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What to Look Forward to from The Teacher’s Academy at the PETE&C

The Teacher’s Academy will be hosting a booth at the annual PETE&C in Hershey, Pennsylvania this February. At the conference, educators from across the state come together to learn from each other.PETE&C

Participants will walk away with a deeper understanding of the importance of technology in education — and, if they’re lucky, they might even leave with some great prizes and a few professional development hours under their belt.

Here are some details about the PETE&C (Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference):

  • Date: February 11th-14th, 2017
  • Location: Hershey Lodge and Convention Center in Hershey, PA
  • Provides programs based on technology in the educational field
  • Consists of keynote speakers, concurrent sessions, students showcases, and more
  • Educators can take a course, apply to enter their students in showcases, host a booth, volunteer, and more

To learn more or register, visit the conference’s website.

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At The Teacher’s Academy, we offer a variety of Act 48-approved courses in hopes that teachers can learn relevant and advanced material to pass on to their students. As a website that offers professional development, we understand just how important technology is in the education field. To display our offerings and give teachers more information about our services, we will be exhibiting and giving away a few prizes at the PETE&C.

Here’s what to expect from our booth 116 in the Great American Lobby:

  • 4 Fun Best-Selling Teacher Books Giveaway
  • 3 $50 Visa Gift Cards Giveaway
  • Healthy snacks (and not so healthy snacks!)
  • Free Books for Teachers! (Our crowd favorite is back! Stop by booth 116 to take any gently used book donated by teachers from around Pennsylvania!)

Stop by our booth to ask about our courses, find out how to fulfill Act 48 requirements, learn about our affordable and convenient services, and win some fun prizes along the way!

Our online courses, which are Act 48 approved in PA, are creThe Teacher's Academyated by teachers, for teachers. Teachers can select courses based on the grade level they teach, their subject and interests, and more.

Browse our website or call us at 215-660-4926 today to complete your professional development hours in PA and learn more about The Teacher’s Academy: where teachers go to learn.

4 Things you Didn’t Know about Exercise and Learning

4 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Exercise and Learning!

It started with the physical education teachers screaming from the rooftops, but no one listened. The “Specials” classes and even recess were being cut to make room for more instructional time that would ideally raise test scores. Soon parents, students and teachers began noticing the continued decline in academic achievement, test scores and a rise in behavior issues. This is something our physical education teachers knew would happen! Today, there are new studies that support what our phys ed teachers have been trying to tell us, exercise stimulates the brain and improves learning.  Once again, the education world is seeing a shift in teaching strategies. Here are five things that we are just now discovering about how exercise and learning go together like peas and carrots!

#4: More than half of our youth do not meet the minimum requirements of daily exercise.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends at least one hour of moderate aerobic exercise every day. In addition, children (ages 10-17) should have an hour of high-intensity aerobic exercise and strength training. Most schools don’t have a physical education class for every student, and certainly not every day! Do your students meet the requirements by the CDC? Does your school even know what they are? Most likely not. PE, like other “specials” have been hit hard by the renewed push to increase test scores as students find most of their day spent in the classroom, with little time left in the schedule for the gymnasium or playground. Perhaps if administrators and board members were aware of the scientific benefits of exercise, the times would be switched!

#3: Recess increases cognitive development.

In a study called, The Role of Recess in Children’s Cognitive Performance and School Adjustment, showed that developed social and emotional behaviors have a direct influence on cognition. In other words, students that easily make friends, take on leadership roles, play creatively, include others, solve peer arguments, show empathy, control their anger and demonstrate other areas of social and emotional growth also have strong cognitive performance results. They score higher on standardized tests than students who are not socially and emotionally balanced. More importantly, it’s easier for these students to learn! Isn’t that the goal? What can we do to get our children to learn, retain and apply new information? According to the latest in brain research, the answer is exercise and movement.

#2: Our brains were designed for movement.

According to John Medina, a molecular biologist and research consultant, humans were not designed to sit at a desk all day. In fact, he states, “If you were to design an almost perfect anti-learning environment, it would look… like a classroom!

He reminds us that our ancestors were in constant motion. They would walk an average of 12 miles a day in search of food and shelter (Medina, 2014). Those who didn’t walk or at least keep up were likely the next meal for one of the many predatory animals with whom we shared the land. The connection between the mind and the body is stronger than we ever believed it to be in the past.

Ask yourself: Why do we have a brain?

If you answered: To think, Dr. Daniel Wolpert, a Neuroscientist, would disagree. He claims we have only one reason for the brain: “To produce adaptable and complex movements.” As evidence, he cites living things such as trees and plants. They have a life cycle, but they don’t move and therefore don’t need a brain. The brain is designed to be stimulated through exercise. In fact, advances in technology have made hunting food (grocery shopping), dancing for rain (watching the news) and making clothes (online shopping) too easy! As a nation, we’ve become inactive and our brains have not evolved to keep up with this sedentary lifestyle.

#1: Beyond improved cognition, exercise is vital to social and behavioral growth.

According to John Ratey, more than just academic performance is enhanced when physical movement is added to a daily regimen. Take a look at this list of benefits that exercise provides and see if any might apply to the students in your class!

Reduced Stress

  • Reduced test anxiety
  • Decreased symptoms of depression after 3 days of exercise
  • Improved adaptation to challenges in a changing environment
  • Decreased toxic effects of high levels of stress
  • Reduced neuronal death caused by chronic stress

Balanced Mood and Behavior

  • Improved attention, motivation, self-esteem, cooperation
  • Ameliorated learned helplessness
  • Improved resilience and self-confidence
  • Increased ability to withstand stress and frustration
  • Fewer behavior problems
  • Increased coping skills when presented with a new situation
  • Increased self-discipline and self-esteem
  • Reduction or elimination of the need for ADHD medications and antidepressants
  • Regulated mood through the natural balance of neurotransmitters
  • Regulated sleep patterns for increased alertness during school hours
  • Intrinsic sense of reward, motivation, and satisfaction
  • Impulse control
  • Joyful attitude
  • Increased state of happiness and life satisfaction

Improved Social Skills and Behavior

  • Lower levels of drug use in teens
  • Better family relationships
  • Noticeable improvement in key personal, social, cooperative, and communication skills
  • Improved attention, impulsivity, motivation, self-esteem, and cooperation

Classroom Teachers- Start Implementing Movement in your Classes Today!

The evidence is clear, plus kids love to move around in class…if you aren’t already, implement movement and exercise in your classes. Need some ideas? Our course, Move to Learn is an excellent resource for justifying and implementing movement in education. Plus, you can earn 18 hours of professional development!

The Teacher’s Academy for Professional Development

Visit The Teacher’s Academy for all your professional development needs. We are teachers writing courses for teachers to obtain relevant PD in a convenient and affordable platform. We are Act 48 Approved (PA), internationally accredited (IACET), and likely approved in your state for professional development. Check us out to learn more!

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015, June 4). How Much Physical Activity should Children Get? Retrieved March 31, 2017, from CDC CEnters for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/children/index.htm

Medina, J. (2014). Brain Rules. Pear Press; 2 Upd Exp edition.

Pellegrini, A. D., & Bohn, C. M. (2005, January/ February). The Role of Recess in Children’s Cognitive Performance and School Admustment. Research News and Comment, 34(1), 13-18. Retrieved March 30, 2017

Ratey, J. J. (2013). Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. Little Brown and Company.

Wolpert, D. (2011, November). TedTalks. Retrieved April 04, 2017, from The Real Reason for Brains: https://www.ted.com/talks/daniel_wolpert_the_real_reason_for_brains

 

 

 

Integrating the Arts in the Classroom: 5 Fun Activities for Busy Teachers

The Teacher’s Academy has just released their newest course, Integrating the Arts in the Classroom. This fun 18-hour course is designed to help teachers “spice-up” their current lesson plans with some outside-the-box art projects. The course starts off with a little inspirational music (by Metallica of course) and then progresses through the importance of art in education. Teachers will develop their own definition of the arts, learn about the value of the arts in education, understand how the standards support the arts, and even create a few of their own art-inspired projects! We understand how busy teachers are so we took 5 quick, fun integration activities from the course to share in this blog… Enjoy!

Guitar#5: Music Integration Activity

Activity: Add music to enrich your read aloud books, fiction or non-fiction literature, poetry and teach literary devices.

Skills: Literary devices, critical thinking, memory

Applied in the classroom: Students studying the social, economic and political events of the 1920s were exposed to music, rare video and artwork to further bring the era to life. Students got to listen to the music of the times while writing their own stories!

 

Group Of Children Enjoying Drama Class Together#4: Theater Integration Activity

Activity: Improvisation – give students a setting and let them react without a script.

Skills: Connect to characters, core-content comprehension, communication, language, vocabulary and presentation, public speaking and listening

Applied in the Classroom: In a circle, students are given a story starter. The teacher chooses one student to begin the story and the students point to their peers to continue the story when cued by the teacher. Add parameters to the game to increase the challenge and encourage critical thinking and problem solving…Must use a new vocabulary word, must incorporate certain parts of speech, must speak from a historical person’s point of view, etc.

Ballet#3: Dance Integration Activity

Activity: Interpretive Dance – Students use movement to teach letters, language or math concepts. Students form letters or actions with their bodies and display knowledge of math concepts like symmetry. To incorporate higher-level academic concepts, students can perform interpretive dance to “act out” events in history or scientific theories.

Skills: Communication, core content, language, vocabulary, and presentation skills

Applied in the Classroom: Students were asked to show understanding of symmetry through dance movements. One student chooses a position, a partner student must replicate that position. If one student moves, the other must move. Students take turns choosing positions to show symmetry, parallel lines, intersecting lines, angles, etc.

Kids art#2: Visual Arts Integration Activities

Activity: Drawing Poetry

Skills: Listening, language, poetry, drawing, motor skills, connection to poetry, critical thinking

Applied in the classroom: Students were read a poem and asked to sketch or draw what they heard in the poem. Students could make their own interpretations of the author’s message and articulate how they connected with the poem. The activity could be altered by selecting a passage from a novel or content area.

Art Hands#1 Fine Arts Integration Activities

 Activity: Sculpture and Writing

Skills: Writing, observation, communication, memory, descriptive language

Applied in the classroom: Students were asked to create a sculpture based on a profession then write an opinion piece about the profession. This activity could be altered to use paints or digital photography. The subject could be a core content topic, book review, word problem. For example, students could create 3-D models of plant and animal cells or dioramas of important events.

A few more integration activities…

  • Playing/ Making Instruments
  • Chanting, Rapping
  • Listening to Music / Poetry
  • Composing Music, Songs
  • Drama Games / Charades
  • Pantomime, Puppets
  • Move to Words, Poetry or Ideas
  • Popular and Creative Dances
  • Clay / Sculpture
  • Photography
  • Textiles
  • Research Artists
  • Research Works of Art

This is just a small sampling of what teachers will receive when they open the  Integrating the Arts in the Classroom course. Teachers, you do not have to be an expert in the arts to deliver an effective, integrated art activity! Have fun with your students and enjoy teaching with the arts.

The Teacher's AcademyNeed Professional Development? Now is the Time…

The summer is not only a great time for teachers to catch up on reading, but also to get started (or finish up) those pesky professional development requirements. It does not matter if teachers live in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Houston, Bloomington, Detroit, Green Bay or Nashville, our courses are downloaded to computers so teachers can work from anywhere in the United States!

Check out our Online Course Catalog for the most relevant, affordable and convenient professional development courses, created by teachers for teachers.

Click, Find Your State for specific details on professional development from your department of education.

Have a great summer, teachers!

Top 5 Summer Reads for Teachers

 Only a few more weeks left, but who’s counting? Time start thinking about relaxing on the beach with a good book. We won’t judge if you pick a trashy romance novel for your first read, but when that gets old and you’re ready to reconnect with the world you love, we have a few recommendations that will inspire, motivate and gear you up for Fall! (Oops, sorry for dropping the “F” word in early June!) We’ve checked out a few “fun in the sun” books we think our teachers will love to dive into! This year we have chosen books to help ignite your student’s brains, create a more artful classroom and inspire you to overcome challenges. We hope you had a wonderful year and enjoy a long, well-deserved and restful summer.

 #5: Spark! The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain Spark

Get out of the desks! The latest research suggests that students will excel academically, if they are moving. Check out this book for incorporating movement in your classroom and stay tuned for The Teacher’s Academy new course, Move to Learn being released later this month!

Integrating the Arts#2: Integrating the Arts Across the Elementary School Curriculum (What’s New in Education) by R. Phyllis, Gelineau

Integrating the Arts in your classroom can be used to jazz up some of your old lessons and activities. Get some great ideas on how to incorporate art, music, drama and movement to increase engagement and academics in your classroom. Stay tuned for The Teacher’s Academy new course release, Integrating the Arts in the Classroom.

#3: The Bridge to Brilliance: How One Principal in a Tough Community Is Inspiring Bridgethe World by Nadia Lopez

Be inspired by the story of one young principal determined not to fail her students. Nadia Lopez started a school in one of the poorest sections of the country and faced an uphill battle to provide a safe, nurturing, quality education for her community. She has received several awards and national recognition for her efforts but her greatest achievements are her happy students.

Smile big moon#4: A Smile as Big as the Moon: A Special Education Teacher, His Class, and Their Inspiring Journey Through U.S. Space Camp by Mike Kerjes

Follow a special education teacher and his students on a journey to one of the most prestigious space camps in America. Mike Kersjes breaks down barriers to show his students that nothing can stop them from achieving their dreams. Take your tissues along for this one!

#5: Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World by Make your bedWilliam H. McRaven

If you have not seen Admiral William H. McRaven’s 2014 Commencement address at the University of Texas, check out the YouTube video here. This book offers humble advice, hope and direction from a Navy Seal’s own life experiences. When life becomes too overwhelming, start the day by making your bed.

Need Professional Development this Summer? We can help!

The summer is not only a great time for teachers to catch up on reading, but also to get started (or finish up) those pesky professional development requirements. The Teacher’s Academy is created by teachers and we know how time consuming continuing education can be. Check out our online courses for cost-effective, relevant and convenient professional development.

Check out our Online Course Catalog for the most relevant, affordable and convenient professional development courses, created by teachers for teachers.

Click, Find Your State for specific details on professional development from your department of education.

 Have a great summer, teachers!

The Teacher’s Academy

Where teachers go to learn.

The Teacher's Academy

 

The FAQs of Professional Development for Teachers

Move over in-service days, The Teacher’s Academy is here!

Teachers are voicing their concern over wasting time in a lecture or workshop that doesn’t

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relate to their craft, and schools are listening and adapting to their needs. The full-day in-service model is slowly being phased out in many schools. Some schools are offering a menu of workshop options for the day. Even so, it’s difficult to develop an instructional day that meets every teacher’s needs. We all have different areas of expertise, teach different subjects and have different struggles with our students. Administrators are catching on and allowing many teachers to find their own outlet for professional development. The Teacher’s Academy was born from these concerns. We are the fastest growing professional development company in the nation and have recently taken our accreditation international! Thanks for supporting us, and feel free to share this information with any teacher looking to have more control over their professional development experience!

How does customized Professional Development work?

Recently, many teachers have been contacting us and asking how they can get their professional development requirements through The Teacher’s Academy. We hear questions like…

Are you approved in my state?

A: Most likely! Check your state page. If your state requires an approved provider, we are likely on that list! If it doesn’t, it’s usually up to the district or administrator of the school. In that case, you can complete the Request for Approval form.

Do I get a certificate when I’m finished?  

A: Yes! And a Projects Feedback form for your records!Certificate

How do I submit my hours to the state?

A: In PA, we submit the hours for you! In other states, just print and submit your certificate (Certificates are customized to include all required criteria requested by your state).

How long does it take to complete a course?

A: It depends on two things: 1) The length of the course you chose (3, 6, 15, or 18 hour courses usually take close to the time specified, and 2) Your expertise in the subject matter. If you are a whiz at Microsoft Word, that 15-hour course may not take you the entire 15 hours. (Rest assured, you still get 15 hours of PD for taking it!)

Why does it take 5-7 business days to get my results?

A: Teachers are sometimes surprised to hear that real teachers (Yes, live humans!) are reviewing your course work and responding to questions. You will notice that the course projects are not easily assessed with a computer-generated multiple choice quiz. Teacher’s Academy course projects and assessments are varied for a variety of learners. (We practice what we preach!) Therefore, teachers, not computers, are the MOST effective tool we have for providing excellent service and support to our clients.

 What is the process of completing a course through The Teacher’s Academy?

A: It’s simple and we will spell it out for you in five simple steps!

 1.      Create an account at The Teacher’s Academy

Our teachers will use their accounts to upload coursework and maintain their records of completed courses.

 2.      Choose a Course

We offer courses in 3, 6, 15 and 18 hour increments. If you need just a few hours or all 180, we can help you! The Teacher’s Academy has a wide variety of topics ranging from technology to trends in teaching strategies to nutrition and mindfulness. Every course is designed by teachers for teachers!  Keep checking back, the Teacher’s Academy posts 3-5 new courses every year!

Roasted Thanksgiving TurkeyIMG_7716paint handsmindfulness pic

3.      Purchase the course and get started right away!

Once a payment has been processed, the course is sent to your email inbox immediately! You can start and finish your course at your own pace. J

The course text and most accompanying files are send in PDF format. Files are named in numerical order so you know where to begin. You will notice that you are not tied to your computer to complete the course! Teacher’s love that they can even print the course if they want! It’s also comforting to know that live support is a simple phone call or email away! We are here to help. J

 4.      Upload the Coursework

Once you have finished ALL projects required in the course, you are ready to submit them for review. Every course has specific instructions on uploading projects to your Teacher’s Academy account.

 5.      Final Project: Participant Evaluation Survey

The final step in completing your coursework is to complete the online Participant Evaluation Survey. This survey alerts the Teacher’s Academy Review Team that you have finished your course and it is ready to be reviewed. Within 5-7 business days (and usually earlier), you will receive a certificate of completion and Projects Feedback form from The Teacher’s Academy.

The Participant Survey might be the end of the course process for our teachers, but it is the beginning of the process for The Teacher’s Academy!

How does the Teacher’s Academy keep their courses innovative and relevant?

Every single idea, piece of advice, criticism and compliment is read and reviewed by the teachers at The Teacher’s Academy. Our team takes that feedback and uses it to create new courses or edit our current catalog. Many of our courses like, Nutrition, Mindfulness and our suite of Google and Microsoft courses came from teachers who gave us the idea on the Participant Evaluation Survey. As a matter of fact, we have tons of artists to add to our Rock History course when that gets edited later this year. We also have some cool updates for our Web Review and Tech courses, thanks again to the feedback and suggestions from our teachers.

I want to learn more about The Teacher’s Academy!

Teachers can find most of the answers to these and other questions on our About Us or FAQs pages. We take great pride in how we can help teachers earn professional development hours quickly with relevant content, so they can get back to providing excellent instruction to their students.

The Teacher’s Academy is always looking for creative ideas to develop new courses. Our professional development courses are relevant, affordable and created by teachers like you! Have an idea for a course? Fill out a Contact Form! Or check out our course catalog to find a course that inspires your next great idea.

3 Strategies that Engage Students

(That You Probably Haven’t Tried!)

Finally summer is here! With this school year safely in the rear-view mirror, teachers will have plenty of time to reflect on what worked and what will need to be improved upon for the coming year. Keeping students engaged in learning can be a struggle at any point during the year. Having a variety of ways to reengage students can be the difference between a good year and a frustrating one. (This applies to both you and your students.)

Luckily, student engagement is a problem with a wide range of solutions to choose from and fairly easy methods of implementation. Do you already employ these strategies? Take a moment and see if you are doing what some experts recommend and if not, take advantage of the insight from experienced teachers…These strategies work to get and keep students engaged- and their teachers too!boy with a lantern

1. Project-Based Learning (PBL)

In a PBL classroom, the students create projects as a way of demonstrating knowledge. Students are given a real-world problem or question and then given the tools and support to find a solution or answer. The students are responsible for the research, design and presenting the solution to the audience. The teacher acts as a facilitator, guiding the processes and using embedded assessment practices to monitor progress.  In many cases, an expert in the field will come in to help guide the students as well. The expert acts as another resource for students as well as a strong connection to the real world problems that need solving. Solutions are often presented to an audience with the intent to implement. Students get an extra boost of motivation when they know their hard work is for more than just a grade!

In other words, take the subject matter and apply the lesson to real-world problems. For example, my second graders this year were learning about recycling. In the old days, we would read about recycling in a book and then take a class on what we read. In my class, however, we take a trip through our school to go through the class trash cans at school! (Ewe…Gross! And the kids love it, and they talk about it at lunch, and eventually it becomes “one of those projects you get to do in 2nd grade!”) After collecting some interesting things, we examine and determine what can be reused, recycled, or replaced with a better option.

Of course a lesson like this comes with a little extra preparation, like getting gloves for the kids, asking teachers for cooperation in advance and reminding the students to wash hands afterwards! But the lasting effects of a project-based learning experience is worth it!

Here are a few resources to help you find more information on how you can implement project-based learning activities in your classroom: EdutopiaThe Teaching ChannelLesson PlanetTeach Thought

2. Genius Hour

This strategy, brought to our attention by Genius Hour.com, is a great example of how Young man using laptopeducation can look to industry for engaging. Employees at Google® get to spend 20% of their time, working on a project of their choice. The results have been impressive. During this “free time,” employees use their interest and expertise to solve problems, make processes more efficient or develop new software. It’s where Gmail was born! You might be thinking, “Yeah, well, those are professionals with a secure set of expertise. I’ve got a room full of silly 6th graders!” Even Google had to put a few parameters on the 20% time and you will too. Even so, it’s proven to be incredibly successful.

Many middle level and high school teachers have already adopted this philosophy, and their students are able to spend 20% of their class time working on solutions that are of interest to them. Genius Hour starts with a driving question or problem. The question or problem, although chosen by the student, must have a level of complexity that would require research. Once the teacher and student agree on the question or problem, the student uses a variety of different resources to try to answer the question or solve the problem.  Finally, the solution is shared with an audience. Many times, these solutions are posted on a shared site for anyone to view. This strategy develops independent learning skills, fosters creative thinking and brings fun back into learning.

Here are a few resources to help you find more information on how you can implement Genius Hour activities in your classroom: Mind in BloomTeach Thought

3. Makerspaces

Makerspaces are small, dedicated spaces in a common location, usually a library or an empty classroom. In a makerspace, students can tinker around with almost anything of interest: Legos®, Kinex®, clay, blocks, circuit boards, craft items, gardening, health, etc. These spaces do not require any type of technology and can be tied to the curriculum. Students can learn about a math or science concept and then create something that represents what they’ve learned. Some Makerspaces have 3-D printers on hand for transferring the concept into a tangible item. Of course, students can share their creations with teachers, other students or the rest of the world. Expect to see an increase in student engagement, determination and creativity after a Makerspace has been implemented in your school.F

Makerspaces can be found in New York, Colorado, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Ohio classrooms to name a few! Hopefully, some of these strategies will find their way into many more classrooms across the country.

Here are a few resources to help you find more information on how you can implement Genius Hour activities in your classroom: Makerspaces.comEdutopia, How the Maker Movement Connects Students to Engineering and TechYou Tube, What is a Makerspace?

Where to get even more great resources for professional development:

Check out The Teacher’s Academy website for some more great ways to keep teachers and students engaged all year long. Need to get caught up on those professional development requirements? Get them done this summer! The Teacher’s Academy is the place most teachers look to help maintain their certifications or fulfill teaching license renewals. Not sure if your district will accept TTA courses? Check out the Find your State Page and see if we can help. (We probably can!)

The Teachers at The Teacher’s Academy want to wish all of our amazing teachers and fun, safe and happy summer!

The Teacher’s Academy Celebrates Teachers!

In 2015, The Teacher’s Academy had the honor of celebrating five incredible teachers from the Pennsylvania area.  By observing these innovative teachers in action, we were able to share with you the influences they are having on the next generation of learners.  With this blog posting, we would like to once again thank our 2015 teachers for sharing their “typical day of teaching” with us and preview our amazing 2016 lineup of Teacher Features!

The Teacher Feature is Born!

In February of 2015, representatives from The Teacher’s Academy attended the educational technology conference in Hershey, PA called PETE & C.  It was at this conference that we encountered Mrs. Zahra Tees while she was giving a presentation to a packed audience of teachers.  She was demonstrating how her students use blogging tools and social media to build their language and writing skills.  Like the rest of the audience, I was captivated by her presentation, rigorous lessons for her students, and witty personality.  We had a chance meeting with Mrs. Tees after her presentation, and we knew we had to share her ideas with other teachers.  One of our many goals at The Teacher’s Academy is to help effect real change in education.  After meeting Mrs. Tees, we developed an idea to share with our clients the latest trends in education as well as the innovative practices of some of our favorite teachers.   We lovingly refer to these articles as “Teacher Features.”

To create a Teacher Feature, we observe a teacher “in action.”  A Teacher’s Academy representative visits the classroom to learn about the teacher, the teaching environment and the students.  When the Teacher Feature is completed, it is given to the celebrated teacher for their approval and to share with their family and friends.  The Teacher Feature article is then posted to our blog page and shared with thousands of current and prospective teacher-clients.

Two-Fold Benefit of the Teacher Feature

As a company comprised of teachers, we understand how effective it is to share original and successful teaching practices with other teachers.  Allowing teachers to take a peek into another classroom to observe effective implementation of new ideas and technologies is one way to help bring change to education!  Observing talented teachers in action also has an effect on how we develop new courses.  In fact, many of our new courses contain content and projects that were influenced by our celebrated teachers.  Sharing ideas and keeping our own courses current are the main reasons why we love to create and share our Teacher Features.  These features would not be possible without the generosity of the teachers that we get to visit.  So, in our own small way, we like to thank our celebrated teachers with a few gifts at the end of each year.  A personalized certificate of thanks, an inspirational book and a $50 gift card is mailed out to each of our celebrated teachers early in the month of December.  The more our company grows, the more we plan to give back to the teachers and students across the country!

A Recap of Our 2015 Teacher Features!

You can check out the full story of each of our teachers by visiting our blog page, but here is a quick recap of our amazing 2015 celebrated teachers:

 Mrs. Zahra Tees

Mrs. TeesThis fun-loving hippie chick is substantive when it comes to providing engaging lessons for her brilliant Northeast Philly students.  From posting blogs of famous literary characters to making poetry cool with her Louder than a Bomb lessons, Mrs. Tees’s lucky students are getting the tools they need to succeed in college and beyond!  Thank you Mrs. Tees!

 

 

Dr. Michael Scott

Heading up an award-winning jazz and marching band in a blue-collar town, this teacherDr Michael Scott - Morrisville High School

gave musical opportunities to students who grew to love and appreciate the power of the arts.  Due to budget cuts, music and arts were taken away from this school, and the jazz band, marching band and theatre program were forced to shut down.  When provided with the opportunity to teach high-school social studies, Dr. Scott decided to utilize his theatrical personality to connect American history with current events.  His students may not have the music department in the school, but they have the heart and soul of music with them everyday!  Thank you Dr. Scott!

Mrs. Lindsey Whalon

Mrs. Lindsey Whalon - June Teacher Feature RecipientThis incredibly organized teacher has seen her share of classrooms!  Finally settled into teaching 3rd grade, Mrs. Whalon is the queen of hands-on, project-based learning.  Her students work out extra energy before the lesson and engage in complex thinking throughout the day.  Whether they are putting together a skeleton or prepping for some new creepy crawly visitors to take up residence, these students will be prepared to meet any challenge!  Thank you Mrs. Whalon!

 

 

Mrs. Michelle Blair

Over the river and through the woods, Mrs. Blair’s students go to visit the local bird Mrs. Blairpopulation.  Hands-on science experiences are sure to stay with her young learners for years to come.  None will last as long as their love for their favorite teacher!  (I should know, my daughter is 15 years old and still talks about her favorite first grade teacher, Mrs. Blair.)  Thank you Mrs. Blair!

Mrs. Kerry Black

Mrs. Kerry BlackThis incredibly special teacher uses common shapes and complex language to teach our youngest learners.  At four years old, her students can describe not just the parts of the body but the whole digestive process!  The creative lessons developed by Mrs. Black and her assistant foster a strong cognitive foundation for their students.  Her warmth and love of children has created a classroom environment that focuses on thoughtfulness and care for all living things.  Her preschool classroom is her “happy place” and an inspiration for anyone who is lucky enough to enter!  Thank you Mrs. Black!

 Our 2016 Teacher Feature Lineup

The representatives at The Teacher’s Academy have had many nominations for prospective teachers for our 2016 teacher features.  Get ready to meet new teachers who will blow you away with high-tech American History lessons, share new hands-on ways to teach math concepts and take budding entrepreneurs into a nationwide competition as they share innovative business ideas for improving our world.

If you would like to nominate a teacher for our 2016 teacher features, please fill out a contact submission form and a representative from The Teacher’s Academy will get back to you.

We would like to thank all of the amazing teachers who really do make a difference everyday.  We wish everyone a safe, happy holiday season.

Thank you teachers!

5 Tips for Substitute Teachers

Because The Teacher’s Academy is comprised of teachers, we understand how Teacher at whiteboardimportant substitute teachers are to the educational process.  Studies suggest that between five and ten percent of teachers are absent on any given day.  That’s a lot of substitute teachers working every day, often without a lot of instruction, guidance or support.

The Benefits of “Subbing”

Substitute teaching allows certified teachers the benefits of being a teacher with the perks of making their own schedule.  It is a great opportunity for teachers turned stay-at-home parents to stay active in the profession without the workload and commitment of being a full-time teacher.  It allows former teachers looking to re-enter the workforce the chance to showcase their skills to a school or district.  Also, it is a great way for the recent college grad to put their education into practice and hone their craft before taking on a class of their own.

If you can identify with any of these scenarios, you may have found yourself interested in giving substitute teaching a try. If so, here are some tools and tricks to help you walk into the classroom with confidence and make substitute teaching work for you.

1. Plan your Work

“If you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” 

While this is true of teaching in general, it is even more so in substitute teaching.   Classroom teachers have the benefit of knowing the personalities of their students, the curriculum and the procedures of the school.  As a substitute teacher, you are often coming in blind, so preparation is key.  Plan to be at the school at least 10 min. before you are scheduled to arrive.  This will earn you the appreciation of the front office staff who are often anxiously waiting for their substitutes in hopes that there are no last minute no-shows which throws their morning into chaos.  Use that extra time to read over the lesson plans for the day.  This is crucial, since there is rarely enough time to read every lesson and determine your game plan before the students start to arrive.

TTA Pinterest BoardAlso, don’t leave your bag of tricks at home.  Come prepared with read aloud books, 5-minute time fillers and emergency lessons that you could use for a range of grades in case you have arrived and found that the classroom teacher has left inadequate plans for the day.  Check out The Teacher’s Academy Read-Aloud and 5 Minute Filler Pinterest boards for ideas!  Bring your own supplies such as pens, pencils, post-its, and paper.  Instead of scrambling to find these materials, you will have them on hand when you need them.

 

2. Work your plan.

This is my own teaching motto. It simply means execute actionable steps to achieve success.

Preparing is not enough. Take it from me, I’ve been substitute teaching for several years now, and even though I can’t predict every misstep, I can avoid the big ones. And now, you can too! You need to not only think of “what could go wrong,” but actively put in place strategies that will avoid some of the common problems. Here are some action steps you can take to provide a bit of insurance for your plans!

  • Take a quick walk around the building to find where the cafeteria, recess, gym, library, art room, computer lab and fire exits are located.  You want to be able to confidently lead your class wherever you need to go.
  • Stop in and introduce yourself to the teachers next door or in your grade level.  They can offer you helpful information, (such as an assembly that the classroom teacher may have forgotten to tell you about)!
  • Read over the plans that the teacher (hopefully!) left you for the day.  If the teacher did not leave you plans for the day (Yes, it happens!), good thing you have that bag of tricks.  Or, ask a grade-level teacher for suggestions. They can probably point you in the right direction and give you more specific information.
  • If you are not familiar with the material, read a few of the previous lessons so you are familiar with what you are teaching.  This helps to avoid the awkward moments when a student asks you a question and you do not know the answer.  Use the Internet to research any material if the teacher’s manuals are not available to you.  This way, when you begin a lesson, you can be confident that all of the materials are at hand.
  • Highlight any emergency procedures.  When the fire alarm is blaring in the classroom, you’ll be happy you can quickly find the procedures you are supposed to follow.
  • It is often helpful to bring or find a clipboard to attach the daily plans.  This way, they don’t get lost in a bunch of papers as you sort through the material for the day.  Also clip a class roster and a pen or pencil to the clipboard.  This way, you always have the kids’ names on hand.  Students tend to respond more quickly when they are addressed by their name and it helps to assert your authority.
  • Take time to become familiar with whatever technology you are going to use throughout the day.  If you are expected to teach using a SmartBoard, make sure you have log-in information and that it works.
  • Make sure you know what the procedure is for taking attendance and how to report it to the main office.
  • Get students working as soon as they enter. If the teacher has not left morning work for the students, this is the time come up with something.  If you have the students begin working as soon as they enter the room, they are more likely to settle quickly and it sets the tone for the rest of the day.  Having something prepared helps to tame the chaos of morning arrival.
  • Once you’ve had an opportunity to read over the plans, make note of important classroom information:
    • Children with allergies
    • Specials and lunch times
    • Times each subject starts and ends
    • Children pulled out of the classroom for individual instructions.

Did I say arrive 10 minutes early? Better bake it 15!  It is a lot to accomplish in a very short amount of time!  But it is important to prepare early so you are not sidelined by being unprepared during a lesson.

3. Quickly Establish Authority 

Greet students. Set the Tone. Maintain Consistency.

Students in classroomThe key to successful substitute teaching is quickly establishing authority in the classroom.  Now that you are prepared, stand by the door or at the front of the room as the students begin to arrive.  Did you know that students are more apt to behave and follow the routine just because you are in their proximity during arrival?  Since you arrived early, organized all your materials, familiarized yourself with the building and procedures and are attentively greeting your students at the door – you have already completed the first steps in establishing authority.  A prepared, attentive substitute encounters many less behavior problems than the distracted, unorganized substitute.

The next step is to set the tone.  A warm, kind greeting and a show of interest in the students goes a long way towards establishing good will.  You don’t have the luxury of building rapport with these students to help your classroom management, so set a firm, yet friendly, tone. After the students arrive and complete their morning work (and you’ve followed the attendance procedures and reported them to the office), it is a good time to go over the rules with the students.  To the degree possible, follow the rules that the classroom teacher has put in place.  Consistency is the key to a smooth day, so this is not the time to reinvent the wheel (no matter how great your own method of classroom management is).

 4. Deal with Behavior Issues

The best defense is a good offense.

One of the most difficult aspects of substitute teaching is dealing with behavior issues.  It Studentis tempting to mistake that joy on the face of the students when they see you as the pleasure of making your acquaintance.  More likely, they are figuring out ways to capitalize on the fact that you don’t know the established classroom rules and routines.  In this case, the best defense is a good offense.  By simply actively engaging the students as they walk in the room, you will set the tone for the day.  Make sure they have work to do as soon as they enter the classroom and keep them engaged throughout the day with discussions and written assignments.  It is always a good idea to collect all written assignments so students know they will be held accountable for their work.  Sometimes, letting the class or even individual students know that you will assign any unfinished work for homework also encourages them to remain focused on the assigned task.

Despite keeping them engaged, you will still encounter uncooperative students.  Because students can often see through idle threats, make sure you are prepared to follow through with any consequences you give to the students.  Implement whatever disciplinary measures the teacher has left in place and has (hopefully!) shared with you.  Document all stages of misbehavior and your response to them.  Sending students to the principal should be your last option, unless a student is a threat to himself or others.

5. Communicate with the Classroom Teacher

No matter how the day went, make sure you communicate the details to the classroom teacher.  At a minimum, leave a note detailing the material you covered for each subject.  If you did not get to all of the material, make sure to note that as well.  It is important to note any behavior problems or issues you had with the class.  I use my own template that I print and just fill in at the end of the day. Teachers love it and now they know what to expect when they request me to sub for them. (Which they do, often!) Here’s what I would include on this “Day in Review” template:

  • Absent and late students
  • Material covered for the day (and the material not covered)
  • Helpful students
  • Students that misbehaved (detailing specific incidents)
  • Other important information.  Include your name and contact information as well.

Do you have any tips for substitute teachers?  If you are interested in substitute teaching and are in need of professional development hours for your certification, check out our courses at The Teacher’s Academy.  We offer on-line professional development courses that are convenient, affordable and relevant.

 

 

 

 

The Teacher’s Academy Welcomes South Carolina Teachers

In the beginning…

In 2012, a group of teachers from Pennsylvania created a small company called Act 48 South Carolina landscapeAcademy.  This company started as an approved provider of professional development hours for teachers in Pennsylvania.  Soon, word spread… and we began to hear from teachers outside of PA.   Teachers from New York, New Jersey, Texas and Oregon were asking if we could offer the same affordable courses in their states!  The teachers at Act 48 Academy decided to expand to offer services to the rest of the nation under the name The Teacher’s Academy.

How Does it Work?

The teachers at The Teacher’s Academy have made obtaining professional development hours quick and easy!  Our process is simple:

  1. Create an account
  2. Shop for courses
  3. Check out

Once you have purchased the course through our secure checkout, the course and all of the materials you need will be emailed directly to your email address.  The course is yours to keep forever!  Once you open the course, there are step-by-step directions for saving the course and for uploading your completed projects to your TTA account.  All of our courses follow a similar format, so once you’ve completed one course, the next one you purchase will look the same and follow the same procedures for saving and uploading projects.  We have a high rate of teachers returning to our site for this reason alone!

 Relevant and Useful Professional Development Projects

The Teacher’s Academy is made up of certified teachers who research the latest, most effective teaching strategies and weave them into the course projects.  For example, our Blended Learning course gives teachers the opportunity to watch and understand how other schools have implemented Blended Learning activities into the classroom.  Armed with this information, teachers can create a customized Blended activity that would compliment their own existing curriculum.  Our Mindfulness in Education course focuses on the implementation of mindful practices in the classroom.   All of our courses supply teachers with high-quality educational resources and links to quality websites for further research.  Teachers can investigate these cutting edge ideas and earn professional development hours for their efforts!

Quick and Affordable

The Teacher’s Academy has considered the financial burden placed on school districts and, more specifically, teachers.   To keep costs low, we have created an efficient system of reviewing projects and then issuing your Certificate of Completion and Feedback Form within 5 – 7 business days.   The Certificate of Completion verifies the hourly participation in the course, and the Feedback Form lists the skills mastered.   These documents serve as the required verification forms that need to be submitted in order to receive renewal credits.  Our process is faster and less expensive than community colleges or other private companies.

There are no administrative or extra costs for materials, because everything you need to complete the course is emailed immediately.   We have a tech team and support staff ready to assist with any questions.

 How we can help busy South Carolina teachers…

According to the South Carolina’s Department of Education, the educator must earn a minimum of 120 renewal credits, as described in the renewal credit matrix, during the five-year validity period of the license. (SC DOE Website, Renewal Page)

 The online courses offered by The Teacher’s Academy fall under Option #10 in the Renewal Matrix:

 

RENEWAL OPTION
10. Professional Development Activity, includes conferences, workshops, task force, etc.(further information provided at the end f matrix)
 
ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA
Renewal credits are awarded only for those professional development activities (e.g., conferences, workshops, task forces) that• are tied to the educator’s area(s) of certification and/or the goals of the employing educational entity; are provided by a national, state, regional, or locally approved sponsor; and involve a minimum of 4 hours of direct contact, excluding meals and breaks.
 
RENEWAL CREDITS
Maximum: up to 60 renewal credits may be earned via this option during the five-year validity period of the certificate.Accrual rate: 1 hour of direct participation = 1 renewal credit1 CEU = 10 hours of direct participation
 
REQUIRED VERIFICATION
In order to receive renewal credits via this option, the educator must provide• official documentation from the sponsor verifying the educator’s participation, and• a synopsis of the session topic(s), date(s), and time(s).
 

The courses at The Teacher’s Academy are written in 3, 6, 15 and 18-hour increments.  Our 15 hour courses would be considered 15 renewal credits or 1.5 CEUs (Continuing Education Credits).  This allows teachers to choose from a variety of educational experiences and gain an abundance of educational resources while earning their 60 clock hours.

We are honored to bring our services to the excellent teachers of South Carolina!  Check out some of our most popular courses:

Inspiring Ideas for the 21st Century Classroom – 18 Hours, $89.99

Mindfulness in the Classroom – 18 Hours, $89.99

Nutrition – 18 Hours, $89.99

Blended Learning – 15 Hours, $79.99

Computers the VERY Basics for the PC – 15 hours, $79.99

Microsoft Word for Educators – 15 hours, $79.99

2015 Science Website and Apps Review – 3 Hours, $24.99

2015 Pre-K Websites and Apps Review – 3 Hours, $24.99

 

Check out The Teacher’s Academy website for a listing of all of our courses and information on the education requirements for South Carolina teachers on the South Carolina Department of Education web page.

Enjoy teachers!

 

 

 

 

 

November 2015 Teacher Feature: Kerry Black

“I don’t do anything special. I just love what I do!”

-Kerry Black

 From the moment you walk into 4C (Mrs. Black’s Pre-K classroom), you get the feeling Mrs. Kerry Blackyou’ve stepped into a special place.  Books and supplies are neatly organized, walls are filled with colorful projects, and there is a warmth in the room that reflects the philosophy of the teacher.  When I reach my hand out to introduce myself formally and thank her for allowing me to spend the morning in her room, she coyly replies, “I don’t do anything special, I just love what I do.”  After spending the morning with Mrs. Black, I realize that is exactly what makes her so special.

Kerry approaches her day with a focus on “creating wonderful individuals.”  She and her partner, Ms. Marianne, create lessons each day that might seem daunting (considering the time restraints of a preschool day) or even impossible (due to the fact that they are teaching 4 year olds). Yet, with proper preparation, support from each other and the will to do the impossible, they find a way to execute even the most demanding lessons… And then they clean up and do it again! Kerry admits that without Ms. Marianne, the prepping, executing and sharing in the joy of accomplishment wouldn’t be possible. Having support is the key to success in learning, and life in general.

Teaching Letter FormationKerry’s ability to infuse learning with play promotes a love for learning in her young students. For example, to teach students how to form letters, they create “Mat Man.”  Students construct a figure using lines and curves (all of the shapes we use to form letters).  Of course, the students are so interested in creating their figure; they don’t realize that they’re learning.  As Kerry explains, “They’re just having fun; they don’t realize I’m teaching them.” 

It’s an ideal environment for preschoolers.  Students learn academics and real-world skills through play.  Kerry explains, “I try to create a warm, caring environment.  We’re a family here in 4C.  We love and take care of each other.”

Warm and Fuzzies are Contagious!

As the focus of Kindergarten becomes more academic, students often struggle socially as they enter the early elementary grades.  They don’t always get the opportunity to practice the skill of working as a group or team, something children typically learn through play.  Kerry emphasizes the importance of being kind and taking care of each other.  In her class, students receive a “warm and fuzzy” (a colorful, soft pom pom ball) when they demonstrate positive, nurturing behavior. It’s fascinating to see how hard students will work for this reward.  There are no toys or small trinkets, just the acknowledgement that you are taking care of and helping a classmate.

Clearly, it is working.  Kerry tells the story of a little boy who was out sick one day.  During morning circle and after they prayed for the boy who was out for the day, two classmates asked if they can make cards for him.  When the absent child received the cards, he asked Mrs. Black if his classmates can receive a warm and fuzzy for making him feel better!

Character and Community Development begin in Pre-K

The children of 4C also embrace the practice of being “bucket fillers.” It is a concept popularized by Carol McCloud’s book, Have You Filled a Bucket Today?  Children are encouraged to examine their actions toward others.  Are you helping someone, are you filling their bucket?  They realize through practice that by helping someone else, they end up feeling better about themselves.

These practices serve to enhance Kerry’s behavior management style.  Kerry explains, “I’m not interested in controlling their behavior.”  There is no chart, there is no public acknowledgment of which student is making good or bad choices.  “I simply reward good behavior and help them to make good choices.”

Kerry is an educator first and foremost.  She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Have You Filled A Bucket Today?Education and a Master’s Degree in Reading.  She worked for eight years as a reading specialist in secondary education and saw firsthand how difficult it can be to remediate students. She felt compelled to reach these students before remediation was their only hope. That’s when she turned to early childhood education. Kerry believes she has more influence on character development and forming good habits if she can reach students in the early stages of development.

“Teaching preschool is my escape…”

When Kerry was called to teach at Good Beginnings Preschool, she had young children and wasn’t looking to jump back into a professional role so soon. Kerry’s faith in God and His plan helped guide her to accept the position and she has since never looked back.  Kerry tells me, “This is now my passion, my happy place, my escape.”  If “escape” isn’t the word that comes to your mind while in a room full of excited 4-5 year olds, you’re probably not alone.  But for Kerry, designing rigorous lesson plans for this age is her passion.

Academia + Creativity + Fun = Learning

Kerry’s rigorous academic background, attention to detail, and high expectations set the stage for a preschool class that focuses on learning objectives and performance outcome. However, meeting performance objectives is not what drives her teaching practices. Yes, the students are held to a high standard. Yes, she peppers in advanced vocabulary. And yes, they do a LOT of hands on projects each day. But, it’s more important at this stage for the kids to love school, take care of each other and demonstrate good choices through play. Kerry realizes that when kids are having fun, there’s almost no limit to what they can learn.

Kerry designed a lesson on the human body that gives her students hands-on learning in a Human Body Projecctfun and impressionable way.  In her human body lesson, students create a “body” from a large paper shopping bag, with holes cut out for their head and arms.  Next, they attach balloons and straws to represent the lungs (that actually expand when the kids blow into the straws)!  There’s even a “piece of food” that travels down the esophagus through the intestine and into the stomach!  Bones (macaroni) are glued onto the back to represent the spine. Kerry doesn’t shy away from using medical terms like esophagus and vertebrae when teaching her students. This lesson is an excellent example of Mrs. Black’s ability to plan and execute an advanced concept lesson that 4 year olds (and their parents) will remember for years to come!

Mrs. Kerry BlackThank you, Kerry Black, for being an amazing inspiration to our children, their parents, your community and now teachers worldwide! The Teacher’s Academy proudly supports and congratulates your creativity, work ethic and genuine passion for developing character and a love of learning in our youth. Congratulations on being The Teacher’s Academy November, 2015 Teacher Feature!