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Archive for the ‘Teaching Methods’ Category

I’m Not Myself When I’m Teaching. I’m Better!

July 4, 2017

 

There was a time there when I thought that I wasn’t the real “me” when I was teaching. That is was all a bit of an act.

I no longer feel that way.

In fact, I suspect it is the opposite.

Teaching has given me the opportunity to be my best self. I suspect that I am more myself when I am teaching than at any part of the day.

The confidence, the humor, the ability to take risks and try new things, it’s all characteristics that I should be exuding in everyday life. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, it’s restricted to the classroom.

That’s why, whilst others celebrate school holidays, I dread them.

Teaching, after all, represents a return to me.

 

 

Click on the link to read Teacher Stereotypes: Which One Are You?

Click on the link to read Questions to Improve Your Teaching Performance

Click on the link to read Tricks That Work For Some Teachers But Don’t for Others (Video)

Click on the link to read Tips For Less Talking and Better Teaching

Click on the link to read What Type of Teacher Are You?

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Teacher Stereotypes: Which One Are You?

September 5, 2016

inspirational-teacher

 

A great list written by Andrew Cunningham:

 

The too-busy-to-breathe head of year

Heads of years have to keep on top of the curriculum in their subject and maintain control over an entire intake of pupils. No mean feat. Snatched conversations in busy corridors are the best parents can hope for.

To win them over, preface each encounter with comforting, understanding words: “I realise how desperately busy you are, but could you possibly spare five minutes to help my son plan his revision?” Their indispensability duly acknowledged, they’ll be delighted to help out.

The career teacher

School’s not about you or your child: it’s about their fast-track progression to becoming a head by the age of 35.  You can spot the career teacher from their habit of looking over your shoulder at parents’ evening, eager to catch the eye of a passing school governor.

To get them onside, ask about any important education conferences they’ve been to recently, before adding: “My daughter’s so lucky to have you – you’ve no idea how difficult your subject is for most people!” Just watch them preen…

The overzealous homework setter

The bane of teenagers’ lives, these conscientious teachers set five hours of written homework each night, ignoring the umpteen other subjects your little one is taking.

Don’t be too harsh on a homework setter: they’re only trying to cover off the curriculum, and they’re often really enthused by their subject (who wouldn’t want to spend the evening reading up on the Franco-Prussian war?).

If it really is getting too much, seek the sympathetic ear of your child’s form tutor, who can tactfully point out that anxious pupils have other deadlines to meet.

The marking shirker

You’ve watched your child stay up until midnight finishing that essay on Macbeth and then… nothing. A month later and the paper still hasn’t been marked. Marking shirkers come in many shapes and sizes, but don’t be surprised if the English teacher turns out to be one.

He’s an aspiring novelist, you see – his evenings are spent tapping out high-minded prose. Marking is a big part of teaching, and late marking is unacceptable.

The trainee teacher

Easy to spot from a mile off. Young, enthusiastic, occasionally hung-over, and quite possibly the object of your teenager’s first harmless crush.

Trainee teachers pose a conundrum for parents. It’s wonderful that your child is being taught by someone who knows exactly how young minds tick – but they’re still learning the trade and may struggle to keep order.

Try to show patience before complaining about any shortcomings. Trainees are desperate to do well and deserve support for choosing such a tricky profession. And remember: the alternative to young-and-callow “Ms X” might well be “Poor Old Mr Y”, who stopped caring long ago.

The faded star

Almost always found in the drama department or on the sports fields, these teachers are never shy of talking about past lives – “I once played Blanche DuBois in Streetcar”; “Sir Alex came to watch my Under-12s trial”.

Like the overzealous homework setter, they may not appreciate that your child has other educational priorities. Keep them sweet by listening when they retell old stories and never, ever, withdraw at the last moment from a school play or football match. These events mean more to the faded star than you may realise.

The inspirational teacher

A keen eye can spot an inspirational teacher just by walking into their classroom. Bookcases are stacked with well-thumbed books and wear a “Please take what you want” sign. The walls are covered with evocative pictures of faraway places, instilling a subconscious urge to explore and expand horizons. Desks are clean of graffiti, because pupils don’t need to find ways to pass the time.

 

Click on the link to read Questions to Improve Your Teaching Performance

Click on the link to read Tricks That Work For Some Teachers But Don’t for Others (Video)

Click on the link to read Tips For Less Talking and Better Teaching

Click on the link to read What Type of Teacher Are You?

Questions to Improve Your Teaching Performance

January 24, 2016

teacher-questions

Courtesy of huffingtonpost.com:

 

  • What gets you excited about going to work at school every day?
  • How do you question old educational standards?
  • How do you make changes based on your educational beliefs?
  • When was the last time you taught a concept without using the textbook?
  • What excuses have you used to not make changes to your teaching or classroom?
  • What have you learned about yourself this past school year?
  • What changes in your teaching are you going to make based on what you learned from last year?
  • What would you do differently in your teaching if you had no state mandated accountability?
  • Can you remember a school lesson from your past?
  • Why do you remember that lesson so vividly?
  • Have you had a recent lesson that you think your students will never forget?
  • Is there any such thing as the perfect lesson?
  • How often do you make educational decisions purely with the students in mind?
  • Should you just do what is right for the students in your class regardless of consequences?
  • If you could mandate a book to be read by all teachers, what would it be?
  • Can you describe your teaching style in one small sentence?
  • What is your best teaching quality?
  • What are your personal teaching goals?
  • How would you describe educational freedom?
  • Do you love to teach? Why?

 

 

Click on the link to read Tricks That Work For Some Teachers But Don’t for Others (Video)

Click on the link to read Tips For Less Talking and Better Teaching

Click on the link to read What Type of Teacher Are You?

Click on the link to read The Making of a Great Teacher

Tricks That Work For Some Teachers But Don’t for Others (Video)

December 17, 2015

 

 

From a speech by the fantastic Roxanna Elden

 

 

Click on the link to read Tips For Less Talking and Better Teaching

Click on the link to read What Type of Teacher Are You?

Click on the link to read The Making of a Great Teacher

Click on the link to read The Perfect Teacher According to Students

Tips For Less Talking and Better Teaching

October 30, 2015

angela-watson

A brilliant list written by Angela Watson:

 

1. Don’t steal the struggle.

It can be uncomfortable to watch kids struggle to figure out an answer, but they need time and silence to work through it. Resist the urge to talk students through every step of a problem and instead just observe. Similarly, learn to love think time. I often worry about keeping the momentum of a lesson going, and it’s uncomfortable for me to allow several moments of silent “wait time”or “think time” before calling on students. However, I try to push against the feeling that I will lose students’ attention because I know providing wait time can actually increase the length and quality of their responses. Letting kids think instead of rushing in to narrate or question builds anticipation around what’s going to be said next and increases participation as more kids are prepared to move into the conversation.

2. Move from the front of the classroom.

It’s easy to get in an instructional rut when you stand at the same place near the board all day long. Try occasionally sitting on the side of the classroom or in an absent student’s desk and say, “I need someone to go up and demonstrate ___ for us.” Because students are used to the person at the board facilitating the lesson, they are likely to talk for much longer than if you stay at the front and they’re in their seats answering you. You can even remain sitting among the class once the student is done demonstrating and ask follow up questions from other students instead of commenting on the students’ demo yourself (“What do all think? Is that an effective method–how do you know? Does anyone use a different strategy?”)

3. Teach students signals for your often-repeated phrases and for transitions.

Cut down on conversations about bathroom/water/pencil sharpening/etc by teaching kids to use sign language to request permission: use sign language to indicate your answer back: yes, no, or wait. I also like to teach kids sign language for please, thank you, and you’re welcome so that I can reinforce their good choices and acknowledge kids without constantly talking. Use music, a chime, or other auditory signal to indicate when it’s time to start an activity, pause, and clean up. The idea here is to give kids a break from hearing your voice: they are far more likely to tune in to a unique sound than to a 20 word direction.

4. Use non-verbal reinforcement for behavior whenever possible.

A lot of the talking most of us do throughout the day is related to student behavior, and most of the time, we’re wasting our breath. Resist the urge to lecture students every time someone forgets their materials, interrupts your lesson, or makes an inappropriate noise. It’s far more effective (not to mention easier and less disruptive) to give students “the teacher look” and keep the lesson moving. If you need to have a conversation about the behavior with a student or issue a consequence, try to wait for a break in your instruction rather than stop the whole class from learning while you discipline one kid.

5. Turn your statements into questions and prompts.

Instead of saying to a group, “Nice work over here, I like the strategy you used for ___”, ask the kids to reflect on their own work: “Tell me how your group has chosen to solve ___.” Instead of telling a child, “Take a look at #3, that answer is incorrect” say, “Would you tell me how you got the answer for #3?” Not only will these questions get kids talking instead of you, kids will also have the chance to reflect on and articulate their learning.

6. Instead of asking, “Does that make sense?” say, “Can you put that in your own words?”

If you’ve ever asked kids “Are you getting this?”, you’ve probably noticed you rarely get an insightful response. So, you either move on without kids understanding or you repeat something you’ve already said. Try inviting kids to put what you’ve explained into their own words, either repeating it back to you (if you were helping the child in a one-on-one conversation) or by turning and talking to a partner/doing a quick think/pair/share.

7. Stop repeating yourself.

It’s tempting to say important points and instructions a couple of different ways to make sure every child understands, but that strategy can backfire when it’s overused. Kids learn that it’s okay to tune you out because you’ll repeat everything you say. Instead, experiment with different strategies for getting kids to follow directions the first time you give them and use call-and-response routines to get kids’ attention right away.

8. Notice moments when you summarize/review for students and instead get their input.

If you hear yourself saying once again, remember, as I said, as always, so to sum this up, or don’t forget, that probably means you’re about to drive home an important point for the second or third (or tenth) time. Practice making those moments a chance for kids to share: What’s the rule about this? Who can sum this section up for us? Who remembers the way to determine ___? Some teachers even turn these moments into interactive activities, where the whole class does a hand motion, body movement, sound, or chant to indicate that they’re summarizing an idea or reviewing directions before getting started.

 

 

Click on the link to read What Type of Teacher Are You?

Click on the link to read The Making of a Great Teacher

Click on the link to read The Perfect Teacher According to Students

Click on the link to read How to Praise Students Properly

What Type of Teacher Are You?

October 25, 2015

teacher

The Guardian put teachers in 4 categories. Which one best fits your teaching approach?

 

The idealist

This type really cares about making a difference, not just to their students but to society in general. They see improving social justice as a key part of their role, and when looking for a job they think about where they can have the greatest impact.

These teachers are also attracted to the job because they love their subject and have a desire to work with young people. Their motivation does not waver either; 29% said they strongly disagreed that they had considered leaving the profession in the past six months, compared with 25% of teachers overall.

 

The practitioner

This type is not so much interested in contributing to society as in contributing to the development of their own students. They are in the profession because they want to be teachers, they enjoy their craft and they are committed to the job. Practitioners are also strong believers in the importance of continued professional development. When deciding where to teach, they consider the character of a school – including aspects such as student behaviour and attainment.

 

The rationalist

This type of teacher joined the profession for practical reasons. They believe they can make a difference but are also pragmatic, realising that they need a job with good pay and holidays. These factors play an important role in keeping them in the profession, as does their enjoyment of school culture. They work in places that enable them to have an impact but also offer a good quality of life. Rationalists, however, can tend towards negativity, with 50% having considered leaving the profession in the last six months . They are also less likely than other teacher types to say that they would recommend the job to their younger selves.

 

The moderate

The type of teacher isn’t likely to raise strong opinions in the staffroom – it’s Mr or Mrs Middle of the Road. There is no one factor that brings them into the profession. In fact, they are motivated by many things (from a love of their subject to the need for a job) and they stay for a range of reasons. Half of this group is open-minded about where they work in terms of location, while the other half makes the decision after considering personal and school-specific factors. They are, however, more likely to move because of their family or partner.

When it comes to recommending the job to students and their younger selves, this type is less enthusiastic – only half would do so, compared with three-quarters of “practitioners”. They are also more likely to have considered leaving the profession in the last six months than “idealists” and “practitioners”.

 

 

 

Click on the link to read The Making of a Great Teacher

Click on the link to read The Perfect Teacher According to Students

Click on the link to read How to Praise Students Properly

Click on the link to read Tips for Teachers of ESL Students

The Making of a Great Teacher

October 20, 2015

Embedded image permalink

 

Love this list!

 

 

Click on the link to read The Perfect Teacher According to Students

Click on the link to read How to Praise Students Properly

Click on the link to read Tips for Teachers of ESL Students

Click on the link to read Look What This Teacher Did To His Students’ Doodles

The Perfect Teacher According to Students

October 11, 2015

the-perfect-teacher

Precisely the standards that every teacher should be trying to emulate:

 

Show us that you care

Ofsted says outstanding teachers demonstrate a “deep knowledge and understanding of their subject”. Although passion is inspiring, a deep knowledge and understanding of their children is just as important.

I have a teacher who, from the beginning of my two-year course, has offered an after-school session every single week, for however long we need. I am often the only one there but she doesn’t mind. She has completely changed my life by believing in me, pushing me and caring about me. Obviously, I don’t expect every teacher to be like her, but to know someone values you enough to put time in is amazing.

I have been lucky to have teachers who taught me far more than the syllabus, who showed me how to tackle obstacles head-on and become stronger as a result. Perfectly planned lessons are one thing, but, to an insecure teenager, showing that you care is essential.

Don’t shout at us

The teachers who screamed at my class when I was 11 are the ones I still can’t form any kind of relationship with. Respect isn’t about having 30 silent faces shouted into submission. If you treat us as humans, know what you’re talking about and take an interest in what we have to say, you will gain our respect. Thinking of your lessons spontaneously and spending an hour shouting at us for our “disrespect” won’t get you anywhere.

There’s a teacher who’s renowned at my school – she’s the one everyone dislikes, mainly because she screams and gives detentions all the time. We have no motivation to work for her, because we just can’t talk to her. Shouting us into silence doesn’t give you more authority.

Show us your personality (but not too much)

Let’s face it, nobody wants to be up at half past eight on a Monday morning. But the best teachers are the ones whose personalities are so bright that the lightbulbs inside 30 heads are switched on anyway.

We genuinely like the teachers who smile, who can do the voices in books without feeling embarrassed and can hear one of those innuendos that we find hysterical and not tell us off for being teenagers. We know you’re not here to be our friend, but some sort of relationship is important.

A balance is crucial, however: the teachers who try too hard to “have a laugh” run the risk of students students taking advantage to the point where there’s no going back.

Tell us when we’ve done well

Teachers may be expected to write pages of feedback, but if you want to improve your students’ self-esteem and encourage them to further their thinking, but it’s the verbal feedback that really sinks in. It can be as simple as “You’ve got it”, “Spot on” or “Absolutely” – it could just be an enthusiastic nod and a proud glint in your eye. It sounds simple, but being told that you’ve achieved something means the world.

Verbal criticism in front of our peers is not so great, however. Put yourself in my shoes: you’re in a food technology class and you have forgotten your tea towel. It is a mistake so great in scale that you will still regret it when writing an article four years later. Being told you’re stupid in front of your friends hurts, please don’t forget that.

Remember that we do appreciate you

Believe it or not, we know you have it tough. We know that the stress you are under is ridiculous, that you sometimes do more paperwork than teaching, that a one-hour lesson can take more than an hour to prepare and that you hate learning objectives as much as we do. We know that setting us targets and marking our books can feel like a waste of time when you could be kindling a love of your subject.

We might not always show it, but we really do appreciate what you do. Because when it comes down to it, great teachers are like melodies that you can’t get out of your head. As children and teenagers, we are constantly changing and you – who see us through that time, pick us up from the wrong paths, failed tests and mistakes – are the truly great ones.

 

 

Click on the link to read How to Praise Students Properly

Click on the link to read Tips for Teachers of ESL Students

Click on the link to read Look What This Teacher Did To His Students’ Doodles

Click on the link to read 5 Ways to Change the Face of Education

How to Praise Students Properly

March 9, 2015

 

Praising students for no real reason is certainly counterproductive and not praising them at all is utterly demotivating. That’s why it is important to choose the right time and wording when praising your students. You want the compliment to serve as proper recognition for their achievements but also a motivator for future growth.

I love the clip above. It suggests that we focus more on effort and less on intelligence. I couldn’t agree more.

 

Click on the link to read Tips for Teachers of ESL Students

Click on the link to read Look What This Teacher Did To His Students’ Doodles

Click on the link to read 5 Ways to Change the Face of Education

Click on the link to read Some Teachers Never Change … Literally!

Tips for Teachers of ESL Students

February 26, 2015

teaching-esl

 

I have found it quite a challenge teaching fluent 5th graders whilst also catering for a child with minimal spoken English who has spent less than 6 months in the country. These tips by Robyn Shulman, M.Ed. are quite useful:

 

1. Cultural Awareness

All teachers should take a moment to self-reflect about their own understandings and questions in regard to cultural differences. Take the time to learn about different cultures, gestures, and traditions and celebrate these differences with all of the students in the classroom. Encourage all students to share their culture with classmates.

2. Empathize

Try to imagine how overwhelming it must feel to leave your home country and family members while trying to assimilate, learn, and socialize in a foreign language. Be aware that ESL students will be in culture shock and feel highly alienated for some time. Garner patience and understand that it will take time for ESL students to talk, as a silent period is highly expected. Smile and show support to your best ability.

3. Provide A Comfort Zone

Assess where the ESL student’s abilities are in relation to basic survival skills and needs. Assign a friendly and welcoming buddy to assist with common school locations, requirements, and routines. If possible, keep an extra eye out during busy transition times to assure the student gets to the correct location. If possible, find someone in the school, another classmate, parent or volunteer that may speak the student’s language. Connecting the student with someone who speaks his/her native language will provide a great deal of comfort.

4. Spotlight Respect For All Cultures

Reaffirm the message about being supportive of one another, kind, understanding and patient. Encourage everyone to openly talk about his or her personal culture, traditions, and languages. Have parties celebrating the different cultures in the class, sharing music, historical family photos, dances, games, food and traditions. Hold discussions about the history of America, immigration, and the value of diversity and differences. Encourage students to share their own stories of immigration, passed down from generation to generation.

5. Community

If parents and/or guardians do not speak English, request an interpreter if possible for all school communication, including parties, conferences and special events. Invite parents to all school community functions to encourage and foster a sense of belonging. If possible, introduce other students and/or families who speak the same language as the ESL student. Sharing cultural commonalities will provide strong bonds for students, parents, and teachers.

6. Assess Student Informally

Assess ESL students on an informal basis when they first arrive to class, and ongoing during the school year. It is imperative to primarily check for understanding in regard to basic and social needs. Pay attention from the sideline to see if they know numbers, letters, and/or short English phrases. Continuously check for comprehension and growth informally, make notes, and never be afraid to raise the bar and challenge a bit.

7. Don’t Discourage Native Language Use

With all good intentions, this is a common mistake teachers can make. ESL students who have a stronger foundation of their native language will have a shorter route to acquiring English. Don’t discourage native language use, as this will result in negative feelings about the student’s language, culture, and may cause delay in English language acquisition. Provide free time for the ESL student to read and write in their native language.

8. Use Manipulatives, Visuals, Games, Music and Hands-On Activities in the Classroom

According to William Glaser, we learn 80% of what we experience, and 95% of what we teach others. ESL students do exceptionally well when this theory is followed. Involve them in projects that will encourage them to talk as much as possible with their classmates. Some ideas for projects are the following: cooking (following easy directions), art (drawing, painting, sculpture), musical activities (music provides an amazing platform for learning), and acting (for example, charades).

9. Provide Various Opportunities For Talking and Consider Seat Placement

It is very important to consider seat placement in the classroom for the ESL student. All too often, ESL students are seated in the back of the classroom, which leads to a great lack of contribution, listening, and participation. Try and seat the ESL student close to the front, especially with other students who are inviting and enjoy conversation. Provide the most opportunities as possible for talking and listening to others in the class via group work. You will be surprised how much shorter the silent period will end.

10. Communicate with the ESL teacher

Maintain communication with the ESL teacher as much as possible. The sooner both teachers are working together, the quicker the student will learn English. Be open to the ESL teacher’s suggestions, let him/her share in the modification of classwork, and invite the ESL teacher into your classroom. If there is a concern, a question, or if you simply need some advice, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Build this open communication bridge together, as both teachers are there to support and help the ESL student succeed.

 

Click on the link to read Look What This Teacher Did To His Students’ Doodles

Click on the link to read 5 Ways to Change the Face of Education

Click on the link to read Some Teachers Never Change … Literally!

Click on the link to read The Ultimate Bad Teaching Checklist


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