The Teacher Advocate

Teacher Advocate Blog List
A few years ago, I transitioned from teaching elementary students to being in a middle school setting. I had to overcome many challenges with this move; however, the most difficult task proved to be with discipline. Going from a classroom full of eager students who, for the most part, wanted to act appropriately, to seven classes full of preadolescent middle school students, made me reflect on my teaching style and personal desire to see my students flourish in all aspects of life. I knew I had some work to do. One of my students had a bad reputation among all teachers and administration. She was unruly, would dismiss any demands to act appropriately, and did ...
During your teacher preparation program, you were probably introduced to the term reflection . It’s not a new concept in education; it’s been researched and investigated since the advent of teacher preparation programs (Schön, 1983). However, as you make the transition to your own classroom, your reflection on your classroom practice will undoubtedly shape your teaching career. Teaching is complex work with both significant challenges and great rewards. Developing yourself as a new reflective practitioner will be critical for a long and successful career in education. Reflective teachers are effective teachers because they know what and how they are going ...
4 Strategies to Motivate and Encourage Beginning Teachers Do you ever think about why you decided to teach in the first place? Each day is a new day, and remembering your first motivation to become a teacher fuels the drive and motivation to help our students succeed. Use that motivation and inspiration to drive instruction and allow the students in your classroom to thrive. On the days that seem tougher than most, perhaps one of these strategies will work for you to stop and remember WHY you made the right choice to become a classroom teacher. Every year, too many teachers close their doors and never return to the classroom, and it’s time ...
Technology is a powerful tool for promoting teaching and learning at any grade level. However, like other educational tools, teachers can use technology inappropriately. What questions should teachers ask themselves as they consider using technology in their classroom? What resources support student learning? This article provides five tips and various resources for teachers’ effective use of technology in their classrooms. Use technology purposefully. The primary tip to guide your practice is to use technology for intentional purposes, not for “technology’s sake” (NAEYC & Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media Center, 2012). ...
Bobby walked into my class, a student I will never forget. He had long hair and didn’t look me in the face. He didn’t say hello; he didn’t say good morning; he simply walked in, picked a chair in the shadows at the back of the classroom, and sat alone. At the time, he was a sixth grader, new to the middle school world. I hadn’t heard a peep from him since the beginning of class and, about 30 minutes in, we began a game of Kahoot. To my surprise, the quiet, unsocial Bobby decided that he did not like to lose. I was standing with one set of desks to my right, three rows of three, and another set to my left, again three rows of three. Suddenly I hear, “I HATE ...
Teaching in an urban setting can offer a diverse range of valuable practices and perspectives, and new teachers who begin working in urban areas are twice as likely to be assigned to high-poverty, low-performing schools as more experienced teachers (Bolich, 2001). The National Council for Behavioral Health reported that 35% of urban youth exposed to community violence develop post-traumatic stress disorder. Sexual assault, physical assault, and witnessing domestic violence are the three most prevalent stressors in youth. With little to no experience dealing with students, let alone those with traumatic experiences, new teachers can be overwhelmed by the enormity ...
“He’s a boy. He doesn’t like to read.” I cannot count how many times I have heard this statement, or something similar. Research reveals that girls outperform boys on reading achievement tests. For example, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) shows that fourth-grade boys’ average scaled score is lower than their female peers (National Center for Education Statistics, 2015). Enjoying the act of reading typically increases one’s reading volume, and the amount that one reads correlates with reading achievement. Gambrell (2015) states, “The more students read, the better readers they become” (p. 259). We must not overlook the gender achievement ...
Teachers, particularly those working in schools in high poverty areas, are often faced with situations that affect job expectations. The COVID-19 pandemic required teachers to plan and prepare instruction quickly to help students continue learning remotely, thereby increasing teacher anxiety. In this article, we will focus on two situations of concern, alleviating anxiety and secondary trauma , and how to reduce them. As teachers, we often experience secondary trauma, as caregivers who listen to students’ external challenges. COVID-19 has heightened many of the issues that students are currently facing, in turn increasing teacher’s experience to secondary ...
Relationships bind us as humans. They motivate us to be our best selves and often allow us to see even greater possibilities. Alone we may accomplish what we set out to do, but together we can accomplish even more. But educators are usually alone, teaching in a classroom with very few support systems in place. Becoming a teacher of children is a calling. It is all too often a job entailing intense daily work, from preparing lesson plans to instituting effective classroom management, while accounting for a community of diverse learners and staying informed about the latest in the field to inform one’s practice. These efforts often go unnoticed, and shows of gratitude ...
What do you think of when you hear the word “home”? Most people equate “home” with a traditional house on its own plot of land, owned by the occupants: the proverbial American Dream. But “home” has a much broader meaning than owning a house. “Home” is a more abstract concept representing the emotional feeling of where one lives, whether it’s a traditional house, a tiny house, an apartment, a mobile home, a nursing home, or even a dorm room. And “home” can be a space that someone owns or is buying, or one that is rented. We want to encourage elementary educators to broaden their understanding of “home” by incorporating more information about apartments into ...
Several years ago on a Tuesday night, I received a phone call that would forever change the way I teach. My department chair, Mrs. Karnes (names are changed), called to let me know Alexander was killed in a motorcycle accident. Mrs. Karnes was aware I had known Alex as a student since before his freshman year, and now he was a senior. Mrs. Karnes advised me that, in the morning, my classroom would be the place for students to gather to begin the mourning and grieving process. Well before the first hour of the day, dozens of students that I had in class, as well as others who were friends of Alexander, had come to my classroom to cry, wonder, and try to figure ...
Autonomy plays a critical role in motivation within the classroom; however, students often struggle to develop the skills that promote autonomy. Goal setting, making choices, and reflecting on learning are vital skills for students to learn (Wehmeyer et al., 1998). Read three ways to improve autonomy in your classroom. Create autonomy-rich environments. Thoughtful teachers create autonomy-rich environments by: Permitting students to choose their assignments and task order, as well as allowing them to make choices in selecting rewards. Incorporating materials in home languages or cultural backgrounds (e.g., use Diverse BookFinder ). ...
Teachers are increasingly moving from low-income to more affluent schools, from majority-minority to low-minority schools, and from urban to suburban schools (Ingersoll & Merrill, 2010). For various reasons, more minority teachers are working in predominately White, suburban schools. Black and Brown teachers often face unique challenges when working in more affluent and predominantly White schools. Teachers who value social justice and equity can find themselves among the minority when working in predominantly White and affluent schools. Also, many majority teachers believe strongly in restorative practices and wish to advocate for social justice and ...
The importance of being trauma-informed in educational practices has been well documented ( Chafouleas et al., 2016) and is more relevant now than ever . Creating a sense of safety, connection, and empowerment are basic tenets of being trauma sensitive. How can you manage your classroom in a trauma-sensitive manner? These two strategies will help: Establish your teacher mindset. Before working with a new set of students, I take the time to reset my teacher mindset: my beliefs about my students, my ability to reach and teach my students, my expectations for my students, and my commitment to meeting the needs of my students. I revisit my philosophy ...
Those of you who are new teachers probably didn’t think it was possible for your student teaching to become more stressful, but in March 2020, just as student teachers were taking over the classroom instruction, the unthinkable happened. We were all thrown into the deep end, told we wouldn’t be coming back to our classrooms, and that we would be teaching remotely. Every single one of us, including you, jumped into action, planning lessons online, videotaping lectures, and meeting our students virtually. Every single one of us made it to shore. Getting there took us across choppy waters—learning new technologies and troubleshooting challenges. Nevertheless, we ...
Military Prepares Soldiers for Combat—Not for the Real World Service members work and live with individuals from other cultures, quickly adapting to changing conditions; they are resilient and able to collaborate with others to achieve a common mission. However, Zogas (2017) noted, “Young veterans regularly observe that the military does an extremely effective job of training them to operate within the military, and an extremely poor job of reversing that training or preparing them before sending them back into civilian life” (p. 1). Service members who return to civilian life and decide to become novice teachers will require support as they transition ...
Scenario: You are a beginning second-grade teacher who learns about the poor performance of third-graders in writing a text-dependent analysis (TDA). While in college, you were on the debating team and recognized how the club contributed to your writing skills, especially with TDAs. You want to focus on the development of the students in your homeroom and not take on the hassle of extra work; however, you are aware of effective strategies that may help the third-graders. What do you do with the experience you have? Can you find ways to share this knowledge with colleagues? Generally, new teachers enter their classrooms with zeal and excitement, ready to ...
“What if my students won’t listen to me? What if they won’t follow my rules?” These and other classroom management concerns are often a source of anxiety for new teachers. In fact, roughly 50% of teachers recently surveyed worldwide report that they do not feel well prepared to tackle issues of student behavior and management as novice teachers (OECD, 2019). Whether you are a new teacher, or someone who has been in the classroom for years, the reality is that creating an environment for learning is hard work. Classroom management strategies, such as establishing rules and procedures or identifying appropriate consequences, are necessary for a new teacher’s ...
The terms climate and culture are often used interchangeably, but their meanings hold differences that drive our intentionality (Gruenert, 2008). The climate of a school is the overall attitude of the people within. It is defined by the atmosphere felt when walking through the doors and interacting with the members. The climate is the energy behind the culture of a school. The culture, on the other hand, is more about the ideologies and beliefs that make the school an effective learning institution. Climate What creates the climate in a school? Climate is determined by the reactions to events and the surroundings of the school. We might ...
The tight schedule of the school day might be controversial, but its unraveling in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic left students around the world scrambling to schedule their own time. Students who were used to being told when to eat, when to use the restroom, and when it’s appropriate to socialize had to establish their own routines in the wake of a sudden and unexpected increase in autonomy. Learning from home also put additional pressure on these so-called “digital natives” to overcome novel hurdles to access learning in the first place. Students had to work through issues with Internet connectivity, the unfamiliarity of asynchronous learning platforms, ...