Stop Calling Them Rough Drafts! - Episode 21

        The 13th installment in our series: How to Leave on Time and NEVER Take Papers Home Again ... In which we're back to go deeper on a topic we mentioned in Episode 20: Rough Drafts. And we're here to share why we stopped calling them "Rough Drafts." Watch the YouTube video here >>> https://youtu.be/7UPeY1u72WY
        So how did calling them Rough Drafts become such a big deal for us?
        I noticed my students turning in their rough drafts with all kinds of obvious errors in them (obvious for them, I should clarify), and when I asked them about the errors, they would say, “Well, this is the ROUGH draft, right? We’ll just fix them later.”
 The 13th installment in our series: How to Leave on Time and NEVER Take Papers Home Again ... In which we're back to go deeper on a topic we mentioned in Episode 20: Rough Drafts. And we're here to share why we stopped calling them "Rough Drafts."        It started to bug me. They were almost trying to write drafts that were rough. They weren’t caring about polish and excellence.
        But it’s hard for some students to get their first draft done, right? They get sort of paralyzed if we put pressure on them to turn in polished work when they’re just getting their thoughts down. How do we help those kids?
        I take a page out of Anne Lamott’s essay, “Shitty First Drafts.” In class, I call them crappy first drafts. Her idea is that everybody’s first draft is crappy…she uses a different word. So the main goal of your first draft is to get your thoughts down on paper. Sure.
        So that helps take the pressure off?
        Yeah, our first drafts will all be crappy, one way or another. But then she makes a point of saying that we aren’t trying to make crappy drafts…they just are because they’re our first try. But with each draft, we should try to get our best crappy draft. Our best draft possible.
        This sounds like a contradiction.
        And it is. It's an amazingly helpful, sticky-idea contradiction. So I’ve changed my language from “Rough Draft” to “Best Draft.” When students ask, “When is our rough draft due?” I respond, “We don’t turn in rough drafts. Your best first draft is due on Tuesday.” It really ruffles their feathers, and they get the point. It takes repetition, but they really start to realize that just because it’s our first draft doesn’t mean is has to be rough. And just because they put in the effort to turn in their best first draft, doesn’t mean it’s going to be great. All first drafts require massive revision because they’re crap. But they’re great crap because they’re done! Getting a best draft done is a great success. They need to know both realities.
        I don’t want to sugar coat anything for them, but I want them to really grasp both realities.
  1. First drafts are always crappy and always require massive revision. And 
  2. Doing your best effort on the crappy draft gets you closer to an awesome draft later on.
        So I have outlawed the phrase “rough draft” from my classroom and replaced it with “Best First Draft.” I’m a firm believer that words are powerful, and what we call things really makes a difference. This isn’t just a switch in words. It’s a shift in mindset, and it’s yielded massive results with my writers.
        Conversation of the Day: How do you get your students to turn in their “best drafts” of their essays?
          Hop on over to watch the video and share your thoughts in the conversation.

Grade Essays 10x Faster & Improve Student Writing - Episode 20

        The 12th installment in our series: How to Leave on Time and NEVER Take Papers Home Again ... In which we show you how to grade student essays 10x faster and watch their writing quality skyrocket in the process. Watch the YouTube video here >>> https://youtu.be/6syYDbjNbGY
        So far in our series, we’ve been looking at our daily schedules and how to save time and focus in lots of different areas, so we have more time to plan and grade in the classroom. You’ve probably been aching for us to get to the never-ending pile of papers to grade. Ack! It really seems hopeless and eternal sometimes, doesn’t it?
 The 12th installment in our series: How to Leave on Time and NEVER Take Papers Home Again ... In which we show you how to grade student essays 10x faster and watch their writing quality skyrocket in the process.        Many episodes ago, we talked about making the decision to not take papers home. How many of you made that decision? How many of you stuck to it? Seriously, you’ve taken no papers home? If you’ve stuck to your guns, awesome for you. Even though it brings a little (read “A LOT”) of anxiety at first, you’ve probably already started to figure out ways to grade them at work instead of at home. Which is the ultimate goal: NO MORE PAPERS AT HOME … EVER! It’s amazing the little nooks and crannies of time we find when we have to.
        Remember, Jonathan didn’t take a single paper home for 7 years of teaching middle school English, so it’s possible. Maybe you just need to be reminded that it’s possible. The only voices I ever heard were always telling me it was impossible, you’d always have papers at home. Not true. He did it for 7 years. 7!!!
        One of the big switches I made was an aha moment for me in how I was grading essays. I would assign an essay, teach them through the process, give them days in class to write paragraphs and ask me questions, then collect a rough draft. That started the dreaded paper grading cycle. I would use my grading rubric to fix all their errors in a timely fashion so I could get the essays back to them to edit for their final drafts.
        Here’s the problem I kept seeing: Students only really fixed the errors I found because I was the expert and if I didn’t find them why should they fix them?
        And that got you thinking, right? … No wonder they don’t know how to edit their essays, you were really the one doing all the editing! No wonder some of them would throw their essays in the trash right after they get them back…they only cared about the grade they got when they fixed your edits.
        So you had to find a way to flip things so they were doing the editing and you were doing the grading. Which are different! And the journey he headed down saved him so much time, and his students got sooooo much better at writing and revising.
        With the next batch of essays, I only wrote a letter grade at the top. No comments, no marks, nothing but a grade. Well, of course, my grading time got done way faster. I was spending under a minute grading each essay. I internalized my essay rubric that I was using before and only wrote a letter grade. Then I handed the rough drafts back and they looked for all the work they were used to me doing for them, which, of course, wasn’t there.
        “Why did I get this grade?” many asked.
        “Let’s figure it out,” I replied.
        So I walked them through how to grade their essays. I handed out my “Fix These in Your Essays Now” cheat sheet, and we got started. Here's the link for you to get it in our Teachers Pay Teachers store >>> https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Essay-Writing-Revision-Checklist-Rubric-402032. We highlighted hook/intro sections, thesis statements, topic sentences, quote proof and page numbers, transition sentences, thesis echo in the conclusion, and solid closing lines that resonate. They did it. Not me. Then they wrote notes in the margin if any of it was missing. They finished going through the Revision checklist. They made all the marks. They … They …. They. Not me. I already know how to grade essays. They’re the ones who need to learn. I hadn’t been teaching them how to grade their essays.
        Then I asked them if their letter grade matched their essay. If that grade was fair? They all saw why now. And the right person did all the editing.
        Then a surprising thing happened … looking back, it shouldn’t have been surprising: On their final drafts, they were a little more able to see things to fix. But where I really saw progress was on Essay #2, 3, 4. That year, I actually assigned 9 essays and didn’t grade a single one at home. And my students’ writing skills skyrocketed!!!
        It’s gonna be difficult at first to not make any marks on the essays. It’s gonna be difficult to teach them what you see in your essays. It’s gonna be difficult to focus on the macro ideas and not the micro commas errors. It’s difficult, but we get difficult, we’re teachers. This is what we do. But for a long time I wasn’t doing the difficult thing when teaching writing, which really in the long run, ended up the easy thing. Not taking papers home.


        Conversation of the Day: If you tried to teach your students how to grade their own essays, what do you worry might happen?
          Hop on over to watch the video and share your thoughts in the conversation.

Love & Respect with Students - Episode 19

        Today, we’re going deep into our hearts and talking about how to love and respect our students. Watch the YouTube video here >>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBr3cgZWSc4
        My realization on this topic started a few years ago in the teacher’s lounge at lunch. I used to eat lunch in there often, and on this particular day, these teachers were complaining about these boys in their class who were giving them a really hard time.
        I was thinking in my head, “That’s weird…they’re great kids in my class.”
        Then I started to notice what I felt was the problem. There was something in their tone.
 Today, we’re going deep into our hearts and talking about how to love and respect our students.        And then one of them said this, “They just don’t have any respect. And I said that to him, ‘You need to start respecting your teachers.’ And he said back to me, ‘I’ll respect you when you respect me.’ That got her really mad, and she said, “I’ll respect him when he starts respecting me.”
        Her statement connected my brain up with a marriage book we’d read called LOVE AND RESPECT by Emerson Eggerichs. In it, he discusses the core needs for males and females. Males crave respect, and females crave love. Sure, we all need both, but he makes the case that we crave one more. Jonathan even did a poll once of a whole bunch of his guy friends who didn’t know he’d been reading the book. His question was: If you had to choose between having unconditional love or unconditional respect, which would you rather have? And more than 80% of them said respect.
        So how does this idea transfer into our classrooms with our students?
  1. Let’s start realizing that this is an actual need. Girls crave love. Boys crave respect. And when we start giving it to them, they start giving it back.
  2. We’ve gotta do it first. We can’t wait for our students to respect or love us first. I often use this little example with my students when they say someone else is doing something stupid they wish would change. I ask them, “Who’s the more mature one: you or them?” So I’ll ask you, in that situation with that student who never shows you respect, who is more mature, you or them? You, right? Then you’re telling me that you’re gonna wait for the immature one to take the first mature step here? How about since you’re the mature one, you show them what unconditional respect looks like?!
  3. A key word here is “unconditional.” Your love and respect cannot have conditions. Sure, there are discussions and consequences and discipline that has to happen from time to time, but those can all happen with respect. This will save you time in the long run, and you'll start to see the time-saving results sooner than you think.
  4. Guys, realize that loving your female students can be tricky today. Let me share some ideas:
    • Listen to them. Stop and listen.
    • Advocate for them. Boys are not allowed to talk down to girls in my class. It’s not tolerated. And girls aren’t allowed to tear down other girls.
    • Call the boys to chivalry and advocacy. Call them to manhood.
    • Broaden and empower the horizons and possibilities for the girls.
    • Give them blessings and encouragement in their endeavors.
  5. Ladies, give your tough boys unconditional respect and see what happens. 
    • Don't yell at them. (unless they're doing something dangerous) Yelling only makes them feel disrespected and defensive. If you want to be respectful, never yell. You don't need to.
    • Validate their ideas. Or at least the good parts of their ideas. Then ask questions about the parts you aren't sure of. Give them the chance.
         Then to take this a step even bigger, start thinking about this with your family members, spouses, children, friends, etc. It’s amazing the areas it’ll change your heart, words, and actions.
         Conversation of the Day: Share a way you show love or respect to your students.
          Hop on over to watch the video and share your thoughts in the conversation.

Personalities in the Classroom - Episode 18

        Today, we want to explore how knowing the personalities of our students can help with classroom management. Watch the YouTube video here >>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBr3cgZWSc4
        What if never had to tell at the super talkative students again? What if we could get the quiet kids to talk? What about the kids with every answer? Wouldn't that be amazing?
        For years, we had the privilege of helping out in a pre-marriage class at our church. Boy, don't we wish we had some of those skills before we got married or had kids! We both agree the concept that has had a huge impact is understanding each other's personality strengths and weaknesses.
 Today, we want to explore how knowing the personalities of our students can help with classroom management.        There are a number of personality quizzes out there. We're gonna discuss Roger Tirabasi's because we know it well. (DISCLOSURE: He's not paying us to say any of this.)
        Go to ChangeYourLifeDaily.com.
        Little Changes, Big Results for Crazy Busy People is a book that has the test. Make sure to get as many as you need to obey copyright for your students.
        App for iPhones - Cool Tools For Couples
  • Responsible / Beaver / Blue / Melancholy - detail-oriented, cares highly about quality work, sees potential pitfalls
  • Outgoing / Otter / Yellow / Sanguine - life of the party, fun-loving, spontaneous
  • Charger / Lion / Red / Choleric - leader, gets stuff done, strong opinions
  • Easygoing / Golden Retriever / Green / Phlegmatic - peacemaker, relaxed, good with people
        How can we determine who our students are?
  1. I teach them to my students at the beginning of the year. Then they understand themselves better, and we get a common language.
  2. I put them on my seating charts. This helps with classroom management and saves a ton of time.
  3. I lead them into their strengths and help with their weaknesses.
  4. I learn my students and give them understanding and grace.
  5. I learn myself and tell my students. It helps my students give me grace too ... Cause, boy, don't we need it.
         Conversation of the Day: How do you think a grasp of personalities could help you with your students?
          Hop on over to watch the video and share your thoughts in the conversation.

Guilt, Fairness, & Girl Scout Cookies - Episode 17

        Today, we're gonna dive into a timely, controversial, and delicious topic: Guilt, Fairness, & Girl Scout Cookies. Watch the YouTube video here >>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBr3cgZWSc4
        This past week, we’ve heard conversations on the Internet about the arrival of Girl Scout Cookies, and someone said they buy cookies from everyone who asks because they want to be fair. So today we want to talk about that guilt and the concept of fairness surrounding these sales and school fundraisers like this.
        Now, of course there isn’t anything wrong with Girl Scout Cookies. How could there be? I confess to having eaten a whole sleeve of Thin Mints on more than one occasion.
Today, we're gonna dive into a timely, controversial, and delicious topic: Guilt, Fairness, & Girl Scout Cookies.        The question is: “Is it fair to buy cookies from one student and not another student?”
        Let’s start with the meaning of fair. The thing this question assumes is that each kid needs to sell the same amount of cookies for things to be fair. This belief values same results. I think fairness is more like same opportunity. Did each kid have the same opportunity to sell me a box of cookies? Answer: Yes. So I can in good conscience only buy from the first student and feel perfectly fair about it.
        To the other cookie sellers, I might say something like, “I would have, but I just bought some. Better get to the other folks before someone else takes your sales!” See, that first cookie seller was faster … she was on it. Entrepreneurship and hard work wins the day. I want my students to learn that. In fact, I want my students to learn that not everyone gets the same thing because not everyone works as hard, smart, and relentless as you.
        This can start when kids are young too. In fact, it should. Instead of giving everyone a trophy, we can empower kids to know that the trophy goes to the persistent, the thoughtful, the gritty, the person who doesn’t give up, the early bird. They have to work hard!
         Conversation of the Day: What do you think about buying selling Girl Scout Cookies on campus and how can we teachers handle it in a way that is fair to them and us?
          Hop on over to watch the video and share your thoughts in the conversation.

Are You the Bottleneck? - Episode 16: How to Leave on Time and NEVER Take Papers Home Again

        The 10th installment in our series: How to Leave on Time and NEVER Take Papers Home Again ... In which we discuss how you might have unintentionally made yourself a reason students are always asking you questions. Watch the YouTube video here >>> https://youtu.be/994FWiDqqMk
        How can we help students answer their own questions so we can get more work done? Tired of students asking you questions they already know the answer to? Do you feel like students are always asking you for every easy answer?
        Maybe we've set ourselves up as the problem. Like when crowds of people all have to walk through the same little space or drive the same route. We call it a bottleneck.
 The 10th installment in our series: How to Leave on Time and NEVER Take Papers Home Again ... In which we discuss how you might have unintentionally made yourself a reason students are always asking you questions.        So why does this happen in our classrooms?
  • This often looks like we've set ourselves up as the only place for the answer.
  • Maybe we haven't told them "no," so they think they don't have to think.
  • We keep putting up with kids who don't listen. "Ask someone who was listening."
  • We need to crowdsource. Create a culture of student collaboration. Do students feel like they can't talk and ask for help because you've demanded a silent classroom? How can we get used to an environment of co-learning (without cheating, of course)?
        So we need to think of ourselves less as the teacher who has to be the hub of information and more as The Facilitator of Independence.
        Classroom examples.
  1.  Pencil sharpener, pencils, staplers, hole punch, etc. I put a plant at the back of my room, so I could say, “Back by the plant.” Then after the first month of school, I would put a Staples Easy Button on my desk and just press the button if it was a question they just didn’t think about before asking me. 
  2. I also taught them a classroom policy of asking your neighbor first. And if they came and asked me, I would say, “Ask someone next to you.”
  3. Sometimes I even said, “Ask someone who was paying attention.”

        Conversation of the Day: What is one area where you have unintentionally made yourself the bottleneck where students need your attention/answer in order to proceed?
          Hop on over to watch the video and share your thoughts in the conversation.

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