Breaks and Brain Dumps

This week's topics include addressing teacher shortages, taking breaks, and using portfolios as a form of assessment.

Breaks and Brain Dumps
Photo by Austin Ban / Unsplash

TGIF Teacher Newsletter


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Happy Friday!

I'm finishing this week's newsletter in a rapidly increasing decompression state. I have the next four days off, and my body knows it.

I hope you find value in this week's email. My highlight for this week is Boom, Clap, Grab.

Have a great weekend!

In today’s newsletter…

  • Addressing the teacher shortage.
  • The importance of taking breaks for students and teachers.
  • Striving for quiet contentment.
  • Using portfolios and passages as a form a assessment.

The News

Here are some articles and resources that grabbed my attention.

  • Teacher Shortage - If you were to go back to the beginning, would you still choose to be a teacher? America is facing a serious teacher shortage crisis, with fewer than 1 in 5 Americans encouraging young people to pursue a career in K-12 teaching. Amidst growing demand, the supply of teaching applicants is lagging; the situation has worsened because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The teacher-to-student ratio and teacher salaries vary significantly by state, contributing to the complexity of this pressing issue.
  • Cell Phone Policy - To combat classroom distractions and improve educational outcomes, lawmakers in several U.S. states are pushing for legislation banning or limiting cell phone use in schools. This follows Florida's lead, which last year became the first state to require all its public schools to prohibit students from using their phones during class. Despite research supporting the positive impacts of such bans, including improved grades and mental health, the proposed legislation faces opposition from parents wanting to maintain communication with their children during school hours and those arguing that the policy should be decided at the district level. It’s been my personal experience that when students are separated from their cell phones, they are more attentive, their performance improves, and they are nicer.
  • Breaks - Recess is more than just a break; it's a critical component of effective learning, as Finland's education system demonstrates. In his first-hand teaching experience, Timothy Walker found that multiple unstructured breaks, a common practice in Finnish schools, significantly improved students' focus and engagement. U.S. schools fall short of this model despite recent legislative progress, often providing only one recess period daily. Even incorporating periodic brain breaks is beneficial.
  • Brain Dumps - Use Retrieval Practice to Help Students Build Retention and Increase Metacognition
  • Game - Boom, Clap, Grab
  • Resource - Explore how to use portfolios as a means of assessment and how to use them to prepare students for Passage Presentations.


Personal Development and Wellness Resources

  • Luck - What if you could create your own luck? Successful people actively create conditions for fortunate events, breaking luck down into categories such as "Accidental," "Active," "Prepared," and "Magnetic."
  • Quiet Contentment - “The problem with happiness highs is not just that they’re tricky to get hold of, but that they’re often followed by lows. As well as this, they can’t last forever. Intense pleasure is fleeting, and even when it does last longer than expected, we quickly get used to the sensation and stop appreciating it. This is hedonic adaptation, and explains why your tenth bite of ice cream is nowhere near as brilliant as the first or why the thrill of a new job quickly trails off.” Chasing the happiness highs isn’t sustainable. We’re better off aiming for contentment. It’s something we always have access to.
  • Get Energized - Shake off winter and put a spring back in your step. Here are nine science-backed ways to bring daily smiles and add movement to your life.


"For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness." — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Teacher Commuter Playlist - Don't Look Back in Anger by Oasis

Favorite Things

  • Shout Outs - Thank you, Kim, for sharing. I really appreciate your support.
  • Shirt - Teachers are the original influencers and creators.
  • Game - Othello
  • Shower Thought - The dishwasher causes more domestic conflict than any other household appliance. [source]

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