Four Tips to Help You Teach Like a Champion in 2015
1) Expectations - Some schools and districts get all caught up in “correlations” and spend endless time tracking: Percent of babies born at low-birth weight; percent of children born to single moms; percent of children in families receiving government assistance; and education levels of mothers. The simple truth is educators in high-performing high poverty schools and districts do not do that. They focus on what they can do, not on what they cannot do.
2) Focus - How much time do you have to teach? Not much! The notion that the traditional school year offers all teachers ample time to teach 60 or 70 standards per subject is simply not true. By the time you subtract holidays, testing days, practice testing days, and someone smelled gas days—you are left with about 150 days to teach. If you teach math an hour-a-day, that translates into the equivalent of 19 eight hour days. I’ll say it again--you have nineteen days to teach students geometry, American history or how to write a decent paper.
3) Engagement - The most immediate and pressing issue for students and teacher is not low achievement, but student disengagement. Keep this in mind, not just when building lessons, but also when developing grading policies and policies about late work. Students destined to fail a class in October will spend the rest of the semester passing notes because they know they can’t pass the class.
4) Teaching is a Team Sport - You are not an independent contractor. This job is too hard to do alone. In light of the promise we have made to teach higher level skills to a more diverse group of students it is important that we “get every brain in the game”. PLCs and collaboration time should be the highlight of your day. If you would rather do bus duty than get together with the other fourth grade teachers, you’re not having the right kind of meetings.
This article was written by Dr. Mike White. Michael White is a licensed pediatric psychologist who consults with school systems throughout the country on issues relating to standards-based instruction and assessment. A strong advocate of “assessment as instruction,” he is the author of five books and numerous articles on standards, assessment, and effective schools. His web-based teacher resource, Learning Connection Online, was the National Staff Development Council’s “Technology of the Year” award winner for 2003.