Top 10 Things New Teachers Should Know

top 10 things every new teacher should know stickerNew teachers are often overwhelmed at the insane amount of things to balance and teach effectively. Here’s an article by Catherine Wilcoxson, Ph.D. of Northern Arizona University that helps new teachers stay focused on the important things.

Here are the main ideas:

  1. Don’t worry so much about doing the right thing.
  2. Relax.
  3. Teaching is hard work.
  4. Standards cannot be ignored and should not be feared.
  5. Write objectives that focus on student learning, not on today’s task.
  6. Smile, and do so frequently
  7. Respect your students.
  8. Believe in your students even if they don’t believe in themselves.
  9. Don’t isolate yourself.
  10. It is not appropriate to teach the way we were taught

The whole article is a good read. It’ll take you 10 minutes or less to read, but it’s worth the time. Dr. Wilcoxson’s conclusion is that, “Effective teachers are constantly learning from their successes and failures. To be effective, teachers must look back on their practices and assess what works well, what doesn’t, and how they might improve as teachers. Keeping a journal is an excellent means of keeping track of your performance, and it can provide valuable information for your own professional development.”

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Flipped Classrooms 101

Maybe you’ve heard about “flipped classrooms” on the news… maybe you haven’t. Either way, here’s what you need to know about flipped classrooms:

Infographic from Knewton.com

My Teaching Philosophy Statement

I have often been asked how I feel about a certain aspect of teaching, or to express my philosophy of teaching. It’s hard to write into one sentence, or even a small paragraph, because there are so many aspects to education. However, I found it a very helpful and reflective experience to write what I believe about teaching. You should try it- take a few minutes and jot down what you believe! It’s pretty liberating.  My statement isn’t perfect, and it will continue to evolve as I spend more time teaching, but here’s what I’ve got for now:

Personal Philosophy
A hundred years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove. But the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.”
·    The best classrooms are those with an informed and loving teacher, curious students, supportive parents and administrators and a “safe” learning environment.
·    Teaching is an opportunity to love children and empower them.
·    As a teacher, it is my goal to make each child feel loved and valued, empowered and capable of success. 
·    All children need and have the right to feel appreciated and treasured.
·    All children have the right to know what is expected of them. 
·    Students need to be free to exercise creativity within set guidelines. 
·    Students have the right to ask for help and alternative styles of content presentation. 
·    Students learn the best through positive encouragement and love. When I have shown true interest in the success of students, they want to succeed more.
·    Students have the right to choose aspects of their learning activities. 
·    Students have the right to ask questions without fear of being judged negatively. Teachers should respond respectfully.
·    Parents should support their children and their children’s teachers.
·    Parents have the right to know what is being taught in schools.
·    Teachers have the right to ask other teachers and administrators for help without being judged.
·    Teachers have the final say in deciding classroom policies and procedures. 
·    Teachers have the right to know if parents have concerns about teachers or teaching. These concerns should be addressed quietly and respectfully of all parties involved.
·    Teachers are people too. They deserve respect and understanding that they have lives outside their classrooms.
·    Teachers should be able to show love for their students without fear of accusations (for misbehavior). 
·    Teachers have the right to explore creative teaching methods. 
·    The community has a responsibility to help teachers create the best learning environment for children.
·    It is important to make a positive difference in the life of every student.
·    My objective as a teacher is to provide my students with the intellectual skills to analyze the world around them.

I’m sure I’ll think of things to add as I’m falling asleep tonight, but this is a start. Please share your thoughts with me! I’m grateful to the teachers who have taken the time to share their thoughts and experiences with me in the past, and have helped me learn and grow as an educator.

Theory: Behaviorist

All of my education professors recommended gobs of books for us to buy and have in our teacher resource library (like I have money to go out and spend). There was only ONE that I actually read… and then went out and bought (4 copies, actually, for myself, mom and sister who are also teachers, and for my best friend). It’s called The First Days of School by Harry K. Wong and Rosemary T. Wong. If you’re not a spender, check it out from the library or look at a thrift store (I have seen them at thrift stores and been tempted to buy another copy for myself or to give as a gift). But whatever you do, READ THIS BOOK. It’s an easy read (trust me) and you won’t regret it.
Key Ideas
§         The Teacher
o        The first days of school make or break you.
o        Nobody really trains you on how to handle the first day of school.
o        Ask veteran teachers to help you to know what to do or say. What are the school policies?
o        Get to know all of your colleagues.
o        Create good habits and LISTEN to all the advice you get.
o        Be flexible and adaptive.
o        Do research on what you want to know. Then apply the research you found into actions.
o        Be a decision maker.
§         Positive Expectations
o        What you expect to happen, will.
o        Negative expectations can lead to personal and student failures.
o        Students tend to learn as little or much as teachers expect them to.
o        Celebrate the first day of school and make it a positive experience for students.
§      Have a party
§      Hang banners, welcome signs.
§      Greet students at the school door when they get off of the bus. Let them know you are excited to have them there.
§      Greet students as soon as they walk in your classroom. Say your name, grade, and make sure they are in the right place. Then make sure they are able to find their seats right away.
§      Dress professional – students will treat you how they see you.
§      Be inviting, smile, create an environment where students can succeed.
§         Classroom Management
o        MANAGE, don’t DISCIPLINE
o        Make sure everything is organized in the classroom.
§         Students
§         Work
§         Materials
o        Have very little wasted time during the day.
o        Have the class very task-oriented.
o        Make sure the work is ready to go as soon as the bell rings.
o        The room is positive, the teacher is positive. Don’t over-decorate your classroom!
o        Prepare floor, bookcases, walls, desks, student area, teacher area. Make sure everything is organized!
o        Procedures must be rehearsed every day. Explain, Rehearse, Reinforce classroom procedures.
o        Have specific and general rules.
o        Discipline, Behavior, Routine
o        Make sure rules are posted and they can be altered to fit the class.
o        Have a rewards and penalties system.
o        When you see violation of rules, immediately issue the consequence. Do not stop class instruction.
o        Get parents and administrators involved.
o        Have high expectations for classroom rules.
o        Procedures are important for students because they answer questions. “when do I do this” “What do I do for this”…..
*Behaviorists are very task-orientated. Procedures! They are about classical conditioning (Pavlov’s Dogs). Have routines in classroom that the students will know by heart. When bell rings, they know to get to work*
§         Lesson Mastery
o        Have them in engaged working (involved) 75% of the time.
o        Increase student work time.
o        Ask yourself what students need to learn, not what the test needs them to learn.
o        Use lots of verbs when writing assignments and tests.
o        Show examples.
o        Use cooperative learning (group work)
§         The Professional
o        Are you a worker (goals towards making money) or are you a leader (goals for enhancement and progression).
o        We have to choose what our goals are.
o        Continue to education yourself
§         Go to workshops
§         Join support groups
§         Observe and do research
§         Take risks

Application for Teaching
Gave specific examples on how to prepare yourself when school starts, even on what to say as the students walk through the door for the first time. Always improve yourself. The more organized you become, the more task-oriented the class will become.  By setting procedures in the classroom and practicing them every day, it will create a successful environment. Establish and maintain rules.

Theory: Moderate

I was researching the Moderate theory, and came across a helpful website (www.education-world.com) with an article entitled Practicing Love and Logic Can Mean Happier Schools. Here are some main ideas.

Key Ideas

§         9 essential skills for teachers
o                 Neutralize student arguing
o                 Delay consequence (If you are feeling emotional in the situation, wait to approach the student until the heat has passed)
o                 Feel Empathy with the students
o                 Recovery Process
o                 Have positive student/teacher relationships
o                 Set limits with enforceable statements
o                 Have choices and options available to limit power struggles
o                 Have quick preventative interventions
o                 Have the students work out their own problems
§         Share the control with the students.
§         Learn about the student’s interest and personality to determine management/discipline.
§         Have recovery areas (Like time-out areas)
§         Empathy first

Applications for Teaching
You can have the students involved in the choice/discipline. The more they are involved, the more they will follow through. Solves the problem together and builds the student/teacher relationships.

Theory: Constructivist

I’ve been trying to review the basic theories of educational psychology and I found this about constructivism. It’s from a 1996 publication of Educational Leadership. The article is entitled What to Look For in a Classroom by Alfie Kohn.

Key Ideas
§         Ideal classroom environment is one that promotes deep understanding.
§         Excitement about learning and social/intellectual growth.
§         Students must play and activerole in the classroom management.
§         Teachers work with students rather than doing things to them.
§         Focus on students motives in order to develop positive attitudes.
§         Make sure your classroom is a “Learner-Centered” environment.
o                 Comfortable areas for working
o                 Cover walls with student work
o                 Have good teacher presence (create a safe environment)
o                 Inviting and open atmosphere
o                 Welcoming

Applications for Teaching
It is good to understand that teachers need to find a management style that works with each student. Work with the students to create that plan rather than order and discipline them. This will cause the classroom to become more effective and successful. Learner-Centered areas are important for classrooms to have so that students will feel sage and invited in working with the teacher.

Educational Psychology: Theories

There have been many studies and theorists who analyse psychology’s role in education. Here’s a review of are 3 of the big ones.

Behaviorism
Key Ideas. Behaviorism is a very task-oriented school of thought. This theory focuses on classical conditioning, like in the example of Pavlov’s dogs. Students need to be conditioned to know what to do when presented with a certain stimulus (Wong). There are many specific ideas within this concept. Teachers must understand your students’ culture to succeed in classroom management, connect with their students and communicate with them (Gordon). For management purposes, teachers should know who causes disturbances and knowing how to deal with multiple disturbances at time (Gordon). Many teachers do not expose themselves to adolescent culture. It is important to do so to be familiar with student trends, but it is crucial that teachers do not embrace the adolescent culture. Teachers need to remain authority figures, not peers to their students (Gordon). Harry Wong advises teachers to explain, reinforce and rehearse classroom with their students every day. Teachers should have both specific and general rules that are posted and can be altered to fit the class (Wong). Successful classroom management plans also include a rewards and penalties system. When teachers see a violation of class rules, they should immediately issue the consequence, without stopping class instruction. Behaviorism is a structured and effective school of though.
Application for Teaching. This theory is very applicable in elementary school classrooms. Gordon advises teachers to find out the background and culture of students to be able to relate to them. In addition, teachers should be in control of their classroom by identifying students that are likely to cause disturbances so that they can prevent these interruptions. Gordon also recommends that instructors give students a solution to work towards and then go help other groups when dealing with multiple disturbances at the same time.


Constructivism
Key Ideas. Constructivism is based on the concept of children learning by adding new information to what that they already know (Constructivist). Constructivism in teaching addresses many different learning styles. Teachers should connect what they are teaching into what students know, care about and what is going on in their lives them. Constructivists emphasize teaching both the whole and parts to children and create an uplifting atmosphere for student learning. Learning Point Associates also stress the importance of learning by experience and hands-on activities. Children should be able to express learning preferences and choose learning activities based on their individual learning style. According to Constructivist thought, an Ideal classroom environment is one that promotes deep understanding. Alie Kohn identifies excitement about learning and social and intellectual growth as a key component to teaching as well. Student involvement in the classroom is crucial and students must play and active role in the classroom management plans (Kohn). Rather than doing things to students, instructors should do activities with students. The constructivist approach is more student-centered than teacher-centered, where teachers only assist in student learning.
Applications for Teaching. To implement this theory in classrooms, teachers should make sure their classroom is a “Learner-Centered” environment, with comfortable areas for working, student work on the walls and good teacher presence (Kohn). Teachers should work to understand the concepts behind student learning, s that they will be better able to assist in student exploration (Glasser). Teachers should give students options in their learning, thus allowing students to consider their own learning preferences and decide for themselves the most effective and engaging learning activities. Although this takes more teacher preparation and flexibility, it is very effective for students.

Moderate
Key Ideas.  The moderate view is the middle ground between the Behaviorist and Constructivist views. According to this view, teachers should ask students questions and let them come up with solutions (Fay & Funk). In addition, teachers should hold their students to high standards of behavior and have consequences that deal with the offense. Management plans should enforceable limits, provide choices within limits, and apply consequences with empathy (Fay & Funk). Leaning towards Constructivism, teachers must ensure that every option students can choose from is a good one. Teachers should also allow children to think for themselves and assist in discovery within the classroom management plan. In order for students to really change their behavior to align with the classroom management plan, they must have an internal change (Fay & Funk). This is more likely to happen if students understand the reasons for each component of the plan and feel that the teacher is implementing these policies out of love; for any action effective, it must be delivered with genuine passion and empathy (Practicing).
Application for Teaching. Teachers should oversee student learning, but not force it. Instructors should ask questions that lead to discovery instead of giving answers to students’ questions (Fay & Funk). Teachers should share expectations with their students and not settle for less than the best from each student. Fay & Funk also identified the importance of letting students make decisions (complying with rules, classroom and lunch activities, etc.).
References
Constructivist Teaching and Learning Models. Learning Point Associates. Retrieved Feb. 6 2008.             <http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/envrnmnt/drugfree/sa3const.htm&gt;
Fay, J. & Funk, D. (1995). Teaching with Love and Logic. Loveand Logic Press Golden, CO.
Glasser, W. (1997). A new look at school failure and school success. Phi Delta Kappan:78.
Gordon, R.L. (1997). How novice teachers can succeed with adolescents. Educational Leadership (54(7), 56-58).
Practicing Love and Logic Can Mean Happier Schools. Retrieved Feb. 6, 2008. <www.education-world.com

Educational Psychology: Behaviorism

I recently read an article on the behaviorist theory. It was a good review from my Educational Psychology class in college. Here were some highlights:
1)      Key Ideas:
a.       You must understand your students’ culture to succeed in classroom management.
b.      You must understand your student’s culture to be able to connect with them.
c.       You need to know your students  – who causes disturbances, be able to handle more than one disturbance at a time. 
d.      You must be able to communicate and be “in touch” with your students. 
e.      Teachers need to expose themselves to adolescent culture (but they don’t need to embrace it, meaning become it as well). 
f.        Affirm students excitement for particular events (may cause a lack of concentration…)
g.       Relate content to students’ outside interests.
h.      Know your students.
i.         Share your humanity with your students.
2)      Application for Teaching:
a.       Find out what where your students are from, their home background, what is most important to them, what culture are you surrounded by at the school and in the community…
b.      You need to understand what is important to your students and what they connect with, what role do you take in their culture (their parents view), etc.
c.       Be in control of your classroom by knowing which students will cause disturbances so that you can stop them before they become a problem.  Give students a solution to work towards and then go help another group of students if there is more than one disturbance at the same time.
d.      Use terms that they understand and that are personally meaningful to them.
e.      You can be aware of new movies, books, music, activities, fashions going on, but do not need to become exactly like one of the students (you are their teacher, not their peer).
f.        Find out what activities are going on in the school and if at all possible try to focus that excitement for the event in class (apply what you are teaching to their situation).  Be excited with students.
g.       Find out what your students really enjoy and then draw on their experiences and knowledge from that to help connect content to them.  They can even help teach according to their interest.
h.      Each individual child is different, find out what makes them unique.  What do they respond well to.
i.         Let your students get to know you and have fun with them as well.
3)      Reaction: (Agree, Disagree, Questions):
a.       I agree with this whole heartedly because you have to understand what is important to your students and try to see the why behind their behavior before you can understand what is most important to them and what they really need.
b.      It depends what you are teaching and how you are trying to teach.
c.       This will avoid problems before they even have a chance to occur.
d.      Students need to have a good relationship with you to care enough about what you are saying
e.      You need to be able to understand and draw upon the students lives and culture, but you cannot become totally apart of it or they will not have the same respect for you.
f.        Students will see how much you care and be able to focus better when their excitement is acknowledged.
g.       Students will relate what they are learning and care a lot more about what they are learning if what they are learning has to do with something they really love.
h.      If you know your students you will be able to relate the lesson to them and know how to best help them as individuals. 
i.         As students get to know you they will see you as a real person and not just an authoritarian figure.

Gordon R.L. (1997) How novice teachers can succeed with adolescents. Educational Leadership (54(7), 56-58).