Saturday, March 21, 2015

Foolproof Tips on Obtaining a GREAT Announced Teacher Observation!

I wasn't "feeling" observations, and this post popped into my head.

Spoiler Alert: Don't take me seriously!:)

1. Create a lesson you will never use again.
It's showtime! Create the ultimate lesson. Spend hours and hours creating the perfect 45 minute lesson. Make sure you have included all the strategies that are being used in that moment. Do things you usually don't in your classroom, like, when no one is watching.

2. Bribe and/or threaten your students.
Use whichever strategy you feel works best for you. You can say, "If you are all on your best behavior, I will give you extra Recess for an entire week!."  Or you can say, "If you all misbehave, you will miss Recess for a week!" Just choose the one you are comfortable with.

3.   Send kids to another classroom.
You don't want to send too many, because your administrator may notice. So, just pick the really, really, "bad" ones. You know, the ones that call out, can't sit still in their seats. Send them to your buddy teacher's class.Choose wisely because "acting out" students can make or break your evaluation. 

4. Practice the lesson the day before.
Practice the lesson with your students.  "Practice makes perfect." The last thing you want is your students showing any signs of confusion. Experienced teachers do not let that happen in their classroom,ever. Think about it. How many mistakes will you make the next day if the kids have already done the lesson? You can only get better the next day. Of course, you will have to revisit #2 because you don't want any of your students to say things like, "Mr. _______, didn't we do this yesterday?"

5. Do not waste any instructional time.
Make sure your students take out every single thing they are going to need. Make sure you have everything available at your fingertips that you are going to need. Real teachers are always prepared. Do not make the mistake of going off topic. If you have a student who is not ready, start without them! Hand out all papers before you begin the lesson. Those 2 minutes spent having one of your students do it, is a horrendous waste of instructional time. Every minute counts, well, except when you're wasting instructional time on hours and hours of test prep and testing.

6. Use technology.
Let's say you created a lesson, and  do not feel integrating technology would enhance understanding of the content. Use it anyway! Turn that Smartboard on, and do something on it! Make up something to do if you have to. Show a video, or let students come up and write on the board.That's always good for some brownie points.

7. Do anything and everything your administrator asks you to do.
This is always a good back-up plan. Your administrator will already love you, so you can do no wrong. Even if your lesson is horrible, there is a very good chance that you will still get an excellent evaluation!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

"It's a Small World"- The Power of Twitter!

Mariama is at Harvard in Massachusetts, and I am in Delaware.
We are over 300 miles away from each other.
We have never met.
Before Mariama tweeted this message, I did not know she existed.

Mariama's professor gave them an assignment.
Visit a Twitter chat, (Go professor!), see what it's all about and connect.
Find out how, and why, this teacher uses technology in their classroom.
Find out the impact of technology in the classroom.
I loved that her professor chose Twitter instead of, or in addition to, a textbook.

We connected.
We spent about 20 minutes discussing tech and Twitter.
I provided authentic, "real world"," in the classroom" information about integrating technology in the classroom.
I also explained how powerful my Twitter PLN and Twitter chats are, how they have impacted my classroom, and the way I teach.
How it has helped knock down my classroom doors, and has allowed my students to collaborate with students all over the country and world.

I hope Mariama came away with information that she could not get from a textbook.
I hope that when she becomes a teacher, she remembers that there is a whole world waiting to connect with her on Twitter. Educators who speak, not only of tech, but all issues that affect classrooms throughout the world.

The power of Twitter. Don't you love it?:)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Why I Can't "Teach to the Test"

I know it would make life much easier if I did.
Pull out the worksheets of all flavors;Reading, Writing, Math, mix in a Performance task.
Place them on their desks, one subject after another, hoping that when the BIG test comes, they can pass it, because they have been drilled, and drilled, and drilled.
Put them in labeled groups, those who will fly through the test, those who might pass, and those who don't stand a chance.
"Teach" them based on where they fit in the "testing" spectrum.
No arts.
No Recess.
No engagement.
No fun.
Just test drills.
But, I can't.
Every day with my kids reestablishes my firm belief that this is not what school is.This is not what learning looks like. It is not what teaching sounds like.
School should not be a place where there are no arts.
A place where music, art, etc,,, have no voice, no home.
Scripted curriculum should be banned.
How do you tell different children, all over the country, the same thing, in the same way, with the same words?
Pacing guides should be dumped, giving reteaching a chance.
Giving that struggling child a chance to grasp, and hold on to, a concept.
Because if I did, I would miss the joy and excitement on the face of my students as they heard the students from New Zealand speak for the first time during a Mystery Skype.
I would miss hearing the gasps as they scanned a QR code for the first time.
I would miss...
Watching them work intently on their Passion Project, begging for more time,
Coding, seriously thinking of possibly,just possibly, becoming a computer programmer.
Dancing to Pop See Ko during our Brain Breaks. (You know you can't take Brain Breaks when you are drilling.)
Pulling out their books, eager for me to read out loud, disappointed when I stop.
Competing against their peers in a game of Kahoot,determined to be the winner!
Writing "I Am "Natural Disaster" poems and not being afraid to share them with the world.
If I "taught to the test", I would miss so much of what learning looks like.
And most of all, I would miss being a teacher.