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5 Do’s and Don’ts for Distance Learning (for Teachers)

With so many teachers suddenly teaching from a distance, it’s important that we do what’s effect and avoid what isn’t. In this video, I give my top 5 do’s and don’ts for distance learning. Here’s the video:

https://youtu.be/UCfUPnZF1aM

If you’d like the presentation, you can see it here:

5 DO’S AND DON’TS FOR DISTANCE LEARNING by Jacob Lauritzen

And, of course, you can listen to this episode of the podcast below. Thanks for being here and good luck out there!

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How to Get Started Using Google Classroom

Google Classroom is a fantastic tool for classroom teachers to add technology to their instruction. With so many schools closing across the country, we thought now would be a good time to explain how to get started using Google Classroom.

In this video, I explain some of the things you’ll need to know to get started using Google Classroom. For example, what is it? How can it help you? How do you create a class? How do you make a post? An assignment? How to do grade an assignment? And how do you add students to a class?

You’ll probably need the IT Administrator for your site or district to get Google Apps for Education set up for you. Beyond that, this video should cover almost everything else. Good luck out there teachers!

You can also listen to this as a podcast by searching for “The Uncommon School” on Apple Podcasts or using the link below.

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How to Teach Online During a Global Pandemic

I wish this title was a joke, but it isn’t.

Sadly, with the growing concern over the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many schools and universities are being forced to move physical classes online. Fortunately, with some effort teachers and students can continue to work together even if they aren’t actually together.

I recently recorded a YouTube video and podcast episode on this topic where I give practical advice to teachers being faced with quickly transitioning their face-to-face classes to online courses. If you have questions or comments, let’s start a conversation in the discussion below this post or you can email me directly at jacob@theuncommonschool.com. Let’s work together to stay safe and do what’s best for our students.

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A Few Thoughts on Mentoring Programs and School Leadership Styles

So today I attended a leadership training on mentoring and leadership styles so I thought I’d make a video talking about it. The training is part of a series from the Arizona Department of Education called ELEVATE. It’s for training leaders around the state. They bring in people to train us so we can get better.

Today we got to hear from Andrew F Morrill from WestED and Scott Snell from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. Both were great and gave me a lot to think about. Like a lot. It was almost 8 hours of training. Oh, my poor brain!

Anyway, when I got back to my hotel I put my thoughts down on video and here it is. I hope it’s useful for you as well. Thanks for watching!

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Elizabeth Warren Promises to Fund K12 Schools if She’s Elected. Can She Do That?

As I was scrolling through the articles on Vox.com, I found an interesting article by Ella Nilsen, entitled, “Elizabeth Warren marches with striking Chicago teachers, a day after releasing new K-12 education plan.” Naturally, my curiosity was peaked. You can read Nilsen’s article for yourself here.

Nilsen’s article is largely a summary of Elizabeth Warren’s plan to fund K12 education. Warren, who is currently running for president on the Democratic ticket, has big ideas, but as with all things, it’s important to understand the context of how federal funding works with K12 schools.

First and foremost, the United States Department of Education (USDoE) does not run public schools. They actually have very little control over how schools in the United States operate. That’s because public schools fall under the purview of the states. The majority of funding for public schools comes from states and local municipalities. As Nilsen explains, only a fraction of funding comes from the federal government.

The USDoE may not control schools, but they can influence how they operate by granting (or not granting) money to schools. For K12 schools that are underfunded, this becomes a very motivating carrot to chase. Title 1 and other important funding comes from the USDoE. That’s where Warren wants to support schools.

Can she even do that? Yes, absolutely. The USDoE falls under the Executive Branch, which, if Warren was elected, she would run. She would still need to work with Congress to ensure the USDoE has enough funding for her proposal. Assuming they agree, she would be able to direct the Secretary of Education to grant funds accordingly. For more details on Warren’s plan, you can check out Nilsen’s article.

So, as K12 teachers, how should we feel about this? First and foremost, it’s great that we have presidential candidates interested in education. If you like her politics, even better. If you don’t, that’s fine too. Here at The Uncommon School, we’re not in the business of telling you who or what to vote for. We just want to make sure you are informed. That being said, if you like articles like this, please let us know and we’ll be glad to continue bringing them to you. Until then, thanks for stopping by. We’ll see you soon.

Dr. Jacob Lauritzen is a high school and college English teacher in southeastern Arizona. He is also the founder of The Uncommon School and he runs the some-what popular YouTube channel, Read, Write, and Cite.

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Join Our Community

Our Mission

Our mission at The Uncommon School is to provide a place for teachers to share what they’ve learned and to learn from their peers.

The Staff of The Uncommon School produces articles, videos, podcasts and other content to teach and inspire you to be the best you can be in and outside the classroom.

Want to be a part of the community? There are two ways to share. You can join the community on Facebook or write for us. Find out more below.

Our Community

Join the Community

We’re building a community on Facebook. If you’d like to join that community, please fill out the short survey and join the conversation. Here are the rules:

  • Keep it positive. We’re here to build each other up. We may not agree on everything, but we can still agree to disagree. Also, no hate speech, racism, sexism, etc.
  • Share and share often. We may be a small group, but we can have a big impact on each other. We’d love to hear what you have to say.
  • But don’t overshare. We still have a responsibility to protect the privacy of our students and communities. You can say where you work and what you do, but no student names or private information, please.
  • Don’t say anything you’d regret. If you aren’t happy with your job, your colleagues, your school, or your district that’s your business, but when you make it public it can affect your current and future employment.
  • Keep it clean. We’re all adults, but we can be professional without using vulgar language and descriptions.
  • Keep it focused. Please don’t spam the group with things unrelated to education (e.g., sales pitches, unrelated political gripes, etc.).

So, what do we want to know? It’s simple:

  • How are you involved in education?
  • If you teach, how do you teach?
  • Tell us about yourself (where you teach, how long you’ve taught, etc.) and what you hope to get from being a part of this group.

That’s it. Thanks for being part of the group.

Write for The Uncommon School

Wanna share what you’ve learned on the website? We want to give you a platform for sharing your experiences. Here are some topics we’d like to publish about: personal stories, pedagogy, curriculum, technology, media, research, etc. We’d also like to curate the best articles, videos, and content from the web. Read something good? We wanna start a book club as well. We have big goals for what this place can be and we need you to be part of our community.

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What Is The Uncommon School?

What Is The Uncommon School?

In Walden, Henry David Thoreau writes, “It is time that we had uncommon schools, that we did not leave off our education when we begin to be men and women. It is time that villages were universities, and their elder inhabitants the fellows of the universities … we are kept from school too long, and our education is sadly neglected … That is the uncommon school we want. Instead of noblemen, let us have noble villages of men [and women].”

The purpose of this site, The Uncommon School, is to be a continuing source of education for classroom teachers looking for opportunities to share the lessons they’ve learned in the classroom and to learn from their peers. So often as we begin to be “men and women” teaching in the classroom, we get lost in the work of educating students and our own “education is sadly neglected.”

I created The Uncommon School to be a source of continuing education for teachers and a platform for sharing. To those “elder inhabitants” of our schools and districts, I invite you to be a fellow of this online space so that we can benefit from your hard-won institutional knowledge.

Thank you for being a part of this community to build our Uncommon School.

Who Is Behind The Uncommon School

Hi, Dr. Jacob Lauritzen. I’m a high school English and media teacher and college English adjunct in southeastern Arizona. My specialties are E-Learning (EdD, Northcentral University), Literature (MA, University of Akron), Creative Writing (BS, Utah Valley University), and Theatre and Cinematic Arts (AA, Eastern Arizona College). The Uncommon School is a product of me trying to find a way to combine all of my experience and interests in a way to help teachers.

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You Are a Teacher

You are a teacher.

Not because of your title. Not because of your position. Not because you were hired. You are a teacher, because you teach.

If you are a parent, you are a teacher because you teach your children.

If you are a grandparent, you are also a teacher because you teach your children and your grandchildren.

If you work with a youth group or lead a bible study group for your church, you are a teacher, because you are teaching youth or you are teaching fellow parishioners.

If you are a coach, you are a teacher, because you teach your team.

You see where I’m going with this?

If you are a friend, you are a teacher, because you teach your friends every time you share, you help, you support, or you care.

If you are a boss or a manager, you are a teacher, because you are teaching those you work with through every direction you give and the example you set. 

If you are a YouTuber, you are a teacher, because you teach your audience. 

And yes, if you are a teacher by profession, you are a teacher, because you teach your students.

Anyone can teach and probably everyone does teach.

We may think of ourselves are parents, grandparents, friends, and bosses, but we may not think of these roles as teaching roles. They are or, rather, they can be. 

You don’t need a classroom to teach. You don’t need permission to teach. To become a teacher, you just need to start teaching. Wherever you are and with whomever you are with, you can teach.

But when we are asked to teach, if we don’t think of ourselves as teachers, we get nervous. We feel inadequate for the task. We may feel like we can’t do it.

Why?

Maybe because we feel that teaching is hard. Maybe we feel that it requires training, certificates, and degrees. Maybe we feel like teaching requires a title and a classroom. 

It doesn’t. 

Teaching is sharing. Teaching is engaging. Teaching is motivating. Teaching is showing and demonstrating.

You don’t need a classroom to share, to engage, or to motivate. You don’t need a classroom to show or to demonstrate something.

You just need a desire and an opportunity. And, honestly, it’s not hard to find opportunities. So, if you want to teach you can teach.

Notice I didn’t say expertise? You don’t have to be or to feel like an expert to teach. You just need to know something and want to share it.

Once we accept that we are teachers, our expectations may change. We may begin to expect results and we may tie our success to those results.

Seeing your students learn is an amazing feeling. Seeing them struggle can be heartbreaking. Seeing your students not care can make you want to quit. Don’t let discouragement change your desire to teach. Don’t let it make you stop.

Teaching is hard. Sometimes it may feel impossible. Failing to reach your expectations doesn’t mean you aren’t a teacher. It’s normal. It’s very, very normal. It’s part of how our students learn and it’s part of teaching too. Failure is necessary to learn. Giving up isn’t.

Please don’t think that I am undervaluing teaching by saying everyone can do it. We all have the capacity. Sometimes we use it. I am speaking to those who don’t believe they can do it. That they aren’t qualified. That they aren’t expert enough. Teaching, as a profession, does require training, certification, and degrees. It does require time in the classroom. It requires many things. Not all teaching is done by professional teachers, but all teaching is done by teachers.

If you teach, in any capacity, you are a teacher. Own it. Embrace it. Strive to do it well. Those within your influence need you.

We all have something to share. We all have someone to share with. We are all teachers.

Let’s go make a difference.

Have something to share? Join our Facebook Group! Wanna do more? We’d love to have you write for The Uncommon School. Email us at jacob@theuncommonschool.com and we can discuss ways that you can share with the group.