Tag: Teaching

Raise the bar

Do we need to raise the bar or lower it? How does this affect our standards? If you are working in a particular field or area and people are not reaching the current established levels set, what is the solution? Change the level, change the preparation, change the assessment or maintain the level? What is the solution?

What is the purpose of standards? Standards are critical to the safety, quality, and reliability of our products. Standards provide the regulations, processes, and services we receive. When we think about standards, we think about health and medical care. We know the people providing care for us have standards they have passed and use to keep us safe. We also believe the same thing about our educational services. There is no area where standards are not vital.

Recently, we have heard the news of shortages in the teaching field. Standards are being changed or lowered to accommodate this need to allow additional individuals to join the educational force. Other areas are having difficulties in finding people to fill their open positions as well. How will this work to accommodate the standards established for the regulations, processes, and services we receive for safety. Do we lower standards, change standards, or what solutions do you have?

The shortages of pilots are causing the airline industry to make decisions on how to change the standards, raise the retirement age, increase pay, and cancel flights to try to keep pilots on duty.

Lowering standards can be found in the education world as community colleges found lowering standards still had a higher failure rate. Preparing students to be college and career ready does not seem to be meeting these low standards, so the solution to lowering standards is a deeper issue. We need to look at the preparation of students coming from high school to college and then from middle school to high school. Where in the chain is the link the weakest? What do we need to strengthen? Meeting these low standards needs to happen first.

Do you know of other areas standards have been changed? What does this mean? What is your opinion? Please share your thoughts as we look for solutions to solve the many levels of the issues uncovered with standards.

Word of the Day

I am a big believer in vocabulary! We do not spend enough time exploring, providing, and giving children time to explore “words.”

It could be because I come from a home where my parents did not know how to read. When I would go to school in my early years, I can remember my Kindergarten teacher saying, “I am sure your parents have read this story to you, but I am going to read it today again.” Nope, my parents had not, and I heard it for the first time. We forget many children do not have rich conversations or have exposure to reading materials or opportunities to visit other places. How can we help to improve their vocabulary for them?

You can join word of the day by having it sent to your email daily. It is a great way to provide yourself and those you teach with opportunities to enjoy a new word daily.

Emolument: Compensation, based on time and length of activity, for employment, services, or holding office and is generally used in a legal context. Emolument is derived from the Latin term “emolumentum,” which could mean either effort or labor, or benefit, gain, or profit.

You can decide to choose your own words for each day. Maybe you want to focus on positive words, vocabulary words used in your curriculum or special topic words. It really does not matter the focus of the words as long as students are able to engage, explore and explain the words they are learning.

Encourage students every chance you can to read, write and share!

Brenda Yoho

Five Ways to Lift Learning

The school year is winding down, but improvement plans are being worked on. We should be looking at this time all of the ways we can begin to lift learning, close gaps, and review standards. Setting standards, assessing progress towards standards, and are standards being met are common areas to focus. These are essential areas but are not the primary focus to lift learning.

Standards are the guide we utilize in helping to develop curricular goals. In 2012, a study conducted by Tom Loveless at the Brown Center at the Brookings Institute concluded: “no evidence that is raising academic standards lifted academic performance on a large scale.” A more recent report by the American Institutes for Research and Vanderbilt University mentioned in the article Common Standards Are Not Enough indicates standards are not enough. Further, in the article, several points are made to reference the confusion about using standards.

We know standards can influence learning outcomes and provide guidance in the direction of the development of the curriculum. Our challenge is to utilize standards in ways with the most significant impact. There are five ways we can leverage standards to make a positive difference in learning.

Five Ways to Leverage Standards

  • Development of authentic and purposeful curriculum
  • Standards are in Student-friendly language
  • Formative and Summative Assessments
  • Feedback for students as benchmarks
  • Student tracking of learning (Plan, guide, goal setting)

It is no secret in my beliefs about education. “Education is something we do with children, not to them.”-Brenda Yoho. Students respond positively and will invest more effort when presented with a choice, learning tasks that are challenging and meaningful. When we set standards to guide curriculum development to be rich, relevant, engaging, and with a purpose to grow, our students will rise to higher levels.

One of the first tasks I asked our team to do when we received these new standards was to bring in a group of students from grade levels. I wanted a variety of students represented. Students needed to know what the standards meant-How to read the standards. So we helped to teach them how to break the standards down so they could understand how to read the standard and what it expected them to be able to do. Then when they understood, they could teach their peers.

Next, we needed to work on how to assess the standards. We moved to a standards based report card and used the same format of explaining how to read the standards to present the report card to others. It is essential to help others see how the standards progress and build on learning—alignment across standards and learning experiences and how this continues to provide a solid foundation.

Feedback is an essential piece to the standards as we work to continue to lift learning. Standards are the foundational blocks, but it is in the learning processes students gain the skills to enhance and connect learning. They will continue to move forward as they identify areas they have mastered, proficient skills, and those they need to work on to improve. Students do not all learn at the same pace. They do not all have the same strengths or weaknesses. Students taking charge of their learning build more than just a learner.

The best value I see is the value students give to themselves. We can coach, mentor, and facilitate learning, but when they take control, the learning process becomes more. The purpose of education is to help students grow, and when they follow these guidelines there is no stopping them in the growth they will have. When students understand the value and leverage of the standards, they will develop learning plans we would not have thought to provide. I believe in our children and never give up on any of them.

Be the solution daily by volunteering at a school, mentoring or coaching a child, or simply helping in any way you can so students can develop learning plans to drive their purpose for growth and success.

Give it your best!

To gain high levels of learning we need commitment, focus and flexibility. It is the end of the year and if we have not yet captured our students commitment to learning, they have already missed so much. Why are we allowing it to continue? “It is too late, there is nothing I can do now to turn this around.” I have heard this before, my response always is: Give it your best!

Accepting to learn

We have to guide our students into accepting factors to move forward in the learning process. Even as adults, we need to revisit these steps to take to manage our level of learning.

  • Face challenges-do, do not avoid challenging situations or problems. Handle these first and work through them.
  • Making Mistakes is an essential part of the learning process. We need to learn from our mistakes and work through them to gain a complete understanding.
  • Accepting setbacks in our learning process. We will have setbacks along the learning journey. One glove does not fit all, and we all get to the finish line at different times.

Our traditional instructional strategies provide students with the opportunities to be consumers of the information supplied by the teacher. The pacing is already established, and the routines are based on not allowing for a different pattern of time to include other designs. Students become information receivers, problem getters, and answer givers. No time is set aside for reflection, analysis, questioning, or learning from mistakes or creation.

Role Play

My middle grandson is in first grade. He is an exceptional child and enjoys learning about everything. We were excited when we were asked if we could help him by making a cart for him, he could use to take to school for a social studies project. He was developing a business plan for items he would be selling to his classmates for a profit. Then he could also buy from his classmates as well.

Now I think he is pretty smart! After all, I am his grandmother, but his business plan so far sounds pretty good. He has no cost in the cart. Grandpa and I are using things we have here at home. We did have to buy a couple of things, but they were not much. He has his sister paint pictures of animals for him he will be selling. When she asked if she could have half of the profits from the sales of her paintings, he said no, that was not in the plan. He has stuffed animals donated by family members at no cost. His dad is going with him to help with the setup. He is in great shape for this social-studies project.

This hands-on project has engaged all students in learning about trade, managing money, business, marketing, etc. The teachers have done a great job creating an exciting project at the end of the year. The students will set up their stores and sell to each other next week. I will let you know how it goes. He is currently decorating his stand and making some final adjustments.

Adding value to learning and opportunities allows it to be more than superficial learning. Helping to see the purpose of learning can be an essential step in building the foundation for commitment and dedication.

Opportunities

Providing learning with choices, authenticity, connecting to purpose, and giving opportunities to apply new skills is a great way to help children share their best. So many teachers are creative in how they approach keeping students engaged and excited about learning.

Learning energies of students can help to build their persistence and instill the value of learning. They have opportunities to learn from errors, mistakes, and setbacks when they are provided with a safe place and can contribute freely and create. The best way to learn is when we students can use what they learn to teach others, solve real problems and provide solutions to issues. Learning opportunities are transformed as students are responsible for their learning.

Nourishing Teaching and Learning-Today, Tomorrow and Always

The purpose of education seems to have different meanings when you ask other groups. If we look through the political accountability lens, the goal is to increase standards and raise requirements for test scores to reflect passing levels. Students may see education as just going to school, following the rules, and turning in their assignments. Families look at it as a way for their children to build a solid foundation to prepare for college and careers.

As we look at Teaching and Learning, we will discover more of how our teachers build lessons daily to empower students for today, tomorrow, and all of the days following. Many aspects of teaching and learning support all of the needs of learners.

Students begin learning the first day they enter a classroom. Each day they are present, they must know and take the learning with them. Students need to understand and value the teaching they are doing. This foundational learning from today carries to the skill building of tomorrow. This promotes the growth required to progress.

Each lesson taught must build on what students already know and guide them to the next level of learning. The purpose of this teaching is to help students feel the growth with their knowledge. To understand the engagement and ability in their influence around them as they continue to embrace learning. Our teachers and education system provide a precise direction grade level by grade level.

It is not just about building blocks for a foundation and following a blueprint of construction as we connect the levels of learning. As teachers, we nourish our students ultimately. The whole child is provided with needs to promote enrichment, physical wellness, promoting a moral compass, and overall conditions for well-being.

I hope as I lead others, they will always gain the knowledge and practice: “Education is something we do with children, not to them. We need to nourish our children with the gift of enriched education, physical wellness, promotion of a moral compass, and always engage in ways to think in the abstract while finding better ways to do things. Our job in education is not to teach children how to think, but to provide opportunities to think, ask questions and consider solutions.”~Yoho

Monday Matters!

What Matters?

In education, we measure, collect data, and report on students’ performance at grade levels. However, what matters in the big picture of learning? Accountability of the test scores reported on the school, district, and the teacher in the evaluation process plays an important role. Teachers are asked to set growth goals; schools do the same, and districts are told to keep up. So what matters to student achievement?

“In reality, it is through classroom assessment that attitudes, skills, knowledge, and thinking are fostered, nurtured, and accelerated-or stifled.”

-Hynes

For the last decades, the measurement of what mattered to the standardized test scores did not equal the results in the overall learning capacity. These measurements lead to increased test scores in areas but without increased learning. Students could memorize information but not apply skills. Students need to have a clear understanding of the content and the skills. The instruction and measurement must have a balance between content and skills.

Transferring knowledge to other areas requires students to have a high-level understanding of the skills and content to apply in various contexts. In measuring this level of expertise, it moves beyond multiple-choice and short answer questions. Students will need to demonstrate through problem-solving, analyzing data to conclude, matching learning to a rubric with other anchor papers, or testing a hypothesis.

The critical solution as a takeaway is this: The meaning, purpose, and values students see in what they are learning will play the most significant role in the retention of learning, motivation to use the teaching, and the interest to continue to learn.

I had written before about excellent teachers who were the best storytellers to hook students into learning and those who were so creative! I believe in students being in charge of their knowledge as they lead themselves in goal setting and explaining where they are regarding the learning standards journey. Student lead conferences are the very best as students take charge of presenting their progress.

As you hold conversations with your team on what matters keep these questions in mind:

  • What steps do you need to take to align learning measurement tools and practices in your classroom? School? District?
  • Making these changes would impact students how?
  • What measurements do you have in place? Do you utilize all of them, and how? Do some measure the same thing? Do you have too many, not enough, or not the correct measurements?

Keep in mind the title of the post. What Matters! Student Achievement is the purpose of education. Along with achievement are learning, discovering, asking, inquiry, and stretching minds. It is in finding the love of learning. In addition, it is the character, hopes, inspiration, relationships, understanding of acceptance, dealing with difficulty, mistakes, overcoming trauma, and so much more that matters. Life is complicated, and unfortunately, it starts young with all of its trials. Know your children, families, staff, and community. There are supports for what matters! If you need help finding them let me know. We will be the solution daily for what matters.

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.

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.

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