely look at this system which I just saw advertised. bit.ly/3zLMHrN.

Need something from Amazon.com? Save here with this link!

Image

Share resources, assign lessons and lead workshops directly from your Miro board using presentation mode.

Evaluate and adjust with easy sharing, commenting, and linking — plus, an endless canvas for iteration.

The online whiteboard for remote collaboration!

Bring your team together, no matter where they work!

Built-in collaboration! Keep everything on track with tools like chat, comments, sticky notes, and video, which make communication and co-creation simple.

Make meetings more inclusive, engaging, and fun with icebreakers, voting, and a timer for group activities.

Ideate with your team in real-time or asynchronously using sticky notes, frameworks, mind maps, and more.

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Common Decision Making-Mistakes to Avoid

Teachers make a lot of decisions every day. From the mundane of who is first in the line to the most important of who passes to the next grade. Most of the decisions are about details, and our day is the sum of all the thousand little decisions we make and these decisions have a huge impact on our daily happiness and success. Yet most of us never question whether our decision-making process is sound or not. It seems to me that in order to have a successful day, one where the students learn and are joyful, we must have a decision-making protocol that we go to throughout the day.

So here are 28 common decision making mistakes to avoid, by Frank Sonnenberg:

1 Shoot from the hip. Failing to consider relevant information.
2 Yesterday’s news. Basing decisions on outdated information.
3 Define the problem. Losing sight of the key objectives.
4 Learn your lesson. Failing to apply lessons learned from previous experiences.
5 To-do versus must-do. Addressing low-priority activities just to check off items.
6 Emotions get the better of you. Making important decisions in a poor frame of mind.
7 False assumptions. Failing to consider personal bias or inexperience.
8 Frame of reference. Making decisions in a vacuum.
9 Analysis paralysis. Waiting for every piece of information before making a decision.
10 Garbage in. Relying on sources with poor credibility.
11 Fear the worst. Avoiding a decision out of fear of making a mistake.
12 Band-aid solutions. Making a quick fix rather than addressing the root cause.
13 Ego. Failing to request or consider input from people in the know.
14 Take the good with the bad. Failing to view the downside as well as the upside.
15 Jump the gun. Selecting the first option rather than exploring alternatives.
16 Plunging in. Rushing to judgment without understanding the ramifications.
17 Piecemeal. Optimizing a single component at the expense of the whole.
18 Fixed focus. Failing to account for a changing landscape.
19 It’s all in the details. Giving inadequate thought to implementation.
20 Silver bullet. Doing what’s easy rather than what’s best.
21 Overly complex. Making implementation overly complicated.
22 Out of sight. Failing to consider opportunity costs.
23 Deer in headlights. Postponing decisions until tomorrow.
24 Cover your behind. Making decisions merely to justify previous actions.
25 Neglecting your values. Selling your soul rather than doing what’s right.
26 Forest and trees. Getting caught up in the details while missing the
big picture.
27 Looking over your shoulder. Spending more time second-guessing
decisions than moving forward.
28 Bury your head in the sand. Avoiding reality.

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TIME MANAGEMENT

Teachers have all been stuck in a negative cycle of procrastination when faced with large, difficult, or time-consuming tasks. Facing the task head-on seems too daunting and can provoke feelings of anxiety, so we instead put it off for later and focus on other less-urgent items. As the deadline approaches, we become even more anxious, last minute panic, compounding procrastination further.

Aside from the obvious downside of missing a deadline, procrastination comes at our own expense by preventing us from using our time efficiently. One way to prevent procrastination is by identifying your “power hours“—the blocks of time when you’re most productive—and arranging your demanding tasks for that time. For example, I personally find I’m most productive in the morning from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., before the business of the day requires more of my attention. You can then save your least productive times for smaller, more mundane tasks, meetings, e-mails, and phone calls.

I use my power hours to write that letter to the parents about a controversial topic, design programs and prepare for the day. I should add here that I am also more productive on Monday and less on Friday. So all difficult conferences, meetings, and projects are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, if possible.

I find that grading student papers and assessments require something between Monday and Friday energy level. Grading with grace and understanding requires more attention than I can give on a typical Friday. To know your specific idiosyncrasies in terms of energy level and attention span is to know and plan to give your very best to each and every student!

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Attention Teachers!! Are you looking for a new job or career?

This is the heading from an ad on Facebook. Of course, they want teachers. Who else has the people skills to deal with children, parents, and administrators with grace? Who better to handle 100 different details expertly, to multi-task calmly, and complete all projects with creativity and professionalism. Of course, they want teachers! They use these skills in their classroom each and every day.

The number one job for the school principal is to put an exemplary teacher in every classroom. Teachers are the backbone of a great school. As such, you can’t just leave their recruitment and training to chance. Parents have every right to expect that their child will have an effective teacher each and every year. As President Barack Obama so aptly stated, “From the moment students enter a school, the most important factor in their success is not the color of their skin or the income of their parents, it’s the person standing at the front of the classroom.”

The principal can’t have a child’s teacher be a gamble from year to year. It is not acceptable for a student to have a good teacher one year and a poor teacher the next. A poor teacher can cause students to experience significant setbacks and they can make the job more difficult for the next teacher by creating significant learning gaps.

Statistics:

  • 40 to 50 per cent of teachers leave within their first five years on the job.
  • These relatively new teachers are leaving for a variety of reasons, but the most common reasons are: they feel burnt out, unsupported, frustrated and disillusioned.

So what can be done? Here are a few thoughts:

  • All new teachers need a trusted friend/coach/mentor for at least the first two years. Someone to ask questions of, vent to, and rely on for a sympathetic ear. No reports to supervisors. The biggest challenge in the first few years is classroom management. They need someone who can tell them war stories of their own and give handy tips for specific situations. The coach must be someone who cares enough for the students and school to want to spend time being a friend and coach. And they really can’t accomplish all this and teach full time.
  • Every teacher, but especially new teachers, should design a professional development plan with the guidance of the administration. In this plan should be yearly conferences, workshops, and/or seminars paid for by the school. Nothing motivates and excites a teacher more than a supervisor and school which is willing to invest in their teachers, the backbone of excellence of the school.
  • Teachers need the tools necessary to be the very best they can be and that includes technology. The school should give their teachers a computer, laptop, or iPad. Anything they need to excite and motivate their students. And then give them the trainig necessary to enhance their classroom with that tecnology.
  • Every school should have a curriculum/Innovation specialist. A person who stays in the know concerning all of the latest in educational pedogogy, especially technology related.  This specialist helps the teacher to reconceptualize, modernize, and optimize the curriculum. Bringing the latest in age-appropriate education to the teachers keeps them on top in their field which is best for their students.
  • The pay scale and bonus schedule should reward lenghth of service. There needs to be rewards and celebrations for every five years a teacher stays at the school with a longterm service bonus at some appropriate number of years. Their efforts, caring, number of students taught, must be recognize as a wonderful and monumental event.
  • The school administration needs to recognize the teacher’ scontributions to their students and the school and show them the appreciation they deserve.
  • The school administration must show their teachers respect and treat them as professionals at all times. They also should demand that all school constituencies show the teachers appropriate respect. This respect and support of the school’s teachers must be part of the culture of the school and demanded of all constituencies.

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For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned!

Teachers have a plethora of details of which to keep track. With a classroom of 20 or more students, or over 100 students for a middle or high school teacher, the teacher has to prepare lesson plans for the class, prepare remediation for those struggling, enrichment for those who get it, and grade papers. Calendars are among the most essential productivity tool a teacher can use. Not only do calendars allow you to keep track of your time in general, but they also give you the ability to schedule all conferences, meetings, and all important events in advance. As a result, you get to prioritize your time better and can be more productive and organized as a whole.

Here is a link that rates the best calendar apps of 2021 from Qode Magazine; https://bit.ly/33YionG. It rates:

  • Google Calendar
  • Timepage
  • TimeTree
  • DigiCal
  • Teamup

Good luck and remember, for every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned!

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The Technology Skills Every Teacher Should Have!

Educators, I know you have a lot to do so as to be a master teacher. We are information purveyors, counselors, graders, caregivers, and entertainers. And now we need to know about this technology stuff. Yes, we do need to know about this technology stuff. Students today are technology natives. They were raised using and intuitively understanding all these gadgets. Research has indicated that their brains are literally wired differently because of this technological environment in which they are being raised.

Essential skills for teachers

So, you also need to be fluent in technology so as to be able to excite and motivate your students to learn. Here is a source for you to check your tech skills. From The Journal, “20 Technology Skills Every Educator Should Have!” (https://bit.ly/3FBb9jD)

  1. Word Processing Skills
  2. Spreadsheets Skills
  3. Database Skills
  4. Electronic Presentation Skills
  5. Web Navigation Skills
  6. Web Site Design Skills
  7. E-Mail Management Skills
  8. Digital Cameras
  9. Computer Network Knowledge Applicable to your School System
  10. File Management & Windows Explorer Skills
  11. Downloading Software From the Web (Knowledge including eBooks)
  12. Installing Computer Software onto a Computer System
  13. WebCT or Blackboard Teaching Skills
  14. Videoconferencing skills
  15. Computer-Related Storage Devices (Knowledge: disks, CDs, USB drives, zip disks, DVDs, etc.)
  16. Scanner Knowledge
  17. Knowledge of PDAs
  18. Deep Web Knowledge
  19. Educational Copyright Knowledge
  20. Computer Security Knowledge

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Why Schools? Why Boys?

I was so saddened by the mass shooting which occurred at Oxford High School in Oxford Township, Michigan, on November 30, 2021. Four students were killed and seven people were injured, including a teacher. After my original shock, the questions that crossed my mind were why schools and why are the shooters usually boys?

Elementary schools are usually smaller, warm, and caring places. They are typically neighborhood schools with many local teachers, where everyone knows everyone else. The PTA meetings are full of interested parents who are supportive of the school. The parents know the teachers love their children almost as much as they do and are very generous at the holidays as a way of saying thank you for what you do.

Then when the children become of early adolescent age with all of the angst and drama that that age brings, what do we do, we put all of the neighborhood schools into one large middle school and then high school. We put all these young people together as they experience many changes, changes as they transition from childhood into young adulthood. These changes include physical, behavioral, cognitive, and emotional-social development. We put them all together when they need personal attention, an adult who cares about them and serves as a role model. This does not make sense to me. I believe that middle school is when they need a smaller environment with close adult relationships. So some of the students get lost in the crowd, boys especially.

By the numbers since January 2000 (Columbine shooting was in April of 1999):

  • approximately 317 school shootings
  • an average of one school shooting every 24 days
  • approximately 312 dead
  • approximately 580 injured

Too many males don’t know how to cry. They don’t know how to express their feelings. They don’t know how to say I’m sorry! “All men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong and repairs the evil.” Sophocles.

Schools are tough places. Students tease each other, call each other mean names, make fun of each other, and laugh at each other. This goes on and on and the pecking order is decided, the ins and the outs. Girls handle this differently than boys. Whereas girls tend to express their emotions, yell, scream, and cry. Boys have been taught to be the strong silent type, like John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and James Bond. As Psychology Today states, “…consider that some of our most destructive societal problems—like wars, homicide, and other violent crime—result from extreme cases of male aggression and hyper-competitiveness.”

Where are the stoic and emotionally bottled-up boys, schools! Who explodes having had enough, boys. So parents and teachers, take care of all of your students, care for them, ask if they are OK, just listen to them, but especially the boys. Let’s head this off, NOW! The gun access is another topic altogether. Love your children/students and listen to them cry out before they get a gun.

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Teacher Tired!

Teaching is an intense career. There are hundreds of details of which to keep track. If you teach elementary school, you have 20 + students to get to know, age-appropriate levels of mastery in 5, 6, or more subjects to teach them, their parents to communicate with, the preparation of your lessons, worksheets and assessments to grade, state guidelines to know and follow, advanced students to challenge, confused students to remediate, meetings to sit in on, workshops to attend, and lesson plans to submit to the office. And children to worry about while not at school.

If you teach in middle or high school, you have hundreds of students during the day to get to know, hundreds of papers to grade, assessments to write, lessons to prepare, state guidelines to know and follow, advanced students to challenge, confused students to remediate, meetings to sit in on, workshops to attend, and lesson plans to submit to the office. And children to worry about while not at school.

This is teacher tired, emotionally, mentally, and physically.

I want to try to help, so here are a few thoughts (maybe they’re obvious):

  1. Make three “Things-To-Do lists organized by the date on which they must be completed, this could be an app on your phone:
  • Things that must be done today
  • Things that must be dopne this week
  • Things that are long term

2. Keep a calendar of all meetings and conferences in one place, again this could be on your computer or an app, and set up a reminder alarm for these.

3. Here is a free ebook with 101 ways to increase your productivity and maybe reduce your stress just a little (https://bit.ly/325iuZP).

Get More Done - 101 Productivity Principles To Help You Work Less & Achieve More

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Eight Ideas I Wish I had Learned Sooner!

  • Teaching is relationship building and emotional. In order to teach/reach your students, you need to understand them, be aware of the baggage they bring to school, and care about them as they are.
  • You are preparing them for a world that does not exist today.
  • Although I understand that memorization is a mental skill that has to be practiced, forget names and dates and teach them how to ask questions.
  • Love of reading is the gateway to higher learning.
  • The ability to concentrate for lengthy periods of time is a learned skill which can be praticed and bettered. Start out performing a task for one minute, then two, then five, then 30, etc.
  • Grit, the ability to persevere in the face of adversity, is what drives your success and achievements. Dr. Duckworth’s research on Grit suggests that when it comes to high achievement, grit may be as essential as intelligence.
  • Failure is learning. Thomas Edison said when asked about his 10,000 failed attempts at a light bulb, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Real failure is when you do not realize how close you are to success when you give up.
  • Students need a happy teacher. A teacher to excite them, to motivate them, to make the information come alive and relevant to their world.

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