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Cheers to our Teachers!

KUDOS to teachers, professors, school administrators, staff,

and IT personnel!

During this unsettling time with the COVID-19 quarantine, our teachers and professors have shown such amazing flexibility, skills, and talent! Teachers are pioneering through this imposed “distance-learning” in an incredible way.  Our educators have flipped over to online/remote learning in 4-7 days!  IT staff have been working around the clock to get this set up.  Administrators and staff are supporting the fast-paced changes in a remarkable way. Congratulations! YOU ARE AMAZING!

One mother sent a picture and description of her son on his first day of an online “distant learning” gathering. (Thanks to Jen and Frank.) The whole class was so excited about seeing their teacher and their classmates.

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In Fontana, CA, this young man was able to meet with a few of his teachers and about 30 of his classmates. The Principal and his Assistant Principle also joined in for a few minutes. The excitement of the students was palpable. They were so excited to connect with their teachers and peers.

At College Credit Connection (CCC), the Coordinators quickly converted their Face-to-Face classes to online/hybrid classes. After teachers get their distance learning programs set up, and if they have a bit more time on their (freshly washed) hands, it might be a good time to take some extra professional development classes. CCC has opened up the cap for credits per semester from 15 to 18 credits. Online learning is a great way to gain additional professional development units. In the last two months, CCC has added 22 new courses to the over 400 courses available.

Congratulations to all the teachers, professors, administrators, staff, IT personnel, as well as to the parents and students! You are making a difference in this difficult time.

Read on for some recommendations on how to deal with the stress of this time.


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Great ways to manage stress during the COVID-19 quarantine.

It is incredibly important for everyone, especially those who are working so hard under such unusual circumstances, to practice physical and emotional self-care. Teachers, professors, administrators, staff, and IT personnel are stepping up to the plate with incredible skill. But all these changes can cause undue stress and anxiety. Stress and fatigue are big factors in stripping one’s immune system, so we all need to practice extra tender self-care. The following are 10 tips to help you get through this stressful and unusual time:

  1. Sleep. Rest helps restore one’s body and mind, thus neutralizing the damaging effects of stress. Take care to get adequate sleep. Turn off your phone, computer, and television an hour before you are going to bed. Quiet your mind (see #7 below) before bed, and you will likely sleep better.
  2. Hydrate. Drink a lot of water. There are reports that if you drink water every 15 minutes, the chances of any virus entering your lungs is drastically reduced. Also, hydration helps flush out toxins. Our brains and organs need water and will function at a higher level when hydrated.
  3. Hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at a time. Avoid touching your face. Wipe down surfaces. Fill a spray bottle with a bit of rubbing alcohol and water, and use a light mist to spray your clothing, money, mail, and/or anything that has been touched by others.
  4. Exercise. Movement is vital for maintaining healthy circulation. The lymph system is crucial to support our immune responses, and it requires movement. Also, exercise can help ward off depression.
  5. Social distancing. Avoid going out if possible. Try to maintain a distance of at least six feet. But do NOT avoid connecting with people! Skype, FaceTime, Zoom … CONNECT! It is so important for us not to isolate during this time. Call someone you haven’t spoken with in a while – reach out to seniors and those who may be alone. You’ll feel better and they will too! Try to call or video conference if possible, as it is so much more connecting than texting or emailing. But, whatever the method, do something to connect with others.
  6. Outside time. Step outside for at least 15 minutes a day, particularly if you can do it when the sun is shining. Sunlight has anti-microbial effects and stimulates balance in the pineal gland, which supports immunity. Sunlight also provides a rich source of Vitamin D3, which has shown to be effective for the immune system, bone health, and emotional health. Ever notice how you feel better after taking a walk in the sun?!
  7. Quiet time. Many studies indicate the benefit of meditation and/or prayer for a person’s physical and emotional health. You don’t have to “do it right” – just do it! Take a few minutes throughout the day just to clear your mind. Connect with what is meaningful for you. Practice some yoga, chi gong, tai chi, take a bath, light a candle, take a quiet walk, or just sit for a bit doing nothing! Take the time to nourish a connection to what matters to you. Quiet your mind from all the worries and stresses, and you will have a better chance of feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
  8. Nutrition. Try your best to eat healthy. Your body and brain need good nutrients to operate at a high level. Supplement with high quality vitamins and minerals. A few recommendations for health and immunity are Vitamin D3, Zinc, Magnesium, and Vitamin C.
  9. Reduce stress. Listen to some music, read a book, take a walk. Keep your cool. It is important to take precautions and act wisely, but panic is never helpful. Breathe deeply and allow calmness to enter. Count to 10 before you speak in anger. If you feel panic or anxiety coming on, take deep breaths, then tune into the following (saying them out loud if possible): focus on 4 things around you that you can see; focus on 3 things you can touch; focus on 2 things that you can smell; and focus on 1 thing that you can taste. This helps to ground a person and often times helps to dispel panic. Stop and smell an orange, a flower, some food, a pet, or anything that will bring your focus outside of yourself.
  10. Be kind. Be kind to yourself and be kind to others. Reflect on things for which you are grateful. Upon waking and before bed: list 3 things for which you are grateful. Try it – it can make a difference on your outlook. Reflect on love and beauty in self, others, and the world. Be gentle with yourself.
(Compiled from a variety of sources.)

This is also a great time to take an online class and potentially move forward in your salary advancement steps. Check out the classes that College Credit Connection has to offer.

What special things are you doing for self -care right now?  Comment below!

 

 

Coordinate in Order to Collaborate

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So often as teachers we forget to implement what we know to be true into other areas of our lives. For instance, we know that research shows cooperative learning improves student achievement. But how often do we seek out cooperative learning opportunities for ourselves? While some schools implement Professional Learning Communities, we can consider additional ways to learn with our peers.

Most of us belonged to study groups in college, but do we still look for ways to interact with fellow educators to discuss research articles, books, or videos? Fellow teachers often share excellent advice when we are struggling and can help explain strategies and techniques. We share a common goal of helping students regardless of grade level, school, or district.

Administrators will definitely want to take note of the benefits of providing time for collaboration. It has been shown to increase retention rates of teachers and their satisfaction. When teachers feel support and a shared sense of responsibility, the result is often a higher performing school.

A study done in Pennsylvania showed 6 benefits of teacher collaboration. One example was that teachers were more likely to try something new in their classroom because they felt supported. Teachers became one another’s best resources. As teachers developed, student effort increased.

Teachers should not operate independently!  We need our peers to be a sounding board, to give feedback, and to reflect together. Teachers benefit from this, and the students do, too!

College Credit Connection has developed the Group Facilitator Program to encourage our students to take a professional development course with others and enjoy the benefits of both the flexibility and shared learning. The goal of the Group Facilitator Program is to enhance CCC’s online professional development courses by allowing students to enjoy both the benefits of our self-paced format and cooperative learning! Meet as often as you’d like (face-to-face, virtually, email, Facebook group, etc.) to discuss what you are learning, share ideas of how to apply the content, collaborate on lesson plans and assessments, and reflect.

Have a great story about collaborating with your peers? Share it below!

A Welcome Classroom: Supporting English Language Learners

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We strive to teach to each child’s heart, strength, passion, and interest. Our aim is to meet them where they are and help them progress to the next level. So, how do we best help those who enter our classrooms at a level of English lower than their peers?

The last issue of Educational Leadership addresses the many of the challenges of teaching English Language Learners and offers many strategies. I especially appreciate that many of the authors see the benefits of how honing your teaching practice to help meet the needs of English Language Learners often will help the rest of the students in your classroom. The diversity of our students enriches our classrooms!

For some great tips, check out this article by Jennifer Gonzalez. Even the most trained and seasoned teacher might find some of her suggestions helpful. Jennifer explains a bit of the development of second language acquisition and what you should expect as your students develop their academic and conversational language skills.

As our population of English Language Learners grows, it is more crucial than ever that teachers and staff support all of our students. Learning (and thinking!) takes time. All our students will benefit when we speak slowly and give students time to think after we pose questions.

Students are best served when their teachers are aware of what they already know and can build on that prior knowledge. Using visuals and kinesthetic activities will help students to solidify their understanding. Having students work together and collaborate is another great strategy.

College Credit Connection offers many great courses to help educators meet the needs of English Language Learners. Here are a few of our highly recommended graduate-level professional development classes:

EDUX 6555: ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS AND THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS

EDUX 6425: AN INTRODUCTION TO TEACHING ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS

EDUX 7620: TEACHING ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS

How do you help create a welcome classroom to support English Language Learners? Leave a comment below!

Certification: Your Next Career Move

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Teachers and clinicians sometimes feel like no career moves are available to them. While many districts have looked for ways for teachers to progress without having to leave the classroom, one possibility might lie in an area often employed by other career paths: earning a certificate. We often encourage our students to be lifelong learners. Are we leading by example? If you decide to pursue a certificate, make sure it plays into your passion. After all, our excitement and expertise inspire the next generation.

Gaining credibility, increasing your marketability, professional development, moving across the salary scale, and gaining new knowledge are just some of the benefits of obtaining certification listed by Sue Kaiden. Employers and administration often view a certificate as indication of personal ambition and expertise.   If you are considering applying for a new job or seeking leadership roles, a certificate could increase your chances of reaching those goals.

Often teachers and clinicians have completed degree programs and have little interest in pursuing another piece of paper. However, those same teachers might feel like things have been a little stagnant in their classroom. Clinicians might desire to learn about the latest research without enrolling in a demanding program. In both cases, a certificate in a field where their passion lies might allow them to brush up on their skills and invigorate their practice.

Certificate programs likely cost much less than degree programs but could potentially help teachers and clinicians move up the income ladder. Often times, the human resources department can help inform you of how many graduate units shy you might be of the next salary step. A certificate could be the perfect step up the salary schedule.

Another advantage of many certificate programs is the convenience of online courses. If you can’t imagine adding one more thing to your full plate, the self-paced online course might be a viable option for you to accomplish your personal and professional goals without having to drive yourself to a campus twice a week for a semester. You might want to consider getting a college certificate that allows flexibility in your schedule.

Check out these ten great certificates currently offered by College Credit Connection in partnership with Vanguard University!

Cultivating Positive School Relationships

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I always looked forward to Tuesdays. It’s a day of the week that may seem a bit ho-hum, but it was the day that Mr. Rickeman, the English and History teacher, and I , the Math and Science teacher, found each other for a “High-Five Tuesday.” Such a simple human interaction boosted my spirit and gave me the encouragement I needed to face my 4th period class that day.

Are we as teachers competing or collaborating? Does more gossip or more encouragement come out of your mouth? An insight from one teacher compares our attitude and actions to fuel, and the type of fuel we consume will ultimately manifest in our own morale and our school culture. Some great advice comes from an article by Derrick Meador. He encourages teachers to be sensitive to others, and, at the same time, do not take things personally. Give people the benefit of the doubt whenever possible. Be quick to give credit to others, and don’t concern yourself with getting credit yourself. Keep the students’ best interest in mind and the success of the school as a whole.

Natalie Snyders, a Speech Language Pathologist, shares some ways she has cultivated a positive school relationship at her school. Starting with the staff, she has everyone draw a name of another staff member and write them a short note of encouragement. Students also get involved and write thank you notes to their teachers, often focusing on a particular grammar lesson or skill in their own writing. Finally, Snyders recognizes the occasional need for a bathroom break and adult supervision, offering the teacher a brief relief.

Connect face-to-face with your colleagues! Start with a walk down the hall to their classroom to check on how their day was, ask for advice about a student or an upcoming lesson, or spend time outside of the school building. Adult conversation after a day of teaching can lift your spirit and set the tone for your school campus!

Are you in need of a morale boost and a High-Five Tuesday? Consider enrolling in What Works in Schools: Translating Research into Action. Participants will discover how schools can create an environment that affects student achievement and maximizes the capacity of all learners.

What have you done to develop a positive culture on campus? Leave us a comment below!

 

Step up the Salary Scale

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For most teachers, their yearly salary does not reflect their effectiveness in the classroom, the demands of the job, or the subject matter that they teach. Instead, most salary schedules reward “teachers for doing two things: teaching longer and taking courses.” While some districts may reconsider how they attract and keep quality teachers, most still use a salary scale.

A study done by Paul Bruno reflects the many different factors that can contribute to teacher salary such as years spent teaching, years taught in the same district, “furlough days” (insert shiver down your spine here), class sizes, and education. It is interesting to note that one teacher performing the exact same duties as another might be paid twice as much due to the factors mentioned above (namely education and years of teaching).   Bruno also points out that the economy and politics play important parts in determining salary schedules in each state and district.

Have you ever wondered if you could make more money as a teacher without leaving the job you love? While a teacher’s salary varies from state to state and district to district, the cost of living seems to continually rise. An article on Teacher.org states “obtaining additional post secondary education credits is a crucial step in maximizing salary benefits.”   They “highly recommend taking these additional classes to earn the additional credits necessary” to jump into the next tier. “You’ll substantially increase your lifetime earnings by focusing on increasing credits early on in your career.”

Some unions have gone so far as to help teachers calculate how and when to complete salary points for the maximum financial benefit. They point out that moving across the salary schedule has more than immediate effects. It can affect your retirement!

If you are ready to take the next step to move across the salary schedule and earn graduate units, be sure to take this advice from shmoop.com, “Be sure to check your contract and plan accordingly so you can make sure you’re earning those credits and qualifying for the associated pay raise. Also be sure that you know what documentation you need to provide to your superintendent’s office in order to get your raise.”

College Credit Connection offers teachers and other professionals the opportunity to earn graduate-level credits through Vanguard University of Southern California, which is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Learn in the format you like, at your own pace, and at an affordable cost (as low as $89/unit). Click here to browse the courses CCC currently offers!

 

Common Core: Where Are We Now?

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It’s hard to believe that the effort to begin developing the Common Core State Standards started 10 years ago. Now, after five or more years of implementation, what have we seen?

In June of 2019, an article in a Florida newspaper stated that while almost everyone polled in Florida said that they did not want yet another change in standards, government officials decided to move away from the Common Core and create a new set of standards. Many feel that this will not favor the public schools with a constantly changing target. However, there is a growing concern over the quality and effectiveness of the Common Core standards and the assessments.

One of the concerns of the Common Core assessments is the content. While there are some significant things missing, such as dramatic literature, there is perhaps an oversaturation of short, non-fictional snippets. Other concerns include which experts were consulted and how the results are interpreted. Finally, the level of math and reading on the text is not very high.

Some studies have shown that instead of the promised student achievement gains, there have been significant negative effects on student education. In her article, Joy Pullman points out that this decline in academic performance could even affect our country’s economy. The only people who have seemed to benefit from this were those who created and pushed the Common Core Standards.

Why were the effects possibly negative? An article in Chalkbeat suggests that several challenges could have lead to the negative effects, including a lack of quality teacher training. Others think that the problem might lie in the Common Core standards themselves.

To address the training issue, College Credit Connection, in partnership with Vanguard University, currently offers more than 30 graduate-level courses on the topic of Common Core. The courses benefit both new teachers and veteran teachers. With custom assignments at an affordable price, many teachers find these courses to benefit their instruction while also helping them move across the salary schedule. Consider taking a course to brush up on techniques for teaching the Common Core or browse the more than 300 other courses offered.

What has your experience been with the Common Core?