Does an Online Degree Help Prepare You to Teach in a Classroom?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018 / Leave a Comment

Does an Online Degree Really Prepare You to Teach in the Classroom?


If you had asked someone over a decade ago if an online degree in teaching (or anything, really) was worth the hassle, many would have given you blank stares and dubious answers -- often suggesting that an online degree held obvious social disadvantages for gaining necessary experience in the educational workforce. But as technology becomes an ever-increasing part of our lives, many people are reconsidering these opinions.

Online Degrees are Fine...but for Teaching???

Public opinion regarding online degrees is changing, but is it changing in the field of education? This seems to be more of a grey area. How can an online program prepare us for the intricacies of dealing with children in the classroom? Sure, any online degree will fill our knowledge pool with a level of expertise in any given subject, but can online courses aid us in our ability to reach out to other human beings and assess their level of understanding so that we can educate them better in person?

A Growth Spurt of Online Learning

Whether you think online programs are a good idea or not, the trend toward online educational options seems to be here to stay. In today's modern colleges - and even in many middle and high schools - the curriculum has become a sort of hybrid between traditional classroom instructional methods and online management systems (think Google Classroom). The ability to communicate with students outside of normal class times, as well as the ability to post information for students to refer back to when needed has made online platforms like Google Classroom an increasingly integral part of many educators curriculum and lesson planning.


Does an Online Degree Help Prepare You to Teach in a Classroom?

Oh, Google Classroom...how I love thee.


But Google doesn't have a monopoly on making online learning feasible and attractive to educators. Online educational programs can now reach out to students through different technologies such as Skype, Blackboard, or even iTunes to store lesson plans. If a student needs assistance in the virtual classroom, a live video conference can be issued, which can give nearly the same instructional value as it would in a live class.

Knowing vs. Doing - Can You Teach the Art of Being a Teacher

From the increased number of options for online degrees (see below for links to just a few), and the increased comfort we all feel with the digital world and online learning, it feels pretty obvious that increasing numbers of people will be getting their teaching degrees online. And, with the flexibility of scheduling and course options provided, it's highly likely that many current educators will be choosing an online option for additional degrees and certificates of their own.

But can the online option match the more traditional methods of earning a teaching certificate in terms of that intangible ability a teacher must have to connect with young people in person? Even though online schools do require "in class" time there is still that lingering feeling that it might not be up to the same standards as the traditional approach...but is that the case? Do traditional educational programs prepare new teachers for the challenging interpersonal elements of our occupation?

A quick look at statistics reveals that those traditional methods might not be significantly better in teaching these skills! As The Atlantic reported, various studies have new teachers leaving education sometime during their first five years as educators between 17 and 46 percent!

Does an Online Degree Really Prepare You to Teach in the Classroom?
That's a whole lot of teachers searching the classifieds during their lunch breaks!


While coursework (in person or online) can provide the pedagogical information necessary to form lessons, the strategies a teacher might use in a variety of situations, it seems like it doesn't matter nearly as much as what happens in those first few years of real-life experience in a classroom.

Ending Thoughts - Is it worth it?

While there are still many stereotypes regarding online degrees, their popularity continues to increase. The flexibility, lower cost, and the ability to learn anything you want at the click of a button is becoming a reliable option for those wishing to pursue a teaching career.

While it may feel strange to move into this brave, new world of educating our future teachers - it seems clear that we should be far more interested in how we better prepare teachers for the realities of the classroom, and less concerned about whether we prepare them in person or in a video chat.

Does an Online Degree Really Prepare You to Teach in the Classroom?

Looking for some more info about online degrees in education?



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The New Year's Resolutions Teachers Actually Need

Saturday, December 30, 2017 / 2 comments

New Year's Resolutions Teachers Actually Need

Go ahead, fess up...what cliched New Year's resolution will you be making soon? Are you starting a diet? Stopping a bad habit? Vowing to be more present in your daily life? 

New Year's Resolutions Teachers Actually Need
#jackblackismyspiritanimal

Hey, no judgment! All three of those are on my list this year. But in addition to these more common resolutions, I'd like to offer these suggestions for teacher resolutions we really need


1. I resolve to only hit the snooze button two...ok, three times before getting out of bed in the morning.

waking up hangover GIF
I've read all the articles about how hitting snooze isn't good for you...but it's going to be really hard to stop this one.

2. I resolve to wear my hair in a bun because I woke up too late to worry about it once a week.

morning GIF
Anna's morning hair may have actually been modeled after my own...I've sent a letter to Disney.

3. I resolve to do a better job greeting my students when they come into my room each day.

GIF by Giphy QA
Not this kind of "better job;" this is crazy. But as the school year progresses it can become easy to slip into the bad habit of not making sure to smile and say "hi," to each student. Make sure they know you see them each day.

4. I resolve not to read into every email my administrators send me or my department.

sad ucla GIF
Rather than stewing in my room trying to decipher the secret meaning in the way my administrator typed, "Let me know when you're available," this year I might try something new and actually ask my administrator for more information! I know! Revolutionary!

5. I resolve to spend more time laughing with my teacher-besties (and less time complaining)!

right lacey chabert GIF by TV Land
I work with such awesome people. It would be doubly awesome to talk to them about things that actually make us happy rather than all the things that are driving us nuts!

6. I resolve to collect less to grade but give more feedback on what I do collect.

care paperwork GIF
I will not let my grading pile grow into a mountain where this is my only option for grading if I ever want to get through it all.

7. I resolve to bring home my coffee cups each night instead of letting them pile up on my desk until I inevitably grab an old one and take a swig mid-teaching.

gross vomit GIF
Yeah... it's just as disgusting as it sounds.

8. I resolve to get backup plans ready for when the stupid copy machine breaks or the network goes down and we can't use the Chromebooks.

sad vincent vega GIF
Resolution 8 1/2: I resolve not to think snarky thoughts about how teachers are encouraged to utilize technology and incorporate 21st Century Skills into our lessons...but our network goes down several times a week.

9. I resolve to give a "clean slate" to all of my students...even the ones who made me most excited about winter break.

will ferrell fresh start GIF
January, February, and March can be long, dark months. Bring a bit of brightness to your classroom by encouraging your students to look at the second semester as a second chance.

10. I resolve to end each school day by reminding myself about one good thing that happened that day that never would have happened if I wasn't a teacher.

love actually smile GIF
Because let's face it...if we don't write it down - there's no way the non-teachers out there would believe half the crazy stuff we experience each day!

Happy New Year, fellow teachers!

What are your other teacher resolutions? Let us know in the comments!







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3 Easy Ways to Prepare Your Students for the Future

Wednesday, December 20, 2017 / Leave a Comment
3 Easy Ways to Prepare Your Students for the Future



For most children, classroom education is their primary preparation for college, careers, and life beyond. Although parts of our current school curriculum help students move into their futures, it’s up to teachers to end the disparity in the areas that are still lacking. These three classroom strategies will better prepare your students for their lives ahead.

Re-imagine Group Work

For obvious reasons, group work is viewed as an excellent way to teach students the principles of collaboration. In college, the workplace and all walks of life, getting along with others is a critical part of success.

Group projects must be designed to prioritize collaboration. Placing too much importance on the finished product usually generates a counter-productive learning environment. Namely, one or two students may end up tackling the entire project while everyone else is missing in action.

In these conventional scenarios, all group members stand to learn more if their grades depend on communication and participation. High achievers have an opportunity to lead and inspire others. These are the opportunities that can impact students for the rest of their lives.

With group work, the current curriculum increases the disparity between the classroom and the rest of the world by encouraging students to forego collaboration. Teachers must do everything possible to flip the script.

Merge Critical Thinking and Creativity

There’s a common belief encouraged by the school curriculum that certain classes are opposite. For example, art class and physics are perceived as being at very opposite ends of the learning spectrum.

No matter what class you’re teaching, your students will benefit if you create an environment that challenges this belief. There is room for art in science — and science in art.

Encouraging your students to get creative when solving problems is one of the best ways to prepare them for the real world. When school is over and students are no longer part of a curriculum that pushes them toward graduation, they must rely on their own problem-solving skills. Creative, critical thinking is essential in navigating the complicated world of career searching, financial management, and adulthood at large.

As a result, students should be rewarded for creativity even when they fail. This fosters an environment where students can better play to their strengths. At the very least, it will teach them the lesson that true failure occurs only when they don’t try at all.

3 Easy Ways to Prepare Your Students for the Future

Teach Them How to Learn

The internet has completely changed the learning process. Savvy internet users are capable of teaching themselves nearly anything. As a teacher in the 21st century, you must help your students understand the power of the resources at their fingertips.

Despite the outdated textbooks and learning resources of the current grade school curriculum, many students — especially high schoolers — will inevitably turn to the internet for answers. If they choose to pursue an online educational program, these skills become even more critical. They will need guidance in separating the wheat from the chaff while scouring online resources.

It helps to create a list of websites for your students to use as examples of reputable websites. These lists are great for providing additional practice on complex subjects. When students use them correctly, online resources can be used to prepare for the rigors of medical school and other intense fields of study.

Most importantly, efficient internet-browsing techniques give students limitless learning potential in their lives beyond. Students will find that success in modern careers is all about staying on the cutting edge of their industries. Using the internet is the only way to make that happen.

***
Though our current school curriculum may be outdated, it’s possible for teachers to arm students with the skills necessary for success in life. Collaboration, creativity and a healthy understanding of the internet are the most important skills students can hone before venturing out into the world.





3 Easy Ways to Prepare Your Students for the Future

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Bring on the Comfort and Joy! Awesome Party Games for Secondary Students

Friday, December 1, 2017 / Leave a Comment
icebreakers and get to know you games

During this crazy-busy time of year, I've partnered with a bunch of absolutely amazing teacher-authors to provide you with a TON of ideas on how you can bring more "COMFORT AND JOY" into your students' lives (and your own!) this holiday season. 
CLICK FOR INSPIRATION!


Do you remember playing Heads Up, 7 Up in school? How fun was that, right?! You thought you were going to be doing more math or language arts and all of a sudden your teacher surprised you with a game.
awesome party games for secondary students
And there was always that one kid who would cheat by looking at people's shoes while their head was down. 

With this in mind, I've created a list of three awesome party games I hope you'll try with your classes during the month of December. Surprise your secondary students some afternoon by stopping your lesson a bit early and allowing them to act like kids again. 

1. KING ELEPHANT 

animation zoo GIF by Arsenije Vujovicanimation illustration GIF by Arsenije Vujovicanimation illustration GIF by Arsenije Vujovic

Preparing to Play 

Have students stand in a big circle. Assign each student an animal and give them a gesture/sound that they will make for that animal. Sometimes I assign one animal to two students so they don't feel as embarrassed! Here is how it should look when you're done. 
 (Note: The only animals that must be in the game are King Elephant and worm. All the others can change and more can be added. Make sure King Elephant and worm are beside each other.) 

Click here for a list of possible animal choices and their gestures/sounds.

How to Play 

King Elephant is a rhythm game. The task is to successfully keep the beat, correctly do your animal gesture/sound when called on, and then make another animal's signal to try to get that person to make a mistake. 

The beat is set by the student who is King Elephant. They can alter the speed as desired. Everyone follows a rhythm in a 1-2-3-4 pattern. It looks like this: 1 = knee pat, 2 = clap hands, 3 and 4 are either left thumb/right thumb (hand jive style) OR one student will make their animal gesture/sound, followed by a classmate's animal gesture/sound. 

Sample Round 


  • King Elephant starts rhythm: knee pat, clap, elephant gesture/sound, knee pat, clap, BEAR gesture/sound (it can be any other student's animal gesture sound) 
  • Bear continues: knee pat, clap, bear gesture/sound, knee pat, clap, CAT gesture/sound 
  • Cat continues: knee pat, clap, cat gesture/sound, knee pat, clap, BEE gesture/sound and so on.
When students fail to keep the rhythm or make a mistake on the gestures/sounds (e.g. do a gesture when they aren't supposed to) then they become the new worm and everyone and everyone else moves around closer to King Elephant. Those who change places take on the role of the animal they're replacing (Note: You could also have students be "out" when they make a mistake and have them sit down).

The goal is to try to become King Elephant by knocking out anyone in front of you. And to laugh. A lot.


2. THE SNOWMAN 

This hysterical game isn't something you can do without some advance purchases, but for a once a year event it's awesome!


Preparing to Play 

Purchase store-brand toilet paper. You'll need at least one roll for every 3-4 students in your class. Gather some winter hats, mittens, scarves, and other snowman accessories you may have lying around at home (or stop by Good Will). Put these in a pile in the middle of your classroom. 

How to Play 

Break students into groups of three or four. Each group gets a roll of toilet paper and picks one person to be the "snowman." When the timer starts, all the teams have to wrap their snowman using the entire roll of toilet paper. Once they have, they can head to the pile of accessories to "dress" their snowman (this adds a need to rush, which makes everything funnier). Award prizes as desired: the team who finished covering their snowman in "snow" the fastest, the best-dressed snowman, etc. 

3. REACT AND ACT 

This one can get loud! You've been warned!

Preparing to Play 

Pass out slips of paper and ask your students to write down scenarios that could be easily acted out. Some examples:

  • You just swam out past the waves and you see a shark fin
  • You've just been proposed to, but you don't want to say yes
  • You come across an angry, aggressive bear while taking a hike
  • You just won the lottery

Once all the scenarios have been written down place them in a bag. Divide the class into two teams. 

How to Play

Each team will select five students to each choose one scenario from the bag. Instruct them to react to the event without explicitly giving away what their scenario is. Choose a time limit (30 seconds works well) and explain that when you say "Go!" all five students on both teams should begin to react to their scenario using exaggerated gestures, facial expressions, and their voice. The "actors" can interact with each other, but they must remain in character to their scenario.

When time runs out, each time tries to guess what their teammates were acting out. You, the teacher, can be the ultimate decision-maker regarding whether or not they guess correctly and earn a point.

Variations

  • Do not allow actors to speak (this is very challenging!)
  • Actors can speak, but they may not use any of the words on their scenario slip

December can be a stressful month for our students and for us. Bring the comfort and joy of the season to your students by playing one of these easy party games with them. Be sure to come back and tell me all about it when you do!






BE SURE TO VISIT MELISSA AT THE READING & WRITING HAVEN AND KEEP FOLLOWING THE 12 DAYS OF DECEMBER BLOG HOP FOR A CHANCE TO WIN!





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12 LOL Greeting Cards All Teachers Really Need

Tuesday, November 21, 2017 / 1 comment
12 Hysterical Greeting Cards All Teachers Really Need

There seem to be greeting cards for almost every occasion nowadays. Want a birthday card from your pet fancy gerbil to your off-and-on girlfriend? Got it. A greeting card that adequately expresses the sympathy you feel for your landlord who is disappointed about the outcome of The Bachelor? Hallmark has you covered. Greeting cards that express the joys and sorrows of teachers? 

Well...there's still a bit of a gap there. But worry not! Here are 12 greeting cards to cover those moments that all teachers know deserve special recognition. 

1. Because we all need a sugar fix once in a while (especially on Tuesday).

12 Hysterical Greeting Cards All Teachers Really Need

2. Because we don't need 30 little people asking how old we are all day.

12 Hysterical Greeting Cards All Teachers Really Need

3. Because we help our students achieve amazing things every day.

12 Hysterical Greeting Cards All Teachers Really Need

4. Because standardized testing sucks, but coffee doesn't.

12 Hysterical Greeting Cards All Teachers Really Need

5. Because mental health days are worth it, and so are we.

12 Hysterical Greeting Cards All Teachers Really Need

6. Because really, it doesn't get much worse than this.

12 Hysterical Greeting Cards All Teachers Really Need

7. Because we love all our students...but sometimes, we also love when they leave.

12 Hysterical Greeting Cards All Teachers Really Need

8. Because the struggle is real.

12 Hysterical Greeting Cards All Teachers Really Need

9. Because we have to be mature, responsible adults...even when we really aren't.

12 Hysterical Greeting Cards All Teachers Really Need

10. Because the students aren't the only ones who don't want to come back.

12 Hysterical Greeting Cards All Teachers Really Need

11. Because seriously, I do not have the time or patience to write sub plans.

12 Hysterical Greeting Cards All Teachers Really Need

12. Because teacher friends are the best!

12 Hysterical Greeting Cards All Teachers Really Need
P.S. My teacher besties are, in fact, the best. Just sayin'.


Who would you send a teacher greeting card? For what reason? Let me know in the comments below!





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