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Effective Strategies Seminar

A Dynamic Opportunity in Memphis

A Dynamic Opportunity in Memphis

Memphis will soon be the site of a tremendous opportunity to help your students. On October 28th and 29th, a seminar entitled “Effective Strategies for Struggling Learners” will be held.

Effective Strategies SeminarThe purpose of this seminar is to help educators work more effectively with students that struggle in the classroom. The main thing that many take away from this seminar, other than the specific strategies, is this main point—all students are capable of academic success regardless of their social or ethnic background. High expectations transcend all barriers. They transcend race, gender, and economics.

Participants hear the message “do not let anyone tell you who you can or cannot teach. Who you can or cannot reach.” This seminar revives spirits. It reignites the passion and love for teaching that many educators lose track of over the years.

In the past, administrators have sent some of their “naysayers” knowing that they’ll come back believing in their students and in their ability to reach them. This is just one of the reasons so many have attended this seminar in the past!

What else does this dynamic opportunity offer educators?

Specific Strategies to Improve Student Achievement

This seminar is entitled effective strategies because it features strategies I’ve developed that schools have used across the nation to help struggling students exponentially improve their achievement.

The results are usually a tremendous increase in student test scores for individual teachers, schools, and districts that take the strategies they learn at the seminar and use them consistently with their students all year long.

I became a teacher because I believe that students from challenging backgrounds like my own are just as capable of academic success as anyone. These strategies have helped to prove this point for many years.

An intriguing factor regarding the strategies is that they’ve been shown to be effective for Pre-K through 12th grade, and in schools that are economically well off as well as in those that are economically challenged. This opportunity to use additional strategies combined with what a school may already be doing is often the boost schools need to get to the next level.

Boost Teacher Enthusiasm and Creativity

 Another reason the seminar works so well is that bringing a group to the seminar is like taking the teachers on a retreat to bond, regroup, and refocus.

This fresh perspective can be crucial in October because it allows the group to assess what’s happened up to this point and acquire new ideas for the rest of the year. It’s like a breath of fresh air away from the day-to-day pressures of teaching.  

Educators can get back in touch with why they became a teacher in the first place. Many who attend mention how much fun they had while learning. I call this inspiration plus information, and ask each participant to practice this with the students in his or her classroom. It’s something that I model throughout the seminar. Just as when I was a teacher, I try to make it so much fun they don’t realize how much they’re learning!

Networking Opportunities 

This seminar is extremely interactive and allows participants to network with each other. This not only gives them more information and additional techniques, it allows them to meet and talk to people they can correspond with over time. I’m very proud to say that many have done this with excellent results. This seminar is an excellent opportunity for educators of all levels to supplement the strategies they have.

Let’s not forget that Memphis is a fantastic city to visit as well.  It’s conveniently located on the border with Mississippi, while giving quick access to those in Arkansas along with the great folks in Tennessee. It also has an international, world-class airport. Memphis offers great food, music, and entertainment to enjoy after a busy day at the seminar.

Register Online or Contact Me!

So what are you waiting for? You can register online or email me for more information. I hope to see you at this year’s Effective Strategies for Struggling Learners seminar on October 28-29, 2019.  If these dates don’t work for you, consider joining us in New Orleans February 10-11, 2020!  

Creating an Engaging Classroom

Creating an Engaging Classroom

Student engagement is one of the most challenging problems a teacher has to overcome. According to research, when students aren’t engaged, they’re more likely to disrupt class, less likely to accept challenges, have lower grades, and aren’t confident in their ability to learn.

It’s also become clear to me that a teacher can’t teach someone who’s bored. In a study of high school students, 66 percent said they were bored in class every single day.

There are ways to dramatically increase student engagement at all grade levels. The first thing that needs to be done is that a teacher has to define what student engagement means to him or her. In other words, what does it look like in your classroom? For the purposes of this blog, engagement means getting students to accept challenges and to be involved in classroom activities.

So let’s talk about how you can increase student engagement and create excitement around learning!

Try Low-Risk Engagement Activities


One method of increasing student involvement immediately is to start with low-risk engagement activities. Try this right away. Put a question up on the whiteboard that involves students answering something about themselves that may help lead into the lesson of the day.

For example, as an earth science teacher, I would put a question or a statement on the board such as, “Tell me about a time when you were caught outside in a thunderstorm and may have been concerned about lightning.”

Another such statement for a language arts teacher may be something like, “Tell me about a time when you were upset about a friend not living up to your expectations or letting you down.” Students love to talk about or write about themselves. There are many lessons that this could lead into.

What you’re attempting to do is to make it safe to answer and to take away the fear of not getting an answer right. Low-risk activities are a great way to begin getting students involved. This activity works great as an opening to stimulate interest in what you’re about to teach.

Encourage Student Interaction

Another tactic to get students engaged is to have students interact with each other. Many students will engage with other students before they will engage with teachers.

Once students have worked on the activity mentioned above, have everyone in the class stand up, hold their paper in one hand and their pen in the other, and go around the room and share their answer with someone. Give them about two to three minutes and have them write down key points their classmate shares.

Now, have them rotate and find another classmate to share with; about three rotations is all I recommend. These interactions usually generate some excitement in the classroom.

Student interaction is also a great tool to incorporate into other instructional lessons that lend themselves to student sharing. For instance, as an earth science teacher, I may ask students to share their opinion after a lesson about why more hurricanes form in the Pacific Ocean than in the Atlantic, which can lead to great class discussions later.

There are other versions of getting students up and moving, such as having students travel with partners, or my favorite—having them travel in groups of three. For some reason, a group of three really seems to get more ideas flowing and generate much more excitement.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Surveys

Engagement can mean different things to different teachers. No matter what you’re trying to accomplish, consider asking the students what method they might like to use to help them engage in the class the way you want them to be.

Survey your students on paper and list the various ways you engage students. Ask them to rate the activities you use and then ask them if there are other types of activities you didn’t list that they feel help them to engage more.

Study the surveys and try incorporating the activities they feel best help them to engage, keeping in mind the need to vary activities on a regular basis. This survey is also a great tool for seeing how students in your class best learn, which can be a bit different than being engaged.

List the various ways you present information to students, then have them rate those activities on how they best help students to learn or retain information. Remember to ask them if there’s a method you don’t use that would benefit them. Use the results of both these surveys when constructing your lesson plans.

Leverage Technology to Your Advantage

There are some things a teacher can do that never fail to involve all students. For example, using technology is a great way to get students involved. Some ideas are:

  • Having students work on computers.
  • Putting short videos up on the whiteboard.
  • Using YouTube lessons the students create which are also great for review or to help those that are absent.

Technology can be a powerful tool when it comes to engaging your students and supplementing your lessons!

Learn More about Creating an Engaging Classroom

As you approach the idea of making lessons more engaging, it’s important to take the key concepts that are important to teach and create engaging and fun activities around them. Don’t do an activity simply because it’s fun but has little to do with what you’re teaching.

The key is for the teacher to be excited and involved. If the teacher is enthusiastic about what he or she is teaching, that enthusiasm spreads to the students. Enthusiasm is contagious!

If you’re looking for more ideas about creating an engaging classroom, join me in Pittsburgh at the Hilton Garden Inn Pittsburgh Airport on March 25, 2019 for my “Creating an Engaging Classroom” seminar.

It’s going to be great fun and you’ll leave with a plethora of ideas to get your students excited about learning! Visit the seminar section on my website for more information.


Brewster, C. and Fager, J. (2000) Increasing Student Engagement and Motivation: From Time-on-Task to Homework. Portland. Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory.

Macklem, G. L. (2015). Springer briefs in psychology. Boredom in the classroom: Addressing student motivation, self-regulation, and engagement in learning. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-13120-7