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Tips and Tricks for Teachers by Teachers

Looking for strategies for handling a chaotic class, dealing with awkward back-to-school nights, preventing paperwork pileup, and more? Check out advice from your fellow educators compiled by NEA.

For example, when a lesson doesn’t go over with students as you expect, educators recommend the following.

“Abandon with grace. It happens,” says Jane Scruggs. “That’s why you always have to have a back-up plan (or two).”

If survival strategy number one is back up, survival strategy number two is own up. Just as important as backing up your lesson, says our panel, is owning up to the fact that, for whatever reason, your lesson failed to launch.

“I’ve sometimes said, ‘I think we’ll wait on this. I don’t think we’re quite ready, sorry guys, my bad,’” says Kelly Eddy.

James Cassara is also direct with his students, and while he regroups, he asks for their input on where the lesson went wrong. “It’s a great way for the kids to assess and understand,” he says.

Check out the entire Educators’ Survival Guide.

Halloween Lesson Plans and Resources

Fewer schools may be celebrating Halloween these days, but educators are still teaching about its history and significance. If you’re one of them, check out lessons, activities, and resources available from NEA.

Resources are organized by grade level and include teaching ideas from a critical look at how marketers sell Halloween costumes to Halloween urban legends to identifying the conventions of the horror genre.

Click here for the full list.

These Future Educators Are Already Making a Big Difference


From left are CEA Student Program State Chair Cori DeLorge, a student at UConn, and officers of Southern’s Future Teachers Organization Stephanie Sulkowski and Heather Smith.

Future educators aren’t waiting until they have classrooms of their own to make a difference in students’ lives. After hearing about a school in need, CEA Student Program (CEA-SP) members took action and organized a day of cleaning, painting, and more to create a welcoming environment for needy students.

Last Saturday more than 80 CEA-SP members — education students from six Connecticut universities — planted flowers, mulched garden beds, washed windows, painted doors, inscribed inspirational sayings in hallways, and even installed white boards. Read more

Why Do Some Kids Hate Reading? Here Are Some Reasons You May Not Have Considered

We hope to make life-long learners and life-long readers out of our students, which is why it’s so troubling when we hear kids say they hate to read. Why don’t they like reading? One teacher started asking her students, and some of the answers she uncovered might not be what you’d expect.

Here’s an example: Read more

Connect With Other Educators and Learn Online

Educators are increasingly taking advantage of the professional learning opportunities and connections with colleagues that the Internet makes possible, but plenty of educators are not yet learning and collaborating online. Connected Educator Month aims to change that.

This global celebration of community is for educators at all levels and from all disciplines. The 2014 event is building on previous years’ success with hundreds of new events and activities from dozens of organizations and communities. Read more

Facts and Information for Educators About Ebola

As we continue to hear the recent news about Ebola — a third case in Texas and the continuation of the outbreak in West Africa — we all are becoming increasingly concerned. And, as the situation continues to unfold, educators have many questions about their own safety and that of their students. The CDC and other groups have produced some excellent resources that help explain how the disease is spread, what the symptoms are, and the steps educators should take in the event of a suspected case in their schools.

The NEA Health Information Network (HIN) has gathered the following resources from healthcare officials to ensure that educators are well-informed about Ebola: Read more

Newly Established Teacher Retiree Healthcare Trust Gets Off the Ground

Leaders of Connecticut’s teachers’ unions are applauding the new trust established in September by the Teachers’ Retirement Board (TRB) to better protect and sustain beneficiaries’ healthcare over the long term. The board last month voted unanimously to establish the legal structure after receiving approval from the Office of the State Attorney General.

Connecticut Education Association (CEA) President Sheila Cohen said, “Teachers contribute their hard-earned dollars to the fund, so they count on the fund to be safe. The latest move by the Teachers’ Retirement Board helps teachers rest assured that their futures are secure.” Read more

Have You Ever Shadowed a Student?

studentHow would education be different if teachers had the opportunity to “be a student” for a day? One educator followed two high school students over the course of a normal school day and came away with many ideas for doing things differently.

I waited fourteen years to do something that I should have done my first year of teaching: shadow a student for a day. It was so eye-opening that I wish I could go back to every class of students I ever had right now and change a minimum of ten things – the layout, the lesson plan, the checks for understanding. Most of it!

Read about her experience and takeaways. Have you ever done anything similar? If so, did it change how you teach?

CEA Legal Department Wins State-Wide Award

CEA attorneys Melanie Kolek, Chris Hankins, and Adrienne DeLucca (pictured), along with paralegal Linda Reed and legal secretary Sandy Alzak, have won the Connecticut Law Tribune's Legal Department of the Year Award for Community Outreach.

CEA attorneys Chris Hankins, Melanie Kolek, and Adrienne DeLucca, paralegal Linda Reed, and legal secretary Sandy Alzak (not pictured), have won the Connecticut Law Tribune’s Legal Department of the Year Award for Community Outreach.

CEA’s Legal Department — consisting of attorneys Chris Hankins, Melanie Kolek, and Adrienne DeLucca; paralegal Linda Reed; and legal secretary Sandy Alzak — received the Connecticut Law Tribune’s Legal Department of the Year Award for Community Outreach.

“We are all so proud of the excellent work of our legal team and their commitment and resolve to assisting CEA members with their legal issues,” said CEA President Sheila Cohen. “It’s gratifying to know that those outside the education community recognize the outstanding and often momentous work they perform for educators across the state.”

CEA’s legal team was also featured in the October issue of the Law Tribute. Read the article here. Read more

Derby Secondary Schools Receive New State-of-the-Art Fitness Center

Derby High School PE teacher Eric O'Toole

Derby High School PE teacher Eric O’Toole is excited to use the new fitness center with his students.

“Academics and fitness go hand in hand,” actor and fitness pioneer Jake Steinfeld told an auditorium full of Derby Middle and High School students this morning. “When you’re in shape and exercising you’re less fidgety in class and more focused.”

Steinfeld was in Derby in his role as chairman of the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils to unveil a new $100,000 fitness center the foundation built at the high school.

Derby High was one of just three schools in Connecticut — the others are in Hartford and Meriden — to be awarded a fitness center. The Derby students are eager to begin using the new machines, which include strength training equipment, cardio fitness equipment, and interactive exercise games. Read more


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