Category Archives: Classroom management

Machiavelli the teacher?

This is kind of interesting.

In reading and preparing for my lessons this upcoming week on Niccolo Machiavelli‘s rules for a prince or leader, I couldn’t stop thinking about his rules as if that leader was a teacher. Call it whatever critical lens you want, but it was interesting looking at his beliefs about leaders through the eyes of a preservice teacher. Without going into the specifics about what Machiavelli believes (you know, in case my students come across this post) he does offer some interesting questions about what a leader – er, rather, a teacher if you’re using this lens – should do and how he or she should act.

If you aren’t familiar with Machiavelli, he lived during the late 1400s and early 1500s. Living during the Renaissance, he was quite the humanist. He also held some power in Italian politics. His party (used loosely in comparison to contemporary American politics) eventually lost power in Italy and he was arrested, tortured and banished – and, of course, left without any political influence. Because of this, he ended up writing¬†The Prince, in which he outlines, through personal mental struggle, how leaders should act in power. ¬†It’s a really interesting read, but using my “Educator Lens” I couldn’t help but apply his beliefs to the so-called leader of the classroom, a teacher.

Here are some of those characteristics and roles of a leader, as suggested by Machiavelli, to think about: Continue reading



Filed under Classroom management, Education, English, Lesson, Lesson planning, Personal, Student Teaching, Students, Teaching

Individual accountability with collaborative learning

It’s amazing what a good day toward the end of the week can do for an intern. I’m able to look at everything in my teaching with a positive light. And even with the things that I know I need to work on or fix, I look at critically but with hope. One such thing area of focus for me that I’ve started thinking about lately is holding individual accountability in collaborative learning. Continue reading


Filed under Classroom management, Collaborative learning, Education, English, Lesson, Lesson planning, Personal, Student Teaching, Students, Teaching

Vlog: Focusing on student engagement

This is a vlog post regarding student engagement and motivation in the classroom, as well as outlining my plans to help increase class participation.

This video is password protected. For access to the video, please send me an e-mail and I will send you the password.

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Filed under Classroom management, Education, English, Motivation, Personal, Student Teaching, Students, Teaching

Student motivation: Part I

I was going to title this something like “Who to blame when it comes to student motivation,” but the word “blame” seemed too negative. And I couldn’t think of anything creative because I thought it might take away from the seriousness of the issue: student motivation is tough thing to master. That is, if it can ever be mastered.

Note: this entire post is going to be sporadic and jumpy because I can’t even begin to grasp the concept of student motivation. This post is merely just a way for me to complicate and problematize my understanding of student motivation.

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Filed under Accessing Prior Knowledge, Classroom management, Education, English, Lesson, Lesson planning, Motivation, Personal, Prior Knowledge, Student Teaching, Teaching

Telling students about the learning process

Been awhile since my last post, but things are going great. I’ve been observed quite a few times already by both my university supervisor and my mentor. And they both thing I’m progressing at a rapid rate, which is a good thing. I’m getting more comfortable in the classroom, the students are actually enjoying my lessons and I’m starting to feel more accepted with school faculty. Needless to say, it’s going great – even if it is overwhelming at times.

But there’s something that I’m pretty sure got brought up in my practicum class this week. And if it didn’t exactly get brought up, I was thinking about it during one of the discussions. Basically, the practicum class is designed for us pre-service teachers to learn, talk and discuss about high-leverage practices (HLPs) in the classroom. We learn about 4 throughout this fall semester and are responsible for implementing it into our classroom, videotaping the lesson and sharing it with our peers. The four are “building a literacy community,” “accessing prior knowledge,” “collaborative learning,” and “modeling.” A lot of these practices should be intertwined with each other and carried out throughout the school year, not necessarily implemented once to try it out and forget about it.

Recently, I did a lesson aimed at accessing prior knowledge (APK) in students.

But let’s get back to the question that I haven’t even mentioned yet. These HLPs deal directly with student learning. We, as teachers, use these practices to maximize student motivation, learning and achievement. Most of the time, the students don’t even know the specifics of how they are learning. Yes, they may get that feeling that they’ve learned something or, as I’ve seen plastered throughout English education books, “made meaning.” But do the know the process that went into learning (or meaning making)? Continue reading

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Filed under Accessing Prior Knowledge, Class assignment, Classroom management, Education, English, Lesson, Lesson planning, Motivation, Personal, Prior Knowledge, Student Teaching, Students, Teaching

Motivating students to do their homework, to read

Today, I had this tweet about my students not doing their homework and reading. A little background: it’s a college in the high school classroom. So, basically, students are expected to do the college amount of reading (say, on average, about 7 pages, single-spaced on printer paper) 3-4 nights per week. Then, the class is supposed to hop into good, informative discussion that promotes high-level thinking for the students. You know, like those good literature classes you had in college.

And right now, the students are in the classics. They just finished Homer’s Odyssey and are now working on the Iliad.

That discussion, then, where students are complicating their thoughts and clashing and sharing ideas with other students doesn’t happen often. If they don’t read, then there is nothing to push them to think about the text. And if they’re not thinking about that text because they didn’t read, then they’re not going to be able to complicate their classmates’ ideas. It’s a sad cause-and-effect that I’m sure tortures many teachers who run into this problem.

But what is the solution? Continue reading

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Filed under Class assignment, Classroom management, Education, English, Lesson, Lesson planning, Literacy community, Motivation, Personal, Reading, Students

Teaching difficult texts

Just a short post that got me thinking about this. In our Inquiry Education class, we read Wintergirls, a novel about a young girl, Lia, who has anorexia. It takes place in the days, weeks and months after her “best friend,” Cassie, who had bulimia, died. It’s an intense book with a lot of touchy and sometimes controversial events. In a nutshell, it’s the book you want kids to open up and read but you don’t want to teach it because of the subject matter.

After discussing it in class, we concluded with a question: would you teach it? It was a heated debate, albeit everybody was calm and nothing got out of control. But some people were adamantly against teaching it, considering it risky and a possible threat to trigger thoughts and actions. Others would teach it, but under the condition that guidance counselors were available and maybe helped with how to talk about the matter. Many of the people who believed in teaching it did so because they didn’t want to be an English teacher that held books back from students. Should English teachers say “no” to students about what they can and can’t read?

Regardless, everyone agreed that this would be a difficult book to teach – if you were going to do so. And that brought up another point: should we not teach a book because it’s difficult?

Unfortunately, I have more questions than answers. I don’t even know where I stand exactly on the issue, but I lean more toward teaching it with the help of guidance counselors. I just don’t want to hold something back from my students. If I’m an English teacher and asking my students to open up, be creative and challenge ideas, can’t they ask the same of me?


Filed under Books, Class assignment, Classroom management, Education, English, Ethics, Lesson, Lesson planning, Reading, Teaching