Oops, Did I Say That?


You all know that I love the Responsive Classroom philosophy and embracing this philosophy at East Side has transformed our school due to the belief that the social and emotional curriculum is just as important as the academic.  Responsive Classroom has a plethora of resources such as topics on Bullying, Academic Choice, Building Parent Relationships, you name it.  

One of the areas that we touched upon a few years ago was Teacher Language.  We used the Power of Our Words as a study book to work on how we are talking to our students as well as what we say to each other as adults.  It’s a very powerful book and if you need a copy, I have extras.  The RC website even has wonderful blogs about overusing the phrases, “I notice..” and “I see..”  here.  

One of the areas we as adults need to be careful with is what we are saying and how we are saying things to our students.  “Wow! You’re a genius” and “You can do better than that” may seem like words of encouragement, but is it possible that these expressions could decrease student motivation or hinder student learning?  Are our students taking it the wrong way?  

What we say as teachers in the classroom may not be what your students hear.  The message we intend to send our students may be distorted by the words we choose to use.  Certain types of language that teachers use to talk to, and about students, can reduce learning and create a state of classroom disharmony.

In this time of change, and boy do we have lots of it, I am asking you to stop, and think before you say what is on your mind to your students.  We are all frustrated by change, and lots of it, some good, some not so, but we also have to have an awareness of what is said and how we say it to our students.  There is no room for sarcasm as you all know. As Paula Denton, the author of Power of Our Words wrote:

 Sarcasm, another form of indirect language, is also common in the classroom. “John, what part of ‘Put your phone away’ don’t you understand?” a teacher asks. The students laugh, and the teacher thinks she has shown that she has a sense of humor. But she has embarrassed John and diminished his trust in her. And even though the other students laughed, they too might feel less trusting of the teacher, no longer seeing her as a protector but as someone who has the potential to use words in a hurtful way. It would be more effective for the teacher to directly state, “John, put your phone away.” If he doesn’t respond, then it’s time to try another strategy, such as the use of logical consequences.

Make sure you are putting in the 3 R’s for Teacher Language:  Reinforcing, Reminding and Redirecting.  Some of you put these phrases on your back wall to help remind you what to say.  Read the resources from the RC pages here, here and here.  

My fear, as we continue to focus so much of our time on to the common core, is losing the social and emotional areas we worked on so hard as a building and as a community.  As a leader of this building, this is NOT what I want to lose.  We have to continue to focus on the social and emotional curriculum as well.  Please do not give that up and continue to be the best of the best!  Have a great week!


Other News
  • Bus Duty for Jan 6 – Jan 17 Team 9:  Kathy Palmer, Jennifer Nichols, Mackenzie Ritz Upcoming bus duty:  Feb. 3- Feb. 14 Team 1:  Steph Plaisted, Brooke Crump, Kim Johnson
  • The STLE Applications are a great way to provide help and leadership within our school district as well as get paid.  I sent the email out to you and if you are interested, please see me because there is a process to be completed.  We need your help!!  I am looking for some K-2 teacher in our building for math and ELA.  If you are interested, come see me.  Applications are due to me by Tuesday, January 28th.  
  • We have a staff meeting on Feb. 3rd.  Let’s see if we can get to do this and not get cancelled out.  Kim Hayes will join us.  
Things in the Blogsphere
  • Peter Greene has a commentary about what Commissioner John King wrote a commentary in the NY Post about a  speech by  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. given in NY in 1962 and how it compares to the Common Core.  Really??
  • Commissioner King defends the implementation of CCSS in NY after he was grilled by the New York state senators here.
  • Yo-Yo Ma writes that it is not STEM that we need to be focused on but STEAM and arts integration for creativity here.  Also, empathy and imagination.
  • Dave Burgess will be co-moderating #NYEDChat Monday, January 27 @ 9:00p.m.  Use hashtag #NYEDChat to join the conversation on twitter.
  • Peter DeWitt writes about why Arne Duncan needs more dialogue and less monologue in his speeches here.
  • Read my new post Is the NYS Education Department Listening Now?
  • What are the five things you are grateful for?  Make a list daily.  It does wonders!
  • Be the change agent for kids!  Be a champion for kids.  Every kid deserves a champion!

App of the Week:  DIIGO

Diigo is a web clipper that stores websites and information neatly into files for management.  The use of Diigo is amazing.  You can set-up folders of topics as well as share these folders with others.  It is a great way to categorize your searches, articles, blogs, and internet websites.  You can also create lists and use them with your students.  It is a great tool to use for research and the best part, IT”S FREE!.  
Other Items of Interest
The latest issue of School Administrator has several articles aboutinstructional rounds.


There are some new sample-items from PARCC if you want to get a feel for what it might be like.


Here are some examples of videos used for flipped faculty meetings.


The concerns about privacy have had a significant impact on inBloom and the work it was planning on with many states.
Here are ideas for connecting the Arts with the Common Core. Here’s the crosswalk with music.
Monetary incentives (merit pay) have not been shown to have an impact on student achievement, according to New York City’s experiment.


This is a nice list of mid-year reminders to share with teachers – as we make the “turn” between semesters.

This short video quickly explains one way to organize the classroom in workstations.

Better Lesson continues to add more Common Core-aligned lessons that have been developed by their cadre of master teachers.

Americans with less education are sicker and live shorter lives. This report provides the details, including the finding that this is particularly true for white women.


The latest Responsive Classroom newsletter includes articles about increasing reading stamina, teachers’ choice of words, and decreased disciplinary referrals.

This article from Forbes takes a different perspective about international test scores — that the US is actually doing better than those other countries.


Grant Wiggins doesn’t let up on his blogging. This time he comments on the challenge of change and offers some good ideas to move ahead. There’s a lot here.


This diagram shows the relationship between CCLS math, CCLS ELA/Literacy, and the Next Generation Science Standards. It’s a quick way to see the associations.


This guide from NYSUT and NYSPTA about the Common Core for parents might be helpful.
3 Videos on Classroom Management
Grade 3 | ELA | Management (Downloads)
Ms. Sinclair centers her students each day by using a circle discussion to have them rate how they are feeling. She then uses this information to help gauge her instruction for the day. 
All Grades | All Subjects | Routines
Ms. Alcala knows that a little competition for middle school students can rally them around a common purpose
All Grades | All Subjects | Management
Ms. Noonan has figured out how to maximize instructional time. By attaching content to her transitions, she can introduce new words to her 5th grade “scholars” at every opportunity.  
A Touch of Humor
Close to Home

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