Posts Tagged: School Culture

In the Classroom Professional Learning
The Power of a Mentor
March 24, 2018
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The Power of a Mentor

Dr. Beth Gotcher
@beth_gotcher

Being a new teacher is an exciting and invigorating time yet can also be filled with stress and uncertainty. Beginning teachers enter their first classroom bubbling with hopes and ideas for their students. However, new teachers are also filled with a variety of unanswered questions. How do I make copies? What do I do if I’m sick? What instructional resources am I required to use? Where do I go for a fire drill? These are just a few of the countless questions that come up throughout a teacher’s first year which are not answered in a college classroom.
In the Classroom Policy
Mississippi Students’ Activism is Historically Significant
March 8, 2018
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Mississippi Students’ Activism is Historically Significant

Stacy Jones
@stacyjonestned

Terry, Mississippi, located in Hinds County, about 15 miles southwest of Jackson, had a population of just over 1,000 people—60 percent African American—at the time of the 2010 census. It is home to two high schools, including Terry High School. One of its most famous residents was Tommy Johnson, the blues man about whom the original legend of soul-selling at a crossroads in exchange for masterful guitar playing originated—before it was later attributed to musician Robert Johnson.
In the Classroom
Weird but Not Too Weird
February 5, 2018
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Weird but Not Too Weird

Leticia Skae
@LSkae

Is teaching a science? An art? Or a craft? Can it be a little bit of all of those things? My husband is an executive principal, and we often brainstorm ways to solve educational problems regularly. It is quite possibly our favorite pastime. But when discussed what makes a great teacher, he explained his hiring process to me. When he interviews a teacher he is looking for a teacher that is “weird but not too weird.” (A philosophy that I’m sure he uses even in love).
In the Classroom
4 Steps to Becoming a Culturally Responsive Teacher
January 28, 2018
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4 Steps to Becoming a Culturally Responsive Teacher

Leticia Skae
@LSkae

In my seventh year teaching English/language arts, I moved to a new school. As part of the orientation, one of the veteran English teachers kindly provided me the essential reading list for 10th grade students. When I reviewed the list, something just didn’t sit well. The entire list was filled with books either written by men or featuring white, male protagonists. The only exception was the tragic, unlikeable protagonist in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, whose toxic masculine ideals lead to his demise.
Leadership
The Importance of School Leadership
January 21, 2018
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The Importance of School Leadership

Kenneth Chadwell
@kchadwell2014 

It has always been my belief that nothing can have a larger impact on a student's learning than a teacher. It seems that sometimes we forget about the impact of school leadership on the teacher. During most of my seventeen-year teaching career, I was under the belief that a good teacher can overcome a bad school administrator. That is no longer my belief. I think that the choice of who will lead a school has become the number one factor of how successful a school will be.
In the Classroom Professional Learning
What I Didn’t Learn in My Teacher Preparation Program
January 17, 2018
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What I Didn’t Learn in My Teacher Preparation Program

Rachel Turner
@ChattanoogaChat

Now in my eighth year as a teacher, I often chuckle when I reflect on how far I have come in my teaching career.  Just a few short years ago, I was a clueless student teacher eager to change the life of every student I met. I did not know much, but I knew that I did not want to be like the Economics teacher (Ben Stein) in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or the teacher in Peanuts. I envisioned being a mix between John Keating (Robin Williams) in Dead Poet’s Society and Louanne Johnson (Michelle Pfeiffer) in Dangerous Minds. Instead, I entered the classroom more like a cross between John Kimble (Arnold Schwarzenegger) in Kindergarten Cop and Sherman Clump (Eddie Murphy) in The Nutty Professor.  Luckily, I have thick skin and stuck with the most rewarding career one can have.  However, I often think back and wonder why so many aspects of a teacher’s career go unmentioned in our preparation programs.
In the Classroom Leadership
For Such a Time as This
January 15, 2018
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For Such a Time as This

Mark Wittman
@wittmanmarks

As I have reflected over the past 23 years of my teaching career, the scripture “for such a time as this” seemed to be the theme of my involvement with education. It was “for such a time as this” that I made the move from western Kansas and settled in the inner city of Memphis, TN. I settled in Memphis with 9 years of teaching experience and a heart to serve the community. My willingness, skills, and passion allowed me to be instrumental in opening a Faith-Based school where I served as a kindergarten teacher. Helping open this school was just the first stepping-stone of my future in Memphis. It was the first of the many experiences that were revealing to me that I was in Memphis “for such a time as this.”
In the Classroom Leadership
Synergy
December 10, 2017
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Synergy

Hayley Cloud
@hcloud_tn

The Wright brothers created the world’s first powered airplane because they shared the same curiosity and intellect. Michael Jordan completed 15 seasons in the National Basketball Association with the help of a skilled team. Helen Keller devoted much of her life to raising awareness for people with disabilities after overcoming challenges with the help of Annie Sullivan. Martin Luther King Jr. had a grand impact on the Civil-Rights Movement because of the many demonstrators that followed him in his efforts. For centuries, some of the most influential people in history have changed the world as a result of synergy. Synergy is when two or more people interact, cooperate, or collaborate to produce a greater result.  Synergy is vital to creating effective schools.
In the Classroom Leadership
Find Your Mrs. P
October 22, 2017
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Find Your Mrs. P

Jeff Gray
@iteachushistory

My experience as a first year teacher is not unlike many others in the teaching profession. I was fresh out of school, ready to change the world. My first teaching job found me in a large southern city with a sordid, but progressive history in public education. I was assigned to teach 8th grade social studies in a large middle school located physically in a solid middle class suburb. However, our student population was anything but solid middle class. Through the then constitutional busing policy, our student population was majority minority with a high percentage of free and reduced lunch. Our faculty was full of “newbies” just like me, trying to change the world.
In the Classroom Leadership Professional Learning
Maximize Errors to Change Mindset
January 9, 2017
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Maximize Errors to Change Mindset

Michael Bradburn
@bradburnm

Students and teachers are working hard in and out the classroom on a daily basis.  Teachers are spending extra time planning, preparing, and thinking about their students to make sure everything is as good as it can get.  They want to have the perfect lesson, perfect materials, and perfect management plan.  Students are putting forth extra effort to make sure they have the perfect essay, perfect notes, and perfect solutions to their problems.   It seems that teachers and students are striving for perfection when mistakes are the precursor to successful learning.

What if we all stopped trying to be perfect and start learning from our errors?

Teachers naturally want to perform well and do an exemplary job in the classroom.  We want our students and co-workers to see us as amazing!  We put forth so much effort trying to achieve greatness that we may be missing great learning opportunities.  The effort and mistakes we make could lead us to learning new lessons or deepening our understanding.  Dwek’s idea of a growth mindset can have an impact on collaboration and teacher growth.  If a teacher has a fixed mindset, they may view the success of others as a failure of their own.  They see weakness in making mistakes or they may not try to implement new ideas because of the fear of failure of making a mistake.  When someone achieves great things, that makes teachers with a fixed mindset feel discouraged or inadequate.  Teachers with a growth mindset are more likely to share ideas and collaborate because the conversations could lead to both teachers learning.  They are more likely to try, and sometimes fail, at new strategies or ideas because they believe the failure leads to learning.  Teachers should be encouraged to see others’ success as a way to grow, collaborate, and share information to have an impact on all learners.

This translates directly to students.  Students may want to impress their teachers and peers.  The growth mindset can encourage learners to see their mistakes and the success of others as a way to grow and learn.  These students will often embrace challenges and risk failure to grow.  When teachers push their students to complete difficult tasks that they may not know how to solve, they can push them to try new strategies or require them to depend on peers for help and support.  In addition, teachers can become more aware of areas to reteach and focus instruction when errors occur and identified by students.

Everyone has the desire to be successful, but success often comes after a long line of mistakes and errors.

 

Michael is an Instructional Coach at Alcoa Elementary School. He has been an educator for 11 years. He received the East Tennessee PreK-4 Teacher of the Year in 2014 and the Wal-Mart teacher of the year in 2004. Michael is currently working on the Tennessee Standards Mathematics Review Committee and as a Teacher Partner in his school collaborating with teachers to impact student achievement. He was a Common Core Mathematics Coach in 2013. He is a graduate of The University of Tennessee, Knoxville with a Bachelor’s of Science and a Masters Degree in Child and Family Studies. He holds an Education Specialist Degree in Instructional Leadership from Lincoln Memorial University. He also serves as a Hope Street Group Tennessee Teacher Fellow, engaging his colleagues in providing classroom feedback to the Tennessee Department of Education on public education policy issues.