Opportunities for Student Voice

By Stephanie Filio

Opportunities for Student Voice

Young people have long struggled with their place in the world. Each generation finds a new atmosphere of experiential learning and growing worldviews in adolescence. As children shed their parents’ perspectives, they establish their own values and begin to make personal decisions on their own. Though liberating, this time can also feel incredibly isolating.

Our students are too young to vote, but old enough to want to make an impact on their society. They are considered juvenile, but they have well-developed views and opinions.

As I watch our country struggle for progress, I can’t help but turn to my students for guidance on what should come next. When the world ambles into darkness, young people can renew anyone’s hope! They are visionaries, and they see the world through enchanted eyes. They know the reality of hurt, but they push through even the most taxing situations to continue growing, learning, and achieving. Though COVID-19 has kept us home, planning can begin for returning to our kids at some point, better able to serve them than ever!

Another mark of adolescence is no doubt rebellion. Though it drives parents crazy, rebellion is not always a bad thing. Sometimes healthy rebellion encourages students to push past adversity, combat stereotypes, and confidently advocate for themselves and others.

Working with students on progressive ways to express themselves is what brings educators hope. Our country is currently learning about the importance of speaking out and standing up against the shameful history of oppression in US society and institutions. Our students can truly be our “next steps” in the national movement on ending racism and bigotry.

Student Voice

Student voice means taking what students say as truth and allowing them a space to explore their feelings and values. There are many creative ways that we can allow students to create their own mini-movements, including calling on some underground work from generations past!

Roundtables

Have students work in a group, sitting in a circle. Establish rules for speaking, and keep a record of what is said to call upon later. Don’t shy away from allowing students to debate! Instead, help guide them with your moderating to show them that it is okay to have differing views.

Zines

Remember zines?! They are opportunities for students to make mini-publications of their views. Have students create zines on topics that are important to them and prepare copies so that they can share. Allow students to place their zines in public spots around the school or raise money for a cause by having your group create a mini-bookstore.

Art Flashes

Have students create a graphic image that represents a cause they stand for. Students can use any medium they would like—small images work as well as large. Have each student create many images or reproduce one image on a copy machine. Leave the images all around the school or larger community so that when someone finds one, they not only get a message, they also get to keep a little piece of original artwork!

Crochet Circle

Okay, this one might be a stretch, but I have a beloved Crochet Club at school where we hang out and practice relieving tension (crocheters know this is both literally and figuratively). Really, any craft or art will do to give students a space to create things with their hands while spending time together. I can’t even begin to describe the valuable conversations we’ve had in our circle.

Friendsgiving

One year I sponsored a magical group of girls that got together after school for a female-empowerment group. The rules were pretty simple: talk about how amazing girls are, vent on ways that we wish girls and women received more props, and perhaps most importantly, BRING FOOD. We celebrated every holiday with a table full of food, commemorations of each other, education about our heritages, and expressions of our hopes for the future.

Activism Posters

Like art flashes, students can make posters to hang around the school. You might get extra lucky if your school requires approval of posters before they can go on the wall. This gives kids an opportunity to speak with school administration about their posters and have discussions about why some messages might be perceived as “inappropriate.” Sometimes a deeper dive into policy—and possibly policy change—can come from these types of interactions.

Activism Corners

Classrooms with small groups or stations can have a dedicated space for activism at any grade level. Provide students with publications that teach them how to be an activist and resources to learn more about important topics. Provide materials for writing, making, and other creative outlets.

Take-One Flyers

Make and print “take-one” flyers with a positive message to post around the school! Take-one flyers are great ways to spread kindness selflessly and bring a school community together. This is a great project for any classroom, club, or individual student activity.

The Deeper Work

In order to allow our students to be able to commit their voices to the things that are important to them, teachers have to know that they are going to be backed up by their administration and division. Many teachers hesitate about bringing heavier topics into the classroom for fear of backlash from parents and educational leaders.

If we truly want to allow our students to be agents of change (and truly want to see change ourselves), we must also make sure we are sending a message with our school system’s policy. Staff should stay up to date on information coming from senior leadership so that they can cite specific initiatives if necessary. For example, if a teacher is questioned about a lesson they have planned that addresses current events that include the deaths of citizens from authoritarian use of force, that teacher can use a superintendent’s statement citing the event in an effort to oppose racism in response.

Educational staff should be supported in their efforts to allow students to play their part in social activism. If a school leader gets the feeling that teachers feel discouraged from allowing students to speak out on topics such as racism, gender equality, and bigotry, that issue must also be tackled. A stifled voice will trickle down to our students, sending them the message that it is safer to stay quiet. This might not only damage the greater society as the generation ages, but also the current, smaller-scale bystander issue.

I look forward to seeing all that students have to say about how they believe their world should evolve. I have been very lucky recently to have heard from some students at my own school and I feel that I grow immensely every time I’m educated by young people. They have it in them to be the ones to create change; we adults just have to let them.

Stephanie FilioStephanie Filio is a middle school counselor in Virginia Beach. She received her undergraduate degree in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Virginia and her M.Ed. in counseling from Old Dominion University. In a discussion with one of her UVA professors about her desire to stay in school forever, her mentor wisely responded, “If you want to be a lifelong learner, go into education,” and so she found her place. Prior to her six years as a school counselor, Stephanie worked in private education, specializing in standardized tests, test preparation, and future planning. She writes about her career and hobbies at her blog, Weekend Therapy, and can be found on Twitter @steffschoolcoun. Stephanie also enjoys spending time with her books, crafts, and family.


We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.


FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2020 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved. The view expressed in this post represent the opinion of the author and not necessarily Free Spirit Publishing.

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7 Questions That Show Why We Need to Ask Educators How to Safely Return to School

By Susan Stone Kessler, Ed.D., coauthor of The Principal’s Survival Guide.

7 Questions That Show Why We Need to Ask Educators How to Safely Return to SchoolLike most educators, I am carefully following news about the possibility of school resuming in a few weeks. I have noticed that many of the people making recommendations are health experts, not school experts. While it’s obviously important to have health professionals such as those at the CDC highly involved in the process of returning to school, teachers and administrators should also be at the table sharing their critical, real-world experiences. We are the ones who will be in the schools.

As we get closer to fall, here are a few key questions I have about returning to school. The responses to these questions, if honest and practical, can guide us into best practice for K–12 education during a pandemic.

How Do We Enforce Social Distancing Expectations Among Children?

Young students like to touch each other, and they share community supplies and spaces. We actually emphasize sharing as a principle we value. An elementary classroom is likely the best experience of community many of us get in life. Older kids aren’t keen on social distancing either. Teens share their innermost thoughts and feelings with their closest companions, and those conversations are held in whispers, not shouted from six feet away. How much teaching can a teacher do when they are worried about keeping kids separate from one another?

How Do We Handle Masks?

I can assure you that the number of parents who refuse to mask their children will be rivaled by an equal number of parents who demand that their child not be around unmasked people. How can schools reconcile these groups while following recommended guidelines and ensuring the safety of students and staff?

Where Do You Buy Disinfectant Wipes?

Let’s pretend for a moment that money is no object and that everyone has all the funds to buy what they need to clean schools. Finding antibacterial wipes is nothing short of a search for a unicorn in 2020. Last week I found two cans of disinfectant spray in the grocery store, ending my three-month quest to replenish the supply for my family. While two cans may work well for home use, they won’t go far in a school.

Who Supervises Kids When They Eat in Classrooms?

Some experts recommend that kids do not eat in cafeterias to reduce the spread of the virus. At the same time, in many states, teachers are entitled to a “duty-free” lunch, meaning they do not supervise children during their (unpaid) lunch time. This is their one time of day to eat, make a phone call, use the restroom, or sit down. The majority of school employees (more than 80 percent) are teachers. Who else can supervise kids?

Some may suggest that teachers forgo their duty-free lunch because we are in an unprecedented situation. But that is asking a lot. Using the restroom is a right, not a privilege. Having a meal break is an OSHA-required standard. Teachers have been asked to do more with less for decades; we can’t ask them to give up their only personal time as well.

Where Should Sick Students Wait for Parents?

What happens when a student develops COVID-19 symptoms while at school? Some parents work more than an hour away from their child’s school. Even if your school is fortunate enough to have a nurse, the idea of having sick students waiting in the nurse’s office does not work because school nurses care for some of the most health-compromised children in a school. A child who needs a feeding tube for nutrition, for example, should not be seated next to a child with a highly contagious illness. We will need another location for the symptomatic or feverish while they wait for a parent. Not only that, symptomatic children will also need to be supervised—but by whom?

How Can We Ensure Healthy Handwashing?

Schools will need sufficient sinks with clean, running water and soap to ensure that all students can wash their hands regularly. In addition, we need to make sure students are properly washing their hands—washing for at least 20 seconds, scrubbing all parts of the hands, and thoroughly rinsing and drying. With younger students, it’s likely this will require supervision, which means more staff is required or teachers will be taking time away from teaching.

What Do We Do About Compulsory Attendance?

Attendance is required, and many states count chronic absenteeism rates against schools, which sometimes results in incentives or sanctions being issued to encourage school attendance. While these methods may reduce truancy, they also encourage sick children to attend school because of fear of sanctions or loss of the incentive. If we value the health of those who are in school, then we need to press pause on compulsory attendance.

These questions and others like them will need to be answered before we can decide whether schools can open as normal, operate remotely, or pursue a hybrid approach. In order to make sure that practical issues like these are addressed, people who work in classrooms need to be included in the planning. While educators have often been left out of important discussions, we cannot afford to make that mistake now. The results could have life-or-death consequences for our children in 2020.

Educators: What questions are you concerned about? Please leave a comment.

Susan Stone Kessler, Ed.D.Dr. Susan Stone Kessler is an award-winning educator who has spent the past twenty-one years working in schools with Middle Tennessee teenagers. She has been a teacher, an assistant principal, and a high school principal in two Tennessee school districts.

 

The Principal's Survival GuideSusan is coauthor of The Principal’s Survival Guide: Where Do I Start? How Do I Succeed? When Do I Sleep?


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Preparing Students for Life After Special Education

By Andrew Hawk

Note: This post was written prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are publishing it now because the content remains relevant.

Preparing Students for Life After Special EducationDepending on special education students’ exceptionalities, they may exit public education at age 18 or stay until they are 21. No matter what path students take out of public education, the world waiting for them will pose many new challenges with significantly fewer built-in supports.

Unlike at school, at a grown-up job it is unlikely that anyone is going to be on the lookout to see if someone needs accommodations, modifications, or any extra support in general. In many cases, challenges people face in public or in the workplace will be viewed negatively and could result in termination or worse. This is well known to school personnel.

As special education students near graduation, the special education personnel in their lives focus more and more on life after school. Having a transition plan in place is part of special education students’ individual learning plans (IEPs). The challenge is writing plans that are doable and realistic without limiting a student’s potential. Here are some ideas you can try when you help a student prepare for life out of special education.

Capitalize on Strengths

The cornerstone of special education is identifying students’ strengths and teaching them to use those strengths to overcome their weaknesses. Once during an initial evaluation meeting for a student who was being identified with a specific learning disability, the student’s mother asked me if her son would “outgrow” the disability.

I explained that he would not outgrow it. However, we would help prepare him for life after school by showing him how to use his strengths to overcome his weakness and to teach himself new material as an adult. This particular student needed visual representations of new material. As he progresses beyond high school, he will need to be able to locate these on his own. Luckily, with Google and YouTube, this is easier today than it was in the past. If you are not sure what your young person’s strengths are, a quick internet search will offer a variety of skills inventories you can use to identify strengths.

Self-Advocate

You might be surprised to know that students can access testing accommodations after high school. College classes, licensing examinations, even the written test to obtain a driver’s license can be taken with testing accommodations. The thing is, most people are not going to ask if you need accommodations on testing or anything else. Teaching students to self-advocate is another important tool in the toolbox. This can be a challenge, since some students may feel embarrassed to ask for any supports.

Combine Interests and Abilities

This is good advice for anyone making career decisions. Finding work that interests you will help keep you engaged and increase your chances of success. This can be as simple as looking for work that involves being up and moving around or as detailed as planning to attend a college preparation program for a specific career.

Keep Planning

I used to tell my students that the most important thing for success in life is to have a plan. Even if the plan does not include going to college, it is important to plan to do something after high school. This never changes. As people progress through life, something new is always on the horizon. Planning for what comes next makes transitions easier, whether you are getting ready to move into your first apartment or considering a retirement community. Instilling the idea of planning will help students be successful in life.

Be Aware

Years ago I spoke to a distant relative who was preparing to graduate from high school. He told me he was planning to go into the army. I knew he was on a prescription medication for ADHD and that this would prevent him from joining the army. Not wanting to upset him at a family gathering, I talked to his mother at a later time. After verifying what I had told them with the recruiter he had been in contact with, he and his family started working on a new plan for him.

Whatever plan young people are working on, they need to know that there are some things they may not be able to do. I recommend doing some research at the beginning of the planning process.

Consider Local Needs

Does your area have any worker shortages in specific jobs or industries? If it does, you might be able to capitalize on this if the work is something that fits into the young person’s interests. Keep an eye on help-wanted listings and see if you notice any trends.

Build a Network

One of the nice things about public school is that a student gets identified for special education services and then there is a person who will handle medical needs, a person who will handle academic needs, a person to take care of speech therapy, a person to take care of occupational therapy, and so on. Outside of special education, young people will need to piece together their own network of resources and professionals to meet their needs. Help young people build a network by exploring what community resources are available and helping them know how to address medical challenges on their own.

504 Planning

Many people are unaware that a 504 plan is a plan to help “even the playing field” for a person who has a medical condition that effects one or more major life functions. If a student with an ADHD diagnosis does not qualify for special education services, they can still have a 504 plan and obtain accommodations to help them at school. In many cases, teachers are not fully aware of this fact. Even fewer people know that 504 plans can be obtained for adults in the workplace too. Like everything else, no one is likely to spontaneously offer this. Many employers will not be aware of what a 504 plan is, but they will honor one because the law requires it.

Andrew HawkAndrew Hawk has worked in public education for 18 years. He started as a teaching assistant in a special education classroom. He completed his bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Indiana University East in Richmond, Indiana. Andrew has taught first, second, and fifth grades as a classroom teacher. In 2011, he earned his master’s degree in special education from Western Governor’s University. Andrew has worked as a resource room teacher and also has taught in a self-contained classroom for students on the autism spectrum. In 2017, he earned a master’s degree in educational leadership, also from Western Governor’s University. This is Andrew’s first year as a building principal. He is the principal of an elementary school that houses kindergarten through fifth grades. When Andrew is not preparing for school, he enjoys spending time with this wife and two daughters.


We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.


Suggested Resources
The Survival Guide for Kids in Special Education (And Their Parents): Understanding What Special Ed Is & How It Can Help You


FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2020 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved. The view expressed in this post represent the opinion of the author and not necessarily Free Spirit Publishing.

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12 Ways to Help Young Children Calm Down

By Cheri J. Meiners, M.Ed., author of the Learning About Me & You, Learning to Get Along®, and Being the Best Me!® series

12 Ways to Help Young Children Calm DownWe live in stressful times. One of the most frequent challenges parents and teachers face is with helping children calm themselves and process strong emotions such as fear, anxiety, frustration, and anger. These emotions, while common and understandable, can be potentially debilitating to the child and dangerous to others if left unchecked. Children can learn to recognize these emotions in themselves and harness the energy of their big feelings into positive action. I have outlined 12 tips that may be effective in helping your child process their emotions and become more calm and rational.

1. Be an Example of Calm

When adults are calm, children can take their cues from them. Your calm attitude helps children relax. It allows them to trust you and feel confident in coming to you with their problems.

2. Listen and Show That You Care

Children need to feel loved and protected. Let them know that they aren’t alone and that you are there to give support when they feel out of control. Be willing to listen to what a child is feeling. Acknowledge and help the child name their emotions. This can be done without condoning inappropriate actions. Behavior can be addressed once children are in a calm frame of mind to listen.

3. Be Alert to Children’s Physical Needs

Being hungry, tired, or playing too long in the heat are physical stresses that can affect a child’s disposition. Addressing these needs should be the first priority. Children can also be overstimulated by watching too much media or being in an environment that is loud and chaotic. Changing the environment in simple ways to address the cause of irritation can often affect behavior more easily and positively than addressing the behavior directly.

4. Be Clear and Consistent with Rules and Expectations

Children feel safe when they have boundaries and they know what to expect. More consistency and fewer surprises help them maintain an emotional balance. There is less chance of them being frustrated by unnecessary change and unclear messages. When children are in a kind, calm, predictable environment, they often feel more relaxed and comfortable and are less prone to outbursts of anger and frustration.

5. Let Children Know That They Have Control Over Their Own Thoughts, Actions, and Even Emotions

Even when children are faced with situations beyond their control, they can usually choose how they will respond. The realization that our thoughts control our emotions is very powerful. Help children know that they can often change their emotions by focusing on more positive thoughts or switching to a more relaxing activity.

6. Help Children Find Acceptable Ways to Vent Anger and Frustration

12 Ways to Help Young Children Calm Down

Explain to children that it’s never okay to hurt someone or their feelings and that they can find other ways to express themselves without hurting someone else. There are many ways that children can relax and create space to process negative emotions. Help them make time to understand and de-escalate their emotions through activities such as the following:

  • Counting to 10 or taking a big breath
  • Giving a hug
  • Movement such as dancing, swinging, running, or stretching
  • Blowing bubbles
  • Reading
  • Playing with clay or blocks
  • Drawing
  • Talking to a friend

7. Teach Children to Accept What They Can’t Change

Children have little control over much in their lives. Things like what they eat or wear, their schedule, and their activities are often dictated to them by adults. Although these decisions are made with the child’s best interest in mind, children can become frustrated with these limits. They can also become upset with things they can’t do due to their size or level of knowledge and skill. Take time to explain the importance of the rules, why things are the way they are, and your concern for the child. This leads to the next point.

8. Help Them Find Something Else to Focus on So They Can Let Go of Their Frustration

Give them options whenever possible and help steer them to areas where they have a choice. For example, a child may not want to stay with you when grocery shopping. Nevertheless, the child needs to accept this rule, and you may avoid an explosive episode by discussing expectations before going out. While at the store you might divert the child’s attention to something the child can do, such as help you choose an item or load it in the cart.

9. Teach and Reinforce Positive Ways to View a Situation

When children have self-defeating thoughts or anger with something that has happened in the past, they can find comfort when they are able to reframe the situation and look to the future feeling encouraged. Gratitude can be a powerful way to get a fresh perspective and to appreciate the things that are going well. Children will feel more empowered and happy when they find the positive in their situation and consider the possibilities and choices available to them.

10. Notice and Affirm Children’s Efforts to Calm Themselves

It takes time and practice to learn to manage emotions. When you praise children’s efforts to be patient, tolerant, polite, or forgiving, they will likely be encouraged to please you. After a time, they will often notice on their own that they feel much better when they regulate their emotions and react fairly toward others.

11. Teach Children to Reach Out to Others

Help children become aware of others who are struggling in some way. Empathizing with another person’s feelings can help children see their own situations from a new perspective and view their own desires and choices in a new light. As they reach out to someone with kindness, they will undoubtedly feel their own mood lifted.

12. Be an Advocate

Show children that you believe in them and want them to be happy. Trust their ability to make wise choices and to find appropriate ways to express their emotions and work through problems. With your help, children can learn to recognize, defuse, and process their energy in positive ways that can address problems, lead them to understand someone better, and help them feel happier.

What strategies have helped your children calm down?

Cheri MeinersCheri J. Meiners, M.Ed., has her master’s degree in elementary education and gifted education. A former first-grade teacher, she has taught education classes at Utah State University and has supervised student teachers. Cheri and her husband David have six children and enjoy the company of their lively grandchildren. They live in Laurel, Maryland.

Free Spirit book series by Cheri Meiners:

learning-to-get-along-WEB

Being The Best Me

Learning About Me and You


We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.


Suggested Resources
I Calm Down (for ages 2–4)
Calm-Down Time
(for toddlers)
F Is for Feelings
(for ages 3–8)
Cool Down and Work Through Anger
(for ages 4–8)


FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2020 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved. The view expressed in this post represent the opinion of the author and not necessarily Free Spirit Publishing.

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The 6 Characteristics of High-Quality Professional Development and Learning: Part 2

By Richard M. Cash, Ed.D., author of Self-Regulation in the Classroom: Helping Students Learn How to Learn
Part of our Cash in on Learning series by Richard M. Cash, Ed.D. Click to read other Cash in on Learning posts.

Note: This blog post was written prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are publishing it now because the content remains relevant.

The 6 Characteristics of High-Quality Professional Development and Learning: Part 2The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015 emphasized six characteristics of high-quality professional development (usually considered a generalized workshop) and professional learning (training tailored to the individual needs of each educator). In part one, I shared ideas for how to incorporate sustainability, maintain focus, and create a collaborative culture for learning. Here in part two, I examine the remaining three characteristics.

4. Job-Embedded

Teacher development and learning must be directly linked to the teacher’s work in the classroom. This includes the day-to-day teaching practices and the content-specific instructional practices that are intended to improve student learning. In this case, we are talking about authentic, real, and immediate challenges of practice. Some issues require individual guidance, while others may need teamwork.

Here are some ways to incorporate job-embedded professional development and learning.

Have a mentor or coach observe the teacher in the classroom during instruction. This observation is focused on a specific issue of concern or interest and is intended to provide feedback on the specific issue. During the feedback or reflection time, the mentor or coach may use a video recording of the lesson to show specifics of what occurred.

Have an instructional coach or facilitator conduct a demonstration lesson on a specific strategy or technique while teachers observe. Afterward, the team discusses the implementation of the strategy or technique to reinforce their understanding and comfort with applying the ideas.

Have teacher teams meet in a lesson study. The lesson study design involves a team-created lesson that one teacher implements while the others observe. Afterward, the team discusses how the lesson progressed and what adjustments may need to be made.

Other ways to incorporate job-embedded professional development and learning include:

  • Conducting action research on topics of personal interest
  • Using videos or other multimedia systems to view a classroom over time
  • Examining student work as a team to fine-tune grading and assessment practices
  • Creating portfolios in which (like students) teachers collect artifacts of practice for review by others

5. Data-Informed

Much can be said about using data to improve student achievement. You will often see the term data-driven, which implies that data may be the sole force for making decisions. I use the term data-informed, since there are multiple factors that impact student learning, data being one of those factors. Data can be collected from a variety of sources, such as:

  • Test scores
  • Student work
  • Surveys
  • Rating scales
  • Focus groups
  • Interviews
  • Self-assessments
  • Reflections

Now that you have collected the data, here are some ideas for how data can inform our professional development and learning.

  • When reviewing building data by grade level, look for specific content strategies where students need growth—this can then become a focus of either general or job-embedded learning and growth.
  • When reviewing student work as a team, look for areas of growth. Consider what strategies have been used and how they can be enhanced to increase effectiveness.
  • When reviewing surveys, self-assessments, or reflections provided by teachers, look for themes or areas where there is either a lack of knowledge or misperceptions. These then become the focus of your professional development and learning plans.
  • Provide parents with rating scales of how the school is doing on everything from school or classroom culture to building appearance to curriculum alignment. This can provide valuable information for making cultural and curricular adjustments.
  • Bring together groups of students, parents, and teachers to discuss issues or needs of the building. This can offer some insight into areas for professional development and learning.
  • An often-overlooked group are those who no longer attend the school, whether through matriculation, choice, or differing needs. Exit interviews might be painful, but they can provide us with information we may try to avoid or are reluctant to hear. This is rich data that can be useful in making decisions about professional development and learning.

6. Classroom-Focused

Similar to focused and job-embedded professional development and learning, classroom-focused professional development and learning is specific to the management and instructional processes happening in the classroom during instruction. From how the classroom is organized to how students enter the classroom to questioning techniques employed by the teacher, classroom-focused professional development and learning is about the teaching and learning environment.

Ways to incorporate classroom-focused professional development and learning include:

  • Peer observations, specifically less-skilled teachers observing mentors or more-skilled teachers
  • Team planning around developing engaging activities that are aligned to standards and learning targets
  • Rubrics, matrices, or standards of practice that are provided to staff—seeking their self-assessment of their growth potentials
  • Self-video of lessons for personal and mentor or coach review, which can encourage teachers to see their own practice from another point of view; as painful as it may be, seeing yourself in action can be highly effective in changing and refining practice

For professional development and learning to have a significant effect, the focus must be on student learning and achievement. All parties must be committed to a common mission of preparing for the challenges our students will face in their future. Teachers and administrators will always need professional development and learning—let’s make sure it is effective, efficient, and engaging.

Richard M. Cash, Ed.D., writes the monthly Cash in on Learning blog posts for Free Spirit Publishing. He has given hundreds of workshops, presentations, and staff development sessions throughout the United States and internationally.

Free Spirit books by Richard Cash:

Self-regulation Advancing Differentiation Revised and Updated Edition

Differentiation For Gifted Learners


We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.


Suggested Resource
Croft, A., J.G. Coggshall, M. Dolan, & E. Powers. “Job-Embedded Professional Development: What It Is, Who Is Responsible, and How to Get It Done Well.” Issue Brief. National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality, 2010.Darling-Hammond, L., M.E. Hyler, & M. Gardner. Effective Teacher Professional Development. Palo Alto, CA: Learning Policy Institute, 2017.S. 1177 (114th): Every Student Succeeds Act https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/s1177.


FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2020 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved. The view expressed in this post represent the opinion of the author and not necessarily Free Spirit Publishing.

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