Getting The Most Out Of Professional Development – Suggestions For The Teacher

Education is in constant flux. Gone are the days when a teacher learnt all that is needed to know at teachers’ college. Teachers need to be constantly upgrading their qualifications or enhancing their teaching skills by attending regular professional development. This was made plain to me when I became a Head of Mathematics. One of my most important duties was the professional development of my staff. However, that also meant that I had to embark on constant professional development before I could fulfill my responsibility to develop my staff.

Often, the professional development I attended was mandated by the educational authority and I had to pass it down the line. I had to develop a strategy to get the most out of these opportunities so that I could give good feedback to my staff.

Here is how I went about it. Obviously, I would need to take notes in the workshop but they needed to be focused on how I needed to pass the information on. Therefore, I would divide my note pad down the middle. The left side was headed “New Information” and the right side “What Action Shall I Take”. On the left hand side, I would note the new idea/instruction in blue. On the right hand side, I would write in red what action I needed to take. The next day I would develop an action plan. That would include what I needed to do to get the ideas across to my staff. One essential part of this action plan was to write a report that went to all. Often, it led to my giving the staff a short workshop.

This eventually led me to present professional development workshops to teachers from other schools. In those workshops, I challenged my audience to leave the workshop with an action plan. In fact, in the workshop booklet, I included a model action plan Proforma as an example of how I went about making the most, personally, out of professional development.

One thing I always did was to decide on an idea that I would implement in my classes the next day. I knew that I needed to ‘strike while the iron is hot’ or the professional development would just become a ‘nice’ day away from my classes.

Below is an example of the action plan I put in my workshop booklets. The action plan was in the form of a series of questions teachers would ask themselves.

MY ACTION PLAN

What new Teaching Strategies can I trial?

What can I Trial In My Classroom now?

What Resources should I buy?

What Resources should I trial?

What New Skills do I need?

How can I get these New Skills?

What further Inservice do I need?

How do I get it?

What New Assessment ideals might I trial or use?

Are there any Other Useful Ideas I should consider?

What Makes a Great Teacher?

Some teachers regularly lift students’ test scores, while others leave their students with below-average results year after year. This can happen right next door from each other; same grade, same building. Results from dozens of studies point to the same most significant factor-a good teacher is the single greatest influence on a student’s chance at success.

Among the factors that do not predict a teacher’s ability? “A graduate-school degree, a high score on the SAT, an extroverted personality, politeness, confidence, warmth, enthusiasm and having passed the teacher-certification exam on the first try,” sites Elizabeth Green, writer for The New York Times.

“Parents have always worried about where to send their children to school; but the school, statistically speaking, does not matter as much as which adult stands in front of their children,” said Amanda Ripley, reporting on the statistical findings of Teach for America.

Teach for America data suggests two major traits that link all good teachers: setting big goals for their students and continually looking for ways to improve their teaching. “Great teachers constantly reevaluate what they are doing,” Ripley said.

A teacher needs to be constantly re-evaluating and paying attention to what is working for their students because every classroom is different. This takes patience and dedication, and a love for teaching, to do it right. Teacher Marie F. Hassett asserts, “Good teachers routinely think about and reflect on their classes, their students, their methods, and their materials.”

“Another trait seemed to matter even more,” Ripley says. Teachers who scored high in “life satisfaction” based on assessment tests were 43 percent more likely to perform well in the classroom. No surprise here, a happier person is usually the better teacher.

Doug Lemov, teacher, principal, founder and consultant for the charter school network Uncommon Schools in New York, has a different approach when thinking about good teaching. Lemov, who conducted his own research and published a “Taxonomy of Effective Teaching Practices,” believes that what often looks like “natural-born genius” is actually “deliberate technique in disguise.” He suggests that good teaching is not purely instinctive, but that good teachers can be made through acquiring knowledge of pedagogical techniques.

“Lemov’s view is that getting students to pay attention is not only crucial but also a skill as specialized, intricate and learnable as playing guitar,” Green explains.

In a study conducted by German researchers in 2010, Baumert and his colleagues tested 194 high school math teachers and found that although content knowledge is essential, teachers who possessed strong pedagogical knowledge as well as knowledge of mathematics were the most effective.

What about passion, and talent?

Author, educator, and activist Parker Palmer argues that good teaching isn’t about technique. After many conversations with students about what makes a good teacher, Palmer says, “All of them describe people who have had some sort of connective capacity, who connect themselves to their students, their students to each other, and everyone to the subject being studied.”

“Good teaching often has less to do with our knowledge and skills than with our attitude towards our students, our subject, and our work,” says teacher Teacher Marie F. Hassett.

To add to the debate I asked my colleagues for their input on what makes a good teacher, and these are the traits we came up with here at 360 Education Solutions:

Making it fun. Using different teaching styles, a hands-on approach, and being adaptive are all markings of a good teacher. Good teachers have to stay in tune and up-to-date on educational standards, while also keeping their students involved by making it fun and including activities in their lessons. If a teacher can keep their students engaged and constantly make things a discussion, they are doing well. A good teacher should challenge their students to think creatively, and influence them by being creative with how they teach.

Being invested. A good teacher is invested in the subject and their students. It is important to know the subject material well but also to understand how the students might understand or misunderstand it, and to be aware of them and what they need. Getting to know your students on a personal level-such as what is going on in their lives–is important not only for connection but to understand what they need as a student. Elementary school teachers and even high school teachers are often required to play the role of both teacher and parent.

Preparing students for ‘battle.’ One colleague gave me a very descriptive example of how he sees a great teacher. Their job is to give their students “the sword and the shield,” he explained, “so they can go into battle.” Because when they complete their challenges, it’s empowering, he says, and when they’ve done it themselves, they can claim ownership over it. “Good teachers are the ones that don’t give you the answer… they open the door for you but let you walk through it,” he says. “And the reason I’m saying this is because the stuff in my life that’s important happened because of teachers and mentors like this.”

Being tough. Nobody likes a teacher who is mean, spiteful or who over-punishes. But one co-worker likes a tough teacher because they challenge him. “It seems like the teachers everyone hates for giving the most work and not letting you get off easy end up being the ones you learn the most from,” he said.

Other qualities we recalled about our favorite teachers:

• Relate-ability

• Have respect for their students

• Have enthusiasm

• Present new perspectives

• Care about their students and what they teach

• Are wiling to go the extra mile

Most importantly, good teachers are the ones that have the patience to give their students the attention they deserve, and are dedicated to helping them go further than anyone else thought possible.

“Good teaching is not a static state, but a constant process,” Hassett concludes. “We have new opportunities to become better teachers every day; good teachers are the ones who seize more opportunities than they miss.”

Remember: good teaching means students’ success but this success cannot solely be judged based on test scores. Also, a student’s success is not only dependent on a good teacher but on their own motivation as well. A good teacher can only “show them the door,” the student must walk through.

6 Useful Tips to Be a Great Teacher!

Being a teacher can be stressful sometimes especially when you are training adults. Here are 6 fantastic tips to help you being more focused and organized.

Teaching Tip number 1

When teaching a subject for the first time, try your lesson on your friends/family or partner. They probably will raise questions that you didn’t think about before and you will see that it is always a good idea to set up your responses in advance!

Teaching Tip number 2

Set up the class space in order that all learners will see you and listen you properly. Here are some ideas of different typical room layouts:

The theatre layout:

Great for larger groups in case you don’t have to interact with your audience.

Pros: large number of candidates can be accommodated in one session

Cons: not really friendly, doesn’t encourage any interaction.

The U form layout:

Pros: interaction between the students is encourage and everybody will see the teacher

Cons: The teacher desk can be seen as a barrier between the students and the teacher

The Cabaret layout:

Several round tables in the classroom.

Pros: relaxed atmosphere, great for cluster based activities.

Cons: troublesome for teacher to observe the all classroom activity. Dfficult for a few category members to visualize the teacher

Teaching Tip number 3

Check your chronological order. Just like a nice comedy all good teaching session depends on sensible temporal order. Check that your timings are realistic, and always try to have an additional activity just in case you’ve got spare time.

You can check your temporal order by doing a try with a family member or a friend (or even in front of the mirror if you can’t find a volunteer). This may be helpful to adjust your session timing but also give you some practice time.

Teaching Tip number 4

Proof-read any document! Check any mistake, grammar, linguistic and punctuation. Don’t simply rely on your computer spell check device, the machine will not tell if you’ve got used the right “their” or “there” nor can it check for missing words. If you’re a tutor you’ve got to be credible in front of your students and a basic error will erode this.

Teaching Tip number 5

When teaching make sure you use sensible objectives.

What does this mean? It sounds terribly wordy but it is actually easy to understand. Objectives are statements that describe what your students are going to be ready to achieve during the class/day/week.

The SMART method is usually employed in project management to plan objectives, but it is also used by teachers:

S for specific

M for measurable

A for achievable

R for realistic

T for timed

Make sure that the target is restricted. In different words, target you session on one specific learning outcome. Once your objective is clear, it will be easier for you to clearly see what’s the ability, technique, approach, etc. your students are going to be ready to show by during the session. Create it to be easy to understand, don’t use difficult structure and terms. Make sure that what and why you are attempting is understood.

Teaching Tip number 6

Knowing the first name of your students will ease the atmosphere and show your respect for them as individuals.

Here is a useful tip to catch and learn your student’s names and get the proper name on the tip of your tongue at any time: create a secret seating set up map- when you begin with a brand new class, write the names within the order that they’re sitting. Usually people are always taking the same seat for each lesson. This provides you with the possibility during the teaching session to look discretely at the note and therefore the look within the correct direction to mention “Do you agree, John?” and make sure that you simply are gazing John.

More tips are avalaible here. Enjoy!

Teacher Tips: Dealing With Impulsive Behaviors From ADHD Students in the Classroom

Thank you to all of our professional educators who dedicate themselves to our children! We know how difficult it can be working with ADHD children, so here are your teacher tips for the week, brought to you by the ADHD Information Library and ADDinSchool.com. This is a sampling of over 500 classroom interventions for your use at http://www.ADDinSchool.com. Here are some tips on Dealing with Impulsive Behaviors: One of the hallmarks of children with attention deficits is the tendency to act impulsively (acting before thinking through the ramifications of behavior). Behaviorally, this manifests itself in a lack of understanding of cause and effect. Research also suggests that these students can often verbalize the rules in place for behavior but have difficulty internalizing them and translating them into thoughtful behavior. Difficulties in delaying gratification also add to the impulsivity. Some clinicians believe that this behavioral disinhibition (poor regulation and inhibition of behavior), rather than their ability to pay attention, is the primary manifestation of attention deficits and is more likely to discriminate these children from others.

By having students think “out loud” when they are problem-solving, the teacher will gain insights into their reasoning style and the process will slow them down before they respond impulsively. This will provide information about how they “see the world” and enable the teacher to begin to restructure inaccurate perceptions. Train your student’s teachers and other adults how to do this to provide an on-going technique in the classroom setting, where critical incidents often occur. Quite often, students will continue to have difficulty with certain types of interactions on a regular basis; difficulty in taking turns, over-interpreting others’ remarks as hostile, personalizing others’ actions excessively, and misreading social cues. With the help of your student, his teacher, and his trusted peers, common problematic themes can be identified. Role play hypothetical interactions involving these behaviors, preferably with supportive peers, identifying and practicing positive alternative responses.

Have your student practice these responses during the school day and have him and others give you feedback on their success. Identifying critical incidents that occur during the day will provide insights for program planning. The technique of “Stop-Think-Talk-Do” is central to many cognitive-behavioral interventions for students with attentional teaches the student how to “stop” before acting impulsively, “think” about the cause and effect relationships of his intended behavior, “say” or verbalize to themselves or others what they will do, and “do” the chosen behavior. Again, the purpose of the technique is to slow down response. Encourage thoughtful responding and decrease impulsivity by waiting 10 to 15 seconds to receive responses during whole group instruction. Keep the classroom behavior rules simple and clear. Have the class agree on what the rules should be. Define and review classroom rules each day. Implement a classroom behavior management system. Actively reinforce desired classroom behaviors. Use self-monitoring and self-reinforcement on-task behavior during independent work time. Use a kitchen timer to indicate periods of intense independent word and reinforce the class for appropriate behavior during this period. Start with brief periods (5 to 10 minutes) and gradually increase the period as the class demonstrates success. When necessary, develop contracts with an individual student and her/his parents to reinforce a few specific behaviors. Set hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly goals depending on the reinforcement needs of the specific student. Provide frequent feedback on the student’s progress toward these goals. Provide a changing array of backup rewards or privileges so that students do not “burn out” on a particular system. For example, students can earn tickets for a daily or weekly raffle for the display of positive behavior.

To improve out of the classroom behavior, allow the class to earn a reward based on he compliments they receive on their behavior from other teachers, lunchroom staff, playground aides and principals. Avoid giving the whole class negative consequences based on the ADHD child’s behavior. The ADHD child, as well as the whole class, can benefit from implementation of social skills curriculum for the entire class. Modeling and requiring the children to use a systematic method of talking through classroom conflicts and problems can be particularly valuable for the ADHD child to implement this, teachers are referred to the literature on cognitive-behavioral approaches to developing the child’s self-talk and problem solving. Praise specific behaviors. For example, “I like how you wrote down all your assignments correctly,” rather than “Good boy!” Use visual and auditory cues as behavioral reminders. For example, have two large jars at the front of the room, with one filled with marbles or some other object. When the class is behaving appropriately, move some marbles to the other jar and let the students know that when the empty jar is filled they can earn a reward. Frequently move about the room so that you can maximize you degree of proximity control. When appropriate, give students choices about several different activities that could choose to work on one at a time. With students who can be quite volatile and may initially refuse negative consequences (such as refusing to go to time-out), set a kitchen timer for a brief period (1 to 2 minutes) after refusal has occurred. Explain to the child that the child can use the two minutes to decide if she/he will go to time out on her/his own or if more serious consequence must be imposed. Several experienced teachers insist this method has successfully reduced the extent to which they have had to physically enforce certain negative consequences with students and seems to de-escalate the situation. Hopefully these will help the ADHD students in your classroom to be more successful. You can learn more about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder at the ADHD Information Library.

New Teacher Tips – How to Use Correct Classroom Color Choices

In fashion, some colors are always in style. Other colors come and go. The color of a classroom can greatly affect students and how well they absorb material or, to put it in a nutshell – their learning. Past and ongoing research corroborates the fact that certain lighter colors are more preferable than particular darker colors.

Sinofsky and Knirck (1981) found that color affect student attitudes, behaviors and learning. Among their previous research, they include reasons for using brighter colors which can affect a student’s attention span and the student’s and teacher’s sense of time.

Use Light Green Colors as opposed to Bolder Ones

In nature, green reappears in spring, after a dull and colorless winter. But during the dormant winter months in the classroom, a light shade of warm teal green is reenergizing and acts as a gentle reminder of spring to come, making the middle semester (the coldest one) more bearable, interesting and creates a calm learning atmosphere. It can also filter negativity, put the students and teachers at ease and into a positive state of mind.

Another Effective Light Color – Blue

Blue is the color of water and the sea and it represents life. For this reason, lighter shades of blue help calm students especially those with ADHD and ADD. It can also reduce the number of behavior outbursts and discipline problems facilitating perhaps with classroom management on a creative level.

In the Western culture, blue symbolizes loyalty and authority while it also symbolizes strength and power in the Eastern culture. These are qualities which students want to feel the teachers have on a global level.

Other classroom research findings:

  1. Bross and Jackson (1981) declared that colors liked by students influenced their muscular tension and motor control (Poyser, 1983)
  2. Colors can also affect memory and the brain’s capacity to retain more information.
  3. Wohlfarth (1986) and Sydoriak (1987) associated warm colors with slight elevations in blood pressure in children while cooler colors caused slight drops in blood pressure (Hathaway, 1988).

Over to You – Making Correct Classroom Color Choices

Take inventory of your students at the beginning of the year. It would make sense to gather as much information as you can about your students, making notes on the behaviorial limitations, special learning needs and other learning styles. in light of this, see if you can paint the classroom a lighter shade of green and blue. Compare the differences in the students learning. How have they changed?

Works Cited

Hathaway, W.E. (1988). Educational facilities: Neutral with respect to learning and human performance. CEFPI Journal, 26(4), 8-12.

Poyser, L.R. (1983). An examination of the classroom physical environment. South Bend: Indiana University. (ERIC Document Reproduction Services No. ED251954).

Sinofsky, E.R. & Knirck, F.G. (1981). Choose the right color for your learning style. Instructional Innovator, 26(3), 17-19.