Tag: Teaching

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

Encouraging

Leaders work hard to encourage others. Who encourages the leaders? Seeking and investing in ways to help keep our leaders strong and inspired supports the entire organization.

What do you need to hear to be encouraged? Who helps you? Let’s share to help keep each other encouraged. I can share one thing that keeps me encouraged, seeing things that I had a small part in starting many years ago still being done. An example is a bumper sticker to honor a student in a school. It makes you smile thinking about all of the kids who have shared this little but memorable message.

Continue being the solution daily and noticing those little things that make a big difference to others. Seek out ways to find encouragement because you need it just like everyone else.

Checking in and Checking Out

“Good morning; it is great to see you, Trevor! Love your outfit today, Tiffany! Jozie, I saw you and your aunt this morning.”

Greeting individuals in the morning will help to start the day off right. You can easily see if they are doing okay by taking a quick check by welcoming them. Weekends can be great fun, relaxing but they can also have sadness, struggles in them as well. I use to use this phrase when trying to explain to staff about this topic, “We don’t know what we don’t know.” We’ll; we don’t.

This is a true story, and I apologize in advance for my content. Please do not finish reading if you have a weak stomach and a love for animals.

Teaching in my 5th-grade classroom, I had worked to build relationships with all of my students. They felt safe talking with me. A small group came to me and told me they did not know what to do, but a classmate smelled terrible. It was making them feel sick.

I pulled the student during student flex work time and yep, it was awful. I began to talk to him about how things were going with him. He said, “I am having a hard time. Our dog has been missing. It makes me sad.” I am so sorry to hear about your dog. Do you have water at your house? “No.” How do you get your clothes clean? “We have a pile we get them from every day.” Well, you go over to the computer to work and I will see what I can do to help with the water.

I reported to our social worker. She contacted some other individuals and did a home visit. After the kids had left, she came to my classroom to talk to me with the principal. “Did you help them with the water?” We have to tell you about the odor you said the kids smelled. The trailer they were living in was a disaster. The pile he was getting his clothes from found a dog underneath all of it, dead. It had been dead for a while.

I could not speak. I was trying to process what was just said to me. “Mrs. Yoho, DCFS removed the children, and he will not be returning to your classroom. We wanted to talk to you about it first.” Thank you; he told me his dog was missing. I am trying to understand what you have just said, but I am not processing it. My heart breaks for all of the children in the family.

As a new teacher, I learned a lesson from this experience. I needed to check in daily with each student. No, I would not have figured out the details unraveled in the home visit, but I may have discovered sooner about the water issue. My connections with my students needed to be more informed.

Also, I needed to check out with them before they went home. Students throughout the day can have experiences we may not be aware of and addressing them before allowing them to grow bigger.

As an administrator, I used check-in and check-out. I found it to be very effective. At the middle school level, the majority of our students came by bus. I had our administrative team greet the buses and welcome the students each day. We could identify if any of our students were having signs of an off day. We would take a proactive approach to help them.

There are many stories in your journey of life that help provide you with guidance to help others. I will never forget about the missing dog. It is one of those that people would look at you and think, you have made that up. How could you? Who would even think of a story like that?

Check on those around you. Are there people at work you don’t know? Why? Be the person to spread sunshine to everyone, but learn how they are doing. If we all help each other, what a better place it will be! Thank you for being part of the solution daily!

Doctor, Doctor, Teacher, Teacher…what do you say? I have a bad case of…..

Gather facts before you react!

“Don’t presume learning lost to Covid, ” says John Hattie. “While the pandemic will have created some gaps in knowledge, the author and academic warns teachers against making assumptions when it comes to student progress.”-Simon Lock, March 3, 2021 (tes.com)

The impact of disruption to education we can all acknowledge. Lack of equity and availability of access to technology brought the attention to the needs of improvement. Parental support became an even more significant point as everyone struggled with a balance of work, remote learning and then loss of jobs. Can we acknowledge families and individuals were doing the best they could under these conditions?

The majority of children worked independently in their learning and will have developed skills as a result. Reports on the nightly news reported how schools had a drop in enrollment and we’re having difficulty locating children. Families were working to figure things out as the pandemic touched every life differently.

When all of our schools open the doors for face-to-face instruction, we also need to open our minds to new possibilities. Things will be different! Let’s not have the expectation we will be back to “normal.” Defining “normal” can be varied from person to person. Let’s embrace the facts we have learned from this pandemic and we will diagnose then treat each individual. No prejudgement, labels or categories assigned.

“For example, this notion of self-regulation where you know how to monitor your progress and what to do next; I think some teachers are going to be very surprised that some kids have those skills,” Hattie says. “But in many classrooms they’re not allowed to use them, because teachers won’t release responsibility.”-John Hattie

In previous writings, I have stated my belief in the importance of student control of learning. “Education is something we do with children, not to them.”-Brenda Yoho. When we focus on expectations, strategies, strengths, and areas to improve, it develops support for the learner, not the outcomes. Learners understanding of how to respond when they do not know is a skillset with lifetime value.

The importance of how you approach back to school face to face instruction is critical to propel student learning forward and not back. Time is precious as we know and losing any of it with wasted strategies and plans, will not provide our learners with the push they need. Make solid plans now and know students are ready!

Thank you for being part of the solution daily! Helping learners grow to the next level on their journey.

This or That Thursday

All about choice!

As a shopper, don’t you love choices! I have a friend that sometimes, okay all of the time, has a hard time making a decision when shopping. I go in, look at the choices and buy. I do love clearance stuff! Remember from my previous posts; I make a big deal about Christmas, so I shop year-round.

So when looking at teaching and learning, choice makes sense to me. Teachers’ autonomy is essential in creating teaching and learning environments where joy is found. Teachers make choices in how they approach the content and skills students need to master. They are not straying away from the units, content and skills but the approach.

Teachers, given the opportunity, would prefer to develop expertise in a variety of ways to teach reading, depending on the learners’ needs, rather than teaching every student according to one mandated approach. Teachers, in a culture of autonomy, would invest, study, learn and explore more than they do currently. Most of our systems require all teachers to attend the same “professional development” regardless of what stage they are in. Teachers want the responsibility of their classroom. One glove does not fit all and we know this so why do we continue to try these things?

Learners’ autonomy is critical as well. One of the goals we should have is to guide our students forward in building leadership skills. Taking charge and making choices of their learning promotes engagement, ownership, retention, motivation and establishes a foundation for growth.

I have stated my support for student lead conferencing previously. Providing opportunities for students always to have a voice, choice and ability to gain skills to build a strong foundation for their future is always a priority for our future leaders. Accountability for learning does not rest on the shoulders of one, but many. My statement needs repeating, “Education is something we do with children not to them.” Learning is joyful not painful. We want lifelong learners, eager to explore, take risks, innovate and create.

Choice is essential to all of us. We make choices each day in many ways. I hope we can continue to explore ways to support teachers and learners with choice. I have included a link to Dr. Catlin Tucker’s blog which provides additional information. Dr. Tucker is an author to several books about blended learning. Please visit her website, follow her on Twitter @Catlin_Tucker

Would You Rather: Designing with Choice in Mind

Thank you for being part of the solution daily for all of those in need. If not you, then who? Today you make a difference.