The Mentor Minute

November 2022

In this Issue...

Self-Care: Ideas to stay stress free!
Introduction to TUSD Wellness Department

SEL Focus: Character Strong!
PD Opportunities and Offerings- Have you signed up?
Exemplar Committee- Interview!
Danielson Component Focus: Engaging Learners

In case you missed it...

Taking Care of YOU: How Teachers Can Implement Daily Self-Care

It is completely understandable that most (if not all) of us feel overwhelmed. The Coronavirus has continued to cause disruption in our routines and lives. For educators, the part of our lives that seems to have been most influenced is our professional life.

The changes and creative maneuvers we have made have come at a cost. They have left many of us feeling exhausted and, frankly, empty. As mentors, we have witnessed beginning teachers running on empty and not wanting to grant themselves permission to put themselves first. Please know that everyone gives you permission to put yourself first, and recognize that by doing so, you are consequently improving the lives of everyone you interact with. Here are a few strategies for taking care of yourself, as well as some articles you might find interesting:

Diaphragmatic Breathing | UCLA Integrative Digestive Health and Wellness Program

TUSD Wellness Department

Did you know that there is an entire team of folks ready to help you stay well? Take a look at the TUSD Wellness page on SharePoint:

Lifestyle Improvements For Employees

    • Tucson Unified Employee Wellness Program - Free to all district employees! Includes:
      • Health Coaching
      • Fitness Classes
      • Quarterly Challenges
      • LIFE Talks
      • School Break Activities

      Health Coaches work for the Wellness Council of Arizona to serve the health interests of employees. All information shared with them is kept confidential and is not shared with any management personnel or any other employees.

    Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Time...Character Strong!

    Character Strong is up and running! Have you had a chance to share these sessions with your students? Go to, or access it on your Clever page.

    Each session has everything you need- no prep- just launch and go!

    If you would like a quick refresher on the program, there are podcasts to listen to, and other support resources on the home page.

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    PD Offerings and Opportunities

    As part of the New Teacher Mentor Program, one of your benefits is Professional Development offered to you for compensation of $25/hour.

    It is not too late to sign up!

    Here's what we are offering this semester:

    • Trauma Informed Teaching (Course #17591)
    • Classroom Management 1 (Elementary/Secondary) - course required for new teachers by TUSD (Course #17597)
    • Classroom Management 2 (Elementary/Secondary) - course required for new teachers by TUSD (Course #17598)
    • Learning and Engagement Strategies for the 6-12 Humanities and ELA Classroom (Course #17594)
    • Building Relationships (Course #17592)
    • IEP Writing (Course #17593)
    • Tools for Teaching Book Study and Activities Study Group (Course #17586)
    • Lesson Planning Study Group (Course #17599)
    • ExEd Forum Study Group (Course #17595)
    • K-1 Teacher Study Group (Course #17600)
    • Rotate! Math Stations (K-5) (Course #17596)
    • Data Dig Study Group (K-12) (Course #17607)

    NOTE: If you are signing up in TNL and it says you cannot sign up for a seminar or study group because you are already signed up for you, please email Carol Ruhnke at and let her know and she can add you manually. There is a bug in TNL so it may happen. Remember, if you're signed up for a study group, they are ongoing and you are not required to attend all sessions, so if you wanted to take a Classroom Management class, you can be signed up for both on the same day, BUT you may need to be manually added.

    Exemplar Visits: Get out there out see what's happening!

    Have you wondered what it looks like in other classrooms? Now that you have been in your own classroom, do you feel you could use some ideas for organization, or management or building rapport with students?

    Take a day and be an observer in another classroom! There are exemplar teachers that would love to share ideas. Your mentor can help set up this experience with you.

    Lynette Lehman, a fellow mentor, has been on several exemplar visits and had this to share...

    Why should a new teacher go on an exemplar visit?

    To observe a great teacher in action. A new teacher may want to go observe a specific subject or look for a specific area (classroom management, routines and procedures, pacing...) that the exemplar teacher feels that they are strong in. They should expect to learn teaching strategies, as well as learn about new curriculum or materials that can be used. Many exemplar teachers like to share materials with teachers as well.

    What can the new teacher expect to see during their visit?

    The new teacher will observe interactions between the teacher and students, as well as between students. They will have the opportunity to see observations made by the exemplar teacher during the lesson regarding students learning. They may have differentiated or modified to meet the needs of the students during the lesson.

    What do you think is the biggest benefit of the exemplar program?
    The biggest benefit is seeing how an exemplar teacher uses curriculum, manages their classroom and just in general , teach. Watching an exemplar teacher teach and taking parts that you like and applying it to your practice can really be a game changer. Previous mentees have listed it as being in the top three most effective strategies that were offered to them in their time in the mentor program.

    Danielson Component: 3c Engaging Students in Learning

    Have you had your evaluation yet? Let the Danielson Framework be a part of your lessons and success in the classroom. Let's focus on 3c and get those students engaged!

    Tristan de Frondeville from Edutopia gives some insight into best practices.

    10 Rules of Engagement (Here are the first 5)

    1. Start Class with a Mind Warm-Up
    A classic warm-up is to ask students to find the mistakes planted in material written on the board. (You can use this idea in any subject area.) But instead of asking them to work silently and alone, and then debrief in a classic question-and-answer session with one student at a time (while many sit inattentively), use a mix of collaboration and competition to eliminate what could potentially become dead time.

    Here's how: Organize teams of three students and ask them to work together (quietly) and raise their hands when they think they have found all the mistakes. After the first team signals it's done, give a bit more time and then have teams indicate with their fingers -- together on the count of three -- the number of mistakes they found in the work. The team that found the most describes its answers until another team disagrees politely or until they are finished.

    2. Use Movement to Get Kids Focused
    Ask all students to stand behind their desks and join in simple choreographed physical movement. Because most kids find it invigorating and it's easy to monitor full participation, it may become one of your favorite ways to get kids focused and kill dead time.

    3. Teach Students How to Collaborate Before Expecting Success
    Doing project learning and other team-based work without prior training can lead to lots of dead time. You can nip much of it in the bud by teaching collaboration skills before projects get started. You don't need to use an activity related to your subject area to teach teamwork.

    Here's how: One way is to give teams of students a pair of scissors, two sheets of paper, ten paper clips, and a 10-inch piece of tape, and ask them to build the tallest free-standing tower in 20 minutes.

    Prior to the activity, create a teamwork rubric with students, which reviews descriptions of desired norms and behaviors. While half of the teams are building the towers, have the other half of the students stand around them in a circular "fishbowl" as silent observers.

    Debrief afterward, and train the observers to give a positive comment before a critical one: "I liked that they [blank], and I wonder if they could have also [blank]." Switch the observers with the tower builders and see if they can do better, then debrief again.

    4. Use Quickwrites When You Want Quiet Time and Student Reflection
    When interest is waning in your presentations, or you want to settle students down after a noisy teamwork activity, ask them to do a quickwrite, or short journal-writing assignment.

    Here's how, for primary-grade students: Ask, "What was most interesting about [blank]?" "What was confusing about [blank]?" "What was the clearest thing you understood?" "What was boring about [blank]?" "What did [blank] make you think of in your life?"

    Here's how, for intermediate-grade students and above: Try prompts such as the following, or develop your own: "Summarize what you have heard." "Predict an exam or quiz question I could ask based on this material." "Defend one of the positions taken during the prior discussion."

    5. Run a Tight Ship When Giving Instructions
    Preventing dead time is especially important when giving instructions. There are a lot of great ways to ask for your students' attention, but many succeed or fail based on how demanding you are of the final outcome.

    Whichever method you use, before you begin speaking, it is critical to require (1) total silence, (2) complete attention, and (3) all five eyeballs on you (two eyes on their face, two eyes on their knees, and the eyeball on their heart). I've done this approach with every class I've ever taught, and it makes a big difference. Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) middle schools include detailed SSLANT expectations: Smile, Sit up, Listen, Ask, Nod when you understand, and Track the speaker.

    To read the full article, please click below:

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