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How Flipping Your Classroom Helps Overcome the Game of Grades

Oh, the game of grades.  It’s the toxic consumption of our students' attention only on what grade they are paid with for every little move they make in your classroom rather than on the experience of learning that happens in their brain while a student of yours.

It’s as if you have to pay your students in the currency of grades for any “work” they do in your class, otherwise it won’t get done.  As if the work getting done is the goal - NO!  It’s not!  The learning that happens while doing the work is the goal, and yet our students can’t take their focus away from the work.

So how do overcome this game of grades?  How do we make the focus of our classroom on the learning that happens rather than the “work” that leads to grades?

I’ve actually addressed this topic already in episode 30 titled Overcoming the Game of Grades with Your Students.  So that episode is very much a precursor to this...

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The No. 1 Thing You Need to Flip Your Classroom

The most common question I get from teachers about making a more sustainable classroom or flipping their classroom is “Where do I start?”

You may be asking yourself this question before even considering if flipping your classroom is something you want to do, and I think you are absolutely justified in doing so because you want to know if it will be worth your time.

Well, when I answer this question, and what I’ll lay out for you in this episode is the fact that how you start your classroom is not just the answer to how you get started with step one, it’s also the exact thing you should be focusing on for each and every step you take and decision you make in your flipped classroom. 

What that means is that when you take this first step toward flipping your classroom, you’re also helping your future self by making each and every other step in the flipping process that much easier to take - saving you time and headache in the process.

After listening...

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Working Through the Shame Behind Teacher Burnout

Welcome back to the Sustainable Teacher Podcast, or welcome for the first time if this is the first episode of the show that you’re listening to.  Either way, I’m so happy to have you listening in.  And I’m going to start off by saying that this episode will be a healthy dose of tough love.

I have all the love for my people - and my people are teachers.  They are educators through and through, and I love them.  But I also have tough love for you today. And I’ll say that a dose of tough love might not be exactly what you want today. Heck, it might not be what you need, because you really need an open ear to vent to.  And that’s healthy as well, but unfortunately, on this platform I can’t be that listening ear, so I encourage you to go and find it.  We have our Sustainable Teacher Podcast private community on Facebook that you are welcome to join and find a safe place to vent and express your concerns.  Be sure to...

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Leading a Sustainably Epic Classroom with Trevor Muir

Hey there teacher-friend and welcome back to the Sustainable Teacher Podcast, I’m so glad you’ve chosen to join us today, and man have you picked a good episode to land on.  I am so excited to have Trevor Muir on the podcast today.

Trevor’s roots are as a high school English teacher, and is now teacher, author, and speaker. He is the author of the books The Epic Classroom and The Collaborative Classroom. Trevor is a teacher at Grand Valley State University, was a national faculty member for the Buck Institute for Education, and is one of the Andrew Gomez Dream Foundation speakers. His work has been featured in the Huffington Post, Edutopia, EdWeek, and WeAreTeachers. He gave a TED Talk titled, "School Should Take Place in the Real World," at TEDxSanAntonio. Trevor’s Facebook page, The Epic Classroom, has inspiring videos that have been viewed over 30 million times. At the heart of Trevor’s work is the conviction that every student has the...

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Student Reflection: What It Could Look Like

Here at Teach On A Mission and the Sustainable Teacher, we believe that building a sustainable classroom includes a very important player… which is, your students.  Empowering your students as learners is one of the most sustaining strategies you can implement in your classroom.

And that is what today’s episode is all about, empowering students in the reflection process, showing you exactly what student reflection can look like, giving you practical strategies to get your students doing some meaningful reflection tomorrow.

Because you know the value of hard work in the learning process, you understand the connection between effortful processing and performance on assessments, you understand the value in engaging in your classroom. 

Students don’t always see that, you know this.  You also know that telling them the value in all of these things isn’t going to do it for many of them.

Enter stage left, reflection that helps students make the...

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Binder, Interactive Notebook, Digital Notebook Oh My!

In last week’s episode, episode 59 where I talked about streamlining your content in order to have the time to actually put relationships first, the main recommendation was to put your content delivery into video.  There are many reasons why, and if you haven’t yet, be sure to go back and listen to those suggestions, but this week’s episode on creating one space for your students is in the same vein as streamlining your content.

Are we going to talk about Binders, Interactive Notebooks, and Digital Notebooks, oh my?  You betcha.

But this episode is more about streamlining your classroom, especially the aspects of it that are student facing, so you can use more of your time focusing on what matters - connecting with your students.

So what we’re going to streamline today is what, rather where, exactly our students house all of their materials and necessities for our class, and go over the purposes of this one spot for your students.

As chaotic as...

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Using Tests To Your Advantage

A great sports quote I saw recently asked “Which player are you?”  and then said “Bad players don’t take much seriously. Average players take games seriously.  Good players take practice & games seriously.  Great players take academics, nutrition, warm-ups, individual work, weight room, conditioning, film, practice & games seriously.”

I love this quote because it flies in the face of what is part of the demise of recent generations and the age old saying “kids these days” who need instant gratification for any action they take.  When we see all the greats in sports, or any performance-oriented task, we only see their greatness.  Sure, we hear the cool stories of perseverance like how Michael Jordan was cut from the high school basketball team and went on to be the best player who ever played, but we don’t see the thousands of hours they put in to get to their greatness.

And even if someone does take on...

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Top 5 Attributes of My Classroom Culture

Welcome back to the Sustainable Teacher blog episode 56, the Top 5 Attributes of a Sustainable Classroom Culture, and here’s the very first thing I want to say.

I think there should be an entire college course on classroom culture.  I don’t say that about many things. I teach Intro to Educational Technology, and I think a course on classroom culture should come first.  And here’s why… because it’s one of the top, if not THE top factor that will determine your sustainability and impact in your career.

It’s this awesome mix of knowing what you believe as an educator and making sure you always act from that space, helping you to recognize that your impact is greater than any mastered standard or test score.

So, I’ve got five of them for you today, and they each of a message of sorts that you could be sending to your students.  And they are a part of a sustainable classroom culture because they compromise the messages,...

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Do You Really Want A Job You Don't Have To Take Home?

As I’m sitting to write this episode, I’m in an approximately six square feet space in the cab of our pick up truck pulling our camper on our way home from our Christmas vacation with three boys and our dog.  I’m reflecting on what was by far our best camper-trip yet as it was at the beginning of winter and was full of sunshine which we Midwesterners aren’t used to in December.

It was a great refresh.

But you know what I thought about quite a bit?  Work.

Not in a way that was stifling to my or our enjoying the trip.  Not at all.  We just had a lot of relaxation time.  And that meant my mind was able to wonder and think and plan.

And it reminded me of how I was with my classroom when on a break or vacation.

When I was able to step back from it, I was able to think about it in a clearer way.  I was able to work on my classroom rather than in my classroom.

Today I’m asking you the question, in a very non-rhetorical way,...

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Revisiting Your Teacher Why in 2022

Last semester I had the privilege of working with mostly freshman students at a local university in an Introduction to Educational Technology course.  This was one of the very first education courses many of my students were taking, and I appreciated the perspective of a college student with next to no experience in education, but the drive to know as much as they could about strategies and best practices to implement in their future classrooms.

What I discovered in conversations with many of my students is that although they hadn’t much experience yet, they all had stories and the first stages of what will become their why as teachers.

Now you may be someone who knows your why, is grounded in it, and acts from that space more days than not.  But you also could be someone who hasn’t had the time to consider what your why might be because, seriously, who’s got time for that right?!?

Whether you are a teacher who’s known your why for a decade or...

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