Ongoing Activities
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Ongoing Activities: Ten Activities

Professional learning is an ongoing process.  The activities listed here will help you keep your on-the-job learning vibrant and alive.  They are designed not only to help you gather practical teaching tips, but also to give you a chance to connect with your colleagues.

Activity 1: Teaching Tip Card File As you work through the various Teachers on Target activities build a card file of teaching tips.  Divide your file into four different categories: classroom management (includes discipline), relationships (with students, colleagues, administration, parents, and community), teaching (includes materials, planning, demeanor, rhythm, activities, etc.) mechanics (classroom design, organization, student procedures, etc.) Add even more tips by regularly asking other educators to give you ideas that they use to make their teaching more effective, manageable, interesting, clear, etc.

Activity 2:  Best activities Collection   Build a file of favorite lessons or activities.  Ask other educators to give you a copy of a favorite lesson or activity (most teachers are happy to help colleagues).  It doesn’t matter if the lesson is in your subject area or grade level.  By examining quality lessons and activities you can glean workable ideas for your own teaching. Indeed, the gathered activities will serve as springboards to new and exciting teaching ideas.

Activity 3: Video Taping the Pros  Video tape (or observe) five teachers who you know are quality teachers.  Assess the tapes by answering the following questions:

  1. How do you characterize their style?

  2. What qualities do they all share?

  3. How do they use body language or gestures to their advantage?

  4. Is there a rhythm to their teaching?

  5. Are they clear?

  6. Is the objective or purpose of their teaching clear?

  7. What is their relationship to the students?

  8. What is their relationship to the material?

  9. Do they use humor?

  10. How do you characterize their use of classroom time?

  11. Are student expectations articulated?

  12. How do they energize students?

Activity 4: Teacher Quality Circles   Find two or more teachers who are willing to meet once every two weeks to discuss what it means to be a high functioning professional.  Your Quality Circle will not only offer you concrete professional advice, but it will also provide important psychological assistance. We all want to feel professionally connected.

Activity 5: Teaching Journal   Maintain a teaching journal.  Each day write a few thoughts or observations about your teaching.  Focus on the positive.  A journal can help you stay focused on the important issues and help you keep in mind why you went into teaching to begin with.

Activity 6: A Dozen Personal Inquiry Questions   Write twelve key questions about your career as a teacher.  When answered honestly, the questions should give you a better understanding of yourself as a professional teacher.  Every month, ask yourself these questions as a quality check.  You may want to go over them with a colleague or mentor.

Sample Questions

  • If I were a student in my own class, how would I relate to the teacher?

  • Am I utilizing my talents fully?

  • How is my teaching changing?

  • Am I teaching creatively?

  • What am I learning about myself as a person?

Activity 7: Professional Reading Group With a colleague or small group, select several professional books to read and discuss.  Meet monthly to discuss ideas from your reading.

Activity 8: Characterize Your Teaching   As an expressive project, characterize your teaching in a poem, painting, short story, or song.  If it is appropriate, share the work with students and/or colleagues to gain their insights.

Activity 9: Student Feedback Groups   If appropriate, meet with selected students after school in a relaxed atmosphere and ask them to give you classroom feedback.  Phrase the questions so they are age appropriate and non-aggressive.

Example:  Don’t ask “Am I a good teacher?”

Instead ask “over the last month what things in class have you enjoyed the most?” or “What have we done in class that has helped you grow and learn?”

Activity 10: Improving Student Discussion   Meet with other teachers to share ideas about keeping students actively engaged in classroom work and interaction.

  One of the most frustrating things in teaching is to present a good idea for discussion and then witness its agonizing demise when students don’t react. Although many factors work to make a discussion take off, a teacher can set the ground work for a productive discussion by practicing sound facilitation behaviors.  Below are seven key group-discussion behaviors to keep in mind.  Rate your competency for each behavior using the following scale: 5=strong, 4=somewhat strong, 3=average, 2=somewhat weak, 1=weak

5  4  3  2  1

Focusing: Define the topic clearly and emphasize why it is important to discuss the topic. Example: “This discussion will give us a clearer idea about the impact of the ______.”

5  4  3  2  1

Building: Build on ideas presented in the discussion. Example: “Can anyone see how Christa’s idea relates to our system of law in America?"

5  4  3  2  1

Clarifying: Summarize what has been said or check with students for understanding. Example: “Robert, do you mean to say that our jury system fails more than it works?”

5  4  3  2  1

Praising: Offer praise freely and meaningfully.  Make your praise specific.

5  4  3  2  1

Reviewing: On a regular basis, review or summarize major ideas or discussion trends. Example: “All in all then most of you agree our legal system has flaws but works sufficiently.”

5  4  3  2  1

Targeting: Keep the discussion on track and focused. Example: “Let’s go back to our definition of justice.”

5  4  3  2  1

Assigning: When it is applicable, have a student find out about something that could not be answered during the class discussion. Example “Mary, thank you for volunteering to find more information about King John’s so-called Thirteenth Tax.”

5  4  3  2  1

Concluding: At the end of the discussion, review major points in order to demonstrate what students have accomplished. Example: “This was a great discussion; let’s summarize what we have done.”

Reminder: Not only must the teacher demonstrate these class discussion behaviors, the student must use them as well.  As the lead facilitator, the teacher must do the following: 1. Explain exactly what is expected during a class discussion by establishing the ground rules; 2. Define expected class-discussion behaviors; 3. Enforce discussion behavior consistently; and 4. Reward students when they practice sound discussion techniques.  Let students know emphatically that it is their responsibility for successful classroom discussion.

 


Professional Development Activities (Select a category listed below)

 

 

 

 

 

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