ENVoY is a reflection of the skills and strategies that make us effective educators. According to Michael Grinder, founder of the ENVoY Trilogy “...it is not an intervention but a noticing.” Giving classroom management a framework allows us, as teachers, the opportunity to be reflective educators. As reflective educators, we are better for the students we serve.
When do we start? There’s no time like the present! In order for ENVoY to become the norm in our classrooms, we should use it to develop healthy relationships with students.
The 4 phases of ENVoY consist of:
Transition to Seat Work
When getting a student’s attention, remember to use The Above strategy. Find your freeze body spot, low breathe while listening to the wave. Smile. Do your Above, Pause and Whisper. All three must be done together in order for it to be most effective.
Remember your Modes of Interaction: Raise your hand, Speak out, and Turn and Talk. Be mindful of your voice in terms of tone, volume, speed. Don’t forget to Ride the Wave by listening to the ups and downs of the volume in your classroom. Never underestimate The Power of the Whisper. If you need kids to follow directions…Whisper. They naturally have to lean in to figure out what you are saying and the calm quiet voice helps to calm them down. Make sure that your Actions Match your Words and pair your verbals and nonverbals. In this strategy, less is more so make sure to eliminate verbal clutter.
Transition to Seat Work
Make sure to give students Exit Directions. Visuals allow a child to be more independent and self-sufficient. In these visuals, include the categories need, do, put and then in order to give the students structure within the task. Be sure to ask, “Are there any questions?” and make revisions. This allows students to process the information a second time. Be mindful of the Most Important Twenty Seconds (M.I.T.S.). During this time the teacher stands still while the students are engaging in the work. Use nonverbal actions to address students who approach or have clarifying question.
During seat work make sure that you are a guide on the side (Influence Approach). Sitting or standing to the side or at a 90 degree angle helps avoid a non-verbal power struggle. Keep your eye on the prize to allow your child to think. Use a private voice to increase safety. During seat work it’s important that you take the canoe rather than the jet ski. Your movement will pull working students off task. Stand and scan. Develop skills to allow them to get your attention during work time. Keep your breathing LOW and slow. If necessary look down and take a long deep breathe giving yourself a small break before addressing students needs.
Developing healthy relationships through ENVoY strategies makes our classrooms a safe place for all our students to learn. Start today by contacting an ENVoY Resident Coach to increase your ENVoY capacity!
This post brought to you by Paula Kuisle, Instructional/ENVoY Coach, Elton Hills Elementary
Feel free to connect with Paula via her email
I was recently shopping at an on-line marketplace that has "Everything from A to Z". A few days later I realized that I had forgotten an item that I needed to purchase so I returned to the site to make my selection. Upon logging in and beginning my shopping, I noticed that, as always, the bottom of the screen was displaying items they believed I may be interested in buying based on my previous purchase history. It dawned on me that this was a formative assessment process much like the ones we strive to implement with our students. Just like this marketplace, I seek to collect meaningful information about my students, through the use of formative assessments, to inform me which path to take with each learner.
Obviously it isn’t just the education world that has keyed in on the value of using these types of assessment processes. This marketplace has found a way to collect the data they wish to analyze. As an educator, I need multiple ways to collect and assess data on my students. In conversing with colleagues throughout our district in regards to formative assessments, there two main ideas that keep bubbling to the surface: 1) wanting clarity around what a formative assessment does and does not do and 2) examples of quick and simple formative assessments. Let’s first take a quick look at what a formative assessment does and does not do. Here are some of the basics:
A much more extensive list could likely be compiled, however, when creating or identifying a formative assessment, this chart provides a satisfactory amount of tips to guide my decision making. With this knowledge in mind, let’s look at some examples of quick and simple formative assessment ideas. These ideas can be adapted from the format presented to better meet the needs, age, or ability of the learns you teach.
-Formative Assessment Ideas-
Have students make a two sided chart stating what they do and do not understand. Students can be given a time limit to write, a number of items to include on each side of the chart, or asked to free write until they feel they are done.
Students are given 3 minutes to explain to you 1 new thing they learned from the lesson. You could give students more or less time to complete this activity. Students could also do a drawing to show their learning instead of writing a response.
Using this method, students are not given a specific method to communicate their learning back to you. Instead, you say to the student, “prove to me you understand” in any manner they choose to communicate it.
Metacognition allows for students to process what they did in class and why it was done. At the end of class, have students complete a table similar to the one below. Students could discuss their answers to these questions instead of writing them down.
Place a piece of paper or whiteboard (or use a technology app) in the center of a table and have numerous students respond to a prompt/question at the same time.
Have students draw/diagram what they understand instead of writing it.
Check for Transfer
Check to make sure your students are able to transfer a concept from one domain to another. This could take a variety of forms. For example, can they identify a climax in a short story, a novel, a movie, and an advertisement?
This is similar to checking for transfer. Have students build/create something that requires them to apply what they have learned.
Write It Down
Have students write down an explanation of what they understand. Read these explanations to help inform your instruction, and write comments on them (or discuss them with the student) to give them feedback.
Have students list 3 things they think another student might misunderstand about the topic.
Have students write a postcard as a historical figure to another historical figure discussing and describing a historical event.
To check for understanding, ask students to write three different summaries:
One in 10-15 words
One in 30-50 words
One in 75-100 words
The different lengths require different attention to details.
Used for a pre-assessment, student self-assessment and even as an exit slip. Green = I know this; Yellow = I may know this OR I partially know this; Red = I don’t know this. You can do this before a topic, during a topic and right after the topic.
Students hold an index card (that has a red circle on one side and a green circle on the other) in front of them where you can see it. As they are following along with you and understanding, they show the green circle side. When they miss some information, need clarification, or don’t understand, they turn it to show you the red circle.
Create a Video
Students create short videos or screen-casts where they explain their reasoning. You can then watch what they create and see what they are able to explain, what they omit, and what they may not understand.
Photo to Assess Learning
Choose two or three photos that represent a process. Have students write captions for each photo followed by a short summary.
As you look through the ideas, note that many of them contain little to no preparation, or need to only be prepped before the first time they are used and may then be used repeatedly. These are just a handful of ideas that are out there. For additional ideas, check out Tools for Formative Assessment and Formative Assessment Strategies.
With all the options for ways to formatively assess students, be careful not to get overwhelmed with the amount of choice. Select one or two new methods to implement as a place to start. As you become more and more comfortable with the assessments you are using, slowly add new ones to your tool kit. Before you know it, you will have a multitude of options to select from as you work with differing groups of students. Most importantly, remember that just as the marketplace from the beginning of my story uses a formative process to encourage & sustain my buying and spending habits, our formative assessments should encourage & sustain our students engagement in their learning.
This post brought to you by Rebecca Mecikalski, Elementary Implementation Associate
Well, we are officially rolling with the school year! The new supplies are in their places, new routines are being solidified, and classrooms are buzzing with new learning. We’ve introduced ourselves to our students and had them introduce themselves to us. There have been all sorts of ice breakers and “get to know you” activities. We know that this student loves dogs, this other one loves to dance, another one loves music, and this one over here loves to read science fiction. Our traditional “get to know you” activities are really great tools to gather information about our students. We talk about them a lot at the beginning of the year, but I’m proposing we DON’T stop doing them once the shine wears off of those new school supplies.
This time of year, when I reflect on the different ways we get to know our students after the first few days of school, I often think of my 10th grade English teacher, Mr. Anderson. Our first assignment of the year was to write our own obituary (yeah…super morbid, right?). I wrote the required one page of “She was loved by her family…” “She was preceded in death by…” “She did this and that…”. I turned it in and a few days later, it came back to me, dripping in red ink. I was convinced I had completely failed. As I started to read the comments on my paper though, my anxiety lifted. All along the margins, I read comments like, “No way! Your grandpa was my bus driver when I was a kid!” and “Your cousin is my best friend!”. Awkward and anxious me suddenly knew I had someone in my corner. Mr. Anderson was making connections with me that went beyond my favorite color or which sports I play, and I suddenly cared much more about my English class than I ever imagined I would. Throughout the year in that English class, every writing assignment came back with Mr. Anderson’s commentary along the margins, forcing me to rethink my thesis or supporting arguments, or cracking a joke about a silly spelling error. Every once in a while, I would find a post it on my desk, introducing me to authors like Jane Smiley or Toni Morrison (who is, to this day, my favorite). Mr. Anderson had taken the time throughout the year to get to know me both as a learner and as a person who had a life outside of his classroom.
This year, you are going to hear a lot about the district’s continued work around culturally and linguistically responsive teaching practices, or CLR. We know we need to think about culture and bias. We know how important it is to understand who our students are culturally and the cultural nuances they bring to our classrooms every day. That is why I’d like to provide a few “get to know you” strategies that can be used throughout the year, multiple times, to continue to build relationships and connections with your students and get to know them as cultural beings.
- Six Word Memoir -
Invite students to reflect on how they see themselves; as learners, as third graders, as members of the community or members of their families, etc. The options are endless. Then, have them summarize themselves in 6 words. For example, here is one of my own: Farm girl, city girl, indecisive girl.
The beauty of this strategy is that is can be used multiple times throughout the year. As students feel more and more comfortable, watch their memoirs change. For more examples, look here.
- Group It -
This one is quick, fun, AND it gets students moving around the room. (CLR strategy, yo!)
Round one: Choose a category (such as favorite colors) and tell students to divide themselves into only 4 groups. The students have to work together to determine which 4 colors will be represented. Those whose favorite may not be listed will have to get creative about which group they will belong to.
Round two: Tell students they will now have to divide themselves into 3 groups. Give them another category. Again, students will have to work together and get creative to determine how they will group themselves.
Round three: Now tell students they will have to divide into only 2 groups. Give them a category and let them decide how to split themselves.
This activity helps students find commonalities and make connections with their classmates. They also have to practice problem solving and language skills while they communicate with you and their classmates. You can make the categories more or less complex, depending on your students.
- Walk and Talk -
Pose a question to your students and have them pair up with a classmate (or the teacher) and go on a short walk around the school to discuss the question. You could do this as often as you’d like, having students pair up with someone new each time.
This activity is so versatile. You can use it as a “get to know you” activity or you can have students reflect on class content. Once again, the options are endless. If you need help thinking of questions, check out this website.
Getting to know our students never really ends and when they know we care about them beyond our classroom, they are more likely to be present and stay engaged, well beyond their days with us. We are all on this journey together and even small steps, like making connections with our students, can help pave our way to more meaningful connections and deeper learning. If you would like more ideas, or if you have any you would like to share, please email me any time!
Greetings from the new kid up on the third floor of the Edison building. While I have been here before, it was not in this role.
This fall, I’m starting my twenty-sixth year with the Rochester Public Schools. I’m very committed to the students, teachers, and parents in this district--I can’t imagine being anywhere else. I have lived in Rochester for thirty years and my children, Ian and Makayla, are both graduates of RPS.
In my time with RPS, I have worn many different hats:
And now, here I am: proud to be the Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction! I have learned a lot in the short time I have been in this role, while many other things have been affirmed for me as well. I know we have the most dedicated and hard-working staff around. Just like our students, all of our staff members want to do their best each and every day and I’m going to work hard to get our staff the tools needed to do their jobs and remove barriers that get in their way. I loved being a teacher; yet, I will never forget how challenging a job that is. It’s deeply rewarding, while not being easy. The good news is: our teachers don’t have to do it alone! They are surrounded by team members in their buildings, across the district, and here at Edison.
Student success depends on us, so let’s work together to do this work that is important to our district, our community, and our world.
This post brought to you by Brenda Wichmann, Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Feel free to connect with Wichmann via email
As we get settled in to a new school year, there are many lists forming in our minds of all the things we need to do: planning engaging lessons, room setup, forming relationships with our students, getting to know our families and so much more. Often times the thought of school safety is overlooked at the beginning of the year due to everything else you have going on. As you think about preparing your students for a successful year, remember the importance of school safety and the critical role we play as educators in keeping our students safe in any kind of emergency. Scott Sherden, Executive Director of Operations, works hard every year with building principals to prepare our sites for many different safety and security scenarios. Below is an interview with Mr. Sherden that includes some of the most frequently asked questions by staff.
Please share your name and your role here in Rochester Public Schools.
Scott Sherden. I am the Executive Director of Operations and I oversee District Security, Transportation, Health and Safety, Construction Services, Facilities and Maintenance.
Sometimes I hear the term lockdown in my school or on the news but we are also using the terms run, hide and barricade during school drills. Can you explain the differences between these?
We have updated our Crisis Plans to modify the use of the terms “Lockdown” and also address the “run, hide, barricade” connotations. The options we use for active threat responses are termed “ABC” which means Avoid (run/evacuate), Barricade (lockdown, hide) or Counter (distract). Each active threat is different and may require different responses depending on where you are in relation to the threat. You may still hear the term “lockdown” used over the PA system but we have gone to “straight talk” which means that Admin is to give information as to what is occurring and what options are available so staff can assess their location to the incident and decide their course of action. An example of an announcement may be “Attention Students and Staff, this is Principal Jones. We have an active shooter in the north wing on the first floor. Staff need to assess and respond appropriately. This may include evacuation or lockdown/barricade.”
Lockdowns may also still be used when an event is occurring in the school such as a medical event or an event in the immediate neighborhood and the intent is to have staff and students remain in their classroom and continue teaching but refrain from leaving the building or other areas without permission from site Admin.
Are we required by law to have lockdown drills or is this something that Rochester Public Schools is requiring?
Minnesota Statutes require all schools to conduct five lockdown drills annually.
I am a kindergarten teacher and often I worry about having these discussions with my students in my classroom because I am afraid it will scare them. Is it really necessary for me to do these drills? If so, what tips do you have for me?
We feel it is imperative to practice these drills but as follow up afterwards, use them as an opportunity to foster discussion with your students. Having an open, meaningful and appropriate dialog and discussion with the students to talk through potential situations can reduce their anxiety. By having these discussions beforehand it will increase the likelihood of appropriate response in a real situation and promote the safety and security of the students.
My building principal is leading our building to practice different safety drills throughout the year but never tells me exactly what to do during these drills. Why don’t they just tell me what to do?
It is not normally possible for a building administrator to provide individually detailed directions in an active threat situation. We encourage our Admin to utilize “straight talk” in providing information about events that require a response from staff and students. In some situations the information may be very direct in describing the course of action that is needed but in most situations it is not possible. Every situation provides different circumstances that need to be assessed individually by staff members when deciding what action to take. For example if the information broadcast is “We have an active shooter in the north wing on the first floor. Staff need to assess and respond appropriately. This may include evacuation or lockdown/barricade” then staff need to have the autonomy to decide on the course of action to take based on their proximity to the threat. In this case, if their classroom is in the north wing on the second floor then their decision may be to “Barricade” (lockdown/hide) in their room. If their classroom is on the south wing on the first floor then their decision may be to Avoid (run, evacuate). This is why it is imperative that all staff members are familiar with their site crisis plan and practice responses for different types of incidents.
If there is a major event that happens at my school where police officers are called to my site, what are some things that I can expect?
The police officers, along with the firefighters and paramedics that respond to incidents at schools all have the safety and security of students and staff as their highest priority. It is important to remember that they may be responding to a situation with very limited information. In some situations, such as an active threat, they may be carrying rifles or other tools and be giving direction to staff or students to “move in single file lines with hands on the heads”. This can be disturbing to many staff and students but it is done to promote the safety of all individuals. In all major event situations it is important to follow the directions of first responders which will facilitate a more timely resolution to the event and hopefully prevent any further harm or disruption.
In the event that I have to leave my building in an emergency and go to my evacuation site, what does the reunification process look like? Will my building have any support from the district offices?
The crisis plan for each building contains their expected reunification process. All sites should communicate to the guardians of their students as to what their process is expected to be in case of an event. This communication should include the location of where the parents are to report to pick up their student and the process they need to follow once they are at the evacuation site. The reunification is normally a “hand to hand” exchange once the identity of the guardian is confirmed by staff so this process may take significant time.
The District has an emergency notification system in place that notifies a group of District administrators of an emergency at a building. Once notification is received, depending on the event, appropriate support is sent to the site. This support may include staff from the District office, transportation services, facility services and may even include staff from other school buildings as well.
So as you are getting started in your classrooms for the new school year, don’t forget to review your site’s safety procedures and plans with your students. It is our job to educate them on how to stay safe and react to different scenarios. Don’t forget that you are not alone in this. Ask any questions you have! We are here to support you! We hope you have a safe, fun and successful school year!
This post brought to you by Kate Palmquist, POSA overseeing Elementary Curriculum and Instructional Coaching
Enjoy our Blog!
Members of the Elementary C&I team post useful tools, tips, and tricks on a weekly basis to help you help students.