Thursday, October 17, 2019

Ameria's Disturbing Past with School Segregation: 22 Days of Anti-Racist Resources for Teachers

I'm happy to welcome Danielle of @hotmessteaching as a guest blogger today.
 
She is sharing some background on school segregation and a great book recommendation for you to use with your students to help them understand how the Mendez family fought for desegregation.
 
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America has a problematic history and an incredibly shocking racist past. It's easy to believe that the bigotry and hate we see today just developed out of nowhere.
 
Upon closer examination, we realize that hatred and discrimination have deep roots in this country.
 
In the 1940s and 1950s American society widely accepted the notion that Mexican-Americans were second class citizens. This idea was prevalent throughout American society at the time, and it was horribly displayed through school separation.

The Mendez family and many other families were negatively impacted by the racist ideas/racist policies that existed in Orange County, California.

Schools were segregated in Westminster, California when Mexican-Puerto Rican Sylvia Mendez and her family came to town from Santa Ana in the 1940s. When Mendez and her brothers were denied access to an all-white elementary school, her parents filed a lawsuit in federal court in Los Angeles against the school district, Mendez V. Westminster School District.
 
On February 18, 1946, Judge Paul J. McCormick ruled in favor of Mendez, making her one of the first Hispanics to attend an all-white school. Mendez’s case ended de jure segregation in California, setting a precedent for Brown vs. Board of Education seven years later, which brought an end to school segregation in the entire country.

Separate is never equal and the Mendez family proved this by fighting for their constitutional rights.


This historic narrative paints a picture of the resilience of Mexican-American citizens. It remind us of America's racist past and the politics associated with dividing instead of uniting people together.

The tragedy in El Paso was carried out by a homegrown white supremacist terrorist. This young man was full of hate and anger. His actions have destroyed countless lives.

As educators, we must teach that all people are created equal. We must teach people to love others and how to love them well.

The book Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation is an excellent text to use with your students to help them understand what America's history with school segregation looks like.

The Latin American and Iberian Institute of the University of New Mexico has created a free download for teachers and it's excellent. This unit incorporates GLAD strategies and more to help students understand the context and implications of school segregation. Get the resource here.



Follow Danielle Donaldson on Instagram @hotmessteaching










This post is dedicated to MarĂ­a Eugenia Legarreta Rothe. She traveled from Chihuahua to  El Paso, Texas, only to pick up her teenage daughter, Natalia, at the airport because she was returning from a trip. She never had the opportunity to be reunited with her daughter.
 
To see the complete calendar of the 
22 Days of Anti-Racist Resources for Teachers, visit this Google Doc
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1DVNTXMB84LzXYdQgSMOgRrhMoBWwSqg4tfK0Kg-sc-4/edit?usp=sharing
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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Developing Student Identities: 22 Days of Anti-Racist Resources for Teachers

Hi everyone, my name is Nicole and I teach 6th grade in Southern California. When Chrissy reached out to me to be a part of an anti-racist project to honor the 22 people who died in the El Paso shooting, I could see great necessity in this campaign.
 
I am so grateful to be a part of this community that shares resources about anti-racism. It is more important than ever for students to be educated about the difficult topics and the controversial events.
 
Students deserve to be taught about systemic racism, to understand its effects on them today, and to be equipped with the tools to rise up against the injustices they face.

Creating the space for students to develop and understand their identities is especially crucial in today’s world.
 
As students are bombarded with social media constantly telling them what they are and who they should be, we as educators need to ensure that students are given a safe place for reflection, exploration, and acceptance. In my middle school classroom, we begin the conversation with exploring who we are: our identities.

The Social Justice Standards include five identity anchor standards. These standards guide my instruction for the beginning of the school year:
  1. Students will develop positive social identities based on their membership in multiple groups in society.
  2. Students will develop language and historical and cultural knowledge that affirm and accurately describe their membership in multiple identity groups.
  3. Students will recognize that people’s multiple identities interact and create unique and complex individuals.
  4. Students will express pride, confidence and healthy self-esteem without denying the value and dignity of other people.
  5. Students will recognize traits of the dominant culture, their home culture and other cultures and understand how they negotiate their own identity in multiple spaces.
I love using this lesson from Facing History entitled “Who Am I?”. Here is an excerpt from the overview on the website: “‘Who am I?’ is a question we all ask at some time in our lives. It is an especially critical question for adolescents.
 
As we search for answers we begin to define ourselves. How is our identity formed? To what extent are we defined by our talents and interests? by our membership in a particular ethnic group? by our social and economic class? by our religion by the nation in which we live? How do we label ourselves and how are we labeled by others? How are our identities influenced by how we think others see us? How do our identities inform our values, ideas, and actions? In what ways might we assume different identities in different contexts? How do we manage multiple identities? Answers to these questions help us under tand history, ourselves, and each other.”

After completing the lesson, my students created their own identity starburst map (link to a template here: https://www.facinghistory.org/resource-library/image/sample-identity-chart.
First, we brainstormed aspects of our identity on a map.

So many great discussion topics were brought up by just creating these identity brainstorm maps. I guided the students in a discussion to figure out which of these traits are fixed, and which can be changed. We engaged in topics surrounding race and gender. Students brought up activists like Jazz Jennings, Malala, and Martin Luther King, Jr. who fought for equality and human rights.
 
Next, students took the template from Facing History to create their own map. They shared these maps with their peers as they got to know each other a little bit deeper. These identity maps helped create a classroom culture of both community and diversity. Students got to see how similar and different they are, and were given the chance to share some of their own stories that helps define their identities. 

This year, I am fortunate to be enrolled in a graduate program focused on social justice. One of the books assigned was “We Want to do More than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom” by Bettina Love. This book opened my eyes in so many ways, and I truly believe all educators need to read this book.
 
Bettina Love breaks through with her personal stories woven through historical cities and events as she begins to shed light on the injustices facing each of our students. She presents the bold and much needed theory of abolitionist teaching, a vision of educational social justice. I highly recommend this book to anyone searching for a deeper understanding of systemic racism and how to teach and love on students who continue to face it today.
 

This blog post is written in remembrance of Angie Englisbee. Angie is one of the 22 victims of the El Paso shooting.
 
 
The mother of eight children, she was taken too soon and undeservingly. She had the biggest heart and was always doing whatever she could to help people get jobs. Let us continue Angie’s legacy of helping people. As educators, we can vow to do our very best to spread anti-racism, to create safe places for students in our classrooms, and to ensure each and every student has a voice to be heard. 

Thanks for reading,
Nicole

Let’s connect on Instagram: @caffeinateandeducate
 
 
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Saturday, October 12, 2019

Planning a PD calendar

Planning a PD calendar for teachers is stressful, because you've got so much to do and you've got to figure out how to squeeze it all in! This easy to implement idea is a simple approach to planning your PD calendar. It works whether you've got teacher inservice, after school trainings, or half-day workshops, and it even applies to planning your PLC calendar! Plus, there's a free download! So you've already figured out what teachers need on your campus, whether you used the survey or the
sweep. And you've decided on a topic or focus for your PD. That's awesome!

Now what?

Well, putting together a PD calendar can be sort of daunting.

Time is not always on our side, and trying to make sure you get the PD to teachers at the right time can be easier said than done.

So let's talk about the main goals of a PD calendar for the year:

1. To help learning grow logically throughout the year

2. To meets the needs of the teachers on your campus when they need it

3. To give them time to implement a piece of the PD before you throw something else at them.

So here's the easiest way to put together a PD calendar while addressing those three goals. Seriously, this is gonna blow your mind.

1. Get a calendar - like a paper calendar. None of this fancy digital stuff. You can even just print one out, as long as each month fits on a page.

2. Mark important school dates on there, like holidays, testing dates, and big events like science fair. Note opportunities for PD: inservice days, after school trainings, early release days, etc.

3. At the top of a piece of paper, write the topic teachers are going to learn about over the long term. Then write a list of all of the smaller things teachers will need to learn about in order to grow along the way. Include opportunities to grow like book studies and coaching sessions.

Planning a PD calendar for teachers is stressful, because you've got so much to do and you've got to figure out how to squeeze it all in! This easy to implement idea is a simple approach to planning your PD calendar. It works whether you've got teacher inservice, after school trainings, or half-day workshops, and it even applies to planning your PLC calendar! Plus, there's a free download!



4. Use little sticky notes - and it's even better if you cut them in half. On each sticky note, write one of the pieces from your list. Sequence your sticky notes in a logical order of instruction.

5. Use the calendar to schedule out the sessions throughout the semester or year. If you have a full-day inservice marked on your calendar, and you can dedicate the whole day to this topic, you might be able to put two or three stickies on that day. If you only have half-days or after school trainings, or maybe 45 minute PLC times, you'll only fit one (maybe two, if they're tiny).

Planning a PD calendar for teachers is stressful, because you've got so much to do and you've got to figure out how to squeeze it all in! This easy to implement idea is a simple approach to planning your PD calendar. It works whether you've got teacher inservice, after school trainings, or half-day workshops, and it even applies to planning your PLC calendar! Plus, there's a free download!


Be sure to give teachers enough time between the new learning to try things out without letting things go for too long. It also helps to figure out which accountability pieces you will have in place after each new learning opportunity.

Using this approach helps you schedule tons of information in a reasonable way! For more details on planning great PD, get the free download below! There's a PD planner and a sample plan, too, not to mention a step-by-step guide! Or get the entire PD Toolkit for Coaches & Admin here on TpT!

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Friday, October 4, 2019

Validating Students of Color: 22 Days of Anti-Racist Resources for Teachers

Students of color are often marginalized in schools.They are viewed as a homogeneous group and are often the targets of prejudice, stereotyping, and microaggressions. To counter this, teachers have to make an effort to validate their students of color. This post and free download help you do just that. Read the post to learn about why it's so important to validate our students of color, and get the download. It's available in three different levels to meet the needs of students K-8 in writing and drawing. Get to know your kids so you can validate their experience! 22 days of anti-racist resources for teachers.Welcome to day one of "It's Time to Talk Racism: 22 Days of Anti-Racist Resources for Teachers".

A free download at the bottom of this post will help you get to know your students, too!

Today, guest blogger Stephanie Reyna, an elementary school counselor, will share her reflections and next steps for getting to know students in order to show that they are valued.

A challenge to do better: A school counselor's reflections on how to validate students of color

Who am I?
My name is Stephanie Reyna, pronouns she/her/hers. I am a school counselor in Texas, and I have my own family of four.

I have lived in Texas most of my life and consider El Paso, TX to be my home.

Most importantly, that is where my famous sister-in-law lives, also one of my closest friends. Chrissy, of course! Or, as you know her, Buzzing with Ms. B.  I am grateful for her invitation to share my experience. Please, in remembrance of the lives lost on August 3rd, share Chrissy’s 22 days anti-racist education to others. El Paso Strong.

So, this happened...
Elementary school counselors can have 200 to 800 students. That is the reality of Texas. I am one of the lucky ones; my student population is on the lower end. Even so, connecting with them on any substantive level is challenging.

Can you remember 300 hundred names by the first two months of school? I try, but I make mistakes. I made a big one recently, and after I told myself I would do better.

Just when I think, "I got this. Yeah, I am anti-racist. I feel proud to stand up for something bigger than myself; for those who need their voices lifted." Then, like a slap in the face, I realized something.  

My actions may have caused harm to a student of color. 

Here's what happened: I got a child’s name wrong.  

I didn’t know it was incorrect, and I continued to call this child by a name that was not theirs, for days. I even said the wrong name in front of their parents. A few days after that, I was teaching in this child’s class and I made the realization that I was calling the child by the wrong name. I immediately apologized and felt this tremendous guilt. I asked, “Why didn’t you tell me?” 

The student looked at me with a smile and said, “That’s ok.” I stood there perplexed and speechless for a good few seconds, and then this rush of sensation flooded my face.

I held back tears, swallowed, looked them in the eye and said, “No, it is not ok. I am so sorry. And you know what? I am going to do better. I want to get to know you. And I am glad I am here with you.” They smiled, and accepted.

Causing harm
These are questions that I asked myself: Would I have forgotten their name had they been white? Or more Americanized? Or more like me? Or more connected to my ethnicity? What could I have done to get to know them? Connect with them? Understand them? Remember the most basic of things; their name?

They were questions that didn’t necessarily have an answer, but I made myself reflect on them.

Why is this significant?   
Forgetting a name happens. Right?

Yes. But what kind of message does it send a student of color? "I am not heard. My existence is not acknowledged or validated. My experience is not recognized and remembered by those that are supposed to care about me, the ones that say they have my best interest in mind."

Children of color may internalize that they are not valued, or that they should not speak up in the school system. Potentially, this can lead to appeasement and silence. We must empower our students of color and believe in them. I challenge myself to make a better effort to learn my students' stories, so I don’t forget their name, and I send the message that I hear them. They are valued.

First comes connection, which leads to empathy and compassion. And of course, getting a student’s name right!

If you really get to know someone, you are not going to forget their name.  

 
  

What can you do?
Here is  a list of meaningful “getting-to-know you questions” that can be used with teachers, staff, and students.  You can use them throughout the year to connect and re-connect.  Have students share their responses with you and each other. 

These questions can be used with older students.
    Students of color are often marginalized in schools.They are viewed as a homogeneous group and are often the targets of prejudice, stereotyping, and microaggressions. To counter this, teachers have to make an effort to validate their students of color. This post and free download help you do just that. Read the post to learn about why it's so important to validate our students of color, and get the download. It's available in three different levels to meet the needs of students K-8 in writing and drawing. Get to know your kids so you can validate their experience! 22 days of anti-racist resources for teachers.
  • What is your name? How did you get your name?  Did you parents or family choose it?  Why?
  • Where do you call home? What makes this home?
  • What’s an adjective you would use to describe yourself? Why did you choose that adjective?
  • Describe a part of your identity you are proud of.
  • Tell me something others would find interesting or unexpected.
  • How has a specific aspect of your identity that has affected your life? (age, gender, race, ethnicity)  *You can use framework linked below.
  • What is a value or belief that you grew up with in your household?
All of the questions above can be adapted and scaffolded for students. Drawing and play can be better outlets for children to express their inner-world and lead to conversations about themselves and their families. 




Here are some questions and activities you can use with younger students. 
    Students of color are often marginalized in schools.They are viewed as a homogeneous group and are often the targets of prejudice, stereotyping, and microaggressions. To counter this, teachers have to make an effort to validate their students of color. This post and free download help you do just that. Read the post to learn about why it's so important to validate our students of color, and get the download. It's available in three different levels to meet the needs of students K-8 in writing and drawing. Get to know your kids so you can validate their experience! 22 days of anti-racist resources for teachers.
  • Draw yourself. What do you like about yourself?
  • Draw your home. Draw your family. (Have students share with each other and the class).
  • Draw what meal-time looks like at your home. Who is there? What is there? What do you do?
  • Draw what your weekend looks like. What do you do?
  • Draw the people who are the most important in your life.
  • Put students into small groups. Give students an opportunity to pretend they are in their favorite place. (Props optional).
  • Give students a varied amount of toys and have them pretend they are with their friends and family. Invite them to share what they pretended to do.  
Feel free to add to this list of ideas. I would love to get to know you. In the comments below tell me about yourself. Or answer one of the questions from the list.  :-)

The Lesson
Students of color are often marginalized in schools.They are viewed as a homogeneous group and are often the targets of prejudice, stereotyping, and microaggressions. To counter this, teachers have to make an effort to validate their students of color. This post and free download help you do just that. Read the post to learn about why it's so important to validate our students of color, and get the download. It's available in three different levels to meet the needs of students K-8 in writing and drawing. Get to know your kids so you can validate their experience! 22 days of anti-racist resources for teachers.The Day You Begin is a beautiful book to encourage to students to share their own stories and to learn about others by listening to their stories. 

Don't have it at your school or in your library? Here's a video of the book being read aloud!

After you read the book aloud, you can begin sharing about yourself using the questions above. You can also use this free download to share about yourself! 

It includes three different levels so students can respond appropriately: a one-page graphic organizer for upper elementary students, a booklet with pictures and lines for writing, and a booklet with pictures only.

Fill out the details about yourself and share them with students. Then have students fill out their own information to share with you.


Getting to know your students meaningfully is the first step towards showing them that they are valued and empowered. 



Keep Learning!
ADDRESSING Framework

Students of color are often marginalized in schools.They are viewed as a homogeneous group and are often the targets of prejudice, stereotyping, and microaggressions. To counter this, teachers have to make an effort to validate their students of color. This post and free download help you do just that. Read the post to learn about why it's so important to validate our students of color, and get the download. It's available in three different levels to meet the needs of students K-8 in writing and drawing. Get to know your kids so you can validate their experience! 22 days of anti-racist resources for teachers.




Guest blogger Stephanie Reyna is an elementary school counselor in Texas.

*Details of personal stories have been altered for confidentiality purposes. 


Thursday, October 3, 2019

What happened in El Paso: 22 Days of Anti-Racist Teaching Resources

Having conversations about race and racism in the classroom is necessary. This post shares 22 different ideas and resources to help you teach anti-racism and get your students thinking about race, diversity, discrimination, pride in their cultures, and prejudice. Get started today and make the change happen through anti racist teaching!
If you read the title of this post and it made you uncomfortable, you're not alone.

Teachers have a lot of reasons for being uncomfortable with talking about racism.

But part of understanding anti-racism is about recognizing our discomfort and working through it.

I'm still learning, myself, and I am not an expert in any way.

But I felt that this had to be shared, so I am sharing it.

This is a long post, but it's an important one, so please, stick with me.
What happened in El Paso
Having conversations about race and racism in the classroom is necessary. This post shares 22 different ideas and resources to help you teach anti-racism and get your students thinking about race, diversity, discrimination, pride in their cultures, and prejudice. Get started today and make the change happen through anti racist teaching!
It's been two months since August 3; since the shooting in El Paso took place about 4 minutes from my home. As the details of the shooter came out on that terrifying day, we learned that it was racially motivated.

The shooter drove from Allen, Texas (10 hours away) to kill as many Mexicans as possible in the hopes of deterring immigration from countries to the south.

That's why he chose El Paso, a border city which, at any time, is full of people from both sides of the border. That's why he chose Wal-Mart, a busy store with a parking lot full of Texas, New Mexico, and Chihuahua license plates.

He actually entered the store first to scope it out and make sure there were enough Latinx people inside. He stopped and ate at McDonald's with a view of the front doors, watching the diverse people of my community walk in and out.

And then he went back out and armed himself, shooting people in their cars in the parking lot before he entered the store again. He killed 22 people (hence the 22 days of this anti-racist campaign) and injured 26 more.

My city is still reeling; billboards and t-shirts with the El Paso Strong motto are everywhere as we try to come together after this tragedy and remind each other of what we know about El Paso: immigration has made our city great.

Having conversations about race and racism in the classroom is necessary. This post shares 22 different ideas and resources to help you teach anti-racism and get your students thinking about race, diversity, discrimination, pride in their cultures, and prejudice. Get started today and make the change happen through anti racist teaching!

But that's not what this is about. This is about white supremacy and our educational system.

The shooter is only 21 years old. He graduated from a Texas school district a few years ago, which means he sat in our classrooms, learning about Texas and United States history; learning how to read, and think mathematically. He learned about how to communicate his ideas effectively and how conduct experiments.

But did he learn about racism? Think about your own classroom: What kinds of dialogue do you have about race with your students? This is not an attack. This is an honest opportunity to reflect.

Three reasons teachers are hesitant to talk about race: 
Having conversations about race and racism in the classroom is necessary. This post shares 22 different ideas and resources to help you teach anti-racism and get your students thinking about race, diversity, discrimination, pride in their cultures, and prejudice. Get started today and make the change happen through anti racist teaching!
1. They feel like acknowledging and talking about racism is "creating" racial tension. It's not. It's just pointing out what's true. Race exists. Kids see it in themselves and others and have ideas about what it means (studies show this). The way people react to race has consequences for all of us.

2. They're afraid to "say the wrong thing”.
 I totally get that. I'm not always sure what the right thing is, because  the more I know, the more I realize how many mistakes I've made. But we have to keep growing. We tell kids they have to practice to get better at something. Well, guess what! We have to believe that's true for ourselves, too. Inform yourself and you'll feel more comfortable having these conversations.

3. They're not sure how kids will react.
The best tip I can give you for this one is to start with literature. Read and observe. When kids make comments or react to racial issues being depicted in the book, don't shut down the conversation. If you've prepared yourself, you'll be able to guide the conversations to help kids grow. That's why every day for the next 22 days, teachers will be recommending anti-racist literature to use in your classrooms.

It's a common thing to hear, "I'm not a racist." But what does that actually mean?

Does it mean we don't say racial slurs? Does it mean we don't believe people should be judged based on their race? Does it mean we wish the world worked differently, and racism wasn't a problem we face on a daily basis?

Maybe it means all of those things.

But here's the problem with being non-racist: it stops at what we believe. It fails to make change in the world.

And that's the idea I want to talk about today. So even if you're uncomfortable, stick with me, because this is important and I believe we can do it.
Having conversations about race and racism in the classroom is necessary. This post shares 22 different ideas and resources to help you teach anti-racism and get your students thinking about race, diversity, discrimination, pride in their cultures, and prejudice. Get started today and make the change happen through anti racist teaching!

What does it mean to be anti-racist?

1. You acknowledge that race exists. Being "colorblind" is not real; it's actually really harmful to kids and perpetuates the idea that race doesn't impact life or society (which it does). You can read more about that here from Teaching Tolerance.
2. You do the reflecting you need to do to understand what you think about race and why.

3. You do something. This can look like acknowledging when you see racism in action, being an upstander instead of a bystander, and identifying places in your own life and work that reflect racist practices so you can change them.

Having conversations about race and racism in the classroom is necessary. This post shares 22 different ideas and resources to help you teach anti-racism and get your students thinking about race, diversity, discrimination, pride in their cultures, and prejudice. Get started today and make the change happen through anti racist teaching!


Three things to do next.
1. Click the link to this Google Doc and bookmark it. This calendar lists the 22 posts that will be
shared, starting today and running till October 25. Every day, a new link will be activated.

2. Continue to learn. Links are provided at the bottom of this post to get you started! I chose to share resources that have helped me push my thinking and are practical. Links will also be shared for the next 22 days.

3. Commit to addressing racism in the classroom. Don't be afraid; just be ready. The next 22 days will help you be prepared to have conversations about this topic.

So, in summary: It's time to talk racism, and we're going to help you do it.

Over the next 22 days, teacher-leaders are going to share lessons and resources that will help you teach anti-racism in your classrooms.

Every day, you can check out a different blog post that introduces a lesson and a book recommendation that you can use in your own classroom. There are even links to resources that will help you learn more so you can get started with confidence.

But here's the thing: the only one who can impact the children in your classroom is you. So today's the day. Start reading. Start learning. Start teaching. Because it's time to talk racism. And you're the only one who can do it.
It won't change unless we change it.


Keep Learning:

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Figuring out what PD teachers need (and want)

Planning professional development for teachers can be pretty overwhelming, especially if you don't even know what PD they need! This post gives you two easy-to-implement ideas that will help you figure out what topics your teachers want and need to learn about. Get started right away - there's even a free download!
One of the biggest questions I get is: How do I plan great PD?

Well, that's a pretty big question. Because planning PD is a pretty involved process. 

Moving from A: "I haven't figured out where to start" to Z: "My teachers are using the strategies we have learned" requires a lot and it can be overwhelming!

So the next few posts from the Buzzing with Ms. B blog are all about PD! 

You're going to read about how to plan a PD calendar, some great activities to help teachers work with content, and tips that save my life every time.

But the very first thing? How do you even know where to start?

If your administrator is the hands-off type (which can be great and can be not so great), you may have been tasked with planning PD for your campus without much direction.
But figuring out where to start planning shouldn't be overwhelming. Here are two easy ways you can identify areas your campus needs to grow in so you can plan some quality PD for those topics!
Method #1
Start with a survey.  
Ask teachers where they feel like they are doing well and where they feel like they need support.
If you get enough people asking for the same kinds of support, you can turn that into a PD topic!
For example, if most of your teachers say they're struggling with guided reading, BAM! Start from the beginning with guided reading.
If most teachers say they don't know how to build number sense, and you see that that's an important missing piece, there you go! Structure trainings around the topic of number sense!

Planning professional development for teachers can be pretty overwhelming, especially if you don't even know what PD they need! This post gives you two easy-to-implement ideas that will help you figure out what topics your teachers want and need to learn about. Get started right away - there's even a free download!
Method #2
Do a schoolwide classroom sweep.  
Visit every classroom and record your observations.
Planning professional development for teachers can be pretty overwhelming, especially if you don't even know what PD they need! This post gives you two easy-to-implement ideas that will help you figure out what topics your teachers want and need to learn about. Get started right away - there's even a free download! If your coaching is limited to a specific content area, visit classrooms while teachers are teaching that subject. You can even observe a lot from looking at the classroom environment, materials, and the walls. Take notes.
When you get back to your office or space, lay out your notes and see what patterns you notice.
For example, if you find that all of the anchor charts in the classroom are actually posters (they're prepared in advance, not with students), then build in modeling how to create an anchor chart to your next PD.
If teachers have interactive notebooks with nothing in them, create some PD around how to use interactive notebooks effectively.


These two methods will give you TONS of information about where your teachers are and where they should go next. Then, all you have to do is... all the work of planning. But don't worry - that's what my next post is all about!

Want to learn more?
Check out check out my IG Highlights @buzzingwithmsb for more PD tips!

Want to get that handy classroom sweep document? Get it AND other professional development tools in the free download! 



Saturday, September 7, 2019

So what's the deal with round-robin during guided reading?

Why don't we use round robin in guided reading anymore? There are a few reasons that teachers continue to use this practice, and a few reasons that we shouldn't. Read about what guided reading looks like without round robin, how to implement this best practice, and how to make it effective for all of your kids, whether they're in kindergarten or upper elementary! #guidedreading #bestpractice
Uh-oh. Am I totally opening a can of worms right now?
Round robin is a practice that is probably as American as apple pie. In case you haven't heard the term, round-robin means everyone has a copy of the text.

You choose students to take turns reading aloud. When one student finished reading aloud, maybe you stop him or her and have a teaching point or a conversation.

Then you move to the next student. Sometimes this happens during guided reading. Sometimes teachers use this as a whole-class reading strategy.

They may call on students randomly, move in a predictable pattern, or ask students to "popcorn read", where a student reads a piece, stops wherever they want, and then calls on the next student to read.

Here's the thing: research shows that round robin is not the most effective way to grow readers.

Here's why:

1. Only one student is doing the reading at any time, rather than all of your students.

2. Round-robin means that students are reading aloud, which some people like because they feel like it's good for fluency. The issue is that your students aren't the best model of fluency in the classroom. You are.

3. When one student is reading, the others might be "following along", but are they thinking, comprehending and reacting, or are they just desperately trying to keep track in case they're next? Or, if you move in a predictable pattern, they are probably counting out the paragraphs until they figure out which part is going to be theirs. Then they're practicing it in their heads, over and over. How do I know this? Because I used to do that.

4. Studies show that, when kids read in round-robin fashion, they are actually doing far less reading than by using other methods.

5. Studies also show that round-robin encourages a few bad habits: teachers interrupting to tell students what the word is when they're struggling, which results in students interrupting other students to tell them words they are having trouble with.

6. Round-robin puts teachers and students in a tough spot. Do you call on the struggling reader to read aloud? If you do, you're asking them to struggle in front of everyone, which is very hard on self-esteem. If you don't, the other kids notice that you don't, and decide that student is a "bad reader". That student does, too. (They probably already feel that way, but this confirms it.)

Am I telling you you're doing it all wrong? No! But when we learn something new, we should apply that to our teaching, right? So then what do we do instead of round-robin?

Why don't we use round robin in guided reading anymore? There are a few reasons that teachers continue to use this practice, and a few reasons that we shouldn't. Read about what guided reading looks like without round robin, how to implement this best practice, and how to make it effective for all of your kids, whether they're in kindergarten or upper elementary! #guidedreading #bestpractice

Here are some of the reasons people don't want to stop using round-robin.

1. They say kids like to read aloud.
Some do. There are appropriate times for that. At other points in the day, reading with a partner means half of your students are reading, not just one. You can differentiate texts that way, too. But guided reading isn't the place for it. And not all kids enjoy it.

2. They say kids like to help each other.
Some do. Working in teams gives them lots of opportunities to help each other. But guided reading isn't the place for it.

3. They don't know any other way to do it.
But there is a way!

Why don't we use round robin in guided reading anymore? There are a few reasons that teachers continue to use this practice, and a few reasons that we shouldn't. Read about what guided reading looks like without round robin, how to implement this best practice, and how to make it effective for all of your kids, whether they're in kindergarten or upper elementary! #guidedreading #bestpractice


Here's what you do:

1. You do your normal beginning-of-lesson things. You introduce the strategy you're going to work on (which is the point of guided reading - introducing a strategy and having students practice it with your guidance). You introduce the text and background knowledge, etc.

Why don't we use round robin in guided reading anymore? There are a few reasons that teachers continue to use this practice, and a few reasons that we shouldn't. Read about what guided reading looks like without round robin, how to implement this best practice, and how to make it effective for all of your kids, whether they're in kindergarten or upper elementary! #guidedreading #bestpractice2. You introduce their purpose for reading (I use a purpose question that will require them to respond using the strategy they're practicing. For example, if we're practicing inferences, they have to make an inference to answer the question.) If they're only reading a certain amount of pages, have them put a sticky note marked STOP on the page you want them to stop on.

3. You ask all students to start reading. You can start them at the same time in the upper grades, because they are able to read to themselves. For some groups, you can have them whisper read. Just teacher judgment, there. For primary grades, many students read aloud. If you're worried about students listening to each other, stagger start them so they start reading at different times. Start one, wait till they read a few sentences or so, start the next, wait, start the next. etc.

4. As students are reading to themselves, they're supposed to be applying their strategy somehow, whether it's decoding, comprehension, or fluency. Tap front of a student. This signals them to "turn up the volume" a little so you can "listen in" wherever they are. They don't go back to the beginning or the beginning of a paragraph or anything. They just turn up the volume. Pause them, and prompt them to apply the strategy. You may prompt them in decoding if you see there's an issue. Listen to them read again. Prompt again. Move on to a different student.

5. Listen in to each student at some point during the lesson, prompting and discussing. I take anecdotal notes in order to plan my next lesson(s).

Why don't we use round robin in guided reading anymore? There are a few reasons that teachers continue to use this practice, and a few reasons that we shouldn't. Read about what guided reading looks like without round robin, how to implement this best practice, and how to make it effective for all of your kids, whether they're in kindergarten or upper elementary! #guidedreading #bestpractice

6. As they finish reading the text (or the chunk of text), they answer the purpose question, and then go back and reread. They NEVER just sit there.

7. After everybody's "done", we have a discussion about their strategy use and the purpose question.

Then we're done, unless I prompt them to apply this strategy to their independent reading.
I know that was a lot of information, but I really hope it's helpful. Got questions? Let me know!

P.S.
For more on lesson planning, for guided reading, check out my post where I break it down!
Why don't we use round robin in guided reading anymore? There are a few reasons that teachers continue to use this practice, and a few reasons that we shouldn't. Read about what guided reading looks like without round robin, how to implement this best practice, and how to make it effective for all of your kids, whether they're in kindergarten or upper elementary! #guidedreading #bestpractice

 
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Saturday, August 10, 2019

Working with teachers (who don't want you around): The Instructional Coaching Series

Coaching teachers can be challenging when they aren't interested in having instructional support. This post provides ideas for instructional coaches when they're working with teachers, especially when the teachers aren't excited to have you around! Learn about how to build relationships, add value to the work teachers do, and how to get your foot in the door. We're here.
We've arrived. 

After sharing about coaching cycles, collaborative planning, and preparing for modeling & coteaching, it's finally the big day.
The day we talk about the elephant in the room.

How to work with teachers who don't want you around.

*GASP!* I know. I know. It's shocking.

"But I'm so nice!" Yeah, look how nice I am ------------------->
but there are still teachers who aren't that excited to see me.

"But who wouldn't want me around?" you ask.

Well, I'll tell you. There are almost definitely a couple people on your campus who aren't that excited to see you coming.

These could be the reasons why, but it also could be any other reason in the world:
  • They don't like you as a person (not likely; it's usually the other reasons).
  • They think you're going to tattle on them or gossip about them (don't do it).
  • They're overwhelmed with a million demands already. 
  • They've had really bad experiences with coaches in the past.
  • They don't know what you do or how you can make their teaching lives better or more purposeful.
  • They don't want to do the things you're proposing because it's hard or scary.
  • You stress them out because they think you're going to make them do stuff they don't want to do.
  • They don't want to change (It might not be nice to say it, but sometimes it happens).
  • They don't want to try anything different because it could mean more work (this also happens).
  • They think you're going to tell them what they're doing is "wrong". 
I know, you probably didn't even know half of that stuff was being pegged onto you. And every campus is different, to be sure, but on many campuses, this is the impression teachers have of coaches - sometimes because that's the kind of coach they worked with before.

In a previous post, I mentioned that, when you start coaching, you want to start with someone who would like to try new things. Don't start with the person who rolls her eyes every time you open your mouth.

BUT you can not stay in that happy place. If you are going to support kids on your campus, that's all kids, not just the ones in the classrooms where the teachers like you. Which means you have to take a deep breath and get in the game.

And you have to work with those teachers who don't want you around.

But how? HOW HOW HOW HOW?

Here are a few things to do before you even try to approach those teachers to support them in their classrooms.

#1 Introduce yourself and what you do.
Maybe you've been on campus for three years and it should be obvious. But guess what! It's not. The teachers who don't want you around might not know what support you can provide, so you may have to reintroduce yourself and your services. You can do this with a coaching menu like this one from my Coaching in Classrooms Kit, or with a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation like the one in my Coaching in Classrooms Kit.

Coaching teachers can be challenging when they aren't interested in having instructional support. This post provides ideas for instructional coaches when they're working with teachers, especially when the teachers aren't excited to have you around! Learn about how to build relationships, add value to the work teachers do, and how to get your foot in the door.
Get this Coaching Menu in the free download right below this post!

Another great way to show what you can do is to have teachers provide testimonials. Keep it simple. Ask them to share the kind of support you provided and what the outcome was.

#2 Maintain a positive attitude 
Nobody likes to work with a grouch. If you have a generally positive demeanor and a good personality, that will go a long way to getting people to open their doors to you.

#3 Demonstrate empathy
We show empathy by listening and feeling how the person feels. Think back to your time as a teacher. Say things like, "Oh, that's hard. I know what that's like. It made me feel like..." But don't make the conversation about you. Always offer support before the conversation ends. You might say something like, "Would you like to get together to work on that? I can meet with you on Friday and we can try to figure something out together."

#4 Demonstrate credibility
If you don't know anything, nobody is going to ask you to help them. That might sound harsh, but we've all worked with someone who isn't able to support us because they have limited knowledge or experience of teaching and learning. If your knowledge or experience is limited, don't give up. Instead, grow it. Read books. Watch videos. Attend trainings. And work in the classroom with teachers who are knowledgeable so you can benefit from their experience. We all have to keep learning.

#5 Use another classroom as a door to collaboration
If you're modeling a lesson or coteaching in a classroom, you can invite the teacher who isn't excited about support to come watch. This is a low-stakes way to get that teacher in the door that doesn't involve letting you into his or her classroom or being vulnerable in any way. Provide coverage for his or her class by scheduling a technology lesson or a library lesson. Provide the teacher with an observation guide so they can take notes about the lesson and you can have a debriefing conversation. Then segue into the support they would like.


#6 Focus on the goals that are important to them
Even complaints can be made into goals. "My kids can't add without using their fingers." is not a nice thing to say, but it might be true!

As a coach, you can take this statement and flip it into a coaching goal. Say, "So what I'm hearing is that you'd like your students to learn different strategies for addition." BAM! Now you've got a goal to work on together!

"I'm available on Tuesday at 3:00! I'd love to meet with you so we can figure out some next steps for working with your kids!

Coaching teachers can be challenging when they aren't interested in having instructional support. This post provides ideas for instructional coaches when they're working with teachers, especially when the teachers aren't excited to have you around! Learn about how to build relationships, add value to the work teachers do, and how to get your foot in the door.
Surveys are a great way to figure out what teachers would like to learn or try. 
You can get editable surveys in my Coach's PD Kit on TpT!

#7 Watch what you say and do
Everything you say and do is being used to judge you: your personality, your teaching ability, and how trustworthy you are. Teachers who don't want to work with you are sometimes looking for an excuse. And if they've had a bad experience before, they're looking for confirmation that you are the same. Don't give it to them. Do not say anything snotty, overtly pushy, or bossy. Be yourself, with a personality, but manage your emotions. It's a hard thing to do as a coach, but it's essential for building a relationship with teachers - especially the ones who don't want you around.

In addition to this, be on time and don't take a long lunch. Nobody likes it if you take advantage of your position.

#8 The most important thing to do: add value
Add value to things teachers do. Make relevant suggestions. Help them think through tough situations. Provide quality PD. Show that you care. Give them the tools they need. Help them figure out how to use the tools they have.

But, remember this: you are kind, you are supportive, but you are relentless. EVERY child deserves to learn. If there's a classroom that needs your support, don't stop until you've made it happen in a positive way.

This is the last post in the series! Click on these topics to read about conducting a coaching cycleplanning collaboratively with teachers, and preparing to model and coteach!

Other posts in the Summer Coaching Series: 
One lucky duck will win the Instructional Coaching Kit, an over $170 value!


Included in this kit (some of these are affiliate links: 


And four people will win the Digital Coaching Giveaway: the Instructional Coaching Resource Bundle and my all-new Coaching in Classrooms resource! Over $75.00 worth of products!

To enter this contest, follow the rafflecopter directions below to enter. Plus, you can add one new entry with each blog post that comes out in the Summer Coaching Series!

If you're really serious about winning, you can share a takeaway (bonus points) every single day between now and August 17, when the giveaway closes.




 
 
Coaching teachers doesn't have to feel like deep sea diving with no oxygen tank. Get my free download, Coaching in Classrooms:  A Free Download to help you get started.

  • Tips for getting started
  • Coaching services menu
  • Classroom sweep form
  • Coaching invitations (black and white)
  • Using the gradual release model to coach teachers
  • Coaching plan
  • Observation guide
  • Debriefing sentence starters
  • Thank you notes
You can get them all by entering your email address below!

 
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