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, "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!!!!