Serve It Up!

Back-to-school time–better known for the time of eagerly anticipating showing up at your classroom steps ready to have the brain muscles worked out until utter exhaustion. The developing of minds ready to be fully stimulated by the depth and breadth of knowledge that resides within the walls of the learning institution is here. While stimulating the mind and constantly adapting to the current need, yes, it is important to focus on the students too…

When a positive classroom environment is established and a community has been built, managing a classroom becomes routine rather than focus.

Promote Growth Mindset

Motivation presents one of the greatest challenges facing students who struggle in school. The lack of motivation could be caused by many variables both inside and outside of school. Dr. Albert Bandura, a pioneer in the field of motivation, describes self-efficacy as the perception of one’s own ability to succeed at any endeavor. Fostering a growth mindset inspires students to take ownership of their learning allowing for the establishing of meaningful goals, hard work, and view challenges as opportunities.

Tips to foster Growth Mindset through Academic Language:

Tailored Feedback

Way to go! I can see you put forth a lot of effort.

Sorry, that's not correct. Let's try this one again. This time think about…

Focused Questions:

How did you reach that conclusion?

Do you notice the error that was made?

What will you do differently next time?

How did your effort impact your learning?

Positive Responses:

Student response: I'll never been good at reading.

Teacher response: You may not be able to read this book yet, but you are making progress on…

Student response: I don't know how to do this.

Teacher response: You can. It's tough, but let's break it down into steps. 

Consider posting sentence starters and frames promoting use of positive language!

Foster Community

In Ron Clark's book, The End of Molasses Classes, he highlights the strategy of LOVING WHAT YOUR STUDENTS LOVE. To foster a positive learning community where students feel safe to learn it is important to remember that they are each their own young person with different likes and dislikes. Some students enjoy the current popular book, movie, or video game, but some students also enjoy different things. To use a board game analogy, education is often a game of chess rather than checkers. In checkers, all pieces move the same way. To be successful in chess, you need to know the way each piece moves and the individual role they play. Create and build classroom community through classroom competitions as well as individual and team goals highlighting all different talents and strengths!   

"Don't marry the method, fall in love with the mission."

Instructional routines, or "Teacher Moves" are often used to structure classroom engagement and partner interactions. These routines help to ensure that students and teachers, are maximizing the learning time and taking full advantage of the endless hours of prep put into a lesson. It is important to remember the overall mission. What are we trying to accomplish? I recently listened to an Educational Leadership podcast where the new CEO of a company who produces drill bits sat in on a sales pitch from a representative highlighting why their bits are better than the competitor. The CEO later decided to address his team and told them that it does not matter how amazing their drill bits are because nobody is in the market for a drill bit. Those buying drill bits are in the market for a hole and as soon as the next best thing is created to establish the hole, they are out of business. This same mindset applies to education. Utilizing consistent routines is the drill component to a classroom dynamic, however, constantly reflecting on the overall mission and the "why" is the hole. Implement the moves but think through the why to keep expanding.

Please share your favorite incentive poster, mindset moment, or what instructional routine you have recently implemented.


Tyler Schlagenhauf is a Senior Professional Services Consultant at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. He received his Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from Minot State University in Minot, North Dakota. He then went on to receive his Master's in Education Administration with an emphasis in Organizational Leadership from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, AZ. He was an elementary school teacher in Alaska for 6 years as well as a site facilitator for the Danielson Framework, Site-Based Assessment Specialist, and Teacher in Charge. He is also a former Fulbright recipient studying the "Diversity in German Education" in Leipzig, Germany. Tyler resides in Boise, Idaho where he enjoys playing music, camping, rafting, and exploring the outdoors!