“We are waiting to get him tested” is not a teaching strategy.
I couldn’t resist sharing this image I created a long time ago…it is as true today as it was when I created it. I posted it back then because I had just been to a school visit where every other student who needed intervention wasn’t getting it because “they were waiting to be tested.”
The thing that cracks me up (well, it doesn’t crack me up really – it makes my blood boil actually!) is that the only thing that testing can provide is the same thing that intervention can: a pathway for knowing where to start teaching!
A Special Ed designation or learning disability designation just means that we need to take special care in providing instruction…but when it comes down to it, it’s all instruction anyway.
I also wish that we’d stop saying this because it totally degrades our profession. It makes us look weak.
And I don’t like to look weak in a profession that I’ve chosen to be a lifelong part of, do you?
A very common question that I get from coaches is this: What do I do when a teacher has been coached in a skill and yet when I get back into the classroom, they’ve dropped or stopped using the skill?
I think that sometimes coaches take this personally – after all, everyone has put a lot of time in effort in coaching and learning a new/updated skill! But, I find that when I ask myself these three questions, I can usually get to the root of why that’s happened…and, more importantly, I can fix it with the teacher:
- Did I break the steps of the skill down to the –nth degree or was the skills we were working on really like five skills rolled up into one?
- Did the teacher understand what I wanted him to do? (And a nod of the head isn’t a confirmation…the teacher should be able to fully explain what you want him to do in his own words – make sure to weave this into your debriefing each time!)
- Did the teacher simply forget to keep doing it and do we need to add some sort of note on his desk or in his lesson plan book so that it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle any longer? (Teachers have lots to remember and can simply forget. It happens to all of us!)
The most important thing is to avoid going straight to the line of the thinking that the teacher is stopping the practice on purpose. By digging just a bit deeper through the questions, you’ll find an even more efficient way to work with a teacher…and it doesn’t have to affect your relationship one bit!
For quite a few years, I’ve done a January 1st post about my goals for the year and sometimes threw in a review of the year prior. I think I do it to hold myself accountable…or, if nothing else, feel like I’ve spoken what I’ve set out to do out into the world in hopes that someone will slap me upside the head if I don’t get cracking on things!
So here it is, January 1st again. I mean, HOW DID THAT HAPPEN? it feels like it should be June or maybe July at the most!
Here’s my review of 2016 in a sentence: She had big plans but ended up taking a nap.’
She (meaning me!), had plans (you can read them here) to get a tone of stuff done and take the world by storm, buuuuuuuuuuuttttttttt, what really ended up happening is that I needed to take some time and regroup.
Here’s why: For 10 years I ran a trained people and had a big training team I managed. I traveled. A lot. Like virtually every week some years. Along the way many people said, “You need to write books!” So I did. Four of them in about 3 years time. Side note: The 5th books is actually written, but it’s been in the hopper for about year with no progress…I’m not even sure it’ll ever be released now that I think of it a year later.
What I didn’t realize is that writing, editing, printing, publishing, fulfilling and shipping books was like starting a new business. I thought it was an extension of what I was already doing! Um…SUPER NAIVE thinking on my part!
We had unbelievable response to the books (I am so so thankful for everyone buying them and using them!), but I needed to figure out how to get the word out to people who didn’t know me. That proved to be much tougher. And I basically spun my wheels trying to figure that out for the first part of 2016. During that time I did one thing: took naps.
Not in a depressed, push-the-world-out-and-close-the-blinds way, but in a super tired for a lot of years way. I know you can relate.
So, I napped and I thought about books. And I did very little traveling for work (like one trip a month). And something happened.
I missed people. I missed seeing people work with kids. I missed all of the flood of ideas about how to help teachers I get when i am actually with teachers. I missed writing. I missed prepping demo lessons. I missed the whole thing!
So, here I am after using 2016 as a recovery and discovery year and now I’m ready to roll. As it turns out, I needed some naps, but napping as a serious hobby didn’t work for me long-term! (And yes, I know I was very lucky to be able to take naps…I realize this is a luxury…but it is not all it’s cracked up to be, I can assure you!).
With that said, here’s a smattering of the goals I will be CHARGING TOWARD in 2017! I am ready, I am rested and I am very very excited to be discovering and sharing new content with YOU to help make teaching and coaching simpler for you! (Note: I write the goals in super specific wording as if I have already accomplished them!)
- I have attended Sunday services at my church weekly whenever I am in town
- I have had my first meeting of my investment/dinner group
- I have successfully baked a layered cake, a pie, croissants, cinnamon rolls, French bread, tortillas, pretzels, fry bread, a soufflé and crepes sucre.
- I have lost 50 pounds by December 310, 2017
- I keep regular work hours each week
Nothing super fancy, but things that, when accomplished, would have a super big impact on the quality of my year!
Question for you: Do you set goals? I’d love to hear yours…or why you don’t set them!
You know how you learn something that is so important that you wish that you could go back and erase about 10,000 things from the past so that you can do them right?
Well, I feel that way about planning professional development. My approach has always been that ‘more is more’ and that in order for a teacher to learn to do whatever it is that I am trying to teach them, they have to know EVERYTHING and EVERY NUANCE of that thing.
What I’ve come to realize (and it’s taken me, ummm…oh, just 14 years to realize it!) is that I need to give teachers the least amount of information that I can get away with so that they can quickly carry things back to the classroom and get started.
Here are the six questions I now ask myself when I am teaching anything to any educator:
- What will trip people up?
- What are the five parts of the thing I’m teaching that they absolutely have to learn?
- What is the order that the things in #2 above should logical be taught and learned in?
- What is the best way to learn each of the steps? Should we read about it? Model it? Practice in the training room? Watch a video?
- What is the least amount of training that we can provide or get away with?
- What skills have teachers already developed that we can hook this new thing to so it doesn’t feel brand new?
Question: When is the last time you used your teacher face?
Answer: On a flight from Los Angeles to Washington DC recently when a kid was kicking my seat and the parent wasn’t going to tell him to stop. It was not a proud moment, but it was necessary!
Before that, I used my teacher face most recently when I was demonstrating a lesson and a student was testing me on my rules and I had to let her know who was in charge. 😉
Question: What is my pet peeve in the classroom?
Answer: Oh my gosh, my pet peeve extraordinaire is when kids talk when I’m talking. More specifically, when they talk when I’m giving directions. I literally want to SCREAM if it happens!
In fact, I am so talking-over-the-teacher-talking adverse that it is literally the first rule I taught in the classroom (and we practiced until it was perfect…even if the world was falling off its axis, those kids weren’t going to talk when I was talking…ha!). It’s still the first rule I teach when I demonstrate lessons in classrooms, too!
It’s magic and sets the stage for literally every other thing I want or need the kids to do.