Skip to main content


Emergent Writers' Workshop

Emergent Writers’ Workshop
Writers’ Workshop is a wonderful approach to writing instruction because it gives students many choices and lots of time to practice. Generally, the teacher chooses the genre and the students are allowed to pick their own topic within that genre.
A typical workshop lesson would contain the following pieces: Mini-lesson (short, 5-15 minutes) Independent writing time and conferring with teacher (usually about 30 minutes) Sharing Time (5-10 minutes)
These elements may look a little different in a classroom of emerging writers, especially at first as the students are building up their stamina.
There are specific things you want to look for in the work of emerging writers. These are the students we typically find in our Transitional Kindergarten, Kindergarten and First Grade classrooms. Are they primarily expressing themselves through pictures? If so, is there meaning in the pictures? Can they “read” their writing to you? Are they using what they know about letters to t…
Recent posts
So, what are some components of informal leadership and what does it look and sound like?

Acknowledgement and Praise

“You have such great ideas. I love to come into your room to see what  you have done with….” “AWESOME”
“Thank you so much for putting together that lesson and sharing your ideas with me. I had some ideas, however, your approach made the lesson come alive.”
A coworker’s  praise of a job well done builds self esteem and a willingness to step to the plate again (Kenyon 2008).

“Let’s work together on the next unit. It will give us a chance to share what we know and what has worked in the past.”
Teacher collegiality provides opportunities for leadership. A strong sense of collective responsibility can develop when teachers problem solve together discussing, inquiring, and reflecting on common goals. Teachers tend to support each other as leaders when they know everyone  in their group will back them up. (Lambert 2006)


Whether you are a new teacher, right out of college, or an experienced teacher with several years under your belt, you consider your classroom as your own domain. Either as a new teacher who has studied the latest methodologies, or an experienced teacher who instinctively knows what works, you are equipped to inspire your students. However, you are not completely in control. Schools are hierarchical, and teachers are required to implement specific curriculum and standardized testing. Within this framework, are planning sessions for each grade level where test score are analyzed, and  remedial follow up mapped out. In reality, teaching is a team effort.
Effective teachers realize the importance of  teamwork and having a relationship with their colleagues.  Highly effective teachers have developed skills in leadership that not only promote a good working relationship with their colleagues, but also enhances student learning.  The question is, how doe…
High Quality Anchor Charts
One of the best ways to support your students’ independence is to create high quality anchor charts.
Anchor charts are helpful in the following ways: Keep the learning alive on the walls of your classroom. Support independence because students can access them as needed. Can hold visuals to help cement the learning. Can help to make expectations really clear. Can be used to illustrate processes as well as examples of what work should look like. Can be used for behavioral as well as academic information.
Tips for creating really high quality anchor charts: Make a plan ahead of time but create charts while the children are present. Have children do some of the writing. Add as many visuals as possible, students can even help pick which pictures to use. Use as few words as possible. Use dark ink for the text of the chart, preferably black, use colored ink for emphasis. Simple drawings can be just as powerful as complicated ones. (ex. It is totally OK to draw people using circ…

Mindfulness: Not a Passing Fad

Mindfulness: Not A Passing Fad
Mindfulness programs and processes have been expanding throughout the United States and other countries as school districts and  teachers promote and adopt it for their classrooms. Students are being introduced to and are practicing mindful breathing, observation, awareness, and listening. The question is will mindfulness be laid aside at some point, or will the process survive? Veteran educators have seen the pendulum swing as one educational approach has  been adopted and then left on the wayside when something else comes along. There are several reasons mindfulness will survive. First of all, mindfulness will will continue to be a part of the educational system as long as people in our society experience stress and anxiety. In today’s 24/7 society our senses are constantly bombarded and stressed by the world’s issues. Instantaneous access to the dramas played out in society can effect our well-being. Just as our bodies require food and sleep to rest…
Teaching Procedures
Many veteran teachers will tell you that the two most important things you can do during the first weeks of school are to teach procedures and routines and to build your classroom community. This blog post concerns the first point about teaching routines and procedures.
Some tips for teaching procedures: Model exactly what you want the students to do and have them practice it over and over until they are doing it exactly the way you expect them to. Make a list of all the routines/procedures students need to know in order to be successful in your classroom and put them right into your lesson plans. Some examples of procedures that most teachers have are:quiet signal, how to enter the classroom in the morning, bathroom, how to walk in the hallway, how to get/store supplies, how/when to take a break, how to interact on the rug/at desks etc., how to pack up at the end of the day. Focus primarily on teaching procedures and building community the first couple of weeks, teach…

Building Resilience as an Educator

Educators are very good at meeting the needs of their students, their families and anyone else who may need their help. We go into education because we care for others and want to make the world a better place. What we are not always great at is taking care of our own needs. In theory we know that we can’t really take care of others until we have taken care of ourselves but in practice that is often the very thing we try to do. When we do not take this time we run the risk of burnout and worse. There has been a lot of research lately about teachers and resilience. There are two resources in particular that teachers can turn to in order to work on building their own resilience: Elena Aguilar’s Onward and Angela Watson’s website.
Elena Aguilar has done extensive research in the area of teacher resilience. In her book Onward she identifies the twelve key habits of resilient educators. She has thoughtfully paired each habit to correspond with a month of the school year. She has also create…