EDUinspirations

Academic and behavior therapy business that strives to provide superior programming and therapy to enhance the lives of clients. By providing and family and client centered approach that utilizes scientifically researched and backed methodology.

Contact: eduinspirations@gmail.com for more information or to arrange an appointment. (Texas, USA)

Education with Diverse Understanding

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Reflection: How my students made me a better teacher

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I have spent time reflecting on what techniques, tips, and methods I use to help my students, however, I have not taken the time to share what my students have taught me. My students have helped me grow, encouraged me, and made me a better teacher. Here’s how my student’s made me successful.

 

 

1. Being myself: This may seem like a simple notion, but it was difficult for me. I was very shy when I was young and at times still experience that shyness. During observations and having guests in my classroom, I would freeze, become nervous, worrying what everyone was thinking. It was a night and day difference after my students taught me to be myself.  Over time I became confident and forgot about who was in my room. I was focusing on my students, their learning, and creating meaningful experiences for them.  Becoming animated, excited, and free to express my passion for learning.

2. Taking risks: As a new teacher I am always concerned about meeting the needs of all my students, being able to meet every goal, learning objective, and the delivery of powerful lessons can become over whelming, I felt making a mistake was not an option.  My mindset began to change after one of my students came up to me, gave me a hug, and said, “It is okay Mrs. Kim.” From that day, using my own mistakes and failures became a natural part of student’s learning, including them in brain storming solutions and ways to respond. My teaching was better because of it, my observation scores were higher, and students were helping one another work through problems.

3. Change: It was frightening. In almost three years of teaching, I have had my share of experiences that made me confront change. Making instant decisions, changes, and developing communication skills became essential. My students taught me it is apart of every day and there will be bumps along the way; expect it, embrace it, it is uncomfortable, and use it to learn.

With my student’s help I was able to break out of my box.  Now I’m free to learn and travel any path.. the possibilities are endless for my students and myself. How will your student’s inspired you?

Classroom Management: Making it fun

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“Catch a bubble,” is one of the most common phrases heard in the halls of any elementary school. One of many phrases used in classroom management. I learned that classroom management is very specific to the class and changes each year. However, I have found some that seem to stick year-after-year. Here are the tried and true management strategies all students loved.

1. Assign Roles: I found students enjoy taking ownership of roles within the classroom. Their roles change and rotate daily or weekly depending on the preference of my students. We have jobs such as lunch room crew, classroom crew, electrician, line leader, caboose, etc. Students feel a responsibility to help maintain their classroom and school environment.

2. Number cues: In front of my classroom door I have a number line that is evenly spaced to help students understand personal boundaries. They line up by numbers and it changes every time we go somewhere outside of the classroom. Students learn a predictable pattern as well as change. They understand the numbers will not change but their order will. Learning to cope with changes is a valuable skill that all students need.

3. Visual cues: There are clouds posted on the desks and floor space of the classroom. This gives students a holding place when standing in line waiting to wash their hands or directs them to a specific place in the classroom. Words or letters are written on them to give a direction or hold a space. Students learn to recognize words, letters, and numbers as well as understanding spatial organization.

4. Sandwich hands: Another way to ask students to keep their hands to themselves.  They clasp their hands and easily walk through any place in the school with their personal space in tact. To make it fun, I ask each student what kind of sandwich they have. It is a fun and easy way to help students become more creative and increase their social interactions with peers and adults. If I forget, I am kindly reminded, we never leave the classroom without them.

I found that classroom management could be fun with a little touch of creativity and student input. Students value the time and effort placed into a safe and secure learning environment. What have your students taught you?

Building Independent Students.

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Education in classrooms is changing.  Educating the whole child has become more of an art. A student’s ability to think, interact socially, and act independently have become secondary skills due to high-stakes testing.  I use 5 strategies for building independence.

1. Predictable Scheduling: I have schedules posted at the “hot spots” of my room, where students can easily see what will happen throughout the day and when. Having a predictable schedule allows students to go from place to place themselves.

2. Timers: Every minute of our day counts. We utilize every minute by setting a timer.   Allowing students to know when they will begin an activity, how long an activity will be or  how long a lesson will last, and when it is time to transition to the next activity. Students who need stability and a secure environment depend on routine.  By using a timer, all students feel safe and secure.

3. Student Access: I make my classroom accessible to my students.  All materials are within student reach. They help transition activities, keep organization in the classroom, gather materials, and help themselves to what they need during the day. I do this by clearly labeling all items we use during the day,  teaching students how to use them, and creating a management system that students learn. Students develop the ability to make many choices consistently throughout the day.

4. Choice: It is essential for students to have choices throughout the day. I have my students make many choices about how they will learn, interact, and transition within their school day. I do this by giving choices which are a means to complete a task, activity, or transition. It is up to the student to make the choice.  Once students are comfortable with making choices, the process becomes more open ended and student led.

5. Language: I use specific language to communicate to students. Taking out all “fluff” words, leaves clear actionable vocabulary that students understand. I deliver the message clearly, so students understand their choice is important. I teach students how to ask questions, phrase statements, and how to state their opinions. Students are then able to transfer what they learn across all settings with confidence.

I found that using these strategies help students become confident and successful. It is an on-going process, so let’s get going!

Making My Weekend Matter:

imagesAfter a long work week I find myself longing to do nothing. However, when presented with that opportunity I rarely do nothing. Instead, I obsessively seek to get the most of my weekend.

How do I do this? Well, I do a little of nothing, a little of something, and then plan for the week ahead. The result? I start each week with a fresh perspective and renewed energy to tackle the challenges that await me.

My little of nothing…consists of my favorite hobbies, a time set aside to let my thoughts drift. If I am running outside, I would notice the trees, the birds, and the slight breeze, if there was one. Allowing my mind to unwind and drift, making room for tasks later that require concentration and focus.

My little of something..or rather tasks that I save to do on the weekend. This would be running errands, organizing, or ordering things in my daily life that seem too distracting during the work week.

My least favorite part…the many hours spent creating lesson plans, newsletters, answering e-mails, and all essential items for the next week. To stay focused I always plan one day to complete everything. Allowing a whole day gives me time take mini-breaks to flow in and out of work. In doing this, I found I am more productive and tend to finish work early.

Putting it all together…even in the digital age, I find a paper calendar still a vital part of maintaining my sanity during the school year. It serves as a place to put all my “to-do” lists, meetings, appointments, and any other engagements. I cross out each day every night, helping me refocus for the next day, and at the end of the month start again.

Here is how my calendar takes shape:

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1. I plan time for my hobbies.
2. Saturdays are my 50/50 days. Half fun/half errands.
3. Sunday: School preparation day.
4. Put any and all work related events on my calendar.
5. Create goals: Put them on my calendar to energize each month.
6. Follow through.

 I ease my obsession by organizing,  putting it all onto a calendar.
Finally, able to relax and do nothing for at least a couple hours.


Turning off-task behaviors into learning

 

 

Today’s learning environment is rigorous, and challenging. There is no better example then when ideas happen on the spot, during a lesson.  Here’s what happened to me during a lesson and what I learned.

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Last week my lesson hit a speed bump while teaching math, students became stumped on a new concept and frustrated.   The many confused looks and varying answers told me I had to look beyond text-bo0k solutions. I did this by looking at my students for inspiration.  By turning an off task behavior into a learning tool, an immediate solution was created.

Using what is immediately available: From the corner of my eye, a student was hovering above and out of their seat, and after the third time of prompting that student to sit, I made the chair part of the lesson. Tens Chairs was created. The game was simple, pick a number 0-100, once a number was picked stand/sit until that number is counted out by tens. While in motion of counting keep track on your hands.  All off task behavior was eliminated and at last, so was their confusion.

Using student habits: Incorporate off task behaviors by reusing them as on-task behaviors. If a student is always fidgeting with something, incorporate movement, if a student feels the burning desire to talk, add in debate, and if a student has a yearning to write their thoughts, give them a white board and marker.

Creating reliable solutions:  Student’s are the most reliable tool. As we move in and out of every day in a similar routine, so do they. By focusing on their habits and needs, on-the-spot solutions are visible.  By incorporating the unconscious habits of my students into their learning, improvements were immediate.  The afternoon slump disappeared as each student came bounding into my room with excitement.

Sometimes answers present themselves, I look to my students for inspiration and solutions.

 

 

Story Telling:

WebPanel_StorytellingAll great moments in life and history tell a story. The same can be said by using storytelling to make learning come to life. Storytelling knows no boundaries and carries across to all learners. In many cases igniting a passion for learning is an essential part of the learning process.

Stories teach lessons, morals, courage, determination, and many other skills that create powerful connections and life long learners. Here are five ways to add storytelling to your daily practice.

 

5 Ways to add Storytelling:

From Story to Success1. Become a character: Becoming characters from stories, influential people, or different versions of yourself to reflect what is being learned is a powerful tool. Helping to enhance engagement and excitement for learning. Students are led to wonder and create questions about what the character is doing, saying, and asking of them. Thus, generating an open dialogue for students to enhance their learning and expectations for their learning.

2. Morning Message: Starting each morning with a short story, whether it contains social/emotional OR an digital-cloudacademic message, is a powerful way to start the day. Immediately students are engaged and invested in the learning for the day. They are essentially “hooked” in to their learning and the journey  you are about to take them on. When interest is built, learning is bound to happen.

3. Introducing topics: Hook students by telling a story that helps introduce a new topic. It is a great way to build up a topic and to help students start generating questions on their own. Storytelling automatically gets students to think of questions without the frustration of having to create questions on the spot. This is a great way for ALL students to contribute to their learning and develop leadership.

RcA6EL5cL4. Student Story time: Students enjoy being the “experts,” take advantage of this by allowing students to tell stories. I teach students how, by demonstrating and then giving them time to tell stories, with the other students coaching them and helping them to remember to incorporate details: 1). a beginning, middle, end, 2). using voice inflections, and 3). details to make the story exciting.

5. Daily Reflection:  No matter the age, all students enjoy reflecting and talking about what is happening around them. I have time set aside (3-5 minutes for daily reflection) in the beginning, middle, and end of the day. This not only builds social/emotional skills but acts as a way to check the climate of your students; helping to make quick and easy adjustments to instruction. No guessing required, students will tell you what they need. All you have to do is ask and give them some time to tell you.

imagesIgnite your school year…what stories will you tell?
Comment and share ===> #Storytelling @kimmindy7

 

Managing Stress

Each year starts the same, the buildup of enthusiasm, excitement, and to-do lists that seem never ending. As the school year goes on enthusiasm and excitement dissipate. Replaced with stress, more to-do lists, and the focus of new education reforms that seem to “roll out” every other week.
You might have even felt like this before:

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At times the facts seem to become a reality.

• As a profession, teaching is plagued by significant turnover, often attributed to burnout, with documented rates of teacher turnover rising in public schools over the past decade (Ingersoll, 2001; NCES, 2011)
• In particular, a sense of self-efficacy and connectedness with students and colleagues have been identified as important elements linked to teaching engagement and less emotional exhaustion and psychological distress (Klassen, Perry, & Frenzel, 2012; Tuettemann & Punch, 1992).
When asked, the standard _passer-by question, “How are you?” It is most often met with; good, okay, ehh, or even I’m here. If burnout, self-efficacy, and over all well-being are to be improved self-reflection and school dynamics are well over-due for an update.

The question becomes, how can the overload of emotional and physiological stress be managed? I started by figuring out how many days a week I could devote to “me” time. I felt comfortable with four days a week and at least 30 minutes channeling my energy towards something that was personally rewarding. I created a list of non-negotiable items that I would follow through with at least 4 days a week.

1. 30 minutes of “me” time. Either journal/running/getting outdoors
2. E-mail/Phone were saved until tomorrow after 10 PM
3. Set mini-goals for the month (1-3) Personal/Professional
4. Use an organization system: 15 item to-do list was broken into groups: 1). Must do today, 2). Can wait until tomorrow, and 3). Complete by Sunday.
5. Set aside 10-20 minutes communicating with my grade level “team” every morning.
(Time Management) <=== Click for more information

These non-negotiable constants helped me manage my school year more effectively. I was able to build strong collaborative relationships with my grade level team, get outside, and continue personal and professional development throughout the year. It had a dramatic effect on my classroom as well.
Our classroom non-negotiable items were a collaborative effort that reinforced daily expectations.
1. You can turn your day around. Always.
2. Daily check-ins: 3-5 minutes set aside to chat about our day: Morning, after lunch, and before packing up to go home.
3. You have the right to your own space. Communicate it!
4. We learn and succeed together.

 

Our daily expectations became a way for students to express needs, wants, and excitement about their day. They became a support to one another. It became the norm to hear words of encouragement all throughout the day and in the same instance words of support when one of them was having an off day. I came to realize how much they watched what I say and what I do when they were able to solve a situation on their own. It was while we set up breakfast in the morning and were just starting our morning routine. When one of the students came in late, not feeling well, and upset because their routine was out of order. While helping another student I watched, as one of my students greeted the other.

 

(SpED classroom k-1) 2013-14 school year:

  • “Are you okay?”
  • -Glares.
  • “We have pancakes today!”
  • -Mumbles
  • “Let me help. You can turn it around. It’s okay.”
  • – Mumbles, but puts up backpack. Sits next to student and starts eating breakfast.
  • “I like your shirt. Iron Man is awesome!”
  • -Smiled. Thanked the other student and then turned to me: “Mrs. Kim I can turn it around!”

It became apparent that I was not only managing my stress but theirs as well. By creating non-negotiable expectations that were attainable and manageable,my students created a support system of their own.

Their system: _Respect Competence.

We could all benefit from more respect, communication, understanding, and engagement.

===> Resources used in this post. 
===> gustmees.wordpress

Partnerships with Parents

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Partnerships with parents does not mean volunteering. I repeat, not volunteering.  Instead, partnerships with parents means working together to grow the “whole” child.

Now don’t get me wrong, parents in the classroom is important, however, utilizing parents to cut out materials and to complete a to-do list is a misuse of everyone’s time. Partnerships are essential for the growth and success of every child. Building partnerships is a journey, taking a few turns to reach the destination.

Here are 6 easy ways to build parent partnerships.

 

 1. Address what they will see in the classroom: My district is assessment based and standards based. I explain clearly what that means and give the grade level expectations for the grade level they will be entering. I also explain the different ways we will learn and how each student’s unique way of learning is valued and considered when lessons are created.

2. Communicate: I use the child’s strengths to give examples of how I will build upon them to help the student be successful in school. This gives parents/guardians a picture of how you will be helping their child.

3. Address weak areas early: Parents are already well aware of weaknesses, here is another approach to address them that turns skill development into positives:

  • To help strengthen this skill…. we can….
  • Your child has started building their foundation in…..
  • I think you said you had some concern in this area…. to address this area we can….
  • I see your child is very strong in this area… we can use that strength to…
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4. Speak CLEARLY to parents: this is not the time to break out “teacher talk,” parents want to be communicated to in terms that answer their questions. If you feel you have questions yourself, parents do as well. Work on 1-3 goals at a time. This makes it manageable for you, parents, and the student.

5. Make expectations visible: this can be done many ways. Since access to internet varies, provide hard copies that parents can refer to. I do this many ways and tailor it each year to my classroom. ======>

  • Daily notes: keep a notebook with each parent/student.  Make sure to put all or most of the successes of the day and only one difficulty.
  • Phone calls: I would call parents bi-weekly to update them on wonderful things that happen, this helps calm nerves with the dreaded phone call home.
  • Behavior chart: IF used, make sure that you let parents know how a behavior was handled especially when it is handled at school.  Use at least two ways to contact the parents/guardians.
  • Use a parent/guardian survey: for the beginning, middle, and end of the year. Ask questions that you want to help form the norms and classroom expectations. Then actually put them into place.

Communications-Model

6. Avoid conflict by: addressing concerns as soon as you see them. Let parents/guardians know early on that they can expect this and it is a way of making sure you work as a team to ensure their child’s education. (2 points of contact is a must)

  • Start with positives and avoid saying a positive in a negative context like: Student (A) walked to class by himself and was late again.===> Say this: Student (A) walked independently today, that was a big step for him/her. What are some ways we can help strengthen his/her independence….. It is all in the presentation of any situation.
  • If you do not understand…. ASK the parent/guardian to explain more. This is where you will gather needed information that will not be found in any file.

Are you ready to take the journey?

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Making Learning Visible

Making Learning Visible
The climate of education is always changing, whether it progresses backward or forward is up to the individual. Making learning visible is crucial to changing the climate, so all students have access. However, this notion of making learning visible did not occur to me until I felt, saw, and lived it.
It was the summer of 2006, taking a tennis lesson, working on directing the ball across the court. Normally I would look in the general area, create a mental image of a box in my head, and aim. Most of the time I would direct the ball where I wanted, but sometimes, it went too far right or left. Costing me the point. In the game of tennis having visuals is key to a successful stroke. After three missed corner shots to the left, my coach stopped me.

Coach C, “Why do you keep aiming for the far left corner?”
Me, “That is where I want the ball to go.”
Coach C, “You need to be able to see the sides of the ball to do that.”
Me, “How do I do that?”
Coach C, “Before you hit the ball look at the ball. Look for the bottom, top, left, or right of the ball, this will let you know how to guide the ball so you make your shot.”

I walked back to the baseline, reset, and waited for the ball to come.
I made the next 8/10 shots by making my shots visible. Hitting the ball on the left side from left of the baseline makes the ball travel cross court. Slicing under the ball makes it drop just over the baseline and stop after 1 bounce. If I am looking to end the point with a winner, taking my racquet over the top and pulling up over the ball will generate spin and push my opponent back. The difference was making the shots visible, before I even created them.
Fast forward to 2013, and my students were struggling with their collaborative research project. They generated plenty of ideas, but coming to a consensus was difficult. We had been researching animals that live in the ocean: sharks, fish, turtles, and starfish. Seeing they were having difficulty we changed our strategies. I split them into two groups. The shark group and the turtle group. I would work with them as they created a persuasive presentation to prove why the shark or the turtle should be chosen as our class project.

We followed these guidelines to make learning visible:
1. Create a climate of accountability.
2. Guide students by teaching strategic strategies.
3. Make the goal visible: How will it look, feel, and sound?
4. Create a performance based assessment that is meaningful to students

Each group worked for a week gathering information, mapping their ideas, creating visuals, and practicing presenting their information (look, feel, sound). Each group utilizing individual strengths. The shark group went first. They presented their ideas by highlighting how the sharks looked, what they ate, and the variety of sharks. To understand how sharks moved, I helped the group teach the other students to make sharks out of envelopes. After making the paper sharks we  swam around the room just like a shark would. Next the turtle group presented their information by creating a collage of turtles, a web of ideas, and having the class move and swim like a turtle.  After careful reflection the class voted on continuing by researching sharks.

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The students directed their learning by taking on roles within their group.
Task manager
Time keeper
Materials manager
Peace Keeper
Note taker
The classroom was transformed into the ocean with pups (baby sharks) swimming on the walls, a Great White Shark leading the way, and coral reefs that adorned the walls. Our project culminated with their presentation in front of 100 of their peers.  My role was to hold their materials, while they shared what they learned by explaining how it looked, felt, and sounded.

Ocean  Ocean 2

For the rest of school year all students engaged in the direction of their learning by making decisions of how they learned, creating an environment where learning was visible.

Two Week Meal Plan:

Inspirations_ fit

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Planning healthy meals can be stressful… it is time consuming and creating a grocery list can be even more difficult.

However, here is a way you can streamline that process by making meals the use similar ingredients and vegetables,  and fruits.

TIU 2 week meal prep <— (CLICK)

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