Preparing for the Training Institute
744 Broad Street, 16th Floor
Newark, NJ 07102
Table of Contents
The Teaching for Student Achievement Framework .............................................................................4
Exercise 1: Assigned Readings.......................................................................................................................5
ASSIGNMENT #1: Read the Guidebook (approx. 10-15 hours to complete).....................................5
ASSIGNMENT #2: Read Two Articles.....................................................................................................6
Exercise 2: The School Visit ............................................................................................................................6
Purpose of the School Visit ........................................................................................................................6
Logistics of the School Visit .......................................................................................................................7
ASSIGNMENT #3: Create a Running Record (Approx. 1 hour) .........................................................9
What is a Running Record? ...................................................................................................................9
Sample Running Records.......................................................................................................................9
Exercise 3: Reflection Questions ..................................................................................................................11
ASSIGNMENT #4: Write Reflections (Approx. 2-3 hours) .................................................................11
ASSIGNMENT #5: Article Reflections (1-2 hours)...............................................................................14
Exercise 4: (Optional) Building a Toolkit of Best Practices and Resources ...........................................15
ASSIGNMENT #6: Classroom Best Practices........................................................................................15
ASSIGNMENT #7: Create an Optional Resource Binder ....................................................................17
Sample Principal Letter ...............................................................................................................................24
elcome to TeacherNex. You are about to embark upon the first step in your journey to
becoming an effective teacher—training Institute. During the Institute you will attend
“Student Achievement Framework sessions” which will acquaint you with the
Teaching for Student Achievement Framework (see page 4). The Framework describes
the knowledge and skills teachers use for effective teaching in high-need schools and is explained
in depth in the Teaching for Student Achievement Guidebook, the central text for the Framework
sessions you will attend during the Institute.
Prior to beginning the Institute, you are expected to complete all exercises in this Independent
Study Guide (ISG). This will ensure you are prepared for your training experience. The Student
Achievement Framework sessions you will attend during the Institute are designed with the
assumption that you are familiar with the contents of the Guidebook and Teaching for Student
Achievement Framework. The Institute sessions will build from—rather than review—what you
have read in the Guidebook – it is essential that all teachers come to Institute having read the
Guidebook in its entirety.
Institute is a very short, very intense experience. You are expected to make the most of it. By
reading the Guidebook and completing the other exercises described in the ISG, you are making a
significant investment in your preparation and ensuring that your students have the kind of
teacher they deserve. If you are not prepared to Institute, you risk not being prepared for your
students in September. TeacherNex will not recommend teachers who do not consistently
demonstrate they will do whatever it takes to close the achievement gap in Newark. The time
we have to prepare you is short and the stakes are too high for us to take any chances.
The exercises involve:
The School Visit
Responding to Reflection Questions
Creating a Toolkit of Best Practices and Resources (optional)
By the end of the Independent Study, you will be able to describe important concepts, strategies,
and challenges of teaching and to reflect on your own areas of strength and growth as a future
teacher. The exercises will be collected June 29th and will be reviewed by your instructor, called a
Teacher Advisor (TA). TAs will draw upon these exercises during Student Achievement
Framework sessions throughout Institute.
Before reading the exercises, please take a look at the Teaching for Student Achievement (TfSA)
Framework diagrams on the next page. You will see these graphics frequently throughout the
Note: The Framework is slightly different for special education teachers. This slight difference will
be discussed during the Institute. You will see both Frameworks below.
The Teaching for Student Achievement Framework
General Education Special Education
The Teaching for Student Achievement Framework
Teaching is a complex activity—part art and part science. Over the course of your training you will
begin to understand both the technical aspects of teaching, such as writing a lesson plan and using
high impact teaching strategies (HITS), and the art of teaching, such as how to talk and carry
yourself in a manner in which you instantly command respect from students. Both parts of
teaching are difficult, and the TfSA Framework emphasizes what we have learned based on our
work with thousands of beginning teachers.
There are two major interrelated components of the Teaching for Student Achievement
Framework—Instructional Design and Delivery and Classroom Culture and Management. We
believe that teachers who develop knowledge and skills in both of these areas are best positioned
to address achievement gaps where they exist and become effective teachers in high-needs schools.
We have divided each of the components into smaller parts, called competencies, which
correspond to the chapters in the Guidebook.
The Instructional Design and Delivery competencies include:
Set Rigorous Academic Goals
Use Appropriate Assessments
Create Standards-Based Lessons and Units
Apply Differentiated Instruction
Use High-Impact Teaching Strategies
The Classroom Culture and Management competencies include:
Create a “No Excuses” Classroom Culture
Develop Rules, Procedures and Consequences
Use Diversity to Promote Achievement
Effect Change in the Classroom as a Newcomer
In addition to these “framework competencies” you will examine related issues such as how to
foster achievement among English Language Learners and students with disabilities. You will
consider the reality of students living in poverty and the socio-cultural issues enmeshed in closing
the achievement gap.
Throughout your training and during your teaching experience you will return to the TfSA
Framework frequently. It is our goal that when you successfully complete the Institute you will
feel very well prepared to dramatically increase the academic achievement of your future students.
Exercise 1: Assigned Readings
ASSIGNMENT #1: Read the Guidebook (approx. 10-15 hours to complete)
It is our expectation that you will have read the Guidebook in its entirety prior to the first day of
the Institute. Teachers tell us they take something new from the Guidebook each time they read it.
As you gain experiences in the classroom through observation, practice teaching and the first few
years of your career, you will be ready to return to this text and gain new insights each time.
There are two versions of the Guidebook. You will receive one, depending on what we expect that
you will be teaching in the fall. Teachers teaching special education will receive a specialized
version titled Teaching for Student Achievement: A Guidebook for Effective Teaching of Students with
Special Needs, while all other teachers will receive the version titled Teaching for Student
Achievement: A Guidebook for Effective Teaching in a High-Need School.
During the Institute you will attend sessions – called “Student Achievement Framework sessions”
– related to the Guidebook. The faciliator of these sessions (the Teacher Advisor) will help clarify
concepts expressed in the Guidebook and deepen your knowledge acquired from the readings, but
he or she will not specifically cover the content—that part is up to you. In the past, the most
successful alt-route teachers we have worked with begin the first day of the Institute having
carefully studied the Guidebook. The text is yours to keep so please read actively: highlight
especially important terms/ideas and/or write notes and questions in the margins. We expect that
you will continue to come back to this text again and again throughout your first year in the
classroom and beyond.
ASSIGNMENT #2: Read Two Articles
Helping All Students Achieve (approx 30 min to complete)
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack (approx.15 min to complete)
Many of you, when applying to this program, stated your commitment to providing all students
with an opportunity to experience academic success. The article, Helping All Students Achieve:
Closing the Achievement Gap by Kati Haycock, will define the achievement gap in a straightforward
way so that you are familiar with the disparities in our pubic education system. This article can be
found in the Appendix of this document.
The article, White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh, will encourage you
to become more aware of how your background will impact your teaching experience. The article
can be found in the General Education Guidebook pgs 330-331 and the Special Education
Guidebook on pgs 462-463.
NOTE - In a later exercise you will be reflecting and responding to questions about these articles.
We suggest you review the reflection questions prior to doing the readings on page 11.
Exercise 2: The School Visit
Purpose of the School Visit
The School Visit will provide you with an experience in a public school that will inform your
educational thinking and practice. We have four main goals for the School Visit:
Jumpstart your thinking
The exercises and Guidebook reading give you a chance to start thinking about teaching and
learning before you begin the intensity of Institute training. The observations will allow you to
anchor this reading to actual students and an actual classroom setting. You will also begin to
define the kind of educator you would like to be.
Give you a taste of reality
Your School Visit will be allow you to observe the myriad tasks a teacher must juggle over the
course of the day - from collecting homework to responding to a student who is confused by the
lesson to transitioning students from one activity to the next. By observing a classroom during the
academic year, you will also experience first-hand some of the differences between the academic
year and summer school (e.g., student-to-teacher ratio, curricula, and length of the school day).
Meet and network with a teacher in a high-need school
Teachers who are most successful in their first year in the classroom proactively seek out mentors
at their own school to support their development as teachers. This school visit can provide an early
opportunity to build a relationship with a teacher in a high-need school.
Provide you with material to reference throughout your training
A number of Student Achievement Framework sessions during the training will focus on your
school visit and written reflections. These assignments will also provide a foundation upon which
to build your knowledge about teaching and learning during the rest of the Institute and beyond.
The School Visit is not intended to overwhelm you with too much information or make you
nervous about your upcoming journey to becoming a teacher. We recognize that you have
probably never completed a Running Record (Assignment #3), nor been asked to reflect on how a
teacher manages transitioning students from one activity to the next (Assignment #4). Through
this exercise, we will try to address the general background knowledge that will help you complete
this assignment and get the most out of it.
Logistics of the School Visit
You will need to contact a local school to arrange your visit. Once inside the school, you must
follow all school protocols and procedures. This page explains how and when to arrange and
conduct your visit.
It is important to conduct your School Visit as soon as possible. The end of
When to Visit the year often brings activities and behaviors that are not typical of the rest of
the year. The last day of the school year for district schools is June 25th. Your
visit will be most valuable when the classes are engaged in the activities that
take place throughout the year. Additionally, some schools may be less
likely to allow visitors in the final weeks of school. We suggest that you
observe in a school no later than June 5th.
It is your responsibility to contact a public school teacher or principal who
Arranging a you know, and ask him/her to arrange a visit. Whenever possible, we
School Visit on strongly recommend that you visit a high-need school in Newark. However,
Your Own if you are relocating to the Newark area, you are welcome to visit a high-
need public school in your community. Whenever possible, we suggest that
you visit an urban high-need school. If you are unfamiliar with your
community’s public schools you can search the school system’s homepage
where they often list each school’s demographics and test scores. We suggest
using a high percentage of students receiving free/reduced lunch as an
indicator of a high-need school.
Once you have identified a school, call the school’s main office and ask to
speak with the principal or another designated person about your
observation. To help explain the School Visits to the school, we have
enclosed a letter from the office that you can give to a principal or another
administrator (see pg. 24 of this packet). You may also give a copy of this
letter to the host teacher.
You will be required to observe in a classroom(s) for a minimum of four hours.
Visiting Multiple Although we require you to make only one school visit, we highly
Schools recommend that you make several visits. You may choose to visit the same
school that you originally observed, as that second visit may offer deeper
insight into that school’s culture.
You may also choose to visit a different, high-need school to broaden your
horizons. You might visit a district and a charter school or classrooms at
different grade levels. Finally, you may wish to visit a school that is widely
regarded as excellent to try to identify what components make that school so
As a visitor to the school, a new member of the teaching profession, and a
Conducting Your representative of the program, please remember to be punctual and
Visit demonstrate professionalism in your attire and interaction with other
On the day of your school visit, you should be certain to bring with you the
following items, which you may be asked to present:
1. Photo identification
2. Notebook and writing utensil
3. Letter to Principals (included at the end of this guide)
Be aware that each school has different procedures and policies for school
visitors. Such policies may require you to sign in and out, wear a nametag,
or provide background information about yourself. You should check in
with the school’s security guard and then consult the main office about the
school’s specific procedures and follow them carefully.
Remember that observing your host teacher can also serve as a valuable
networking opportunity as well. If you do get the chance to meet a school
administrator, be sure to be polite and professional, indicating a genuine
interest in the efforts of their school. Teachers often report that early
connections with teachers and principals can sometimes lead to district
hiring opportunities much later in the summer.
After your visit, we recommend that you send a thank-you note to all those
who assisted you.
Make sure you schedule ahead of time a 10-minute block of time while your
Conversing with host is not teaching to hold a conversation with him/her. It is important that
your Host you schedule this prior to arriving as teacher’s schedules do not allow for
these sorts of breaks. Consider asking if you can come early to the school,
stay during lunch or their planning period or staying after school. Please
limit your questions of current teachers to their classroom and school
experiences, as well as their general experiences as teachers. Do not ask the
teacher questions about the TeacherNex process or policy, as many of the
specific procedures change from year to year.
ASSIGNMENT #3: Create a Running Record (Approx. 1 hour)
School Visit Length (Approximately 4 hours)
As part of the School Visit exercise you are expected to complete a Running Record of one class
period that you observe.
Directions: Complete a Running Record of the teacher’s activity over the course of a full period
(approximately 50 minutes) of instruction. The goal of the Running Record is to produce a set of
“data” that can later be analyzed in your written reflections and Institute training sessions. You
may type your notes, or submit legible photocopied hand-written notes. Please do not worry
about the formality of your writing; rather use abbreviations, lists, and short phrases for your
What is a Running Record?
A Running Record is in some ways just what it sounds like—a written record of all of the activity
that transpires during a given period of time. In this case, your Running Record will be the
handwritten or typed notes that you take on “everything” that the teacher you observe says and
does over a class period.
Obviously, you cannot take notes on “everything.” We use this word to suggest that everything—
from the way the teacher faces the class as s/he erases the chalkboard to the words the teacher uses
when eliciting students’ reactions to a literary passage—is noteworthy in your Running Record.
The more specific you can be in your Running Record, the more useful it will be to you as you
reflect on it later. While the focus of your Running Record will be on the teacher’s activity, it is
also helpful to note significant student responses to what the teacher is saying and doing. Think of
yourself as a video camera; you are not taking subjective or interpretive notes, but rather recording
only what you see and hear.
We recognize that you have never done a Running Record before, and may be nervous about
“catching everything” or knowing what to look for. Reading the written assignment questions in
Exercise #3 below can help you focus your observations. On the next page are two example
excerpts of a Running Record – one effective and one ineffective – on the first five minutes of a
Sample Running Records
Effective Running Record
Date: May 10, 2007, 9:45-10:30 a.m.
Class: 9th Grade English
T: quot;Please take out your notebooks and start the Do Now.quot;
(Do Now = on board: quot;List 5 typically male character traits and 5 typically female character traits. -- 5 min,
Three S's in back are talking; T, walking towards them (calm voice): quot;Gentlemen. Did I not make myself
clear? The DN [Do Now] = on the board. & I know you each have opinions on this topic. Begin. Without
S: quot;Sorry, miss.quot; (smirks at other 2 after T turns her back, but starts work)
T circulates around rm as S's work, row by row; crouches by desk of S, speaks quietly: quot;Interesting. Why did
u write sensitive under F traits?quot; S. shrugs. T waits. S: quot;B/c men = so insens. sometimes, they don't listen to
what we say.quot; T: quot;OK, so you're thinking of an opp. char. trait to put under your M list.quot;
S nods, writes it. T: quot;I'm still wondering why sens. for the F trait. Sens. can mean many things. What are u
thinking here?quot; S: quot;B/c we listen better (etc.)...but we can be all emotional sometimes.quot; T: quot;So maybe that's 2
sep. traits you want to list, 1 for list. attentively and 1 for being emot.quot;
T. cont. to rotate room, stops at other desks, crouching, talking low
T, from across room: quot;Turn around, Tanaisha. Thank u.quot;
T: quot;1 min. left. U should be working on your last 2 traits.quot;
T (to whole class): quot;OK. I saw some interesting things on your lists. Let's hear what u've got.quot;
Ineffective Running Record
Date: May 10, 2007, 9:45-10:30 a.m.
Class: 9th Grade English
T. tells S's to begin Do Now
S's mostly start; 3 S's don't; T tells hem to start; they do
T walks around room, talking to S's one-on-one
T: quot;1 min. left.quot;
T begins to go over Do Now.
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Exercise 3: Reflection Questions
ASSIGNMENT #4: Write Reflections (Approx. 2-3 hours)
Respond to five written reflection questions in Assignment #4 based on the School Visit exercise.
Below is an overview of the both the structure of the reflections questions, as well as how to use
the background notes provided for each question and the Guidebook.
Structure of the Questions
The specific intention of these questions is for you to begin to draw a connection between teacher
actions and student learning. You will notice that each question posits a general inquiry, and
several follow-up items that ask for supporting evidence of specific teacher behaviors. This
structure is designed to help you break up your general observations into specific, concrete
Background Notes and Guidebook References
The Teaching for Student Achievement Guidebook is a substantial text on the instructional and
classroom management methods that will be covered during your training. The Guidebook covers
two main strands of material: Instructional Design and Delivery (IDD) and Classroom
Management and Culture (CMC). The written reflection questions related to instruction are also
divided into these two main strands.
Instructional Design and Delivery refers to the competencies that drive instruction, from setting
goals to creating a lesson plan to teaching the lesson to assessing your student’s level of mastery.
The CMC competencies explore how teachers can create a positive, productive classroom
environment. Topics covered include setting clear rules and expectations, enforcing those rules
with effective consequences, responding to student misbehavior, and using diversity to promote
We will expect that that you will have read the Guidebook prior to the first day of the Institute as
noted in Exercise #1. You may choose to skim it ahead of time for the purposes of this assignment,
so that you can be sure to complete the School Visit before the school year is over.
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Exercise 3: Reflection Questions
School Visit Reflection Questions
INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN & DELIVERY QUESTIONS
1. Instructional Delivery/Assessment Question (one page)
How well did the students understand the lesson instruction? How could you tell? In your
response, please use evidence about how the teacher responded to students during lesson
What the teacher did and said to address student questions
How the teacher assessed student understanding (i.e., questioning techniques, reading
student body language) during instruction, student work, and at the end of the lesson
If and how the teacher adjusted his/her teaching strategies and techniques in response to
What the teacher said to students on an individual level to aid in their understanding
Background Note: Skilled teachers are constantly observing and responding to overt and veiled student
cues that indicate their level of understanding. Assessment – the process of gauging students’ level of
understanding and mastery of given skills and concepts – is ongoing in effective classrooms. This question
asks about the teacher’s ability to perform the most informal kind of assessment – that of gauging student
understanding while conducting the lesson.
Guidebook References: Chapter 2 (or Chapter 7 in the Special Ed text), Assessment: Beginning with the
End in Mind.
2. Lesson Structure Questions (one page)
How prepared was the teacher for the lesson you observed? In your response, please use
Whether the lesson had a clear beginning, middle, and end
How the teacher communicated (verbally and/or visually) the objective to the students;
if the students seemed to know what the objective was
How transitions flowed within the lesson (i.e., from teacher instruction to student
practice) and whether any time was wasted during these transitions
Materials the teacher used during the lesson; materials students used during the lesson;
materials that the teacher prepared (or should have) beforehand
Was there clear evidence of the state standard to which the lesson was aligned?
Background Note: Effective teachers prepare for lessons on many levels. They write clear, engaging lesson
plans. They also consider elements such as materials needed, physical movement around the room,
transitions from one part of the lesson to the next, and anticipated difficulties in student understanding. A
well-prepared teacher has planned for all of these elements, and creates a sense of directed purpose.
Guidebook References: Chapter 3 (or Chapter 8 in the Special Ed text), Standards-Based Instructional
Planning, pp. 87-122.
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Exercise 3: School Visit Reflection Questions, Continued
CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT & CULTURE
3. Behavior Management/Classroom Culture Question (one page)
Did the students understand and respond to the behavior expectations in the classroom? In your
response, please use evidence about how the teacher managed the behavior of the students,
Whether there were rules and consequences posted in the room and if there was
evidence that those rules were observed and consequences enforced
A description of a specific instance of what the teacher did and said to address a minor
misbehavior (i.e., speaking out of turn, getting out of seat without permission, mild
What the teacher did and said to manage transitions (movement from one
activity/location to another)
The teacher’s movement around the classroom
The tone of voice the teacher used when addressing the students (and any changes in
How invested the students seemed; if there were factors contributing to their investment
or lack thereof
Background Note: Creating an orderly, productive, positive classroom environment is no accident.
Effective teachers deliberately model and enforce rules, encourage desired student behavior, and discourage
disruptive behavior. Teachers implement both systems (e.g., established series of consequences for
misbehavior) and techniques (e.g., using a calm, low voice to speak to an agitated student) to manage
student behavior and shape classroom culture.
Guidebook References: Chapter 7 (or Chapter 12 in the Special Ed text), Rules and Consequences.
4. Procedures/Physical Management Question (1/2 page)
Do you feel that the teacher was effective in starting (or ending) the lesson? Focus your answer
on the first or last five minutes of the lesson you observed. In your response, please use evidence
What the teacher said and did to indicate to students that s/he was ready to start the
lesson; OR what the teacher said and did to provide closure to the lesson
How students responded to these signals
Any evidence that a start of lesson/period (OR end of lesson/period) procedure was in
The tones of voice the teacher and students used in these five minutes
Background Note: Minimizing wasted time is a crucial skill for effective teachers. Procedures— everyday
classroom processes such as taking attendance and collecting homework—need to be taught early and
enforced throughout the year in order for the flow of the day or period to run smoothly. Transitions are a
particular concern for teachers, as the process of stopping one activity and beginning another has the
potential to cause a major loss of time, focus, and classroom order. By the end of the year, in well-managed
classrooms, you will be observing smooth, time-efficient transitions; in less efficient classrooms, you will
observe chaotic, time-consuming transitions.
Guidebook References: Chapter 8 (or Chapter 13 in the Special Ed text), Procedures.
5. School Interview Question (1 page)
Teachers have reported that early principal interviews are extremely challenging given that most
have not yet had previous classroom experience. Although it may seem a bit daunting at this
point in the process, use what you have observed in the classroom as food for thought for what
you envision your future classroom will look like. Based on your classroom observation and
your reading of the Guidebook, choose 3 of the following common principal interview questions
and indicate how you would respond to a principal if you were asked these questions during an
interview for a teaching position. Please back up your responses with examples and supporting
What is your classroom management system going to be? (Guidebook, Chapters 6- 9,
SPED Chapters 11-14)
How will you handle a disruptive student? (Guidebook, Chapters 7 & 9, SPED Chapters 12
Describe how you will set up your classroom.(Guidebook, Chapter 6, SPED Chapter 11)
How do you provide for individual differences within your classroom? (Guidebook,
Chapter 4, SPED Chapter 9)
What do you think can and should be done to improve communication between teachers
and students? (Guidebook, Chapters 6 & 11, SPED Chapters 11 & 16)
Background Note: It is never too early to start envisioning what you would like your classroom to look like
as a part of preparing for the district hiring season. Use your classroom observation and Guidebook reading
as a springboard to begin thinking about how you would approach classroom-specific questions that
principals may ask you throughout the district hiring season.
Hiring References: Job Search Guide and Interviewing Guide (available on the MyTNX status viewer)
ASSIGNMENT #5: Article Reflections (1-2 hours)
Provide a one page written response for each of the following articles. Please be sure to address the
1) Helping All Students Achieve: Closing the Achievement Gap by Kati Haycock
- What was your general reaction upon finishing the article?
- What particular piece of data did you find most shocking? Why?
- Which of the four lessons presented by Haycock resonated with you as being the most important?
- How might you demonstrate the high standards/expectations you have for your students?
2) White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh
The Guidebook chapter – Promoting Student Achievement through Diversity covers a plethora of
diversity related issues that new teachers will encounter. Particular focus is given to the
“knowledge of self” - a willingness to recognize how one’s own experiences and background will
influence one’s teaching. Being aware of personal biases and societal advantages will require
Choose a dominant aspect of your own identity and compose a minimum of 10 privileges. You
may unpack the privilege of ONE of the following (or choose something of your own)
being legal resident of the United States
being a man
being a Christian
being a college graduate
After writing your privileges reflect on the thought process and write a minimum 3 paragraph
reflection touching on the following questions.
- What might your colleagues see as the privileges you have enjoyed?
- How might a student’s identity impact their academic performance?
- How might you use this exercise to think critically about how you view your students and their
- How did this exercise make you feel?
Note: Are you interested in learning more about the Achievement Gap in the United States? There
are many recent articles available online from mainstream news sources that you may find through
use of a general search engine. You may also be interested in reading Schools Slow in Closing Gaps
Between Races, by Sam Dillon of the New York Times, for a 2006 review of progress made since the
inception of No Child Left Behind:
Exercise 4: (Optional) Building a Toolkit
of Best Practices and Resources
ASSIGNMENT #6: Classroom Best Practices
We anticipate that during your Guidebook reading and school visit you will hear and see ideas
that you want to remember for your own classroom. Consider taking notes on those ideas that
appeal to you. You will then add this resource list to your Fieldbook (a resource binder that you
will receive at the Institute) so that you can continue adding to it throughout your training
How to take attendance
Setting up grade book
Students walking in the
Students raising hands
Turning in homework
Getting out of their
Passing out materials
Arrangement of desks
Overall room set up
Classroom rules &
ASSIGNMENT #7: Create an Optional Resource Binder
Below is a list of resources on the internet that will help you to prepare for both your School Visit
and your future entry into the classroom as a teacher.* This collection has been compiled based on
suggestions from teachers. Please note that TeacherNex does not specifically endorse any of the
content on these websites or any products advertised on the site.
Try to visit many or all of the websites listed on the following page. It may be helpful to visit these
sites after reading the corresponding sections of the Guidebook. The purpose of this assignment is
to begin to build a toolkit that you can use when you begin teaching this fall.
In the past, Teachers have found it useful to create a notebook in which they place collected
resources they obtain from their own research and the many resources received during the
Institute. If you decide to create a notebook to collect these resources simply divide the three-
ringer binder and use the Framework Components as partition pages.
The way you organize the notebook, if you choose to have one at all, is up to you.
VIDEO TRAINING AND CLASSROOM CLIPS
Annenberg Media provides a collection of online videos that range from expert discussions of
learning theory to classroom visits and discussions with teachers. Click on “View Programs” then
complete the free registration, and search or browse the teacher resources.
INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN AND DELIVERY
Lesson Plan Resources
http://lessonplanspage.com/ The Lesson Plans Page offers 2,000 lesson plans (and occasional unit
plans), searchable by subject area and grade level.
http://www.marcopolosearch.org/mpsearch/basic_search.asp - MarcoPolo.com also has a searchable
database of lesson plans. Fewer in number than the Lesson Plans Page, but more consistent in
quality of content and clarity of format.
Differentiated Instruction Resources
http://members.shaw.ca/priscillatheroux/differentiating.html - This site provides an overview of
differentiated instruction. Differentiated Instruction is an approach to teaching which recognizes
that teachers rarely teach in which all students perform on grade level. Rather, classrooms
typically contain a range of student performance levels. Effective teachers are able to meet the
needs of those below, on, and above grade level, despite their readiness, interest levels or learning
http://school.discovery.com/schrockguide/assess.html - The use of rubrics and scoring guides in
assessing student learning is excellent teacher practice. Visit Kathy Schrock’s guide to assessment.
CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT AND CULTURE
Routines/Procedures/Physical Classroom Management Resources
http://teacher.scholastic.com/professional/futureteachers/checklist.htm - This helpful website offers a
list of common classroom routines and procedures. It will be a valuable resource for your
Classroom Management Blueprint.
http://www.middleweb.com/MWLISTCONT/MSLprocedures.html - A listserv for middle school
teachers that offers practical advice and resource links directly from teachers.
Behavior Management Resources
http://www.proteacher.com/030001.shtml - This site contains practical advice from rookies and
veterans alike on discipline issues.
http://www.honorlevel.com/stages.html - This site offers descriptions of and tips on negotiating the
different stages of self-discipline your students will display.
Classroom Culture Resources
http://www.udel.edu/cte/TAbook/climate.html - This website gives a broad overview of creating a
positive classroom climate. Integrate the suggestions in this website with those in the Guidebook
you will receive this summer.
*All sites listed were active and non-password protected as of print date.
Helping All Students Achieve: Closing the Achievement Gap
Reprinted with permission by copyright holder, 2005
By Kati Haycock, 2001 For state and national data on student
achievement, visit the Education Trust Web site at
To increase the achievement levels of minority www.edtrust.org and click the data icon.
and low-income students, we need to focus on
what really matters: high standards, a Understanding Achievement Patterns
challenging curriculum, and good teachers. The performance of African American and Latino
youngsters improved dramatically during the
There’s been a lot of talk lately about the 1970s and 1980s. The 1990s, however, were
achievement gap that separates low-income and another matter. In some subjects and at some
minority youngsters from other young grade levels, the gaps started growing; in others,
Americans. For more than a generation, we they were stagnant (National Center for
focused on improving the education of poor and Education Statistics,
minority students. Not surprisingly, we made real 2001).
gains. Between 1970 and 1988, the achievement
gap between African American and white • Reading achievement among 17-year-old
students was cut in half, and the gap separating African Americans and Latinos climbed
Latinos and whites declined by one-third. That substantially through the 1970s and 1980s, but
progress came to a halt around 1988, however, gaps separating them from other students
and since that time, the gaps have widened. widened somewhat during the 1990s.
Although everybody wanted to take credit for • The patterns in mathematics achievement look
narrowing the gap, nobody wanted to take similar for 13-year-olds, with the African
responsibility for widening it. So, for a while, American and white gap reaching its narrowest
there was mostly silence. in 1990 and the Latino and white gap narrowing
until 1992, and the gaps widening thereafter.
But that is changing. Good. Because if we don’t In 1999, by the end of high school
get the numbers out on the table and talk about
them, we’re never going to close the gap once and • Only 1 in 50 Latinos and 1 in 100 African
for all. I worry, though, about how many people American 17-year-olds can read and gain
head into discussions without accurate data. And information from specialized text—such as the
I worry even more about how many education science section in the newspaper (compared to
leaders have antiquated—and downright about 1 in 12 whites), and
wrong—notions about the whys beneath the
achievement gap. • Fewer than one-quarter of Latinos and one-fifth
of African Americans can read the complicated
I want to respond to both these worries by putting but less specialized text that more than half of
some crucial data on the table and by sharing white students can read.
what both research and experience teach us about
how schools can close the gaps between groups of The same patterns hold in math.
students. Most of the data are from standard
national sources, including the National Center • About 1 in 30 Latinos and 1 in 100 African
for Education Statistics (NCES) and the National Americans can comfortably do multistep problem
Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), as solving and elementary algebra, compared to
well as from states and local school districts that about 1 in 10 white students.
have been unusually successful at educating poor
and minority students.1 • Only 3 in 10 African American and 4 in 10
Latino 17-year-olds have mastered the usage and When we speak with adults, no matter where we
computation of fractions, commonly used are in the country, they make the same comments.
percents, and averages, compared to 7 in 10 white “They’re too poor.” “Their parents don’t care.”
students. “They come to school without an adequate
breakfast.” “They don’t have enough books in the
By the end of high school, in fact, African home.” “Indeed, there aren’t enough parents in
American and Latino students have skills in both the home.” Their reasons, in other words, are
reading and mathematics that are the same as always about the children and their families.
those of white students in 8th grade. Significant
differences also persist in the rates at which Young people, however, have different answers.
different groups of students complete high school They talk about teachers who often do not know
and in their postsecondary education experiences. the subjects that they are teaching. They talk
about counselors who consistently underestimate
• In the 18- to 24-year-old group, about 90 percent their potential and place them in lower-level
of whites and 94 percent of Asians have either courses. They talk about principals who dismiss
completed high school or earned a GED. Among their concerns. And they talk about a curriculum
African Americans, the rate drops to 81 percent; and a set of expectations that feel so miserably
among Latinos, 63 percent. low-level that they literally bore the students right
out the school door.
• Approximately 76 percent of white graduates
and 86 percent of Asian graduates go directly to When we ask, “What about the things that the
college, compared to 71 percent of African adults are always talking about—neighborhood
American and 71 percent of Latino graduates. violence, single-parent homes, and so on?”—the
young people’s responses are fascinating. “Sure,
• Young African Americans are only about half as those things matter,” they say. “But what hurts us
likely as white students to earn a bachelor’s more is that you teach us less.”
degree by age 29; young Latinos are only one
third as likely as whites to earn a college degree The truth is that the data bear out what the young
(see fig. 1). people are saying. It’s not that issues like poverty
and parental education don’t matter. Clearly they
Figure 1. Highest Educational Attainment for do. But we take the students who have less to
Every 100 Kindergartners begin with and then systematically give them less
in school. In fact, we give these students less of
(Ages 15 to 29) African Asians Latinos Whites
Americans everything that we believe makes a difference. We
Graduate from 88 90 63 88 do this in hundreds of different ways.
Complete at least 50 74 33 59 Let me be clear. It would help if changes were
Obtain at least a 16 51 10 28
made outside of schools, too: if parents spent
bachelor’s degree more time with their children, if poverty didn’t
crush so many spirits, and if the broader culture
didn’t bombard young people with so many
Source: U.S. Census Bureau. (1998). Educational destructive messages. But because both research
Attainment Detailed Tables, October CPS and experience show that what schools do matters
greatly, I’ll concentrate on what works in
What’s Going On? education.
Over the past five years, staff members at the
Education Trust have shared these and related Lesson 1: Standards Are Key
data on the achievement gap with hundreds of Historically, we have not agreed on what U.S.
audiences all over the United States. During that students should learn at each grade level—or on
time, we’ve learned a lot about what people think what kind of work is good enough. These
is going on. decisions have been left to individual schools and
teachers. The result is a system that, by and large,
doesn’t ask much of most of its students. And we
don’t have to go far to find that out: Ask the Standards won’t make much of a difference,
nearest teenager. In survey after survey, young though, if they are not accompanied by a rigorous
people tell us that they are not challenged in curriculum that is aligned with those standards.
school. Yet in too many schools, some students are taught
a high-level curriculum, whereas other students
The situation is worse in high-poverty and high continue to be taught a low-level curriculum that
minority schools. For the past six years, our staff is aligned with jobs that no longer exist.
at the Education Trust has worked with teachers Current patterns are clearest in high schools,
who are trying to improve the achievement levels where students who take more-rigorous
of their students. But while we’ve been observing coursework learn more and perform better on
these high-poverty classrooms, we’ve also looked tests. Indeed, the more-rigorous courses they take,
carefully at what happens there—what kinds of the better they do.
assignments teachers give, for example—
compared to what happens in other classrooms. • In mathematics, students who complete the full
college preparatory sequence perform much
We have come away stunned. Stunned, first, by higher on the National Assessment of
how little is expected of students in high-poverty Educational Progress (NAEP) than those who
schools—how few assignments they get in a given complete only one or two courses.
school week or month. Stunned, second, by the
low level of the few assignments that they do get. • The reverse is true of watered-down, traditional
In high-poverty urban middle schools, for “vocational” courses. The more vocational
example, we see a lot of coloring assignments, education courses students take, the lower their
rather than writing or mathematics assignments. performance on the NAEP.
Even at the high school level, we found coloring
assignments. “Read To Kill a Mockingbird,” says • Although some of these differences are clearly
the 11th grade English teacher, “and when you’re attributable to the fact that higher-scoring
finished, color a poster about it.” Indeed, national students are often assigned to tougher classes,
data make it clear that we expect so little of careful research shows the positive impact of
students in high-poverty schools that we give more rigorous coursework even on formerly low
them As for work that would earn a C or D achieving students.
anywhere else. Clear and public standards for
what students should learn at benchmark grade • Since 1983, we’ve made progress in increasing
levels are a crucial part of solving the problem. the number of students who take a rigorous,
They are a guide—for teachers, administrators, college- preparatory curriculum. But the pace is
parents, and students themselves—to what not fast enough.
knowledge and skills students must master. • Almost three-quarters of high school graduates
Kentucky was the first state to embrace standards go on to higher education, but only about half of
based reform. Ten years ago, the Kentucky them complete even a mid-level college-
legislature put out an ambitious set of learning preparatory curriculum (four years of English and
goals and had the audacity to declare that all of its three years each of math, science, and social
children— even the poorest—would meet those studies).
goals. Leaders in Kentucky are the first to
acknowledge that they are not there yet. But their If we also include two years of a foreign language
progress is clear and compelling. And poor and a semester of computer science, the numbers
children are, in fact, learning in all subjects. For drop to about 12 percent. The numbers are worse
example, in reading, 7 of the 20 top-performing for African Americans, Latinos, and low-income
elementary schools are high-poverty; in math, 8 of students.
the top 20 are high-poverty; in writing, 13 of the
top 20 are high-poverty. These patterns are disturbing because the quality
and intensity of high school coursework are the
Lesson 2: All Students Must Have a most important determinants of success in
Challenging Curriculum college— more important than class rank or
scores on college admissions tests (Adelman,
1998). Curriculum rigor is also important for instructional time devoted to literacy and
work-bound students (Bottoms, 1998). mathematics for low-performing students and by
training all of its teachers.
A few years ago, the chancellor of the New York
City schools required all 9th graders to take the Lesson 4: Teachers Matter a Lot
Regents math and science exams. Though many If students are going to be held to high standards,
people were worried that failure rates would be they need teachers who know the subjects and
astronomical, in one year the number of Latinos in know how to teach the subjects. Yet large
New York City who passed the Regents science numbers of students, especially those who are
exam tripled, and the number of African poor or are members of minority groups, are
Americans who passed doubled. Other groups taught by teachers who do not have strong
also had gains in science and mathematics. Did backgrounds in the subjects they teach.
they all pass? No, they didn’t. But as a principal
friend of mine used to say, “At least they failed • In every subject area, students in high-poverty
something worthwhile.” And remember, these schools are more likely than other students to be
youngsters previously would never even have taught by teachers without even a minor in the
been given a chance to learn higher-order content. subjects they teach
Lesson 3: Students Need Extra Help • The differences are often greater in
Ample evidence shows that almost all students predominantly minority high schools. In math
can achieve at high levels if they are taught at and science, for example, only about half the
high levels. But equally clear is that some students teachers in schools with 90 percent or greater
require more time and more instruction. It won’t minority enrollments meet even their states’
do, in other words, just to throw students into a minimum requirements to teach those subjects—
high level course if they can’t even read the far fewer than in predominantly white schools.
• The patterns are similar regardless of the
One of the most frequent questions we are asked measure of teacher qualifications—experience,
by stressed-out middle and high school teachers is certification, academic preparation, or
“How am I supposed to get my students ready to performance on licensure tests. We take the
pass the (fill-in-the-blank) grade test when they students who most depend on their teachers for
enter with 3rd grade reading skills and I have subject-matter learning and assign them teachers
only my 35-minute period each day?” with the weakest academic foundations.
The answer, of course, is “You can’t.” Especially • A decade ago, we might have said that we
when students are behind in foundational skills didn’t know how much this mattered. We
like reading and mathematics, we need to double believed that what students learned was largely a
or even triple the amount and quality of factor of their family income or parental
instruction that they get. education, not of what schools did. But recent
research has turned these assumptions upside
Around the United States, states and communities down. What schools do matters enormously. And
are wrestling with how best to provide those what matters most is good teaching.
extras. Kentucky gives high-poverty schools extra
funds every year to extend instruction in • Results from a recent Boston study of the effects
whatever way works best for their community: teachers have on learning are fairly typical
before school, after school, weekends, or (Boston Public Schools, 1998). In just one
summers. academic year, the top third of teachers produced
as much as six times the learning growth as the
Maryland provides a wide range of assistance to bottom third of teachers. In fact, 10th graders
students who are not on track to pass its new high taught by the least effective teachers made nearly
school graduation test. And San Diego created no gains in reading and even lost ground in math.
more time, mostly within the regular school day,
by doubling—even tripling—the amount of • Groundbreaking research in Tennessee and
Texas shows that these effects are cumulative and The results are clear: no more low performing
hold up regardless of race, class, or prior schools and increased achievement for all groups
achievement levels. Some of the classrooms of students, with bigger increases among the
showing the greatest gains are filled with low groups that have historically been behind.
income students, some with well-to-do students.
And the same is true with the small-gain An Academic Core
classrooms. It’s not the kids after all: Something El Paso and the other successful communities and
very different is going on with the teaching states have a lot to teach us about how to raise
(Sanders & Rivers, 1996). overall achievement and close gaps. Each
community, of course, does things a little bit
Findings like these make us wonder what would differently. What we learn is the value of a
happen if, instead of getting far fewer than their relentless focus on the academic core. Clear and
fair share of good teachers, underachieving high standards. Assessments aligned with those
students actually got more. In a study of Texas standards. Accountability systems that demand
school districts, Harvard economist Ronald results for all kinds of students. Intensive efforts
Ferguson (1998) found a handful of districts that to assist teachers in improving their practice. And
reversed the normal pattern: Districts with extra instruction for students who need it.
initially high performing (presumably relatively
affluent) 1st graders hired from the bottom of the References
teacher pool, and districts with initially low- Adelman, C. (1998). Answers in the toolbox.
performing (presumably low-income) 1st graders Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.
hired from the upper tiers of the teacher pool. By
the time their students reached high school, these Boston Public Schools. (1998, March 9). High
districts swapped places in student achievement. school restructuring. Boston: Author.
El Paso, Texas, is a community that has taken
such research seriously. Eight years ago, despite Bottoms, G. (1998). High schools that work. Atlanta,
the extraordinarily high poverty of their city, local GA: Southern Regional Education Board.
education leaders set some very high standards
for what their students should know and be able Ferguson, R. (1998). Can schools narrow the black
to do. Unlike other communities, though, they white test score gap? In C. Jencks & M. Phillips
didn’t stop there. At the University of Texas, El (Eds.), The black-white test score gap (pp. 318–374).
Paso, the faculty revamped how it prepared Washington, DC: The Brookings Institute.
teachers. New elementary teachers, for example,
take more than twice as much math and science as National Center for Education Statistics. (2001).
their predecessors. More to the point, though, the NAEP summary data tables [Online]. Washington,
teachers of these courses are math and science DC: U.S. Department of Education. Available:
professors who themselves participated in the http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard
standard-setting process and who know, at a
much deeper level, what kinds of mathematical Sanders, W., & Rivers, J. (1996). Cumulative and
understanding the teachers need. residual effects of teachers on future student academic
achievement. Knoxville, TN: University of
The community also organized a structure—the El Tennessee Value-Added Research and
Paso Collaborative—to provide support to Assessment Center.
existing teachers and to help them teach to the
new standards. The collaborative sponsored
intensive summer workshops, monthly meetings
for teachers within content areas, and work
sessions in schools to analyze student Kati Haycock is Director, The Education Trust,
assignments against the standards. The three 1725 K St. NW, Ste. 200, Washington, DC 20006
school districts also released 60 teachers to coach
Sample Principal Letter
744 Broad Street
Newark, NJ 07102
Dear Principal and/or Classroom Teacher,
TeacherNex is staffing service that recruits and develops talented professionals and
graduates to teach in hard-to-staff Newark schools. The program aggressively recruits
high quality, nontraditional candidates, prepares them through an intensive pre-service
training, and works with school principals to find a candidate that is an ideal fit for their
Classroom observation is an essential first step on a Teacher Candidate’s road to
becoming an effective teacher. As part of TeacherNex’s pre-service training, they will
have the opportunity to observe and participate in a summer school classroom.
However, as you know, some aspects of summer school differ significantly from regular
school-year classrooms, and it is also valuable for Teacher Candidates to spend some
time in a regular classroom prior to the start of the training period.
For this reason, we have asked the 2009 Teaching Candidates to complete classroom
observations during the months of April, May, and June. In doing the classroom
observations, Teachers will spend time in classrooms and complete written exercises to
help them reflect on their observations. The observations are non-evaluative and
confidential. They will serve as a foundation upon which Teachers will build their
knowledge about teaching and learning during the rest of the summer and beyond.
We hope that you will welcome the new TeacherNex Teachers into your school. We
appreciate your time and willingness to help these new teachers be as prepared as
possible when school starts in September.
Catherine A. Sylvester
Site Manager, TeacherNex