Thank You For an Incredible Year!

Thank You For an Incredible Year!

As we close out a year of delivering the very best of Jill’s tips and tricks into your inbox every week, we just wanted to say a big THANK YOU for all of your continued support! 

Because of you, we can continue Jill’s legacy of supporting educators across the country, helping to make teaching simple and teachers happy and successful. That’s the goal! 

We are excited to continue this fun and important work in 2023! 

Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy New Year,

  • The Jill Jackson Team
Thank You For an Incredible Year!

Why Accelerated Reader is So Misused in the Classroom | For Teachers & District Leaders

I’ll admit it: I have concerns about accelerated reader. Now, don’t shoot the messenger! Just consider the following:

  1. Accelerated reader doesn’t track skills. If you’re using it to figure out whether kids are growing skill wise, it’s not equipped to give you that information. 
  2. Its numbers are really broad. Parents and teachers alike will say, “I have kids that grew from 6 to 7, or 7 to 8, but what does that really mean, skill-wise? 
  3. The numbers don’t tell us what to do next. If I have a kid that’s not reading at the right level and needs an accelerated reader – well, what are they missing? What skills should I focus on? What’s getting in the way of comprehension? It doesn’t help me out!
  4. It can give false data! Because teachers all use it differently. Some let kids retake tests. Some let kids rack up points by choosing texts that they can read easily. 

With all of that, I’m just not sure that accelerated reader more than a motivational tool is worth using in the classroom.

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 our store.

Thank You For an Incredible Year!

Don’t Take Their Word For It | For Teachers, Coaches, & Principals

When I go into classrooms to demonstrate a lesson, teachers can be really quick to tell me, “Oh, this particular kid is special ed, or this particular kid doesn’t like to talk out loud.” 

Sometimes even the kids try to regulate me! If I call on a certain student they might say, “She doesn’t like to talk in class.” While I know they’re trying to be helpful, sometimes I wanna say – well, I’m the teacher for the next 30 minutes, and she’s gonna talk! 

It got me thinking about how often we “pre-teach” each other and assume things based on a student’s past behaviors that might not be true this year. Really, it’s a waste of time and a waste of energy worrying about worrying about what kids did last year, when it could be that they’re going to make up their mind to have a completely different year when I get them. 

Here’s my encouragement to you: be careful about what information you take in from last year’s teacher, so that you can have a fresh start with your kids for next year.

For more help and tips on how to give each student a clean slate, check out the books:

Books can be found on amazon.com or at our store.

Thank You For an Incredible Year!

How to Build Trust with Teachers | For Coaches, District Leaders, & Team Leaders

Whether you’re an experienced coach or brand new to the job, we all need some tricks of the trade that allow us to build relationships with teachers. Here are three that I think will serve you well: 

  1. Have a process for coaching! A lot of the struggle that teachers have with coaching is they don’t know what to expect. If you can say to them ahead of time, ‘Here’s what’s going to happen before, during, and after the coaching cycle,’ they’ll know what to expect and that will help them feel a lot more confident and comfortable. 
  1. Vary your approach! Some teachers are experienced and need to be coached into coaching other teachers, or maybe you can use their classroom as a demo room to bring another teacher who’s inexperienced in a particular area. That form of coaching helps your experienced teachers feel like they really bring value to the table, which they do! 
  1. How do you go with your gut? If you’re feeling like things are funky with the teacher, talk to them about it. Don’t just try to work through it by not discussing it. 

For more help and tips on how to improve your coaching practice, check out these books:

Books can be found on amazon.com or at our store.

Thank You For an Incredible Year!

Why Reading Interventions Usually Fail | For Teachers, Coaches, Principals, & District Leaders

When reading interventions fail, or don’t work like we want them two, experience has taught me that it’s usually for two main reasons. Today I want to share those reasons with you so that you don’t stumble into the same pitfalls! 

  1. Its focus is too broad. The group is formed to work on something like phonics – that is not nearly specific enough! They need to be working on our controlled vowels or variant vowels and diphthongs or whatever it is that’s very specific to learning phonics.
  1. It lasts way too long! Reading intervention becomes a life sentence, instead of a 15-20 day cycle of providing instruction on various specific things so that we can measure whether it’s working or not. Students should not be in intervention groups forever because it means that the instruction is not working.

I hope you look at those two things in terms of your own intervention and consider what you can change today that will make your intervention better even tomorrow.

For more help and tips on how to do a successful reading intervention, check out the book:

Books can be found on amazon.com or at our store.

Thank You For an Incredible Year!

Why I’m Leary of the Walk-to-Read Model | For Teachers, Principals, & District Leaders

Today I want to offer three things to think about when considering using the “walk-to-read” model. If you’re unfamiliar, walking to read is when you group like-skilled kids together – above, on, and below benchmark, and you teach them at that level until they reach benchmark. 

  1. The first thing I want you to consider is when you take a group of kids that struggle with reading and pull them to a below benchmark group and teach at that level for the entire reading class, or even a large portion of it, it’s possible to lose touch with what the actual benchmark is. I suggest that you take only a portion of your instructional time and do a walk-to-read where you’re pulling like-skilled kids together.
  1. The second thing that I want you to be aware of is that kids who get tracked into a certain level can get stuck there! Sometimes they just need a quick pick me up for three or four weeks on a skill, and then they are on to benchmark information.
  1. And the third thing I want to caution you about is if you lend your kids to another teacher for a walk-to-read model, it’s possible to get out of touch with your kids! You need to put techniques and strategies into play that allow you to stay in touch, remember what the benchmark is, and make sure that you do not have kids tracked in that walk to read model.

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

Books can be found at amazon.com and at our store.