Archive | April, 2015


27 Apr

Learning habits are constantly modelled

Cognitive, meta-cognitive, and behavioural “good stuff” is constantly modeled. Curiosity, persistence, flexibility, priority, creativity, collaboration, revision, and even the classic Habits of Mind are all great places to start. So often what students learn from those around them is less directly didactic, and more indirect and observational.  Positive role modelling leads to good student engagement.

Four Features Of An Effective Classroom

20 Apr

  1. The students ask the good questions

Many teachers force students to ask question at the outset of units or lessons, often to no avail.

  1. Questions are valued over answers

So it makes sense that if good questions should lead the learning, there would be value placed on these questions. And that means adding currency whenever possible—grades credit (give them points—they love points), or simply praise and honest respect. See if you don’t notice a change.

  1. Ideas come from a divergent sources

Ideas for lessons, reading, tests, and projects—the fiber of formal learning—should come from a variety of sources. If they all come from narrow slivers of resources, you’re at risk of being pulled way off in one direction (that may or may not be good). An alternative? Consider sources like professional and cultural mentors, the community, content experts outside of education, and even the students themselves. Huge shift in credibility.

And when these sources disagree with one another, use that as an endlessly “teachable moment,” because that’s what the real world is like.

  1. Learning is personalized by a variety of criteria

Personalized learning is likely the future, but for now the onus for routing students is almost entirely on the shoulders of the classroom teacher. This makes personalization—and even consistent differentiation—a challenge. One response is to personalize learning—to whatever extent you plan for—by a variety of criteria—not just assessment results or reading level, but interest, readiness-for-content, and others as well.

Then, as you adjust pace, entry points, and rigor accordingly, you’ll have a better chance of having uncovered what the learners truly “need”.

Thinking about eLearning

14 Apr

eLearning offers educators and students alike opportunities for creating meaningful learning environments. eLearning enables different types of social interaction, provide ready access to information and can overcome some of the difficulties presented by time and space. Students and teachers alike can create new materials and new knowledge with the media tools now available to them. These tools are constantly evolving as individuals and companies create and refine new software.

Including eLearning in teaching and learning requires a re-conceptualization of the curriculum and how it can be taught. Using eLearning to simply replace blackboards with whiteboards and pens with computers and word processors does not constitute a re-conceptualization of teaching and learning, nor the nature of school education. Bluntly PowerPoint is not eLearning. Such an approach will not support students to ‘learn, unlearn, and relearn’. I read somewhere this year that eLearning is just a tool to improve pedagogy.

The Stuff I Should be Doing

11 Apr

I often review during holidays how I can do better. Here are a few things should always remind myself to do.

  1. Talking to students about their interests and life outside of school.

Students who are able to connect with teachers on a personal level are more likely to be successful in school. Help build this connection with students by interacting with them about their interests outside of school.

  1. A few more dedicated minutes of thoughtful reflection on what was accomplished today and what could be improved for tomorrow.

How can instruction improve without reflecting on the positive and negatives of each day? This requires an honest self-assessment that will guide future instruction. Have the courage to admit when you didn’t get it right or do your best in order to make the next day better.

  1. Saying “thank you” to a member of the support staff.

The staff at my place are awesome. The support staff even more so. However, they are most likely taken for granted every day. Thank them, and let them know you notice their dedication to the school.

  1. Thank You Again.

Students deserve daily praise, but teachers deserve just as much. It’s easy to take a teacher’s dedication for granted, but a bit of encouragement might actually re-energize a teacher in a moment of need.


8 Apr

We all attend lots of meetings. I believe if it can’t be done in one hour then the agenda needs to be reconsidered. Here are my favorite tips to have an effective meeting.

  1. Show up on time. Showing up on time is probably the easiest thing to take responsibility for and fix, yet it has remained on the list of annoying meeting behaviors. I get so frustrated by people turning up to meetings coffee in hand after the scheduled time.
  2. Pay attention to your body language. Next time you go to a meeting, try observing the body language of everyone around the room. Are they paying attention, making eye contact, leaning forward, and taking notes? Are they using there computer?
  3. Stop with the side comments. When someone else is talking or presenting, seeing someone make a side comment to their neighbour can be incredibly distracting and annoying.
  4. Come prepared This one is my personal pet peeve. When we all leave a meeting with action items, there is an expectation that everyone comes to the next meeting with completed homework assignments.
  5. Bring food. When all else fails, bring yummy snacks to your meetings especially the Murray Fudge!!!!!!

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