Do you make these common classroom-management mistakes?

The dunce cap, a ruler on the knuckles, kneeling on rice: Modern teachers wouldn’t think of using these methods to correct students’ behavior. But for all the progress that schools have made in understanding and implementing effective discipline, teachers can still fall into bad habits that sabotage their own efforts to stay in command. In his recent edWebinar “Classroom Management Mistakes That Undermine Your Authority,” Shannon Holden, assistant principal at Republic Middle School in Missouri, explained the importance of establishing the teacher’s control from the first day of school and the common mistakes educators make when trying to maintain a productive educational environment.

1. Not having a seating chart on day one: This is the teacher’s opportunity to exercise authority from the beginning while also learning students’ names and the dynamics of the room.

2. Not having a discipline plan on day one: Similarly, teachers need to immediately show students that misbehavior won’t be tolerated and how poor choices will be treated. Except for severe cases that require a heightened response, all cases should follow the same hierarchy. For instance, a first offense might be a verbal warning, while a second offense would be a student-teacher conference. Every discipline plan should have a severe behavior clause for extenuating circumstances.…Read More

Fixing the grade passback pain point

Grade passback is a pain point for educators and school systems. Just go online and look up the help desk for popular grading platforms and you’ll notice the cries for help from users:

“Anybody have a solution for passing a midterm and final letter grade to their SIS?”

“Who is having problems with grade passback?”…Read More

Overcoming my fears

Teaching is a personal endeavor. Each and every classroom we walk into is different and exudes the personality of the teacher within. Because education is so personal and teachers work extremely hard, change can sometimes be difficult to come by.

Teachers care deeply about providing the best education possible for our students, but our profession involves an incredibly large volume of work. Often, we cling onto what has worked for us in the past simply because creating something new will tip the delicate balancing act that we’ve managed throughout the years.

I see a sea change coming in education. I think we are at a breaking point in which blended learning is on the cusp of changing our practice. A lot has changed in the last 10 years I’ve been a teacher. I have slowly seen technology catch up to the specific needs of educators.…Read More

How does culture impact our ability to learn?

When educators think about diversity in the classroom, culture may be one of the characteristics that crosses their mind. But as they select their curriculum and develop their lessons, most teachers are not accounting for how culture will impact a student’s ability to participate and learn, says Almitra Berry-Jones, Ed.D., nationally recognized speaker, author, and consultant on the topic of culturally and linguistically diverse learners at-risk. In her edWebinar, “Cultural Relevance and Academic Equity in the Age of ESSA,” Berry-Jones explained how understanding the impact of culture, adopting a student-first mindset, and creating multiple points of engagement with the same content will help teachers move toward academic equity in their classroom.

First, Berry-Jones discussed culture—the values and beliefs students bring to the classroom. Culture is a social construct, not genetic, and most students have at least three: home, peer, and school. The language and behaviors for each one is different, and for many students, the language at home is so divergent that entering school is like going to a foreign country and speaking a new language. For example, students may come from a home in which children are told to be seen and not heard, so speaking up and participating in class seems wrong to them. Or, what some teachers see as a behavior disorder is just the contrast between the culture at home and at school.

Also, educators need to think about students who don’t “speak the language of school.” There is a connection between the poverty level a student grows up in, the educational achievement of the students’ parents, and language. Poverty often creates a developmental burden that manifests in a word gap and populations of kids who are not ready to learn. More important, there is also a feedback gap because most of these kids’ interactions with adults have been negative. The students arrive in kindergarten not understanding the role of the teacher or how to develop a positive relationship with him or her.…Read More

5 ways to ensure cultural inclusivity

Have you ever wondered what goes into developing a culturally-inclusive curriculum?

The audience that Reading Horizons serves is diverse, and our footprint has grown significantly in the last decade as K–3 teachers and students from all over the country use our product for emerging readers and remediation. Our curriculum has generally met the needs of educators and learners, but a few years ago we learned that we had not spent enough time ensuring that we weren’t unintentionally excluding people or perpetuating stereotypes and biases. If a reader can’t identify with any piece of our material or software, we are doing them a disservice. That’s when we made a company-wide resolution to focus on cultural inclusivity at every step of the writing and publishing process.

Our goal is to make sure that, no matter where a student is from, their age, their ethnicity or religion, they feel like the program was written for them as much as anybody else. Guided by cultural inclusivity, we not only rewrote our existing material, but we set up systems to make us more intentional in how we developed new curriculum. Here are the lessons and steps we took.…Read More

Are K-12 data systems ready for AI?

As educators who love technology, we can barely contain our enthusiasm for the potential applications of artificial intelligence (AI). But AI requires massive amounts of data, so before jumping on the AI bandwagon we need to:

  • reflect on the kinds of data that would make teaching more effective and improve learning outcomes;
  • consider the systems that will allow us to collect and manage the data; and
  • create processes to share and analyze the data.

Most districts do not yet have the foundation to make the leap to AI (other than what is already embedded in the apps and programs they’re currently using). Schools still exhibit a lack of maturity around data collection that should make us cautious about AI. There are also algorithmic bias and equity issues that need to be resolved before we move to wide-scale AI adoption. For most districts, spending money on AI over the next three to five years would be money down the drain. The ecosystems to support AI implementation are simply not yet in place in most schools and districts.

5 essential questions to test your district’s AI readiness…Read More

4 key ways ESSA can support SEL in schools

Although student achievement in core subjects is commonly used to define success, more educators agree that student success also depends on learning about intrapersonal and interpersonal competencies–commonly known as social and emotional learning, or SEL.

And while the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) doesn’t reference SEL specifically, it does offer opportunities to focus on school-based SEL. In fact, educators and policymakers can leverage ESSA funding to support SEL, according to a new report from the RAND Corporation.

Studies show that student success increases with various social and emotional skills, including self-management skills and the ability to navigate relationships. With increased acknowledgement that students need “soft” skills outside of core academic skills, interest in SEL programs and interventions has increased as well.…Read More

5 reasons your classroom needs an industry expert

Educators have learned that linking classrooms to the real world helps engage students and teaches them the “why” behind what they learn. But teachers sometimes struggle with the best way to integrate real-world applications into classroom lessons.

Teaching students about exciting careers and linking those careers to an otherwise-boring lesson is one way to show them how math actually might help them land a cool job.

What’s better than teaching them about those careers? Connecting them with an industry expert who works in that field and can answer students’ questions and help them gain an in-depth look at where a future in math or physics might take them.…Read More

Video of the Week: Dealing with digital distraction in the classroom

Ed. note: Video of the Week picks are supplied by the editors of Common Sense Education, which helps educators find the best ed-tech tools, learn best practices for teaching with tech, and equip students with the skills they need to use technology safely and responsibly. Click here to watch the video at Common Sense Education.

Digital devices put the world at our students’ fingertips, whether with their own cell phones or with school-provided computers and tablets. But along with opportunities for powerful learning come the risks–and realities–of distraction. So, what are the best ways to manage digital distraction in the classroom? Check out these practical tips on supporting students and modeling productive 21st-century learning. For more ways to manage classroom technology, check out Common Sense Education’s collection Dealing with Digital Distraction in the Classroom.

 …Read More

How to use social media in the classroom

Today’s educators have a love-hate relationship with social media. They recognize that five-year-olds know how to use tablets better than their parents and that many kids have smartphones by the time they are 12. Digital natives live and breathe on social media platforms, sending messages and posting pictures and videos almost constantly. In fact, a recent CNN study on social media and teens found that among the 8th-graders surveyed, the heaviest social media users check their feeds up to 100 times a day.

A new generation of education apps is gaining traction in the classroom by combining the powerful features of social media with a focus on helping teachers. Some of the most successful ones include Seesaw, ClassDojo, and Flipgrid. By analyzing what they do well and how they improve the learning experience, we can get a better sense of what it takes to harness the power of social in education.

3 social media platforms for teachers to try
1. Seesaw uses a social media-like platform to record and organize students’ work; at its center is the concept of a digital portfolio. Students record their work in blog-like posts, and the app organizes their portfolio of work by subject area, project, or class. Students can create posts by adding videos, recording audio notes, and using drawing or caption tools to comment on what they are showing. By encouraging students to comment on the work in their Seesaw portfolio, teachers gain insight into their learning process in a way they could not by simply viewing the finished product.…Read More