6 Proven Education Trends You Need To Know

In the world of education, trends change quickly. It is hard to keep up with every new strategy as well as decipher what works in the long run and what is a temporary fix or fad. When it comes to current educational trends, there are a few I have found are necessary to know. 
How can you tell when an education trend is here to stay or is just a fad? Check out these six trends that are here to stay!

Personalized Learning

In a rapidly changing world, it is important for each and every student to find something they are passionate about and explore it. 

This doesn't mean a teacher has to cater to each and every student when writing problem-solving questions but instead encourages students to explore passion areas of their own. 

One way to do this is through Genius Hour or Passion Projects. Students are able to choose something they want to learn more about and explore their topic in depth. These projects often end with students presenting their learning in some way to the class or community. 

Through passionate learning, students are able to step outside of the traditional classroom model and learn about topics which interest them directly and then learn from one another. 

Technology

Technology in the classroom is here to stay but that doesn't mean it has to be the end all and be all of every lesson. 

Technology allows students to experience a world outside of the classroom and what they encounter in daily life. Technology provides tools for learners to augment what they are learning and stretch their thinking. Technology does NOT have to replace paper and pencil tasks. 

How can you tell when an education trend is here to stay or is just a fad? Check out these six trends that are here to stay! Technology can provide a new way of communicating with others or for presenting ideas, but it can not replace the critical thinking students so desperately need. When thinking about whether or not to include technology in a lesson ask yourself whether it is a substitute for paper and pencil or if it enhances the lesson. If it isn't an enhancement, you may want to think twice. 

Teacher's Role

For a long time, the teacher was viewed as the authority in the classroom, the sage on the state if you will, but with new developments in research about how we learn this is changing. 

Now instead of being the learning leader, teachers are taking on the role of guide. We are still there for our students every step of the way, but we are there in a supportive rather than star role. Students are encouraged to share their learning with one another and lean on each other for peer coaching. 

Project-Based Learning

Project-based learning is real-world learning. 

Instead of students completing assignments in isolation, they integrate different subject areas to solve real-life problems in the comfort of the classroom. 

These projects allow students to stretch their minds and prepare them for a world which is ever-changing. Through projects such as planning their own field trip or a class party, students are able to apply their learning across multiple subjects without getting bogged down with the standard test. 

How can you tell when an education trend is here to stay or is just a fad? Check out these six trends that are here to stay! Collaborative Learning

In the working world rarely do you see one individual working alone. Instead, you see teams of people working together to accomplish a common goal.

In classrooms, we often see the opposite. This system, which is not effective for most learners, leaves many to struggle and does not simulate real-world experiences which value collaboration and teamwork. 

By utilizing collaborative or cooperative learning in the classroom, students are not only working on problem-solving, and learning new material, but they are also honing their social skills and learning valuable life lessons. 

Digital Citizenship

With technology taking such an important place in our world it is vital our students learn how to be good digital citizens. 

The landscape of technology and its uses are ever-changing, and often more rapidly than we know, but as teachers, we must help our students to navigate what it means to be a good digital citizen. 

We can model what this looks like, but explicit instruction is also a must. This will include everything from conversations about what information you share with others online, as well as how to present yourself on social media, and how your online presence is like a permanent file which will follow you forever. 

Growing up during a time when everything is recorded and posted online for the world to see comes with a new set of challenges that have not been faced before. 

Ever Changing

The world of education continues to evolve every day. Some trends will take root, gain momentum, and be around for the long haul while others will fade away as soon as they come into popularity. 

When you are looking at a new to you education trend remember to always ask yourself if it is what is best for your students. Will it make learning more personal and meaningful? If so, give it a try! If not, don't be afraid to sit that one out. 


How to Tackle a Really Bad Day

Bad days happen. They happen to the best of us. We have the best of intentions. We are prepared for the day. We do everything we can, but despite our best efforts, the day goes awry. This happens, and when it does we have to remember it won't last forever. 

Instead, we need to remind ourselves we make a ton of choices throughout the day and have the ability to turn our day around, or at least make sure it doesn't permeate our whole week. 
Are you having a bad day? Check out these 9 ideas for tackling your bad day and moving forward!

Reflect On Your Day and Choices

Sometimes our choices are what make a day go downhill. Sometimes it is others' choices causing us stress, but either way, there are choices you can make which will either stop the snowball or allow it to gain momentum.

Stop and take a moment to re-center yourself and think about the task at hand. If a choice you made is causing stress take a look at what you can do to work backward and make a different choice.

If your stress is a result of others' choices then think about how you can make choices allowing you to take back control.

Put Your Day in Perspective

From time to time it is important to remind ourselves our worst moment in a day is not entirely terrible in the grand scheme of life.

I am not here to say your bad day doesn't matter because it most definitely does matter, but what I am trying to say is when we remind ourselves of what is important in our lives we can gain a bit of perspective in moments when the world seems to be crashing down around us.

By taking the time to think about what is going right instead of living in the doldrums of what is going wrong we are in a better headspace to bring ourselves out of the funk of a bad day.

Do Something for Yourself

When I have a truly terrible day I try to take the time to do something for myself I otherwise wouldn't.

This serves a couple purposes. The first is it lifts my mood, and the second is because it ends the day on a good note. Then when I am lying in bed thinking about my day I end my thought process with the special something I did for myself.

Personally, I eat my feelings, so this something for yourself is a special meal most of the time. I have also taken the time to get a pedicure, treated myself to a mid-week evening movie, or gone to play trivia with friends. All of these things are special to me for different reasons, but all of them help me to stop a bad day in its tracks.

Hit the Reset Button

When a situation is going off the tracks, when possible, try a complete reset. I have used this strategy in and out of the classroom.

One day, while teaching, I was just miserable and told my students, "I need a redo." I walked out of the classroom, stood in the hall for about ten seconds taking a few deep breaths, then walked back in with a smile to begin the day again.

Did it fix everything? Absolutely not! It did give me the opportunity to reset and try again though.

My students were absolutely fascinated, and for the rest of the year, when having a bad day, would ask if they could do a quick reset. I would always oblige them, and it was a game changer for our classroom.

Are you having a bad day? Check out these 9 ideas for tackling your bad day and moving forward!Work It Out

I am a huge fan of sweating a problem out. When I take an hour to take care of my body and just get sweaty I always gain clarity about a situation.

Some people do their best thinking in the shower, mine it while rowing on an erg.

Get Some Space

When possible, sometimes the best solution to a bad day is walking away from it. I am not advocating you walk out of the school in the middle of the day leaving all your worries behind never to return.

What I am saying is maybe you leave school right after your students and get a little bit of distance from the situation. This isn't always applicable because some problems need immediate attention, but when it is can be a lifesaver.

Talk It Out

Fresh eyes, or ears, can make a world of difference. I for one, become a bit of a "poor me" individual and fall into the trap of complaining instead of problem-solving. This is a terrible place to be unless you are trying to turn a bad day into a bad week. 

By talking it out you put yourself back in control and you bring in others who can help. Honestly, sometimes I talk it out with my dog. She isn't particularly helpful with the advice, but sometimes hearing it out loud brings me clarity. 

Blast Your Favorite Song

Are you having a bad day? Check out these 9 ideas for tackling your bad day and moving forward!When a bad day is just a bit of a funk and not an acute stressor there is nothing better than music to bring me out of it.

In the car? Crank it up!
At school? Have a single song dance party!
At home? Blast yourself out!

I mean, who can resist singing along and getting a little dance into their favorite songs even when a dark cloud is hanging overhead.

Remember There is Always Tomorrow

When absolutely all else fails, remember there is always tomorrow. Take a hot shower, hit the bed, get a good night's rest and try again the next day with a fresh attitude!

How to Unlock Your Full Math Class Potential

We have all struggled to make our math class the most it can be. With a growing number of standards thrown at our students each year, it can be a struggle to feel successful while teaching math. 
 How to unlock your full math class potential and make every day in math powerful with 5 easy steps!
There I sat at my blue, small group table with my head in my hands. I had graded yet another district assessment, and the results were not good. I had followed the plan, I worked hard every day to fit it all in, and still, we had failed. I had failed. 

I began to rethink my plan. Instead of trying to throw everything against the wall and see what stuck I would be more methodical, more strategic. I had to find a way to reach my students which wasn't happening now. 

What I Was Doing

I had always taught math whole class. We relied heavily on the document camera and projector to go through many, many examples together then they practiced, but still heavily under my guidance. A small amount of time was spent on math stations and small group, usually during review periods. 

This method had worked for years, but then the standards changed. With the more rigorous standards, I saw a need for change. 

What I Began Doing

The first change made was to shift from the most lengthy part of our math block being teacher focused and whole group to a more student-focused small group and math station approach. 

This meant I was able to spend more time focusing on students who needed my help and accelerate the learning for those who had already mastered the standard we were working on. 

Then came the structure of our math block. Once I saw how this changed up approach was working I spent some more time building in structure. I am incredibly structure driven, as are most students, and while they were enjoying the new found freedoms of more station work I needed each day in math to look and feel consistent. 

The Structure of a Math Block

Each math block begins with a warm-up or review of the standards we are currently working on. This consists of typically four questions and should not take students more than 3-5 minutes to complete. We go over this warm-up together and students use their tracking sheet to highlight areas they are excelling in as well as areas where they can set goals to improve. 

Next, we take part in the whole group portion of the math block. This didn't go away from our original structure, but it did shrink way, way down. Whereas an old whole group lesson would have taken thirty or more minutes of our math block our new whole group lessons are mini, even micro-lessons, typically lasting a max of ten minutes. 

During this time we make and discuss anchor charts, have number talks, and model problem-solving strategies for the concepts we are working on. 

From there, students practice their learning from the mini-lesson. I tried to incorporate as much cooperative learning as possible because my students excel when working with peers, as most do. This practice piece should again, take no longer than ten minutes. 

Finally, we would get to the meat of our math block. This time, the bulk of our block was spent with students working in standards-based stations with partners and me, working with a small group. While this was the largest part of our ninety-minute math block it was also the most flexible. 

Students were assigned partners, but the partner chose stations to complete so long as they reached them all within the time period allotted. I worked with students in a small group to reinforce the standards we were working on in a more immediate way than I was able to during whole group. This meant students' needs were being met more quickly, all while providing them with more autonomy. 

How to unlock your full math class potential and make every day in math powerful with 5 easy steps!
At the end of the math block, we would clean up and come back together to complete an exit ticket. I prefer to have exit tickets match the standards being learned in the unit, but connect our learning to standardized testing. This meant I did not have to "teach to the test," but my students were still seeing the style of question they might encounter later in the year.

Our exit tickets took about three minutes to complete and collect and then we would go over the question together for about another two minutes. 

Overview of our structure for a 90-minute math block:
Warm-Up 5 minutes to complete 2 minutes to check
Mini-Lesson 10 minutes
Practice 10-15 minutes
Small Group and Station Work 55-60 minutes
Exit Tickets 5 minutes

Tips for Success

The move from whole group math to more student-focused was not easy and took a lot of self-control on my part. I mean, was two examples enough, or did they need more? 

My biggest struggle was with sticking to the mini-lesson being mini and not turning it into an ordeal. I had to remind myself over and over again I would see these students again in small group and would be able to work out any misconceptions or confusion then when it was easier to do. 

I also struggled to let go of control in the area of math stations. It would have been easier to me to assign partners to stations and tell them when to switch as I switched math groups, but would have taken away from their autonomy and would have likely lowered their engagement. 

Instead, I focused on making sure every station was full of quality materials would challenge my students to look at the standards in a different way. Each station available to them was standards-based and high quality. I also explicitly modeled my expectations for station work and held all of my students to these high standards throughout the year. This meant accountability for my students and made all the difference. 

Where Do You Find Materials?

How to unlock your full math class potential and make every day in math powerful with 5 easy steps!To be honest, when I first moved our math block in this direction it was a struggle. I used what we had and made it work, but slowly I pulled together resources meant for this by creating my own. 

Now I have math station sets which each have ten math stations based on the same standard. This means students can see a standard in ten different ways allowing them to continue practicing the standard for mastery. These stations are built around the concept of gamification to keep student engagement high. Most stations include a recording sheet, and if applicable, an answer key to hold students accountable for their work. 

You can check out these stations here:

Along with math stations, I have also begun creating full units for math, beginning with fourth grade. Each unit includes a preassessment, content vocabulary shown in three ways, daily warm-ups, lessons and student activities, daily exit tickets, a post-assessment, and ideas for how to continue the lesson in small group. You can find these units here, or get the most bang for your buck with the bundle here

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