Journaling: A How-to Guide for Teachers

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To kick off 2016, we talked about the importance of reflection as a teacher.  So often we can get bogged down in the day to day rigor of just being a teacher.  Think about what goes into your day after you finish teaching.  Grading papers, preparing for the next lessons, organizing and cleaning the classroom, congregational duties, and other teaching duties just to name a few.  We can quickly become overwhelmed.  Unfortunately, taking the time to reflect can often get pushed to the side.

Now what if I told you that you could do your job of reflection in just five, short minutes every day?  Would you be more likely to make that a habit and set it into your daily routine?

Thankfully, this is possible.  A small, simple journal is all you need.  Now those of us who were graduates of Martin Luther College perhaps remember, with horror, those special, little things known as reflection journals during student teaching.  Let me be clear, that is not what I’m talking about when I refer to journaling.

We need something doable.  Something that we can look forward to each day and make a routine in our daily schedule as a teacher.  Our goal shouldn’t be a two-page written essay in a notebook.  If that excites you, more power to you.  However, for the rest of us, a short bulleted list does the trick with the same effect.

Continue reading

Reading List: Readicide

readicide

I am currently enjoying reading this book.  It takes a look at how national education policy has killed the love of reading for students across the country.  It takes a hard look at how No Child Left Behind and high-stakes testing have been a major detriment to the overall literacy rate in America.

Most importantly, it explains how, we as schools, can curb this alarming trend and promote the love of literature in the hearts and minds of the students whom we serve.  I will have a more detailed review up when I finish reading.  In the meanwhile, I encourage you to check it out.

25 Professional Growth Conferences for 2016

Came across this great list of conferences in an edchat on Twitter.  Great resource if you are looking to attend a national professional development conference but don’t know where to begin.

I will be attending at least two of these.  In February I will be attending the TCEA Conference.  I also hope to attend the iNACOL conference in October.

I have copied the conferences upcoming for January into this post.

You can find the complete list at 25 PD Conferences for 2016

Keep Growing!

 

JANUARY

FETC-2016-Logo

Jan. 12-15
Orlando, FL

Find us at Booth 2117! FETC provides educators and administrators the opportunity to explore the integration of technology across the curriculum through hands-on exposure to the latest hardware, software and successful strategies.

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Jan. 13
Montclair, NJ

The NJECC annual conference promotes and supports the integration of technology in K-12 education as it applies to student learning, professional development, leadership and instructional planning.

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Jan. 28-29
Atlantic City, NJ

Find us in the exhibit hall! The 21st annual Techspo exhibition and training conference for school leaders, sponsored by the New Jersey Association of School Administrators.

educon

Jan. 29-31
Philadelphia, PA

EduCon is an innovation conference where we can come together, both in person and virtually, to discuss the future of schools. Every session will be an opportunity to discuss and debate ideas—from the very practical to the big dreams.

ISTE_EdTechTeam_logo

Jan. 30-31
Oxon Hill, MD

Stop by our table! This two-day high-intensity event from EdTechTeam focuses on deploying, integrating, and using Google Apps for Education (and other Google tools) to promote student learning in K-12 and higher education.

Resolve to Grow as a Teacher

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A new year often brings a new focus.  Typically, this focus comes in the form of New Year’s resolutions.  Often our New Year’s resolutions center around personal promises to ourselves, our family, or our wellbeing.  It is rare that our resolutions center around professional qualities.

As educators, our work never ends.  A successful educator reflects regularly.  A successful educator applies that reflection and continually tweaks and improves their teaching.

However, even the most successful educators can fall into their old habits and place the value of reflection to the side.  We may begin to teach the same lessons, with the same methods, while expecting a different result.

While there are occasions when we move from reflection to action, reflection must be a continual aspect of our professional life.

What are some easy methods of reflection for educators?  Here are a few, simple ideas for you to get a jump start on reflection in the New Year.

Peer Observation

Working together with your faculty and realizing the gifts of your coworkers is invaluable.  Take the time to observe in a colleague’s classroom.  Something you see may give you a new idea.  A culture of collaboration could be fostered through engaging with one another in their classroom.  What often happens through peer observation is that both educators grow with each other.

Journal

It is powerful to be able to put your thoughts to paper.  So what should an educator journal about?

  • Perceived problems in the classroom and possible solutions.
  • Triumphs!  What went well today?
  • Quotes.  Come across an inspiring or uplifting quote?  Write it down!  I keep a long running list of quotes in the Notes app on my phone.  This could come while listening to a podcast while I’m walking, watching a TV show, or reading a professional article.

                                                                         I will have a future blog post on journaling.

Read

Choose an area in which you want to grow as a teacher.  Find books, articles, and blog posts on that topic.  Read up on it for weeks and focus your efforts on that particular area.

One helpful reminder, don’t make your topic too broad.  When you choose an area of growth, be specific as possible. Narrow the scope of that growth initiative to aid in your overall success.   For example, rather than choosing to improve on classroom instruction, focus on how you are going to increase hands-on activities within the classroom.  This will give you a clear path to improvement.

Make it your professional New Year’s resolution to be a reflective educator.  An educator who not only grows during the summer months but throughout the entire year.

Other blog posts regarding the reflective teacher.

The Most Valuable Feedback in the World is Your Students

Are You Reaching for the Sky in Your Classroom?

10 Ways to Thank a Student

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#3: Sticky Note Smile

10)  Tell Them

Nothing beats the ol’ fashion look ‘em in the eye and “thank you.”

9)  Stickers anyone?

Not as a reward, but as a quick and easy thank you.  Everyone loves stickers.

8)  Write Them a Personal Note

Stick it in their desk or backpack.  Better yet, if you are really proud of their work in a certain subject, tell them.  Slip it into the next lesson of their textbook so they can have the pleasant surprise all to their own.

7)  Tell the Parents

Trickle-down thankanomics?

6)  Display Their Work

Place their art work or strong assignment in a prominent place by your desk.  Perhaps, on the wall for a few weeks or in a frame right on your desk.

5)   Down Time

Encourage them when they are down.  Be specific and tell them how much you appreciate them.  This one can get emotional, especially if they are really down about something.  The more personal feedback the better.

4)  Have Lunch with Them

Make it a point to sit with them at a lunch hour, and have a conversation with them.  Try not to focus on school.  Focus on their life outside of school.

3)  Sticky Note Smile

Walk by their desk and put a sticky note on top of their desk while they are working.  It is unexpected and it is personal.  That is a rare combination in a classroom.  And seriously, does that take all of 30 seconds?

2)  Extra-Curricular Support

Show up to one of their events outside of school.  The ideas are endless.  Their basketball game, soccer match, football game, dance competition, singing recital, and gymnastics event are all examples in which you can show you really care and appreciate them.

1)  Hug it Out

If you don’t like a hug, then you need a hug.  This is especially important for male teachers who have male students who really look up to them.  They crave that affirmation.  They need to see that male example of care and kindness.  Remember, many of them may not receive any male affirmation outside of school.  The lack of a father in the life of a boy has reached an epidemic in this country.

Have another way to say thank you?  Share it in the comment section.