Learning Teams and Harnessing Anxious Energy

Topics include using learning teams, action research with PLCs, and keeping streaks alive.

Learning Teams and Harnessing Anxious Energy
Photo by Merakist / Unsplash

TGIF Teacher Newsletter


TGIF Teacher Gadgets and Gifts
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.

Happy Friday!

Here are three things I've been pondering this week.


I’ve had my share of “All Talk” moments. Those times when I knew what I should be doing but followed through only halfway or not at all. My goal moving forward is to have fewer of those moments.


My daughter got her driver’s license this week, and I’m conflicted. It’s the end of one era and the beginning of another. I know that growth comes from adventure. Milestones should be celebrated, and adventures should be encouraged.


“If we were meant to stay in one place, we’d have roots instead of feet.” -Rachel Wolchin

In today’s newsletter…

  • Incorporating learning teams in the classroom.
  • Action Research and Professional Learning Communities.
  • Harnessing the power of streaks.

The News

Here are some articles that grabbed my attention.

  • Learning Teams - One of my goals was to write an article for Edutopia. It's been a valuable resource for me over the years, and I wanted to contribute. I frequently use learning teams in the science classroom and have developed a system that works well for me. My goal was achieved this past week, and my article was published. I hope other teachers find it helpful in their teaching practice. Although the article discusses setting up collaborative groups in science, the same ideas can be applied across all content areas. Here it is - Leveraging Learning Teams in Middle School Science.
  • Teach Like a Scientist - Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) can be transformative. When these learning communities engage in action research, data analysis is used to answer driving questions and curriculum and instruction improve. “Action research is not just for scientists; it is for educators, too. This approach to professional learning and collaboration emboldens teachers to try new things, to let student achievement lead the way, and improves learning.”
  • Time to Reflect - During the daily hustle, educators can lose sight of their profound impact on their students' lives. Remember to step back to reflect on how you are shaping the future. “Professional development sessions focused on reflection and recognizing accomplishments can be integrated into the academic calendar, encouraging a collective pause to assess the difference being made.”
  • Gradeless - I’m not a proponent of going completely gradeless, but the idea is interesting. According to The Teaching Experiment, “When students move from traditional elementary schools to TCFL, we see the effects of going gradeless on their improved self-esteem, willingness to take risks, and increased love of learning.” I do believe we can do a better job elevating learning above grades.
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

  • Harness Anxious Energy - Anxiety touches most people in one way or another. The mission of Anxious Nation, “is to create a unified community for people struggling with anxiety that encourages open dialogue and the sharing of coping strategies. By shining a light on this often-hidden issue, we seek to create a more compassionate and understanding society that supports those grappling with anxiety.” I just added this documentary to my watchlist.
  • Streaking - Tom Scott maintained a streak of posting a video once a week on YouTube for ten years, which showcased his growth and improvement over time. The power of escalating streaks can be a way to improve and achieve remarkable results consistently. I challenge you to start some kind of streak today.
  • Getting Motivated - Learn how to apply the lessons of motivation science to your life.


“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.” ―John Lennon

Teacher Commuter Playlist - Watching the Wheels by John Lennon

Favorite Things

  • Good News - First, the bad news. Some kids and teachers are stuck in classrooms without any windows. Here's a way that photography is bringing some of the outdoors inside.
  • Great Word - Sprauncy - smart or showy. For example, I tried to impress my friends with my sprauncy dance moves but tripped over my feet instead!
  • Teacher Gear - OG Teacher Shirt - Teachers are the OG influencers and creators. Teaching is the profession that creates all others.

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