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Jul 24 2008

Common teacher mistake #3

Common teacher mistake #3. Overusing cooperative learning. Cooperative learning is a great tool when used properly and when used in moderation. Unfortunately some schools have ‘bought in’ to this method so much that teachers are actually mandated to seat their students in groups at all times. As a teacher, I’d like to be trusted to…

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Jul 16 2008

“Are you a new teacher?”

“Are you a new teacher?” Some kid is definitely going to ask you so what are you going to say? What most new TFA teachers incorrectly think is the best way to answer this is to exaggerate the seventeen days (or hours!?!) of practice teaching during the institute. To me, this is like bragging about…

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Jul 15 2008

How can you instantly assess your whole class?

How can you instantly assess your whole class? As you teach, you want to continually assess if your students are getting it. You don’t want to wait until you are grading the test to realize that half the class was lost. But in-class assessment is difficult. The least effective way to tell if your whole…

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Jul 14 2008

Common teacher mistake #2

Common teacher mistake #2. Teaching effectively is mostly a process of elimination. Don’t make the most common teacher mistakes, and everything else you do will be OK. Unfortunately we’re programmed to make these mistakes. The only way to avoid them is to be keenly aware of the most common ones. Here’s #2: Allowing students to…

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Jul 13 2008

Common teacher mistake #1

Common teacher mistake #1 Teachers, especially new ones, are prone to making many mistakes. Some mistakes are made unintentionally, but the worst, and most avoidable mistakes, are ones that are made while actively trying to follow some advice from new-teacher training. I’m going to write a series of blog entries cataloging the most common teacher…

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Jul 07 2008

Why you should never post your consequences

Why you should never post your consequences. Do you remember any of your teachers ever posting their consequences? No. Why? Is it because they were lazy non-TFA ‘traditionally certified’ teachers? No. It is because posting consequences is a very bad idea. Unfortunately this bad idea is advocated by TFA. Even though some veteran teachers may…

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Jul 04 2008

Is summer school harder than regular school?

Is summer school harder than regular school? I remember thinking, when summer school at the institute was going badly, I’d think “The problem is that this is just summer school, and the kids know that. When I get my own classes in the fall, things will be different.” And I was right. They were much,…

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Jul 01 2008

How to say ‘No’ without feeling guilty

How to say ‘No’ without feeling guilty. Students gauge a teacher’s competence by how that teacher exhibits confidence and decisiveness. To measure this, all a student has to do is ask a simple question. “Can I get a drink of water?” “Can I go to the bathroom” “Can I turn this in late?” If you’re…

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Jun 27 2008

The school year is a marathon, not a sprint

I’ve been around a lot of TFA institutes, starting with my own in 1991. Now that I’m a veteran teacher, I wonder if the institute culture gets CMs ready for the reality of lesson planning. I remember a lot of CMs pulling all nighters in preparing a one hour lesson. This is a bad habit…

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Jun 11 2008

The problem with ‘investing’

The problem with ‘investing.’ This is a buzzword I’ve been hearing a lot from new TFA CMs. ‘Investing,’ they’ve learned, is a very important thing to establish in your class right away. If the students are invested, they will be motivated to learn. If they’re motivated to learn, they will learn, which will make them…

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By a somewhat frustrated 1991 alum

High School

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