Room 241: A Blog by
Concordia
University-
Portland

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For Administrators

Kudos on your decision to become a building-level administrator! A host of exciting opportunities and challenges lie ahead. In your first year as an administrator, you will help to create a positive school community and culture that seeks to provide top-notch learning experiences for students. It takes a dedicated, committed person to be a genuine… Read More

The school leader’s office door is always open—often for complaints. When the door is wide open to negativity, it can bleed into school culture and weigh everyone down. But it’s possible to start building a positive and resilient school culture starting in those everyday office visits. Through the art of mindful listening, you can transform… Read More

With time in short supply for many teachers and administrators, deleting a few meetings from everyone’s calendars is likely to elicit sighs of relief—understandably! But less meetings doesn’t have to mean a weaker flow of information. In fact, there are plenty of tools that can help your team collaborate throughout the week, keeping everyone informed,… Read More

How to Run a Meeting: Agendas and Protocols That Really Work

By Jennifer L.M. Gunn January 22, 2018

We’ve all been there — sitting in a meeting that could have been an email while our other tasks continue to mount in our minds. A glance around the room finds some people drifting, scrolling on their phones, checking the clock while just a few people monopolize the conversation. Time is so precious in schools,… Read More

Efficacy—or a teacher’s level of confidence about their ability—can greatly depend on past experiences or on their current school culture. A bad classroom experience or negative work environment, for example, can quickly sour a teacher’s confidence. Conversely, witnessing student growth and working in a collaborative environment can boost a teacher’s belief in their ability and… Read More

Overcoming Innovation Fatigue: How to Make New Initiatives Stick

By Jennifer L.M. Gunn November 2, 2017

Innovation fatigue is something teachers and administrators know well. Every year there are new programs, standards, and expectations. We are always reinventing the wheel and have to learn a new system, take on a new responsibility, or embrace a new philosophy. However, change that benefits our students is worth doing—and doing well. Here are some best… Read More

In an era of increased standardized testing and a focus on standards and competencies, teachers must use the best methods for measuring student learning. The rote memorization and multiple-choice tests of years past are increasingly incapable of assessing the complex tasks modern students perform. These old testing strategies are too narrow for the high-level benchmarks… Read More

As a teacher, you’ll have a new set of young brains and hearts to work with every year. Eventually they will move on to other grades and teachers, but their memories of you will stay with them. Those memories are your legacy — the day-to-day interactions, the big and small moments wrapped up in lessons,… Read More

Admittedly, competition in principle is a good thing. Going head-to-head with someone else helps to spur action, foster more creativity and ultimately create the best final product. Just look at the quality of the things we use every day. All of them were created in a competitive atmosphere where a company tried to put the… Read More

We need to keep a close, caring eye on our students. Teaching is more than just the subject matter and the classroom environment: It’s about connecting with young people. Helping them through the somewhat rocky waters of growing up is a large part of our teaching responsibilities. While most students pass through our classrooms with… Read More

You are going to make mistakes. Once you realize that, you’re bound to make fewer mistakes and to recover from them faster. Most of your teaching mistakes will be innocuous and easy to recover from: poorly considered lessons that aren’t engaging, grammatical or spelling errors on a test, and even mixed-up communications with students, parents… Read More

Sometimes we need to think and talk about the grand ideas and attitudes that drive our work as teachers, and then there are those other times when we need to think about things in a much smaller scale. Recognizing that seemingly little, subtle actions can ripple through our classrooms is essential as we work to… Read More

Mentors in Teaching Are Like Bench Coaches in Baseball

By Brian P. Gatens July 14, 2016

The 1996 New York Yankees were a powerhouse baseball team. Dominating both at home and on the road, they are now considered, even two decades later, one of the best Yankee teams ever. While they had tremendous talent and excellent team chemistry, their success has been widely credited to manager Joe Torre and his coaching… Read More

Why Expert Teachers Rely on Great Guest Speakers

By Brian P. Gatens July 11, 2016

Effective classrooms thrive on routine and regularity. Savvy teachers embrace the benefits of a set schedule, but they also know the risk of steadiness breeding boredom. That’s why bringing a fresh face into the classroom in the form of an interesting, engaging guest speaker is such a time-honored practice. Here’s why it’s worth the time… Read More

Rightfully so, we spend a lot of time thinking about how we can help children who are economically challenged. Schools are our best tools against poverty, which we know from the proven connection between education and the ability to attain higher-paying jobs and careers. Yet this is sometimes only part of the picture. Classrooms occasionally… Read More