Strategy of the Week

Arranging Furniture to Facilitate A Flexible Classroom

As summer comes to an end, students flock back to the classroom with hopes and fears for the new school year: Will I make new friends? Will I get along with my teachers?

Will my classes be hard? Will my classroom’s layout and furniture be conducive to learning?

The last one’s facetious, of course – very few students have probably ever voiced that concern as the first day of school drew near. But classroom seating and working arrangements do impact a student’s sense of autonomy and purpose—and consequently their engagement. Watch this 3:59 video to see different ways of arranging furniture to facilitate a flexible classroom.

Share out: How do students exercise voice and choice in where they work in your school?

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Make Your School a Safe Space for LGBTQ—and All—Students

Make Your School a Safe Space for LGBTQ—and All—Students

Bullying in schools is tough to address because it’s so widespread. A recent federal survey* found that almost 1 in 10 of students age 12-18 were called a hate-related word at some point during the school year. If you’re an LGBTQ student, though, the odds jump to over 80%.*

What do LGBTQ students feel they can do about it? Not much. As of 2011, 60% of LGBTQ students who were harassed or assaulted didn’t report any incidents for fear that no action would be taken or that the situation would just become worse.*

These numbers are cause for concern. But let’s be honest: concern isn’t powerful enough of a motivator to create change. Behind the numbers are students in your school like Jada, Kane, Dannie, Dustin, Andrew, Matt, Liam, and Paulina. In this 12:13 video, these students – the 2013 GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network) Student Ambassadors, relate their often painful, sometimes promising experiences with peers and teachers at school.

lgbtq-students

Listening to them can help convert concern into empathy and empathy into action. This video outlines six approaches that have successfully reduced school bullying of LGBTQ students—and their non-LGBTQ peers as well:

  1. Support a school-wide comprehensive anti-bullying policy.
  2. Establish and model an expectation of respect for all students.
  3. Respond effectively to anti-LGBTQ language.
  4. Support a GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance).
  5. Designate your classroom as a safe space.
  6. Listen to your students.

*IES & BJS. (2012). Indicators of School Crime and Safety.

*GLSEN. (2011). National School Climate Survey.

Respond to this email: How are you addressing the bullying of LGBTQ and other students in your school?

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Improving Practice with Edivate Review

How to Hit a Home Run in the Classroom: Improving Practice with Edivate Review 

Teachers and athletes have a lot in common. Both work in teams, set goals, and have coaches. Athletes often receive feedback by studying video of their performance. Teachers can take a page out of their playbook by doing the same.

Educators in the Newton County School System in Covington, Georgia, use Edivate Review to study video footage of their practice in a safe and supportive way. Watch this 2:33 video to hear how both administrators and teachers use this valuable tool.

Edivate Review Newton County School

Share out: What does your school do to acknowledge good practice in the classroom?

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Becoming a School of Character: How Old Bridge Township Schools Helped Heal a Community

Becoming a School of Character: How Old Bridge Township Schools Helped Heal a Community

The community of Old Bridge Township, New Jersey was hurting. Two incidents of violence involving former Old Bridge students had people asking, “What are they teaching in our schools?” And then, Hurricane Sandy decimated neighborhoods and turned school gymnasiums into temporary shelters.

In this 6:47 video, you will learn how Superintendent David Cittadino and the educators of Old Bridge Township took it upon themselves to turn things around, starting with the schools, by focusing on professional development and school-wide character.

Old Bridge Township

Share out: What is being done in your school to emphasize and develop character?

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Shifting the Mindset of Teachers from Themselves to Students

 

Shifting the Mindset of Teachers from Themselves to Students

There are times when a student might “fall off the boat.” And when they do, what do you think is more productive: thinking about how the situation affects you or helping the student get back on the boat?

At Mont Harmon Middle School, one simple shift in mindset for administrators and teachers helped make it so that all students are “on deck.” Watch this 1:40 long video to hear their story.

Mont Harmon Middle School

Share out: How do you show students that they are an important part of the school?

How to Promote Best Teaching Practices

How to Promote Best Teaching Practices? Beware of Good and Better Ones

Is It Fun vs. Does It Work

Back in 2009, educational consultant Doug Reeves recorded this simple 4:02 video that conveys a powerful message about improving teacher performance.

“At the end of the day, a best practice is defined not by whether we like it,” Reeves says, “[but] whether or not it is effective.”

In 2016, how can educators avoid being distracted by the constant parade of tech gadgetry and apps in their field? “I’m not going to presume to judge what you ought to do,” Reeves says, “but I am going to strongly suggest that all of us need to start keeping a journal of our own practices. Being as honest about what doesn’t work as what does.”

How could teachers and principals use these journal entries to help improve their own and each others’ practice? Watch the video above to find out.

Share out: How do you keep focused on best practices rather than “good” ones?

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Classroom Management: Assume the Best

Classroom Management: Assume the Best

As educators prepare to return to the hallowed halls of learning, they’re taking inventory—mentally and physically—and considering the best ways to create safe and productive learning environments.

This 3:30 video encapsulates a piece of advice from classroom management guru Rick Smith that may have a greater impact on your classroom than anything else. The guidebook for this video is available here.

You can learn more about Conscious Classroom Management, the LumiBook authored by Rick Smith, here.

Assume the Best - Classroom Management Rick Smith

Share out: What are some of your greatest concerns and successes about classroom management?

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School Turnaround Using A Vision of Culture and Consistency

Griffin High School’s Transformation

Schools that lack a unified culture can drastically affect students and teachers in a negative way. Without a structured and caring environment, students feel lost and unwanted. Without committed support, teachers can feel that they alone bear the burden of poor student achievement.

Keith Simmons faced these problems when he became principal of Griffin High School in Griffin, Georgia, in 2009. Watch this 5:44 video to see how, with a vision and culture of structure and consistency, students and staff at Griffin High School worked together to achieve a remarkable turnaround.

School Turnaround Keith Simmons Griffin High School Georgia

Share out: How has your school vision positively impacted students? Do you have any specific examples you would like to share?

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Personalized Learning in Action

Personalized Learning in Action

As you know, there’s a lot of conversation in the Edworld about implementing personalized learning. This 4:45 video from Charleston, South Carolina, is worth a thousand words. The guidebook for the video is available here.

Personalized Learning Students

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Share out: What are your expectations and hesitations with implementing personalized learning?

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Classroom Video and Review Tools

Magic Engagement: Classroom Video and Review Tools

Schools and districts around the country are discovering that personalized learning helps increase their students’ engagement and achievement. So how does personalized learning work for teachers and their PD?

In Georgia’s Newton County Schools, one technology tool is making a big difference. Teachers film themselves teaching and upload the video to the Edivate Review tool. Their colleagues around the district—in particular, those teaching the same course at their own schools—can then write feedback about specific moments in the video.

Edivate Review works, according to district leaders, because teachers get prompt, specific feedback from colleagues, and also because the teachers themselves are driving it (their participation is voluntary). In the words of one administrator,

It’s really a good thing when teachers latch on to ideas like this and they grow it themselves. So you have teachers telling other teachers about how great this tool is. It’s not…the district office coming down from on high to tell them that they must do something.

Watch this 6:38 video above to learn more.

Share out: Would this technology solution increase your teachers’ engagement with their PD? If not, how could it be adapted to meet their needs preferences?

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