Closure

appleWhen you have gone through all the steps of EDI you arrive at closure.  But wouldn’t you know it? There is still another step after closure but it doesn’t involve the teacher.  It’s called Independent practice.  This is where you release the kids independently to do a test or a worksheet.  They show they learned the concept through that assessment piece.

Closure is simply checking for understanding (cfu) one last time.  Throughout the lesson you should be using cfu to make sure the kids are there with you.  As a teacher, you adjust your pace to reflect their needs.  CFU is crucial the the dynamite lesson plan.  CFU takes effort. It is something every teacher should use and use often. You simply go through the standard and ask questions to check they know it.  If they don’t? RETEACH.  If they do, go to independent practice. Here are some sample lessons.

Never Mind the Trivialities, Just Reward!

Sometimes I get caught up in the minutae of how I am going to roll out a new classroom student recognition idea. There’s a great program out called Class Dojo and it works really well if you have a plan and you’ve practiced a lot with it. Otherwise, it’s sort of like heading out on vacation in a Ford up on blocks … you don’t go anywhere. How do you get that experience to make it work? I say, jump in and try it. Kids thrive on recognition. For lack of a better analogy, it’s like a pat on the head for them. If you wait until your system is perfect and you’ve spent $1,000’s of dollars on prizes at Oriental Trading Company, you’re going to miss countless opportunities to validate the kids through rewards.

Continue reading “Never Mind the Trivialities, Just Reward!”

What You Should do in the Morning

imageEvery class is different in the morning, even when the daily schedule is the same. While teachers and classes may vary, the needs of schoolchildren are the same. Over time I have found that in the morning you should:

Take attendance. If you don’t the secretary gets annoyed. Plus, it’s how we get paid.

Greet as many kids as you can with a kind smile that says, “I’m glad you are here and that I have a chance to be your teacher. If you miss a few kids, make sure they at least hear you greet a student. This lowers their affective filter and tells them you’re not in a bad mood.

Preview the day. Most teachers do this on the board but I’ve found a pep talk about the day gets the kids more dialed in. Continue reading “What You Should do in the Morning”

The Enigma of Setting Up Desks

Every new year teachers ask themselves “How should I put the chairs?” I know this because I have been a teacher for 13 years and I have seen the amazing difference desk placement and patterns can make in the classroom. I think what you decide to do depends a lot on what your goals are with the given group you have. And finally, the way you teach is very important to how you set the desks up.

Pair Share

If you look into my posts here on EDI and the CFU used in that teaching method you will see that pair share is frequently mentioned. There is a reason for this, I use it all the time. Often times kids can clarify new ideas to each other better than I can in my lesson. For this reason, it is important to me to put desks close enough so that they can engage in pair share. I used to think this could only happen with two desks connected at a time. Later, I tried it with 4 desks in a group. Pair share was not always happening in either of these groupings so I tried rows. These rows were just as conducive to pair share as the 2 by 2 setting. My conclusions? As long as students know who their assigned partner is, the desk arrangement matters little.

Behavior

I used to think rows were the worst arrangement for behavior but the last two years have taught me differently. My conclusion is to try rows this year and make observations about it. Students don’t have a small ecosystem, like a group of 5-6, where they can be distracted. I know it sounds old fashioned but I have tried all the newfangled ways from the modern books. They work ok but just about as good as rows.

Accessibility

I could write on and on about this. I think it is pretty self explanatory what it means. My random non-volunteer calling system keeps them on their toes. At the same time, I value a setup that allows me to get across the room easily from any place. The kids learn quickly that I can get to them and there is less off-task time. However this is achieved is not important so play around with that axiom.

My conclusion:

As many as there are ways to decorate your living room, so are there ways to arrange the desks in your classroom. The specifics are up to you. I value: access to pair share and teacher access to get across the room quickly. Of course there are individual concerns but for me and my year, these are what’s most important.

3 Tips for Teacher Success When Starting Their Career

Once you accept the challenges of teaching, you can be a lifelong success and make a difference with your students. Here are some teaching tips on how to make that happen.


There is a lot you can do to be successful at teaching. Being great at what you do in the field of education has many roadblocks though.  Getting your teaching certificate is just the first challenge. But, once you accept the challenge, you can be successful and make a difference with your students. Again there is so much you can do but here are 3 simple teaching tips on how to make that happen.

At work we a have a single job to do but everyone knows there is so much more to work than that. For example: 1. Effective lessons are crucial and require careful planning, 2. Avoid getting overly involved with your colleagues personally (this is just my personal opinion but it has helped my success), and 3. Practice creating solutions to your teaching challenges.

Effective lessons are very important. You will find many helps on this blog alone. After that of course, a simple search on Google will yield many teacher tips on how to craft and deliver excellent lessons. Devote yourself to this. It is the cornerstone of an effective teacher.

It may seem healthy and productive to spend time after school talking to other teachers but I have found it of little value. In my case, and of course everyone has a different personality, I have found that a staff will expand, contract, and change in number. The faces will change but the challenge is the same: to teach effectively. Especially at the beginning of your career, extra-professional relationships at work can distract you. I have decided to keep colleague relationships, other than collaboration for planning lessons, to a minimum. I leave you to make your own conclusions here.


Finally, be an innovator! There was a psychological study done in the 70’s where a guy looked up in the middle of Central Park. He was looking at nothing but he never looked down. People would walk by and most looked up with him. The message here is to be an innovator or leader in what you do. Others may follow but that shouldn’t be your primary motive. Success is the lighthouse. Classroom and online teaching degrees are great careers but you have to get out there and do them! There are some great books on making a living in online teaching available. This is an example of real innovation. You need grand innovative habits to succeed in teaching.

In conclusion, everyone in their heart wants to be successful. Unfortunately there are a host of forces working all the time against us. I have given only three tips this post. These are three tips that are very important to teacher success. What do you think of them? Please join the conversation in the comments with other tips for teacher success.

Normalizing Your Heavy Haul Trucking Needs

Teachers work to educate every child. For some, the end is college, for others continuing education can take the form of trucking school or other trade route. In all things we support special training to set one ahead of the pack. This kind of training can do many things like help one find the right heavy haul company.

As a manufacturer, if you have loads that go over the normal 40,000 pound limit for full-size containers, there are fewer carriers to turn to when it comes time to send your goods to market.

Because of this, some companies have put together a circle of operators that can handle their specific needs over time. A problem arises sometimes, however, when the freight goes to a new customer out of area or the level of freight service changes within one of the vendor companies that you use.

If you think about it, your work organizing heavy haul trucking companies is actually duplicating the work that most integrated operators like Landstar.com already do for their clients on a regular basis.

Because they focus on building and optimizing their network as the main means of building revenue, they will likely be able to offer you competitive pricing without you having to spend your time updating your operator database.

The choice similar to cloud computing:

When cloud computing first started, it took a while for the companies that offer it to show their clients that their focus on security and convenience and scale meant lower prices and more safety for everyone. Customers simply could not duplicate what companies like Google and Microsoft were doing without having to spend too much time and money to get there.

An integrated service like Landstar.com gives you instant access to a global network of heavy haul operators that are vetted and trained. It also means that you can often send loads of up to 400,000 pounds anywhere without having to waste time on logistics. And when it comes to safety, they are well-known for delivering some of the strongest percentages in the industry- all things that are hard to duplicate in-house without significant cost.

Expanded range of offerings

In addition to being able to use the best operators regionally, nationally, and internationally, most systems also include regular freight operators that can give you competitive pricing and solid service for less-than-container loads and full containers.

And if you find that you are short when it comes to packing or creating pallets, there are also services attached that can perform that work for you so that you do not have to hire people to temporarily create something that they may not be experts in.

Fit your profile

Every industry that utilizes heavy-haul trucking services has different needs. Because of this, if you sit down with a logistics and freight consultant over the phone, they can put together a group of operators that can meet your specific needs. They can then make them accessible to you within your account so that your ordering is seamless and matches your industry exactly.

21st century shipping needs have become more precise and the requirements more demanding. By working with a solid trucking system aggregator you can leverage their focus on maintaining a global network of relevant carriers to save your firm time and money.

The Role of Admin and That of Teachers

With_Supes
Left to Right: Secretary of Education, California Jack OConnell, Me, Superintendent of San Bernardino County Herb Fischer.  2007

Everyone tends to go to pieces when the “suits” aka administration walks in ones classroom. You could be sitting, which can be fine as long as you’re teaching. The most ideal by their standards is that you’re standing, burning calories teacing the future of America. Never mind they may have been sitting all day at their desks processing complaints and categorizing taxpayer funds. You’re expected to be the professional, doing whatever you need to be doing to get every child to the expectation they set. Remember however that you have an intrinsic calling to what you do. You don’t need a suit to be important. You use all the materials at your disposal to help kids gain equal access to the core curriculum. You are the true professional and hero in my eyes.

Most districts have more teachers than mine but mine has about 300. The people who run the district office number at about 6-8. Of course, beyond them there are clerical workers and such but the higher administration number is about that small. They spend the money that taxpayers earn. They decide how much teachers can make and how much can be spent on the curriculum that they choose. Currently, all curriculum we are mandated to use is Common Core. Continue reading “The Role of Admin and That of Teachers”

Intrinsic and External Motivation

Having been a teacher since 1997, I’ve analyzed myself and other teachers quite a bit. One thing I have come to identify is when I am working and planning from internal motivation as opposed to external. Internal motivation has to do with ideals and morals. It is the extra plan you make for Johnny who is in fourth grade and still can barely read (hypothetical name and situation). It is the goals you set for yourself as a teacher and the expectations you set for your kids based on what you think is their best interest.

The external motivation is your evaluator. It is the way you will be perceived. It means putting up a wall that is required as opposed to using creativity to make it your own. I admit we cannot escape external demands on our profession. We must adhere, to a degree, to the required parameters we are mandated to. At the same time, I think it is abhorrent that some teachers identify this as the bare minimum and they only go as far is the external motivators require. There must be a balance.

Someone I knew at the district where I work died today. He was quite young and had a lot going for him professionally. Though he wasn’t in the classroom, he was revolutionizing the profession with technology and training hordes of teachers to use his website. His death was sudden and unexpected. It touched me because I respected his internal motivation. It was clear he wanted to help teachers and students succeed and accomplish great things in math. I remember him that way.

This has me thinking once again about my own motivation. If I want to be remembered for something I ought to be doing it. That is where the internal motivation comes in. Am I being true to my conscience as I plan and teach kids? Or, rather am I getting by on the bare minimum of mandates. Also, health needs to be a concern. It’s not always the I feel the best idea to work harder, sometimes you need to stop chopping and sharpen your axe. teachers are ones who can exceed mandates while being true to their own morals and values as educators. If this post does anything for you I would hope it caused you to ask yourself what your own mandates are. I call that internal motivation.

Some Things About Teaching That Will Never Change

IMGP2724Common Core is the latest change that has teachers and families scurrying to absorb. Yes, it is the law of the law these days, the trend as well. Still, why get bent out of shape over something that is new and eventually, passing. The core standards of California are gone now, as an example. I internalized them along with teachers in the huge state I live in. We made progress toward goals and then they took the goals away. Any time there is change it causes stress. Technology is another thing that is causing millions of teachers to stress. This can, in turn, reduce the effectiveness of a teacher. Do you want to do that to your students? The reality is, rather than focus on the changing landscape of education, you can keep your feet securely planted. There are some things about teaching that will never change. Continue reading “Some Things About Teaching That Will Never Change”