Educated Risks: Getting Out of the Teaching Comfort Zone

A guest post by Ashley Porter

7th-grade math teacher, Webster Groves School District, Missouri

Imagine Learning now publishes monthly guest posts in order to stimulate conversations about K12 education across the country. Opinions expressed herein are those of the individual author and may not necessarily reflect the official opinion of Imagine Learning.


comfort zone, Imagine Learning, math, other subjectsThink back to the college years when you were choosing your major. Education? Check. As to age group, you would have noted four basic categories: early childhood, elementary, middle, or high school students. Each had its merits, but you could only pick one. Check.

I chose the math path–middle school first, followed by high school math later. I decided on math because it was in my comfort zone. That’s what most middle school and high school teachers do; they choose the area they’re most comfortable with. Yay! No more science, world studies, or English for me, right?

My first teaching assignment was at a high school, teaching all levels of algebra. There was a big push, as there should be, to get students to graduate on time. Some teachers were assigned as “graduation coaches,” and I was one of them.

It was my job to work with students, build a relationship, help them catch up, and get them to a timely graduation. These students were struggling, behind on credits, and risked not graduating at all (or certainly not on time). So, as a graduation coach, I was encouraged to help students in all their areas of struggle.

At this point, I received some of the best advice I ever got as an educator. Read more »


Critical Thinking 101: What CEOs Want from Today’s Students

The Thinker statue by Rodin

The Thinker (Rodin)

It’s 2016, and every educator seems to be talking about critical thinking skills.

Students need critical thinking to succeed in and out of the classroom. Educators need critical thinking in order to help students get around common learning barriers. And CEOs want critical thinking from employees, so that they’ll also have problem solvers on hand.

Just what is critical thinking, anyway–and why is it so near the top of the hiring list? Read more »


The Price of Multitasking in the Classroom

According to TeachThought, the average teacher makes 1,500 educational decisions per school day. That’s four decisions a minute!

No wonder teachers work harder than just about any other professional.

Teachers are the ultimate multitaskers. They’re not only responsible for student learning; they also act as a surrogate parent, discipliner, assessment expert, mentor, administrator, and occasional court jester. Probably all before lunch.

Of course, teachers aren’t the only multitaskers.

A typical teenager often listens to music while surfing online and texting a friend—all while doing homework. Younger kids also model this behavior.

If you’re like other multitaskers, you brag about getting so much done.

But all that multitasking comes at a price. Read more »


The new kids on the block

As you’re going through lesson plans this summer and prepping for the upcoming school year, you might be surprised to know that some of the most advanced educational tools for developing creativity … are right in your kids’ toy bin. Read more »


Free webinar this Tuesday, February 14: Helping long-term English learners

Do you know what long-term English learners need? Listen in as presenter Lily Wong Fillmore addresses key questions related to this growing group of students who rarely receive the support they need to attain true proficiency and succeed in secondary grades.

In this webinar, you’ll learn why so many English learners appear to stall in their efforts to learn English as a second language. You’ll also learn how to use academic English instruction and the right kind of instructional support to help long-term English learners overcome obstacles and reach proficiency in reading, writing, and speaking. Don’t miss your chance to find out what you can do to help your long-term English learners find success–register today.

Date: Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Time: 2:00-3:00 p.m. MST

Presenter: Lily Wong Fillmore, Professor of Education Emerita at University of California, Berkeley




About the presenter:

Lily Wong Fillmore, Jerome A. Hutto Professor of Education Emerita at University of California, Berkeley, is a linguist and educator whose scholarship focuses on the education of language minority students. Dr. Fillmore has studied social and cognitive processes in language learning, cultural differences in language learning behavior, and primary language retention and loss. Her present research efforts focus on how academic English instruction can help teachers support students’ literacy development.