Swansboro teachers share classroom tips
There are constant portrayals on social media and in the news of the teaching profession as arduous and unmanageable, which only adds to the challenge of encouraging students and young professionals to pursue careers in education. It is almost impossible to find success stories and articles highlighting highly effective teachers who have honed their craft and developed pedagogy that can be replicated by colleagues.
I’d like to bring up recommendations from four highly effective – and happy – teachers at Swansboro High School who have all discovered their own keys to teaching effectively while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
When asking about student achievement and job satisfaction, educators Derek Geddes, an English teacher with 22 years of experience; Erica Wright, a math teacher with 11 years of experience; Jennifer Griffin, a biology professor with 11 years of experience; and Doug Kidd, a math teacher with 28 years of experience; shared four strategies:
- Time management: Teachers all shared how they strategically use their planning periods to manage their workload and protect their personal time. All four shared that they only spend between one and four hours a week outside of the normal workday (6:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.) on school-related tasks. Their planning periods are spent grading, planning for the next day, reflecting on their practice, and collaborating with colleagues. They avoid checking and responding to emails after school and prioritize their personal lives to ensure they have a healthy work-life balance.
- Organizational Strategies: Teachers shared their best practices for staying organized: checklists, worksheets, and strategic use of resources. They recommended sticking to pace schedules, using one location to house all resources such as OneNote or a spreadsheet, and understanding which resources maximize student learning.
Geddes takes advantage of a Turnitin, an online teaching program that allows him to record student audio feedback on articles and one-on-one student lectures during class, which is much more efficient. than providing written feedback to 90 students. Kidd maintains a spreadsheet for each course that includes a day-to-day breakdown of standards, lessons, and links to resources. As part of his planning, he takes notes on what went well and what needs to be changed for the next semester. Wright creates a course booklet for each of his math courses which is printed before the semester by the district printing office. This not only keeps him on track with the pace, but also eliminates the need to spend his planning period making copies and for students to keep track of worksheets. Griffin uses Wakelet to house her resources for each unit and keeps notes on what went well and what needs to be changed – then reflects on those notes as she plans for each unit, one to two weeks at a time. advance.
The four teachers are also adept at using online resources that include grading components. They spend their time monitoring and transferring notes from the online resource to their notebooks. Examples included IXL, Microsoft Forms, Study Island, Delta Math, and AP College Board. Using these resources strategically to grade work allows them to spend valuable class time providing feedback to students.
- Content competence: The four teachers are masters of their content. Confidence in content is developed through experience, trial and error, and knowing what works and what needs to be dropped. They all use student data, think about student growth, and are comfortable with discord. They accept challenges and are flexible when needed, such as throwing away an activity that didn’t work as planned or revisiting a concept that will take longer to master than expected.
- Instructional time management and homework philosophy: Geddes, Wright, and Kidd all maintain similar class balances of one-third whole group or instruction, one-third guided practice, and one-third independent practice. Wright and Kidd usually start their lessons with ringtones and reviews. A biology teacher, Griffin explained that her classes are typically 100% collaborative in design.
All four use homework only for follow-up and reinforcement. Geddes wastes no class time with students reading in class and instead assigns reading a section to be discussed the next day as homework. For math, homework is only the work that students have not completed during independent practice. This independent practice is usually comprised of 15 questions with approximately 30 minutes to complete. Students only have homework if they have not completed the practice in class. Biology students are only required to complete assignments they did not complete in class as homework.
Teaching is a great career, and as educators we need to spend more time celebrating successes and sharing best practices from the masters of our profession, including what maintaining a work-life balance looks like. healthy life.
Lessons from leaders
For directors and district administrators, this means:
- Protecting Time: We understand that teacher and substitute shortages have sacrificed protected scheduling time on many school campuses. Find alternatives to asking teachers to cover lessons. If you must take a period of planning, find a way to make up for the sacrifice. Understand that you are immediately asking your teachers to sacrifice their personal time to complete the work that would have been done during the planning on their own time. Solutions may include developing relationships with substitute teachers, restructuring a position, or creative planning.
- Highlight and invest in organizational strategies: Make sure we invest in programs and resources to make feedback and grading more effective for teachers. Use professional development time to ensure teachers understand the resources available and how to maximize them to make planning, teaching, and grading more manageable.
- Content proficiency, teaching time management, and homework: Provide novice teachers with the opportunity to shadow master teachers and encourage time spent collaborating and sharing best practices. Facilitate time for teachers to discuss individual student growth and instructional challenges in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), with administration and mentors.
- Coaching teachers: Help teachers identify areas that present challenges, such as resource use or time management. Encourage teachers to spend time and energy refining practices that will make tasks more manageable.
- Expectations for work-life balance: Review your expectations of staff. Do you email after hours? Are you expecting an answer? Happy and balanced teachers produce happy and successful students. Model what you want from a healthy work-life balance, and your teachers and staff will respond accordingly.
Academics, community and family: learn more about these educators
Derek Geddes is a 22-year-experienced English teacher with a rigorous course load, with Specialization and Inclusion courses in English 2, as well as AP Literature. It consistently outperforms local and state growth metrics, as evidenced by North Carolina’s EVAAS projections, and 91% of its AP students have received college credit for passing their exam. Geddes chairs our English department and is a lacrosse and tennis coach. He also enjoys spending time with his family, on his boat and in the kitchen.
Erica Wright is a math teacher with 11 years of experience. Wright teaches Standard and Inclusion 3 math with large class sizes. It consistently outperforms local and state growth metrics as measured by North Carolina’s EVAAS projections. Wright also coaches cheerleaders and volunteers with a local theater company as part of their sound and lighting team. She enjoys spending time with her new husband and his religious family.
Jennifer Griffin is a biology teacher with 11 years of experience and teaches many sections of AP biology, as well as standard and specialized biology. Griffin consistently outperforms local and state growth measures, as evidenced by North Carolina’s EVAAS projections. She also leads the data team in the biology department and provides professional development locally and nationally. She manages our Refresh (student power hour) program and teaches part-time for NC State University. Griffin enjoys spending time with his family, working in his greenhouse and sharing his passion for essential oils.
Doug Kidd is a math teacher with 28 years of experience and teaches a challenging course load that includes Math 2 and Math 3 classes. Kidd teaches Math 3 students who are identified as being on the fast track for math – students who have historically scored in the 95e percentile and would have to grow further for the school and the teacher to be considered effective. This is probably the most difficult group of students to develop, and Kidd constantly challenges these students to succeed in the 99e percentile.
In North Carolina, the 99e percentile is considered a perfect score. It is predicted that almost all of his students will score above 75e percentile, and 99% of its students are exceeding growth expectations. Kidd is a distinguished football coach and a leader in the state and nation for the sport. He enjoys spending time with his family and his dogs and on his boat.