Education is the greatest civil rights issue of our time. It will take solutions around the HOW, not words around the WHAT.
The Power of a Positive Note
When was the last time you wrote someone a thank you card or a positive note? Within the last week is an answer that will earn you BIG, BIG points.
Whether it is for a colleague, someone on your team, a friend or a student, it always feels great to receive a positive note. Yes, emails are nice too, AND, there is just something about a handwritten note that someone takes the time to write. I see people keep notes in their office and on their boards. What does that say about the power of a positive note?
Think about a person in your life you want to motivate. Would a positive note do some good? I bet it would.
Here are a couple of strategies to help you with positive note writing:
1. Carry around the cards in your bag. They don’t need to be super nice, just functional.
2. For students, use what you have. Put a sticky note on a handout. Write in their planner so their parents can see it. Use their names with an adjective that starts with the same letter.
3. Pick a day of the week that you will write at least one note to a deserving individual.
4. Start a meeting with a do first of writing positive notes. Engage your team!
5. If you don’t have a card, take the time to say thank you. Sincerely. With honesty. And with genuine appreciation for the individual.
Who will you thank?
Will be blogging from New Orleans today. On a Learning Tour of some leading edge schools and programs.
Great teaching is about great mindsets. If you believe it, you will achieve it. Yes, that last line is cheesy AND it is true. So much about what we do in our life is a direct manifestation of WHAT we think and HOW we think.
Teaching Mindset 1 - It’s not about you, it’s about them. Them being the students.
As you sit down to plan, answer these questions of yourself to ensure this lesson is about your kids and not about you.
1. Who will be MOST engaged in this lesson? (If you are going to talk more, think more, explain more, engage more - the answer is you.)
2. Who will OWN the learning & DO the work? (If the students will have a chance to process, produce, and perform, THEY are doing the work. SCORE.)
3. Am I risking control in this lesson? (Hard one. As the instructional leader, you should always maintain control. I’m talking about controlling the space and the voice. Are the kids getting in the driver’s seat in this lesson?)
During the lesson, pay close attention to the following:
1. Talking for long, extended periods of time. Determine how many minutes you will talk before you feel like it’s time to let the students have a little bit of airtime. For me, it was 5 minutes. If I went OVER 5 minutes, I knew it was time to get the voices going.
2. Passive learning. Are the kids passive learners in the classroom or are they active? Active means they are doing something (copying does not count). What counts? Thinking, talking, acting, reading, writing, moving, grooving.
After the lesson, ask yourself the questions above, but in past tense. Reflect and react for the next class.
And, in case you ever really want some good data, ask the kids. Who talks more in this class about what we are learning, me or you? Watch their reactions closely. You might be surprised.
It’s not about me, it’s about you. What do you want to see on the blog?
I saw a tweet today that Wendy’s is having a t-shirt design contest. This tweet reminded me of one of my favorite closing activities - Put it on a T-Shirt. This is definitely an oldie, but a goodie.
Finding closing activities can be challenging for a couple of reasons.
1. Most times, we don’t make it to the closing because the lesson has gone over. However, if you PLAN for a closing, you’ll make it to the closing. If you TELL the students that you have a GREAT closing, they are more likely to make it to the closing. Sense of urgency, folks.
2. Closings are the last activities we plan. After aligning to the assessment, planning the INM and the CFUs and the GP and the IP, we might make it to the closing. Therefore, I am a huge proponent of low-prep, high-impact closings.
Put it on a T-Shirt Closing:
Transition after your independent practice into the closing. Pass out a blank t-shirt to your kids. You can use the one I post here. Let the students know they have 5 minutes to design a t-shirt that conveys the big idea of the lesson. Use words, pictures and color. Remember, it has to fit on a t-shirt, so it cannot be too lengthy. Also, cool t-shirts are catchy, so think about a way to convey the information in a way that engages the reader.
Another way to explain this to the learners - think of this t-shirt as a “cheat shirt” for a friend. What would help your friend remember the big idea of the lesson?
One of my former teachers used this strategy and then had all the t-shirts hung with clothespins across their room. Yay for physical environment!
What would your teacher t-shirt say?
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