Collaborative Teaching

Goochland County Public Schools

Author: jbeasley

Teachers: Hero Vs. Villain

Hero Vs. Villain

It’s so easy to be compared to the villain as a teacher. At times, we deserve the title as the villain because of our pop quizzes, giving zeros for no homework, and telling students when it’s ok to use the restroom. Being the villain isn’t easy, especially when comes to working with parents. In some parents’ eyes, we will always be the villain no matter what we do.

But I didn’t become a teacher to be the villain, I became a teacher to be the hero. I wanted to be the hero who swooped down out of nowhere and used my superhuman strength to lift test scores. I wanted to jump and clear any math or reading obstacle that got in my students way. I would be that symbol of hope and inspiration to my students.  I was going to be that hero on the front page of the news that actually changed my students’ lives.

Today, I feel that I am slowly moving out of that shimmering beam of hero light and into my top secret villainous lair. The feeling of self-doubt and the overwhelming weight of my students’ needs is too much. The constant interruptions, calling out, fighting, arguing, crying, not raising your hand, disorganization, can’t stand in a line, bathroom “field-trips”, food fights, bullying, lying, no homework, talking in the hallway and the absolute worst crime of all — the messy desk — are taking a toll on my superhuman abilities. The activities that were once amazing 4 years ago are now losing their luster. I can feel myself changing into something I vowed never to be: the villain.

Being a teacher is one of the most selfless jobs in the world next to parenting. It’s so selfless that we even give up our own bathroom time in exchange for higher stakes test scores. People who come into this field are eager to be the hero. However, many of us leave the field frustrated or unfulfilled within the first five years of our career. It often feels like you can either quit your job as the hero or work long enough to retire as the villain in most cases.

How do we keep ourselves from becoming the villain?

Educators Unite! Assemble your own superhero league of educators. 

·       Find a group of educators or a mentor who you can trust will always have your back in these dark times.

·       Hunker down with your fellow educators and rely on each other for extra support.

·       Be open to collaborating with your fellow teacher heroes on lessons.

·       Build on each other’s strengths and surprise your students with a new project or lesson.

Who is this for you? For me, it is having my amazing co-teacher, Amanda Steeley, by my side. If it wasn’t for her amazing superhero SPED abilities, I wouldn’t know what to do.

A recent study by The Institute of Education Sciences found that teachers who had mentors were more like to remain in the school they were hired in after 5 years of teaching than those who did not have a mentor. Building successful relationships with your fellow teachers is key in order to keep yourself motivated. There is no shame becoming the sidekick!


Grab that Utility-Tech Belt!

Technology has taken over the classroom. One of the best ways to get adapted to new tech in the classroom is to start small. First, find out what your students are really into (gaming, social media, etc). Then, bring it into your classroom. For instance, my students play Minecraft at home constantly. We were able to use Minecraft as a learning tool in the classroom. My students were so engaged and so excited about building famous landmarks from around the world in Minecraft that they didn’t even want to go to recess! (what!?!?) The day that I introduced Minecraft to my students, joy filled the classroom. It was contagious. I felt like Batman when he had just saved Gotham from another attack or locked up the Joker! It’s those moments that make us want to come back every day to teach.

Never, Never, Never, Ever Give Up

We all face challenges every day. It’s how we handle those challenges that determine the next step of being a hero or villain. Teach fearlessly! Leap from one amazing lesson to another. Keep pushing for justice! Recognize your strengths and weaknesses. Focus on your strengths as a teacher and build from there. It may mean taking risks or trying something completely new, but even if we fail, we have another year to make it much better. Teaching is one of the few jobs that lets us take a failed lesson and make it better the next year. Now that’s growth mindset! No matter what we do, we must never, never, never, ever give up. We might not realize it but in some of our students’ eyes, we are the only constant and positive thing they have.

Dark times will hit your classroom, just like they do in Gotham City. Your students might turn against you, and at times, problems might arise. The most important thing we do as heroes is to fight for what is right in our classrooms. Instead of thinking, What will help me get through this year? we should really be asking, What is best for my students and how can I make this year the best yet? Focus on your students who need you and stay positive. Don’t let stress and frustration wear you down. Put on that superhero teaching suit and look toward the sky. We may never leap from a tall building or risk our lives to stop an out-of-control, speeding train, but we can take a leap with our fellow educators and try something new in our classrooms. In order to stop ourselves from becoming the villain, we have to be a true hero who takes risks because it’s what’s best for our students.

MSiC Make It: Minecraft

Click here for the Minecraft Presentation!



The Power of a Good Handshake!

Never underestimate the power of a handshake. Often it’s the first thing we do when we are introduced to new people. It delivers first impressions. A good handshake can start conversations and promote trust between two people.  Researchers from the University of Illinois Beckman Institute found that a good handshake promotes confidence and trustworthiness. The study found that a good, firm handshake actually leads to positive feelings.

Do you teach confidence and trust in your classroom?

In our classroom, our 5th graders greet us with a handshake every morning. It’s a great way to start the day and gives us the opportunity to teach our students how to respectfully greet someone. During the first week of implementation, our students found it a little awkward and students were apprehensive. Over time, students understood the importance of greeting their teachers each morning. In fact, they enjoyed it and often looked forward to the handshake. Our morning greeting became a ritual. Students felt comfortable starting conversations and they opened up to us. The handshake laid the framework for trust and confidence between us and our students. Now when guests walk into our classroom, our students are not afraid to greet them. Our guests feel more welcome and open to talking to our students. The handshake breaks the first barrier of communication and allows the conversation to flourish.

Recently, I saw a video of a teacher that hand a personalized handshake for every student he taught. I thought this was a brilliant idea. This teacher found a way to build relationships with his students through a handshake. I am confident that this teacher has a strong bond of trust with his students.

Build trust and confidence with your students. Start the morning with a good handshake.

Research Article:

This is Urgent!

Joe Beasley, General Education Teacher

I hate wasting time. It is one of my biggest pet peeves. When I was in school, I can remember feeling bored countless times. Most of the time when I felt like this I was in a classroom with no sense of urgency. Now as a teacher, I realize how difficult it is to turn every single lesson into an engaging one, and there will always be a lesson that may turn out to be a little dry. However, I have come to realize that half the battle of confronting a an otherwise boring lesson is how you deal with it.

In our classroom, we teach our students how to create a sense of urgency. Amanda and I want our students to know that we have a lot to do, every day, and we can not slack. Whether we are reading science notes or walking through how to edit a sentence, we want our students to be engaged and ready to move on to the next lesson — fast! One way to create a sense of urgency is to bring a sense of energy to all lessons. Teachers have to move and they have to show excitement. Your students feed off you and you feed off them. Make note taking into a treasure hunt certain key words; have students act out a reading from a textbook; give students the choice in how they would like to complete the assignment. But whatever you do, do not let it be sluggish. There must be a sense of urgency.

Students need to see the spark of learning alive in their teachers. Often teachers feel like they have to put on a show in order engage their students. Yes! We should all the time, every single moment of the day. Kids thrive on excitement and energy. If you create a fast-pace classroom with little time for sitting or downtime, your students will be more likely to stay with you every step of the day. This means teachers have to be movin’ and groovin’! At times, I feel like a coach reminding my students that we have 5 minutes left and we have to get going to the next lesson. Let’s push forward and focus! We can do it!

Here are some helpful ways to bring a sense of urgency to your classroom:

1. Keep downtime to a minimal or only when it is absolutely necessary. 

During the majority of the day, most students are sitting. Sadly, the only time students are usually moving is when they are traveling to the next class. When students come to your classroom, try to get them up and moving as much as possible.

2. Give students choice.

Have a boring assignment? Let students choose how they would like to complete it. Give students fun choices that will get them engaged.

3. Be fast but understanding.

Creating a sense of urgency doesn’t automatically make you a Drill Sergeant, and it shouldn’t. You should constantly assess the situation and make sure your students are with you. Be mindful of your students and always keep checking in with them. “Am I going too fast?” “Are you with me?”

4. No teacher desk.

The desk acts like a wall and defines a space for only the teacher. A safe place for the teacher to escape from his or her students. But in reality, you can’t teach students while you sit. I don’t remember any of my best teaching moments happening while I was sitting at my desk. Bring the energy to your students and be present with them.

Creating a sense of urgency in the classroom must first be modeled by the teacher. Once students see the sense of urgency in their teacher, they often pick it up and run with it. When students ask to go to the bathroom, they don’t sluggishly walk down the halls, stop to look in other classrooms and try to see how long it will take them to walk back to class. Our students go to the bathroom and hurry back because they know they don’t want to miss the next lesson.