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Posted by Cortnie Gurren on May 29, 2019
LETRS Professional Development
The clock is ticking. You can’t keep your brain from counting the days until you have to return to work.
You are wondering what you will be asked to do upon your return: Is there a new curriculum you have to learn?
Has your grade level changed? All of the unknowns and what-ifs are flooding your mind. This leads us to the next
steps in our summer essential learning.
Teachers not only facilitate learning, but also influence a child’s social and
development. How can we do that if we are stressed? Let’s begin by practicing Mindfulness.
According to Roeser, R.W., Skinner, E., Beers, J., & Jennings, P.A. (2012), Mindfulness is a
state of active, open attention to the present moment. Being mindful means observing one’s
thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them as good or bad. It has been related to
reducing teacher burnout, negative affect, sleep-related impairment, and daily physical symptoms. Listed
are a few tips to practice Mindfulness, even during the work day:
In Part One of this blog, I introduced the book, Visible Learning for Literacy,
Fisher, D., Frey, N., Hattie, J. (2016). If you have tackled this read, then you have begun to
understand the difference between Surface Learning, Deep Learning and Transfer Learning, and why each
stage holds its own importance. Let’s recap:
Surface Learning—involves simply scraping
the surface of the material being studied, without carrying out any deep
processing of the material.
Deep Learning—when the knowledge gained in Surface Learning
is then used to relate
and extend ideas.
Transfer Learning—when knowledge is applied to new tasks and
While the ultimate goal is for our students to reach the level of Transfer Learning,
we have to start
with the first step. So, let’s focus our attention on Surface Learning. As you begin to plan your
first unit of study this fall, start with the learning objective. Ask yourself these questions:
Remember, when introducing a new topic or skill, Surface Learning is essential to move into a deeper
learning and eventually Transfer Learning. Now, I know you are thinking to yourself: “I have to
keep my students moving through content.” “I can’t spend all my time at the surface
level.” You are correct, but be precise in your timing, provide specific feedback, and don’t
be afraid to repeat practices, as Surface Learning fosters initial acquisition of skills.
I am going to leave you with a quote from Hattie (2016). “Every child deserves a great teacher, not
by chance, but by design.”
Have an amazing 2019–2020 school year and don’t forget to be mindful in all that you do.
Cortnie Gurren has worked in special education for more than a decade, beginning her teaching career with Clark
County School District in Las Vegas, NV. She joined Voyager Sopris Learning® four years ago as an
implementation specialist, before moving into a sales role. She continues to share her passion for student and
teacher success by ensuring both teachers and students are equipped with the necessary solutions to be
successful. She is honored to still be a part of helping students achieve their goals and realize anything is
possible. Cortnie is a “bonus” mom and resides in Colorado with her husband and 17-year-old
step-daughter. As of late, she is spending her free time preparing her daughter for college. As Cortnie says,
“Life is a continuous journey.”
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