7 Things every Teacher Needs to Hear

http://joshshipp.com/7-things/ (This article inspired today’s post.) If you are a teacher, You should take a moment and read it as well. )

As a teacher, I always wanted to know that what I was doing was on target, worthy of recognition, or out in left field. The days and years that I didn’t get feedback were days I felt unaccomplished, unappreciated, and moot. These were the days that I didn’t feel like I was in the right career. So, I as a new instructional specialist, on a new campus with a new administration team, we have made it our mission to make sure all our teachers hear these 7 phrases as frequently as possible.

Here are 7 things that every teacher needs to hear, regardless of their years as a teacher.

1. You are doing a great job with _____________.

It is very important that teachers hear that they are doing a great job.  Not just a simple, ‘good job,’ but specifically what they are doing that is a great job.  This can be done with a simple post it note, a card, or even verbally letting them know.  This small gesture lets teachers know they are making the school a better place and helping the school and students more successful.

2. I really like seeing _______________ happening in your classroom.

I have been an instructional specialist/coach for a very short time, but in this time I have been able to step into all classrooms.  It has been a privilege to step into classrooms where students are more eager to answer questions, students collaborating and following all expectations and procedures because of their excited and positive teachers.  This is just the first week of school!  I want this energy to keep flowing.

3. Thank you for your _____.

In all my years, as a teacher, I hardly ever heard this from administration.  I am a very 1intrinsically motivated person, but if I weren’t, I think this phrase would have motivated me to keep giving to my peers and student, sharing ideas and materials, helping in other areas besides my classroom and participating in duties I wasn’t being paid for.

4. I’m sorry.

2Admitting a mistake or sympathizing with teachers goes a long way.  Letting them know that you understand and that you are sorry for the mistake, miscommunication or change in plans is a very smart thing.  Apologizing for these humanly errors is a very strong way to get everyone on the same playing field.  It is not You vs. them, it is not Administration vs. teachers- we are all in the trenches together, and we have all made mistakes.  We should all be humble enough to understand that we are not perfect and nobody should be held at that standard.

5. You’ve got this.

It is important for teachers to know that you believe in their abilities.  They have been trained, I know they continue to study new pedagogy and management techniques.  It is important that they know you believe in them or they will not believe in themselves.  Some times allowing teachers to fail on their own and discover their strengths/weaknesses places the power within the teacher. This power, this belief in them will take their class further than they ever thought. 3

6. This is the expectation.

Clear and straight forward- ‘This is the expectation. This is what we expect to see when entering your classroom.’ Giving teachers exact expectations, check lists, due dates, and directions allow them to reach those expectations.  This clear communication puts every teacher on the same page.

7. I am here to help and support you and your students.

There was a time that I was ready to throw in the towel.  A colleague said this to me, and it changed everything.  I don’t remember if I even used their help, but just knowing that the support and help was there made me feel like I wasn’t alone.  It made me feel like if I fell, there would be someone there to help me.

I hope these have been phrases you have heard.  I hope these phrases are ones that help your campus move towards your goals.  I believe teachers have a very difficult task at hand, and it is important we give them as much feedback as possible.

 

The 3 Biggest Mistakes I Made as a New Teacher

1

As I begin my ninth year as an educator in a new role as instructional coach, I am able to reflect over the successes that I have had due to the many failures I encountered.

Unfortunately, I have also had so many errors.  I can now admit I am grateful for what these mistakes have taught me because I know I would NOT be the educator I am today without learning from these three Big mistakes.

My Way or The Highway Mentality3

As a new teacher, I believed that being the ‘tough’ teacher meant the classroom was all mine.  This brought out the worst in many of my students; defiance and a dislike for English language arts.  I had chairs thrown at me, students hide under their tables, and very upset parents.  I didn’t know that what I was doing was causing these behaviors.  I didn’t know that I had to earn the respect of my students or the buy-in from my students. I didn’t know that to have a class of students that would do just about anything for me, I needed to FIRST, and foremost, share the classroom with them.

Lesson Learned- So now…

I had to first learn that it was not the students that were causing this, it was me.   I now build my class as if we were a family.  Choices, Voice, and mutual respect are high on my To Do list at the beginning of every school year. The classroom Mission is written with my students, in my students’ language and vocabulary.  Classroom Norms are written by my students.  The Two Sisters who wrote The Daily Five taught me the importance of student choice.  Eric Jensen taught me how to create a positive class climate with ‘we are a family’ mindset.

These students are now my family.  I know I am not the only teacher out there that claims her/his students has ‘their kids’ because they are.  Every year, teachers, including myself, put our hearts and souls into making sure OUR KIDS become the best that they can become. My first group of students are now Seniors in High School, and I enjoy watching their successes in sports and honor roll on Facebook.  It makes me proud to know that I was allowed to be apart of their world, even before I knew what I was doing.

Teaching my Butt off EVERY DAY!!!!

This was a mistake I did not learn until my fifth year as a teacher. I would take work home, grade papers on the weekends, and stay at school preparing lesson ideas until eleven at night.  I was working harder than the students. I wanted it more than my students, and I know that at the end of the day, I was exhausted!

Lesson Learned- Now

In my fifth year of teaching I had to find a balance between work and home. I had just had my first son, and my time at school had to be productive and focused. I had this amazing Instructional Coach that gave me permission to not work as hard.  That didn’t mean I had to stop innovating new lessons, fun experiences in the class. What that meant was, I had to find a way to get my students to work harder than me.

  • reflective over data
  • student-centered learning opportunities
  • Focused on research based pedagogy

I started to become more reflective as a teacher.  My guided lessons in whole group became more intentional with research based pedagogy.  Marzano, Rich Allen and Marcia Tate allowed me to focus on engagement and instructional strategies.  These strategies moved my data and my students toward higher achieving levels.  After reading The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller, I learned that I needed to give students time in class to work independently to discover and problem solve.  Giving students time to read, try new strategies and work through comprehension breakdowns became the center of our classroom learning.  My Close Reading protocols allowed my students to read, problem solve and reflect to become stronger, successful, more independent readers. These are research based answers to student success.

My classroom stopped being Teacher centered and became a Learner -Centered classroom.  The students started working harder, and I started going home to play with my own children.  I was happier and the balance in my life allowed my classroom to be more purposeful, fun, and an exciting place to be.

Not Seeking Help/Advice 4

At first, I thought I was supposed to be a Lone Ranger.  Why?  I have no idea.  I didn’t take advice from veteran teachers, I didn’t even seek advice from colleagues.  I guess I thought I needed to fail by myself instead of succeed with others.  What was I thinking?

Lesson Learned

After failing miserably for about two years, I started to seek help.  I began my partnership with mentors through the Barnes N Noble teacher aisle, and then found myself asking for help, clarification and feedback from my instructional coach.  Just sitting across from her and bouncing ideas back and forth made me feel not so alone, not so dumb, and not so crazy.  I found family in my peers.  I found strength in my colleagues.  I found knowledge in administration.  2

If you are a new teacher or a thirty year veteran, teaching pedagogy and our students are ever changing. Without reflection and the ability to admit your mistakes we will never acquire the  knowledge that will allow our students to become the successful people we want them to be.

 

4 Tricks to Start the School Year off Right

 

It is almost August, and for the last month popular department stores have been selling school supplies trying to remind me that summer is nearly ending. Personally, June is spent recuperathPHCT3Q7Gting: spending down time with my kids, drinking a cup of coffee without allowing it to get cold or lost, and getting back into physical and emotional shape.  Then, July comes.  After the family holiday, it is time to start creeping Pinterest for some great new classroom theme and back-to-school ideas. Unfortunately, this is when my anxiety starts setting in, and the nightmares about crazy, out of control classrooms become a regular occurrence. But, this is also the time that is the most optimistic!  This is the time that I am able to lay out my most idealistic year with my new group of students, teammates and school.

I am by no means a veteran teacher nor a brand new teacher.  I have only taught 8 years in public school (grades 4-6), but in those 8 years I have found a few tricks, a few MUST-Do’s  to start the year off right.

Reflect

Grab a journal of some kind, my favorite is the simple black and white composition notebooks because the papers don’t tear out easily, it is small enough to fit in my laptop case or purse to have at any time.  If you taught the previous year, jot down some of the most successful strategies, activities, and ideas that occurred the previous year.  REFLECT. Ask yourself…

Why did this work?

What did the students already know that made this strategy, activity work?

What did I do to present the information that could have helped?

Jot all of this down !!!!

ALSO, jot down anything that wasn’t successful.  This can be anything from student engagement and motivation to something as small as students getting their absent work. Ask yourself…

Why didn’t this work?

What is preventing them from understanding? Expectations? Clear directions? Procedures? Miscommunication?

What can I do differently to make this process better?

Look up research, strategies, and ask your colleagues how they solve these issues.

Jot all of this down!!!!!

Designing my classroom is so much fun, and I spend a lot of my time thinking about the function of my classroom.  I want the room to work for me. In a previous post, I mentioned how a few on purpose design and organizational changes made my room work for me. All of these techniques were from trial and error and Reflection.

Get to KNOW your students and their parents10

If you want support from the parents of the students that you will have in your class 5 days a week for 35 hours a week, you need to get to know these families.

  • Call home to welcome the student to your class BEFORE the first day of school.
  • Send a letter home ASAP to the parents and the students welcoming them to your class- This could be a newsletter or a postcard.

You should find out what they want from you.

  • Parent Survey
  • Meet the Teacher Night

Procedures Walk Through

Think about the routine of a day.  So many issues begin because students are practiced in the day to day procedures that help the management of the classroom and the campus.

Think about how students will…

sharpen a pencil

get water

go to the restroom

go to art, music, P.E.

go to the nurse

get your attention (while teaching a small group, while teaching whole group, while conferencing one-on-one)

Where and when and how to get supplies

Where and when and how to put away supplies or finished papers

How will they go to lunch or recess

How will they sit (at lunch, in your class, in the whole group meeting place)

How will students ask questions if they are embarrassed

How will students let you know they don’t understand

Harry Wong and his book titled, The First Days of School was given to me in college.  I have read through some of the flagged sections every year that I have taught to make sure I am starting it off the right way. Combine these expectations with CHAMPS management  procedures, and you will have no problems with classroom management.

Classroom Contract or Mission

This was a district initiative, but I can’t imagine starting a year off without this idea.  Below are some great pictures I have collected to show teacher creativity, student ideas and how it is incorporated into the classroom.

I have completed the following procedure in a gallery walk and as a table team activity.  The individual gallery walk has worked the best.

Place 6 posters around the room, give each student a set of post it notes to make notes. Ask the students to walk around the room, read the poster questions and answer on the post it not without talking to each other (this allows each student to answer completely independently to each other).

What should kids in our class be doing to make sure our class runs smooth?

What will you need from the teacher/s to be successful?

How will you be successful?

What will you need to do to be more successful?

Our classroom should be ______ every day?

School is important because _____.

Combine the post it notes into a class mission statement or contract, have each student sign the mission or contract, and post it on the wall for all to see.

MOST IMPORTANT!!!! refer to it throughout the year.  Use it as a binding contract for all students to make smart choices, remind them why they are here and use it to hold each student accountable for their behaviors, progress, and successes.

These are Four things I do every year to make to grow, to learn and to make each year better than the last.  I am sure you have some tricks up your sleeve, some things that have helped your years go smooth.  I would love to hear about anything that has helped you become more successful.

Have the best school year, yet!

 

 

Full Disclosure: I’m a School Teacher and Summer Parenting is HARD and SCARY!!!!!

As the end of the school year check off sheet gets complete, my stomach begins to flutter with the idea of sleeping late, catching up on Netflix, and sitting by the pool.  Then I remember, I have a 5 year old and a 3 year old!!!!!

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The thought of being their sole educator, disciplinarian, and head activity consultant, makes me sweat.  Structuring a fifth grade classroom: educating them, planning lessons and pushing them towards successes they never thought they would reach is easy compared to being a stay at home parent. Now why is that?  I have wondered this every summer since I have become a mother.  And the only thing I can think of to explain my wavering ability as a mother is that THERE IS NO END IN SITE! As a teacher, I have cycles that remind me if I am doing things correctly.  I make a weekly goal, a monthly goal and a yearly goal to make sure I am on track with my students.  With kids, the markers are so far away that it is difficult to check to see if you have reached the goals.

  • caring human
  • strong work ethic
  • ambitious
  • supportive person
  • educated
  • determined and self driven
  • loving
  • Problem solvers
  • Self Disciplined

Every one of these goals can be seen throughout a day or week, but to know whether or not they get it can’t be tested until they are truly out of my care.

  • Will they be a safe driver?  Will they think of others while driving?
  • Will they stay out of trouble?  Make the right decision under pressure?
  • Will they give up when things get tough or will they try?
  • Will they show love and care towards all people?
  • Will they solve their own problems?

So, I have decided to look at this as I would in my classroom: Read, Study, Reflect, and Set small attainable goals.

To help me with this HUGE cloud hanging over me, I have enlisted in some help.  Below is my list of helpful advice, links, books that have guided me toward solace.

  • My mother – Unfortunately, you don’t have my mother (and for you, I am so sorry)  she has always shared great advice, but I am sure your mother, aunt, grandmother, sisters, friend etc… This is my go to.  Mothers need a village to help them.  I assure you, whatever it is that you are going through someone else has trudged through it before you and they have advice.  You don’t have to take everything they say and use it.  But I assure you, they will at least support you, listen to you, and guide you towards what is best for you and your family.
  • Positive Discipline by Jane Nelson is a great book!  I read it three years ago to help me lead students toward making the correct decisions.  It gives you the tools to help children become self-disciplined, responsible and problem solvers.
  • Positive Parenting free webinars.  Sign up through Facebook!
  • Parenting magazines and Parenting websites have great ideas.  Here is one that shares a list of fun activities for summer. http://workathomemoms.about.com/od/kidsactivitiesfamilyfun/a/ideas-for-kids.htm
  • This is cliché, but PINTEREST!!!!  When all else fails- they have some great ideas.https://www.pinterest.com/julehuck/baby-kids/
  • Scary Mommy, Super Healthy Kids, Moms of boys and Hot Mess Moms on Facebook are great people to become friends with.  Their posts and articles are great reads that remind you that it is okay that you aren’t perfect, and the moment you realize that the stress kind of floats away.
  • Rewards systems- marbles, checkmarks, tallies etc… Work.  Use them and reward your children often with your time (NOT candy!!)    – set goals with your kids.  What behavior are they struggling with?  What would you like them to do well at in school in a few months? Use this as your barometer-
  • thMKQ4VJ38Read, Read, Read- read with them, read to them, and read yourself.  Kids need to see their parents reading if you want them to become readers.  If they are old enough, read chapter books that they are reading and talk about them.  If they are too young to read alone, read to them, do activities with the book about the book. Find a book with a movie and use this as a goal for the end of the reading. Scholastic.com has some great ideas!!!!

The MOST important thing to remember- the 1 thing I MUST remember…

thS5DW0BYXThey just want to spend time with you/me.  My two boys just want my attention a lot, and if I listen to their song, watch them dance or put a puzzle together with them – they give me time to myself when I need it.  The tantrums are few and far between.  If I don’t give them time, I regret it later!

Like my husband says, ‘These summers with me will be their happiest memories: cousins, Kansas, pool trips, trampoline/sprinkler times, pajama days, and popsicles before dinner. These times will be their favorite memories of growing up.”

 

Open Letter to my Students- Thank you

Dear Students,

This last year teaching you has been a roller coaster of innovation, triumph, failures and discovery.  Because of your faith in me, your enthusiasm for learning, and appreciation for our small victories, we have discovered the greatest part of school: a school family. 

It has truly been my pleasure to have taught so many of you for the last three years.  I am blessed to have been able to teach each of you that have entered my room over the last 8 years.  My favorite part has been getting to know you: the ‘real’ you.  The person who was afraid to write down his feelings in his narrative composition, so you hid them in figurative language that had the room in goosebumps.  The person who was afraid to raise their hand in fear that the answer was wrong.  But, found pride and confidence in themselves when effort and trying became more celebrated than getting a right answer.  This family of learners taught me to recognize the small things and to celebrate and applaud those that reach beyond themselves. 

Thank you for teaching me how to be the best teacher I have dreamt of being.  I have had many great teachers in my life. Ones that saw my passion as an artist and pushed me that way. Teachers who knew how nervous I got around math but never gave up on me.  Even teachers who put in that extra time to get to know me: a note, a gift, or a lunch date. I’ve had great role models who have taught me to never stop dreaming, to never think of anything as ‘good enough’ and to do this with great, humble character.  I hope that I have been able to fill their shoes for you. 

These teachers and role models also include you: my school family.  Because of you I have learned to…

have humility

show heart

 laugh out loud

that innovations and wild ideas can be exciting new discoveries

ask for help, from you

As you prepare for your next journey in life to junior high, sports, and more independence, I just want you to know how thankful I am.

So, thank you…

for growing with me. Seeing the STAAR as a measure of your success on that particular day, and being able to look at your growth throughout the year reflectively .  Thank you for being able to explain to your parents, friends, and family that this test does not determine WHO you are but WHAT you can do well.

Thank you…

for being embracing the growth mindset.  The Power of Yet is strong with you.  I see that you  want to go beyond expectations, push to the limits, and try to be somebody.  The reflections and goal settings that we have done this year have prepared you for anything in your future.  Just remember to take a step back, reflect and start over with a clear head and mind. Thank you for believing in yourself. Thank you for knowing that it may get hard, but the journey is going to be so worth it.

Thank you…

for allowing me into your family and mine into yours.  You have made the very difficult decision to be a working mom a very easy one.  I am able to share my two lives with you.  I get to be ‘mom’ and ‘teacher’.  I don’t feel regret that I chose to share my days with someone else’s child.  I feel pride because I get to share my ‘mother’ stories with you, and I get to show my boys a strong woman accomplishing every goal I have ever set.

Our time together has meant so much.  I have learned so much from you.

Thank you…

for helping me celebrate.

for teaching me to listen.

for teaching me to care.

for helping me understand.

for allowing me to teach you.

for giving me the opportunity to push you farther than you ever imagined.

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End of the Year Teacher Survival Guide

Grades are in.  School is almost over.

Now WHAT?????

Here is my end of the year survival guide to help teachers keep their sanity , if you still have it and to better prepare for the next school year. I have included a lot of links and picture examples to help you access these ideas easier.  Good luck, and I hope you have a great end of the year.

A– Awards- Presto Plans from TPT does a great job creating these.

The end of the school year means, awards.  Here are some great TPT products that I have used in the past that have went over really well.  My students really like to vote for the student awards.  I give each student a list of their classmates names and place the awards around the room.  The students quietly walk around the room and jot down the award they nominate their peer.  It is a fun way to give students the class at the end of the year.

B– Bucket Lists

I have seen this done in a few different ways; summer bucket lists, next year’s bucket list, Life bucket list.  This is a great twist on setting future goals or even a future list of books they would like to read.

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C- Celebrate the year with a Cootie Catcher!

D– Dream Big! 344821401fa8ff4d5ad38dde3fc36220

Read the students, Oh, the Places You Will Go by Dr. Seuss and create a passport, suitcase etc… that helps them dream about places they will go.

 

E– Envelope home

Send an envelope home with each student with a postage stamp and your address (school address if you prefer them NOT know where you live😉 and encourage them to write you over the break.

F– Fun with Minute to Win it Games!!!

Field days usually take up some of these activities, but watching students pick up penne pasta with a spaghetti noodle in their mouth is completely worth the $5 spent at the grocery store. Here are some great ideas.

G– Goodbye Poems

Create a kit- Envelope, goodbye poem, calendar for parents (see below)

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H– send Home an activity calendar

Better yet, have the students create the calendar in class.  My 5 year old gets a calendar sent home every month filled with daily activities I am to do with him throughout the month.  Each month has a theme. This would be a lot of fun to create and fun to hand the parents on awards day.

I– Interactive Notebook

I use a teacher notebook to document all of my foldables, activities, lessons, and plans throughout the year.  During this time of the year, I like to look through the notebook and reflect over the lessons.  What went well?  What can be tweaked?  and what should be thrown out completely.

J– Jump into next year (content)

Again, this is reflection time.  I have changed grade levels for the last four years, and I have had the opportunity to write curriculum for many of them.  This is the time of the year that I like to look at the Years’ units and make notes.

K– Survival Kit

Give every student a brown paper bag.  Tell them to go home and place objects in the bag that helped them survive the year.  Give them a checklist of items they have to bring or allow them to be creative.  Here is the checklist I use for my class. (pencils, erasers, aspirin, band aids, candy etc…)  Bring the bag to school and have each student display or present their survival kit.

L– Letter to the upcoming students

I have had my students write a letter to the upcoming students for the last few years.  This letter includes advice on how to survive the grade, Warnings, What to look forward to, and ‘insider’ information about the teachers.  The students receive this letter on the first day of school.

MMemory Books/ alpha books

As you can tell, it is easy to create an alphabet list of memories or to do lists.  I ask the students to do the same.  It is great for reflection, for remembering everything they learned academically, and memories throughout the year. AND it keeps them busy for a couple of days.  Just create a grading rubric or checklist and set them free!!!

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N– Newspaper

O– organize, Organize, Organize!!! Closets, file cabinets, classroom libraries etc….

P– PURGE!!!! Toss

Q– Quizlet

This is a great site (free) that you can search end of the year vocabulary quizzes.  You can make this as serious or as silly as you would like.

R- Reading Party

Have the students bring their favorite Children’s book to school, pillows, blankets/towels, and have a reading party.  Allow each student to read their children’s picture book out loud or to a small group for a few days.

S– Surveys

Survey monkey is a great survey site that you could email out to the parents to students to gain even more reflective data from.

T– Teachers Pay Teachers – POST your products!!!!

U– Unit wrap ups

V– vote- have students vote on student awards, teacher awards etc…

I think having the older students vote for teacher awards for the entire school would be a lot of fun. (I’ll let you know how it goes)

W– Would you Rather or Wordles

XXtreme Trivia Quiz/Jeopardy

Create a power point of content based Jeopardy game that includes content from the year.  Assign teams and play!!!!

Y– Yoga and Meditate

Sounds weird, I know. But, my students really loved learning how to meditate, be mindful and practice a few balancing yoga stances.  Here are some great links that will walk you through it.  Youtube- Yoga for kids- great kid friendly videos.

Z- Zany Board Game Tournaments

I have always loved having  a Scrabble tournament in class. (Chess could easily replace Scrabble)  This lends itself nicely into our curriculum, and it motivates the students to come back every day with a positive, excited attitude.

 

7 Habits That Create Great Teachers and Students

In the last year, I have found myself searching for something new.  Something that will allow me to share my teaching wins to help other teachers and students to be more successful, satisfied, and efficient in their work.  One of the things I came across was Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Effective People.  After reading this book, I realized that to become the teacher I have always wanted to be, I must harness these habits, teach these habits and overcome the obstacles that keep me from fully being these habits.

As teachers, I know we are already doing these things, I just wanted to share what I believe it looks like through a teacher’s eyes and how we help students capture these habits.  Here are some of my discoveries and reflections.

hABITS2#1 Be Proactive: Make things happen. 

As a teacher: The craft of teaching has changed dramatically since my college years (which was not that long ago).  I stalk the aisles of Barnes and Noble to find the latest book with the new promise of great teaching strategies.  We are very lucky right now to be in such a social media frenzy that I find new ideas from Twitter Professional Learning Networks, blog posts, and innovative colleagues.  This is being proactive.  The idea that if it works, don’t fix it- doesn’t really pertain to a proactive person.  I believe that it is important to try something new, make it fresh for you- It might end up being better.

As a student:  It is important for a teacher to help students become proactive and learn how to analyze their data or their writing to find out what they can do to make things better.  Asking the right questions will end up getting a student to problem solve on their own and lead them towards making things happen.

goal#2 Begin with the end in mind

As a teacher: The systems approach in my school district has allowed me to embrace this idea whole heartedly.  At the beginning of the year, we set our SMART goal, write our mission, and create our personal goals based on the school’s Continuous Improvement Plan. The state tests and TEKS lay out exactly what the end is.  Keeping that end in mind, helps me plan strategies, short cycle assessments and push my students toward the end expectation way before that expectation arrives.

As a student: At the beginning of the year, students write their very own SMART goal, and in my classroom they also create Action Plans that list the steps toward their end goal.  To be a successful teacher, in my eyes, we must teach our students to become goal setters. If the students know what their end goal is and have a plan, we are teaching them life skills to thrive.

#3 Put first things first
As a teacher: This year, I started posting our daily objectives in the room.  We have a weekly goal or plan that the students see, but it is this daily objective board that allows them to visualize the end.  Each day is broken down into the parts that they will need to be able to do to reach the overall plan.  This is also something that I use to keep my daily plans visual for me- I get ahead of myself sometimes, but this is a great way to keep me on task and focused.
As a student:  The action plans that I had my students create after our district benchmark helped them put first things first.  They were able to list their most important areas of concern based on their percentages on their test.  Their step by step action plan, makes this a concrete and reachable goal.  (you can find this simple reference at my teachers pay teachers account)

win win#4 Think Win-Win

As a teacher:  This habit does not mean that everyone deserves a ribbon.  This simply means find a way to make sure everyone benefits.  As teachers, we do this every day by differentiating in the classroom, accommodating, and modifying lesson plans so every student wins in the learning process.  This also means, that teachers need to collaborate and have a dialogue about the amazing things occurring in the classroom.  Sharing your successes allows all teachers to win because of a strategy or an idea they didn’t think of.  We are all on the same team (our students’).

As a student: We are teaching our students to learn how to collaborate with each other every day through think-pair-share, reciprocal teaching, team-pair-solo, and group/partner work. If we don’t teach students how to negotiate, collaborate and come up with beneficial solutions we are doing them a disservice. They are allowed to fail in our classroom, they are not allowed too many failures in the real world.

listen

#5 Seek first to understand then to be understood- being mindful in a conversation

As a teacher- A teacher-leader must be approachable if they plan on being a successful one.  Teachers build relationships with their students when they listen and take what they heard and use it.  My students share their obstacles, their triumphs, and their concerns with me throughout the year.  This is the same idea that we need to bring to each other/colleagues.  I think it is very important that teachers start a dialogue, but the dialogue needs to be a safe environment without judgments. The type of dialogue I am talking about is one that is filled with encouragement, problem solving and collaboration.

As a student- Even in 6th grade, students want to be heard.  They want to share what they got for their birthday, what they did over the weekend, and even their hopes and dreams.  It is important to give students this time in class to share.  They can do this during their team-pair-solo strategies, reciprocal teaching conversations, group assignments, partner work, and the opportunities that build connections to text. Teaching students how to listen first is going to be such a magical ingredient in their futures. Some of the greatest strategies is teaching them to be mindful.

#6 Synergize- work togethersynergize
As a teacher- For some reason, this habit is by far one of my most important habits.  As I look at the last few years, the times I learned the most about myself, my classroom, and my teaching was during these opportunities to synergize.  Working together allows collaboration to occur.  I am grateful for the professional learning communities I have become a part of through Twitter, school, and my masters’ courses.  I have learned a lot about teaching and about myself.
As a student- Some of the most challenging times has been when my students were asked to collaborate and work together.  This is when I see their mindsets either become fixed or grow.  It is important that students get the opportunity to build together and become unified.  Some of the greatest teambuilding activities are on my Pinterest board.
#7 Sharpen the Saw- renewal and continuous improvement

sharpen the saw

As a teacher- After the day is done, this is the time to reflect and renew.  Without the weekend, the evening or our summer to do this, I believe teachers would be hamsters on a wheel- just turning.  We all need this time to walk away.  My Friday plans never look like my actual Monday plans.  I feel sorry for my interventionist because I have an idea of how the next week will go, but over the weekend everything changes.  Because I have time to renew and reflect, instead of just going through the motions.
As a student- This year, I started giving my students 30-40 minutes of reading in class.  Some days they start their class with reading or they end their class time with reading.  I never ask anything from them- just read, get comfortable, and read.  This is their renewal and reflection time.  I have more readers this year than ever before.  I think they genuinely love to read again.  I have also taught them how to meditate in a mindful way to help their minds prepare for the long testing day.

 

Every one of these habits alone can create excellence, but all 7 together make an effective leader.  1-3 are habits meant for only the leader, 4-7 are meant to be interacted with someone else.  That says a lot.  There is no I in TEAM or SUCCESS.

I don’t have a handle on all of these habits yet, but I am working towards that goal.

If you have become a leader on your campus or in your school district, what has worked for you?