The Teacher Advocate

Teacher Advocate Blog List
By Melissa Bittner & Mariya Davis Physical activities give students a break from demanding cognitive tasks and serve to encourage creative development (Skoning, 2008). Offering active breaks during classroom instruction has favorable outcomes for academic achievement (Fedewa & Soyeon, 2011). Research also supports the positive impact of physical activities on student classroom behavior (Barros et al., 2009). In addition, physical activity is especially important for children with disabilities, as they are almost 1.5 times more likely to be overweight or obese compared with their typically developing peers (Healy et al., 2018). When the ...
By Brian Williams and Kristen Wawer Implementing a thematic unit is an effective way to integrate standards, content, and culture into instruction. This type of unit will allow you to organize curriculum around a central theme. Specifically, a thematic unit is a series of lessons and activities that integrate a variety of topics that tie into a main theme (Brodzik et al., 1996). This method of curriculum organization will allow you to discuss important issues, bring together different kinds of materials, and have students work to make connections between course concepts and their own lives (Mitchell & Young, 1997). Introduction to Implementation ...
By Marla A. Sole According to Carol Dweck (2008), there are two types of mindsets: a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. A fixed mindset is the belief that intelligence is innate and unalterable. A growth mindset is the belief that intelligence can be developed, and we can make gains by being persistent, trying new strategies, and reaching out for support when we need it. Students who have a fixed mindset exert little effort when faced with obstacles, since their belief is that intelligence is fixed and that effort and outreach will be futile. Students with growth mindsets welcome challenges, embrace opportunities to expand their abilities, and are ...
By Samantha Smith Thermostats set the temperature, do they not? If you want your house to be cool, wouldn’t you set the thermostat to a cooler setting? Likewise, if you’re wanting your classroom to be calm and productive, look to yourself first. It’s crucial to set the tone at the threshold. The first interaction with students each day is likely to set the tone for how class will continue. Imagine you’re a student walking into a classroom. Your teacher hasn’t made copies and is also stressed out from the previous class period. As you find your seat, your teacher begins a rant on how the day is unfolding, then proceeds to spout off expectations ...
By John W. Krupp Although the teaching profession can change the world for the better, it often comes with a great deal of stress. Struggling to manage this stress can lead to burnout and the loss of teachers (Akin, 2019). Teachers’ daily responsibilities include teaching the curriculum, preparing for high-stakes testing, grading, collaborating, communicating with parents, being a first responder, and leading extra-curricular activities to build school culture (Daniels et al., 2016; Hupe & Stevenson, 2019; Katic et al., 2019; Manuel et al., 2018). When faced with the many demands of the profession, stress is inevitable. New teachers typically ...
By Shanda Salvant Theriot Do you remember how old you were when you received your first smartphone or personal electronic device to access the world wide web, gaining access to thousands of apps and numerous social media sites? For me, it wasn’t until my junior year in high school; however, according to a survey conducted by Common Sense Media, a little over half (53%) of children in the United States, now own a smartphone by the age of 11 (Kamenetz, 2019). Looking back as an educator and parent, things have definitely changed! Although the Internet has proven to be very beneficial when it comes to communicating information remotely, it also ...
By Kyle Miller Family engagement is a topic that continues to gain attention in school districts, with a recognition that families are vital to the success of students. However, family engagement typically manifests as mother engagement due to gendered school practices implicitly targeting and supporting mothers (Osborn, 2015; Posey-Maddox, 2017). For that reason, the efforts of fathers often remain unseen or misunderstood by schools and teachers. This was true in my experiences as a teacher and continues to emerge in my research with fathers. Recently, I interviewed 25 fathers about their current engagement with their children and their parenting ...
By Julia Wilkins Whether or not you have taken a course in how to build relationships and communicate with parents, you might find yourself feeling completely unprepared. Because parental involvement in school is positively associated with student achievement, it is important to know how to build relationships with parents to facilitate their involvement. An important point to remember is that “parents” can mean grandparents, stepparents, foster parents, and more. Before you can effectively communicate with parents, you need to know their preferred method of communication, whether they have Internet access, and what language they primarily speak. ...
By Christopher J. Jackson Congratulations! You’ve made it to your first year as a teacher and your first classroom, your new “home away from home.” A teacher’s perception of their classroom says a lot about how their first year at the school could go. You can set the tone of your classroom from Day One by establishing an atmosphere for each student, no matter their cultural background, race, or ethnicity. This article provides five tips for making your classroom your arena. Feel the Classroom Vibes When you first walk into your classroom, I challenge you to stop, close your eyes, and imagine your room filled with students. Your students come ...
By Micki M. Caskey and Karen Weller Swanson Being completely present means much more in the last 2 years due to COVID-19. After the difficulty of our first full year since the pandemic, it is time to take a breath and reflect. Teaching nudges us to think and rethink our practice, sometimes by choice and sometimes by circumstance. As we remember the challenge to bring our best selves into the classroom, bell hooks (2003) wrote that good teaching comes from whole teachers: “[T]he classroom is one of the most dynamic work settings precisely because we are given such a short amount of time to do so much. To perform with excellence and grace teachers must ...
Garden-based learning is an exciting movement in the U.S. education system that has many benefits for students. School gardens have been shown to boost physical activity, increase fruit and vegetable consumption, improve student attitudes toward school, decrease problematic behaviors or those behaviors associated with attention deficit disorder, and effectively engage students of diverse backgrounds and learning styles (Berezowitz et al., 2015; Blair, 2009; Lautenschlager & Smith, 2007; Meinen et al., 2012). Further, garden-based learning can create memorable, hands-on learning opportunities that integrate gardening with math, science, social studies, and ...
Let’s be clear. Learning to teach is a career-long process, and building a successful teaching career in a rapidly changing society means devoting deliberate attention to your own professional development (PD) while keeping your students’ needs foremost in mind. Teaching is about preparing our students for success in the future. Looking to the future, many workplace demands will likely involve considerable knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), so preparing students effectively is critical. Therefore, even if STEM is not your strong suit, you owe it to your students to prepare to be a proactive STEM teacher regardless of your grade ...
I remember my first days in the classroom with my little humans, thinking, “I LOVE teaching!” They were sweet and captivated by my voice and the cool things I created for their learning. Within days, however, it was clear that the “honeymoon” was over. Behaviors escalated. All kinds of them. Every one of which interfered with my teaching—and their learning. I wish someone would have taken me aside and said, “Ron, here are the essential things you need to know to manage your students.” Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. It took years to refine my classroom management plan. As you begin, I recommend the classic text Classroom Management That Works: Research-Based ...
Poet Maya Angelou once said, “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style” (2014). As a middle or high school teacher, sticking to a simple, well-considered routine can keep you from becoming overwhelmed and over-stressed during your first year of teaching. Follow these simple tips to minimize busywork, bring balance to your life, and focus on the priorities in your work. Let’s make that first year one of thriving, not just surviving! Plan on weekends, grade during the week. This is a routine I established during student teaching out of necessity. I was teaching ...
My personal code of ethics began long before my professional life but has directly influenced how I govern myself in both areas. In life and in education, equality means that everyone gets the same thing, whereas equity means that everyone gets what they need to be successful. It is important to understand which is appropriate and when. As a long-time educator and life-long learner, my code of ethics is centered upon building relationships and conducting my personal and professional actions and interactions with equity in mind. (Wagle, 2017) I come from a long line of educators. My maternal grandmother taught kindergarten for 35 years in a small ...
Creating an inviting classroom environment can be an exciting yet stressful challenge for new teachers. Based upon our experiences as classroom teachers and teacher mentors, we have discovered eight practical suggestions for creating an inviting classroom environment on a limited budget. New teachers understand the importance of creating a well-managed and welcoming classroom. They recognize that an effective classroom management plan is “the primary determinant of how well students will learn” (Wong et al., 2012). For new teachers, however, budgets may be thin, and they may wonder how to create an inviting classroom environment on such a limited budget. Consider ...
Education is an integral component of students’ lives, dedicated to instilling the respective skills needed to read proficiently, think critically, and write with clarity, all of which are essential with today’s complex and rigorous academic standards. The saying, “a mile of a roadway will take you a mile, but a mile of runway will take you anywhere,” accurately depicts how students gain literacy. Through their experiences and attention to their surroundings, literacy begins to form. Through educators’ instructional approaches, students begin to acquire academic and cultural fluency. Proficient reading and writing are two skills that not only prepare students ...
Having been in the field of education in a variety of capacities since 2004, I often get asked for the most important advice I can give to new teachers. Folks often expect me to answer something akin to having strong lesson plans, good behavior management, excellent parental relations, and so on. However, for me, all of this comes secondary to the most important relationship you will have in the school, the one with the folks who set the tone for your school: administrators. This duet will make or break your experience as a teacher. What follows are some tips picked up over the years to help strengthen this bond. Dress well. If you want to be taken ...
The classroom is a dynamic learning “cave” where teachers embrace their own styles to establish an engaging learning environment for all students. For many, this includes having a co-teacher to manage the classroom and deliver effective instruction. For us, developing an effective co-teaching relationship started by designing a dragon. “Ferny the Dragon,” a home-grown fantasy character, sparked a class theme that continues to serve as the catalyst of our co-teaching relationship, inspire how we manage the classroom, and engage students in learning. For more than 3 years, we’ve worked carefully on strategies and styles for co-teaching. “Studies show that [this] ...
As a new teacher, you may enter the field fully certified and prepared for your job, but no amount of classroom or even clinical experience fully prepares you for your first real teaching assignment. The first year in the classroom is a unique extension of your teacher preparation program, and you will need support as you develop your time management and instructional skills. Navigating data analysis, setting goals, learning both individually and collaboratively, implementing new learning experiences, and monitoring and adjusting best practices can be overwhelming. You must be fully embraced and supported in order to become part of your first professional learning ...