Category Archives: Mentoring

A New Role

By Rob

Some time ago I was struggling to set up procedures during my literacy instruction.  I was attempting to meet with a guided reading group while the reminder of my class was engaged independently in a meaningful activity.  For some students the “independent” activity was a too challenging and they needed support.  For other students it was too easy and they were finishing early.  Other students had difficulty remaining on task and caused disruptions.  These are the challenges of a novice teacher.

All things considered I was doing pretty well but I knew it could be done better.  But I wasn’t sure how.  I was building the boat as I was crossing the ocean.

I spoke with some other teachers and we shared the same struggles.  After I confided in my principal I found this “struggle” reflected in my evaluation.  Prior to that evaluators found little to criticize.  I regretted opening up my practice.

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It’s the Principal of the Matter

Picture 1By Travis

Principals are near useless. Near…I would not be so mean as to say totally. I know they serve a purpose. But, hey, let’s be honest. How often is your principal in your classroom? If you are lucky, it is twice a year for the district mandated formal observation. Principals do not teach classes so how could a principal possibly understand life in your classroom? They cannot relate. When seen in the big picture, principals do not do much to impact instruction, and as such, are near useless.

However, my principal is not. Lisa teaches.

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Growth by Association: One good teacher makes a difference

Pd_small_pencil_sharpener By Mark

Nearly every training and inservice repeats the same mantra: we must increase student learning. So we get shipped off to learn about a new strategy or a new tool or a new curriculum. We meet about goal setting and analyzing student data and impact on student learning. We are constantly doing extra in an effort to better the service we provide our students.

All that extra work, and it turns out there is something out there which has delivered a measurable impact on student learning, and it doesn't involve a special training or new curriculum.

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A recent article printed in the Christian Science Monitor covered the issue of teacher training ( The key controversy is that ”Some policymakers say the focus needs to be on improving traditional education schools, which produce 4 out of 5 teachers in the United States. Others are strong advocates of so-called alternative models designed to streamline entry into teaching for exceptionally talented students or mid-career professionals.”

As I sit through yet another sound bite for differentiating instruction based on the needs of my students, and as I am being asked to contemplate taking part in an alternative academy for low-performing ninth graders next year, I marvel again that we, as educators, don’t practice what we preach. Why should we expect every prospective teacher to flourish under the exact same training? We certainly don’t expect that from the kids in our classrooms.

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WASHINGTONIOUSLY Awesome: NBCTs fill the classrooms!

Picture 2 I remember when I signed up for NBPTS. I was filled with the excitement of the challenge, the excellence. I remember when I received my NBPTS box. I was filled with sheesh, what have I gotten myself into. Now that I have gone through the certification process, I am a stronger teacher which, ultimately, benefits my students.

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Disclaimer to all administrators past, present, and future: I am sure you are all wonderful people. Work hard, care about students. Just wonderful. Smiley folks. Perhaps even a bit jollier than the average person. Smarter, too, I reckon. However, a colleague of mine just started his administration program and I have to admit, I felt a bit of sadness.

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Intro to Humor 101

by CSTP blogger KIM:

Everything I needed to know about teaching, I learned as a parent. Crazy_dancing_2

Okay, not really. It was a reciprocal deal. Being a parent helped me become a good teacher, but being a good teacher helped me become a better parent. Mine was a mid-life career change (“early” mid-life, hopefully). My first year of teaching (9th-grade English) was the year my daughter was a 9th grader. I remember the first time I told a student, “That might work with your other teachers, but it won’t work with me. I’ve got one of you at home, and I know that trick!” She and the rest of the class laughed with me.

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