Educator Reflection Tip #76: How often do you self-reflect on your instructional practice?

To become a better version of yourself, you must embrace feedback and criticism and reflect on your own teaching.

                                                                         ~Lucie Renard

We make the biggest impact on any aspect of our lives when we think about our thinking, behavior, implementation, actions, and reactions. How often do you think about your practice? I’m not talking about just one-sided reflection. I am asking about self-reflection. Oxford dictionary defines self-reflection as meditation or serious thought about one’s character, actions, and motives. Do you really understand what is means to reflect on your action? John Dewey (1933) describes reflection as having two interconnected parts. The first is “(1) a state of doubt,hesitation, perplexity, mental difficulty, in which thinking originates, and (2) an act of searching, hunting, inquiring, to find material that will resolve the doubt, settle and dispose of the perplexity” (p. 12). Think back to a time when you were learning something new..to ride a bike, practicing a new dance step, to draw or paint. What steps did you follow as you worked to develop your expertise? Write them down and then think about whether you follow those same steps as you work to grow and develop your skills in the classroom. Reflection does not consist of just one step. There are stages involved in this process. When an educator truly begins to practice self-reflection, they use carefully crafted, intentional steps and data to carefully scrutinize all aspects of teaching and learning.

Stages of Self-Reflection: Take a moment to reflect on the method that you currently use to measure the effectiveness of your instructional practice as you read through this four-step process for self-reflection. Reflective teaching is an example of professional development which you can attain on their your when you examine their own practice.

The process of reflection comes with a cycle to follow:

  1. Teach: Although when you see the word teach, it seems so simple. Those of us within the profession, realize all too well, that this is far from being true. Teaching is the end result of meticulous planning which involves teachers considering all aspects of the Instructional Core, which begins with teachers unpacking the standards and breaking them into small teachable chunks, considering the academic levels of students and scaffolds you will include to help ensure that all students are able to engage with grade-level content, determining how students will engage with the content, and reviewing future assessments to align instruction with the rigor of the standard and assessment.
  2. Self-assess: Use data and learner outcomes to assess the overall effectiveness of teaching and learning. Reflect on instructional strategies, the level of student engagement, and the percentage of students who mastered the lesson standard. Before deciding on whether to continue using the same instructional strategies in subsequent lessons, review student benchmarks, diagnostic, and previous assessment data to determine if students are making adequate progress towards meeting the academic goals that have been set by your state standards and/or during feedback conversations with students.
  3. Unmask the Truth: This is the hardest step for us all. Mezirow (1991) created the continuum of transformational self-reflection. The third stage is what I have coined, “intent”. Intent involves reflecting on evidence of pedagogical improvements in knowledge and understanding as well as improvement of instructional practices. Within this step, educators are looking for trends, good or bad, and thoroughly thinking about whether what they are implementing is truly working to help students learn and grow. After determining the related trends, if you determine that the data supports negative impacts on student outcomes, be willing to conduct research to find new ways of teaching that can improve the quality of learning within your classroom.
  4. Work to Reverse or Duplicate the Findings:
    • Duplicating: After analyzing data, if you determine that trends are favorable, continue using the planning process, teaching strategies, and student engagement strategies during the next week. Try these ideas in practice
    • Reversing: To help to counteract the negative trends found within your data analysis, decide which actions need to change whether it altering the methods you use to plan instruction, implementing new teaching and learner engagement strategies, or a combination. Then begin the self-reflection cycle all over again.

As you ponder over your current practices and reflect on whether you are using currently implementing all four stages in the self-reflection cycle, consider the following:

  1. How often do I think about my level of expertise in the classroom?
  2. If not, what is preventing me from using the reflection process?
  3. What can I put in place to hold yourself accountable?
  4. What method am I using to track my progress?
  5. Should I begin to keep a daily/weekly journal, develop a chart to track your progress, or have an accountability partner?

Resource: The first volume of the book, Educator Reflection Tips is filled with ways that will help you along the self-reflection journey. The chapters take you on a journey towards think about on how you build relationships with students, the actions you are taking to create an antiracism classroom, whether you are using data to effectively drive instructional decisions, and developing a student-focused feedback loop, just to name a few. Lastly, Volume #1 will provide you with tips, resources, and strategies to strengthen your instructional practices.

You can read the first chapter for free: https://a.co/1S2z1s3. Go ahead. Go ahead give it a try.

If you like it consider, joining me for #BookCampPD on November 1st and 8th on Twitter at 6:30pm CST so that we can reflect together.


Dewey, J. (1933). How we think: A restatement of the relation of reflective thinking to the education
process. Boston, MA: DC Health.

Mezirow J. (1991). Transformative dimensions of adult learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.




Educator Reflection Tip #73: Are you using data to effectively inform your instructional practices?

Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

Try not to shy away from the potential contained within all of the student data that exist in abundance in our classrooms and schools. Incorporate them into the wide variety of decisions you make every day. Embrace this as an opportunity to bring a little “science” of teaching into your “art of teaching”?

                  ~Craig A. Mertler, ASCD author

If you are like most educators, you spend an abundance of time wondering if you are making the right instructional decisions for students. You do this because you know that teaching and learning are interconnected. This knowledge leads you to think about the curriculum, instructional strategies, and what you know about your students as you plan for instruction.Part of the information that you  understand about students comes from assessment data. Assessments are vital to effective teaching and learning (Heritage, Kim, Vendlinski, & Herman, 2009) as it provides teachers with valuable data regarding student proficiency.  There are three basic types of assessment – preassessment; formative assessment and summative assessment.  Preassessments provide teachers with student’s background knowledge prior to delivering instruction.    Formative assessment occurs during instruction; teachers continuously collect information to provide feedback, check for student understanding, determine what to teach next to improve student outcomes (Black and William, 1998, p. 7-19).  Summative assessments are given at the end of a unit of study, grade or course.  Examples of this type of assessment includes unit tests, exams, and standardized tests.  All three forms are important as the data gathered guides planning, instructional delivery, tasks, and differentiation. Do you feel that you have had enough professional development on how to interpret data, how to avoid the three types of bias when deciphering data, and the effect content knowledge plays in the data-driven decision-making process? The reality is that the interpretation of data systems is an intricate process that few teachers would describe themselves proficient when asked about their data literacy (Hamilton et al, 2009).

This entry is intended to help you strengthen your knowledge of data, the biases to avoid when interpreting data, and questions to consider as you incorporate what you learned from data into your instructional practices. Let’s get started…

 Psychologists have discovered three types of bias that impede people’s cognitive processing when making decisions that involve interpreting data. Tversky and Kahneman (1982) identify three biases that influence decisions. They are representativeness bias, availability bias, and anchoring and adjustment bias.

  1.   Representativeness bias occurs when the similarity of objects or events confuse people’s thinking regarding the probability of an outcome. With this type of bias, people frequently make the mistake of believing two similar things or events are more closely correlated than they actually are. In a school, this is what this type of bias might look like. When it comes to using data, an example would include assumming that students who always score proficient on weekly tests will automatically achieve proficiency on a summative assessment, or comprehensive end of the year assessment.
  2. Availability bias is the human tendency is to judge the likelihood of an event, or frequency of its occurrence by the ease with which the examples or instances come to mind. This psychological incident impedes how people process complicated information. In a school, this might manifest itself in a situation such as assuming that one student caused the disruption in the classroom instead of investigating to determine what actually occurred. For example, when a teacher predetermines which students will not master a skill and group them prior to gathering data during instruction and believe that their decision is justified due to these students usually not mastering skills. This is an example of this type of bias.
  3. Anchoring and adjustment bias involve people seeing new information through an essentially distorted lens. With this type of bias, people tend to anchor their decisions on the initial calculations without actually working through the process. Research indicates the more complex a number is, the more likely people are to choose an estimate versus mentally working through until a solution is found. For education, this would manifest itself in a teacher over or underestimating the effect of an instructional practice without actually implementing and gathering enough data to prove its validity.

In 2011, the U.S. Department of Education (2011), outlined five areas teachers need to be proficient in to accurately use data to inform instruction. These areas include:

  • Pinpointing significant pieces of information within a data system: Teachers and schools collect data from a variety of sources: quizzes and tests, formative, common, interim, and summative assessments, exit tickets, teacher observation, student work, progress monitoring, and benchmarks.
  • Comprehending what the data indicates: Every report that you encounter contains different information. Have you had training on the layout and specific information that is included in every type of data report that you use? Does your school or team use a specific protocol to analyze student work samples?
  • Presuming what the data signifies: Do you know the purpose of each data set, what it is supposed to collect, whether it is norm referenced, whether it is intended to meansure student’s current instructional level, their level of proficiency, or how they scored in comparison to other students who took that particular test? It’s important that you understand they type of data that each assessment collects so that you will be able to figure out what the data signifies?
  • Choosing an instructional method that focuses on the conditions discovered through the examination of data: It will take a lot of practice for teachers to become skillful in identifying the instructional strategies to integrate into instruction in order to move students from their current academic level towards mastery of grade level standards. 
  •  Outlining instructionally applicable questions that can be tackled by the data in the system: Here are a few questions that you should consider asking yourself when disaggregating data:
    • How will I determine which data points get priority?
    • Do I notice any trends in the data?
    • What do I notice in terms of student strengths?
    • What areas of growth can be identified within the data?
    • How will I address student misconceptions?
    • Can I pinpoint any skills/standards which may have impacted student’s mastery of standards?

Thanks for visiting the Digital PD 4 You Blog!! If you are interested in listening to weekly tips as you get ready for work or drive home from school. Visit https://anchor.fm/jami-white or any podcast platform and search or the Digital PD 4 You podcast. I will see you next week for another reflection tip. Have a great week of teaching and learning!!!


Data-Driven Decision Making (How To)

Data-Driven Decision Making: A Primer for Beginners

High-Yield Instructional Strategies


Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (1998). Assessment and classroom learning. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy and Practice, 5(1), 7–73.

Hamilton, L., Halverson, R., Jackson, S., Mandinach, E., Supovitz, J., & Wayman, J. (2009). Using student achievement data to support instructional decision making (NCEE 2009-4067). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/publications/practiceguides/.

Heritage M., Kim J., Vendlinski T., & Herman, J.  (2009) From evidence to action: A seamless process in formative assessment? Educational Measurement 28(3): 24–31.

Tversky, A. & Kahneman, D. (1982). Judgments of and by Representativeness. In Kahneman, D., Slovic, P., & Tversky, A. (Eds). Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases. Cambridge University Press, p. 84-98.

U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development (2011). Teachers’ ability to use data to inform instruction: Challenges and supports.  Washington, D.C.


The “Educator Reflection Tip” Book Releases in 7 days…Have you downloaded the “FREE” resources that are linked in the book preview??

Have you ever said to yourself, I wish I had more time to concentrate on me and learn something new. If so, Educator Reflection Tips is the book for you. Each Reflection Tip is jammed pack with PD on a specific topic. If you haven’t already read through the preview, just follow this link. Just think in 7 days, you will have multiple sets of professional development within each tip. There hasn’t been a book like this one. It’s one stop shopping for improving instruction in one place. Available on August 7, 2020!!!!

Go to https://bit.ly/32BkpU7 to read the preview. Happy Reading!!!!


Educator Reflection Tip #67: School Reopening: Are you a silent bystander or an advocate for children?

If you are like most educators, I’m sure that you are anxiously awaiting the CDC revisions outlining how schools will reopen this fall and stressing over how we can possibly reopen schools, but I propose that educators shift our focus to how can we best educate our students during the Coronavirus Pandemic. As educators we have two choices…. to sit back as a silent bystander or to be a voice for children by advocating for their safety. In this perspective, a silent bystander would sit home, watch the news, talk with friends about the “what if” in regard to the guidelines that could be set forth. I’m sure that none of you are doing this. Instead, you would and should use your voice to advocate for children. It will take all of us to do this the right way. Our kids are counting on you to do your part.

Suggested Tips for advocating for students and helping schools to reopen safely include:

  1. Doing your homework: Research what an advocate is and does. While researching don’t forget to research both sides of the argument. You must understand both sides before you can make sure that you are advocating for putting children first. Don’t forget to incorporate the five steps of advocacy which are clarity of purpose, safeguarding and privacy, equality and diversity, empowerment, and putting people first.
  2. Remembering the origin of the word advocacy. It comes from the Latin word “advocare” which means to call out for support. The origin of advocacy dates back to ancient Rome and Greece when orators, like Cicero and Caesar, would perform as advocates or write speeches/monologues specifically pleading for someone’s cause.
  3. Crafting a plan/speech that is “solution-driven“. This is not the time to complain. Instead, you should propose specific protocols that you know will keep you, your students, the staff, and community visitors safe during in-person school settings. This could include protocols for classes going to the restroom, socially distancing in the halls, how to navigate the process of students picking up lunches, dismissal procedures, etc.
  4. E-mailing/Calling/Setting up a Meeting with the governor, one of the school reopening task force members, school board members, your district superintendent, and/or your administrator. Then present them with your proposed solution-oriented plan/speech.
  5. Other ways to advocate include sending a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, submitting an article to a national magazine, writing a blog or creating a website that provides resources to assist other educators, writing poems or creating artwork that inspires others to begin or continuing advocating for children. I wrote the poem below for educators and it was published last month. I hope that it inspires you to continue or begin advocating for children. They deserve it and are depending on us.
Poem published on OrganicPoet.com on June 22, 2020.

If you don’t know where to start, these questions might help:

  1. What is missing from the current school reopening plans?
  2. What procedures or routines could be implemented to help keep students, teachers, school leaders, and community visitors safe during in-person school settings?
  3. Are there materials that would be helpful to ensure social distancing within the in-person school setting?

As always, I have provided additional resources to help further your knowledge on this topic. Thanks for visiting my blog and I will see you next Friday!!

Additional Resources:

Stand Up for Your Students with These Small Steps




Visit the Digital PD 4 You Podcast at: podcasts60e+2bd68f00@anchor.fm


Educator Reflection Tip #66: How will you meet your students social and emotional needs virtually and/or in-person amid the Coronavirus pandemic?

Tips for meeting students social and emotional needs amid the Coronavirus pandemic

When schools open for the 2020-2021 school year, students will have endured at least six months of consistent change and instability no matter the socioeconomic status of their family. As educators, we must do what is needed to take care of ourselves socially and emotionally so that we will be able to focus on the needs of our students. Our students will have endured traumas that we can only imagine. Therefore, we are going to have to revise the SEL strategies that we used last year. We must come up with innovative ways to help us meet the needs and reach each of our students.

Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

Tips for meeting the social and emotional needs of students in both a virtual and in-person school setting: 

  1. Consider the physical and psychological safety needs of every student individually. It’s important to recognize each student’s unique needs and vulnerabilities.

2.    Say “hello” to students as frequently as possible. This can be done via a video message sent through email or text, a traditional stamped
letter in the mail, arranging a drive-through visit in your student’s neighborhood, etc.

3.    Reimagine temperature checks: It will be more important than ever that educators keep a pulse on the needs of their students. Just as
we will be taking the temperature of everyone who enters our buildings each day. Teachers will need to do social and emotional checks on their students daily. These can be completed verbally by asking students questions, through a Google Check-in form online, or through journaling where students are required to submit an entry and respond to 2-3 of their classmates’ entries.

4.    Speaking with parents can also help educators assess the needs of their students. Consider holding bi-weekly forums/roundtable discussions with parents if you are teaching students virtually, recording announcements/weekly updates and e-mailing them to parents, and/or creating a weekly newsletter for parents to keep them updated on what their kids are learning. Teachers could also sign up for a Google phone number which can be used to communicate with parents and students. Relationships will be key no matter the educational setting.

5. Connect with your school’s leadership team (Principal, Assistant Principal, Vice Principal, and School Counselor) to make sure that
you are abreast of the protocols for meeting the social and emotional needs of students. Teachers are not equipped to meet all of the needs that some students will have. It will be important for you to know who to refer students to if an outside agency and/or assistance is needed that does not fall within your scope of work. When you speak with your administrator, be sure to ask for the protocols for both in-person and virtual teaching setting. If your school has not already communicated these protocols, offer to serve on the team to help
your school build these long-term capacities.

Bonus Tip: Engaging in collaborative problem solving will also be key to students social and emotional well-being. This will be a challenge for us in all settings. The CDC guidelines will require students to sit in straight rows facing forward, six feet apart. Don’t forget to have students turn and talk to each other. This can be done as long as students are social distancing.  Students could also share their work with a neighbor by holding up work that is completed on a dry-erase board. After a student presents their work to a partner, feedback can be given. Virtually, students will be meeting via a computer and unable to communicate with their classmates effectively unless we plan for it. Some ideas of how this can happen include using virtual tables and/or virtual turn and talk partners. This can be done using breakout rooms via online platforms, having students message each other via the chat box, and/or setting up small group sessions with just a few students instead of having the entire class meet at the same time.  

As always, I am placing additional resources below if you would like to learn more about this topic. Thanks for visiting my blog. Stay safe and I look forward to seeing each of you next Friday with Education Reflection Tip #67!!!

Resources to learn more on this topic:


For School Counselors: https://www.schoolcounselor.org/school-counselors/professional-development/learn-more/virtual-elementary-school-counseling





The Journey Begins

Today you are one step closer to achieving your goal of improving yourself and the instructional progress of the students that you educate. Welcome and happy learning!!!

In oneself lies the whole world if you know where to look and learn. The door is there and the key is in your hand. Nobody on Earth can give you either the key or the door to open but yourself.

~Jiddu Krishnamurti


Educator Reflection Tip #77: Are you gradually releasing students during remote learning?

Graves and Fitzgerald (2003) specify that efficient teaching frequently develops through a sequence which  involves educators progressively performing a reduced amount of the work and students steadily presuming heightened accountability for their own learning. It is during this practice of increasingly taking charge of their learning that students develop into capable autonomous learners  (p. 98). At the introduction of new knowledge, additional support is critical. Nevertheless, with time as the learning process continues, we want students to grow to be take on more ownership for their learning. Pearson and Gallagher (1983) coined this process as “gradual release”, and it is particularly critical when teaching and learning is taking place remotely. All students should be given support at their instructional level at all stages of learning. It is crucial that we continue to do this no matter the educational setting (Blackburn, 2020). When you take into account all of the research and data that you have gathered regarding your students learning loss, it is imperative that we modify our thinking about what the gradual release of student responsibility looks like in a virtual environment. The home learning environment that parents have created for their children is not the same as the brick and mortar process they are used to. Not only are students attempting to resist the “fun” distractions, they are likely also dealing with life’s distractions such as food insecurity, family related Coronavirus illnesses, and many other experiences that we can only imagine. Educators should carefully examine their current practices to ensure a balance between teacher-directed instruction and student centered learning experiences.

Gradual Release of Student Responsibility Model employs that instruction should include the following types of experiences:

  1. Teacher modeling performance and learning expectations.
  2. Guided scaffolding of the learning expectations
  3. Collaborative practice between students and their peers.
  4. Autonomous exercises to determine if reteaching is needed before students are released to work on their own.
Created by Jami Fowler-White (2020) and adapted from Pearson and Gallagher’s Gradual Release of Student Responsibility Model (1983)

As you reflect on your instructional practices consider the following:

  • Do you currently know the academic level of each of the students in your classes?
  • What scaffolds are you currently using to bridge the learning gap of students?
  • How much time are you spending on direct instruction/lecturing within each block of learning?
  • Have you continued to follow the four-step gradual release process within hybrid and remote teaching and learning?
  • Are you modeling the expectations for mastery of the standards during every lesson that you teach?
  • What processes have you put in place to ensure that students are able to collaborate with their peers?

As a classroom teacher, I created the “BRACE” acronym to help me remember to include all levels of Gradual Release of Student Responsibility during instruction. If you don’t currently have a method to help you remember the steps, feel free to utilize this one.

B-Be intentional about the instructional strategies and sequencing of information that is taught to students.

R-Remember to utilize all available data when considering scaffolds to include within lessons

A- Academic expectations should be modeled within each lesson taught to students to ensure students understand the performance standards they are required to meet to show mastery of the standard.

C-Create opportunities for students to collaborate with peers through the use of channels, breakout rooms, social distanced peer groups, or any combination of these methods.

E-Examine student work during the final phase of the Gradual Release process to determine if students are ready to be released to work independently.  

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is grr.bracemethod.jpg

As you continue to work to improve the virtual teaching and learning process in your classroom, remember that the Gradual Release of Student Responsibility Model stresses including  instructional explanations/demonstrations are clear, accurate, and build student’s understanding of the content. Planning lessons that are focused on the intent of grade level performance standards. Instruction that is geared towards students mastering that skill or standard as well as modeling. As outlined within the process, teacher modeling should ensure that students are able to understand your thought process and contain time to practice with you before being released to work independently. Lastly, modeling consists of demonstrating what students are expected  to know and show based on the standard not focusing on the activity, graphic organizer, or chosen protocol that is used during the learning process.

Below, I have included several resources to help you continue working to revise how this process looks within hybrid or distance learning. Thanks for visiting Digital PD 4 You and I hope that you will consider signing up for our bi-weekly email list and or reading other reflection tips. Be safe and I look forward to posting additional entries within the next couple of weeks.Sign Up


Minds in Bloom: https://minds-in-bloom.com/the-workshop-model-tips-and-strategies/

Barbara Blackburn (2020). Using Gradual Release in Remote Learning

Doug and Nancy Frey. Gradual Release of Student Responsibility Framework

Virginia Rojas. Key Principles for ELL learners (Scaffolds for Instruction): Nesa Center Resources.  

Sara Brown Wessing (Teaching Channel). Improving Teacher Practice with the Gradual Release Instructional Model

Sandra Clark. Avoiding the Blank Stare: Training Teachers on the Gradual Release Model

Podcast PD: Are you a trauma-informed educator?

A couple of weeks ago, Dr. Sara Truebridge (#resiliencechat) challenged everyone to think of all experiences as lived experiences instead of automatically assuming that people will perceive these experiences as we do. She explained that some people will dust themselves off and continuing pushing through while others may call their experience trauma. Regardless of what people choose, it should be their choice. As educators, our job is to provide support for students who may have lived experiences which dramatically change and/or negatively impact their lives. Listen to the Digital PD Podcast episode on using a trauma-informed educator approach towards behavior to learn non-clinical strategies that you can add to your current practices. Then if you are interested in learning about trauma from a different lens, you can read Dr. Truebridge’s full article below. Thanks, Dr. Truebridge for changing my mindset on this pivotal topic. From now on, I will be sure to allow my students to decide and continue to promote resilience.

Educator Reflection Tip #76: The Art of Self-Reflection Digital PD 4 You

How often do you think about your level of expertise in the classroom? More importantly, what steps are you using to self-reflect on your instructional practice? This week’s episode takes you on a journey through the four stages of self-reflection, provides you with steps to help you integrate them into your current practices, and includes additional resources which will help you continue to improve teaching and learning in your classroom. We welcome you to also visit DigitalPD4You.com where you will find more tips and resources. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app
  1. Educator Reflection Tip #76: The Art of Self-Reflection
  2. Educator Reflection Tip: Are you using a trauma-informed educator approach towards behavior?
  3. Educator Reflection Tip #73: Are you using data to effectively inform instructional decisions?
  4. Are you using positive engagement strategies with parents and students?
  5. Educator Reflection Tip: Is it better to backtrack, differentiate, or benchmark during instruction?



What impact does trauma-informed practices have on your classroom instructional and behavioral practices?

Do you know the percentage of students in your class who have had trauma? What effect does this have on your behavior practices? Should your knowledge of student trauma have an impact on your instructional practices? Find out the answers to these and many more in the latest episode of Digital PD 4 You Podcast at https://anchor.fm/jami-white/episodes/Educator-Reflection-Tip-Are-you-using-a-trauma-informed-educator-approach-towards-behavior-ejjdpa


Educator Reflection Tip #74: Are you effectively managing student behavior in your virtual classroom?

We can’t hold kids accountable for things we’ve never told them we expect. Behavior should be treated like academics. Students have to be taught the skills the need.

                 ~Erin Green, Director of National Training at Boys Town

Photo by Julia M Cameron on Pexels.com

New beginnings are hard for all of us. Usually, we are able to practice before being publicly scrutinized. The Coronavirus pandemic took away educators right to practice a new skill before full implementation. The global pandemic in itself is stressful enough, but the stress is compounded for teachers. In addition to managing your own families, creating classrooms for yourself and your children, many of you are also working to navigate an online classroom without the adequate amount of training, planning lessons using platforms that you just recently discovered, all while hoping the internet connection is stable enough to make it through the school day. When could you have possibly had enough time to create an online behavior framework for students. Let’s face it. There is no research-based information to help guide us through this process, so we are going to use the best thing that we have….each other… to work through this and so many other things. Don’t worry! Educator collaboration has gotten us through this and so many other things. Together we can overcome any obstacle.

Before, I give recommendations for moving forward. I think its important to remind each of us to cut our students some slack. Just as we are new to online learning, imagine how our students feel. For many, they went to school one day and then suddenly were forced to stay home, many inside of their homes for almost six months. How much interaction do you think they have had with their friends or even other children within their neighborhood? In my state, we spent an abundant amount of time under a stay at home order, were told to shrink our circle, and limit interactions with people outside of our immediate family. Children need to socialize. If they haven’t been able to do this and it is not built into your classroom routine, children will make noises, outbursts, and many other things to get their peers attention. Do you blame them? Imagine your first day back at work from the summer. You walk in and see your teammates and are forced to go sit without even being able to talk to them. Even worse, imagine that this interaction took place virtually. On the first day back, you see your teammates log on and immediately, your boss shares his/her screen without allowing you to see your team. Would you begin typing in the chat to strike up a conversation or sit idly waiting on the presentation to begin? Be honest. No one is around. Now that you have reflected, let’s talk about building a framework that promotes positive behavior in an online classroom.

PBIS.ORG offers this four-step plan for managing behavior in the online classroom:

Step #1: Behavior Breath: Take a breath before responding. Pause, collect your thoughts, and respond directly to the behavior that is being displayed.

Step #2: Opportunity Rewind: Look at this time as an opportunity to review the expected behaviors and provide all students with the opportunity to make better choices. Consider posting your behavior expectations in the background of your virtual learning space to provide a visual for students and make it easier to refer to them throughout the lesson.

Step #3: Consider the Cause: Have you stopped to think about what might be triggering the behavior that students are exhibiting? If you are really interested in stopping inappropriate behavior, you will need to talk to the student to find out the cause. One of my favorite quotes is written by Annette Breaux. It says 9 times out of 10, the story behind the misbehavior won’t make you angry. It will break your heart.

Step #4: Concrete Categorizations: If your school’s PBIS/RTI2-B team has not already done so, consider creating a matrix of expected behaviors and steps for classroom intervention & school-wide intervention for the online environment. If you need a little inspiration to craft or add to your behavior framework, consider these categories—classroom arrival, your virtual learning space,  and dismissal procedures, Zoom/TEAMS/Google Handout etiquette. Once you have completed your matrix, discuss it with parents and students.

Bonus step: Behavior Citations: How will you document student behavior in the virtual environment? Apps such as Class Dojo, Bloomz, LiveSchool, Kickboard are great for communicating with parents about students behavior.

As your procedures and routines continue to evolve for virtual learning, consider one of these to help promote positive student behavior:

Lesson Forecasting: How do structure your lessons? Do you follow the same format, so students know what to expect? If not, do you provide students with an overview to give them something to look forward to?

Get Rid of Distractors: Are there procedures that you can put in place to help minimize distractions at the beginning of class? What occurs within the first couple of minutes of a class sets the tone for the time you are spending with students.

Expectations Staples: The first few weeks of school are critical. How much time do you devote to letting students know the behavior that is expected of them?

Equity of Student Voice: How often do you allow students to talk to you or each other? Communications can be done in both a written or verbal format. Have you included time for icebreakers, teambuilding, collaborative games, and group or partner discussions? The ability to turn around student behavior is contingent on the relationship that you have with the student prior to them behaving inappropriately. If you haven’t already allotted time within your class period, during the day, or currently have office hours for students to drop in and talk to you, these are all great ways to get to know your students. It’s not too late, you can always build new routines and procedures into your current practices.

Principles for Parents: Have you set aside time to communicate with parents? During March 2020, parents were suddenly thrust into the world of education. Many are not in the educational field and have no idea how to create a classroom within their homes. Have you offered any guidance to parents about setting aside a quiet space for their children to learn, talking to them about classroom etiquette—not eating during class, about checking in on their children without distracting them during class, or about the importance of their child completing his/her own assignments.  

Follow up with Feedback: What does your current feedback loop look like? Feedback is a great way to let students know that you value them and their work. How often are you currently providing students with feedback within the virtual environment? Is it personalized or generically given to the entire class? Spiral, Seesaw, One Note, and Peergrade are just a few online tools that you might find useful.

Rewards & Consequences: How often do you reward students for behaving appropriately? Are you using a verbal or visual system to provide rewards? If you only acknowledge inappropriate behavior or assign consequences, then students who want/need to be recognized will begin seeking negative attention. For some students, any attention is better than not being acknowledged.

As always, thanks for visiting DigitalPD4You.com. I will be back next week with another Educator Reflection Tip. If you are interested in adding Podcast PD to your morning or afternoon routine, look for the Digital PD 4 You podcast on Anchor, Apple Podcast, Spotify and other platforms. Just in case, here is a direct link to help you find the right platform for you: anchor.fm/jami-white. I hope that each of you have a great week of teaching and learning.


7 Strategies for Managing an Online Classroom

Extending Classroom Management Online

How to turn your home into a school without losing your sanity

COVID-19 Virtual Learning and Education: Behavior Management

PodcastPD: Are you using positive engagement strategies with students & parents?

Be sure to check out the latest podcast episode of Educator Reflection Tips, Are you using Positive Engagement Strategies in your classroom? As we embark on the new school year, it will be important for educators to think deeply about the procedures and routines we will use to engage students and parents to ensure we are building positive experiences. Tune in for best practices and suggestions for instructing in both environments. The Digital PD 4 You podcast is available on all platforms. You can even ask Alexa to play it for you.

Click the link or scan the image to be taken to the platform that is compatible with your device. Happy listening!!

Podcast link: https://anchor.fm/jami-white

Apple Podcast Link: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/digital-pd-4-you/id1523548889

#PD4You #Bite-SizePD #TeacherTips #DigitalPD #GrowYourself

Get your copy today!! Educator Reflection Tips, Volume #1 is available on Amazon!! You can read the first chapter for Free!!!

I am humble and excited to announce the release of the first book in the Educator Reflection Series. It is available on Amazon in both a paperback or Kindle version. The first chapter is available to download for Free. Download and give it a read. Then decide if you want to continue reading online or prefer a paperback copy. Happy Reading!!!!

Have you been looking for a simple method to use to help you reflect on your instructional practices? If so, this is the book for you. Educator Reflection Tips offers a unique way for educators to reflect on their practice. Each chapter begins contains a research-based instructional practice and takes the reader on a journal that provokes deep thinking about their current practices, provides snapshot professional development to enhance the knowledge of the reader, and includes resources to help you integrate the strategies into your current classroom practices.  Additionally, the accompanying Reflection Tip infographic creates a ready-made tool which can be used by individual educators, during Professional Learning Communities, and/or School-Based Professional Development sessions.  

Volume #1 contains three distinct instructional clusters:

1.            Content-driven Concepts focuses on the instructional core and content-specific knowledge.

2.            Classroom Competencies outlines instructional strategies educators can incorporate into their practice. 

3.            Classroom Culture provides guidelines for developing relationships and meeting the diverse needs of students. 

Each Reflection Tip should be looked at as an individual, bite-sized professional development session.

Lastly, Volume #1 of the Educator Reflection Tip contains the never before seen E.M.P.O.W.E.R. Feedback Framework which outlines how teachers can empower students to take ownership of their learning, delineates a strategy for teachers to use to help combat the Summer Slide, and create an Anti-racist classroom culture.

Click on this link to buy a paperback copy: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08FP2PWSN?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860

Click on this link for a preview of the Kindle version: https://read.amazon.com/kp/embed?asin=B08FNP5F1D&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_M2fnFbHWN85AG

Educator Reflection Tip #71: Which Digital Platforms are best?

Technology will never replace great teachers, but in the hands of great teachers, is transformational.

~George Couros

In March 2019, many schools across the country were forced to quickly move to online platforms to conduct instruction during the sudden closure of schools. As this took place, if you are like me you quickly realized that they were not as tech savvy as you thought and soon learned that there was no shortage of digital platforms to choose from. As schools worked to quickly move instruction online, educators were often left with the autonomy to choose whichever platforms they thought were best for their classrooms. As the Coronavirus pandemic progresses, it has become apparent that Blended Learning and/or remote learning will now become an increasingly important aspect of teaching, teachers and school leaders are reflecting and making plans to be more strategic and consider carefully which platforms to implement permanently.

Photo Credit: Free Photos from Pixabay

As you consider the technology that you will integrate into instruction, consider this scenario:  Mrs. Jones has three children. The school district where she resides has just announced that students will attend school remotely for the first semester of the new school year. She remembers how chaotic life was for her during the emergency school closures in the Spring and is dreading the new school year. Each of her children’s teachers provided online resources which required her to help them navigate no less than three digital platforms each. This consumed her mornings and she cannot imagine having to navigate all of those platforms again over the next hundred days and manage her own duties for work.

Parents are amazing and few complained about handling the remote learning experience in the Spring, but it is imperative that we plan to minimize the number of platforms so parents and students will be able to navigate them successfully. This Reflection Tip will not involve the promotion of specific platforms. The goal is to make suggestions for educators to consider as individual teacher, schools, and districts search for a digital platform to incorporate into current instructional practices. 

Things to consider when selecting digital platforms: 

  1. Will the platform be used uniformly by all teachers on your team and/or at your school?
  2. Does the platform offer multiple uses (i.e. video chatting capabilities, student work uploading, chat, have an announcement section, break-out rooms, parent access, etc.)?
  3. Is there a limit to the number of participants?
  4. Is there a fee attached?
  5. Has your district adopted a uniform platform? If so, is the digital platform that you are considering compatible with this platform? 
  6. Is it secure? The last thing you want is for someone to hack into your class discussion with students. Two sessions that I attended virtually over the past few months were hacked. Both times someone began writing racial slurs all over the presenter’s screen. It was very disheartening. I would hate for any child to experience this.
  7. Is the platform compatible with smartphones/iPhones? You never know if technology will work each day.
  8. What will your process for training parents look like?

Stop, Read, Think, and Write: Have you been researching the plethora of digital tools/platforms that you could integrate into your lessons to keep students engaged virtually? The Principal Tribe has created a tool that could help you with 15 of the most widely used online platforms. Click on the link to and read and explore three resource that might be applicable to your classroom instructions and students.    Link to the article: 15 Tools for Distance Learning

Thanks for visiting this week’s edition of Educator Reflection Tips. As always, I have included a few more resources just in case you would like to take a deeper dive into other digital platforms.

If you would like to purchase a digital download of the tool to use as you narrow down platforms to use in your classroom, it is available for $1.99 at the following link: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Educator-Reflection-Tip-71-Choosing-a-Digital-Platform-5883113


Edunation: Choosing a Digital Platform: https://www.edu-nation.net/how-to-choose-the-best-online-teaching-platform/

Student Collaboration Platforms: https://www.commonsense.org/education/top-picks/best-student-collaboration-tools

Digital Tools to Support Classroom Formative Assessment: https://www.nwea.org/blog/2019/75-digital-tools-apps-teachers-use-to-support-classroom-formative-assessment/

Educator Reflection Tip Book Releases in 20 days…Have you read the preview???

Have you ever said to yourself, I wish I had more time to concentrate on me and learn something new. If so, Educator Reflection Tips is the book for you. Each Reflection Tip is jammed pack with PD on a specific topic. If you haven’t already read through the preview, just follow this link. Just think in 20 days, you will have multiple sets of professional development within each tip. There hasn’t been a book like this one. It’s one stop shopping for improving instruction in one place.

Link to the book preview bit.ly/3htfRDB

Digital PD 4 You: Rethinking Small Group Instruction (Podcast)

Be sure to check out the latest podcast episode, Rethinking Small Group Instruction amid the Coronavirus pandemic. As we rethink instruction, it will be important for educators to think deeply about the procedures and routines we will use for in our teacher directed groups when teaching in-person and remotely. Tune in for best practices and suggestions for instructing in both environments. The Digital PD 4 You podcast is available on all platforms. You can even ask Alexa to play it for you. Click the link or scan the image to be taken to the platform that is compatible with your device. Happy listening!! #PD4You #Bite-SizePD #TeacherTips #DigitalPD #GrowYourself

Subscribe to the Digital PD4You Podcast. New episodes are posted weekly on Tuesdays. https://anchor.fm/jami-white

Educator Reflection Tip #68: How will you implement small group instruction while social distancing and/or during remote learning?

Subscribe to the Digital PD4You Podcast. New episodes are posted weekly on Tuesdays. https://anchor.fm/jami-white

According to Dr. Margaret Mooney, the overall goal of instruction is to develop independent learners who question, consider alternatives, and make informed choices. When students can do these things it will also help to improve student achievement in all content areas. It is essential that educators incorporate small group instruction routinely. Research reported by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) concluded that when students participate in intensive small group instruction, it has significant and lasting effects on student achievement. In an article in the July 2019 ASCD Newsletter, authors Duke and Varlas reported that students in grades Kindergarten through second grade should participate in small group, face-to-face instruction with their teachers no less than two to three times per week. It is crucial, especially during this time in our history, that educators think through the process they will use for small group instruction because the one thing that we can always be sure of is that there will be students who would benefit from this type of instruction.

Additional benefits include:

  1. Allows for Differentiation: Teachers are able to focus precisely on the needs of individual students, in terms of readiness, style, and interests.
  2. Encourages Reluctant Learners: Sometimes it helps the students in your group to open up because when they hear other people in the room talking they don’t feel like everyone can hear them.
  3. Fosters Communication and Collaboration: Creating smaller learning communities helps to ensure that all students participate in the learning process. This will also help to meet some of the social and emotional needs of your students.
  4. Shifts the focus from the teacher to the learner: As an educator, you will be able to observe the learning that takes place in your classroom and frees up time for you to clear up misconceptions and give feedback.

Suggestion for things to include when conducting small groups:

I. Setting expectations:

A. Protocols/Norms: It takes time to implement small groups appropriately. It will be important to discuss norms/expected behaviors before beginning teacher-led small groups. Without proper protocols such as who should students ask if they need assistance while you are in a teacher-led group, frequent interruptions may prevent you from being able to fully focus on those in your teacher-led group. Make sure that you practice things such as transitions and other protocols prior to holding your first teacher-led small group. Take it slow and keep your routines simple. Trust me. The key is to have procedures and routines that both you and the students can implement with ease.

B. Method of Accountability: Consider having a method of accountability to help students take ownership of their work. Some methods include choice boards, checklists, or an task notebooks where students have directions of each task and are able to keep up with and refer back to the assigned tasks. For younger students, teachers could assign table leaders who check over student work before and direct their groups to the next assignment.

II. Promoting Collaboration

A. While you are working in small groups, encourage students to ask each other questions, peer assess or peer edit assignments. This promotes not only cooperation, but collaboration as well. Working with others is a life skill and all students need practice so they can master it.

III.Grouping Students:

A. Data-Driven Groups: Use exit ticket data, a recent quiz, and/or common assessment data to help you determine grouping for small groups

B. Offer Choices: Teach students metacognitive strategies and allow them to determine when they need assistance and invite them to small groups or to meet you via an online platform during predetermined office hours.

C. Teacher Observation: Create small groups in real-time during instruction as you observe students working on a current skill. Keep anecdotal notes and assign students to groups based on this data.

D. Remember that all students could benefit from participating in small group instruction, not just students who are struggling. Small groups can be used to challenge students who have already shown that they are proficient in the current standard.

IV: Empowering Students:

A. Consider having peer-led groups and/or table leaders in all grade levels to assist while you are in small groups. If you choose to incorporate these, be sure to carefully select those who are chosen to lead and be sure that these students are able to handle the responsibliity of assisting others, so that it does not inhibit their ability to complete their own assignments.

B. Students who have successfully mastered a skill could be asked to create tasks and produce things such as videos, tasks, etc for their peers to complete or solve.

C. Lastly, it teaches students to productively struggle and learn to reflect on what they have learned instead of relying solely on the teacher.

Additional Resources/References:

Turning Small Groups into Big Wins by N. Duke and L. Vargas: http://www.ascd.org/publications/newsletters/education-update/jul19/vol61/num07/Turn-Small-Reading-Groups-into-Big-Wins.aspx

Literacy Essentials by Grade Levels includes online modules and resources: https://literacyessentials.org/

Edutopia: https://www.edutopia.org/article/strategies-improving-small-group-instruction

Room to Discover: https://roomtodiscover.com/small-group-instruction/

Educator Reflection Tips Book….

Have you been looking for a simple method to use to help you reflect on your instructional practices? If so, this is the book for you. Educator Reflection Tips: How often do you reflect on your practice offers a unique way for educators to reflect on their practice. The distinctive format of each Reflection Tip provokes readers to think deeply about their current practices, provides snapshot professional development to enhance the knowledge of the educator, and includes resources to further intellectual ability.  Additionally, the accompanying Reflection Tip infographic is a ready-made tool which can be used by each individual teacher, in PLCs, or School-Based Professional Development for your staff.  A Preview of the book is attached below….

Available on August 1, 2020!!!

After reading the preview, let me know what you think….

Book Preview: https://tinyurl.com/JJFW-EdReflectionTipsPreview

Visit the Digital PD 4 You Podcast at https://anchor.fm/jami-white

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