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Never Say It’s Just Good Teaching! | For Teachers & Principals

Never Say It’s Just Good Teaching! | For Teachers & Principals

Warning: (gentle) rant coming! 

A phrase that I hear a lot in education is “it’s just good teaching.” Ugh. 

Not only do I find that phrase super annoying, but it’s also totally inaccurate! To me, it shows that whoever says that doesn’t have a clue what they’re talking about.

Here are just a couple of reasons as to why I think “it’s just good teaching” is the worst thing that we can say in education:

  • First of all, good teaching is an actual thing! And it looks like this: 
    • Explicit instruction
    • Teach and model
    • Guided practice
    • Application
    • Feedback throughout

That is good teaching. That is teaching explicitly. That works!

  • Second, when we say things like “it’s just good teaching,” that gives cover for some questionable teaching techniques. If you have a technique that really works, call the technique by name! 

Don’t diminish good teaching and don’t dismiss the hard work of good teachers! 

Okay, rant: over. 

For more help and tips on how to dive into more explicit and research based teaching practices please check out all of our books online. Books can be found at amazon.com or by clicking here.

Never Say It’s Just Good Teaching! | For Teachers & Principals

Restating the Thesis in the Conclusion | For Teachers

Confession: when I was a student, I never knew how to end my essays, so they always ended very randomly and abruptly! 

I don’t want that to happen to your students, so let’s give them some help. Here are three simple ways to restate the thesis in a conclusion paragraph or statement:

  1. Answer the question, ‘so what?’ In light of what I’ve told you so far, what are you going to do about it?
  2. Consider telling the reader what they should do next. Given what I’ve told you, here’s what you need to go out and do.
  3. Remind the reader why the topic or the information is important. Present a sense of urgency to the reader! 

Those are three ways students can restate their thesis in the conclusion to make it more interesting for the reader. Now, go give it a try today! 

For more help and tips on how to improve your teaching practice, please check out our books.

Books can be found at amazon.com or at https://jackson-consulting.com/buy-stuff/

Never Say It’s Just Good Teaching! | For Teachers & Principals

Has Close Reading Lost All Its Power? | For Teachers, Principals, District Leaders

Today, I have a bone to pick about close reading. Everywhere I look these days, it seems like virtually everyone is talking about “close reading.” And I realized that we’re calling just about everything close reading and by doing that, it’s at the point where it’s lost so much of its power! 

So I want you to ask yourself: Do I know what close reading ACTUALLY is, and am I replicating that process in my classroom?

Let’s look at the true step-by-step process of close reading, to make sure we’re keeping its integrity and power when using it with students. 

Close reading is: 

  • 1st read – get the gist of what I’ve read
  • 2nd read – understand how the text is organized
  • 3rd read – read, analyze, and think deeply about what I’ve read

If we’ve taught close reading well, we’ve actually given kids a skill that they can take to any text they read! That is the sign of successful, close reading.

For more help and tips on how to improve your teaching practice, please check out our books.

Books can be found at amazon.com or at https://jackson-consulting.com/buy-stuff/

Never Say It’s Just Good Teaching! | For Teachers & Principals

What’s the Deal with this Blog, Anyway? | For Teachers, Coaches, Principals, and District Leaders

As I am sure you’ve noticed, we’re coming out with some blog posts about some of the most important topics in teaching, ones that you’re talking about right now.

These blog posts are 100% in response to questions that you are asking! This blog is a place for us to break down the most important questions you are facing today.

So, when you see these posts pop up in your email or on our website or social media, know that they are responses to questions coming from educators just like you! If you have a question, feel free to leave a comment on them and we will work towards a future post that will address that topic.

Hopefully through comments on the post it will also lead to a place where educators can engage with each other on the topic and BRING RELIEF TO EDUCATORS!  (That’s our tagline by the way!)

We also want to make sure that we are giving you timely content with this blog! Content that is not only relevant and applicable, but also delivered to you in a quick and easy way. A fast read that is understandable, so you can read it quickly, engage in comments, but most importantly take it RIGHT back to your classroom and with YOUR students.

That is our passion.

For more help and tips on how to better your teaching practice, please check out our books. Books can be found at amazon.com or at our store.

Never Say It’s Just Good Teaching! | For Teachers & Principals

Discipline vs Redirection in the Classroom | For Teachers, Coaches, and Principals

I often hear a lot of teachers talking about their kids like:

Oh, my kids were so bad today!

Or

We had the worst day, I was just disciplining all day long.

But often what they are REALLY talking about is redirecting kids, and that’s just a general part of classroom management!

It does not mean things are going wrong. It means you are working with kids.

Redirecting kids is saying things like:

  • You know what, instead of doing this, I’d like you to do this right now
  • Guys, I’m going to wait for everybody to have their eyes on me before I give the next direction

Those are examples of good, solid classroom management practices!

Disciplining kids is when kids have not followed the management stuff and you have to give them consequences.

So today, this week, as you are teaching, what I want you to think about is: 

What am I doing to redirect kids without having to lead to full-blown discipline?

For more help and tips on how to better your teaching practice, please check out our books. Books can be found at amazon.com or at our store.

Urgent Letter to School Principals and Leaders

Urgent Letter to School Principals and Leaders

To School Principals and Instructional Leaders at the District Level,

I write this to you as we are on our umpteenth day of quarantine, trying to get back to some semblance of normal…whatever that means anymore!

As I’ve taken a couple of weeks to just watch what schools and districts are doing to gear up for a long time of no students in the schools, something has emerged that really concerns me.  DEEPLY CONCERNS ME.  And I think you need to know it and recognize it, if this describes you.

I am seeing educators scrounging for more materials, more daily schedules, more portals for more activities to do with kids via Zoom, more teaching plans, more online resources…MORE MORE MORE.

Hmmmmm…this sounds a LOT like what we have tried to get away from: confusing and overwhelming teachers.

Before we had even heard of the coronavirus and Covid-19, we had issues in schools: we had overcomplicated things to the point where teachers were overwhelmed and students weren’t performing anywhere near where they need to be.  But now with this wild time of eLearning and distance learning that was literally shoved upon in one fell swoop, we are back at it with TOO MUCH STUFF.

Let me be very clear: when someone feels like they’re drowning (which is what trying to homeschool your own kids while doing Zoom lessons with your class students must feel like), the last thing they need is more water.

I want you to hear me loud and clear: THEY DO NOT NEED MORE STUFF.

In an effort to be a kind but stern fairy godmother as you are navigating this time, I’ve put together some things I recommend you STOP doing and some things I recommed you START doing.

Here’s what I want you to STOP doing as a way to save and stabilize your teaching staff:

  • Stop keeping up with the Joneses and trying to be leader of the year by giving your teachers more resources.  They don’t need them.
  • Stop sending out another “helpful” resource when you come across it online.  It’s not helpful. It’s not received with joy, even though you intended it that way.
  • Stop buying access for your teachers to portals of new activities and teach-from-home shortcuts.  They don’t have time to decipher what to use and what not to use.
  • Stop acting like teaching from home takes a different skill set than teaching face-to-face.  Yes, the technology might be new, but teachers still have to have a management system, they have to engage their kids and they have to teach explicitly.  None of that has changed one bit.

Here’s what I want you to START doing as a way to save and stabilize your teaching staff:

  • Check in with each teacher via email or phone and ask: “What is the most frustrating thing right now for you and how can I help?”  They need relief…and it doesn’t come in the form of more worksheets or online games.
  • Send an email to your teachers and remind them of these foundational elements of teaching that they already know and how important they STILL are in our current circumstances
    • Greet the students by name on the beginning of each Zoom – let them know you see them…literally!
    • At the start of each lesson, review the behavior rules – they haven’t changed since we were in regular school
    • Give kids structured stand up and stretch breaks a bit more often during the lesson because they are working harder to stay engaged
    • This is not the time to be teaching everything new…see our safe-at-home orders as an opportunity to reivew and solidify the most important skills – that’ll be a huge win if you do just that
    • Be excited to see your students – that joy is contagious
    • Go take a nap.  This is hard.  These are muscles we haven’t flexed before and it’s new.

This is not a time for heroics, this is a time and opportunity to simplify.  Show your teachers it is more than okay to do just that.

(And you go take a nap, too.  This is hard hard work.)

With love and so much admiration,

Jill Jackson

(who is also taking naps even though she isn’t doing the heavy lifting like you are!)