Creativity is intelligence having fun
Hi! I'm Laura Blair. I am an innovative and passionate educator with 17 years of experience. I love sharing my ideas and experiences to help young learners discover this amazing world.
How I ensure that all students achieve at a high level...
I believe one of the most important factors that contribute to success in school is creating a safe, nurturing and engaging learning environment. Establishing agreed upon rules for the classroom and fostering a climate of mutual respect is crucial. I take time to get to know each of my students. I gain their trust by showing that I care about them and their learning. I also strive to create a classroom environment that is a safe place to take risks, make mistakes and learn new things.
Students also need to be clear on what is being asked of them and what the learning objectives are for each lesson. I state my learning objectives clearly by writing "I can statements" or learning targets on the board every day. Sometimes I also ask students to explain what the learning targets mean to them. I believe in setting high expectations for my students and in most cases, students rise to meet those expectations.
An equally important factor is a student’s readiness to learn. All students do not come with the same prior knowledge. I routinely give formative assessments before I start teaching new concepts to see what prior knowledge my students do have. From that data, I adjust my instruction. Sometimes I will have to re-teach something that was not retained from the year before. Other times scaffolding needs to be provided to a small group of students. If this is the case, I do a small group lesson and provide an independent enrichment or review activity for the rest of the class. Having visible anchor charts, word walls, and even creating a class website with additional resources and video lessons are all strategies I have used to make sure all students have the resources they need to learn.
Analyzing data is also an important factor in making sure that all of your students are achieving at a high level. After teaching a concept or a unit, I always look at formative and summative assessment data that I have gathered. This helps me decide if we are ready to go on to the next topic as a class or if we need to spend more time on the learning objective. If my students are not understanding something I taught, I reflect upon my teaching looking for what I could have done better. I think re-teaching is very important but teachers must change up their instruction if the lesson wasn’t successful the first time.
There will always be students in your class that will be ready for more. For those high achievers, it is important to provide them with extra learning goals that will keep them engaged. A simplified rubric with "must haves" and "awesome" criteria can motivate students that want to achieve 110% in your class. By completing the "awesome" criteria, students not only get bonus points but also extend learning goals. In addition to this, I also set up centers around the room for students that finish their work early or that need an extra challenge. I believe that catering to the needs of high achieving students is just as important as providing extra help to those who struggle.
Finally, students must see what they are learning as important or interesting for the lesson to be successful. It’s very important for me to get to know my students and their interests. There are so many different ways to teach a topic. By finding out what interests my students, I can create content and instruction that intrigues them. Maybe they are into superheroes, zombies, dinosaurs, building things or sharks. Whatever they are interested in, there are creative ways to teach even the most tedious topics. As a teacher, it is my job to make the process of learning meaningful and fun for all my students.
In addition to being a teacher, I am the proud mama of two adorable little boys. They keep me on my toes.
The Course I am currently taking at Harvard School of Education