Tools for Educators

Tools for Educatorseducators
from Models of Teaching

No Greater Calling was the first part of a four-part series on professional development for teachers. Three other programs followed No Greater Calling, although they were never broadcast because of their specific target audience. The entire professional development series, Models of Teaching, had a guide as a companion piece to the series, each program having its own segment of the guide.

The links to the side will take you to guides for each of the four Models of Teaching programs. While each one is directed toward a specific audience, the guides and their accompanying videos contain thought-provoking material and questions important for teachers, principals and administrators seeking to improve their performance and profession. Each guide contains a general description of the objectives of the program, the target audience, program segments, a self-tutorial, and workshop questions.

Although the program guides are available in Adobe Acrobat, the descriptions at the beginning of the guide are on the web page. However, since the questions for the self-tutorial and the workshop can be found only in the Acrobat file, you will need to download the Acrobat version of the guide before you watch the videos.

The “Success Stories” section is a place where you can network as a teacher--sharing techniques or methods that you have found particularly effective. We hope that this section proves helpful for teachers seeking professional development training.

Tips for Schools:
The Family Involvement National Education Goal

"We believe that strengthening the connection between families and schools is so important that we have made it one of America's National Education Goals. The Goal declares that by the year 2000, 'Every school will promote partnerships that will increase parental involvement and participation in promoting the social, emotional, and academic growth of children.'"

-- Richard W. Riley U.S. Secretary of Education

When Schools And Families Team Up To Help Children Learn, Everyone Wins!

In Houston, Texas, administrators from Robert E. Lee High School went to their students' homes and sat on stoops with family members to "cut contracts" with parents, enlisting their help in the effort to reduce school violence. The result was a safer school and steadily rising test scores.

In Murfreesboro, Tenn., schools stay open until 6 p.m. to allow parents to work without worry, knowing their children are involved in constructive activities.

At the Sterne Brunson Elementary School in Benton Harbor, Mich., parents help teachers and administrators by working as classroom aides and office support staff.

And in New York City, teachers link the classroom to the home by operating a telephone homework hotline that students or parents can dial in the evening to get help with assignments.

These are but few examples of the many ways schools are encouraging greater family involvement in education. They are discovering that school-family partnerships are an important way to help children learn and a great way for schools and families to help each other.

School-family partnerships: Enjoying the benefits, overcoming the barriers

Despite the advent of many partnerships, schools and families remain disconnected in too many communities. There are many reasons why schools and families fail to join forces. Sometimes parents say they do not feel welcome at school.

Often, work schedules and other time constraints, language barriers, or the sheer drag of daily life get in the way. And sometimes parents who did not like school when they were students are reluctant to get involved again as adults.

On the other side of the coin, too many schools do not put out the welcome mat for their students' families or simply overlook the great value of getting families involved. Here's what can be done:

Schools can encourage and support greater family involvement in education. Research shows that when families take an active, direct role in their children's education, children get better grades and test scores, graduate from high school at higher rates, and have greater enrollment in higher education. This involvement has also been shown to improve teacher morale and job satisfaction. Schools should be places where families feel welcome and valued. School programs that encourage greater parental involvement are more important than any other factor in determining whether or not parents actually do get involved. Some schools make a special effort to help low-income families get involved because many of these families wait for the school to approach them.

Parents and families can support their schools and play their part at home. Parental involvement can take many forms, including getting involved in PTA activities; discussing children's progress with teachers on a regular basis; checking homework every night; reading to preschoolers; and encouraging students to take the challenging courses.

For more information, ideas, and publications, visit the Partnership for Family Involvement in Education, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.

Successful Teaching Strategies

Teachers, read your peers’ success stories below to get inspiration you can take into your classroom. You can even share an effective teaching strategy of your own. We'll update this page twice a month.

And now, the stories.

"A strategy that I found most helpful when teaching a fourth and fifth grade combination classroom was the use of peer mediation. By the end of the first grading period, I noted that I was acting too much like judge and jury for disagreements between students. I wanted the students to be able to accept responsibility for their own actions. The students were allowed to select one representative from each grade level and a third student that was jointly selected to serve. This third student would only be involved if a student felt the mediator had been unfair. I established parameters for the process as well as locations that could be utilized for mediation. The result was increased self-monitoring by students and improved self-concept. I was especially pleased with the level of maturity with which students utilized this avenue of redress." --Emily Castleberry, K-12 teacher