Monday, August 31, 2015

NSTA Book Beat

Calling all Science teachers! Have you signed up for the National Science Teachers Association - NSTA Book Beat email list? It is a great resource for Science teachers, including summaries of new books pertinant for Science teachers across disciplines.

A recent Book Beat email included some chapters out of books related to planning for the beginning of the year. There is a chapter about planning the first week of school from the book Rise and Shine: A Practical Guide for the Beginning Science Teacher. And there are some great ideas for beginning each class period (that are actually applicable to any content area, not just Science) from the book The New Science Teacher's Handbook: What You Didn't Learn From Student Teaching.

Check it out!

Monday, August 17, 2015

NTC MOOCs for new teachers

In May, I wrote about MOOCs (massive open online courses) that are available for new teachers through the New Teacher Center. At the time, their First Year Teacher series was not available, but it is now!

The NTC's First Year Teacher Success from the Start series is available, on demand. There is a secondary and an elementary course offered. Each course has 6 modules with presentations and assignments. You can start the courses at any time. The course is free, but in order to receive a certificate of completion, there is a $49 cost associated. Check with the professional development and/or continuing education credits office in your district before paying for the certificate to see if the credits will count towards license renewal credits or professional development for you.

What a great way to get back into school mode and ready for the year!

Monday, August 3, 2015

becoming a professional (part 1)

The transition from student to teacher happens gradually, and then all at once. You have worked so hard in college throughout your courses, practica, and student teaching - as a teacher candidate. Suddenly, you have a job and are expected to be the full-time teacher for a group of students. Exciting! Terrifying! You have committed yourself the the well-being and success of your students, as well as maintaining rigorous standards of professional practice. But what does that really mean?

Spending time this summer thinking about what is expected of you as a teacher can be a really helpful framework for heading into a new school year. There are so many expectations for a teacher, but here are some of what makes a teacher a professional (adapted from Thompson (2009):
  1. Establish positive relationships with every student. How will you plan to get to know your students? In what ways is the curriculum flexible to build on student interests, skills, knowledge? How will you show your respect for students?
  2. Honor your students by having high expectations for all. How can you communicate high expectations? How will you differentiate to help all students succeed at high levels?
  3. Maintain a productive and safe learning environment. How can you use your classroom to support students in their learning? What organizational structures / routines will support student learning?
  4. Accept responsibility for what happens in your classroom. It can be tempting to find many reasons to excuse low student motivation, low test scores, inappropriate behaviors. But taking responsibility for these is empowering. You can do something to fix this! Think about ways to proactively plan for these in your classroom.
  5. Initiate a teamwork approach with parents / guardians. What is your plan for working with parents? How will you keep them informed? How will you invite them to ask questions? 
  6. Be a life-long learner. Being a successful teacher means that you live a life full of learning. Be open to new ideas, from your students and colleagues. Read. Attend workshops with an open mind. Take risks.
Reference: Thompson, J. G. (2009). The first-year teacher's checklist" A quick reference for classroom success. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.