Exceptional teachers are easy to spot. We immediately know them when we see them, but articulating the difference between an exceptional teacher and all of the others isn’t so easy. Test scores and observations alone cannot define the teacher that stands out ‘head and shoulders’ above the rest: teachers like Christie Sabon, Marygrove MAT ’06.
Christie is a nine-year teacher with a passion for teaching students to read and write. She’s the teacher who always raises her hand to sit on review committees if it will improve her craft or benefit her students. Her dedication has earned her Teacher of the Year in the Farmington Schools district in Michigan. She even won a free one-year lease on a new car from a local dealership--that’s how much the Farmington community values its educators!
Talking with Christie takes you back to all the favorite teachers you’ve had in school. She is compassionate and kind, and so enthusiastic about her work. It doesn’t take long to realize that she views her job as “figuring out what makes her students tick,” and the reasons for her award become crystal clear.
“My second graders love to read the “Black Lagoon” series from [humorist, children’s author] Mike Thaler, so for National Reading Month this year we went all out and decorated the room like a jungle, complete with a giant alligator to greet you at the door!” Sabon says.
Not one to do anything half-way, Sabon says her students benefit the most from her modeling good behaviors; something she learned from the Marygrove Master in the Art of Teaching Program.
“I always make sure my students see me reading at my desk, and writing in my own journal,” Sabon says. “Sometimes I read my journal entries to them…they are so curious about what I find interesting. My students really keep me on my toes—they ask me to read two picture books to them each day, and they hold me to it!” So she makes the time.
Sabon also credits the Marygrove MAT program with training her to interact with parents effectively. Good teachers know that success comes more easily when you involve parents in classroom goals. But forming positive partnerships does take extra time.
“I connect with parents every single week, whether it is through e-mail or a newsletter I send home with students,” Sabon adds, “It’s important to touch base with the home front; it is really appreciated…and my students like that I tell their parents about our adventures—it makes them feel good, too."
Sabon knows that informing parents of progress on individual/class goals and upcoming events is best practice in education, and the rewards are great.
Research supports it. Renowned Johns Hopkins researcher Joyce Epstein has been touting the virtue of frequent interactions between schools, families, and communities for years. She asserts that the more time teachers spend communicating with students’ families, the more likely students will receive messages about the importance of working hard and staying in school.
From what we hear, this is not a problem for students in Ms. Sabon’s class at Hillside elementary--Sabon’s students never want to leave her classroom!
So, we congratulate this Teacher of the Year who is not only very giving of her time, but is also generous with her endorsement of her alma mater. If you want to be a better teacher, Christie Sabon highly recommends earning an MAT degree as a way to improve your game. “Many of our teachers in the [Farmington] district are Marygrove MAT alums, and we are big fans of the program.”
Thank you Christie, and thank you Farmington Schools!
Hurry and register for summer classes, and get started on your way to becoming the outstanding teacher leader you always wanted to be! We are taking applications through Wednesday, May 2!
Are you putting off submitting your application to the Marygrove College Master in the Art of Teaching (MAT) program? Stop procrastinating! Our asynchronous course schedule offers some solid reasons for why you should get started in March, before summer starts.
Of course, spring is a very busy time for teachers, but there are some clear advantages to beginning the program while you still have a classroom full of students. First of all, you will be able to directly apply the theory and strategies you learn to your practice right away. Second, being able to physically demonstrate the new ideas and material to others helps you internalize it as a student. It’s a practical way to get started with your online learning!
What’s more, the first class you take is a leadership course which can give you the tools you need to analyze and assess your current school year, so you can make the appropriate changes for next fall. Teacher As Leader will require you to use the summer to work and plan out changes that will make the new school year even better. It’s perfect timing. So why wait?
Get credit for what you already do in your job!
If you take your first class in March, that means your third class would be an instructional design class from July to the end of August. (07/09/2012 – 08/25/2012). Teachers are usually working on their lesson plans at this time– so as we see it, you might as well get college credit for it! The Instructional Design course will help you prepare your lesson plans early, so you will know what materials you’ll need in advance, allowing you to take advantage of those summer Teacher Store sales in July and August! This is a real plus for your budget.
Remember, the sooner you start, the sooner you finish…and the sooner you start reaping the rewards of higher education. After all, you aren’t the only one who benefits from your hard work. Your students will also gain from your knowledge and expertise. The more you know, the more your students will know, too. If you begin classes in March, you will have completed the lion’s share of MAT coursework by the 2013-14 school year, (and be well-prepared for the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) accountability standards).
Your time is valuable: Make use of your graduate-level credits!
If your state requires you to have graduate-level credits to renew your teacher certification, then it should definitely go toward something – like a master’s degree! A March start date also means that teachers can get the credits they need for teacher certification renewal. An upcoming deadline for some teachers is June 30, which is right around the corner.
Don’t wait another day: Earning your online Marygrove MAT degree will enhance your career in teaching. You can’t beat these real-world benefits:
- Entire program can be completed in as little as 18 months by taking one class at a time.
- Marygrove MAT program is hands-on; focused on the practical application of educational theory. That’s why our students prepare field-based, final Capstone projects, and not a thesis.
- Students attend class anywhere that has Internet access. At home, at your desk before or after work, or even on vacation!
- Homework can be done whenever it’s convenient for you!
If you’ve already made up your mind to earn your master’s degree—enroll for March and get a leg-up on next year. Don’t put off what can be achieved today—it’s your future. And the future of your students.
Enroll now by calling 855-628-6279! An enrollment specialist is waiting to help you.
In honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, take an opportunity over the next week to impress your students with Thanksgiving trivia, and enjoy being the “know-it-all” at your Thanksgiving table!
•In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln designated the last Thursday in November as a national day of thanksgiving. However, in 1939, after a request from the National Retail Dry Goods Association, President Franklin Roosevelt decreed that the holiday should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month (and never the occasional fifth, as occurred in 1939) in order to extend the holiday shopping season by a week. The decision sparked great controversy, some even referred to it as “Franksgiving,” and was still unresolved two years later, when the House of Representatives passed a resolution making the last Thursday in November a legal national holiday. The Senate amended the resolution, setting the date as the fourth Thursday, and the House eventually agreed.
•Domesticated turkeys (the type eaten on Thanksgiving) cannot fly, and their pace is limited to a slow walk. Female domestic turkeys, which are typically smaller and lighter than males, can move somewhat faster. Wild turkeys, on the other hand, are much smaller and more agile. They can reach speeds of up to 20-25 miles per hour on the ground and fly for short distances at speeds approaching 55 miles per hour. They also have better eyesight and hearing than their domestic counterparts.
•According to the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers' Association, one of the country's oldest farmers' organizations, Native Americans used cranberries in a variety of foods, including "pemmican" (a nourishing, high-protein combination of crushed berries, dried deer meat and melted fat). They also used it as a medicine to treat arrow punctures and other wounds and as a dye for fabric. The Pilgrims adopted these uses for the fruit and gave it a name—"craneberry"—because its drooping pink blossoms in the spring reminded them of a crane.
•The American tradition of college football on Thanksgiving is pretty much as old as the sport itself. The newly formed American Intercollegiate Football Association held its first championship game on Thanksgiving Day in 1876. At the time, the sport resembled something between rugby and what we think of as football today. By the 1890s, more than 5,000 club, college and high school football games were taking place on Thanksgiving, and championship match-ups between schools like Princeton and Yale could draw up to 40,000 fans. The NFL took up the tradition in 1934, when the Detroit Lions played the Chicago Bears at the University of Detroit stadium in front of 26,000 fans. Since then, the Lions game on Thanksgiving has become an annual event, taking place every year except during the World War II years (1939–1944). For more fun facts, visit history.com, a treasure trove of educational information.*
From the entire faculty and staff of the Marygrove College Master in the Art of Teaching Program, we wish you a blessed Thanksgiving with your family and friends.
*The preceding text is culled from History.com, Nov.14, 2011.
Last spring, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) selected my district as one of its three Ed Tech Visitation Sites for 2011. During this three-day event, educational leaders from around the country observed how Pascack Valley Regional High School District has transformed teaching and learning through our 1:1 Laptop eLearning Initiative. Our guests had the chance to interact with students and teachers, and actually demo the digital tools that empower our students every day.
This visit was a great source of pride for the entire district. In my chemistry class, I wanted to show how we incorporated technology into a curricular standard. And naturally, I wanted to do it well.
My colleague, Natalie Macke and I developed a unit in which students create various ecosystems and then monitor their health through different readings (carbon dioxide levels, relative humidity, pH levels, etc.) Our three-gallon terrarium ecosystems—such as deserts, lakes, and brushlands— were all interlinked by ports; allowing students to see how one system affects another over time. It was an example of an authentic, hands-on learning assessment. The project’s laptop research capability allowed for a depth of material that could not have been achieved before. My students really enjoyed it, and they kept wondering why they weren’t getting graded!
As the NSBA visitors observed this project in our classroom, I spoke to them in small groups explaining the instructional and technological components involved. As I presented my material, I remember referring to such terms as essential questions, anticipated misunderstandings, formative assessments and ongoing assessments.
Sure, I have used these strategies in the past, and could define a specific strategy if pressed—but the experience of my first four Marygrove College Master in the Art of Teaching (MAT) courses have allowed me to speak about all of these concepts in a more coherent and organized manner. It made for a very professional presentation.
As I plan for future lessons, I find myself thinking in a way that uses my improved understanding of the concepts covered in these courses.
While I strive to avoid sounding like the "know-it-all" college student, I do tend to introduce MAT course terms as I collaborate with colleagues. I also appreciate that the section on Backward Design helped me prepare a much more effective assessment for my students.
-Paul Henry, Pascack Valley Regional High School District, Montvale, New Jersey
Second Career, 12-year Special Education Teacher with a focus on Science and Mathematics
Be sure to stop by our Marygrove College MAT booth at the NJEA Convention Nov. 10-11 in Atlantic City! We’d love to meet you.
Teacher as Curator.
The Internet is a big, big place. Students usually know more than teachers do about Internet browsing. Even the youngest of children have amazing access to everything on the web. The challenge for K-12 teachers is directing them to the sites that best support the work they’re doing in class. With the entire Internet just a search term away, how can teachers best guide their students?
In 2007, author and theorist George Siemens wrote a blog post calling attention to what was then referred to as, “networked learning” and postulated that learning would be at the heart of Web 2.0 and would outlive “the temporary buzz and hype of all things 2.0.” (August 24, 2007,connectivism.ca/?p=93). About half-way down the article, Siemens turns his attention to the role of “the individual formerly known as teacher.” Siemens discusses the teacher’s role as moving beyond the “sage on the stage” or “guide at the side” dichotomy into a set of responsibilities and challenges more in tune with those of a museum curator.
We propose that good teachers have always been curators of information. Our challenge now, however, is to both guide students to appropriate learning experiences as well as to teach students how to shift and sort through Internet experiences to determine whether a particular experience is valuable on an individual basis.
Teacher as Curator means taking time to look at, potentially, thousands of web sites and blogposts, searching for that one, best application for your students. Good places to try are those connected with the adopted text books, those offered through trade book publishing companies like Scholastic, and those you find by typing in the topic of interest into a search engine. Sometimes a fortunate search term will lead you to a site filled with a wide variety of useful applications. Some of our favorites are:
The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives hosted by Utah State University has 100+ Java Applets which allow students to use math manipulatives to solve math problems. The free site is sorted by domain (Number and Operations, Algebra, Geometry, Measurement, and Data Analysis and Probability) as well as by age group (pre - K – grade 12).
BBC – There’s nothing like government funding in the United Kingdom to create a great web site. This site is amazing and includes “Bitesize” videos and simulations perfect for classroom teachers. Our favorites are in the science section. Here’s the one on Friction.
BrainPop is a subscription site with short, cartoon movies about a huge variety of topics. There are always a few free videos and one free game. They are under the “featured” heading or in the “Free Stuff” section. BrainPop comes in Espanol, too – one of the few sites that does.
Finally, Timez Attack by Big Brainz is a math game that deals with all four basic functions (multiplication and division now, addition and subtraction as of December 2011). There is a free version which teaches all of the facts, with pre and post tests, as well as much more intricate versions which are reasonably priced. The best part about this game is that it was built by gamers who understand the importance of fun for children in learning.
Most K-12 classrooms fall somewhere between high tech and high touch, a balance that is healthy and productive. If you would like information on how to supplement your in-class lessons, download our Free Marygrove College Master in the Art of Teaching (MAT) Guide, Extension of the Classroom, and start engaging your students with our time-saving, teacher-tested ideas!
Happy October. You’ve made it through at least a month of school. Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, all holidays involving too much sugar, are just around the corner. This is a great time to remember to laugh. Humor can be an effective component of classroom management.
Teachers need to laugh. And laugh a lot. It’s more important than ever, as more constraints and conditions are being placed on the profession. A brand new study from Oxford University shows that pain tolerance is much higher after a good endorphin-releasing belly laugh. Several books have been written about humor in the classroom—and researchers are studying its impact on students.
The author of “All Joking Aside: Five Reasons to Use Humor in the Classroom,” Michael E. Skinner, says “Students learn and retain more when humor is used... students exposed to lectures with humor outperformed their peers who were taught the same material without humor.”* Skinner’s findings are based on research at the college level, but why can’t it apply to younger students? Isn’t it just common sense that children will relax, and therefore arguably gain more from a lesson when the atmosphere is light and breezy?
When you consider the research from Vanderbilt University that shows you can actually burn 10-40 calories per day if you laugh for 10 to 15 minutes, well… that’s all the incentive anyone needs to laugh it up. Live Strong regularly gives us all kinds of wellness tips, of which laughter is a big part.
There was a time when teachers prided themselves on never losing “control” of their classrooms, and never, ever smiling before Christmas. They were trained to rule with a firm hand. To many students, teachers were the sound that all adults made on the “Charlie Brown” TV specials. But gone are the days when glowering teachers were the norm. Educationally Impolite, a group of teacher/performers, knows that humor opens hearts and minds.
Today, a third grade teacher in Michigan routinely takes a few moments after lunch to ask a student to relay a funny story to “get the giggles out” so the class can focus on the business of learning. As the year goes on, students discern what kinds of stories and jokes are appropriate or inappropriate to share.
Boy’s Life magazine continues to do a great job of offering grade-level jokes in each issue.
Last week, TeachHub posted the Top 12 Favorite TV Teachers. Admittedly, we can’t all be as charismatic and loved as the Miss Crabtrees and Gabe Kotters of television. But teachers can at least try to inject humor whenever they can, to connect with a student, to make a point, or to relieve tension before a tough test. It works.
So, go ahead…start releasing those wonderful endorphins in the classroom. Why not? It may even help boost your students’ academic performance.
For more fun ideas on how to manage your classroom effectively, download the free Guide to Classroom Management below, now!
*Skinner, M. E., and Fowler, R. E. (2010). All Joking Aside: Five Reasons to Use Humor in the Classroom. Education Digest, 76(2), 19-21.