Overcoming Pedagogical Repetition Compulsion

Why do we so often repeat the past? For me, it comes down to comfort. The times I challenge myself to look into a new approach is usually when I hit crisis, meaning “the way I currently behave is no longer working.”

In a previous post, I chronicled the biggest crisis of my career:  I almost left the classroom. Essentially, leading up to this crisis, the way I was conducting myself appeared to be “working.” Then, seemingly instantaneously, what I thought was working didn’t work any more.

In that situation, I was confronted with reality, and I either had to change or quit. There was no going back. But there have been other moments in my career where I have stepped back and taken a closer look at what I was doing and asked myself, “Is there a better way to do this?” Continue reading “Overcoming Pedagogical Repetition Compulsion”

For Outside Reading, My Nudgiest Nudge Yet!

In a previous post about my top Outside Reading nudges, I said I was going to try and use a reading progress chart. I am beta testing it right now, and I am excited about the results that I am getting!

You see two things in the photo at the top of the post. One, the public sign up sheet where students declare a commitment to read a certain title for their outside reading assignment. Two, the Outside Reading Progress Chart — it’s the one that looks like the bar graph.

On day one of posting the progress chart, students were already saying the kinds of thing I was hoping to hear:

Continue reading “For Outside Reading, My Nudgiest Nudge Yet!”

Want Your Students to Read More? Make Them Sign Up!

Last year I set out to solve the riddle of how to get students to do more independent reading. I was convinced that if they were able to choose their books and if they stuck with that book long enough, they would enjoy reading. I don’t know to what extent my students would claim they enjoyed their reading, but I did find some great ways to nudge them to do more of it.

In today’s post I will share with you the top nudge in getting students to complete more independent reading. And the tip comes from the psychological effect of signing your name.

Continue reading “Want Your Students to Read More? Make Them Sign Up!”

Change Your Stance on Outside Reading: 4 Factors to Consider

When I started teaching, I did not assign outside reading. Eventually, I tried it, but remained skeptical. I discovered there was a contingent of teachers who were strongly opposed to the idea. “They just don’t want to read,” some would say. “And they cheat,” the same people would continue.

Do students choose to avoid reading? Yes. Do they succumb to the temptation to cheat? Yes. I’m not going to deny it. But the benefits of assigning outside reading far outweigh these concerns though. Here are a couple of stories.

Last year, a student told me, “I am so grateful for this assignment because you helped me find my inner bookworm!” We had great, brief conversations about reading over while she was in my class. Another student told me she made her brother drive to three libraries and finally a Barnes & Noble just to get her hands on a copy of the second book in a series. She found the first book because of the outside reading assignment and didn’t even care if she was to get credit toward the next outside reading for this book.  Continue reading “Change Your Stance on Outside Reading: 4 Factors to Consider”

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?”

Whatever It Takes

From a book I am reading, by writer’s I highly respect, comes this statement, “Whatever it takes — that’s the job of a teacher.”

A statement like this sets off alarms in my head, but for this Monday, I want to do something that I ask of my students. When they first read a text, I ask my students to read “with the grain.” That means they are going to accept it as true, agree with the author, and see what’s there. Later they are asked to read against the grain, which we will do later this week. For now, let’s go with it.  Continue reading “Whatever It Takes”