Student Well-Being Opinion

Year in Review: Top Posts for 2018

By Starr Sackstein — December 27, 2018 6 min read
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Taking the time to reflect on the year is always a good habit to be in. There are many different ways to take the time to do it.

One of the things that is awesome about blogging is, when we do it right, it provides documentation of the learning and thinking we’ve done for the year.

As I read through the headlines and review the posts themselves, it takes me through the many ups and downs of my own learning, and in some cases like this year, old posts make a resurgence because other people are ready to hear the message/ get the information at a different time from when I wrote it.

I’ve also been fortunate enough to have champions of my work who share content they find useful and some guest bloggers who have certainly gained some footing. As a matter of fact, Dr. Douglas Green made the “most-read” list three times, and a preservice teacher, Amanda Gaughan, who wrote about grades made the list, too.

This is a great reminder of why different voices in education must be heard and when we have the platform to raise those voices, it is our duty to do so.

So without further ado, here are this year’s top posts (even if some of them are from years past):

  1. Shifting the Grading Mindset Starts With Our Words Originally posted in February 2016, this post reminds us that we have a responsibility to choose our words carefully if we want students to start thinking about learning and not just about grades. A big shout out to Aaron Hogan who shared this post a bunch this year and helped it get seen.
  2. Should Teachers and Administrators Be Friends? Many people weighed in on this hot topic, and I think the responses were evenly split. My personal feeling on the matter is that we can be friends, but it really depends on the circumstance. I’d love to hear what you think if you haven’t shared already.
  3. Teachers Should Not Have Guns When the debate was really at the forefront of the conversation earlier this year, this piece spoke to my adamant belief that teachers should not have to carry a weapon. These kinds of reactive measures create more safety risks than they correct.
  4. Generalizing ‘For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood... and the Rest of Y’all Too’ by Dr Doug Green, who does a good review of this popular teaching book that offers a great deal of insight about how to teach students.
  5. Teachers vs Educators: Which Are You? Also a throwback from 2016. I remember reading this one after doing my Tedx Talk because of a talk one of the students did that really made me think. It’s worth a read and a listen.
  6. It’s Time to Let Go of Tired Teaching Habits by Aric Foster - This guest post speaks to how we need to grow and change as educators to be what students need us to be.
  7. If You Could Change One Thing in Education, What Would it Be? Educators from all over the world took the time to answer my call on social media to share the one thing they would change in education and why they would change it. Read on to see if your one thing is mentioned.
  8. Create a Syllabus for High School Students Isn’t it time we started teaching students to follow a syllabus to ensure better classroom success? Check this out to help you plan.
  9. The Perils of Late Work and How to Make It Count What do you do when a student chronically turns work in late, doesn’t even try to get it in on time, at least it seems that way, and you want to correct the situation without letting the kid “off the hook”?
  10. Earning Good Grades Versus Learning Giving up grades may sound impossible, but it isn’t. Read Amanda Gaughan’s research on the topic and see if you can start to adjust your assessment practices.
  11. Why I Opt My Son Out of State Testing Let’s start investing in our teachers and our schools and move to those kinds of assessment, like portfolios for example. Using alternative assessments as a means to show growth is a winner for everyone and provides a level of equity that testing will never be able to provide.
  12. Want to Give Up Grades? Here’s How You Can Get Buy-in - As we consider what is best for students, we must remember that they are more than a number. Let’s provide them with the feedback they need to progress, the language they need to reflect on learning, and the strategies to keep growing.
  13. Student Self-Assessment Practices That Work Self-assessment is a valuable tool as it gives students the ability to really consider their learning and equally as importantly, share that understanding with the teacher. Once we understand what students know and can do, both demonstrated in the work and their ideas about the work, we can adjust instruction and/or class pacing as needed. The more adept students become with this tool, the better-tailored class time and assessments can be.
  14. Teachers Require Timely Feedback If You Want Them to Improve Admin, spend time setting goals with your teachers. Agree upon what they want to work on and then visit frequently, looking for the specific areas the teachers set goals on. Provide them feedback beyond “that was good.” Try to be specific in where they are applying strategies, and if they aren’t applying any strategies, provide some for them or put them in touch with another teacher who does it well already and can help.
  15. The Perfect Teaching Candidate Ultimately, when you meet an educator, you want them to be excited about the work they do. Teaching is such an amazing profession, and there is always something to learn.
  16. Thank You, Students, I’m Better Because of You Student learning and inspiration is by far the biggest reason I’ve returned to teaching each year. Every time I say goodbye to another group of kids, I feel saddened by the loss but invigorated by their possibilities. Always eager to hear later how things are going, I continue to make myself available despite not seeing them every day. Technology is great for keeping relationships current.
  17. How to Cheat on State Standardized Tests and Not Get Caught Dr. Doug Green addresses the Atlanta cheating scandal that was in the news as many of the people involved have been convicted and, incredibly, sent to prison. This is insane. I thought prison was a place for people who were dangerous or who committed some serious crime.
  18. School Librarians Are Rockstar Resources School librarians are vital to student learning as early as kindergarten. The exposure alone to books and experiencing the atmosphere young can really set up a positive connection to learning in all forms.
  19. Do NOT Repeat What You’ve Said, Leave the Reader Thinking in Your Conclusion Coming upon the concluding paragraph can be daunting, and perhaps the easy thing to do is summarize what you’ve said to do a little recap for the reader. You think you’re doing them a service, but you aren’t. Read on to help students end essays in a more meaningful way.
  20. Find and Expose Your Blind Spot as a Leader Honestly, while I was reading and then subsequently doing the activity to figure out what I wanted to commit to, I struggled mightily with selecting one thing that I really wanted to work on. In many ways, my ego got in the way of my ability to really drill down, but as I started to think about what stung the most from last year’s experiences, it was my own inability to get past insecurities and trust myself the way that I do in the classroom.

As another year is about to end, I can’t help but think about the state of affairs in education and wonder how each one of us can contribute to making the necessary changes to help students thrive in their lives after formal schooling.

Which was your favorite post from 2018? Did it not make the list? Please share

*Photo created using Pablo.com

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The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.