Category: Teaching

Forward Teaching, Self-Paced Learning

Covid-19 placed all of us in the circumstances we did not expect. The approaches to recovery look different in the realms of the business, industrial, and education worlds. Education is faced with an overwhelming challenge to help students at an even more comprehensive range of learning levels than they have ever met before. The approach of plowing ahead expecting students to keep up is not going to work. Now is an excellent time to create flexibility that allows students to progress at a pace that supports their learning. One speed does not fit all, but individual pacing avoids students being left behind or held back. When students can learn at a rate that matches their readiness, they almost always are more successful. I understand, some students may not be exposed to as much content, but learning is much better than mere exposure. The problem we face is the loss of learning time. The solution is to provide an individual learning pace to acquire the foundational learning needed to continue to succeed in the progression of knowledge.

My philosophy of education remains the same as it has always been. Education is something we do with children, not to them. We can choose to be part of the problem or the solution; the choice is always ours to make as students, families, educators, and communities. The learner is not passive. Therefore it has always been my belief they should be in control of their learning. I need to explain this more deeply. provide guidance, curriculum, standards, and expectations. If learners can deeply learn what they are taught, they will be more successful. We need to provide the essentials in our priorities of skills. Our children need to understand how to learn, what interests them in education, apply knowledge to everyday life, and establish goals.

It is an excellent time to consider how students can become more fully engaged in and committed to their learning. Traditionally, schools have relied on compliance as a key driver of student learning and performance. Compliance has worked for some students; it has not been for too many learners. In a remote learning setting, compliance is a low-leverage strategy. We control far too few variables to force compliance. We need to nurture the skills and habits necessary to succeed in a learning environment where learners are co-investors in the teaching and learning process.

The stakes are high as we continue living with the pandemic. It is not time to lower standards but to look at our strategies to help with learning.

Teaching Tips, construction for building Listen Up leaders

What is the purpose of our work? It is to create skilled, adaptive learners who will be productive, positive citizens. Right? We need to give significant thought to our practices. Our students matter, we matter, and what we teach matters.

Absolutely the sequences of history are essential to teaching. We need to know where we have been to see where we are going. Memorizing names, dates, and places is not something we need to spend time doing when the information is literally in the hands of our students, on their wrists, or embedded in their glasses.

I can remember being told what students needed to be prepared for their future jobs. Things are changing at such a fast pace. Do you think we can provide them with the concrete skills they need for the future? We don’t know the content they need or the skills they will perform, but we know they will face circumstances we can prepare them to handle. Students will need to observe, adapt, learn and trust themselves to be their own best teacher. They will need to have a growth mindset and a desire to hunger for learning.

Helping students see the blueprints for learning provides the “big picture” look. Students need to build their capacity. I provided bullet points of the highlights as we made our classrooms for learning. What strategies do you think have the best potential to help develop student capacity? This should be our focus to prepare students for jobs of the future.

Build a classroom for “working learners.”

  • Begin with a blueprint for your workers
  • Provide them with the tools they need
  • Encourage them to look over the blueprints, ask “why” questions to get to the “what” and “ how” of the process
  • Workers need to take their work personally and need to have power in influencing the environment and control of their future.
  • Completing the work on one project can be applied to other projects. Helping workers understand and to see how their learned skills can transfer.
  • Collaboration and teaching each other build skills to strengthen understanding and deepen learning.
  • Looking for solutions, investigating, testing, and analyzing provides workers with opportunities to discover how to question rather than solve. Sometimes solving for a correct answer only misses out on additional learning opportunities.
  • An essential part of “building” is constantly checking to assess the effectiveness and performance, giving feedback, reflecting on work, and determining what works and does not.

Teaching Inspiration and Exhaustion

#Bethesolutiondaily

If you are in the teaching profession today, why? Why did you become a teacher? Most likely, you have a vision of individuals who inspired you to dive into this profession. It is the inspiration that often leads us into the lifelong career paths we find ourselves in today.

Jennifer Gonzalez at Cult of Pedagogy is one of the thought leaders I have followed for several years. I utilized her website/blogs as part of my new teacher mentoring program and, as a principal, sent her tips out in messages to staff.

The piece I am sharing today is comprehensive and follows my philosophy of being the solution daily. Often we identify problems, talk about them, stare at them, and they continue to thrive. Action steps involving change are the catalysts for actual solutions.

As a leader, I have never been offended by her posts. She is straightforward, has strong opinions, and you can judge for yourself if you want to view more. Please take a little time to read her post. It is powerful to me.

As a teacher who worked countless hours then as an administrator, clocking in, even more, I relate to the feeling of exhaustion! I did all my work before COVID, so I know I would not have survived. Blessings to all of our educators!

Create the roads, Clear the Path

Friday Focus-Leadership

Each day we are reminded of the importance of many things, but leadership is essential in every aspect of life. Leadership is the deciding factor of accomplishing the work, goals, and delivery of success to every component in our chain of command.

Make people feel important who work for you, with you, or come in contact with you. Leadership is about motivating others. Show genuine concern for and interest in the lives of your team members, as well as those you serve. Thank them for a job well done – even if it’s a small job.

Validation, respect, and compassion are ways to let your team know you appreciate them. I took time to explore comments made on a Twitter feed from a question posed to a teaching group. The question was: What else can be done to help stop the rapid burnout for teachers? Covid is responsible for the changes of instruction, shutdowns, mandates imposed by the government, but it was not part of all the answers given. The responses were to: Give us more support, value us, show us compassion for our losses, and it continued with similar statements. I heard similar pleas a few years ago in my position as Director of Education Support Programs. The addition of the stress from Covid-19 has added a layer to an already stressed system

What can you do to help your staff or coworkers?

Tips to Help and Support

  • Listen-take time to actively listen to others. Seek them out in their comfort zones and ask, “How are you doing, and what can I help with?”
  • Don’t make a promise- We want to help, but some things are not in our control. Do not make promises you cannot keep. Listening is always a significant first step. There are always a few things we can do.
  • Drop little notes of encouragement on desks after you have visited.
  • Write personal thank you letters and mail to homes.
  • Please get to know what their favorites are and place one on their desk when they need a pick me up.
  • Know their birthdays and send cards.
  • Speak to, say hello, learn everyone’s name and display it as you greet them daily.
  • Notice everything! “Love your haircut!” “Great smile today!”
  • Partner with others- People are willing to help each other when there is a need. Brainstorm ideas together of things to do and people who can support. Here are a few things to think about:
    • Date night for families- Host an evening where child care is taken care of so families can have a few hours together. A rotation within your organization can accomplish this by trading off who participates. One family enjoys date night; the other is helping with the child care activities in a central location.
    • Wellness Weekend- Work with area businesses to gain free access to massages, nail care, workouts, yoga class, or healthcare checkup.
    • Book study group-Professional of Personal fun books
    • Let’s talk-Groups get together to have conversations about work, home, and life
  • Do not fake! Please do not try to fake any of these connections and emotions. Be authentic in your delivery of all of these supports for staff and those you serve. If you are not, it will have the opposite result for you.

Together we travel the road of life. As the road receives many travelers, we need to support each other on these worn-out paths to clear the way for a successful journey. Life is a journey, not a destination. We need each other for continued support to our final destination.

Safe travels to each one and blessings to those seeking to be the solution daily on the road to success.

Tuesday Teaching

As students enter our classrooms, we hope they will be ready and engaged in learning. Academic success is the outcome we want for each student in our classroom, but we know it can not be just our want.

Students need to have a foundation of academic skills, a character of perseverance, and a sense of curiosity. As I make a statement like this, what do you do to spark curiosity in your classroom?

Did you know that research shows “brain chemistry” actually changes when we become curious? A change in our brains has an impact on how we learn and remember information. So we need to pay attention to research to provide the best learning environments.

Tip #1 for helping to build curiosity in the classroom is:

Let’s not start our lessons by telling everything! “Today we are going to learn how to make water!” or “Today we are going to combine some elements and see what happens!”

Making objectives like this helps to keep students curious about what will be happening. In your lesson plan, you have stated the goal: students will learn that hydrogen and oxygen make water, but if we tell them upfront, then the excitement is lost.

As teachers, we have difficulty in allowing students to struggle. Often we rush to provide the answers or solutions instead of giving time to work through them. To help stretch students and engage them more profoundly, we may want to facilitate more confusion opportunities. Why not ask questions with no clear answer. It is hard because we are trying to get all of our curricula taught, but for our students to stay engaged, we have to keep them curious.

Humans are naturally curious! However, curiosity is not a one size fits all glove. Allowing students choice in learning helps in keeping curiosity and engaging learning opportunities going. While we have students curious, we can teach those fundamental skills they may need to fill in gaps in their knowledge. Just like we try to get the kiddos to eat those veggies, we have to get creative in our approach.

Solution Weekly

October 17-23, 2021

Welcome to a great start to a beautiful week! Keep this motivational quote where you can see it this week! Your daily routines can help you discover new ideas, achieve goals and create new ones! Take the step to track your habits this week to see how they are helping you achieve your dreams. Maybe you will find some new goals to set! It will be a great week!

Monday motivation helps moments turn into memorable memories!

“A sense of curiosity is nature’s original school of education.”

-Smiley Blanton

Teaching Tip

As students enter our classrooms, we hope they will be ready and engaged in learning. Academic success is the outcome we want for each student in our classroom, but we know it can not be just our want.

Students need to have a foundation of academic skills, a character of perseverance, and a sense of curiosity. As I make a statement like this, what do you do to spark curiosity in your classroom?

Did you know that research shows “brain chemistry” actually changes when we become curious? A change in our brains has an impact on how we learn and remember information. So we need to pay attention to research to provide the best learning environments.

Tip #1 for helping to build curiosity in the classroom is:

Let’s not start our lessons by telling everything! “Today we are going to learn how to make water!” or “Today we are going to combine some elements and see what happens!”

Making objectives like this helps to keep students curious about what will be happening. In your lesson plan, you have stated the goal: students will learn that hydrogen and oxygen make water, but if we tell them upfront, then the excitement is lost.

Wisdom

Which comes first, wisdom or knowledge? Wisdom is built on knowledge. So does that mean you can be both wise and knowledgeable? Then you can’t be wise without being knowledgeable. What do you think?

Leadership

Make people feel important who work for you, with you, or come in contact with you. Leadership is about motivating others. Show genuine concern for and interest in the lives of your team members, as well as those you serve. Thank them for a job well done – even if it’s a small job. Validation, respect, and compassion let your team know you appreciate them. I took time to explore comments made on a Twitter feed from a question posed to a teaching group. The question was: What else can be done to help stop the rapid burnout for teachers? Covid is responsible for the changes of instruction, shutdowns, mandates imposed by the government, but it was not part of all the answers given. The responses were to: Give us more support, value us, show us compassion for our losses, and it continued with similar statements. What can you do to help your staff or coworkers?

Many blessings to you this week! I look forward to your comments, questions, ideas, and thoughts. Conversations are shared to bring about possibilities of new ideas, thoughts, and solutions to problems. During my time away, I lost a treasured member of my family, experienced a horrible call where I almost lost another member, but she is recovering now; thank you, God. I was able to spend time with other authors and friends to continue to learn and grow.

Coming soon!

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Let’s take a StoryWalk

Teachers, if you do not know about StoryWalks, please take a look at the following article! I love it! As a 5th grade teacher, we did many different things to engage readers, but this is the best idea ever!

I can see how you can utilize this as a fun family night activity! So many things you can do. The author of the attached article “walks” you through creating, selecting, and organizing a StoryWalk. I can see the creation of mystery walks during fall. We can make a fun StoryWalk about our school, community, or state. How about science? A StoryWalk through a human cell?

I have worked with some very creative teachers and administrators who could, I know, do amazing things with StoryWalks. If you do one, please, please share with me. I would love it! Happy to share with others and brag on you! This seems so incredible to me.

I am looking forward to seeing your StoryWalks! If I can help you with ideas, send me an email at Yohobren@gmail.com.

https://www.edutopia.org/article/fun-way-engage-students-minds-and-bodies-books

Make Monday Meaningful

Each day we set out to accomplish all of the things on our to-do list, lesson plan, or get the items on the grocery list still sitting at home. Life happens, and we make the most of every situation, just like Mahatma Gandhi in this story:

Gandhi went to board a train one busy day. The train began to move, and he made a jump for it. As he jumped, one of his sandals fell off and landed on the platform. He had no time to get off to retrieve the sandal. Looking down at his one sandal, he made a snap decision. He took his one sandal off and threw it. It landed right next to the other one.

The people on the train looked at him strangely. One individual asked, “Why did you through your sandal?”

Gandhi’s answer, “One sandal wouldn’t do me any good, but two sandals would undoubtedly help someone else.”

There is no one I can reference for this story, but you can find it summarized in many places with the same primary components. The meaningful message in this story is to choose what to focus on and what to leave behind. The sandals had served their purpose for Gandhi but left with one; the purpose was gone. Providing the opportunity for them to help someone else was the best solution.

In our busy days, it is easy to be distracted and to focus on things that we may need to let go of. Take a look at the time of your day. How much do you have to accomplish the tasks you have marked essential? What prevents you from achieving this? Is it emails? Social media? Student behavior? Other interruptions?

Reflection Time

  • Take a good look at your time on task. This gives you a real opportunity to review the quality of time you are spending on the job you want to achieve.
  • -My example of this would be an administrator wanting to get into a block of classrooms to provide feedback on instructional time used for a particular standard in the data report. Specific targets to help teaching and learning.
  • -My example of this would be a teacher wanting to check students for understanding new concepts by being distracted by student behaviors.

Connect with your colleagues and discuss areas you feel are distracting and taking your focus away. Do they have similar issues, what solutions and strategies do they have?

Let’s keep this conversation going as we continue to keep our focus on what matters most. “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of the things which matter least.”-Johann Wolfgang con Goethe

Students “Don’t Care,” Do they?

Have you heard this, thought this, or said this? As you glance in a classroom, talk to students or staff, you get an idea of this statement.

Sometimes we are quick to place a label on something without further examining the roots to discover a solution. Engagement is our go-to word. Students are not engaged in learning, so they do not care. Whoa, stop! This is a snap judgment call without really diving in to look at solutions.

I have included a link below to a great article from EL Magazine. It is a quick read packed with great insight on how to look at barriers students may have as they face learning.

Standing in front of the class and giving information in hopes students will receive it with learning, as a result, is not a reasonable expectation. Then to think they can take this information and apply it. Well…

Students are not always interested in what we want them to do in the classroom or to learn. This does not mean they do not care. We have not uncovered how to motivate them with their interests, ways of learning, removed barriers or found the right strategies.

Students need clear feedback, a success that is important to them and to know peers are not judging them. Helping students reach their full potential can be accomplished.

http://bit.ly/2WbJ2pK

Lifelong Learning

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”~William Buttle Yeats

The moment you take your first breath until you take your last, I believe we are learning. The level of our learning depends on what we desire to do. The limitations to learning are the ones we place on ourselves. Others may place barriers in our way; there may be challenges we encounter and obstacles to overcome, but our desire to learn moves us forward.

Lifelong learning is more than building skills for career development; it can be for self-improvement, self-fulfillment, maintaining a healthy brain lifestyle, expanding experiences by learning new things, languages or connecting more with others in groups.

Helping to keep lifelong learning as an essential part of our lives is to be the catalyst to keep it going. As a parent, you are the center of your child’s beginning of life. You supply the ingredients needed to spark the desire to learn, try new things, and explore. This continues as children grow, but more layers of support are added to provide additional sparks to ignite interests of other critical and creative ideas. Teachers are the core to the continued growth for learning and development.

As children and teachers head back to the classrooms, we must keep in mind the importance of establishing the desire to learn daily. Not to settle for just getting by, not doing just what you need to do, but to ask questions and more questions. Critical thinking, creative thoughts, innovation, curiosity, and imagination bring many ideas to learning.

How are you stretching your mind each day? Do you have suggestions on how to engage others in learning? What will you learn today?