Tomorrow, my son is graduating from college. I’m very proud of him and all of his accomplishments and will be cheering him on as he accepts his diploma. However, he isn’t the only young man I’ll be cheering on tomorrow. You see, one of my son’s best friends will also be walking across the stage to accept his own diploma. A friend with autism.
I’ll call him Ted (not his real name). When I saw Ted for the first time, I could tell something was a little different about him. He was performing on stage in a band in which my son was also a musician. Ted looked different. A little disheveled, it was almost as if he were all alone, playing the bass guitar and losing himself in the music.
Later that year, I heard my son begin to talk about Ted and how some people and at least one adult leader at the university were not begin fair to Ted. I guess you could say Ted was being singled out as being different.
Ted didn’t make it known that he was on the autism spectrum. Why should he? He was a college student like everyone else and he was determined to get his diploma and tomorrow, he will!
College hasn’t been easy for Ted. Social interactions were tough. Friends (good friends) have been few. However, through sheer determination, Ted will walk across that stage tomorrow and accept his diploma!
Why am I sharing this with you? It is because I want to share a story of hope.
Not every child with autism will be able to go to college and achieve what Ted has achieved. However, if you have a son or daughter that has been diagnosed somewhere on the spectrum, don’t ever stop dreaming. They may just achieve more than you can ever imagine.
There are two KEYS that I have discovered to being a successful teacher. Thus far in this series, I’ve covered the first 2 steps needed in the first key….
In this article, I will outline the third and final step of creating a positive learning environment: Manage Instructional Time
Just so there are no misunderstandings, for the purpose of this article, instructional time is anytime during the day that a teacher is participating (actively or passively) in student learning. Whether you are presenting a lesson or observing as students work on assignments, this is instructional time because you are in charge of managing the time students are learning.
There are only so many hours of each day for instructional time, so you must maximize (i.e. manage well) the time you have. So how do you do this?
- Be Prepared.
- Create good lesson plans that detail exactly what will be covered in each subject and what materials you need.
- Review the plans you have made and prepare all materials that you will need (for both yourself and your students).
- Create a daily list of everything the students are to accomplish where they can easily refer to it. This can be typed and printed as a handout or written on a whiteboard/chalkboard. This list should include what will be covered for the day in each subject plus any and all homework assignments.
- Organize the Physical Learning Environment.
- Have your learning area(s) designed to maximize instruction and involvement. If students will need access to specific items or will be participating in cooperative learning, be sure to have the classroom arranged appropriately. If students will need to access additional learning materials, have them in an established place.
- Have learning stations ready and learning tools labeled.
- Develop Routines and Procedures for transitions.
- Transitions can be a time monster, so set up routines and procedures that students learn and are expected to occur during these transitions with little to no prompting from you.
- If you have created the daily list of everything to be accomplished by students each day (as I list under ‘Be Prepared’) and set this up as a routine, students who finish early will have the ability to prepare for or even move on to the next assignment or begin homework.
Managing instructional time is all about controlling everything that you can control. There will be interruptions. There will be things that happen that are unexpected. However, with preparation, organization and developed routines and procedures, you will maximize the actual time you spend teaching and the time students spend learning.
In my next article, “Keys to Successful Teaching: Part 4”, I will be revealing the 2nd Key to becoming a successful teacher!
I’ve created a download to help you manage your instructional time – Free Organization & Planning Tools! To get yours, simply complete the form below…
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Here is a ‘Flash Freebie’ for my Readers!
Would you like to receive notification of future ‘Flash Freebies’? If so, be sure to subscribe to my blog and you’ll get an email when I post new articles AND Flash Freebies! Just look for the following section in the right column!
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Here are the type of bundles:
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In part 1 of this series, I began to identify ‘Keys to Successful Teaching’.
The first key: Create a positive learning environment.
The first step: Become a purposeful role-model.
In this article, I will outline the second step: Having High Expectations
Having high expectations (both academic and behavioral) is key to setting your students up to succeed.
A teacher’s expectations, either high or low expectations, become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Students perform in ways that teachers expect. (source)
Research shows that having high expectations for academic achievement is very important. Even students with learning challenges need to be challenged and deserve a teacher that believes that they can and will succeed.
Where do high expectations begin? They begin with you, the teacher. Have high expectations for yourself:
- Be prepared and organized every day.
- Take the time to know each student’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Provide challenging, thought provoking lessons based on the level(s) of your students.
- Be flexible in your teaching style.
- Provide additional teaching when students require it.
- Give fair and specific feedback consistently, more than just ‘good job.’
- Maintain a positive attitude toward students and their abilities.
Once you have set the expectations for yourself. It is time to set them for your students. What will you expect from them? Do you expect them to come to class ready to learn? Do you expect them to be accountable? Will you accept excuses or half answers, or will you expect them to participate fully and up to a level that they will need to ‘work’ to learn?
Again, I’m going to emphasis that high expectations begin with you. You must be prepared to be consistent in the high level of support that you need and should give. It can be much easier to ‘let things slide’ but don’t let that happen. Your students can and will achieve great things when you are their cheerleader.
If you are up to the tasks listed above, you are ready to have high expectations for your students. Create them and then communicate them. How do you do this?
- Post your expectations where they can be see daily. One suggestion in doing this is placing posters with inspirational quotes throughout the learning space. Here are a few examples:
- “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” ~ Thomas Edison
- “If we did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.” ~ Thomas Edison
- “Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.” ~ Eddie Rickenbacker
- Have students sign an ‘achievement contract’. If you have never seen a student achievement contract and are unsure how to compose one, I have a FREE download for you! (Get your copy at the end of this article.)
- Keep a dialogue open with your students about your expectations. If you teach in a classroom or co-op, you can opt to dialogue through journaling back and forth with each student. If you are a homeschooling parent, set time aside specifically to talk about expectations.
- Using expanded questioning techniques with students throughout the learning process will let students know that you believe in their academic abilities. Here are some examples:
- ” Show me more.”
- ” What do you plan to do next?”
- ” That looks like it took a lot of effort. How did you figure that out?”
- ” Tell me what you think the next step in the process should be. Why?”
- Expect students to revise their work when you know they haven’t worked up to their ability. In doing this, make sure to provide additional assistance as needed so that they can achieve the objectives you have set for them.
I’m not going cover behavioral expectations in depth in this article. However, the same facts hold true here as well…
- You must exemplify high behavioral standards for yourself in the classroom.
- You must set specific behavioral expectations for students.
- You must communicate clearly what is expected.
Doing these things WILL help you develop and maintain a positive learning environment for your students.
Get your FREE
‘Parts of the Student Achievement Contract’…
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Becoming a successful teacher isn’t easy for everyone. Let’s face it, some people just seem to have been ‘born to teach‘ while others of us must work at it. Why is that? Why do some teachers seem to be better at educating their students while others struggle?
What are the keys to successful teaching?
Successful teachers seem to possess certain characteristics that others do not. So what are these characteristics?
I’ve done a great deal of research to find the answer to this question. After reviewing my findings plus using my own 20+ years of personal experience (both in the public school classroom as well as years of being a homeschooling mom and mentor), I’ve compiled a list of what I call ‘Keys to Successful Teaching.”
KEY #1: A successful teacher will create a positive learning environment
Every learning environment is different and made up of a variety of aspects and although you may not be in control of every little (or big) aspect, there are those you DO have control over. In this post, I will be writing about….
“The younger a student is, the more adaptable their thought processes and habits are in response to positive role models. A role model can be anyone that someone looks up to and wishes to be like – and that bond can develop at any age. ” (source)
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do I role model enthusiasm and optimism?
– How do I display enthusiasm for life in the classroom?
– Which subject(s) am I most enthusiastic about when teaching? How do I demonstrate my enthusiasm about the subjects(s)?
– Which subject(s) am I least enthusiastic about when teaching? How can I change this?
– Do I display my enjoyment of teaching? If so, how?
- Do I role model kindness and respect in the classroom?
– How do I react when I’m frustrated with a student?
– Do I listen to my students?
– Do I use kind and encouraging words?
- Do I try to ‘catch’ students in acts for which I can affirm in the moment?
– Do I immediately affirm appropriate behavior, leadership, acts of kindness?
- Do I role model a love of learning?
– How do I show my students that I still love to learn?
– Do they see me taking steps to increase my knowledge?
– What can I do to ensure they see me wanting to learn new things?
- Do I allow myself to be vulnerable in front of my students?
– Have you ever shared a time that you failed at something or made a mistake and you were vulnerable enough to talk about it within the learning environment of the classroom? If so, did you also talk about the positive steps you took as a result?
- Do I role model problem solving in front of my students?
– Do you practice the process of ‘thinking-out-loud’ about a problem in the classroom? Analyzing a situation or problem, thinking about the pros and cons of different strategies to use, working through a chosen strategy to come to a resolution or answer?
- Do I display a positive self-image?
– Do I demonstrate self-confidence within the classroom? If so, how?
– Do I have areas of my self-image that need improving ? What are they and how can I go about doing so?
Whether you teach in a classroom, in a co-op or are a homeschooling parent, remember that YOU are an important role model in the life of each of your students. Purposeful role modeling is vital to creating a positive learning environment.
I have created a ‘Purposeful Role-Modeling’ Worksheet to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses in this area. If you’d like a FREE COPY, please complete the below form…
In my next post “Keys to Successful Teaching –
Creating a Positive Learning Environment, Part 2 “, I will share why and how you should create and communicate high expectations.
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These are pages from a much larger resource (69 student coloring pages in all) that is available on both CHSH-Teach and TPT.
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