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Monday, May 9, 2011

Let's Take It From The Top

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ddjang/
   So, it's time to start setting up my plan for the summer rebirth of my teaching.  The beauty of being a teacher under the Teacher Advancement Program (TAP) is that we have some great rubrics that identify what it is that is considered "Great Teaching."
     With Tap there are three areas of teaching that have been recognized as separate entities. They are "Designing and Planning Instruction," "The Learning Environment," and " Instruction."  Too often teachers spend an inordinate amount of time in one of these areas rather than seeing that a good teacher will have all three areas fine tuned.
    As for my self, I have identified classroom management as my downfall.  It would be easy to just say that I need to improve "The Learning Environment" area.  But classroom management comes easier when a teacher has done a great job of "Designing and  Planning the Instruction."  And, if the "Instruction" itself isn't spot-on then that will lead to students who are bored, confused, or (worse) both.
     In this post I'll look at what the topics are I want to focus on and then, over the next 2 months, I will make an improvement plan.  I'll start with "Designing and Planning Instruction," (DPI).
     In DPI there are 3 areas of refinement:  Instructional Plans, Student Work, and Assessment.  The area that can cause the most problems for a teacher with poor management skills is Instructional Plans.  If the plans aren't cohesive then when we get to the instructional piece, during class, the structure and pacing, the activities and materials, and student motivation parts are less effective.  This leads to timing issues and students, like sharks and other animals of prey, can smell the blood in the water - let the frenzy begin!
     The second area is called "The Learning Environment," (LE).  In LE there are 4 areas of refinement:  Expectations, Managing Student Behavior, the Environment, and Respectful Culture.  These are obvious choices for areas of improvement for the teacher with poor management skills and so I'll address them each in a future post.
     The third area is simply called "Instruction."   There are 12 areas of refinement, in Instruction, and these are so important that TAP schools focus on these and we call the entire body of management "The Instructional Rubric."
     As with DPI, the Instructional piece will help define classroom management problems because it is all about the structure and the pacing and students know when teachers aren't operating at the top of their game.   The main points of refinement I will hit on during the next few months are the "Teacher Knowledge of Students," the "Standards and Objectives," "Motivating Students," "Presenting Instructional Content," Lesson Structure and Pacing," and the "Activities and Materials."
     The remaining areas of refinement within Instruction will be addressed in a separate post near the end of summer as I complete my plan for improvement.  As always I hope to see comments as I embark on this journey of reflection and planning.