The Teacher Advocate

Teacher Advocate Blog List
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 ...
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 ...