Count Me In: Using Icebreakers to Build an Inclusive Classroom Community

One of the essential components of a positive learning environment is the establishment of positive relationships. Creating a classroom tone that is friendly, supportive and invites opportunities for connected modes of learning, can enhance the learning experience for all students. Incorporating icebreakers can help create an environment where all students feel safe sharing. Icebreakers not only encourage student voice, they can support students in making meaningful connections to content. My experience with facilitating icebreakers with students and adults has taught me a few tips and tricks. I’ve had some great…

5 Muhammad Ali Quotes Every Teacher Needs in the Classroom

As a fan of boxing, it’s easy to compare the world of education to this fascinating sport. Educators, regardless of their role, have ringside seats to a main event focused on transforming education. There are always competing initiatives (going toe-to-toe), which can be difficult to navigate. Despite the constant battles,  those who want to make a difference never throw in the towel. Teachers and students hit the canvas each day. Teachers work to create independent learners who can get themselves out of a clinch. When a student gets knocked down, a…

Big Fish: Ensuring Continuous Growth for all Students

One of my favorite movies ever is Big Fish. For me, it was one of those movies that I talked about for hours after I watched it because it was open to different interpretations. My intention is not to provide you with a movie review, but you should check it out.  The movie really zeroes in on this successful, larger than life type of character. We all know someone like that. It doesn’t take long to spot a big fish.  They’re the one with the natural charm. Classroom Connection Who’s…

Does your Face and Space Encourage Risk-Taking?

I took Erica and Chris to a birthday party at an adventure park last weekend.  Treetop obstacle courses and zip lines make for an adrenaline boosting experience! However, it was the first time for all of us and it was quite intimidating in the beginning. I watched intently as the park instructors and staff prepared my kids for their adventure, strapping on their harnesses with pulleys and providing an overview and safety briefing…and they were off.  My mom senses were well aware that wrapped in my children’s excitement was a…

Looking Back: Positive Interactions Make a Difference

Writing this blog gives me an opportunity to reflect on some of my relationships with teachers. Today, I went all the way back to my kindergarten teacher at P.S. 95 in Brooklyn, NY. She embraced my wild imagination when I rambled every Monday morning about weekend trips around the globe and back.  Fast forward to my 11th grade World History teacher, who with a note on the back of my graded quiz, encouraged me to find the balance between my boyfriend and school. Next, my undergraduate college professor used his resources…

Say Cheese: It’s Okay to Smile at Students

Okay parents, how many of you practice the “picture day smile” with your kids?  Well, if you won’t admit to actually practicing, you at least ask your kids to show you how they intend to smile for the camera. I absolutely ask!  Here is one of my favorite pictures from back in the day. I wonder how often students and teachers are smiling in school, beyond picture day.  Some believe the old adage that a teacher’s smile is a sign of weakness and an invitation for behavior management issues.  Teresa…

Caption This: Student Engagement is Not a Guessing Game

Caption this photo. What does your caption mean? Is this student extremely bored, highly focused, or just a little tired?  How do we know when students are truly engaged in learning? Don’t leave it to chance!  This is the time of year when teachers have to change things up a bit to keep students engaged. There are numerous videos, websites, books, and articles on this hot topic.  Edutopia recently compiled a list of resources that include specific tips for keeping students actively engaged in learning. Check out their Student Engagement: Resource…

Comfort and Joy: Learning Space Matters

Everyone should have an opportunity to learn in a positive environment, to enjoy the learning process, and feel comfortable and content in it-Barry Saide Have you ever had to sit in a squeaky or wobbly chair for an extended period of time, or listen to an unusually loud tick of a clock? Although these things seem small and insignificant, they can be huge distractions in a learning environment.  How do small discomforts interfere with teaching and learning? Okay, so I will be upfront and say that one of my pet…