6 ways to embrace the messiness of math education

Math is not easy to teach or learn. So, teachers use a variety of strategies to boost their students’ numeracy skills as they progress through math education.

But some of those approaches could be unproductive, contended Dr. Juli Dixon, Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Central Florida, in a recent edWebinar sponsored by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Mathematics. She described standard practices that can derail rather than support mathematical reasoning, and offered alternative methods that would benefit students far more.

Embracing the messiness of math education…Read More

Here’s the biggest mistake educators make with remote learning

This story on the biggest mistakes educators are making during remote learning, originally published on June 4, was eSN’s No. 2 most popular story of 2020. Check back each day for the next story in our countdown.

Education thought leader Alan November isn’t shy about discussing what he believes is a key misstep that many educators are making in shifting to web-based instruction during the pandemic.

Instead of taking the same techniques that teachers have used in their classrooms for years and trying to apply them within a remote learning environment—an experience he compares to forcing a square peg into a round hole—November believes teachers and administrators should view the pandemic as an opportunity to reinvent education.…Read More

Grade expectations: How to look at grading in a new light

The teacher finishes giving instructions and sits down for students to begin completing the assignment. While students work, the teacher grades papers and prepares for the next hour, answering some questions here and there. As students finish the work, the assignments get turned in to be graded later.

If this scenario sounds familiar, then you are not alone. Teachers traditionally follow the model of present, practice, and let students work independently. There is a much better use of teacher time: feedback-in-action.

Feedback-in-action shifts a teacher from treating work as an autopsy to more like an ICU. Instead of waiting for students to make mistakes and leave class, the teacher makes formative assessments the norm.…Read More

Want to improve your leadership development? Use simulations!

American schools are facing a crisis in the lack of professional learning for school leaders.

These leaders are required to be licensed, which usually entails a two-year program at a university or college. However, once they actually begin their careers, most of them will tell you that any further professional learning comes on the job. This vacuum of professional learning among principals and superintendents means many have to stub their toes by learning from mistakes, leading sometimes to grave consequences and almost certainly to less-than-optimal outcomes.

In my research, I’ve worked extensively with simulations that help our school leaders continue their professional growth well past their licensing requirements. Effective simulations present relevant scenarios that offer leaders the opportunity to listen and learn from their peers and to gain experience without risk.…Read More

8 ways to reduce device damage in 1:1 programs

As a technology user, I have over the years:

  • Dropped and broken my phone’s screen
  • Spilled liquid on my laptop’s keyboard, frying the motherboard
  • Pulled the cord out a device, breaking off the connection
  • Pushed a monitor off my desk onto the floor
  • Left my computer bag on top of my car’s roof, and driven off

These acts were, believe me, unintentional. The costs of these mistakes wound up coming out of my own pocket.

So I have a degree of sympathy when our students bring their Chromebooks in for repair. Stuff happens to even the most careful technology user.…Read More

How I found more satisfaction in teaching

Early in my career, I got upset and disappointed when students made mistakes in class. I couldn’t understand why they weren’t understanding when I was teaching everything so clearly and putting so much time into scaffolding my lessons. As a new teacher, I worked hard to deliver concise lessons at the front of the room, and I became resentful when students asked questions or did not understand.

My attitude was exacerbated by the fact that there are some students who process information easily and master new ideas quickly, while other students struggle to grasp the same material. I assumed many children were not listening, not taking good notes, or not studying. My attitude made me annoyed when helping students one on one, because I was continually repeating what I had just taught at the front of the room.

This attitude created a very negative atmosphere in my classroom. In my first few years as a math teacher, students cried often in my class. I chalked this up to my being strict and having high expectations. Eventually, my poor attitude toward the learning process became pervasive and manifested itself into anger. I often considered leaving the profession.…Read More

How I found more satisfaction in teaching

Early in my career, I got upset and disappointed when students made mistakes in class. I couldn’t understand why they weren’t understanding when I was teaching everything so clearly and putting so much time into scaffolding my lessons. As a new teacher, I worked hard to deliver concise lessons at the front of the room, and I became resentful when students asked questions or did not understand.

My attitude was exacerbated by the fact that there are some students who process information easily and master new ideas quickly, while other students struggle to grasp the same material. I assumed many children were not listening, not taking good notes, or not studying. My attitude made me annoyed when helping students one on one, because I was continually repeating what I had just taught at the front of the room.

This attitude created a very negative atmosphere in my classroom. In my first few years as a math teacher, students cried often in my class. I chalked this up to my being strict and having high expectations. Eventually, my poor attitude toward the learning process became pervasive and manifested itself into anger. I often considered leaving the profession.…Read More

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

The 4 most common mistakes districts make in professional development

Across the globe, teachers are continually asked to integrate technology into their curriculums to keep up with future-ready skills and in turn they complain that they need more professional development. District administrators then tend to incorporate four common mistakes in professional development programming.

The problem is this: District leaders hear that teachers need more tech-based professional development when, in reality, the ask is much more nuanced: they are pleading with the education system for more time to plan, participate in training, experiment with new technologies and share best practices. Because of this disconnect, tech-based (and, really, overall) professional development offered to teachers is often not as effective as it could be.

The 4 Most Common Mistakes in Tech-Based Professional Development…Read More

What do we really mean by risk taking in the classroom?

It’s important for students to learn risk taking skills. But how do schools do that without taking some big risks themselves?

Let’s face it. We are of two minds when it comes to how we feel about kids and risk taking. We know that the teenage brain is wired to ignore consequences and to take risks without any adult encouragement, so parents spend a lot of time trying to keep their kids from doing stupid things like drinking and driving or having unprotected sex.

In the classroom, however, risk taking is often viewed as a good thing. We educators tend to praise and encourage students to take gambles and learn from their mistakes. At least, that’s what we say.

This idea can raise a few hackles and more than a few questions. What characterizes a “good risk?” How can we create a culture of risk taking in our classrooms? And what might we currently be doing that discourages risk taking in our students?…Read More