Tuesday, February 19, 2013


The good news is that sometimes we are the problem. Not our students. Us. If we stop to think about the things that go wrong in our classes, lots of times a problem could have been avoided or at least minimized. If we are the ones causing the problems, then we can be the ones to solve the problems. It is much easier for us to control our own behaviors rather than the behaviors of our most unruly students.

To help you with this, here is a little list that you can copy and print out to help you reflect on what you may be doing to cause discipline issues in your classroom and, more importantly, what you can do to solve those issues.


Mistake 1

You are unclear in the limits you set for your students, resulting in a constant testing of the boundaries and of your patience.

Mistake 2

You are too vague in giving directions to your students.

Mistake 3

You are inconsistent in enforcing consequences. This will lead students to a steady testing of the limits of good and bad behaviors.

Mistake 4

You go to school each day without the belief you must have in order to help your students succeed: that students can learn and achieve the things you want for them.

Mistake 5

You overreact to a discipline problem by becoming angry and upset.

Mistake 6

You refuse to listen to your students when they are trying to express their feelings about a problem.

Mistake 7

You present yourself in too tentative a fashion—too easily side-tracked, too tentative, too permissive.

Mistake 8

You give too many negative directions. This sets an unpleasant tone for your students.

Mistake 9

You try to solve discipline problems without trying to determine the underlying causes.

Mistake 10

You neglect to command attention. Teachers who talk even though students aren’t listening are not productive.

Mistake 11

You have lessons that are poorly paced. Students either have too much work to do and give up or they don’t have enough work. You also make this mistake when you have lectures that are so long that you can’t keep your students’ attention throughout.

Mistake 12

You make mistakes in assigning punishment by doing so without proof or by blaming the wrong student.



Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Have You Asked Yourself These Questions Lately?

Highly effective teachers soon realize that no one is a natural teacher. No educator can just rush through the hurly burly of a school day paying cursory attention to what we are expected to accomplish and then expect to be successful. Reflecting on our teaching should be part of every aspect of our professional lives. Such reflection needs to systematic, methodical, and purposeful.
Whether you choose to maintain a journal online, in a computer desktop folder, on paper, or even in an audio version, it is important to be diligent about recording regularly. The questions below can help you use the time that you want to reflect on your teaching practice as efficiently as possible.

  1. Are my goals for lessons reasonable and appropriate?
  2. Are my students challenged to do their best?
  3. Do students learn what they are supposed to master? How can I ensure that they always do this?
  4. At what points in a lesson do I have to change strategies or activities? Why? How productive was this flexibility on my part?
  5. How can I offer remediation or enrichment activities to the students who need them?
  6. What data do I need to collect before moving on to the next unit of study? How can I gather this information?
  7. What can I do to improve my skills at collaborating with colleagues?
  8. How do I want my students to interact with each other as a whole group?
  9. What can I do to help my students collaborate with each other in small groups?
  10. How can I integrate technology into my lessons?
  11. What problems did I have to manage today? How well did I manage those problems?
  12. How well do I listen to my students? What can I do to make sure that I model good listening skills?
  13. Which students were off task? What caused them to be off task?
  14. When were my students on task? What can I do to guarantee that continues?
  15. How did I show that I was enthusiastic about the subject matter?
  16. How can I foster an atmosphere of mutual respect and courtesy among my students?
  17. How well do I manage my classroom? What can I improve?
  18. What should I do to help my students learn to be self-disciplined learners?
  19. How can I use my strengths as a teacher to full advantage in my classroom?
  20. What are my strengths as a classroom leader?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Are You Using Best Practices to Inform Instruction?

“Best practices” is a term that seems to be kicked around lots in discussions among educators. Although we all may have a general idea of what the term means (the actions that teachers can take to insure that their instruction is effective, appropriate, and productive), and that we should be using these practices to help our students learn, you may not be sure that an instructional method that you are using is really a best practice or not.

               With this in mind, take this little assessment. Below you will find a list of just some of the more common strategies that are considered to be best practices. If you are already using one of these practices in your classroom, place a checkmark in the blank before it. If you intend to use one of these in the future, place a + in the blank. If you would like to research to learn more about one of these best practices to make sure that it would be appropriate for your students, place a ? in the blank.

  1. _____Portfolio assessments
  2. _____Alternative assessments
  3. _____Formative assessments
  4. _____Personalized instruction
  5. _____Service learning
  6. _____Rubrics
  7. _____Response to intervention
  8. _____Cooperative learning
  9. _____Tiered instruction
  10. _____Scaffolding instruction
  11. _____Literacy instruction
  12. _____Anchoring activities
  13. _____Graphic organizers
  14. _____Essential questions
  15. _____Project based learning
  16. _____Student-directed learning
  17. _____Workshop approaches to reading and writing
  18. _____Interdisciplinary instruction
  19. _____Inquiry based instruction
  20. _____Authentic experiences
  21. _____Data-driven instruction
  22. _____Integrated technology
  23. _____Standards-based curriculums
  24. _____Benchmark testing
  25. _____Capitalizing on background knowledge
  26. _____Differentiated instruction
  27. _____Learning styles
  28. _____Multiple intelligences
  29. _____The teacher as coach and facilitator
  30. _____Student research