Teacher’s Lounge Blog

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

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.

How to Improve Your Chances for Getting Your First Teaching Contract

February 11th, 2020 | Comments Off on How to Improve Your Chances for Getting Your First Teaching Contract | Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Now that you finished college and have your teaching certificate, don’t just expect a teaching job to land in your lap. There is a lot of competition out there, especially in certain geographic areas and teaching specialties. You need to take the necessary steps to market yourself as you would with any other employment opportunity.

It takes more than just sending in your resume to your ideal school district. Here are a few tips to help you get the teaching position you want.

  1. Since you probably don’t have much teaching experience, you need to highlight your other attributes to impress potential interviewers. Ensure that you have your college transcripts, results from exams like the Praxis, certificates, samples of lesson plans and student work from student teaching, a testimonial about your personal teaching philosophy and anything else you feel that is pertinent to your teaching qualifications.
  2. To gain valuable experience in your school district of choice, think about signing up to become a substitute teacher. This is an excellent opportunity to meet and work with other educators and administrators and provides insight into your unique teaching capabilities. Although there is a significant lack of consistency and benefits to this type of job, substituting often gives you a foot in the door in both the district and certain schools.
  3. Ensure that you are marketable as a teacher. If your certification specialty is not in high demand, think about taking some online classes to beef up your resume and increase the opportunity for you to get hired, even if it’s not in your preferred field. Adding professional development experience to your portfolio is never a bad idea.
  4. Don’t expect a teaching position to come to you. Aggressively market yourself. Visit the board of education in one or more districts, inquire about open positions, and request an interview. Network with teachers and browse job feeds. The time to start look for a job for the fall is the spring before.
  5. If you’re willing to relocate, consider looking for a position in certain areas. Some cities and districts throughout the country are eager to recruit qualified teachers and offer incentives like relocation assistance and bonuses.
  6. Practice mock interviews beforehand. Have thoughtful answers for common questions and learn how to relax and be yourself. Knowing a few key pieces of information about the district you interview for can also be beneficial.

Becoming a teacher doesn’t stop with getting your degree and certification. Design a plan to showcase yourself and your abilities and implement it. You should have little trouble getting a teaching position with some advance preparation.

Does Technology in the Classroom Help or Hurt Students?

January 23rd, 2020 | Comments Off on Does Technology in the Classroom Help or Hurt Students? | Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Most students in elementary, middle, and high school today use some form of technology in the classroom. Computers and iPads are pretty much commonplace. Are they worth the hype or do they inhibit learning?

Education reform over the past decade or so has taken the form of school choice or improving teacher quality. While there has been some progress in these areas, many educators feel that utilizing advancements in instructional software and the one-on-one benefits of online tutorials can help students even more.

Most teachers are enthusiastic about using technology in class. There is some discrepancy, though, about the effectiveness of computer use. While there have been some improvements in math scores after using computers, there is a decline in reading levels. According to OECD, reading scores of fourth graders who use tablets are virtually one grade level lower than students who do not use computers as often.

There also seems to be a high discrepancy between lower income students and those with more advantages regarding technology. Disadvantaged students tend to spend more time using computers in class but do not perform as well in reading and mathematics.

It’s likely that less information is absorbed by reading from a device than from paper, probably because computers can be a big distraction. Learning from a person who asks questions engages a student more than responding to questions provided on a computer. There is a relationship factor.

Computers also take away from learning communally. It’s helpful for many students to learn from one another rather than simply responding to commands on a screen.

If computers provide information that does not meet student needs or is not presented in a logical format, it does not benefit them. Therefore, it usually works better for math than for reading or the social sciences.

Since one of the most important aspects of reading comprehension is background vocabulary and knowledge about a topic, success rates for checking reading comprehension online don’t work for most children, as their backgrounds vary widely.

Computers may be better suited to reinforce concepts already taught in the classroom instead of teaching new ones, to ensure that students fully understand.

I Have a Student with Dysgraphia – How Can I Help Him?

December 18th, 2019 | Comments Off on I Have a Student with Dysgraphia – How Can I Help Him? | Inclusive Teaching, Teacher's Lounge Blog

While much research has been conducted on learning disorders such as dyslexia, a lot is still unknown about dysgraphia, which is unfortunate since between 7% and 15% of students suffer from this problem. But what is dysgraphia and how can educators help students diagnosed with this disorder?

Like dyslexia, dysgraphia is not related to intelligence but is an unanticipated difficulty with writing and spelling skills that is usually discovered in primary or elementary school. It is characterized by:

  • Underdeveloped phonemic awareness and understanding
  • Challenges with correctly copying visual information
  • Unreadable handwriting
  • Inefficient grip on a writing implement
  • Incorrect spelling
  • Faulty letter formation
  • Below average writing fluency for the grade level

Students with this disorder are deficient in processing phonics and manipulating language sounds. Often, they also have issues with visual and auditory processing, as well.

Fortunately, there are ways you can support students with dysgraphia and help them to be more successful in the classroom without drawing attention to their disability.

  • Provide additional time to complete written work
  • Give students a copy of notes from the white or chalkboard
  • Permit students to use a “note taker” or tools for speech-to-text translation
  • Allow students to write numeric formulas rather than mathematic word problems

If you have a student who has not been diagnosed with dysgraphia, but you suspect that it could be an issue, recommend the child to your school counselor or testing center for evaluation. It may be possible for him to qualify for additional special education and occupational therapy resources, as well, which can only benefit him at school.

Learning more about dysgraphia and other learning challenges can help all children succeed at school and allows teachers the tools necessary to reach every student in the classroom.

To better prepare for working with students with disabilities, see our inclusion course.

How to Keep the Class Focused Until Winter Break

December 2nd, 2019 | Comments Off on How to Keep the Class Focused Until Winter Break | Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

With Thanksgiving over, the classroom countdown is on to winter break, no matter what age your students are. The question is, how can educators keep students on task and learning when they are so excited about the holidays? Fortunately, we have a few ideas that can help you and them focus on school before the long holiday vacation many of us are anticipating.

  • Manipulatives are great ways to keep hands busy while learning at the same time. Stress balls and Play-Doh can aid in focusing young minds on the lesson.
  • Now is a great time to adjust the seating chart or allow students to sit on the floor. Changing it up a little gets rid of some of that pent-up excitement.
  • Allow students the opportunity to teach their classmates something new. A variation on the popular “Show and Tell” theme, students can demonstrate a craft, musical instrument, or other special talent to the class.
  • If the children are particularly fidgety, take the class outside for a few minutes to let them run around and re-energize.
  • Incorporate the upcoming holidays into your lesson plans. Not only can you add making ornaments or gifts but use sales circulars as part of a math lesson or discuss the history of different holiday traditions.
  • Make a countdown paper chain or other use another countdown idea to mark off the days until vacation. Take a couple of minutes each day to mark off one less day until break.
  • Take advantage of multi-media options for presenting lessons, whether it is using videos, a guest speaker, or including students in creative ways.
  • Have fun with your students. Designate a couple of days as “theme” days where you and the students can wear a funny hat, bring their favorite book, or invite parents to a special presentation you all prepare.

Of course, it’s important to keep classroom learning going until the break, but that doesn’t mean that every minute is all “work.” Take the time to enjoy it with your class and while they’re absorbing what you teach, they’ll also be creating memories that will last for years.