MAT Blog

Teachers, America needs you!

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Nov 15, 2012 9:39:00 AM

uncle samTeachers have responsibility for educating the next generation.  We literally will benefit from the results that schools and teachers gain working with the next generation of students.

The typical teacher is humble, hard-working, and unassuming.  It is time to change all that.  America’s students need you!

  • To be the best professional you can be.
  • To teach all your students, no matter how much they try to keep you from doing so.
  • To model what a citizen looks like….literate, culturally competent, funny, pugnacious, and skeptical
  • To look out for their best interests
  • To be a true TEACHER LEADER

A True Teacher Leader
Charlotte Danielson, Ann Lieberman, and Lynne Miller all have specific tips and tricks teachers can adopt to look and act like a leader.  Some of what they suggest may seem surprising, but these things will increase your competence as a teacher in and outside of your classroom.

Advocate for Students
Challenge the dominance of testing.  Become a teacher who not only promotes her/his personal accountability but also promotes authentic student learning.  Work to counter the emphasis on testing and more testing.

Share Leadership with Peers

  • Be a model for younger teachers.  Informally mentor one, two, or six.
  • Go to peers for input on your teaching and your ideas.
  • Take critique of your practice as it is intended—as an opportunity to grow. 
  • Take on roles your administrator might have traditionally done in service of your school and students.
  • Coach and be coachable.
  • Be a mentor and seek mentors.
  • Do not close your door.  Share your good ideas with your peers.  Steal theirs.

Become an Action Researcher

  • Develop a sense of inquiry.  Ask, how can my students learn _____________?
  • Use action research strategies to solve student learning issues
  • Model experimentation.  Try new ways of thinking and teaching.
  • Never stop asking why. How can I help my students learn at even higher levels?

Create a Community of Lifelong Learners

  • Be humble
  • Start a grade level or subject specific Professional Learning Community
  • Lead a grade level or subject specific Professional Learning Community
  • Care about your colleagues as much as your subject matter and content

Go public with your ideas and passion for student learning

  • Openly share your good teaching ideas
  • Keep your classroom door open
  • Visit and invite others into your classroom to observe your teaching
  • Join a professional organization and present your ideas to others.  That builds the profession.

Skillful Leadership

Teachers have to learn skills at leading groups.  Charlotte Danielson, (2006) lists skills that teacher leaders need to:  

  1. Use Norms to Run Groups- Set some simple rules to live by.  It keeps things flowing and helps get things done
  2. Keep the Group on Track- Listen to everyone in the group but keep the work moving to conclusion.
  3. Mediate- When the group disagrees, an effective leader works things toward resolution.
  4. Ask for Outside Help- If you are bogged down.  Ask someone you know to come in an offer a fresh perspective. Adding a new member can make everything flow.
  5. Positive- Frame the issues you are trying to solve. However, do not focus on the why so much, as how the solution will help students. Focus on evidence and not perceptions. Brainstorm solutions.
  6. Action- Solving real-student issues is often a complex thing. Use your group to identify the issue, seek evidence and then frame simple action steps to solve the problem
  7. Never Stop- Once you take action to solve a student issue, keep at it, and evaluate regularly to see if it is working.

Teacher leaders inspire and involve others to serve our children. They are relentless, positive, and a force to be reckoned with. Go be a true teacher leader. Our children need you.

Try these resources for more Teacher Leadership ideas:

Danielson, C. (2006). Teacher Leadership: That Strengthens Professional Practice. ASCD.  ISBN 978-1-4166-0271-2

Gabriel, J. (2005). How to Thrive as a Teacher Leader. ASCD. ISBN 1-4166- 0031-0

Harrison, C. & Killion, J. (2007). Ten Roles for Teacher Leaders. Educational Leadership. 65(1). ASCD.

Leading the Profession: An NEA Agenda for Action, [n. d.]  Retrieved from:

Lieberman, A., & Miller, L. (2004).  Teacher Leadership. Jossey-Bass Leadership Library in Education. ISBN 978-0-7879-6245-6

chuck pearson

Charles (Chuck) S. Pearson, Ph.D. is a mentor and Coordinator of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment for the M.A.T. program. He received his B.S. in Elementary Education, his M.A. in Science Education and his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, K-12 Administration from Western Michigan University. 

As a coordinator and mentor, Dr. Pearson brings with him 20 years of experience teaching elementary and middle school, 5 years of experience as a Science and Math Curriculum Coordinator and nearly a decade of leadership experience as an elementary principal. In addition to this, Dr. Pearson has acted as a field instructor for Detroit Public School System high school science teachers through University of Michigan and Teach for America. He has also taught at Western Michigan University where he coordinated school renewal planning and implementation with the U.S. Department of Education.

Learn more about our online Master's Degree Program

Tags: strategies, teacher leaders, developing teachers, Dr. Chuck Pearson

Differentiated reading instruction high fives!

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Mar 23, 2012 1:55:00 PM

Marygrove MAT shows teachers five ways to make differentiating students an easier task.A national expert on differentiated learning and one of our Master in the Art of Teaching program contributors, Carol Ann Tomlinson  said it best, “…kids don’t come in standard issue.” While that is true, many teachers often wonder where they will find the time to integrate differentiation for their diverse learners. We want to help.

Differentiated reading instruction includes students at the center of teaching and learning by combining students’ interests and abilities with the learning tasks. It tailors the learning to the learner, and helps to unlock the unique potential of each student. If you look at differentiation as more of an essential strategy for supporting your students and less of a time-consuming burden, you are already on your way to success! Try these five tips now, and you’ll be way ahead of the game next year!

  1. Know your students! Although all educators would likely agree that differentiating reading instruction is crucial, having data to support your differentiation decisions is just as important.  When you're differentiating based on ability you want to ensure that students are properly assigned tasks based on assessment data.  This correlation will maximize the student time spent on the learning task. When you are differentiating based on interest you can compile student data from anecdotal records, observations, or student interest surveys. Knowing your students is important and matching the differentiated task to each learner helps you to provide high quality reading instruction.

  2. Don’t go it alone! Working with others can help lighten the load of differentiating by sharing ideas, planning, and resources with other teachers in your grade level who have students at similar reading levels. Pooling your resources can produce exciting activities and eliminate duplication. If you have no one to work with inside your building consider other options such as teachers at different sites or sharing resources online. There are multiple online forums committed to teachers looking for differentiated instruction resources.
  1. Be on the level. One of the simplest ways to differentiate reading instruction is to provide leveled readers. This will allow students to participate in successful reading interactions no matter what their proficiency level. Many children's book publishers provide text controlled leveled reader sets for purchase. You can also level your existing classroom library using online databases that catalog approximate reading levels for millions of children's books. This allows you to provide high quality, authentic children's literature at appropriate levels for your students. Two great sites for leveling books are the Book Wizard by Scholastic Books and Beaverton School Districts leveling database. 

  2. Keep it real. Regardless of the students' levels, the differentiated instruction tasks should be linked to their current grade level standards. For example, if a second grader is reading at a fourth grade level, he should still be responsible for showing mastery of the second grade comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency standards. His tasks, although designed around his advanced reading ability should still be derived from the second grade standards.  Additionally, a student in the same class that is reading at a first grade level should have her reading instruction designed to take into account text level as well as what she's expected to master by the end of second grade.
  1. Connect the dots! In order to maximize your planning time, consider integrating the content with other subject areas. You may be able to assign students leveled readers that correlate with the current topic of study in social studies, science, and health.  Perhaps your class just finished a writing unit on biographies.  You could reinforce what students just learned by providing a collection of historical biographies at a variety of levels. Additionally, you may be able to further connect the biographies and differentiated reading instruction to your history studies. Integrating content is easier than you think! Once you begin thinking of your role as a facilitator of information, making these connections to other content will become second nature.

We would be selling you a bill of goods if we didn’t mention that differentiation is much easier to achieve when you have the support of your administration. If your principal embraces the value of differentiating for students, it makes all the difference for you. We certainly wish you all the best! Let us know if this has helped you. Good luck!

Have you downloaded our best practices guide for reading comprehension yet? It’s filled with helpful hints to boost your instruction, every day.

Download our K-6 Reading Comprehension B



Tags: strategies, download, reading instruction, differentiation

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