Category: Classroom management

Books You’ll Want to Read This Summer

Summer is a great time to reset your personal pedagogy to an education-friendly mindset and catch up on what’s been changing in the ed world while you were teaching eight ten hours a day. My Twitter friends gave me great suggestions, but first:

A comment on the selections: I did get more suggestions than I could possibly list so I avoided books that involved politics or hot-button subjects that teachers are divided on and focused on positive and uplifting reading. Yes, there is a lot wrong with education around the world but I wanted a selection of books that would send me — and you —  back to teaching in the fall with a can-do attitude for how to accomplish miracles with your next class of students.

Having said that, here’s a granular list of teacher-approved books to keep you busy this summer:

Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times

by Eric C. Sheninger

Digital Leadership defines a strategic mindset and set of behaviors that leverage resources to create a meaningful, transparent, and engaging school culture. It takes into account recent changes such as connectivity, open-source technology, mobile devices, and personalization of learning to dramatically shift how schools have been run for over a century.

Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns

by Clayton M. Christensen

Selected as one of Business Week’s Best Books on Innovation in 2008, Disrupting Class remains a worthy read. It is filled with fascinating case studies, scientific findings, and insights into how managed innovation can unleash education. Disrupting Class will open your eyes to new possibilities and evolve your thinking. For more detail, read my review, Disrupting Class.


Tech Tips to End the School Year

Wrapping up your school technology for the summer is as complicated as setting it up in September. There are endless backups, shares, cleanings, changed settings, and vacation messages that — if not done right — can mean big problems when you return from summer vacation. If you have a school device, a lot of the shutdown steps will be done by the IT folks as they backup, clean, reformat, and maybe re-image your device. If you have a personal device assigned by the school but yours to take home, the steps may be more numerous but really, not more complicated.

Here’s a list. Skip those that don’t apply to you and complete the rest. I won’t take time in this article for a how-to on each activity so if you don’t know how to complete one, check with your IT folks or DDG (Duck Duck Go–or Google) it:


Chronic Absenteeism has become a big problem in schools

School absenteeism has been one of the small but chronic problems in the past. Since the pandemic, it is so much more, to the point it is a front-of-mind issue that schools scramble to address. Here’s a good discussion from the US Department of Education on the problem and solutions:

Ed Dept: Districts should start now to improve 2024-25 attendance

Schools must plan now to address chronic absenteeism

The US Department of Education is calling on state leaders to address chronic absenteeism, emphasizing the need for immediate action and accountability measures. Despite efforts to improve attendance, challenges persist, prompting renewed focus on student engagement and support strategies.

Full Story: K-12 Dive (3/27) (more…)

What’s a Backchannel and Is it Right For Your Class?

A backchannel refers to a secondary, often informal, communication channel that runs parallel to the main communication channel. In the classroom, it provides students with an outlet to:

  • ask questions when the teacher is talking–isn’t at a lesson point where she can pause
  • engage in conversation with other students without disturbing the class
  • add comments to a conversation even after the class has moved on in the lesson plan.

This video is from a series I taught for school districts. It is now available for free, here on Ask a Tech Teacher:

What is a backchannel in your classroom? Why? What are some options you might use? Here’s a sixteen minute video I use with my online classes to address these topics: (more…)

6 Must-have Skills for New Tech Teachers Plus Two Extra

If you teach technology, it’s likely you were thrown into it by your Admin. You used to be a first grade teacher or the science expert or maybe even the librarian and suddenly found yourself the tech person, like the one down the hall you were always in awe of, the one responsible for classroom computers, programs, curriculum, and everything in between. Now that’s you–the go-to person for tech problems, computer quirks, crashes and freezes, and tech tie-ins for classroom inquiry.

You have no idea where to begin.

Here’s a peek into your future: On that first propitious day, everything will change. Your colleagues will assume you received a data upload of the answers to every techie question. It doesn’t matter that yesterday, you were one of them. Now, you will be on a pedestal, colleague’s necks craned upward as they ask , How do I get the class screen to work? or We need microphones for a lesson I’m starting in three minutes. Can you please-please-please fix my iPad? You will nod your head, smile woodenly, and race to your classroom for the digital manuals (if you’re lucky) or Google for online help.

Let me start by saying: Don’t worry. Really. You’ll learn by doing, just as we teach students. Take a deep breath, engage your brain, and let your brilliance shine.


Random Acts of Kindness Day is Coming. How Will You Celebrate?

I’ll never forget the day years ago when I stood in a donut shop, half asleep, bed head, with a monster sugar deficit. As I got to the front of the line, the man before me said, “I’ll pay for hers, too.” I didn’t know him. We hadn’t commiserated over how Krispy Kreme was always crowded. I’d just slogged onward, waiting my turn, eager to taste my apple fritter. His simple act of paying for my donut made me feel special, brought a smile to my face all day, and lightened the load of whatever happened after that.

That was one of my first Random Acts of Kindness. Now, February 11-17th 2024 is Random Acts of Kindness Week, Random Acts of Kindness Day September 1st in New Zealand, and is when everyone encourages acts of kindness without any expectation of consideration in return.

“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” — Mark Twain

What is Random Acts of Kindness Day?

Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Day is twenty-four hours when anyone who chooses to participate agrees to perform unexpected acts of kindness to pay it forward for that time they need a little bit of unexpected care.  We flaunt our altruistic side by doing something nice for another without a thought for the consequences.

Why is Kindness important?

Why kindness is important seems obvious, but really, it isn’t. I can name a whole lot of people who have succeeded despite being, well, jerks so why should we think there’s merit in a gentler approach?


The 3 Best Strategies For Teachers To Keep Students Engaged

The 3 Best Strategies For Teachers To Keep Students Engaged

Engaging students in the classroom is a key factor in successful teaching and learning. However, keeping students interested and involved in their education can be a big challenge. It’s very important to make sure they are engaged and actively learning so they can end up going to a good college and building a future with a good foundation.

With distractions from technology and diverse learning needs, teachers need to constantly adapt and find innovative ways to keep their students focused. Having the right strategy is essential. In this article, we will give you several tips to help increase engagement among your students. (more…)

What Happens When Technology Fails? 3 Work-Arounds

Has this happened to you? You spend hours rewriting an old lesson plan, incorporating rich, adventurous tools available on the internet. You test it several times just to be sure. It’s a fun lesson self-paced lesson plan with lots of activities and meandering paths students undoubtedly will adore. Technology enables it to differentiate authentically for the diverse group of learners that walk across your threshold.

Everyone who previewed it is wowed. You are ready.

Until the day of, the technology that is its foundation fails. Hours of preparation wasted because no one could get far enough to learn a d*** thing. You blame yourself–why didn’t you stick with what you’d always done?  Now, everyone is disappointed.


Implementing Mindfulness Practices in Schools

Implementing Mindfulness Practices in Schools

In recent years, mindfulness has gained significant traction, not just in adults’ lives but also in educational settings. Incorporating mindfulness practices in schools has proven beneficial for students’ well-being, emotional regulation, and academic success. Let’s explore why and how mindfulness practices are making their way into classrooms worldwide.

The Need for Mindfulness in Schools

Modern education often heavily emphasises academic achievement, leaving students stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed. In such a high-pressure environment, the need for mindfulness practices becomes apparent. These practices help students manage stress, develop emotional resilience, and foster a positive attitude towards learning. Another great way to alleviate some academic stress is outsourcing some of your assignments to This provider will complete your essays with ease, allowing you to allocate some time to mindfulness practices.

Benefits of Mindfulness Practices

1. Improved Concentration

Mindfulness exercises, such as meditation and deep breathing, can enhance students’ ability to focus. These practices train the mind to stay present, reducing distractions and improving concentration levels, ultimately benefiting academic performance.

2. Stress Reduction

One of the primary benefits of mindfulness is stress reduction. Students face various stressors, from exams to social pressures. Mindfulness techniques offer tools to manage stress, promoting a calmer and more conducive learning environment.

3. Emotional Regulation

Mindfulness teaches students how to recognize and manage their emotions effectively. By understanding their feelings and reactions, students can develop healthier relationships with peers and teachers, leading to improved behavior and cooperation.

4. Enhanced Self-Awareness

Through mindfulness, students gain a better understanding of themselves. This self-awareness helps them identify their strengths and weaknesses, facilitating personal growth and self-improvement.

5. Increased Empathy

Mindfulness practices encourage empathy and compassion. Students learn to appreciate the feelings and experiences of others, leading to more respectful and inclusive interactions in the classroom. (more…)