Accountability and Hard Things

Topics for this week include student behavior and accountability, the power of words, and making teaching sustainable.

Accountability and Hard Things
Photo by Artur Aldyrkhanov / Unsplash
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TGIF Teacher Newsletter


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Every day should be Teacher Appreciation Day. Here are some teacher-approved gifts and gadgets that will bring smiles in and out of the classroom.

Hello and Happy Friday!

I have three things to share this week. First, congratulations on making it to the end of a week that had Halloween on a Tuesday. Second, I express gratitude for sick days. I'll be the first to admit that preparing for a guest teacher is work, but I am thankful that I'm able to take days off when I need them without losing money in the process.

The third thing was exciting and fun, but it also made me a bit nervous. I participated in my first live podcast interview for Tim Cavey's Teachers on Fire podcast. I was able to discuss my teaching experience, my connection with EL Education, and a few other things I'm passionate about. One of the unexpected benefits was that it helped me clarify my thinking. You don't have to be good at something to do it. You just have to do it. You can listen to the podcast here or watch it below.

Have a great weekend. Take some time to celebrate your “WINS” from last week and then take a nap 😴.

In today’s newsletter…

  • Teachers, student behavior and accountability
  • The power of words
  • Making teaching sustainable
  • Resources: National STEM Day and Equity Sticks

The News

Here are some articles that grabbed my attention.

  • Accountability - Do you think it’s getting harder for teachers to hold their students accountable? In a recent article in The New York Times, Jessica Grose discusses how teachers are experiencing a growing sense of powerlessness in holding students accountable academically or behaviorally. This is attributed to a combination of parental pressure and district policies that discourage failing grades. Grade inflation and policies like the minimum 50% floor for assignments exacerbate the issue, enabling low-performing students to pass without demonstrating true mastery. The lack of accountability has significant consequences, demoralizing teachers and impeding students' learning and preparedness for the future. What, if any, solutions would you propose?
  • The Way - A study from England shows that different subjects might need different teaching methods. It found that math students do better with more practice and tests, while English students do better with more discussions and group work. This finding suggests that we can't use the same teaching method for every subject. While research may suggest the best methods for certain subjects, I believe a multi-modal approach is optimal for children. Novelty can also enhance students' learning.
  • Say What - Words have power. If you need evidence to remind you that what you say (or don’t) can have a profound impact, here you go. Each of us has moments in our past where words have built us up or torn us down. Most of us became teachers because we’re builders.
  • Podcast - Making Teaching Sustainable - In this podcast, Caitlin Tucker chats with Paul France about his book, Making Teaching Sustainable*. He talks about six mindset shifts that will improve your educational environment. The two that seem the most interesting to me are "Minimalism over maximalism" and "Flexibility over fixedness". He says that the goal of sustainable teaching is not simply to have teachers do less work, but also to help focus efforts on effective, efficient, and meaningful practices that make learning richer for students.
  • National STEM Day - November 8th is National STEM Day. Use this resource to find a variety of hands-on activities, resources, and tools that can be used in the classroom.
  • Resource - Equity sticks are a simple yet effective tool that teachers can use to ensure fairness and inclusivity in the classroom. Here are some resources and tools to get you started.
  • Resource - Veteran’s Day is approaching. Here are some teaching and learning resources.
STRONG Teacher Toolkit
Here are some of my favorite resources, ideas, tools, services, and miscellaneous gadgets and goodies that keep me STRONG in both my personal and professional life.

Ideas, resources, tools, and free downloads to make your teaching life easier and more enjoyable.


Personal Development and Wellness Resources

  • Quality of Life - Your health span is what truly matters in many ways. It refers to the period of life when you are free from chronic disease or disability. To extend your health span there are several effective methods, such as engaging in preventative maintenance. This includes getting regular checkups, monitoring your blood pressure, and ensuring you get enough sleep.
  • Hard Things - Never stop learning and keep pushing yourself to do hard things. This is a surefire way to build self-confidence. These challenges fuel the engine of personal growth.
  • The Little Things - Microstress refers to small stressors that accumulate over time and have negative effects on our well-being. It is important to identify and address these micro-stressors to improve our mental and physical health. When possible avoid taking on too many responsibilities and steer clear of people who spread stress.
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"If you want to escape the things that harass you, what you need is not to be in a different place but to be a different person." —Seneca (Letters from a Stoic)*

Teacher Commuter Playlist - Oye Como Va by Santana

Favorite Things

  • Professional Development Conferences - The EL National Conference is less than one month away. I just signed up for my sessions. Here's a little snippet I shared on Instagram. You'll hear my students in the background.
  • Creativity and Invention - Here are 200 of the best inventions of 2023. The world is an amazing place.
  • Teacher Gadgets and Gifts - If you're enjoying this newsletter and plan to shop on Amazon, I have a special recommendation for you. Check out the Teacher Gadgets and Gifts Guide, which includes some fantastic items that are recommended by teachers. Any purchases, whether or not they're part of the guide, will help support the TGIF Teacher Newsletter without any additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!

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