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From Entrepreneur to Educator: A Conversation with Second-Career Teacher Ben Coleman

Ben Coleman dropped out of college to start a computer business. “I was making so much money in computers that I didn’t see the point in college,” says Coleman, who abandoned his engineering studies to operate a series of computer stores.  His decision seemed to be a sound one — until the Internet transformed the industry….

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Coming to the Classroom Via Wall Street: A Conversation with Second-Career Teacher Dana Mohn

Teaching was not an obvious career path for Dana Mohn. In high school, she completed a banking-oriented trade program, and after graduation, began a career in finance. Also, by her own admission, she “doesn’t like kids.” “I was never a great babysitter. I’m not really super kid-friendly,” says Mohn. Yet Mohn discovered a hidden passion…

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Teacher Shortage Areas

Inspirational teachers are always needed in classrooms around the country, but there simply aren’t enough educators to fill every need. Shortages are most acute for mathematics, science, special education and especially in rural areas. For each state, the U.S. Department of Education has determined certain subjects that are considered Teacher Shortage Areas (TSAs). If you…

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Crunching the Numbers: One School’s Solution to Digesting Student Data

Like most public schools across the country, Leasure Elementary School in Newark, Delaware, receives a lot of student achievement data. Numerous charts and graphs show various quantitative metrics, and compare Leasure students to others in the school district. And as at many of the other schools, the educators at Leasure didn’t know what to do…

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Learning How to Learn: Teaching Executive Function

Character traits such as grit, resilience and self-control are enjoying a renaissance in public and private schools as educators look at noncognitive skills that may help prepare students to become successful lifelong learners. Despite its clunky name, “executive function” (EF) is one of the hottest phrases among educators. “Executive function is about the how of…

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Managing Food Allergies in the Classroom: Tips for Teachers

Food Allergy Awareness Week is May 10-16, but anytime is a good time to brush up on your knowledge of this potentially life-threatening condition. If it seems like food allergies are more common than ever, you’re right. From 1997 to 2011, food allergies in children increased 50 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control…

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4 Special Education Videos for Teachers to Help Students Succeed

With the growing demand for inclusive classrooms, the need for teachers who are prepared to work with special education students alongside nondisabled children has increased substantially. Whether the child has a physical, cognitive or biochemical disability, teachers of students who require special education must address lingering questions. Two of the most important are: Is the…

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4 Strategies for Informal Formative Assessment

One of the most important things I’ve learned through graduate education classes and my time as a student teacher is that formative assessments are crucial to developing effective instruction. Unlike summative assessments, such as tests and other graded assignments that are used to evaluate student learning, formative assessments are low stakes and often carry little…

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3 Key Questions to Ask When Planning Lessons Based on Learning Standards

It seems like everyone has an opinion about the Common Core. Regardless of your personal views, if you work in a state that has adopted the standards (or other learning standards), it’s your responsibility to teach them. Since I’m so new to teaching, I’ve never taught a lesson that was not based on the Common…

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How to Use Backward Design to Create Lesson Plans: 3-Step Process

The main idea of backward design is to plan lessons with a final goal and assessment in mind. Rather than deciding how you want to teach, you begin by deciding what you want students to know.

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The Benefits of Overnight Field Trips

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of chaperoning the fifth- and sixth-graders in my practicum school on a weeklong, overnight field trip. Although it was exhausting, I was so happy to have the experience. You learn so much more about your students in a nonschool setting, and seeing how much they each took…

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5 Engaging Virtual Field Trips to Take

A couple weeks ago, I embarked on a weeklong, overnight field trip with a group of fifth- and sixth-graders. I’ll be reflecting more on the experience in my next article, but I was particularly struck by how much the students were learning through hands-on activities. Instead of hearing about a concept secondhand, they explored and…

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4 Resources for Teaching Science and Social Studies

When I took my science and social studies methods courses in graduate school, both of my professors stressed the importance of finding creative ways to incorporate social studies and science into the elementary education curriculum. Given high-stakes testing in math, reading, and writing, these subjects are often the first to hit the cutting-room floor when…

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Tips for Teachers: 5 Ways to Extend Learning for “Fast Finishers”

The very first thing I noticed at the beginning of my practicum is there will always be students who finish their work significantly faster than their peers, and these students won’t necessarily always be the same. For example, a fast finisher in math may need more time to complete a writing assignment. To avoid having…

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Reflections on the Student Teaching Experience

Most educator graduate programs require students to complete field experience hours that are related to what they’re learning in each class, and complete a teaching practicum in a classroom for an entire semester. Though field experience hours can be completed while you work full time, your practicum requires you to be in the classroom all…

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Learning to Pace Your Lessons in the Classroom

One of the things I’ve struggled with since I started student teaching this fall is pacing my lessons. On some occasions I’ve looked up and realized we were supposed to move on 15 minutes ago, and other times I’m surprised to find an activity has taken the students half as long as I had expected….

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The 3 Most Important Things I’ve Learned About Teaching

It’s been a little over a month since I took the plunge, quit my office job, and started spending my days in the classroom. Most days have been really good. I won’t pretend I’m not tired. Working with kids all day is exhausting (and I’m not even a lead teacher!). But it’s also significantly more…

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Learning the Curriculum by Becoming a Student Again

When I first decided to become a teacher, one of the things I worried most about was learning all the content I would have to teach students. I knew I wanted to teach elementary school students, so I was determined to become an expert in each of the disciplines I’d have to teach. I assumed…

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Communicating with Parents Throughout the Year

As a kid, I loved getting ready for open house at school and hearing all about it from my mom when she got home. I experienced my first open house from a teacher’s perspective last week and thought it was a great success. Parents loved hearing about what their kids were doing in school, and…

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Interactive Read-Alouds for Upper Elementary Students

I saw interactive read-alouds in action during my field experience before I heard about them in my graduate courses. I noticed that the fourth-grade teacher I was observing would read aloud from a Beverly Cleary book each day, pausing sporadically to ask questions along the way. I was amazed by the class’s positive response. Regardless…

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