CCTI Winter Edition

December & January 2021/2022

Creating and Building Opportunities for Success

Welcome to our annual December/January Newsletter!

Thank you for the hard work you put in every day. Your dedication enriches the lives of learners as you continue your work as educators. This certainly has a positive impact on the families and communities we serve. While you may not always see your impact, it is felt and appreciated.

The Winter Edition focuses on organizing and refining classroom practice, helping students transition back to learning together, rethinking poverty and casual conversations, trauma-informed instruction during the winter months, and creating a welcoming classroom. Before you begin exploring, enjoy a poem by Taylor Mali about teaching during the first snowfall!

As you read, view, and listen to the resources, take note of your successes and consider new opportunities for growth, both in ourselves and others.

Try not to take on too many goals, but rather consider one or two strategies to align with your personal teaching goals. Remember to keep using your teaching journals/logs as a reflection tool. Celebrate all things, everything and everyone along your journey.

Please let us know how we can support you!

Happy Winter!

The CCTI Team

Taylor Mali performs "Undivided Attention"

"May you teach, like the new snow..."-Taylor Mali

Congratulations to Nataliia Bakhmach, the CMS BT of the Month for November

Congratulations Nataliia for Being Named CMS November Beginning Teacher of the Month

Nataliia Bakhmach, 8th grade math teacher at Southwest Middle School, was selected as the CMS November Beginning Teacher of the Month! Nataliia was nominated by her mentor, Marilyn Bollinger.

Ms. Bollinger wrote, “Nataliia came from a finance career to teach math to 8th graders. She has had many learning challenges, including managing a class of 30 students, perfecting a new language and adapting to a new culture (her family has moved here from the Ukraine). Her strengths include amazing knowledge of content, natural ability to "work a class" and move throughout her students the duration of class, and a passion to make a difference in these students' lives. Nataliia is also a lifelong learner and has diligently followed through with each suggestion given to her by mentors and peers. Classroom management takes practice and persistence to perfect, but as it develops, her passion and love for students will move her to each new step.” (excerpted from the BT Beat, CMS Newsletter)

The CCTI Team is proud to celebrate Ms. Bakhmach.

Have Exciting News to Share? Reach Out and Let Us Know So We Can Celebrate Each Other!

Back to School Resources Link: Preparing for Learning

Whether you are starting a new semester, or need a classroom reboot, follow the link to locate resources for Learning Design; Establishing Relationships, Norms, and Agreements, Instructional Materials and Planning; School and District Procedures.

Make a List and Check it Twice; The Benefits of Organization

This article appeared in an early edition of our newsletters. It is useful and introduces useful and timely resources.

One of the best things we heard from a teacher was, "I make lists just so I can have something to cross off."

Teaching requires the ability to multi-task while meeting the needs of diverse learners. Consider creating lists for yourself and modeling this practice for your students. You can also create a planner in Google Classroom, on a website, or on your shared space on the board. Students often take pictures on their phones to keep track of 'to-do' lists.

You may enjoy the small win in crossed-off line on the informal list and the sense of accomplishment it brings towards larger goals.

Take a look at the Jennifer Gonzalez' "The New Teacher Checklist" by clicking the picture below. Winter is a good time to reflect on your prior process and check things again, with a seasoned perspective.

While you are there, check out additional resources for reducing grading time and keeping a positive mindset.- The CCTI Team

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SEL Support: Helping Students Reacclimate

Helping Students Reacclimate to Being With Others All Day Many students are still a little overwhelmed at being around their peers, though they’re also excited. Some simple strategies can help them adjust to being back in school. by Lori DeSantis

Rethinking Poverty and Casual Conversations

As the holidays approach, it's important to consider how our conversations can marginalize students experiencing poverty. This link covers Paul C. Gorski’s article “The Question of Class." Click button to Teaching Tolerance for lessons/resources.

The Holidays and Trauma-Informed Instruction

As we consider the importance of equity and reflect on the changes of the past years, consider what this may mean to you and your students:

The holidays hold different value and meaning for our diverse population of learners. For some it holds expectations of joy, for others it is a time of the unknown due to changes and uncertainty, and still for others it is associated with the certainty of stress, coupled with the worry of consistency in meals, daily routine, contact with friends, teachers, etc.

Consider how we avoid conversations which lack equity such as, "Where did you go this summer?" Translate these prior learning opportunities into rich understandings of how students deal with stress during this time of year. I recall students become agitated prior to break due to wonders about food, housing, and daily routine. Consider equitable conversations and continue to build relationships with students by creating opportunities for sharing. If you notice unusual behavior, speak privately with a student or refer to a counselor.

Here are questions to know:

  • Is there a food pantry at your school?
  • Do you have a clothing closet?
  • What is the process for referral if you are noticing student behavior changes?

Watch for the following:

  1. Students who are not wearing a coat (counseling can help with this)
  2. Students who want to spend lunch in your classroom but don't seem to be eating(They may be having an issue with a lunch number or the process and don't know how to ask for assistance)
  3. Any behavior changes (provide an opportunity for discussion with a counselor)

We appreciate the care and attention you place in the lives of our learners. Consider the articles below as we grow in our process. -The CCTI Team

"The Holidays, School, & Trauma," by The Trauma Informed Teacher

Teachers need to be aware that the holidays can be extremely stressful for our students.

It’s my FAVORITE TIME of the YEAR! Starting in November, I roll my birthday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas into one big celebration that doesn’t stop until January 1. Growing up, I had happy memories of holidays – spending time with family, presents, shopping, baking, decorations, and SO MUCH food! All things that I love!

The holiday season can be a magical time for children and their families.

But sometimes, it’s not.

Sometimes bringing family together causes verbal and/or physical fights. Sometimes parents indulge too much in alcohol or other substances when they’re with their children, making their behavior becomes unpredictable and frightening. Sometimes there isn’t money for presents or a special meal. Sometimes holiday breaks from school are filled with tension, stress, and unpredictability. The structure and safety of school are gone. Sometimes the expectations of the holiday season create immense disappointments for caregivers and their children. Sometimes there’s sadness that loved ones aren’t around to celebrate – possibly due to incarceration, divorce, abandonment, health issues, or death.

Continue Reading

How New Teachers Can Create a Welcoming Classroom

Creating a sense of belonging is challenging at a potentially difficult time of year. Follow this link to read: A few tips for new teachers who want to foster strong relationships with students and between students.-edutopia

Guiding Older Students to Enter and Exit the Classroom Smoothly

After so much time out of school, middle and high school students may need multiple refreshers on classroom procedures.

By Rachel Fuhrman

November 11, 2021

Although most students around the country have been back in physical classrooms for a few months now, there are still many middle and high school students who need support when it comes to entering and exiting the classroom properly. As students continue to get used to being back in school, there are a few quick things we as teachers can do to support them in creating routines that both help them adjust and maintain the sanctity of instructional time.


Over the past year, many students have had the ability to simply wake up and log on to a computer as their entering-the-classroom procedure. With the shift back to in-person learning, it’s imperative that we teach students what we want to see as they enter our physical spaces.

Students should have a clear set of guidelines regarding the noise level at which they enter the classroom, the location in the room they should move to, and what they should be doing once they reach their seats. By teaching and practicing these procedures, teachers can ensure that they are able to begin class on time and that students will be set up for success in that class period. Additionally, these consistent structures help students understand what is expected of them and ensure that they are able to immediately focus on content rather than attempting to decipher how to behave as they enter the room.

Here are some questions to consider when introducing the procedure to students:

  • What noise level is expected as students enter?
  • Will students have assigned seats?
  • Is there going to be a “Do Now” on the board? Is it going to be something students do silently or with a partner?
  • What materials should students have out on their desks by the time instruction begins?
  • What should a student do if they are missing materials—where are extra pencils, books, paper, etc.?
  • How long do students have to get settled before instruction begins?


As with entering, students have not necessarily had to physically exit a classroom in over a year. By creating a procedure for students to exit the classroom, teachers can ensure that students are prepared to effectively, calmly, and safely enter their next class or dismiss from the building. Additionally, teachers can avoid unwanted behaviors by clearly outlining and explicitly teaching their expectations for how students exit.

As the class period comes to an end, it’s important for teachers to have a plan of how they will wrap up the lesson, collect any materials, and prepare the space for the next group of students. Ideally, students will have the opportunity to demonstrate their learning from the day’s lesson through a written exit ticket, a verbal discussion, or another medium. This closing activity cues students to the fact that they are going to be transitioning out of the classroom shortly. Students should have a clear understanding of how they are to submit any completed class assignments, how they are expected to return any classroom materials, and how they are to collect their belongings and exit the room.

Clear procedures will support teachers in ensuring that each class period is given closure and that they are prepared for the start of the next class. Students will benefit from being given the time to recollect themselves and their belongings before moving into a new space. Additionally, students are more likely to avoid unwanted behaviors as they transition between classes when they understand and have practiced the procedures.

Some questions to consider when introducing the procedure to students:

  • Will each student hand in their own work, or will it be collected?
  • Should students leave materials on their desks for the next class or return them to a specified location?
  • Should students leave the room when they hear the bell or wait for the teacher to dismiss them?
  • Do students all leave at once, or will they be dismissed by area in the room?

We cannot yet know the extent to which virtual learning has impacted and will continue to impact our students. However, we do have the power to support them as they make the transition back to in-person learning by creating clear and consistent structures that help them navigate our physical classroom spaces. The traumas caused by Covid-19 cannot be undone by simply welcoming students back into the building; we as teachers must be prepared to provide wraparound support and structure throughout the day to help students once again feel safe and confident in these spaces. Simple procedures like entering and exiting the classroom are a meaningful starting point. Share

The Biggest Lesson of My First Year Teaching

Discover tips for new teachers to foster strong relationships with students and between students. A veteran teacher shares how she learned the value of prioritizing relationships when she was just starting out in the classroom. By Cindy Bourdo

60-Second Strategy: Pom-Pom Jar