Teacher’s Lounge Blog

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

The Teacher That Students Appreciate

May 10th, 2018 | Comments Off on The Teacher That Students Appreciate | Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Education is not a thankless job. A special day has been designated as “Teacher Appreciation Day.” With our own calendar event, it’s worth asking, “What do students (and parents) appreciate in teachers? What merits appreciation?”

I’ve read some comments of students and thought about my favorite teachers. For starters, students appreciate teachers who…

Affirm Values
Teachers are trained to lead. Wise teachers recognize their power to mold the thinking of their students. They find a way to keep their classroom from being a place to push their own agenda, and they affirm wholesome values in others. They challenge their students to evaluate their positions fairly; then they empower those students to live out their values in real life.

Love the Subject
Even those students who could win an Olympic medal in scholastic avoidance appreciate a teacher who understands the nuances of the subject area. Who hasn’t fallen under the spell of a teacher who found his own subject area so engaging that he couldn’t help connecting every student-led attempt to get the lesson off track back to math…or literature…or finance?

Teach Till They Learn
By middle school, and arguably earlier, students recognize that learning comes easier to some kids than others. Students appreciate that teachers who can patiently come alongside the slow learner and at the same time facilitate genius. There are those teachers who make sure the lesson has something for the kinesthetic learner, the verbal learner, and that quiet introspective one. This teacher models hard work, commitment, and creativity through the mundane of the daily.

See the Potential
The distinguishing act that immortalizes teachers in the heart of a student is that ability to see the individual. Students and teachers alike spend a lot of time filling in circles, clicking boxes, and entering passwords. It’s easy to feel less than human. Students remember that teacher who made eye contact and then stopped to inspire the skilled hands, the quick mind, or the never-give-up heart.

This week, we haven’t celebrated “school appreciation” or “education appreciation.” We’ve celebrated teachers–the people who faithfully affirm, empower, and come alongside. Let’s remember who breathed life into us and aspire to use our position for the good of others.

Effective Teachers Deliver

April 19th, 2018 | Comments Off on Effective Teachers Deliver | Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Article from the Series: Essentials for Effective New Teachers

Instructional delivery is the method that a teacher uses to transport the students from the known to the unknown. Complex analyses have been conducted to determine the best teacher practices to maximize student learning. Instructional delivery is a point of profound vulnerability for beginning teachers; because, even if you excel in all other areas of the profession, failure to deliver a lesson that educates your students means that you have not done your job.

Let’s consider three potential pitfalls.

Technology: Every 21st Century classroom has been impacted by technology. You are in a position to determine tech’s role for your students. You may go old school—producing your own lessons from scratch and requiring tech-free responses from your students. You may go with a high tech, inquiry-based method where students have freedom to research questions posed by the teacher. More likely, your classroom will be a balance of tech and tech-free learning.

A bit of caution:

  • If you found the worksheet on the internet, your students can find the answer key.
  • If you want your students to generate original projects, the YouTube video you downloaded last night is probably not an appropriate way to model your expectation. You need to display more creativity and originality than you expect from your students.
  • Tech can be a time sucker. Avoid spending three hours looking for the perfect 2-minute hook to capture your students’ attention.

Practice: A rigorous lesson in any field requires practice and reinforcement. Arduous lessons must be supported with arduous practice. Watch out for the review game that eats up half of the class period with activity that is unrelated to your lesson objective. Factor in how long it will take to pass out devices, wait for them to boot up, and get all students on the right page, etc. Some days, a simple tic tac toe game with rapid fire questions will bring you closer to your goal.

Provide scaffolding as needed. If your final objective is for students to write a cause and effect essay on an event in history, consider that students will first need to know the facts of history. Consider using a Venn diagram in which you provide the main points and require the students just to sort the points between causes and effects. In your practice, provide all the information in matching, sorting, or multiple-choice questions. Move to fill-in-the-blank, then ease on over to short answer. After you’ve modeled the task a few times, hand over ownership for the learning to the students. Guide them gently from known to unknown, being careful not to introduce new activities or projects with new content.

Cumulative review plus some opportunities for students to acquire the learning without punishment are known to be components of an effective delivery.

Grit: As a new teacher, capitalize on your idealism. You may be surrounded by teachers who have become jaded. The battles that wage war in the lives of your students may leave them with no energy to focus on a lesson on misplaced modifiers or conditional probability. For you, however, disillusionment and fatigue are not an option. Your personal life is a non-factor during the school day. Every day, you must be the hardest working person in the classroom; and as a new teacher, you may be the hardest working person on the property. It’s your story to tell.

Structuring the pace, content, activities, and methods of your delivery day after day will be a colossal task, but it will be rewarded. Your student will benefit, and you will grow as a professional who can do one of the most important tasks on earth.

Delivery will be the core of your visible success as a teacher. Your knowledge, planning, organizational strategies, and overall professional behavior will feed into your successful delivery; but they cannot compensate for failed delivery in the classroom. If delivery is an area where you struggle, don’t despair. Research, scrutinize your lessons, find a mentor. You can become a teacher with an unforgettable delivery.

Effective Teachers Plan

April 9th, 2018 | Comments Off on Effective Teachers Plan | Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Article from the Series: Essentials for Effective New Teachers

When we say “plan,” our mind naturally turns to lesson “plans” in which we state our objective, outline the content, and plan an activity or assessment. Certainly, planning lessons is vital to effective teaching. However, if all we have done is plan the lesson, we’ve failed to plan. Consider some other aspects of planning.

Plan for your physical needs: You need food, water, rest, and a clear mind. You may have days in which you teach back-to-back classes for 4-5 hours. After that, you may go straight to coaching, tutoring, or professional development. You’ll need to healthy, sustaining nutrition. While seasoned teachers may be able to munch on a candy bar and drink a soda during class, don’t try it your first year. Students tend to resent watching their teachers do what is forbidden to them.

Plan your classroom environment: Oh, the power of an effective seating chart! Strategically grouping students with consideration of their behavior and learning can make the difference between a room where the students can actively learn and a room where the teacher throws up helpless hands in surrender.

Plan for the trouble spots: By the second week of school, you’ll be keenly aware of the place where learning breaks down. Is it in transitions? Is it when you lose your at-risk student in the content? Do you run out of stuff to do at the end of class? Plan specifically for a way to conquer the trouble spot.

Plan with colleagues: Value the insight of other teachers. You may be privileged to collaborate vertically across grade levels in a content area such as science. You may be able to collaborate within your grade level and find out how other teachers have organized their time and space and how students are performing for other teachers. Listen, learn, and don’t be afraid to contribute to the conversation,

Plan your communication: The very essence of teaching is that you to convey students from the known to the unknown. This conveyance happens much more smoothly when the teacher is personally equipped with accurate knowledge and skills. Study ahead so that when you stand before the class, you won’t make mistakes on the facts or practice problems. Plan the specific questions you will ask students in discussion which can guide further instruction rather distract. Don’t be satisfied just to know the text or task, go on to plan the most effective means to communicate so that the students can master the lesson.

If you’re thinking, “All this planning sounds like it will take hours,” you’re right; but, you’re not just teaching these students for this moment. You’re immortalizing the lesson. You’re establishing your reputation. You’re creating life long learners. It’s worth it!

Essentials for Effective New Teachers

April 9th, 2018 | Comments Off on Essentials for Effective New Teachers | Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Are you new to teaching? New to the grade level? New to the school system? New to the curriculum? New can mean a lot of things in the world of education. Just ask teachers with twenty years of experience how their first year with Common Core State Standards went, and you’re likely to hear the word new. When new is the word you use to describe your teaching situation, work on some essentials for success.

Articles in this series: