Education is the greatest civil rights issue of our time. It will take solutions around the HOW, not words around the WHAT.
Quick Starter for a Team Meeting:
If you struggle coming up with ideas on how to keep your meetings fresh, fun and focused, stay tuned to Urban Learning.
Here is one way to jump start your meeting…
Have every team member take 3-5 minutes to independently identify their major accomplishments from the past week, their main priorities for the following week, and any requests for support from the rest of the team.
Then, do a whiparound where each team member shares their 3 buckets. Engage in quick exchanges and respond when appropriate.
Record the priorities or requests for the team to come back to at the next meeting.
If you are looking to build high levels of accountability and trust within a small team, particularly a leadership team, this might be a good tool to put into practice.
Send me questions or requests.
At a symposium today on accountability for teacher prep programs. It is an excellent reminder that not only teachers, but those of us that support teachers, are also accountable to our students.
How do you celebrate success in your classroom or on your team? Do you have a chant? A motion? A high five combined with a shout? Regardless of what combo gets you and those around you excited, celebration is key. Highlighting a job well done goes a long way for our students and for those we work with as well. That celebration increases investment and motivation, two things we can never have enough of in education!
Here are a couple of ways you can celebrate success:
1. A standard and quick motion or chant that you always do when you want to praise something in your classroom can work beautifully. In our organization, we use quick clapping combos that students and teams can use. For example, if a student gives a great answer, reward her with, “Can we give Abigail two claps? One, two.” And then the claps follow.
I have also heard really quick sayings used. In my own classroom, one of my favorite sayings was, “Reading makes you smarter.” If I wanted to praise excellent reader habits in a student, I would say, “Let’s give Eddie a “reading makes you smarter.” Then, the class repeats.
2. Another repeat strategy is to say the student’s name with the praise and have the whole class repeat. For example, if Sam worked diligently on a problem, announce for all to repeat, “Sam, you’re working hard today!” Then, the whole class repeats. Sam will surely be on cloud nine. When I run out of compliments, I’ll use the first letter of the student’s name to spark an adjective for me. For example, “Anna, that’s amazing urgency!” Remember to try your best to praise behaviors that other students can replicate. We want the students to be driven by the praise and for them to demonstrate academic and cultural behaviors that will drive success.
3. Finally, if you want to celebrate in silence, don’t forget silent cheers. I like to keep things urgent, so I would tell my kids, “2 second silent cheers, quick!” They all silent cheer for 2 seconds and then get back to work. I’ve also had the students do silent motions like, shooting a basketball or a touchdown sign, when I felt like they “scored” as a class.
The best teachers are the best motivators. They ignite something within their students. They find a way to push learning and also create the desire to learn more. It’s the perfect facilitation of the “I can” and the “I want.” Celebrating success can motivate your students or teammates and engage them in their work.
Keep it simple, and keep it fun. The rest will follow.
What are your suggestions for celebrating success?
I saw this great image today from www.workisnotajob.com. They put together some great stuff. Today’s image was just perfect for teaching… “Take Courage” against a chalkboard.
Why does teaching take so much courage?
I’ll share my thoughts and hope to hear yours.
1. Teaching takes courage because kids can break your heart. I cannot tell you how many times I cried over my kids. I cried when they cried because they were going through something tragic. I cried on my way home after I learned that they had made an insanely poor choice. I cried after expulsions in my classroom. And, each time, I had to pick myself up, move forward and refuse to give up. The connection between a teacher who truly cares, truly gives, and a student can be a bond that has lasting power. When the days come, and they will, that you are disappointed, hurt, upset and confused, those are the days you need courage to move on.
2. Teaching takes courage because you can be vulnerable to criticism and ridicule. You may read this and wonder what I mean. Well, I mean that kids can be cruel (without always knowing how words can impact). The worst part about it is that all former teachers were once former students that most likely said something mean about one of their teachers. I know I did. I’m not at all proud of it. I can still remember a day my first year teaching that I arrived at school looking less than my best self. I had been up until all hours of the night grading and prepping (most likely on the formatting or look of something). Walking into school, I can still hear C (names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent) say, “Wow, Ms. Garcia, BAAAAAAD hair day! And are you sick? You look sick. Why did you come if you were sick?” Jaw. Dropped. I can’t even remember how I responded. Or if I did. Note: this is the mildest of the stories I have. Everyday, you have to get up in front of a bunch of kids, no matter what age, and put yourself out there. Some people can say that they don’t care if a random tween says something rude or mean. Good for them; maybe they became immune after awhile.
3. Finally, teaching takes courage because it is hard work with a lot on the line. If you can’t take pressure, do not become a teacher. There is SO much pressure and to be able to handle it takes more courage than most professions. I’m not solely referring to achievement tests, while that is a huge component of accountability. I’m talking about a YEAR’S worth of learning that YOU are responsible for in a GROUP of CHILDREN. Those kids belong to someone. They are PEOPLE, with dreams and possibility. A teacher can either create possibility, or give their kids just another barrier to overcome. A reading teacher, for example, is responsible for growing kids as readers. How well a student reads can determine how well they do in other subjects that require, that’s right, READING. This may sound very simplistic, but I’ve been in this game for a decade now and the damage that one lost year of instruction in a core content area can have creates significant repercussions for kids. When you layer low income students who are already behind on top of that, the consequences are even more dire. With so much on the line, who better than the very courageous to accept the charge.
What takes courage in your work?
(Just getting out of bed is not an acceptable answer). :)
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?