Teacher’s Lounge Blog

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

The #1 Way to Thrive – Not Just Survive – This School Year

October 29th, 2020 | Comments Off on The #1 Way to Thrive – Not Just Survive – This School Year | Certification Prep, Remote Learning, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Whether you are a brand-new teacher or a veteran who has had some challenging school experiences over the years, there is one thing you can count on. This year will be different. Whatever you anticipate – it will likely exceed all your expectations – good and bad.

Covid-19 has changed the “face” of education, quite literally. You may be required to teach in-person classes, a combination of in-person and virtual (hybrid), or completely online. You may start the year one way and it may change after a week or a month.

Teachers need not only survive the 2020-2021 school year, but they also need to learn how to thrive despite demanding and ever-changing circumstances. How can you do that? BE FLEXIBLE.

Flexibility is one of the hallmarks of a good teacher. Situations arise all the time that necessitate rearranging your schedule, lesson plans, route to the cafeteria, teaching style, and so much more. This year, being flexible can save your sanity.

What can you do?

  • Do not create lesson plans too far in advance. Ultra-organized teachers often develop lesson plans over the summer, at least for the first several weeks of school – not the best idea for this fall. Try not to make plans for more than a week at a time, as they will probably change. It is much easier to rearrange a week’s worth of lessons than an entire month.
  • Prepare lessons that are easily adaptable for face-to-face teaching as well as online.
  • Stock up (if you can) on cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer. If you do not use them in the classroom you can always keep them at home or donate them.
  • Practice talking all day from behind your mask. It can get stuffy. One way around this in the classroom is to teach for 15 minutes or so and then let the students complete an activity on their own for about 15 minutes.
  • Be open with communication with your principal, school board, parents, and students. Acknowledge that no one has all the answers. Everyone is doing the best they can right now.

Flexibility is key for teachers this year. Implement some of these ideas and add your own. You will not be able to eliminate all the stress, but you can certainly lessen it by preparing now.

Yays and Nays for Elementary Virtual Learning

September 14th, 2020 | Comments Off on Yays and Nays for Elementary Virtual Learning | Remote Learning, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Student Online Learning

For some young students, it does not matter what the educational platform is, they will succeed. Others will struggle, whether they are taught in a traditional classroom, in a virtual synchronous situation, where class meets “together” and works at the same time or asynchronously, where self-directed independent work is required.

Many elementary classrooms across the country are using a combination of these types of learning scenarios as we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. More is coming to light as we evaluate how things worked in the immediacy of online learning last spring and how things are progressing this fall, where a few more options have developed.

What are the advantages of a virtual classroom setting?

  • There are fewer opportunities for social distractions from peers. The “drama” often evident in in-person classrooms does not exist online, or at least is drastically reduced.
  • Students who are self-motivated can excel.
  • In most cases, there are more chances for individualized teacher attention outside “class” to help students who need further instruction.
  • There is less pressure on students to speak up in class, which is perfect for quieter children.

How is virtual learning hurting some elementary students?

  • This type of classroom can bring challenges for the family. At least one adult or older teenager must be available to offer continual support and ensure a distraction-free environment. This can cause a significant burden for working parents.
  • There is a “technology gap” for some families. Not everyone has access to the latest computers or software or reliable internet access, according to Mary Stephens, longtime educator, and founder of PrepForward.
  • Socializing is difficult, if not almost impossible, in an online setting. Students must seek peer relationships outside school via extracurricular activities.
  • Students must learn in an unfamiliar classroom setting. Whether it is at home or a parent’s office, the traditional and often comforting classroom environment is nonexistent.

No matter which side of the debate you are on, the fact remains that virtual learning is not going away soon. We continue to discover more every day about the best ways to reach elementary students and guarantee their academic success.

 

Employ these Creative Strategies for Distance Learning

July 24th, 2020 | Comments Off on Employ these Creative Strategies for Distance Learning | Remote Learning, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

While some school districts have made their decisions about how school will look this fall, others are still working hard to offer the best scenarios for families, teachers, and students. It is likely that few people will be satisfied with whatever option they must follow.

What is certain is that educators will do everything they can to implement as many learning strategies as possible to ensure that they cover the required material and that students have multiple opportunities to demonstrate mastery of key concepts.

Here are just a few techniques to consider if some or all your instruction is relegated to online delivery.

  1. Start class each day with a 10-15 minute “warm-up” activity or question that involves two or three students sharing about themselves and what they are doing at home with the family. Questions can be light-hearted or more thought-provoking.
  2. Provide frequent feedback via email, highlighting both positive and negative comments about student work, attitude, diligence, etc.
  3. Screen sharing is beneficial for teachers and students, both for completing assignments and addressing technical issues that may arise with computers in general or the specific platform your district utilizes.
  4. Permit side chatting between students if the instructor can monitor the conversation. Some students have become more comfortable contributing to class in this format as it does not require them to “speak up” in front of others. Students enjoy it when the teacher participates, too.
  5. Prepare innovative assessments for individuals and groups that are interesting and fun.
  6. Develop a closing activity each day for each student to complete. It could be a simple form with questions about the lesson, a chat between students or groups, or a discussion that the class has about a given topic.

There are dozens more ways to actively engage students online. Note that these methods can also be utilized in an on-ground setting, as well.

No matter what form your classroom takes this semester, having a plan ensures that you can meet the needs of all your students.

 

 

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

PrepForward testimonials

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.

 

Coronavirus and Teacher Preparedness

March 18th, 2020 | Comments Off on Coronavirus and Teacher Preparedness | Certification Prep, Remote Learning, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect teachers across the United States. It also appears that the situation will likely get worse before it gets better. Soon, all school districts will undoubtedly close temporarily rather than just a select few. This includes colleges and universities. What does this mean for prospective educators? What if the semester ends abruptly rather than continuing classes in virtual settings?

Uncertain times can certainly be stressful but current teachers and those seeking a degree do not just have to sit back and wait for things to improve. Make the best of a trying situation. If your community mandates a quarantine, there are things you can do that not only pass the time but help you better prepare yourself for a future in education or provide an unexpected opportunity for professional development.

Online learning environments have the best of both worlds. You get the skills and information you need and want without being stuck in a classroom during set times of the day.

Do you suffer from insomnia? Complete your lessons in the middle of the night. Have a toddler or infant? Work on classes while they play or nap. The flexibility of a self-paced environment offered in online courses is not only welcome, but also beneficial for your entire family.

PrepForward is proud to provide current educators and future teachers the necessary competencies for teaching virtual learners as well as those in traditional classroom settings. Use this “coronavirus downtime” to your advantage and enroll today in one of our classes.

Our distance learning courses are valuable for teachers already in the classroom for certification renewal, obtaining additional licensure, increasing salary opportunities, preparing for annual teacher evaluations, and reinforcing key concepts and skills. For prospective educators who are not yet in a classroom setting, our courses supplement and enhance college courses, help you better prepare for licensing exams, and add valuable expertise that you can highlight on your resume.

Our range of courses include elementary and advanced mathematics, reading comprehension and foundations of reading, writing and language arts and elementary inclusion. For more information about the courses we offer, please contact us. We will be happy to answer your questions about teacher prep or professional development.

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.