Set up For Success

success_chalkboard

Happy New Year!

It is hard to believe that 2017 is over, but I am excited for 2018. A new year is like turning the page in a brand new journal. The page is fresh and crisp waiting to be penned with descriptions of life’s journey.

So, let’s get set up for the journey!

Blog - Personal Success

My aunt once told me that before she gets on a plane she does not begin by praying for the pilot, she prays for his family and his home. I thought that was strange at first. The pilot is the one operating the plane after all, not his spouse or cousin. She went on to explain that a person operates most effectively when their world is at peace.

This is true for us as educators as well. We are the pilots of our classrooms. Although we are great at powering through long nights, tough mornings, and afternoon slumps, we would certainly prefer peace. One of the ways we can have peace is through self care. So, before you reenter the classroom after the winter break, set yourself up for a successful second semester by making you a priority.

First, think about what makes you happy. Focus on things that are low cost or free. Now narrow the list to one or two things. Take out your calendar. Find time to incorporate the happy into your schedule. Taking this time for your happy will give you peace that translates into success.

Second, take time to renew and refuel. In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Stephen R Covey emphasizes the importance of “preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have – you. [By] having a balanced program for self-renewal in the four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual” you will have peace that translates into success. Think intentionally about these four areas of your life. How can you create balance? Exercise, counseling, meditation? For a FREE Renew & Refuel deep dive resource click HERE.

Third, say no so you can say yes. If you’re like me, it is tough for you to say no. I find however, that the more I say yes, the less quality me I have to give. Lysa Terkeurst says it so well in The Best Yes,

“Someone makes a request of me that I know right away is unrealistic. My brain says no. My schedule says no. My reality says no. But my heart says yes! Then my mouth
betrays my intention of saying no, as it smiles and says, “Yes, of course.”

I dread saying yes but feel powerless to say no. I dread saying yes not because I don’t love that person. I love them very much. But I dread what saying yes will do to the already running-on-empty me” (4).

How do we stop giving the “running on empty” version of ourselves? Well, we start by saying no. Because I really struggle with saying no, I have had to start with baby steps. Step 1) Pull out my calendar at the beginning of the month. Step 2) Block off one weekend. Now I can honestly say, “No, that weekend is blocked off.” Just doing this one thing has reduced my commitments and allowed for a quality me when I do say yes. This allows for a peace that translates into success.

Being an educator is one of the most rewarding professions, but also one of the most demanding on your emotional, physical and mental space. To give your students the best you, start by doing what is best for you.

Please comment below with other ways you prioritize you so that you can be set up for success.

On Thursday we’ll continue the conversation by discussing three ways to be set up for professional success.

Cheers to a vision inspired second semester!

-CTS

 

Novel Study – Solid Structure

Reading Structure

The novel has been selected and the course has been charted on the calendar. Now it’s time to really dig deep.  While charting the course you thought briefly about the standards you would cover, the types of projects and presentations your students would complete.  Now it is time to tear the standards apart, pull out the meat, and create the actual assignments, craft the lessons, design the rubrics.

Thoughts to consider:

  1. Begin with the end in mind.  What do you want the students to learn?  Start there and work backward.
    1. What will the final assessment look like – project, presentation, test?
    2. What assignments are necessary to achieve the learning goals?
    3. What passages need to be highlighted?
    4. What supplemental reading materials will be needed?
    5. What movie clips might increase understanding?
  2. We want the students knowledge to go deep, not wide.  When our students have a deeper understanding of concepts, they are more likely to remember the concept long after the story’s plot line has escaped their memory.  In addition, the chances of cross curricular and real world transfer, and application are greater.
  3. Guiding students toward greater independence should always be a goal.  What resources are available to help you gradually release reading responsibilities to your students while still holding them accountable?
    1. Literature Circles – Student led reading and learning groups designed to get all members engaged.  Students are held accountable by their peers and the teacher.
    2. Literature Labs – Students are placed into concept focus groups.  While reading, the group focuses on finding examples of one concept.  The group shares their findings, working together to design a lesson to teach their classmates.  The students then create groups containing one or two members from each strategy focus area to begin teaching, sharing, and discussing.
    3. At home reading – If you have enough novels, and the students are responsible, sending the text home to be read is a great option.  Students should be given a specific number of pages to read and a focus for their reading.  Assigning a huge study packet is not necessarily effective.  Remember, we want the students knowledge to be deep, not wide.
  4. Preparing 21st century learners means more than paper and pencil assignments.  How can you use technology in the service of learning?  Is the novel available on Kindle, Nook, eReader?  Showing students how to highlight and make notations on an electronic reading device is a great way to make a real world connection.  Setting up a class blog site or Twitter account is a great way to make learning interactive.  Placing assignments on sites like Edmodo, Moodle, Engrade, or HaikuLearning is a fantastic way to prepare students to take online courses at the college or university level.

These are just a few ideas for consideration.  Let us know if you’d like help hashing out the rest!  🙂

Cheers to vision inspired growth and development!

CTS

 

 

Novel Study – Charting the Course

Welcome back! Let’s dive right in.

You’ve finished reading and annotating the book. It’s time to begin planning for student success.

First things first.  Pull out the school calendar and a blank calendar.  Why pull out the calendar?  Everything that we do needs to be purposeful.  Purpose is more than just identifying standards and creating a rigorous course of study, it is about being good stewards of time.

There is a delicate balance that needs to be struck between the right amount of time to spend on a unit of study and the amount of time available to teach all standards during the school year.

Charting CourseSo, get out a calendar and chart your course.  Here are some guiding questions:

  1. How many weeks are in the current quarter or semester?
  2. How long is the book?
  3. Will your students be reading this book in class and at home?
  4. How long do you want this book study to last?
  5. How many chapters need to be read in order to finish in the allotted time?
  6. How many major concepts will be covered? Minor concepts?
  7. How many new concepts will be introduced?  How many concepts will be reviewed?
  8. Will your students be engaging in discussion of a movie adaptation of the novel?  After which chapters will movie clips be shown?
  9. How many days will be needed for any final presentations, paper revisions, teacher and peer conferences, or tests?
  10. When will you pass out rubrics for assignments related to the novel?

A nicely plotted novel unit of study is a beautiful thing.  Now, the real fun can begin!

Cheers to vision inspired growth and development!

CTS

 

Novel Study – Preparation

CTS blog_novel study IYou’ve decided which book you want to use for a class novel study, what’s next?  Well, what shouldn’t happen next is educator and students reading the book together.  I can say with some pretty strong confidence that this is not an effective way to study themes, explore new vocabulary, facilitate literature circles, or discussion that encourages critical thinking.  I can say this because I did something very similar during my first year of teaching.  My poor, naive, frazzled brain.  I honestly thought I had done enough prep work.  I thought I knew the book well enough to create as I went along. Not true and not fair to my students.

Every lesson should be designed with the end in mind, and in a way that sets students up for success.  When the teacher has no idea of the lessons direction, the students do not either.  For this reason, the likelihood of student success is significantly decreased.

So, what should happen next?

Prep, Prep, Preparation

  1. Look at the standards so that you can engage in purposeful reading.  As you read the novel, you will be aware of standards that would be easier to cover based on the content.
  2. Read the book before you teach it.  To properly facilitate purposeful reading and discussion for your students, you should know the content beforehand.  In addition, some of the most innocent of texts can have a bit of controversial content.  Skillfully navigating sensitive topics is easier when you can plan for them.
  3. Annotate the text just as you would have your students:
    • Make inferences supported by text – jot down page numbers or quotes
    • Draw conclusions
    • Identify new vocabulary
    • Track WIT statements – What I’m Thinking
    • Do character analysis
    • Create a plot chart
    • Identify major themes supported by text – Why are these themes important?
    • Make text to text, text to self, text to world connections
    • Once you have finished the book, jot down your thoughts.  What did you like about the book? Why? Dislike? Why?
    • What do you think your students will like and dislike? Why?

Now we are ready to create the novel study plan beginning with the end in mind. Begin thinking about which standards to focus on based on the content covered in the novel.  Also consider what student learning targets will be outlined related to these standards.

In the next blog post we’ll continue our conversation by looking at the specifics of beginning the novel study plan.

Cheers to vision inspired growth and development!

CTS

 

Welcome!

Welcome to the Custom Teaching Solutions blog site! We are excited to share ideas for implementing high leverage practices into the classroom. Whether this is your first year or your fifteenth year teaching, we believe you’ll find the content relevant and relatable.

Please share your thoughts, ideas, and experiences in the classroom! Questions are also welcome.

Cheers!  Here’s to vision inspired growth and development.

CTS