Sunday, November 2, 2014

The LAST of my Reflective Teaching Posts-Becoming a Reflective Teacher -Part 6

Do you really WANT to be a good teacher, or a GREAT teacher?
     The best advice I have for you is to watch a great teacher. Watch them as they model for you the secrets of their success. Don't try to copy them, you can't. That is their style, but I know you like the way they transition from one activity to another seamlessly. Watch them , take notes and reflect on how that will look like in your classroom.
     Another strategy for you to try is "Coaching Colleagues". This is when two or three teachers get together and agree to  give each other HONEST feedback regarding their use of instructional strategies. Some call this peer coaching, Marzano quotes another researcher Robbins on page 77 which means "a confidential process through which two or more professionals work together to reflect on current practices; expand, refine, and build new skills; share ideas; teach one another; conduct classroom research; or solve problems in the workplace"  I know this sounds like it could get sticky, but you have to trust your peers, especially the ones you really look up to, the ones you want to be like when you 'grow up'.
      A great way to really see and reflect is the strategy of instructional rounds. This is not for the faint of heart. In this strategy your peer coaching team examines videos of other teachers and each other  and discusses the best practice strategies in each video. During instructional rounds you can also visit each other's classrooms to see your peers in action. After the visit, you then engage the group in a discussion, reflection and draw conclusions about your own best practices.Make sure the instructional rounds are not about evaluation, but rather focused practice on good teaching skills.

My hopes for this series were to help you focus on what you do best for yourself, your children and your school.

  • Are you being the best teacher you can be? If not, it's time to get uncomfortable and s t r e t c h
  • Do you have a model of effective teaching? Who is your mentor? 
  • Do you have good growth goals for your kids and yourself?  What kind of goals are you setting?
  • Do you engage in focus practice? What do you do better than anyone else?
  • Are you receiving and giving focused feedback? Do you ever see yourself?
  • Who is the last 'best' teacher you observed teaching? Time to look around you and get some ideas!
Reference:Marzano, R. (2012). Becoming a reflective teacher. Bloomington, IN: Marzano Research Laboratory.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Focused Feedback...Becoming a Reflective Teacher Part 5

    We need Feedback to focus our practice, we need REAL feedback!

    How do we get good, real feedback?

    You can video yourself, take a student survey, and use your students' achievement data.

Reflection is the key here...use a log and write down what you see in your video, ask a trusted friend to watch it too. Watching it with someone who can give you honest feedback will give you specific elements of your performance that you will need to focus on.

When you ask the kids to help expect some REAL answers. I use Exit Slips (Exit Tickets). I found a great one for math, but I tweak it to fit anything really.

Using achievement data can give you some insightful feedback too. It can show you where you need to re-teach. Ask yourself questions as you are digging through the data; What concept was most missed on the test? Am I tracking their data? If so, what are you tracking? Grades? Growth? Did my teaching help them achieve?

Receiving Focused Feedback is the key to great teaching...are you getting the right feedback? Or are you listening to what you WANT to hear? Remember anyone giving you feedback, good or bad can only make you stronger!


Marzano, R. (2012). Becoming a reflective teacher. Bloomington, IN: Marzano Research Laboratory.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Becoming a Reflective Teacher -Part 4

It's time to get will this revolutionize student achievement?
How will Reflecting on your teaching affect your student's growth? Let's explore....

If you go back and look through the element list you will find many items are linked directly to you and your students, such as "What will I do to establish and maintain effective relationships with students?" To answer this question you will have to be honest and extremely self-aware. Once you answer this question then you must set  some guidelines for yourself...I will focus on students who seem disenfranchised in my class and those with whom I don't have a good rapport yet... When a student does something well, I will compliment them...I will find out information about my students and use that knowledge in my interactions with them...(Marzano, 2012)
These type of rules will help you stay focused, which in turn will help your children stay in the game and want to achieve for you!
Does your class KNOW exactly what you want from them? Post examples (concrete and specific), this will help JUSTIFY their learning.
Are they writing and reflecting about  themselves? If not Blair Turner has some GREAT reflecting tools that will help your students reflect about their leaning through writing, which could lead to better grammar and mechanics in their daily writing.
Reflection not only helps you synthesize and analyze your teaching, but also does the same for your students learning. Can you imagine your class operating on the synthesis level all day long? Your goals will be met in no time!(So will theirs.)
The most important part of student reflection is that teachers give specific FEEDBACK...during conferring time, when you comment to them and when ever you are celebrating success.
Next time we meet, let's talk about all that prepared!

Marzano, R. (2012). Becoming a reflective teacher. Bloomington, IN: Marzano Research Laboratory.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Becoming a Reflective Teacher-Part 3

Why do we use REFLECTIVE teaching?
We NEED to REFLECT on our teaching so we can become better at our craft AND improve student achievement gains!!!
Let's begin by conducting a self-assessment. You need to rate yourself, if you are familiar with Robert Marzano's scales from your teacher evaluations then this is already a part of you!
 You must give yourself either a 4, 3, 2 or 1 ( I don't do 0 because if you are operating at a 0 you need to seriously think about another career choice, sorry to be so blunt but the children need teachers, not people who are not in it to win it!)
A 4 looks like this...
The teacher adapts or CREATES a new version of the strategy or behavior for UNIQUE student needs and situations.
A 3 looks like...
The teacher uses the strategy or behavior and monitors the extent to which it affects student outcomes.
A 2...
the teacher uses the strategy or behavior but does so in a somewhat mechanistic way.
A 1...
The teacher uses the strategy or behavior incorrectly or with parts missing.

Now that you know how to rate yourself, here is your test:
(Think about what, and how you do for each question...)

1. Do you typically provide clear learning goals and scales (rubrics)?
2. How do you track student progress?
3. What do you do to celebrate success?
4. How do I do to establish and maintain classroom rules and procedures?
5. What do I typically do to organize the physical layout of the classroom?

There are 41 questions that match up to the nine design questions. We just explored the Lesson Segments Involving Routine Events. If you would like to view the rest of the questions visit the Marzano Center.

After you have reflected and evaluated yourself, make yourself some GOALS!!!!

I recommend you choose three elements that you are struggling MOST with. Your goals should be attainable, but not too easy nor lofty. Your goals should be clear, such as "By the end of the year, I will raise my score on celebrating success from 1 to 3." (I hope you have that competitive edge, like I do...for me it would have read from 2 to 4.)
In order to be successful you MUST have a MODEL OF EFFECTIVE TEACHING! Find a mentor, be a mentor, READ and RESEARCH best practices, visit other classrooms and take notes. Look up videos on Teacher Tube or YouTube, read awesome teacher blogs...FIND YOUR PERSON! Accept feedback, focused feedback is the best!
I will be back soon with the next installment.


Marzano, R. (2012). Becoming a reflective teacher.Bloomington, IN: Marzano Research Laboratory.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Becoming a Reflective Teacher Part 2

Last post we discussed your why. Why are you teaching, what is the motivation for you to continue being the best teacher ever?
 Your personal why.

 In today's post I want to discuss why should we use reflective teaching as a strategy to be a better teacher.  My question for you today is WHAT is Reflective Teaching?
What do you think it is? (Go ahead and think out loud if you must , or write it down on a Post-It note.)
To answer the what is it question, let's dive into the research behind it. Did you know that there is a relationship between your students' achievement, your skill level and using  reflective practice?
It's true, reflective practice has been around a while, in fact Buddha, Socrates, and Plato all encouraged their students to examine their lives. Moving forward in 1983 Donald Schon wrote a book called The Reflective Practitioner , where he applied the concept of reflection to various professions to show that not only do researchers generate professional knowledge, but practitioners such as doctors, TEACHERS, architects, and engineers do as well. He goes on to say that "competent practitioners usually know more than they can say"and calls this "knowing-in-action". (Marzano, 2012) I want you to be one of those teachers, you know who they are, they make teaching look so easy because they are "knowing-in-action". They have it all together, they can answer all your questions and their classroom runs like a dream. If they can do it so can you!
What do you need to do to become a Reflective Teacher? I am glad you asked, let's start small and easy:
Journaling: This is the best way to start individual reflecting. I realized that I have been doing this since I was in 8th grade. I have kept a journal since 1980-something, and it does really help you look back and learn from your mistakes!

Can you do that? Yes? try this...

Reflect with a co-worker: Are you cooperatively planning? Do you have a 'person' at school that you can share your great works as well as your blunders? Find one, you can't do this alone, find a good mentor, a good friend that will tell you the truth and will be a good listener and encourager.

It is easier to reflect with a buddy, it does get a little trickier for the next two, but if you are a go-getter a self starter, then maybe you can be the voice of change where you are.

Reflect with your team: Your grade level team can be a good source of data feedback. Do you have a PLC or an Action research study group? If not START one!

Next one, you might have to talk to your principal. any principal wanting better teachers will totally agree with you!

School-wide Reflection: Committees that focus on specific content area are all the rage this year, get involved!
Stay tuned for the next post on Becoming a Reflective Teacher when we discuss HOW to be a Reflective Teacher!


Marzano, R. (2012). Becoming a reflective teacher. Bloomington, IN: Marzano Research Laboratory.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Becoming a Reflective Teacher-Part One

Welcome back to school!
I am ready! Are you?
Let me start with what has been in my brain all summer long. I was asked to be a part of our school's Professional Development team, along side some really wonderful, smart , knowledgeable educators. Needless to say I was honored.
My group is responsible for  Reflective Teaching Practices. I am so excited about this, because my ultimate goal in teaching is to help other teachers become the BEST teacher they can be. (Sounds like an old Army commercial, I know but it is true!)
So let's start out with the basics. WHY?
Why should we as teachers reflect upon our teaching skills? Many of you say, because it will make me a better teacher, or so I know not to do that lesson again or even who has time to sit and think at the end of the day, please! Today I am going to take you through the WHY process and help you see that once you know why you are doing it, (and believe me YOU are doing it, even if you don't call it reflecting) you will actually realize that your WHY is your driving force. By becoming a Reflective Teacher you will improve your students' achievements, improve your evaluations with your administrator and realize the potential within you to be the BEST!
Why did you become a teacher? We all know it wasn't for the paid vacations, or for that awesome benefits package, and the pay is unreal, (Do you see my eyes rolling?) let's cut to the chase, you are a teacher because you love children, you want to make a difference, you have a PASSION for it, am I right?
Why do you teach the things you teach? Is it the same reason? Or is it because the proverbial "THEY" tells you what to teach?
Take time today and write down your WHY. I believe once you figure that out, then Reflecting will become easier.
I am planning on making this a series of posts on how to become a Reflective Teacher. I am using the book
Becoming a Reflective Teacher by Robert Marzano.
I hope you stick around for a few weeks and discover how to become a better teacher, validating what you are doing right and growing into the BEST teacher you can be!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Year End Clearance (Help, please)

     Well HELLO there...I know , I know! It's been quite a L O N G time...I have been busy.
~ You know how Bees are!

     I have been steadily working on my Master's in Literacy Education since last summer. I will finish up at the end of October. I have also been consumed with the CCSS transition and less than 48 hours ago was told that I will be going to 3rd grade...3RD GRADE! I am petrified! The good news is I get to keep my fabulous Sweet Bees from this year! (Well not ALL of them, some are moving on to different places, or have a different teacher in mind)

     In today's blog I just want to catch up with you, let you know what we have been doing in our hive, and in my life....

I was chosen to represent my school as teacher of the year....

We held a Booster-Thon for the first time at our school...that was a lot of fun!

 Our class got to visit SeaWorld

I bought a house...

Went on a Spring Break cruise

We had a great time with Body systems....

We finished the year with every Bee achieving over 20 AR points...the top bee had 150 points and most had over 50 points, needless to say the ice cream party was a HIT!

And we had a special visitor from Missouri show up... a PEN PAL decided since his school was out, he'd come down for a visit, it was an exciting day!

All in all the school year was GREAT! I am proud of my Sweet Bees and we will continue to 'bee' the best next year...however I have never taught 3rd grade..any suggestions? I've been blog hopping...

Sunday, February 16, 2014

I Scream, You Scream, We all Scream for ICE CREAM!

I am a lucky girl! For my birthday my Sweet Bees found me some really cute BEE items!

But that is not what this post is about, it is really about AR (Accelerated Reader). I just wanted to show off that cute bee on my shelf! Oh and since I am showing off....
Yes, that IS the Chik-fil-a cow riding a BEE! Each month our school hosts a spirit night at the local CFA, we have won it EVERY month so far this year! Each month our class gets to keep the cow as a reminder we have SPIRIT!

......and now back to A.R!

     The children at our school are encouraged to READ, and part of that encouragement we have bought into the A.R program. The kids read and take a 5 to 10 comprehension question test based on the book. they receive points for answering correctly. Our school has a point reward system too. They give out "dog tags" for 2, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 35, 50, 75 and 100 points. The children wear these tags around on a chain as a badge of pride. To many, it is fun, but for some they just don't get the "dog tags" or they just don't like the idea of more tests. For this issue, my AWESOME TN (teacher neighbor) and I decided to give AR parties to reward kids for their points too. But alas another problem,  not many kids were attending these parties, (Dance parties, doughnut parties...) getting points wasn't a great motivator TN found yet another GREAT idea on TpT...and here it is....
We both figured out that it really isn't fun to be left out, so instead EVERYONE can come to the AR party, but you come with different levels of fun! You have to earn your way to more fun. So you still get your point "dog tag" AND for 2 points you can come to the ICE CREAM party with a spoon, 5 points you get a bowl, 10 points ONE scoop of ice cream, 15 points = TWO get the idea, the more points the more ice cream toppings, and FUN!
     This little change to the system has changed the reading in our room, during the Daily 5 more kids are choosing read to self....
I even had to invent a job, the hostess/host of AR, here they take your number and call your name when a computer is available for you to take your test!

 Reading is at an all time high right now, and my Sweet Bees are achieving their Reading Goals! As of yesterday every child in my class is coming to the next AR party with at least ONE scoop of ice cream! Can't wait to have the party...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Variety with Verbs.

Trying to find hands-on materials for teaching  Reading, English Language Arts is so much easier today than it was ten years ago. I found this wonderful FREEBIE while perusing Teachers pay Teachers looking for activities for Verbs.

 I had the kids first highlight the verbs, this way they could make sure there was one in each sentence. They had the choice to make four sentences, they could invent their own, by mixing up the order on the cut out sheet, or  try to figure out the exact ones from the cut out sheet. (I didn't realize that there was a 'right' way until one of my kids pointed it out to me.)
 My kids really enjoyed manipulating these sentences,so much so that some of them didn't want to  glue them down so they could rearrange them once again at home.

 I showed them the sentences that I came up with, a few had the same ones.
 I am the luckiest teacher, here you can see my fabulous parent volunteer, helping out, making sure kids have the right tools and are on task!
Here you can see some different sentences!
 I really enjoy finding little treasures on TpT! I am glad I am working in a time when teachers are encouraged and are willing to share their passion of teaching with others, THANK YOU fellow teacher friends! You all make me look so good in the classroom!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

How do you do Specials?

In my school there are MANY extra "Enrichment" classes. Our children participate in Music (Glee style) Instruments, this is where they learn to read music, Art, yes a real ART teacher is included, Science, it is so nice to have extra reinforcement, Spanish, it is fun to have a  Spanish speaking teacher on board, Computer class where they learn how to operate Office and other programs, we also have Media, aka Library and PE (everyone's favorite)!

In Science they practice using the Scientific Method, here they had to compare popcorn before and after it is popped.
In Art they use different mediums, such as clay.

It has been a long time since I blogged, so sorry about that. I have been super busy with my Master's Degree, only five more classes left until I receive my M of Ed.  I promise I will post soon, as for now this is just a quick peek into the fun "Specials" we have at our school!