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Showing posts from September, 2015

The Bammy Awards

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Since I started this blog two years ago, from time to time I'd see something about this thing called The Bammy Awards.  I remember that I first saw it on the webpage of one of my favorite online colleagues Daisy Dyer Duerr.  As I continued to make connections via twitter and via reading other great blogs about education, The Bammy Awards would continue to pop up; and they were always linked to something great about public schools.

       Since my blog is all about the great things that are happening  in our public schools, it is time for me to do my part to spread the word about The Bammy Awards--which has the very same mission of spreading the word about the great people that work very hard to make our public schools the best they can be.  The Bammy Awards strive to reverse the narrative that is so often in the public press and minds that says our schools are always failing and our students are sub-standard.

       The Bammy Awards recognize the exceptional collaborators,…

Are Your Students Obsessed with Grades?

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Here's a quick checklist to see if your students are obsessed with grades:


They are constantly asking, "Is this going to be graded?"They refuse to do anything if it is not being graded.They ask for "extra credit" or make-up work at the end of the marking term to raise their grade to the next letter grade.They only see the grade at the top of their returned work and ignore the helpful comments that the teacher has written.They try to memorize the information they need to know for tests.They follow procedures in mathematics for unknown reasons just to get the right answer.        In short, students who are obsessed with grades are just "going through the motions" at school; they do what they're told, but they learn very little.  And when they take a test that can't be beat by memorizing (like a final exam) they show their true ability or lack thereof.  The challenge for these students is to do as little as possible to earn the grade they w…

We Are a Community of Learners

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Teaching students is not like like building a model airplane.  We don't have distinct steps to follow that will lead to a completed project in the end.  Students learn differently; they come to school with different experiences and different abilities.  Good teaching requires an understanding of the learners in each classroom and daily lesson plans that are designed to help those learners.

       Good teachers understand the difficulty of reaching each individual student and they seek out the best strategies from experts in the field of education and from the teacher across the hall.  We (educators) are a community of learners.  We have to be.  We can't learn everything from experience and we can't figure out everything on our know.  We can't be experts in child psychology and special education and mathematics and English Language Learners and student engagement and formative assessment and ....  We need each other to be the best teachers we can be for our stude…

World-Class Education

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I'm not a competitive person.

       I'm one of those people who sees the value in the journey and believes that there is something to be learned from every situation.   And, "Who Cares" if I did better or worse than the next guy.

       As our public schools are taking their first steps to endeavor to teach our students at the same academic level with the highest performing countries in the world, we stand to learn much from our colleagues.  True learning is a complex process and enabling true learning via classroom instruction is an evolving process.  No single teacher can do it alone; we need the expertise that we can only gain from working together.

       This isn't going to happen if we are constantly concerned with gaining some sort of higher ranking than our neighboring school.  This can only be accomplished through hard work and constant dialogue with the teacher across the hall in-between classes; and during department and team meetings; and in th…

Growth Mindset Parents

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I'm not sure if the idea of mindsets has broken out of the field of education and into the general public.  I hope it has.  Imagine if the parents of all of your students had a Growth Mindset and imagine if they helped their children (your students) to have a growth mindset.  That would be truly excellent scenario for any teacher!

       If you are not currently living this this ideal world, what can a teacher do to help her students' parents to understand the value of Growth Mindsets?

       Parents often ask teachers what they can do at home to help their children.  In the middle and high school years, sometimes the parents feel that they are not capable of helping their children because the content is beyond their ability.  This is an opportunity to talk about Growth Mindset with parents.  Here are some Growth Mindset suggestions that any parent can do:


Help your child to understand that effort yields results.  Read, study, practice, quiz yourself.  Tell your child th…

Growth Mindset Teachers

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Have you heard about Mindsets?  In my school district, I am hard-pressed to meet a supervisor or a principal or a teacher who hasn't heard about it.  Here's a quick video that defines Growth and Fixed mindsets:


       Teachers who understand the Growth Mindset are able to help their students to understand that effort yields results and mistakes are the building blocks of true learning.  These teachers don't encourage their students to get good grades, they encourage questioning and curiousity.

       Students with a growth mindset believe that their is nothing that they can't do.  They don't mind making mistakes because they don't view them as mistakes.  Instead they view mistakes as an important part of the journey toward learning and true understanding.

       Teachers can help students to develop a growth mindset by praising their thinking and their effort, rather than praising that they simply got the right answer.  In fact, if students are constant…

The Pros and Cons of Standardized Testing

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Warning:  If you are 100% against standardized testing or 100% in favor of standardized testing, you shouldn't read this blog post.  I'm going to some things that you will agree with, but you will be so blinded in anger over the things I say that you disagree with that you will never see the agreement parts.  Besides, you have already determined your thinking on this matter so there is no point for you to hear the opinions of others. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
       Alright, maybe that warning was a little harsh.  I apologize.  In truth, I'd like to believe that the people who are on the extreme sides of this issue are a very small minority.  Most people have their views regarding standardized testing, and I would guess that most people fall somewhere in the middle of the issue.  I'm one of those people.
       In an ideal world, the students will come to school and do their best …

Teachers Who Make Learning Exciting

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There is a secret that every teacher knows...and every teacher hopes that students never find out about this secret.  The secret is...we can't force anyone to learn anything.

       There is no physical way that a teacher (or anyone else) can actually force a student to learn.  It can't be done.  The best we can do is convince students that learning has a practical purpose and that everyone is capable of being able to learn.

       Fortunately, most students "get it" that school is the place where they are taught things, and school is the place where they are assessed to determine the quality of their learning.  So most of the time, teachers don't have to do too much convincing of the purpose of learning.

       Still, there comes a time in every student's life in which they struggle to learn things easily.  When this happens, it is the skill of the teacher to motivate students; to convince students of their (continued) ability to be able to learn; an…