Tuesday, December 18, 2012

OUR students......OUR teachers

The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut shakes me to the core! As an administrator, this was my worst nightmare that something would happen to my administrators, teachers, support staff AND the children in my school district. The events of September 11th, started my career as a school superintendent. This was an unsettling time as we had not faced this type of incident before. Later that fall, we had an 8th grade student commit suicide and we found out five minutes before the school day started. I experienced several students passing on because of cancer and other medical problems, a teacher and several teacher's spouses who passed away and bomb threats for two consecutive days where we had to evacuate the schools each day.

With all these crisis events, we had plans in place in our crisis manual, that were written to assist us with various scenarios. What I learned is that each situation has its own caveats and that while the manual gave you guidance, it did not help you to deal with the FEELINGS and EMOTIONS of the people. Luckily, I had a great team of school social workers, school psychologists, school nurse and guidance counselor, as well as administrators, that I could depend on to help guide us through these situations. Our police and fire departments as well as the county police and the local city were also supportive during these times.

What was amazing during these times, was that the teachers were able to keep the kids calm, supported and feeling safe. Even finding out about the death of a student five minutes before school started, everyone pitched in to meet with the faculty, prepare statements, provide support for students immediately and contact parents. The teachers tried to put their own feeling and emotions on the back burner, to first help the students get through these difficult situations. Following protocols, giving extra time beyond their school day, and giving their feedback on how the situation was handled were important to them and to me. The middle school and high school kids wanted to be at school during and after some of these events, with their friends, teachers and support staff to talk to at the school.

Our teachers do more than just teach 9 months a year, with summers off and an 8-4 job. They are with their students almost 8 hours a day! Our teachers mean a lot to most students, especially elementary students, who love their teachers. Our teachers love their students, protect them, help them, support them and love them, besides teaching them.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

5 Professional Competencies to Focus on Developing

Teaching is hard work!! Teachers need to develop Professional Competencies that will make you more attractive as candidates for prospective teaching positions as well as for further developing your skills for those already teaching.

1. Collaborator - Collaborators work together to achieve a common goal. Working in collaborative teams has a direct impact on improving student achievement, if teachers are focusing on the "right things." The right things are: What do we want students to learn? How will we know that the students learned them? How will we respond when some students do not learn? How can we enrich and extend the learning for students who already know it?

2. Learner-- You finished school, have your degree and have your first job!! You think, "I am so glad I am finally done with school!" As a new teacher, you will be learning every minute of the day!! You will need to master your teaching skills, and that will be a huge learning curve in itself! With social networking now and the internet, the answer to almost every question is at your fingertips! Believe it or not, your students will teach YOU a few things. Reflecting on your teaching and learning is a critical piece to your life-long learning. You don't need to go to a professional conference to continue your learning; you will learn from your team members, from professional development in your school and from professional reading.

3. Data User--Using student data will help you to understand how students are learning and what skills and knowledge they have mastered. And I don't mean the grades in your grade book. Data can be collected at the district level, at the school level and at the classroom level. The data collected at the classroom level is the most powerful....where you can reflect on your own practices, determine effectiveness of instructional practices, determine and utilize new strategies for student learning, and make sure that students are learning the implemented curriculum. Again, back to the first PLC questions, what do we want all students to be able to know and do, and how will I know that the students learned it? Data will tell you, from your classroom formative and summative assessments.

4. Communicator--Teachers communicate to students, colleagues, parents, and other school personnel. As a teacher you are creating interest in learning, listening to students and colleagues, discussing learning with team members, interpreting data, talking to parents about student progress and using non-verbal communication every day. Being a good listener is critical to be an effective teacher. Communicating clearly and making sure students know what the goal of a lesson is will engage students in the learning. Use of humor is also a skill that improves communication. Teachers need to be open and approachable. Use of technology in communication is now being used, e-mails to colleagues and parents, and while this is time efficient, be mindful of school policies and how you are communicating via e-mail; re-read your e-mails and make sure that they say what you want them to say. Don't write anything that you don't want on the front page of the local newspaper!

5. Instructional Practices -- Examining your instructional practices and discussing them with other teachers, can help you develop them over time. Knowing best practices that are research based, meaning they are effective practices for student learning, will help you develop your units and lessons and communicate the instructional targets to students. Students need to be engaged and be able to demonstrate their learning through a variety of performance tasks. Formative assessments of learning needs to be incorporated so that teachers get the feedback they need to provide supports to students or extend the learning activities. Again, in your teams, discuss the 4 PLC questions that will help you design your instruction.

Monday, November 19, 2012


Did you think I fell off the face of the earth? I have been on "blogger hiatus" for a few weeks!

Today, I want to share a thought as we prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday. I want to talk a bit about gratitude and to use it in your life. In August 2010, I was a superintendent, the economy, property values and the lack of state of Illinois payments to school districts, caused the district to make HUGE cuts in educational programs and staff. It was an extremely stressful time for me; I was a year away from retirement and this was by far the hardest time of my educational career. Administrators, teachers and support staff losing their jobs, cutting programs for students, as well as families in our community were struggling with their own loss of jobs and maybe even their homes.

On opening day for teachers, a young second year teacher sent out an email to all of his colleagues.

"Budgets will no doubt be getting tighter, we will have to do more with less, more personal sacrifices will be made for the benefit of students and colleagues, and the list could go on and on. That being said, amongst the bleak forecasts I cannot help but be grateful and thus hopeful. I am so thankful to have a job I love. Even more so, I am grateful to get to work with a terrific bunch of professionals like yourselves who care deeply about our students - their lives and learnings. I am beyond appreciative for the fantastic group of students we get to work with, even those we have to drag by their toes to the end......The point is, no matter what goes down this year, from the mountain tops experiences of ecstasy to the deepest of valleys of despair, we need to be thankful and stick together--Faculty, Staff, Administration, and All. Being grateful changes everything, it brings hope and puts everything in a new perspective. Let's be intentional about being thankful in a tangible manner. Shoot an email, write a note, buy a little gift to show each other just how grateful we are - even for the little things."

This teacher e-mail impacted me greatly! With all the decisions to be made, the tough conversations with people, the worry and stress, I felt like a robot just making it through the day. HOWEVER, that changed when I read this email. That day, I started a gratitude journal, writing every day, the things that I was grateful for: my great secretary and office staff who worked long hours, my teachers who were doing more with less and were still dedicated to students, my principals, my Board of Education, the great students we had, my husband, my kids, my family, my health....it just flowed each day I wrote in my journal (IPhone app-gratitude journal). Not only was I appreciating everything that I had, but I felt stress relief, happier and more hopeful. Research says that people who embrace gratitude either through journaling, thanking others, etc. are 25% happier after 10 weeks of focusing on being thankful.

Just this week, I saw two 24 years olds on TV whose lives were changed forever. Amiee Copeland who was ziplining and got a flesh eating bacteria and lost her hands, feet and right leg and Lauren Scruggs, who walked into a helicopter propeller which sliced off her left hand and had her left eye removed-- both of these young women expressed their gratitude for life.

So as we prepare for Thanksgiving this Thursday, reflect on your gratitude. Yes, we all worry about finding a job, losing a job, our performance at our job, paying our bills, paying the college bill each month, insurance, house repairs, car repairs, and the list goes on. So try a Gratitude Journal for 30 days, either an app on your phone, or a spiral notebook, and see how you feel. I know that you will feel different, I did!!! Thank you Jonathan!! Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Transitions in Life

I am a week behind on my blog!!

Today I presented at the Illinois Principal Association's, Principal Professional Conference in Peoria, Illinois. I drove down to Peoria on Friday, and stayed with a friend for the weekend. I lived in Peoria for 3 years when I first got out of college, and landed my first job in Peoria Public Schools. It was an interesting and nostalgic weekend, I went to take a picture of the first home that we owned, which looked like the size of a doghouse now! I was so excited to move into that house, as I was pregnant with our first child at the time. I saw three of my cousins who live in Peoria and we had so much fun just talking about how much fun we had as kids growing up and what was happening in our lives now.

It was ironic as I looked at all these firsts, that I have now just just completed my first year of retirement. Where did the time go? When I looked out into the group of attendees at my session for my presentation today, I noticed most of them were 30-45 years old. The age of education is changing, meaning that the Baby Boomers like me are moving out of teaching and administration and these younger administrators have new thoughts, new values, new visions, and new goals. Working with them, both teaching at the university level and in discussions, is so exciting to me!! They have some different perspectives, but their passion for education, learning and kids seem to be the same as mine. Still!! I asked them to share their transitions today during my presentation, and they shared: now an empty nester; new home, new baby and new job; and a 51 year old principal shared he was the father of a 23-month-old child. NOW THAT IS A TRANSITION!!!

Transition is a natural thing that we go through over and over in our lives. Changing and growing from the first breathe we take until our last breath. Some of those transitions are fun and exciting, some are painful and difficult, some we can control and some we have no control over at all.

Change happens externally, a new program or a new process; transition happens internally, how we adapt to the change or the new situation. Many times it is the painful or difficult transitions that take our time and attention. We need to focus on moving forward with change and being aware of the transitions that we are experiencing.

Accept the changes. Embrace the negative feelings that might arise from the changes you are facing. But then move forward to accepting those changes and building a support system that will assist you in moving forward positively. This will be the first day of change!!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What Does YOUR Facebook Page look like?

My daughter is a personnel recruiter for an IT company and the other day she suggested that college kids or anyone else trying to find a job, should adjust their Facebook page. Many employers are doing their due diligence and checking social media sites for prospective employees for information that may be considered in the hiring process. Here are some tips:

1. Make sure that your cover and profile photos are appropriate. Recruiters and employers today are checking your page! "A survey conducted by CareerBuilder found that the top reason employers reject candidates is for posting inappropriate photographs."

2. Watch what you put on your social media pages about alcohol or drug use. How you acted at a bachelor or bachelorette party, might have potential employers misjudge you for the workplace.

3. Make sure that you have an appropriate e-mail address. Sexylady78@gmail.com is not the email that you want your potential boss or employer contacting you at.

4. You may not want to "like" pages that show your political affiliation or your opinion on various social or religious issues.

5. Control who sees your social media pages. You may not be able to delete those crazy photos you posted from Las Vegas, but you CAN control who views them through your privacy settings. Make sure that you have the settings right!

Social media, such as LinkedIn can be beneficial for job hunting and making professional connections. Professional discussion boards can also highlight your strengths for potential employers. So, be careful with Facebook!!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Don't Give Up!! Keep Pursuing Your Dream!!

You have just finished college, earned a Bachelor's Degree in Education and are looking for a teaching position. You have taught for a few years, and now have relocated to a new area, city or state and are looking for a teaching position. You graduated with a Bachelor's degree in another degree area besides Education and now have completed your Master's in Education and are looking for a teaching position. No matter what your story is, finding a teaching position in this economy is difficult. Schools are increasing class size, eliminating classrooms, reducing staff and looking for the least expensive teacher to hire.

Talking to principals who are posting vacancies on the online sites, they receive an average of 800 applications for any one position. Can you imagine reviewing or sorting through applications to find the 8-10 candidates that you would like to interview for the first round? How can you make your application stand out? How do you continue to pursue a teaching position AFTER the school year has started? How do try to get yourself noticed in a school?

1. Make sure that your cover letter is connected to the goals of the school or district. In your cover letter, you do not need to reiterate your education, student teaching experiences or how much you love teaching. Your cover letter should outline the goals of the school and how these match your goals and what you can contribute to the school. Your experiences with PLCs, unit development, assessments, student data and the common core would be areas that you should highlight in your cover letter. THOSE are the experiences that principals want.

2. Your resume should outline your professional competencies-- your strengths, what you can do very well. Make a bulleted list: establishing procedures and routines in the classroom? collaborative team work? work with the common core? use of student data to differentiate instruction?

3. Your resume should outline your work experience. Again highlight the experiences that you had in either a teaching position or student teaching. It is not necessary to say, "developed science units on electricity and energy." It would develop more interest to the reader to see, "developed science units identifying essential outcomes for student mastery and designing assessments."

4. Tailor your resume to the teaching vacancy. You should tweak your resume if you pursuing a kindergarten position vs. a 2nd grade position vs. a fifth grade position. There are different literacy competencies that principals would be looking for dependent on the grade level.

5. SUBSTITUTE teach. Get out and get in those schools and sub!!! That is how you get to know the school or district, get to know the goals of a school or district, get to know the teachers and staff, and get to know the curriculum. If teachers see your professionalism, they will request you. They want a sub who can follow their plans and that will continue the learning in their classroom.

6. Know what is going on in education. Professional Learning Communities, Common Core Standards, in IL, the new teacher evaluation process, balanced literacy, formative and summative assessment, collaborative work with a team, are some of the buzz words that you need to understand and be able to talk about. Can you?? Look at the IL state website, www.isbe.net, read my weekly blog on www.theteacherguru.net and check out my Facebook page, The Teacher Guru, for the most up-to-date educational issues.

7. Keep checking the vacancies!! I am so excited that one of my clients just got a teaching position this week, the last week of September!! Schools/districts have vacancies that occur during the year for a variety of reasons: maternity leaves, medical leaves, and increase in state or federal grant funds, to name a few. So check those vacancies every day!!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What Do YOU think About Homework?

Homework....can be an issue that teachers have to deal with especially at the middle school and high school level. How much to assign? What to assign? How to monitor homework? How to make homework meaningful? What if the kids don't do the homework? Is homework included in the student's grade? What if a student never turns in their homework, but does well on all their assessments?

It is time to take a look at homework again. There are many research studies on homework and the effectiveness on student achievement. Homework should not be just answering the questions at the end of the chapter.

Here are some key ideas for you to think about:

"There is no evidence that any amount of homework improves the academic performance of elementary students. There is only a moderate correlation between homework and achievement in middle school. Even in high school too much homework may diminish its effectiveness and becomes counterproductive." (Cooper, Harris, Jorgianne Civey and Erice A. Patall, "Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement? A Synthesis of Research 1987-2003." Review of Educational Research, 76, 2006, 1-62).

Students need feedback on their homework and they need it in a timely manner. Doing homework and then putting it in a bin in the classroom and receiving the homework back with a check mark on it serves NO purpose for student learning. That type of homework is simply making students comply rather than using homework as a learning or assessment tool. Design the homework so that you can provide meaningful feedback to the student, acknowledge student understanding and point out any issues that need reteaching.

Teachers need to develop homework that focuses on smaller pieces of learning so that students can practice the skills at a deeper level. How about homework developed around the instructional target that you are focusing on in the essential outcome of your unit? Having students practice more on focused concepts will increase learning. "Mastery requires focused practice over days or weeks. After only four practice session students reach a halfway point to mastery. It takes more than 24 more practice sessions before students reach 80% mastery."(Anderson, 1995; Newel & Rosenbloom, 1981).

How do you develop homework so that students will DO the homework? Homework should not be too easy or too hard, it needs to be at the appropriate level that ensures learning with some challenge. How can you design the homework so that it is relevant and meaningful and that the students see the benefit of the practice?

Look at your grading practices. How much does homework count in the quarter or semester grade? Think about the impact of one low homework grade on a student's total grade? Is the "grade" about doing the homework, or about the student's mastery of learning?

Happy Homework!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Start Preparing for Parent-Teacher-Student Conferences

It seems like school has just started, in fact school has been in session about 5 to 6 weeks. In about another 5 to 6 weeks, your school will be holding parent-teacher conferences, an annual fall event. I would like to talk to you about parent-teacher conferences and how you can make them more meaningful for parents, students and YOU, as the teacher.

• As you prepare for conferences, review the learning outcomes you have developed for each unit, the instructional targets and assessments that demonstrate student learning. Using the Common Core standards now should allow you to assess students on each standard and know exactly where they are!
• Tell parents how their student is doing on the learning outcomes. Use your assessments to demonstrate their learning. It means nothing to say that the student has a grade of an A, B, or C…that does not tell how the student is doing. Be concise, develop an agenda that you can use in your conferences to share information effectively. Use language the parents can understand; with the educational jargon we use, that can put parents on the defensive.
• Have samples of student work to demonstrate progress. YOU do not need to compile all of the student’s work; have the students select work that demonstrates their progress and put in a folder to share. This engages students in understanding their current level of performance and how they are progressing. You should start this at the beginning of the year with students; if you haven’t, start at the next unit.
• Involve students in the conferences. Even little bitty Kindergarteners know what is easy and hard for them. By having students a part of their conferences, there is no hidden agenda, they understand how they are doing and they should be able to communicate that to their parents. Can you imagine your principal doing your evaluation with your husband or mother?!!!! Students are the learners and should be part of the process in understanding their progress and achievement.
• Some conferences with parents and students might be difficult. If you anticipate that, ask the principal, department chair, or another support staff to participate in the conference with you. Remember to communicate regularly with parents on student issues and not have conferences be the first place to discuss student difficulties or significant issues.
• Listen to what the parents have to say. Most parents are genuinely concerned about their student and if you listen to what they have to say, you will

build a better partnership with them. If there are issues that need to be addressed, have two or three solutions that you and the parents can work on together.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Making Targets Meaningful for Students

Teachers need to do more than just list the targets on the board. Making the target meaningful for students involves a student knowing what the target is, when they accomplished it and how working on and mastering the target will assist in their understanding of the essential outcome. Each lesson builds student learning to the bullseye, the mastery of the essential outcome.

Students will understand the criteria for the targets by how the targets are presented. For younger students, "I can" or "I will" statements can be used.

Older students can have a list of the essential outcomes and all the targets that students will need to know and be able to do.

Students need to know the steps to mastery, what they need to KNOW and DO, how will they know that they are successful and lastly, why do they need to learn it.

Students can use a variety of tools to monitor where they are in the learning process. Rubrics can be used to see how students are progressing and the level of learning for each student. Older students can use a notebook or an electronic list with targets outlined in order to monitor their learning progress.

Homework and assessments should all include the targets being listed on them so that the students can always connect their learning. This makes all learning explicit and students actively engaged in their own learning.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Instructional Targets

As a teacher, you want students to be engaged and accountable for their learning. Teachers design their units, based on the Common Core Standards, and then begin to break that standard down into small teachable, learnable and assessable parts.

Take a look at the photo I have attached. This chapter/unit overview is from an Algebra I class. The essential outcomes are outlined for the chapter/unit as well as the targeted learning that will help students master the essential outcomes.

The teacher starts each lesson with the overall goals of mastery of the knowledge and skills. Students can see what knowledge and skills are necessary to master each essential outcome, can assess what they DO know and ARE able to do, and what they will have to demonstrate to show their learning. There is no hidden agenda; there are no "gotcha's"; the learning outcomes are specific and explicit to all.

Based on the essential outcomes and the learning targets, teachers are better able to monitor student learning. It is more than a grade-- A, C, or F --- it helps teachers know where EACH student is in the learning process and what their students need; to be able to differentiate, remediate and enrich. Students are better to monitor their own learning as well! THEY KNOW what they know and can do!

Try this with your next unit. The next step is to have students review the process for the essential outcomes and targets at the beginning of the lesson, rather than the teacher.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Welcome Back to the Common Core!!

You are now back in the grind now for a few days!!! I am sure you are tired, you are not used to getting up early, getting everybody off in the morning, and driving to work before 7:30 a.m.!!! Well you know what? Neither are the kids or the parents used to it yet either!!

By now you have set your classroom expectations, are establishing routines and procedures, and beginning to teach your first units for the year.

Things may be a bit chaotic, due to the implementation of the Common Core standards, and you wanting to get your units, outcomes and assessments aligned to the Common Core. Most of you worked on "unpacking" the standards last year and will continue to do so this year. It is so critical that you do this "unpacking" with your Professional Learning Community or team/grade level so that everyone is on the same page. Remember the Common Core outlines the knowledge and skills that all students must have, but the Common Core does not outline HOW teachers do that. Working collaboratively will help everyone so much on the HOWs of implementing the Common Core. Don't forget about the Common Core website, www.corestandards.org!! The website has many resources that can assist you in the implementation.

Robert Marzano has a website that also has some great resources that will come in handy when implementing the Common Core, http://marzanoresearch.com/services/ccss.aspx.

Itunes has several apps that you can download for free, whether a teacher or principal:


Check them out and see what you think!!!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Do you know what Khan Academy is?

If you read my Facebook page on The Teacher Guru, I post a lot of links to articles on technology: uses, apps, flipped classroom, sites, podcasts, IPad uses, etc.

The Khan Academy at www.khanacademy.org is an academic site with over 180,000,000 video lessons! The goal of Khan Academy is to provide education for free, world wide, thus there are lessons that can be viewed by anyone with a computer and the internet on many academic subjects. The videos can be used for initial instruction, or for students for review OR for parents trying to help their kids on a specific math problem or science concept that they have no memory of!!!

Students can get practice, get feedback on how they did on a specific problem or concept, it keeps track of what you have accomplished and keeps track of everything you have learned.

Teachers can have students watch a lesson the night before the lesson will be introduced by the teacher the next day. Teachers can also use the site to have students practice and then see how students have done on a specific problem or concept in order to provide the necessary supports for their students.

Check it out!!!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Bloom's Taxonomy

Are you familiar with Bloom's Taxonomy? I hope you are!! in 1956, Benjamin Bloom and a group of educators completed this hierarchy of cognitive levels of complexity. Today it is still alive and well!! It has been revised, thus changing the words in the taxonomy from nouns to verbs,

Teachers use the taxonomy to plan and teach their lessons as well as to assess their student's learning. As the new Common Core Standards require students to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways, Bloom's can assist teachers in making sure that their lessons build up from "remembering" to "creating."


This link can assist teachers in the development of their lessons and assessments so that students can demonstrate their learning at the highest, most complex level. One criticism is that teachers do not always incorporate higher level, complex learning activities and that learning is rote and mundane. To ensure that students grow intellectually, teachers should keep the taxonomy handy for lesson planning and assessment and be accountable for the higher levels of student learning.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

School Starts in About 2 Weeks!!

New teacher? Are you ready?? Well you better be!!! By now you are planning on attending new teacher orientation and learning the ropes! In the meantime, have you reviewed and prepared:

* Written your introduction to parents, telling them about you and the classroom
* Reviewed the curriculum maps for your grade level or content area
* Reviewed your students in your class(es)
* Reviewed which students have IEPs or 504 plans
* Interacted with your principal
* Interacted with the school custodian (always a big help!)
* Interacted with the school secretary (always another big help!)
* Connected with your grade level or department team
* Have your room arranged, with seating arrangements
* Established your classroom routines and procedures
* Know what your curriculum materials are and how to get them
* Understand how you will be evaluated and who will evaluate you
* Know the safety procedures for fire, tornado/severe weather and school intruders for your classroom
* Know general school procedures: arrival and dismissal, lunch, bus riding, lockers
* Developed tentative lesson plans for the first two weeks of school
* Know who your mentor is, if you have one
* How to get help if you need it!!

Are you ready to have an exciting year?? And work very hard, but it will be worth it!!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Late on my Blog!!! Are you an Olympian teacher?

My sister has been in visiting from London for the last 3 weeks and I got behind on my blog!!! My sister returned this week to London and will be trying to attend some of the Olympic events; she initially was trying to get out of the chaos, but after watching the events over the last 6 days, she got caught up in the excitement and is now getting tickets for some events!

As I watch the Olympics, I am amazed at these young people who have dedicated their lives to a dream, "to be the best in the world," even if they don't achieve that dream. What can we learn from them as educators? A GREAT DEAL!

1. A Vision and Focus: where do I want to be at the end of the week? End of the month?
End of the year? As educators, how do I dedicate my life to one goal, being an
excellent teacher? Do you love what you do, in order to go the extra mile to be the

2. Perseverance: Never giving up, even when you fail or have disappointment. As
educators, how do you push through difficulties, always wanting to do better?
Keeping a positive, optimistic attitude and rebounding after something that has
happened that is not so good. Are you willing to do the hard work that is needed to be
the best teacher you can be?

3. Confidence: Olympians have confidence in their abilities and believe in
themselves to reach their dream. How do you build your confidence, even when you
are under incredible pressure? Are you patient as you develop your knowledge and
skills as an educator? Do you take feedback constructively? Do you seek out
feedback? Do your reflect on your abilities so you have a realistic view of

4. Individual Growth, yet Team Player: Can you imagine the disappointment of Jordyn Wieber, the world champion at the Olympic trials, not making the finals? She has personally developed her skills to be top in the world, yet she could not compete. However, she had her cry, then supported her team in winning the gold medal for the team finals. How do you work toward your individual growth as an educator, yet work with others for the growth of all? Are you a coach or a mentor? Do you support others and hold everyone accountable for the good of the whole? Do you respect your colleagues?

5. Handling Success: Olympians know when they are in the zone!! 17 year old swimmer Missy Franklin is a great example of someone under extreme pressure as people are predicting her success. She is humble, complimentary of her competitors and teammates, articulate, and she is a BIG winner so far at the age of 17!! She represents her country and sport well! How do you handle your own success when your students accomplish great learning goals? How do you represent your school and district? It isn't just the skills that you have as a teacher, it is the qualities the you possess as you grow that make you great!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Domain 4 Professional Responsibilities

Domain 4 is really about the much deeper level of teaching and being a professional. The components expect a teacher to further develop their teaching knowledge and skills and to be very self-directed in your learning.

** Reflecting on teaching: This is a very developmental process. Beginning teachers will start to reflect on the lesson parts, how students answered questions and participated, how the students did in an activity, etc. As teachers develop, they begin to reflect on the TYPES of questions they are including in their lessons for students to promote higher level thinking, various instructional strategies they used and their effectiveness, and how they used assessment during or at the end of the lesson to measure student learning.

** Maintaining accurate records: Teachers should maintain instructional records and students should be a part of that maintenance--- it should NEVER be a surprise to any student how they are progressing in their learning.

** Communicating with Families: Communication with families should be timely, often and engaging. Families have many questions about how their child is doing, and for the most part are a partner with the teacher in the child's learning.

** Participating in a Professional Learning Community: The teacher is dedicated to being collaborative and being an active participant in the learning community and working with the team. The teacher is involved in district events and projects and develops into a leader in their school.

** Growing and Developing Professionally: The teacher actively pursues professional development to improve their teaching and student learning. This could mean attending a conference, but more so, self-directed growth, such as reading, webinars, discussions, and seeking feedback from colleagues and principals, for their improvement.

** Demonstrating Professionalism: The teacher demonstrates ethical behavior and integrity. The teacher does not get involved in gossip in the faculty lounge, make comments about school and other teachers to others or people in the community, or post their dissatisfaction with their school, teachers, etc. on Facebook!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Domain 3 Instruction

The Danielson Framework Domain 3 is focusing on instruction and what you do in the classroom is evidence of this domain.

** Expectations for learning, directions, procedures and instruction on content are clear to students.

** Questions that you use as a teacher reflect high expectations and are culturally and developmentally appropriate.Keep a tally of the types of questions that you use in your classroom and see if you are varying your questions.

** Students are engaged throughout the lesson and making contributions during activities, with groups and with the learning materials.The structure of the lesson and pacing allows for students to reflect and have closure to the lesson.

** Assessment is well-developed and students are involved in the development of the learning criteria, self-assessment and monitoring of their own progress. The teacher provides quality feedback to students on their learning.

** Teachers are able to enhance learning or build on student interests in order to promote learning. They are also able to use an extensive repertoire of instructional strategies.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Managing Student Behavior Domain 2

In order for students to be able engage with content, the classroom environment must be orderly and supportive. Standards are clear to students, students feel respected. Expectations for student conduct have been established and are implemented. Teachers know what is happening in the classroom and subtly move to help students and re-engage them in the lesson. Monitoring of student behavior is preventative and when the teacher responds to student conduct, it is with respect that the behavior is addressed.

1. Create an environment of respect and rapport: The teacher interactions and student interactions are appropriate.

2. Establish a culture for learning: Expectations for student learning are clear, the importance of the content is made clear for students, and quality work is expected.

3. Managing classroom procedures: The teacher manages a variety of instructional groups, transitions are smooth and seamless, materials and supplies are available, and the teacher appropriately supervises volunteers and paraprofessionals that might be in the classroom.

4. Managing student behavior: Again expectations are clear for student behavior, behavior is monitored and preventative and the teacher responds to student misbehavior immediately and appropriately. Successful teachers practice routines and procedures at the beginning of the school year intentionally so that students know the expectations and it becomes the expectation.

5. Organizing physical space: The room is arranged to promote engagement of students.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Framework for Teaching


For the next few blogs, I will be discussing the Danielson Framework for Teaching. This framework provides teachers with effective teaching practices that impact student learning. Today I will highlight Domain 1, Planning and Preparation. As a teacher is developing units and lessons, these need to be considered:

1. Teacher knows the content that will be taught and prepares for any misunderstandings of students.
2. Teacher knows the students' abilities, backgrounds, cultures, skills, and special needs in order to plan the
unit or lesson.
3. Instructional outcomes are set for the unit and lesson and are assessable, are rigorous and are tied to the
Common Core.
4. Teacher uses a variety of resources to use in teaching students.
5. Teacher designs a lesson that is coherent and clear with learning experiences aligned to the instructional
outcomes and are differentiated for student needs.
6. Assessment is aligned with instructional outcomes, with clear criteria and standards. Assessment is intended
to be used to plan future instruction for students.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Professional Learning Communities

With the implementation of the Common Core standards, many educational experts are saying that while the Common Core have more rigorous expectations for students, the implementation of these standards will be difficult unless teachers unpack those standards, discuss assessments and more importantly discuss instructional methods and strategies that will impact student learning.

Do you know the 4 PLC questions? 1) What do we want all students to be able to know and do? 2) How will we know that they learned it? 3) What do we do when they don't learn it, and 4) What do we do when they know it already?

These are the guiding questions for Professional Learning Community teams as they look at student learning. These guide the standards and outcomes for students and how we plan units, how we assess students, what are core instructional practices that everyone should be using because they are effective, how we provide support and interventions to those students who have not mastered the outcomes we developed and lastly, how we provide enrichment to those students that are already proficient and are more self-directed learners.

PLCs are collaborative teams whose members work to achieve common goals, learning for all. DuFour says, "Collaboration does not lead to improved results unless people are focused on the right issues....Collaborations represents a systematic process in which teachers work together interdependently in order to impact their classroom practices in ways that will lead to better results for their students."

PLCs have a commitment to continuous improvement. They gather evidence of student learning, look at students strengths and weaknesses, discuss teaching strategies and then analyze the impact of those strategies as to what was effective for student learning. Teachers learn from each other and the learning of the whole is more important.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

School is Out!! Now What?

For most of you, school is out or will be out soon! What then? After you take a breath, rest and relax a bit, you can get back at it! For most of you, your learning never ends, even during the summer!!

I watched an excellent webinar the other day sponsored by the Leadership and Learning Center, hosted by John Hattie, from the University of Melbourne. John has done research for the last 15 years on the biggest student sample ever, on what actually works in schools to improve learning and published the book Visible Learning for Teachers. I just bought the book and have not read it yet, but just looking through it, John provides practical, useful information on teaching strategies to implement in the classroom that MAKE THE DIFFERENCE in student learning. There are checklists, exercises, case studies--- all that answer the question, "How do we maximize student achievement in our schools."

So I would advise getting on Amazon, ordering your book, and do some summer reading by the pool!! It will pay off!!

Here is the link to the webinar and presentation slides!


Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Leave Behind after the interview

My daughter is in marketing, and was suggesting to me that I work with the teacher candidates on developing a "leave behind." I had no idea what she was talking about! She suggested that the teacher candidates develop something to leave with the interviewer after the interview is done. The leave behind is such a great opportunity to leave a lasting impression.

According to Wes McDowell at freelanceswitch.com, "leave behinds" should fulfill three objectives:
1) Branding - what are you about
2) Showcase your work
3) Make it easy to keep and keep looking at

So let's apply that to teaching! As a teacher, what represents YOU and your beliefs and your work? Put an image that represents that on a bright card with your name and hand it to the interviewer. What can you showcase? A small chart of your class' performance on an assessment; Put that chart of student progress on a white card with your name and leave that behind. Your personal vision with an image; a quote from a specific student that you impacted.

Check out the link at pinterest and see what ideas you can find.


"Leave behinds" keep YOU in the interviewers mind and makes you stand out!!!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Your Teaching Performance

Congratulations!! You just landed your first teaching position!!!

If you are in Illinois, your teaching performance will be evaluated using the Charlotte Danielson framework. What does this mean? Well take a look:


This copy of the rubric from Danielson's 2nd edition, A Framework for Teaching, will be the foundation for the new evaluation framework used in Illinois.

Start by looking at the 4 domains that are Planning and Preparation, Classroom Environment, Instruction, and Professional Responsibilities. Each domain has elements and indicators that outline each teaching practice. Take one domain at a time, and go through and highlight the key concepts in each element and indicator and do a self-assessment. Do I know what this means? Do I know what this looks like? Do I know if I have done this in my past teaching experience?

Look at your units and lesson and see what applies to the work you have done in the past? Look at your philosophy on classroom management and how you have engaged students. Look at your assessments you have used or developed. And lastly look at YOURSELF-- what type of communicator am I? How do I work with others? Am I a life-long learner?

This review can get you started on reflecting on your own teaching philosophy and practices.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Interact with the Common Core Standards

Today, I was videotaping a PLC meeting, and there was a student teacher involved in the meeting. The principal asked the student teacher how often she as a college student, interacts with the Common Core Standards? The student teacher said that they need to identify the Common Core Standard when doing lesson plans, but other than that, the students do not really discuss them.

I was in total shock hearing that some universities are not immersing the students in the Common Core. I also was thinking how far behind the new teachers will be with minimal interaction with the Common Core. The Common Core Standards are to "provide a consistent, clear understand of what students are expected to learn," as well as the "standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers."

Students will be asked to apply their skills in a broader "real world" context. Students will be asked to analyze a story rather than answer questions about the plot. In math, students will be asked how and why in a math problem, rather than just working a problem.

What does this mean for new teachers? It means that while the standards are changing and becoming more rigorous, the way teachers design lessons, activities, and assessments MUST be different based on what the standards are asking students to do. Students are now asked to cite textual evidence, analyze, explain compare and contrast, demonstrate, delineate, evaluate and integrate.

Make sure that you explore the Common Core Standards. Google Common Core and read about the standards, the process, the assessments, the materials that are recommended, the curriculum changes that are necessary, etc. If you are on LinkedIn, there is an amazing discussion board going on about Common Core Standards. Don't be left behind!!!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Flipped Classroom

I have been reading a great deal about the "flipped" classroom and the movement of teachers toward this use of technology. If you are not familiar, the "flipped" classroom is where the teacher delivers the lesson via video the night before. Students then have access to view that lesson the night before and then class time the next day is used for monitoring student understanding, reteaching and problem solving. Teachers are using YouTube, Moodle,and other models, such as Khan Academy, to teach their lesson the night before so students can view the lesson.

Creating student interest and motivation to watch the videos is a key concept in the "flipped" classroom. The "need to know" must be presented to students by teachers in a positive way, not in a punitive/punishment way. Finding a way for ALL kids to be able to access the video is also important. Will you require that they all watch the video? How will you make that happen? If they watch the video and master the concept immediately, what will you do the next day in class with the student? If they watch the video and don't get the concept at all, how will you address the concept in the classroom? How will you manage students that might be at very different levels of understanding?

How will you set up your classroom the next day when students walk in the classroom? They have watched the lesson and now what? What was the target of the lesson? How did the concept build on previous learning? How will they use the concept for future learning? Did they learn it? If not, what is needed to learn the concept?

Once started can you maintain using the "flipped" classroom? Will you video daily? Will you start it and then get bogged down with it and not be able to continue it? What does that mean for the students who may be more excited about using the video lessons?

Check out articles on The Teacher Guru Facebook page for more "flipped" classroom information. I am going to try a "flipped" lesson in my doctoral class this summer....I will let you know how it works!!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Classroom Management

Last Friday in Georgia, the police were called to an elementary school and handcuffed a kindergartner after the girl threw a tantrum and was put in a cell at the police station for tearing items off the wall and throwing furniture in an outburst. Does this happen sometimes when a child gets out of control in the school setting? Yes it does. Are there strategies that can put into place to avoid this situation? Yes there are, but students can still get out of control for a variety of reasons.

Classroom procedures are necessary to create consistency and routine in your classroom. Students need procedures and routines for entering the classroom each morning. What are they expected to do? Enter the classroom, be ready to work by the time the bell rings. Homework ready to discuss, complete the warm up on the board, materials needed listed on the board -- teachers need to TEACH and PRACTICE this routine with students of all ages at the beginning of the year, so that each lesson begins with students ready to go. Teachers should never have to constantly tell students to get in their seats or to be quiet. Some teachers use transition music, so that when the song ends, students are in their seats ready to go-- and YES it even works for high school students. A positive, respectful class environment needs to be modeled by the teacher from the start of the school year. Greet your students by name as they are coming into class each day, making a connection with them.

Having well planned lessons and activities that engage students is another critical component of an effective learning environment. When students are actively engaged in learning, it lessens the opportunity for students to engage in disruptive behavior. Lecturing students during a complete class period is a teaching method of the past!! Students must actively display their learning, the development of their knowledge and skills. When the teacher lets students know what the expectations of each lesson will be, this gives students an understanding of what they need to be able to do by the end of the lesson. Giving the students regular feedback on their learning, keeps students involved and more motivated to learn.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Finding a Teaching Job in Hard Economic Times

In these times of the troubling economy, budget cuts, reductions of programs and increasing class sizes, it is difficult to get an interview and land a teaching job.

Make sure your resume and cover letter make you stand out-- not colors and ABC's, but will grab the reader. Highlight your experiences and talents that will benefit that district or school. Individualize that information per school so that you are connecting to the school's vision and mission. Can you coach? Do you have experiences with clubs and student activities?

Create a list of links where you can check job postings quickly. Regional offices, job banks, as well as school district websites usually provide the most updated information on positions available. Create a quick Excel spreadsheet so that you can track the application process-- when the job was posted, when the posting will close, when you submitted the application, follow up plans, etc. This will make your search more efficient in tracking what you are doing.

Find networking opportunities that you can participate in. The more people you know, the more likely that you will connect with someone who is looking for YOU! to fill a teaching position. Linked IN, Facebook, college and university job fairs, events for networking, etc. are all ways to get you out there and get noticed. Do you have any connections in a school or district that can help you get noticed? With the hundreds of applications being submitted for a single position, you have to pull every trick out of your hat to get noticed.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Preparing for MORE Specific Interview Questions

How do you prepare for a teaching job interview? There could be hundreds of questions the interviewer can ask! So some tips on what you might prepare for:

1. Tell me about yourself. Have a brief story ready about your experiences in life; growing up, school, activities, interests, hobbies. You need to make a connection with the interviewer, so make it interesting, can include humor and make sure you practice it from beginning to end.

2. In your first teaching job, questions might be more difficult as you have not experienced your own classroom. So be prepared to discuss: classroom management, how you will work with a team and collaborate, understanding of the Common Core Standards, instructional strategies, how you differentiate for students in learning, how you will assess students and what you will do with the results, communication with parents, how you might work with special education students, and what was your best lesson, and what was your worst lesson.

3. Be positive, upbeat, enthusiastic as you speak; practice some points for each of the possible topics above, so you have a framework in your head and you are not fumbling during your response. If you have examples to share in which you have experienced success with a management or classroom strategy, use that in your response to personalize it more. Remember, this is about what YOU will do in your classroom, not what your student teacher supervisor will do. You can compile all those experiences to share what YOU will use that is most effective!

Good Luck!!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Know Your Educational Jargon!!

As you are interviewing for a teaching position, there may be educational jargon that is thrown your way. In order to know what you might be up against, here is a list that you should either know already or begin your own dictionary. You don't want to be caught off guard!!

ADHD, accommodations, alignment, application of skills and knowledge, assessment (formative and summative), balanced literacy, behavior management plan, benchmarks, best practices, Bloom's Taxonomy, classroom management, collaboration, Common Core Standards, comprehension, critical thinking, good core instruction, critical thinking, data, differentiated instruction, ELL, enrichment, essential outcomes, evaluation, feedback, fluency, IEP, interventions, literacy, mastery, methodology, problem solving, Professional Learning Communities, proficiency, Response to Intervention (RtI), rigor, rubric, School improvement, standards based, target, Tier I, Tier II, Tier III, teacher evaluation laws in IL (or state that you will work in).

The educational jargon listed above should be terms that you have had experience with in your college course work, clinical experiences, student teaching and subbing (if you have subbed and participate in school discussions and work with a team). Many of these terms are used by teachers, yet not all really understand the concepts behind the terms.

While these terms and concepts are going to be used every day in your teaching experiences, make sure that you have some core beliefs connected to these terms and not just regurgitating the definitions in an interview. For example, YOUR core beliefs about what is the best approach to classroom management in YOUR classroom, or YOUR core beliefs about collaboration with other professionals, or YOUR core beliefs about using a rubric. This may take some heavy duty thinking on your part, but it will pay off and show some personalization when you are asked some interview questions regarding the above jargon!!!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What Does it Mean to be RIFd?

During these tough budgetary times, most school districts will be doing RIFs (Reduction in Force) at the February and March Board of Education meetings in Illinois. The Board of Education may have made decisions to RIF employees due to the following: increase class size, thus eliminating a classroom; is unsure about enrollment at this time, so RIFing teachers, in the event that enrollment does not support the need for another teacher; or is unsure about the budget from the state and other state payments.

The School Code requires that written notice for Reduction in Force be given to non-tenured teachers at least 45 calendar days before the end of the school year. In the school code all releases, either due to budget or due to performance for non-tenured teachers are documented as "non-renewal of probationary teachers." At this time, non-tenured teachers do not have a statutory right to bump other teachers and do not have seniority rights. Your principal will inform you that you will be RIFd and what that means. If you have questions, you can ask your union representative as well.

This is a very emotional time for most teachers being RIFd-- it means losing your job. Most teachers feel that they have worked hard and given their heart and soul, and now are losing their job. Understand that most RIFs in current time are due to the tough economy and lack of local and state monies available to districts. Always be professional during this time; do not get caught up in the rumor mill and negative conversations. Continue to work hard and meet the needs of your students.

The Reductions in Force are publicly announced at the board meeting stating the names of employees to be RIFd and the Board of Education must vote to accept those reductions.

It is possible for the Board to recall non-tenured teachers at any time, and teachers could be recalled right up to the week before school. There is no seniority for recall of non-tenured teachers, so districts have the option to recall who they feel is the best candidate should a position open.

If you are RIFd, begin looking at your options for employment immediately! The competition for open positions will be fierce, so you need to be assertive early! Get those online applications, resumes, and cover letters out to districts that have posted vacancies!!

Ask you principal about compensation arrangements if you are on 24 pay and the duration of insurance benefits.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Cover Letter

The cover letter is very important to the employer, as it perks their interest in what you can bring to the position, school and district. Individualize your cover letters with each application; nothing is worse than the online generic cover letter that is sent to a district/school with the wrong employer information on it!! Make sure that each cover letter is addressed to the correct employer!!

Check out the school and district website and find out what the district/school goals are. In your cover letter, highlight your experiences/skills/knowledge in those areas. If the school vision and mission outline the type of learners that the district wants to create, highlight how you will promote that in your teaching. This makes you more desirable as a candidate and also shows that you have done your homework on the school/district.

The cover letter allows you to show a bit of your personality--what your experiences have been, your outstanding strengths, and passion and dedication to teaching.

With all the candidates seeking jobs right now, you have to use that cover letter to STAND OUT among all the online applications that schools/districts will be reviewing.

Monday, February 13, 2012

I Got a Job Offer!! What Do I Ask About Now??!! Part 4

Once you have that offer, don't forget to ask about professional development opportunities that are available to you as a new teacher and for future years!

Some school districts provide opportunities for teachers to attend workshops within the district as well as conferences locally or at the state level.

Within the district, there may be book clubs, coaching sessions on a various topic, internet presentations on a topic, as well as required professional development sessions for teachers to attend.

Teachers may be sent to conferences on specific topics that the district/school is focusing on. Sometimes multiple teachers at a specific grade level will attend, or teachers from various grade levels will attend.

Tuition reimbursement programs for continuing education are offered by some districts. Ask about the plan that your district/school has available to teachers.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I Got a Job Offer!! What Do I Ask About Now??!! Part 3

Now that you have that job offer, the third question you should be asking is if a teacher mentoring programs in the school or district is available. Some states approve certificate renewals without additional coursework if the new teacher participated in a two year mentor program.

Mentoring helps novice teachers face their first year of teaching with support from a mentor teacher in answering the day to day questions of managing a classroom, ways to navigate the "school systems," prioritize the day to day tasks, and maintain a healthy perspective when new teachers feel things are piling up on them.

Mentors also assist in lesson planning, best practices, observing the new teacher and providing feedback. New teachers also face the challenge of the alphabet soup of education: IEP, RtI, AP, DI, CC, QAR and the many school improvement efforts that mentor teachers can interpret for them!

Mentoring programs are a MUST for a first and second year teacher! Does your new school/district have one?

Monday, January 30, 2012

I Got a Job Offer!! What Do I Ask About Now??!!? PART 2

The second question that you should ask about is insurance benefits. What types of insurance are offered? HMO, PPO, Health Savings Account, Flexible Spending Account? Make sure that you understand the type of insurance and the network that you are in for your health care. With your health insurance, do you have a copay that you would pay when you visit a physician? What is your deductible limit? Is there a copay for prescriptions and if so, what is the copay?

Do you get dental insurance? What is covered in the dental, cleaning at 100%? Do you get life insurance?

Does the board pay the single coverage of health, dental and life insurance or is there a cost to you as the employee? If there is a cost, how much is that monthly? What is the timeframe of the coverage; through the school year and summer? If you need family insurance, is it available to you? If so, what is the cost monthly and the family deductible?

Most districts have an insurance packet that explains all the benefits available to employees. Be sure to ask questions if you are unsure about the coverage and costs.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I Got a Job Offer!! What Do I Ask About Now??!!

Congratulations, you got a job offer!! There are many questions now that you should have for your employer that you need to get the answers to BEFORE you accept the job.

First you need to ask about the Compensation Package. What is your salary and how do you get increases if you are rehired? Most districts have a salary schedule that teachers are placed on based on their degree and years of experience. By law in Illinois, these collective bargaining agreements MUST be posted online on the district website. When interested in a district, find that agreement and read through it. Most of the agreements are multi-year, so read through the agreement and find the salary schedule for the year that you will be teaching. With the struggling economy and budget reductions, districts throughout the country have moved to alternative compensation approaches, so there might not be a salary schedule on the website. Compensation could be through merit pay, or a beginning salary for new teachers with flat percentage increases in subsequent years. Whatever the method of determining your salary, make sure you understand and ask questions if you do not.

In Illinois, retirement savings have been through the Illinois Teacher Retirement System, teachers currently do not contribute to or receive Social Security in Illinois. Legislation has changed how retirement funds are determined, so be sure to ask about the retirement options that you have. YES, you are just starting your first job, BUT you need to begin to save now for your retirement!!

In the next few weeks, I will explain other employment benefits and questions you should ask on insurance, professional development, and mentoring.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Should I Bring a Portfolio to an Interview?

Should I create and bring an electronic or notebook portfolio to an interview? Most colleges require students to develop an electronic portfolio and most teacher candidates bring a copy of the portfolio on a CD to an interview. How can you use the electronic portfolio effectively?
When interviewing, use the electronic or notebook portfolio to demonstrate your strengths and experiences. Use visuals with minimal text that you can show during the interview but that can provide you with discussion tips to share with the interview team. For example, if you have worked with students on interventions for RtI, use the RtI triangle and insert various interventions in each of the three intervention levels. This gives you the opportunity to explain those interventions rather than handing the interview team the portfolio to read. Another example would be to have a photo of a teacher with students in a classroom and then have descriptions of classroom management techniques that you can discuss with the interview team.
Your portfolio should include your philosophy of education, classroom management best practices, parental involvement practices, effective teaching practices, assessment, and reflections.
Development of your portfolio will help you to "regroup" your teaching experiences, your educational views, teaching skills and strengths and present them in a way that is beneficial to you as a teacher candidate.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Do I attend a Job Fair?

YES!! In this competitive job environment, getting a face-to-face opportunity with school district personnel is a must! For each job posting, school districts are receiving hundreds of online applications from teacher candidates trying to land a job. Attending a job fair, gives a candidate an opportunity to meet school district personnel, if only for a brief moment and gives the school district personnel an opportunity to put a face with a resume. When attending the job fair, first choose those districts that you are interested in and get to those booths first. You might want to create a checklist of the schools and who you get to talk to. There will be MANY attendees at the job fair, so be patient and have a strategy on which districts you want to target. At job fairs, you may have a "mini-interview"; so it is important for you to review short, concise responses to a variety of questions that you might be asked. Have copies of your resume that you can hand out, and a few copies of electronic portfolios that you can leave with some selected districts that you are more interested in. Find a way to stand out---so that the district personnel will remember you after you leave the booths. Dress professionally, but not too flashy. Do not get frustrated with the job fair process; use it as a learning experience to make contacts and don't expect to get a job at the job fair. Job Fairs are another way to make connections, determine which districts you feel match your beliefs and values, and prepare for applications to those districts once a vacancy is posted.