Welcome to The Inspired Educator: 21 Days to Happier and More Engaged Learners
Welcome! We are so excited to share our first ever 21-day experience for inspired PreK-5 educators.
We know that working in today’s high-stakes educational climate can leave teachers feeling like they don’t have the same opportunities to be as creative, engaging, and joyous as they once did. We also know that pushing against the trends of segregation, standardization, and compliance is exhausting and isolating.
We could all use more energy, more time, more strategies for engaging our students, and perhaps above all, more love. That is why we’ve designed this 21 day experience to give you and other inspired educators more happiness, strategies for engagement, and ways to feel and get connected.
Opening Day is April 15th.
What you get. During this 21-day experience, you will receive practical strategies, resources, and a lot of love to help you infuse creative energy into your teaching. Each day, for 21 days, you’ll receive an email from us highlighting the day’s tips and treats, and a link to access the content. You’ll also receive exclusive access to a discussion group, where the three of us, along with other inspired educators, will be sharing even more ideas to help you head to school with renewed excitement and energy.
Here’s a small sample of tips and tricks from Day 12…
Keep ’em Moving
Talk walks. Have students walk with a peer to discuss a question or a difficult concept. This can be contained to the hallway outside your classroom or as open as walking to the playground or football field and back. Of course, parents don’t like when you lose their children, so make sure you discuss ground rules and put safety measures in place.
Sign the answer. Teaching sign language is a great way to encourage bodily kinesthetic movement while teaching students a new language. We like to pose multiple choice questions and have students sign the answer, A, B, C or D.
Move like an animal. As you and your students encounter animals, encourage them to notice how the animals move. In particular, have them consider which body parts allow the animal to get from one point to another, to reach, and/or to see what is in their environments. Then, invite students to pounce, flap, craw, swivel, and slither.
I want more happiness, engagement, and connection. Sign me up!
The experience is organized around three inspiring themes: Week 1 is all about creating happier classrooms, Week 2 about boosting student engagement, and Week 3 focuses on building more connections in your classroom, schools, and communities. At the bottom of this page you can check out a short excerpt from Week 2.
All of the strategies and resources we offer are evidence-based, grounded in recommended practice and designed to create more inclusive, engaging, and happier classrooms. Throughout the 21 days we will also share inspirational quotes, guidance for self-reflection, and printables that can be shared with your friends and colleagues.
As this is an online experience, you will have the opportunity to interact and learn from other inspired teachers, as well as receive support and nurturing directly from us inside our online discussion group. Once you register you will have access to the 21 days of content… forever! This means that we encourage you to engage in this experience at your own pace. Then, when you complete all 21 days, you will receive a Certificate of Completion, which can be credited as 3 hours of Professional Development with administrator approval.
Who are we? This course has been designed by Dr. Julie Causton, Dr. Kristie Pretti-Frontczak and Kate MacLeod, who have a collective 45 years of experience both as educators and supporting educators. We realize that in order for teachers to do what we think is the most important job on earth, there is a deep need for more love and light in the way you all are supported.
We’d love you to join us. We know that happier teachers and happier learners mean more inclusive, engaging and exciting school experiences for all. It is our hope that this 21 day experience will help you capitalize upon your passion for teaching, boost your energy, and renew your commitment to happier inclusive teaching experiences.
We look forward to learning with you!
Julie, Kate & Kristie
An Excerpt From Week 2: Engaging them ALL
We know that engaging students in active meaning making is one of the most effective ways to motivate learning and increase retention. Simply think about the last time your students exclaimed, “I can’t believe how fast class went!” or about a student who really didn’t want to leave an activity center. Learning experiences that create deep engagement are enchanting, memorable, provocative, and FUN!
In our many years of working and researching in schools, we’ve found that in highly engaging classrooms, the teachers are using a wide variety of active learning strategies, instructional formats, and learning experiences to excite and motivate learners.
Our goal for this week is to share tons of engaging strategies to help y’all hook student curiosity, highlight their strengths, provide them with meaningful choices, and keep them moving. We’ll also share ways to “shake up” your instruction, and exciting ideas for lesson closures.
Our hope is that you will feel more motivated and more prepared to engage the hearts and minds of all your students.
Hook Their Curiosity
Classrooms can be dynamic spaces that spark dreams and delight minds! Some of the best lessons we’ve ever seen begin with short engaging “hooks” that ignite wonder and curiosity about a new topic or project.
We think hooks should be short (3-5 minutes) so that after you pique students curiosity, you still have ample time to guide them into deep learning.
Here is a list of 9 groovy ways to hook your students and ignite their wonder:
- Dress up: We’ve seen a teacher dress up like Marco Polo to introduce a lesson on exploration and international trade, and a co-teaching team who wore presidential candidate masks to introduce a lesson on voting.
- Hide clues: We once saw a teacher who hid clues around the classroom about the main characters in the novel Esperanza Rising to pique student interest about the book, but the options here are endless!
- Hang a Gallery/Exhibit: Introducing a complicated ecosystem like the Amazon? Hang images around the room and have students take an observation walk through the gallery with a peer.
- Show & Tell: Launching a project-based unit on a particular region of the world? Pack a traveler’s bag with interesting items students might encounter there. Or, create a “Time Capsule” that includes unique items from a particular time in history.
- Be Novel: Garner students’ interest by introducing topics, concepts, and/or materials in a way that is unique, new, and/or unusual, but not necessarily surprising. Use of novelty is designed to engage students in the learning process by capturing their attention in a way that differs from the usual routine or activity, therefore increasing the likelihood that new learning will be retained and connections with previous knowledge or understanding will be made.
- Save our Ship: Have the principal/director enter the classroom requesting help from your students in a way that connects directly to your lesson or unit. For example, he or she might say, “Our school has a problem with ______ and you are most qualified to help us!” Or, create a Voki in which the President or other world leader is calling for your class’s help to solve a major world problem. Another idea is to have a neighboring class make a video asking for help with a particular issue or topic. The collaboration possibilities can then carry on into the unit!
- Act it Out: Skits are a great way to creatively introduce a topic to your students. You can easily infuse humor and spark curiosity and, bonus, it can be a fun and easy way to engage and collaborate with your classroom colleagues.
- TV or Radio Commercial: Create a 30 second commercial (we like the simplicity of Moovly) that you can play for students to advertise the wondrous things they will be learning in the new unit about the solar system.
- Gather and Use Loose Parts: Materials, natural or synthetic, which can be used in multiple ways and based upon children’s choice, are what many call “loose parts”. For example, think about the junk drawer in your kitchen, it’s likely full of things such as lids without containers, keys that unlock… who knows what, scraps of paper or fabric, small tools, and plastic figurines. All of these loose parts can be combined with other materials, redesigned, taken apart, put back together, etc., thus sparking children’s curiosity. Nature also provides us with loose parts (e.g., rocks, sticks, sand, pine cones, bark, feathers, and seeds).