Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Creating the Right Climate and Culture (Part 2)

58. Resolve to find your own Red Button


  • How do you celebrate individual students' achievements?
  • How do you teach the "pull-back" skill to refocus students' attention?

59. Celebrate the beauty of their ancestries.


  • How do kids express their heritage - or more recent cultural identities - in your learning activities?

60. Show them examples of excellence.


  • In what ways do you demonstrate what kids might someday become?
  • How do you connect academic activities to real-world career skills?

61. Set the bar high for parents, too.


  • What expectations can/do you set for parents at the classroom level? At the school level?

62. Use an Amazing Race to bring learning to  life.


  • Could this work in Galesburg? 
  • Could it work in your school/throughout your school grounds? 
  • How? Where?

63. Love your eighth graders.


  • What do you do to reach out to those who are often the most difficult to reach?

64. Don't give children second chances on tests or projects.

Ouch. This one might be hard for some of us. Kids deserve second-chances, don't they? It's in their nature to screw up from time to time, and we have to let them know that's okay, right?

  • So, where and how do you draw the line between "it's okay," and "you know the rule"? When are second chances okay, and when do you hold your ground?

65. Encourage children to cheer for one another.

"Negativity breeds negativity." (p. 227)

  • How do you teach kids to stay positive and genuinely encourage others?

66. Paint the walls with positive memories...


  • How do you encourage student voice and owndership in your classroom? In your school?

67. Never read a speech.


  • Is this a skill your students could master? Why or why not?

68. Make eye contact with your classroom or audience.
69. Move around the room throughout the lesson...
70. Teach the students, not the board
71. Exhibit the same energy you expect from your audience.

72. Smile

Items 68-72 are all things that I might lump into the category, "Walk the Talk." As educators, we must BE the student we want to have in our own classrooms. Don't worry - it does get easier!

  • Which of these is the hardest to pull off, at least during your first years of teaching? Why?

73. Never allow students to begin a statement with "Umm," "Well," or "Me and...".

WHIP AROUND! What's your biggest pet-peeve about student behavior?

  • Why? Is it connected to a college and/or career behavioral expectation or does it just bug you?

74. Fake it to make it.

I think I have a new favorite analogy:
"...trying to handle all of the issues with running a school <or insert your job description> can be like playing Whack-A-Mole - as soon as you hit one issue, another arises." (p. 243)
Once again, this is a skill that gets easier with experience.

75. Use a djembe drum...

Great idea for encouraging both attention and the appropriate expression of pent-up energies. The quote on page 246 is the story of my career:
"Some people will make every excuse in the world to avoid trying something new, even if it could bring them success and happiness." 

  • So if a drum isn't your thing, what might work in your classroom? 

76. Don't put the blame on students unfairly.

"If you let them know your expectations and hold them to it, your life will be much easier and the entire class will learn more." (p. 247) 
The hard part here is holding kids accountable to those expectations with consistency. (See #64) It can be harder than it sounds. Try to remember:
"If you set no boundaries for students, then you'll always be disappointed with the results." (p. 247)

77. Lift up your teachers. No, really, lift them up.


  • Does this sound a little like creating the mythical "Sage on the Stage"? 
  • How do you reconcile this with #69 above? You decide... 

78. Have fun.


  • Aside from things like a Field Day, Carnival, classroom or building-wide behavior incentives, etc., how do you make learning fun? 
  • How do you make lemonade out of that unit on lemons that you dislike so much?