Great teachers work best when they work together. TNTeacherTalk is a place for Tennessee teachers to connect, share our stories, and learn from one another. Join us as we discuss the issues affecting Tennessee students, teachers, and communities.

Policy
Retaining Quality Teachers
January 24, 2019
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Retaining Quality Teachers

Jeffrey Gray
@iteachushistory

I’ve noticed a common problem as I’ve had the privilege of traveling throughout the state of Tennessee.  This is especially true for the teachers with whom I’ve worked from rural districts – namely county districts that have a city system within their borders.  The problem is retaining the best and the brightest teachers and preventing them from “defecting” to higher-paying positions in the city systems.  Of course, this is not a problem relegated to just the state of Tennessee. And, I cannot blame teachers for making the move to the city systems.  In many cases, the move is a considerable increase in pay.  As an example, if I moved to the city system within my county, I’d see a $13,000 a year pay increase. Frankly, retaining teachers in lower-paying counties is a problem even without the lure of the higher-paying city systems.
Professional Learning
Three Key People Every Educator Needs
January 18, 2019
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Three Key People Every Educator Needs

Mark Wittman
@wittmanmarks

Recently, I was reflecting on people that I am thankful for and the roles they have played in my life. I of course was grateful for the obvious relationships of family, friends, coworkers, my students, and their parents. As I was finishing up my time of gratitude, I was reminded of all the individuals who have influenced me professionally and aided me on my journey to become the educator that I am today. It was during this portion of my reflection on the “professional” level that I realized I owe my success to three key people: the mentor, the partner, and the follower.  I would finish my gratitude time processing these key people and the importance they are playing in a my happy, productive, purpose-driven career.
In the Classroom
Teaching the Former You
December 17, 2018
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Teaching the Former You

Ashley Corey

@ms_corey8

Every teacher can attest that there are going to be students in each class that are tougher to teach than others. There will be students who are not fully on board with every teacher that they have, and teachers who may not make meaningful connections with every student that they have. There is beauty in this. Our students are unique people that vary wildly. Some personalities click and others simply do not. I do not believe it is our place to try and bend students to our will and make them “likable,” particularly when the most strong willed of them oftentimes have some of the most brilliant moments.
In the Classroom
Making the Horse Drink: Trying to Minimize Mathematical Indifference
December 7, 2018
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Making the Horse Drink: Trying to Minimize Mathematical Indifference

Al Feldblum
@afeldblum

Some time ago, a colleague from a different content area posed these questions to me: “How do you do what you do? How do you teach math to students that do not see the relevance of your subject?”
In the Classroom
Practical Tips for Working with ELL Students in the Social Studies Classroom
December 1, 2018
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Practical Tips for Working with ELL Students in the Social Studies Classroom

Mary-Owen Holmes
@MsHolmesTeach 

In my sixth year teaching, I got the itch to move - a nagging sense that there was more to learn and more to do. This persistent feeling quickly led me to a new teaching position in a new district at one of the most diverse high schools in the city. Students are my new high school represent over 30 countries and speak upwards of 25 languages - the top 5 being English, Spanish, Arabic, Swahili, and Kurdish.
In the Classroom
2018 Christmas Gift Guide for Teachers
November 25, 2018
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2018 Christmas Gift Guide for Teachers

Rachel Turner
@ChattanoogaChat

While it may seem like school just began yesterday, the holidays are quickly approaching.  By Christmas, your child’s teacher will have spent up to 555 hours investing into their personal and academic success!  Some parents (who have the financial ability) enjoy rewarding their child’s teachers with Christmas gifts as a means of appreciation.  For teachers, this is not necessary but we always appreciate the gesture.  Before you grab that “Best Teacher Ever” mug off of the store shelf (we have more than plenty), check out this guide to help you find the best and most cost-efficient Christmas presents for teachers in 2018:
Leadership
Handling Parent Conferences Like a Champ
October 23, 2018
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Handling Parent Conferences Like a Champ

Leticia Skae

@LSkae 

Two years ago I began teaching at an academic magnet and it was a completely new experience for me. Previously, I had been teaching in urban schools for a decade. The transition from one type of school to another was wild! The first thing I realized as soon as I got to the magnet school was my bi-weekly parent meetings from previous schools, had now become daily parent conferences. So, very quickly I had to step my “conference game” up or else parents were going to come in and tear me to pieces.
Leadership
Get Work-Based Learning. Get Experience.
October 2, 2018
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Get Work-Based Learning. Get Experience.

Heidi King
@heidikingking

Iremember trying to write my first resume.  I breezed through my contact information, proudly noted my educational background and then typed in bold letters EXPERIENCE.  I sat and pondered my time driving a golf cart peddling sandwiches and beverages and babysitting my coach’s children. I wasn’t too impressed with myself, so how could I expect potential employers to appreciate what I had to offer?  All too often, students exiting high school and college experience this dilemma: extensive education paired with marginal, practical work experience.
Policy
Education Policies Must Work in Classrooms
September 22, 2018
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Education Policies Must Work in Classrooms

Candace Hines
@Mrs_C_Hines

If you’ve ever painted (or watched someone paint), then you’ve witnessed the incredible transformation of a blank canvas into a vibrant work of art. With each layer of paint, each hue blended together, comes a new depth and richness to the picture that hadn’t existed before.
Professional Learning
A Growth Mindset: Starting with Ourselves
September 14, 2018
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A Growth Mindset: Starting with Ourselves

Ashley Corey
@ms_corey8

In the last few years many districts across the country have been encouraging a “growth mindset” with regards to students, grading, and general practice in the classroom. Oftentimes this means focusing on the gains that a student has made over a period of time. It also frequently means replacing the phrase “I don’t get it” with “I don’t get it yet.” This concept of yet can be very powerful for students, but making radical changes to our attitudes on how students grow must be authentic if it is going to be valuable. This means that when considering a growth mindset, we must first start with ourselves. When the beginning of the school year hits, an opportunity to show students that you believe in a growth mindset is present but also fleeting. Establishing this as a norm in the classroom must begin with teachers believing that the growth mindset model applies to everyone in the room, teachers included.