Critical First Week of High School  
Has this happened to you? You're lounging on a white sandy beach. You reach for your PDA so that you can check the time for your scuba lesson. Then, as you look at your calendar, you have a revelation. THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL IS ONLY WEEKS AWAY! The transition from vacation back to the classroom can be stressful, but with the right amount of pre-planning and a good strategy for that first week, you can ease into school feeling cool and ready for success.

In my high school classroom, I've found the key to success has been to focus on three critical areas: Building a rapport with students, establishing rules and expectations, and having a strategy to help students get motivated to learn.   >>READ MORE 
When Teachers Take A Breath, Students Can Bloom

Garrison Institute looks a little like Hogwarts. The retreat center is housed in a former monastery amid tranquil green hills overlooking the Hudson River, 60 miles north and a world away from New York City.

Inside the airy chapel on a recent summer afternoon, about 35 educators from the U.S. and at least five foreign countries are seated quietly, shoes off.

"Just notice your breath, the sensation of your air coming in, going out," says Christa Turksma, a Dutch woman dressed all in white with silver-white hair. She's one of the co-founders of Cultivating Awareness and Resilience for Educators, or CARE for Teachers.   >>READ MORE

On A Mission To Race The Middle School Brain

When things heat up, they expand. And when that thing is the axle shaft to your drive train, you're going to have to make adjustments, or else.

Michael Guarraia kneels down next to a metal part that just popped off the rear axle. "OK guys, listen up," he tells his team. "The drive train broke again and we need to find a sustainable solution. This can't happen during the race."

The team members nod and furrow their brows. Some scratch their heads.

In front of these young engineers is the 200-pound steel frame that is the base of their racing vehicle.
One gets up close and points to the piece that popped off. It's called a woodruff key. "We need to reinforce this," says Sean Davis, sketching his idea on a small white board. "Maybe with magnets?"   >>READ MORE
5  Transformative Books for Teachers
We are more than just teachers in the classroom; we are broad and dynamic human beings with dimensions and ranges to our curiosities and interests, all of which we should bring into the classroom. This expansiveness is what helps foster better student rapport and engagement, as the more we show about ourselves beyond our subject or grade level, the more our students see us as interesting people.

5 More Books for Teachers
These five books below reveal a part of who I am as a person and what I bring into my classroom. Please share in the comments section below the books you have found transformative to your teaching.

When We Listen to Students

As you are beginning to think about returning to school, I have a suggestion that can drastically impact your year (and it's simple): brainstorm questions to ask your students. 
The kids right in front of us often have the most useful information within them -- information that can help us reach and teach them, help us engage them, and that can help us have a fantastic year together.
  
Here are several of my favorite questions to ask kids of all ages:
  1. What would be the most useful thing for me to know about you as a student?
  2. What do you wish was different about school?
  3. Describe a moment in school last year when you felt really engaged. Why do you think that moment was such a positive one for you?
  4. What do you think teachers think about you, and what do you wish they'd think about you?
  5. Tell me about a teacher who you feel knew you well. What kind of student were you in his or her class? What did he or she do to get to know you?
  6. If you could build a school, what would it look like?
  7. What do you wish I would ask you so that I can be a good teacher for you?
  8. What makes a weekend day great for you?
A Trigonometric Fallacy to Provide Deeper Understanding in Mathematics
We know that there are more than 400 proofs of the Pythagorean theorem, yet none of them uses trigonometry. Students are often asked why can we not use trigonometry to prove the Pythagorean theorem? The answer is very simple. The basis for trigonometry is the Pythagorean theorem, and therefore, it would be fallacious reasoning to use trigonometry to prove a theorem on which it is based.

In trigonometry, the Pythagorean theorem often manifests itself as cos2 x + sin2 x = 1. From this we can show that 4 = 0.  It is to be assumed that you know this cannot be true.  So it is up to you to find the fallacy as it is made.  If you don't, we'll expose it at the end of the unit.   >>READ MORE
2  Fantastic, Upcoming Education Conferences
3  Tongue Twisters

Sarah Asay Sees Sea Shells

Pretty Penny Pare Pickled Picked Peaches

Great Granny Gray Grouper Giggles Great
Full STEAM (and STEM) Ahead with The Art Deco Society of NY
What better way to support and enhance science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) than to dive into the rich and beautiful history of Art Deco!

Art Deco, a decorative style characterized by rich colors, bold geometric shapes, and lavish decorative details, flourished internationally during the 1920's and 30's, although early origins may have had its roots in the ancient Egyptian tombs of King Tut.  The dominant movement, however, originated in France just before WW1, and the term Deco can apply to just about anything - - - jewelry, cars, cookware, planes, trains, clocks, jukeboxes, furniture, radios, clothing, and buildings.  The unique style was punctuated by the age of rapid industrialization, hence the strong sense of the machine age and technology in many of its themes.     >>READ MORE
Flexible Seating and Student-Centered Classroom Redesign

I remember exactly where I was when I had a watershed moment that changed me as a teacher forever. In fact, it inspired my EdSurge column, Why the 21st-Century Classroom May Remind You of Starbucks. I was working on my TEDx presentation at my local Starbucks and, looking around, I realized that everyone seemed to be happy, engaged in their work, and relaxed. Some people chose the traditional chairs and tables while I opted for a big, comfy chair with my MacBook on my lap. The quiet music, perfect lighting, and overall aesthetics of the coffee shop were favorable for a variety of learners. And if I wanted to switch up my seat during my stay, I was free to do just that. That's when I decided that our classroom in 2015-2016 was going to look radically different than anything I'd ever done before.
Helping Students Start the School Year With a Positive Mindset

For students who have had trouble in school, or who have had a negative summer, it is especially important to get the school year off to a fresh start. And for all students, having a positive mindset makes learning much more likely. Here are four activities to help accomplish these goals.

Identity and Purpose: Who Am I?
Now that students are back in school, it's a good time to help them refocus on learning, their strengths, and the personal and other resources that will help them succeed. Students can individually fill out the grid below, and then pair-share, discuss in small groups, and finally share with the class some of their responses. (Students tend to be most comfortable sharing numbers 2, 4, and 6 below when in larger groups.)   >>READ MORE
New Teachers: Classroom-Management Fundamentals

3  Inspiring Quotes

Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere. 
- Albert Einstein Roosevelt

Each generation goes further than the generation preceding it because it stands on the shoulders of that generation. You will have opportunities beyond anything we've ever known. 
- Ronald Reagan

Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less. 
- Marie Curie
Professional Development Toolkit for Teachers
(Leadership, Teamwork, Communication, Customer Service, Building Relationships)

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M. H. West & Co., Inc. | 804.782.1938 | consulting@mhwest.com
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