Archive for February, 2011

When The Teacher Becomes The Student

Would you like to know more about teacher strategies? Kids (and their parents) seem to have a multitude of special needs today that we did not consider before. We include a number of teacher strategies articles for this very purpose. If you are a teacher, please sign up with us and feel free to add your own input. See below for details.

When The Teacher Becomes The Student

By Joe Martin

A relationship expert once said that during an argument, there’s usually three sides to every story: his side, her side, and of course, the truth.

This is something we must definitely keep in mind as teachers. As educators (especially professors), we have been accused of having the biggest egos on this side of Mount Rushmore. One of the quickest ways to burn out in education is to refuse to embrace change. Whether we want to admit it or not, life moves and changes constantly.

Students are constantly exposed to material we once never dreamed existed. Ironically, although students are exposed to more, they typically know less and are less mature than the generations before. However, that does not discredit the fact that students still bring a unique perspective to our classroom; it’s through their eyes that we can become better teachers.

One of my best strategies for maintaining a high level of motivation in the classroom came as a result of a technique I learned as a stockbroker and sales trainer. Rule #1 in sales is that in order to bring the customer to where you are (your level of understanding), you must first go to where they are (they’re current level of understanding). In simple terms, you must know your customer (in this case, your student). This simple principle recharges and rejuvenates my batteries every semester; because the more I know, the more I grow.

Relating this concept to the education arena, you must simply and clearly define your objectives and what you would like to see happen over the course of a semester (or even a brief interaction) with a student, and then you help your students to do the same. In other words, know where YOU want to go, help them find out where THEY want to go, and then come up with a strategy for both of you to get there. In negotiating terms, they call this a win-win solution. Obviously, this strategy can only work if you value the student, and you believe he or she can make you a better teacher.

For instance, during my first three years in education, I quickly realized that what I wanted and what students believe they needed were diametrically opposed to each other. However, after many personal talks with former students, I soon discovered that students weren’t as concerned with the subject matter itself as they were with how the subject matter was being taught. They were more concerned with my attitude than the answers I would give them. This was a revelation.

I came to the conclusion that, like a parent, my experience and education dictated that I was qualified to teach them what they needed to know to succeed. However, when it came to how they received the information, I was totally at their mercy. Because, regardless of how good or important the subject matter is, if no one is listening, then no one is learning. It was at that point that I decided to “go to where they were” in order to bring them to where I was.

I met individually and collectively with students to get their perspectives on the class. I asked them about what worked in class and what didn’t? I asked them about what they would like to see more or less of? What would they like to see changed (about myself and/or the class)? I asked them if whether or not they would recommend this class to another student, why or why not? I asked them what would make the class more productive and more interesting?

These questions can be asked in almost any work environment, for almost any department, not just in the classroom. I asked similar questions of my clients when I was in Corporate America.

All of the input I received, except for the individual meetings, were done anonymously. I can’t begin to tell you how important this information has been to my career. But in less than a year after implementing this idea, I was nominated twice for the distinguished teaching award at my school (the youngest ever nominated).

If you want to become a more productive educator in or outside of the classroom, the key is student input – you must seek it. They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again, but expecting different results. If you listen to and solicit feedback from your students, you won’t have to repeat the mistakes of the past. So value your students and their input; trust me, they hold the keys to your success.

About the Author: Dr. Joe Martin is an award-winning speaker, author, professor, and educational consultant and owner of New Teacher Success. Visit today!


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PE Performance Programs Using PE Activities

If there is a topic that must be included in articles on education it is teaching physical education. If there is any justifiable criticism of our education systems it is that physical education is overlooked and ignored. Because of its importance in learning and individual development, we will dedicate much of our focus on teaching physical education .

PE Performance Programs Using PE Activities

Author: C. Mackay
Most of the time when you have a program for parents in the elementary school it is comprised of speaking some lines and then singing a song. Or it might be speaking some liens and say a poem. Or it just might even be speak a few lines and sing a song and do a dance. It has been done over and over for many years and they are very enjoyable. It is fun and rewarding to all parents to see their child perform and shine in the spot light.

Having produced many of those programs and enjoyed everyone of them I do not want to do away with them, but I do want to see another type of program started. Last year I produced a program for a PE teacher who wanted to show the parents what their students were learning in PE. She wanted to do it as easy as possible and have fun in the mean time.

After producing my first PE program I learned a few things that will help others that want to do the same. First you do need a narrative to introduce each activity so that parents understand what the PE teacher is trying to accomplish with this specific skill or activity. It needs to be short and come before the activity. The narrative welcomes the audience and holds the program together and then tells them good-bye.

The next thing that the PE Program should do is use the skills that the PE teacher is teaching not add to their burden with other skills to stuff into their curriculum. The activities that are chosen should be fun for the participants and fun for the audience to watch.

The PE teacher being on the floor with a whistle as they are in PE class is very important. It is good for safety reasons and the teacher can monitor what is happening and change things as needed. This also gives the teacher a chance to see when it might be fun to invite the audience to come out on the floor for a few minutes and be involved in the activity and then send them back.

Having the audience participate is important, also. Just as in singing programs it is important to have an audience participation number so it is with the PE Program. Do not have the whole audience come out just invite a few.

Your gymnasium will determine how many students you can have participate. We found that we could sit one class of parents on the stage and use the whole gym floor. Because of this restriction we did three separate programs with three different classes on the same grade level.

Were the PE programs successful. Well the PE teacher tells me that the students are still talking about it a year later and want to do another one. And the current class is asking when they get to do the program because they have heard that it was so fun.

Fun is the key. The students, parents and teacher should have fun and if they do they you have yourself a successful program.

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Occupation: Retired teacher
Resource Box – Caroline Mackay 2006
Caroline Mackay is a retired teacher of thirty seven years and writer and producer of many school programs. She is the host of

As we build this repository of articles on education and teaching we find ourselves turning more and more attention to teacher activities. Expect to see more writings on teaching physical education .

There is always more to learn about music teacher activities . Even experienced teachers do well to read up on it now and then. As with all Articles On Education, this one on music teacher activities just might find some disagreement amongst some teachers. Always feel free to comment, no matter what side of an issue you take.

Piano Teaching Resources – Tips on How to be an Effective Teacher

Author: Earl Marsden
Are you a piano teacher? Do you wish to take your teaching experiences to a higher level? Do you want to be innovative and creative more often and become that modern teacher you’ve always dreamed of? Well, you are on the right page as this post includes some basic rules on how you can win your students’ attention, interest, participation and trust.

Music is universal and dynamic – and so as music and piano teaching. Since we live in a society where music has been a very good and stable medium to bridge gaps and differences among races, cultures, customs and nationalities, we have to make it as well as music teaching a more fun, interesting and rewarding experience.

Learning music is as complicated, challenging and rewarding as teaching this craft to students. With that, below are some piano teaching resources that most music teachers out there can use and adopt in the classroom. Here are some useful piano teaching resources and basic tips and guidelines that you can take into consideration:

• Teach by heart. Music and music teaching may seem to be both your passion and profession. As a music mentor, you really have to step with your best foot forward. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to get the attention, interest and cooperation of the class. Through this technique, you can develop a stress-free, fun and accommodating classroom environment – making the students feel happy, motivated and inspired can amazingly make them learn, listen and participate more in classroom activities without getting bored, tired and exhausted.

• Understand your students’ differences and individualities. These learners have their own strengths and weaknesses; thus, as their music educator, you shall never generalize, overestimate, underestimate, compare and dare their capabilities and skills. Expectations, which are very high and too much, are never healthy and helpful. With this, communication and understanding are the keys.

• Divert difficult and complex lessons to easier and more exciting ones. Piano lessons may seem difficult, complex and boring to some but with our creativity, innovativeness and effectiveness, we can surely bridge the gap and settle this conflict.

• Show them that you care and you appreciate them. Let rewards, little acts of appreciation and words of encouragement rule the classroom. These simple acts may mean great things – a very effective motivating factor in making your students do well in class and perform at their best. We need not to spend much for this – little things and acts of kindness and recognition will do. After all, your kind words or just a tap on their shoulders can do great things and draw better results in their academic performance.

• Make them join, listen, perform, play, participate and react. Active learning includes participation, communication and interaction. As music educators, we have to employ these six powerful forces in the academe or studio setting: activity, expectations, cooperation, interaction, diversity, and responsibility.

• Always evaluate your activities, methods and strategies. Some techniques may no longer be applicable and appropriate to this school year’s students; some activities may no longer be appreciated by these new batches of learners.

With all these piano teaching resources, you can be assured that your students get the quality music education they need and deserve to have. Let us allow our students to learn, understand, enjoy and appreciate music by heart, just like what we do and how we integrate music and piano in our lives. Putting these into practice may surely help us so let’s make these things happen and expect better results, a more favorable outcome.

So, let us join hands today and develop, adopt and use simple, innovative and creative piano teaching resources. Good luck, fellow piano teachers.

Visit these piano teaching resources and learn how you can take advantage of this piano teacher software. – Earl Marsden

Articles in Music Education

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More Than A Teacher

If you are looking for information about teacher activities, this article should help. Whether you are an experienced teacher or you are just starting out, it is usually helpful to see what another educator has to say about teacher activities. Please let us know if you have your own articles on teaching.

More Than A Teacher

By Angela MacArthur

A great teacher teaches you more than just the basics in math or English or history. A great teacher inspires you to reach beyond your grasp and aspire to be a better person. A great teacher will go out of their way to make sure that you feel able and valued, no matter how many students they have in their class or how many years they’ve been teaching. You can tell a great teacher by the number of students gathered around their desk throughout the day; they’re the ones still there an hour after school has let out, simply because so many students are waiting.

My great teacher was my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Kasha. Mrs. Kasha was definitely the popular lady at school, and although there were only two sixth grade teachers to choose from, all the fifth graders spent the summer with their fingers crossed, hoping that she would be theirs the next year.

It’s hard to explain what it was about Mrs. Kasha that made her the best teacher in a school of dozens. She certainly wasn’t the easiest – she challenged each and every student to attempt what they thought was impossible, and she never let the ‘smart’ kids coast by on their good reputations. Maybe it was her kind voice, or her easy way with every kid, regardless of who they were or where they came from. Maybe it was the way she made everything seem a little more interesting than it probably was. I think it was the whole package: she was the type of teacher who made you care about her and what you were learning.

Mrs. Kasha made a difference in my life because she went out of her way to understand someone who was different. My school wasn’t exceptionally large, but there were certainly enough students to get lost in the crowd. My problem was, it was impossible for me to get lost in that crowd because, early in my life, my teachers found out that I was one of those ‘smart’ kids. Things naturally came easy to me, and I was often called upon to help my classmates when they were having trouble. I was visibly different from all the other kids, and it made a real impact on the way I felt about myself, all the way through school.

Mrs. Kasha acknowledged the fact that I caught onto things easily and she knew that I could get bored with what was going on. However, she also knew that I didn’t want any more attention drawn to me. She was the first teacher I had who looked past my intelligence to think about me as a person. Her solution was to quietly give me extra work to keep me occupied, or when I needed to be away from my classmates, she would let me go to the fourth grade class and help the teacher there. It was easier for me to help the students who were younger because they naturally expected me to know more than they did and they didn’t question the fact that I would be able to help them.

Sixth grade wasn’t an easy year for me. The move to middle school loomed large in front of me, and I also experienced a lot of medical problems that year. I was in and out of the hospital a couple of times, and my life was drastically changed by a number of these trips. Mrs. Kasha helped me through this time by making sure that I was still included in the class. Our final assignment of the year – one that everyone looked forward to from fifth grade on – was the publishing of a class newspaper. I was way too sick at the time to help with the creation of the paper, but Mrs. Kasha had all the kids write letters to me as if I was the writer of the advice column. She knew how important it was for me to be able to interact with the other kids despite my differences and because of her I left that school with a ton of new friends.

I know that Mrs. Kasha touched the lives of hundreds of students. There will, of course, be some who remember her a little more than others because of the special things she did for those who needed it. I know that, for me, my time in Mrs. Kasha’s class changed my life and she’s a big part of the reason why I’m now working on my PhD. She taught me to embrace the way my mind works, and showed me that being different isn’t really a bad thing.

About the Author: Angela MacArthur is the Editor of


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Video for improving teaching skills

Have a look at the article below about teaching skills. We select articles that are well-written and to the point. If you have something to add to the discussion on teaching skills, feel free to subscribe to "Active Minds" and leave comments here.

Video for improving teaching skills

Author: Chandrasekharan Praveen


In recent times, teacher training institutions have begun to employ technological aids for the purpose of teacher training. One extremely popular method for    teacher training is video modelling, and video-based student feed back.

 What is video modelling?

Video modelling is a teaching method that has been shown to be effective in teaching an innovative teaching method. Video modelling involves video taping an individual or multiple people modelling specific behaviors (e.g., demonstrating the Sturctural Oral Sitational Approach, The Direct Method or demonstration of the  skills of questioning, eliciting responses, giving  instructions etc.During video modelling, an action is performed by the model, the trainees view that model on the TV or computer screen, and the trainees later while engaging a class imitates the behavior of the model.

 How video modelling helps the teacher educator?

Though replacing a live teacher with a TV screen, might appear irrational, there are several advantages. Many demonstrations are time-consuming to prepare. By videotaping teacher demonstrations, the teacher has two big advantages: First, they can  avoid the repeated ground work for engaging a demonstration class and second,  the teacher can  perfect his/ her model demonstration by editing together the best parts of multiple recordings.

 What is video-based student feed back?

The video of a trainee teaching when recorded from different angles,  will help the trainee realize the drawbacks of ones own teaching. When viewed with peers, the  trainee gets an opportunity to objectively review ones own teaching and improve ones transaction in the classroom through healthy criticism.  Finally repeated video recording can help the trainee self evaluate own teaching!

 The Pedagogical scope of employing video for teaching

Teaching we know comprises several skills. To become an effective teacher one has to master a number of teaching skills.Video recording of the following, demonstrated or transacted by the teacher educator or the trainee and group viewing with comments  by pausing at different stages of a lesson can help trainees improve their teaching skill.

*  Reinforcement   *  Questioning skill  * Skill of motivation  *  Stimulus variation

 * Use of chalk board/teaching aids  *  Class room communication

* Review stage of a lesson  * Dealing with disruptive students

* Defects merits during group work/ pair work given in the class

Used imaginatively video can be employed for several other purposes too.

 How teacher educators can use video recordings of classes by trainees

The teacher educators can watch the classes recorded on video and  at their leisure, look for strengths and weaknesses while recalling the actual class performance.

 How trainees can benefit by video recording of their classes

There are several advantages:

* Trainees gain from   critical feedback.

* Trainees become aware of their short comings

* The video  becomes the basis of an   intensive evaluation.

 How viewers can benefit from the video recordings of classes by trainees

Classes recorded on video can be used  for peer feedback and review and thereby to improve teaching.




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