Monday, April 29, 2013

Guest Blogger: Classroom Management

Here at New Teacher Talk, we're trying to find new ways to get you helpful, interesting, timely ideas for your teaching. Sometimes our posts are designed to get you thinking, others have helpful tips and strategies. As a new initiative, we'll be occasionally sharing posts from guest bloggers from different TC2 teacher preparation institutions as well as local school district partners to keep things fresh and relevant. Up first is a guest blogger from Minneapolis Public Schools!

Guest Blogger: Terry Peña, Lead Induction Mentor for the Minneapolis Public Schools PAR Mentor Program.

It is hard to believe that we are into already into April with May rapidly approaching.  As you enter the last quarter of the school year it is a good reminder to reflect on behavior management strategies that have been successful for you and your students and also strategies that you might want to begin to implement.  A strategy that we will look here at is called:  Positive Narration.  

Positive Narration:
  • Positive narration enables you to create positive momentum
  • Positive narration enables you to repeat your directions in a positive manner
  • Positive narration enables you to demonstrate positive “with-it-ness”
  • Positive narration enables you to recognize student behavior without the shortcomings of praise
  • Positive narration is descriptive

When you use Positive Narration you are simply making a non-judgmental description of the behavior you are observing, providing examples of success for students to follow:
  • Example:  Sophia is working with her partner using her whisper voice.
  • Example:  Elisha is tracking me.

Start narrating within three seconds of giving directions. When positively narrating, you will simply make a three-part statement:
  • Student’s Name: Jamal
  • Verb: is
  • Behavior: silently writing in his journal.

Use positive narration before you correct off-task students (3 positive then redirection).

Questions to consider and share in the comments:
  1. Have you tried Positive Narration before?
  2. If yes, what were the benefits and hesitations?
  3. If no, when would be a good time to start?
  4. Why is it so important to maintain rules and procedures the last quarter of the school year?

This strategy comes from the on line course called The No Nonsense Nurturer which is currently offered to probationary Minneapolis Public School teachers as a pilot.  Your thoughts and opinions of how the strategy worked for you are greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

partnering with parents

With spring parent-teacher conferences coming up for many of you, I've been thinking quite a bit about parent involvement in schools. I've always been a strong supporter of working with parents and communities to support student learning.

So I was interested in a recent article in the Washington Post, "Is Parent Involvement in School Really Useful" by Alfie Kohn, that really called into question some of my assumptions about parent involvement.While I don't agree with everything in the article, any time that I have to challenge my assumptions and think critically about my beliefs is a worthy exercise.

One of the points Kohn makes is that parent involvement as a benefit to students is a statement unquestioned. Schools and educators take this for granted, that this is a positive thing for students. And that when schools talk about parent involvement, the discussion is centered on a dichotomy of parent involvement: parents are either not involved or involved too much, which leads to perhaps an unrealistic ideal of parent involvement, some sweet-spot between "no involvement" and "helicopter-parent."But, for example, Kohn writes that research has shown that parents' help with homework does not improve learning outcomes. Interesting stuff.

What's often missing from the dialogue around parent involvement, Kohn argues, are the parent and student perspectives. And an examination to what kind of parent involvement really does make a difference in student learning. He's not saying that parent involvement is bad, but that schools need to reconsider how they work with parents to keep students at the center and therefore, to best meet the needs of students. And that's what it is all about, right, and what your PLC and PD and staff meetings are all centered on - meeting the needs of students in the most effective way.

Keeping these questions in mind, there are a number of resources to help you think about parent involvement in schools. There's a May 2011 issue of Educational Leadership that is stuffed with ideas about the integrated work of schools, parents, and communities (and several of the articles are available to anyone whether or not they are a member). The National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education has many resources at their site. The Harvard Family Research Project has a number of interesting initiatives happening, and I found their newsletter to be particularly relevant for teachers. Reading Rockets has more resources at their site. There's also twitter chat happening tonight (4/17) around this topic.

How do you work to engage parents in a way that keeps the engagement centered on the needs of students? What has worked for you? What is challenging?