Posts

Classroom Miracles Made Simple

Hero Teacher Martha Rivera Alanis

Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind: How to involve, include and inspire every student, every day.

One teacher told me about her class. At the start of every school year she asks her young elementary level kids, “What do you want to do when you grow up?”

One year a kid responded, “I wanna be like my daddy and be on welfare.” Some teachers would have rolled their eyes and thought, “How am I supposed to teach kids in poverty that have a home life like his?”

But this teacher refused to lower her goals or her standards for her kids. She does what high performing teachers often do.

Her strategy? What did she do?

The answer is, “Broaden the kid’s horizons and help him think bigger!” Read more

The Importance of the Impossible

impossible

For some, a new school year will start this month. If not, this message is just as important to you. I’ll address the importance of the “impossible” in your job, in students and in schools. This post is about impossibility, expectancy, student predictions, high goals and of course, the brain.

But first, I begin with a true story…

A few years ago, Diane and I hired a handyman to replace a cluster of smaller windows with a bigger window. We knew the bigger dining room window would help us enjoy the view more and we reconnected with a trusted guy (Martin) who had done work for us before. After he took out the old windows and prepped the area for the installation of the big new picture window, the main event was about to happen. Only one problem, though…the new window was going in on the second floor and it was too big to take through the house and up the stairs to the second floor. This meant the heavy 6’ x 6’ glass window had to be brought up on the outside. Read more

Rewarding the Brain for Great Teaching

decison in brain-based learning

Kimberly, a veteran teacher, has to make a big decision at the end of this school year. She’s either going to “re-up” and stay another year, or quit her job and seek another teaching job elsewhere. I am going to describe her work in a minute. But go ahead and put yourself in her shoes and ask yourself, “What would you do?”

First of all, Kimberly’s (I have changed her name; this is a true story) classroom kids all come from poverty. Every one of them has home issues, some have disabilities and all of them were struggling every year in school until this year.

Yet, her students alone outscored ALL other students on district-wide assessments by more than 25% points on average and 100% of her students passed their state-mandated and school mandated exams. In short, she is an “over the top, amazing teacher.” Many would call her an “irreplaceable asset.”

She has spent her entire 15-year teaching career actively seeking out schools where the students need her most, and her current school is one of the lowest-performing schools in the area.

So, what is the big decision that Kimberly, an amazing teacher, has to make at the end of this school year? It’s simple; “Should I stick around this school another year or not?” Read more

Over Half of all Teachers Make These 2 Mistakes.

Brain based teacherWe could focus on all the “holiday” stuff (like how to help you “navigate the holidays without adding inches to your figure”), but it’s the school year and we turn to how to affect one of the “Big Four.”

The first mistake (over 50% of all teachers make) is selling yourself short. You have far more influence than you think. The “Big Four” in teaching are: effort, behavior, cognitive capacity and attitude. When you strengthen these four, your students improve dramatically. The good news is that every one of these is teachable.

I’ll illuminate just one way you can influence a student’s attitude. The second mistake (over 50% of all teachers make) is to talk about a student’s “attitude” as if it was a fixed entity. Attitude is NOT fixed. In fact, new research shows how much teachers can influence a student’s attitude. For example… Read more

Are Intelligence and Achievement Contagious?

fairview blackboard

The Most Critical, Must-Have Attitude You Can Possibly Have Starting a New School Year Is…

Every year, hundreds (or is it 1,000s?) of new books flood the educational marketplace. There’s no way on earth that you or I can keep up with the flood. But if you were to narrow down the list of critical things that every educator should keep at or near the top of their list, what would you put on the list?

Here is a list of the usual: be rigorous (assign challenging content), assess often (formative assessment is big these days), use inclusion more (it’s more politically correct and it saves money), and be sure to differentiate (flash news bulletin: kids are unique), plus a dozen others.

Are ALL of those a good idea?

In some ways, yes. But if your list got narrowed further and further to just the top three or four items, what would you put on the list for the upcoming school year? I know what I would insist that everyone on your staff keep in the top 5. In fact, I would be relentless about it until it was heavily embedded in every class, every day.

What are these top 5 “must do” items?

We all accept the reality that colds and the flu are contagious. We think that since there are often airborne particles or hand and face transferred germs involved, we can “catch” something from others. But could your students “catch” achievement? It sounds far-fetched, but is it? Read more