Teacher’s Lounge Blog

Learn more about teacher preparation, test tips, online learning, professional development, and a variety of other valuable teacher topics.

Teaching Diversity and Acceptance in the Elementary Classroom

June 24th, 2020 | Comments Off on Teaching Diversity and Acceptance in the Elementary Classroom | Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

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Depending on your school district and where it is located, there are a variety of scenarios concerning the “look” of your elementary classroom. You may be situated in the inner city or a rural setting. Many educators are somewhere in between. Your group of students can be a daunting mix of backgrounds that include differences in religion, race, beliefs, socioeconomic status, and ability.

Often, these differences can lead to conflict, both in the classroom and on the playground. The best way to handle these disparities is to teach diversity and acceptance by integrating it into your curriculum.

Here are a few ways to launch discussions about diversity and bias and how to resolve problems you and your children may face.

  1. Carefully select current news stories about a chosen topic and bring them up in class. Build lessons around the theme and incorporate them into your math, language arts, science, and social studies instruction. Articles that feature instances of bias, standing up to it and justice triumphing may be particularly thought-provoking and inspire some deep dialogues.
  2. Children’s literature is an excellent resource for learning more about diversity, prejudice, and social justice questions. There are books on virtually any subject in this area. Read a story aloud in class or have the children read independently and present a book report or create a diorama. Discuss what is most important to them.
  3. Help students learn to accept others who may not be like them in some way. Bullying, teasing, and name-calling are common among school-age children. Setting aside time each week to deal with these identity-related issues helps students grow socially and emotionally.
  4. Utilize popular video games, television shows, and toys to discuss gender stereotypes, disabilities, and other diversity concerns.
  5. When you and your class talk about a bias issue, brainstorm ways to realistically resolve the situation.

The more we can teach our children about diversity when they are young, the better they will be able to handle themselves as adults. It is never too early to start the conversation.

 

How Can I Keep My Students Engaged in Online Learning?

June 10th, 2020 | Comments Off on How Can I Keep My Students Engaged in Online Learning? | Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

It is still not completely certain what our classrooms will look like for Fall 2020. Students and teachers may be back in the classroom with some modifications due to COVID-19. Distance learning may continue like it did in the spring. There may also be a combination of the two.

Most people agree that it is more challenging to keep students engaged in a lesson when it is conducted online. There is a sense of segregation not only for the instructor but the students. Here are a few ideas to narrow the gap and keep children on task and engaged with the lessons you present.

  1. Try a different teaching approach. Online education does not have to be boring or rely on the same methods you utilize in a traditional classroom.
  2. Take advantage of technology and incorporate it into your lesson plans. Make and share videos, create discussion boards, play virtual games, and more connect your class in ways you may not have considered before. Plan activities everyone can enjoy – the teacher included.
  3. Online lessons often need to be shorter than those you conduct in person. Choose smaller chunks of information presented at a brisk pace. Mix it up a little with activities spread throughout.
  4. Make sure each of your students feels valued. Loneliness and isolation are common in distance learning situations. Provide frequent personal feedback whenever possible.
  5. Much of the curriculum can be adapted to a virtual classroom setting, so it is not necessary to “reinvent the wheel.” Keep students busy during lessons with activities that include talking, clicking, or typing to keep them engaged.
  6. Have clear goals both for you and your students to keep everyone on track. A badge or point system or a fun game could provide some excellent positive reinforcement for completed work.

No matter what our classrooms look like for the 2020-2021 school year, it pays to be prepared. Explore the possibilities now so you can help your students succeed in a traditional or virtual setting this fall.

 

Covid-19 Leads to Adjustments in Teacher Licensing Protocols

May 28th, 2020 | Comments Off on Covid-19 Leads to Adjustments in Teacher Licensing Protocols | Certification Prep, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

When the coronavirus shut down the country beginning mid-March 2020, it negatively affected multiple industries, and adversely affected teacher candidates, as well. Not only were in-person college classes suspended, but student-teaching was cancelled or relegated to remote instruction, and teacher licensing exams terminated, at least temporarily. College students who had waited for four years to realize their dreams of being a teacher were left not knowing what to do to ensure that they would be able to land their first teaching positions for fall 2020.

Universities, national testing companies, and school districts are all working diligently to ensure that our newest educators are prepared and have the necessary qualifications to teach this fall. In states or districts where there is a teacher shortage, some requirements have been adjusted or waived to ensure that there will be enough teachers for their classrooms.

The Educational Testing Service and other testing vendors are also modifying some of their guidelines concerning the Praxis exam, which is a required teacher licensing test in about 25 states in the U.S. Since testing centers are closed, there will be options to take the exam at another location with the same strict proctoring guidelines or even taking an online version at home.

Eighteen states that use the edTPA licensing test by Pearson altered their portfolio submission dates to accommodate teacher candidates during this challenging time. Students who registered prior to April 6, 2020, now have their deadline extended to December 5, 2021. Portfolios may now be submitted via a virtual learning environment alternative rather than the traditional in-classroom mode.
Teacher education candidates who feel they may not be adequately prepared to take licensing exams because of the pandemic do have options. Take an online class or two from PrepForward to ensure that all skill sets are covered before taking the accrediting assessment.

The situation continues to change daily as the United States adjusts to new and unprecedented guidelines for safety and disease prevention while ensuring that children receive the same quality education as they did pre-Covid-19. Classrooms may look quite different when the new school year starts. Thankfully, we can help each other prepare the best we can and adapt accordingly.

It is Never too Early to Plan Your Teacher Portfolio

May 13th, 2020 | Comments Off on It is Never too Early to Plan Your Teacher Portfolio | Certification Prep, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Even if you are just beginning your teacher education journey as a freshman, it is wise to think about your portfolio and how it will look by the time you graduate. Your portfolio is the collection of documents that demonstrates your educational proficiency and experience that you present to principals and/or the human resources department at your local board of education when you apply for a teaching position. As you take college classes or add professional development sessions to your repertoire, think about what to include in your portfolio.

A basic portfolio should have:

  • A professional cover.
  • Table of contents that outlines what is included in the portfolio.
  • Your original, personal philosophy of education.
  • Comprehensive educational resume. Unlike a traditional resume, there is no need to limit it to a single page. Many teaching resumes are three or four pages long.
  • Supporting items or artifacts like photographs of bulletin boards you designed, unit and lesson plans you created, copies of awards, certificates of completion for professional development courses, classroom and extracurricular experiences, teaching-related community involvement, student work samples, etc. Emphasize items that demonstrate your skill or knowledge in critical thinking, interest in continuous learning, classroom management, technology, and different teaching methodologies.
  • Unofficial transcript from the college or university you attended.
  • At least three letters of recommendation from individuals like your student teaching supervisor, a college professor, principal, etc.

Generally, school administrators look for teacher candidates who are:

  • Committed to reaching all students and recognizing their achievements.
  • Able to monitor student learning and effectively manage the classroom.
  • Understand and appreciate the subject matter – arts, humanities, natural and social sciences, and mathematics.
  • Capable of utilizing technology in a variety of ways.
  • Knowledgeable about the subject matter.
  • Committed and willing to learn.

There are many options available for developing your portfolio. Check out some samples online. Dedicate a file drawer or plastic bin at home to collect items that relate to your teacher education portfolio. At the end of each semester, sort the documentation and discard what is not relevant. Re-evaluate your collection each school year and begin to organize the information in a systematic way. When you start your last year of college, it is time to develop an inclusive resume and start gathering letters of recommendation. Sometimes these can take a while to accumulate, so start early.

When you are ready to begin applying to the school districts you choose, you will already have what you need to create a professional, organized, and comprehensive portfolio that is designed to impress and get you that teaching position you want.

Newly Licensed Teachers Should become Familiar with Remote Learning Platforms

April 27th, 2020 | Comments Off on Newly Licensed Teachers Should become Familiar with Remote Learning Platforms | Certification Prep, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Most elementary and secondary institutions around the world are closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year due to COVID-19. Hopefully, between now and the fall, things will hopefully get back to “normal” in terms of everyday activities like eating out, shopping and educating young people. However, it is a little too soon to tell what will happen over the next few months.

If you are completing your requirements for a teaching degree, it pays to be prepared for any eventuality for your first teaching job in the 2020-2021 school year. This includes being familiar with remote learning platforms in case they are needed just a little longer than previously anticipated.

Researching, studying and practicing with a few different remote learning resources, particularly those currently being used in the district you want to work in, look great as an addition to your resume and can give you an edge over candidates unfamiliar with them. Developing a remote learning lesson plan to add to your portfolio can also be quite beneficial.

School districts and private institutions are using a variety of online learning models. Select a few of the most popular programs in your area and dig in. Here are some of the dozens of models from which you can choose:

  • Zoom – Virtually meet with others through audio, video, or audio-video platforms
  • Google Classroom – Integrates G Suite services with G Suite for Education
  • Kahoot! – Game-based learning tool
  • Buncee – Share multimedia presentations
  • 3P Learning – Promotes reading, literacy and mathematics skills online
  • Microsoft Teams – Collaborative chat tool for a group
  • Skype in the Classroom – Communication tool for individuals or groups
  • PlusPortal – Class pages, share data, engage with students and parents

There is no telling what next year will look like for educators or students. Without question, current teachers would have been grateful for a little prep time prior to being “thrown” into the remote learning scenario. Completing a little bit of extra preparation now can only help you and your future pupils.

Including Special Needs Students in Your Elementary Classroom

April 15th, 2020 | Comments Off on Including Special Needs Students in Your Elementary Classroom | Certification Prep, Inclusive Teaching, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Hopefully, by Fall 2020, our classrooms will be back to “normal.” We will be in our traditional school environment, standing in front of our students, teaching standard subjects and encountering daily challenges and joys.

While many schools across the country have suspended classes for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year or are finishing up in an online setting, now is the perfect time to brush up on skills that we may have been neglecting due to lack of time or inclination.

One area where many educators struggle is how to handle an all-inclusive classroom. Conventional learning situations often do not apply to individuals with special needs. Take the opportunity now to develop strategies you can implement later for students in your class who are on the autism spectrum, have attention deficit disorders, or other learning disabilities.

Children of all ability levels will thrive when you utilize these simple yet effective tools.

  • Post the list of class rules in a prominent location and review them often. Keep them simple and easy to follow with clear consequences outlined.
  • Utilize visual aids that include images, graphs, charts, computer programs, and videos.
  • Follow a daily schedule and announce changes in advance whenever possible.
  • Peer tutoring has benefits for special needs students and the tutors.
  • Incorporate social skills into daily learning.
  • Focus on everyone’s strengths rather than their weaknesses.
  • Take short breaks between subjects. Sing a song, do some exercises, have a chat session.

For comprehensive preparation for running a strong inclusive classroom with children who have intellectual, behavioral, emotional, or psychological disorders, consider taking Prepforward’s online inclusion course. This state-of-the-art program includes classroom management, teaching strategies, tools for technical support, assessment, and lesson planning. Work at your own pace to determine what you can do to provide additional support to students in your general education classrooms. Use this time to add a continuing education class to your resume.