How 1 Substitute Teacher Can Make You a Better Instructor

In my experience, making a small shift in thinking can make a big difference. For example, I assign outside reading to my students. They choose a novel, they read it, then they do a brief write up. The goal of the assignment is to get students to try reading different new books and see that maybe they could enjoy this wonderful pastime.. Alas, many of my students are lazy and wait until the last minute, which means they cheat. I have found that if I take them to the school library every two weeks and make them publicly sign up for their book title four weeks in advance of the due date, they do a lot more reading on their own. There. Two small changes made a big difference.

As an English teacher, there are many practices I have in the classroom that are efficiency and productivity killers. I have caught myself committing a fair share of these over the years, but I know there are many more that I have missed. I wish there was a way to catch them, like a having a fellow teacher observe me. Not an administrator, not a site coach, but a peer whom I trust. The problem is that person would most likely be teaching at the same time I would be. Can this dilemma be solved?  Continue reading “How 1 Substitute Teacher Can Make You a Better Instructor”

7 Reasons to Build a Tribe of Peer Coaches

In Monday’s post I suggested that one of best paths to professional growth is through partnering with another teacher. This has been true for me. I have partnered with many great teachers over the years. Some collaborations centered on a brief project. Other helping mutual helping relationships have been ongoing for a decade or more. All of these interactions have been peer-to-peer, and each one of us has coached the other at one point.

If you haven’t thought recently about how you might increase your tribe of peer coaches, here are 7 reasons I have found to make this a top priority toward professional growth.  Continue reading “7 Reasons to Build a Tribe of Peer Coaches”

Professional Development: Are You Waiting on Your District?

When I first entered the teaching, I was awash in professional development. It seemed like there was no shortage of money to request training either. Then the housing market crashed, the cash flow slowed to a trickle, and professional development was scaled far, far back. My state’s governor at the time lifted the professional development hours requirement in order to maintain keep one’s credential cleared. And poof, it was pretty much gone.

If I was going to sit and wait for my district to bring the learning to me, then I was going to do quite a bit of waiting. That wasn’t going to be good for me. It definitely wouldn’t be good for my students. What’s a teacher to do?  Continue reading “Professional Development: Are You Waiting on Your District?”