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!

 

 

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!

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?

 

 

 

 

 

Why We Need Montessori

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How do children best learn? It’s a question we often ask and continue to research. Montessori education focuses on many of the answers.

Most teachers agree about the effectiveness of kinesthetic learning. Children learn by doing. Whether exploring with their senses or practicing life skills, children in Montessori schools actively learn.

Montessori classrooms encourage cooperative learning with peers. Students benefit from discussions, reciprocal teaching, and working together. Student engagement often increases with the opportunity to work with peers.

Students take charge of their own learning when they are given choice. The freedom to choose where they want to sit, which activity to do, and which topic to explore leads to motivated learners. Teachers might be surprised by how well the students are able to self-assess and master concepts.

But does the Montessori model work for everyone? Does it have the same results regardless of socio-economic status? Researchers believe Montessori education can potentially close the achievement gap! The challenge, however, lies in the availability and accessibility of Montessori schools in low-income areas.

Interested in learning more? Take a Cognitive Engagement course with College Credit Connection and customize it explore all things Montessori. Receive graduate units for reading a book such as Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius and viewing experts like Judi Bauerlein.

What has been your experience with Montessori? Leave a comment below!

Tattle tamers

Confession time: I did my second half of student teaching in kindergarten and found myself physically exhausted every single day.   My first assignment had been in 7th grade with students who could work independently and actively participate in critical (and often humorous!) discussions.  In the kindergarten classroom, I found myself working with little ones who desperately needed me every moment of the day to tie their shoes, help them cut out shapes, and listen to them tattle about everything they just witnessed during recess.  I quickly learned that my ideal classroom was not in the primary grades.  And so, it is with great respect and admiration for primary elementary teachers that I write this post!

If you feel like tattling has disrupted one too many lessons this year, you are not alone!  Consider trying these tips for taming the tattling:

Classroom Discussion

A post by Responsive Classroom, suggests writing down on index cards a few of the typical common incidents that have been reported to you.  Then, as a class, discuss if the proper response to each situation should be “Tell An Adult,” “Handle It Yourself,” or “Let it Go.”  You can make a chart and keep it posted in your classroom to remind students of the proper response.  You can also add to it or change the response throughout the year. Discuss the chart with parents and talk about your approach at parent meetings, in your weekly newsletter, and on your school or class website.

Be careful with student responsibilities

A well-organized classroom often includes student jobs and putting students in charge of certain responsibilities.  However, if you want to limit tattling, Dr. Ken Shore warns not to put students in charge of their classmates.  When a student is in authority over another student, it often will lead to a student telling you that someone is not following directions or being difficult.  To avoid this conflict, do not put students in charge of their classmates.

Deal with each student individually

Some students are looking for validation or attention.  Others might be being bullied.  Still others might not understand socially acceptable behaviors.  Help your students grow.   One teacher found it was necessary to have a student repeat the following: “It is not your job to enforce the playground rules. All you have to do is follow the rules. The playground supervisors can handle the rest of the kids in the way they see fit.”

Stop using the term “tattling”

Specifically, when we discourage “tattling” with our students, we might unintentionally send the wrong message.  After all, we do want students to report harmful behavior!  Students need to know that we are listening and take their concerns seriously.  Valerie Reiss encourages teachers to keep the lines of communication open and to remember that students will tattle less as they grow older and develop social skills.

Use it as a teachable moment

Help the student control their tattletale behavior by asking them questions such as:

Are you ok?

Did you ask the person to stop?

What are you hoping will happen?

What can I do to help the situation?

You can also have the students role-play with a caveat: Have them reenact the scenario with what every member involved should have done.  Have them practice the right thing to do in the situation.

Learn more

If tattling is taking over your classroom, consider enrolling in a professional development course that addresses classroom management

Do you have any tips for taming the tattling?  Leave some advice for another teacher or parent in the comments below!

To Assign or Not to Assign… Homework

Teaching middle school math and science in the inner city of Los Angeles, I wrestled with my previously formed opinion of assigning homework.  Was it fair to assign homework to adolescents who went home after school to take care of their younger siblings while their parents were both at work?  How many problems needed to be completed for sufficient practice?  Could the students master concepts and skills without the homework?  If I gave homework students, I wanted to give the appropriate amount and quality of homework to reap the benefits without causing stress, fatigue, boredom, or frustration.

I thought back to my days as a student, when classmates would “slack off” yet would ace the test.  They proved their learning on the summative assessments without completing the homework.  Would their grade in their class reflect their knowledge and skills or would it reflect the fact that they didn’t complete their daily assignments?  Some schools have completely abolished homework!

I considered what my personal desire was for my students when I assigned homework.  Was my motive drill and kill or did I want to deepen my students’ understanding?  Did everyone need to complete the same thing or could I give my students choice based on their learning level, interests, or learning style?  If you are looking for ways to engage your students, consider trying one of these 20 creative homework ideas.

Finally, many teachers know all to well how the piles of homework needed to be graded grow exponentially!  What type of feedback would best help the student?  Did I need to input it into the grade book or could the students be accountable in another way?  Taking all of these things into consideration, I decided to greatly reduce the amount of homework I assigned.  Homework no longer had a sufficient weight on the students’ academic grades, but was considered when assigning grades for things such as effort.  Whenever possible, I would offer student choice. 

What is your homework policy?  Has it changed over the years?  Let us know in the comment section below!

Terrific Teacher YouTube Channels

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When I wanted to introduce my students to different colleges and universities, I often turned to the treasure trove of YouTube to expose my students to campuses without the hassle of permission slips, transportation, and coordinating field trips! When I needed to show students examples of symbiotic relationships, I went to YouTube. When I….well, you get the picture. Even so, I barely scratched the surface of the vast resources available to teachers. Here are some of the YouTube channels you might find helpful as a teacher:

Edutopia

Stay on top of current topics in education by watching short clips by Edutopia! Most of the videos are between 2 to 4 minutes and cover topics such as mindfulness, Socratic circles, parent workshops, and creating student norms in the classroom. Find out what is working in K-12 education today!

Buck Institute of Education

If you want to learn more about Project Based Learning, check out the Buck Institute of Education for helpful videos! The content includes successful ideas to implement and suggestions to help align projects to standards, design and plan projects, and to engage students in learning. If you are interested in receiving graduate units for learning and implementing Project Based Learning in your classroom, you can enroll in EDUX 7635: PROJECT-BASED LEARNING: AN OVERVIEW.

Bozeman Science

Make your science lesson come alive with a clip from Bozeman Science! These videos include easy-to-understand diagrams, demonstrations, and models. Created by a high school teacher, the content covers everything from renewable energy to neurons!

Richard Byrne

Improve your lessons with a little help from Richard Byrne! Get tips and tricks in technology to engage your students. Imagine what you can learn and do with his tutorials!

TED-Ed

The TED-Ed YouTube channel topped the list of many educators (if you’re not already one of the 8.4 million subscribers, you will probably become one after checking out their videos!). Many of the 4 or 5 minute videos grab the attention of students and engage them in history, culture, science, math, literature, geography, and more! These high-quality videos will greatly enrich any classroom.

Here are some links of additional lists of top educational YouTube channels:

Great YouTube Channels for Teachers

Top 100 Teacher Youtube Channels on Educational Videos, Tutorials, Lessons & Courses

8 Excellent Educational YouTube Channels for Today’s Teachers

10 inspiring YouTube channels for teachers

If you are interested in receiving graduate units for professional development in technology, click here.

Which YouTube channels do you enjoy incorporating into your lessons? How and when do you use the videos? Leave a comment below!