Nuts and Bolts of Teaching,
Observing, and Tutoring
Center for Teacher Certification
Austin Community College
Part 1: Teaching 101
Tutors with Vision, “TV” began with a
vision and spark between veteran
teachers. Knowing that all students have
special needs and a need a personal
touch, we “birthed” a unique tutoring
program with Bedichek Middle School in
Austin, TX. Many thanks to Abel Villarreal,
Gail Belcher, and Nancy Shaer for their
enthusiasm, commitment, and vision.
Director, Teacher Certification
Tutors interested in teaching come from Austin
Community College Teacher Certification program,
Associates of Arts in Teaching, or Middle School Math
Tutors agree to train using online “TV” training
materials and a face-to-face session.
Tutors agree to work with Ms. Shaer’s 8th grade
math students. Ms. Shaer will first assess student
abilities, and along with last year’s TAKS scores’
disaggregated data, specific math questions (and
answers) for specific objectives will be given to each
Tutors will work with students for at least 16 hours
during the semester (or as many times as possible).
Why do you want to be a teacher?
It’s an easy job
More time with my family
Teaching is an 8:00-4:00 job
All of these answers
“Those who can, DO; those who can’t,
Teaching is a gift and a calling. Not
everyone can teach. Most teachers
agree that teaching is their most
What we see in the media sways our
view of teaching
Rent or view one “teacher movie”
from the following, put your feet
up…watch with these thoughts in
1. Name two student perceptions
that are imagined or exaggerated.
2. Name two real student
perceptions that the movie failed
3. How you could blend the best
qualities of the teacher movies
with the best qualities of a real
classroom teacher without losing
sight of reality?
Blackboard Jungle, 1955
synonymous with violent
thugs; teacher is the gobetween for students and
outside world; law and order
era where delinquents
eventually go to jail.
To Sir, With Love, 1967
English youth on verge of delinquency; time
of long hair, Beatles, hippies; confrontation
between teacher and students begins “real
education” of youth. Teacher allowed to
throw out curriculum and teach survival
skills to students; issues of trust and
respect played key role in student
Young teacher seen as Peace Corp
volunteer in deep, isolated South
Carolina island; students have had little
or no contact with outside world. Rote
learning as a basis of communication;
teacher respect is a given; what was
learned is not as important as HOW it is
taught (dignity, integrity, respect, etc.)
Stand and Deliver, 1988
First “good guy” Hispanic role model; works
with hard core Hispanic delinquent
students; tough love teaching with a twist
of humor; connects outside world with real
world examples; deep understanding of
mathematics is key to passing in AP
calculus exam and college opportunities;
dedication, lots of extra hours in
classroom, trust and respect keys to
Lean on Me, 1989
African American version of
Stand and Deliver; good guy
character is school principal
with very unforgiving streak
of tough love and little
humor; no excuse
achievement; expels all
students who are dangerous
influences on student body.
Dangerous Minds, 1995
First female in role of hero teacher;
middle class teacher values meets ghetto
culture and exchange experiences;
required curriculum ignored for similar
learning experiences; curiosity and prizes
key elements in teacher success; again,
trust and respect key building blocks for
October Sky, 1999
Unshakable teacher trusts in her students’
abilities and dreams; aspires teenage
boys to become rocketeers; teaches boys
to see and dream beyond the coal mines
and cultural boundaries that would hinder
The lives of 10 faculty members at a high school in
Boston, Mass. weave in and out of dealing with troublemakers, having a personal life, and keeping sanity.
Television show featuring inner city
students and problems with zealous
teachers who go way beyond to help
students. Especially interesting is ambient
lighting, free time, lack of bells and
interruptions, and students who usually
see the light. (Limited run.)
Freedom Writers, 2007
Ghetto kids “write” their way out of failure; once
teacher established trust and respect with hard core
academic failures, everyone invested more time
after school, evenings to catch up on writing skills
needed to better express their thoughts about their
lives and their surroundings. Teacher worked
tirelessly and sacrificed much to advocate, support,
teach her students. The ultimate goal was to have
their “stories” published (available in bookstores
Movie filmed in Austin, TX…
In the comedic style of The Office and the films of
Christopher Guest, CHALK is a spirited portrait of life in the
trenches of that most honorable and frustrating
It’s the start of a memorable new year at Harrison High. The
self conscious Mr. Stroope is convinced that his time has
come, this year he will be furnished with the golden title of
“Teacher of the Year”. If his smarter students would just
stop using words that are longer than his own.
Peek into Mr. Lowrey’s History class and you’ll see that he’s
struggling to even call himself a teacher. Woefully inept due
to a complete lack of experience and social skills, he
earnestly stutters his way through class. The only
interaction his students offer him is when they steal his
Men aren’t much interested in the spunky and officious
Coach Webb but “not all P.E. teachers are gay” and she
pines for some romantic company. Her once best friend, the
newly appointed assistant principal, Mrs. Reddell, doesn’t
seem to have time for her either as her new power post is
all-consuming; battling egos, enduring teacher conferences
and her lighthouse obsessed boss. Coach Webb wonders if
her former confidante has forgotten just how hard teaching
Fact versus Fiction
How will your classroom experience
differ from those in the movies?
Will you experience situations like
those you see and hear through the
Why are you seriously considering
What are the facts that you will
• 10 to 12-hour days.
• wearing many “hats” daily.
• the average class has a majority of students with
low level academic skills, but students are
expected to accomplish high academic goals.
• balancing self esteem and self worth with “real”
• earning low wages/held to a high standard of
morals and ethics.
• held accountable for student state standardized
test results (TAKS).
Long Days and Nights
•teach a full load of classes, 3 to 4 lesson preps.
•attend numerous meetings.
•complete all kinds of forms, reports, etc.
•perform hall duty, fire drills, homeroom checks.
•answer emails, phone calls
•grade papers almost every night.
•write/edit lessons and handouts.
•balance classroom operations and safety
procedures with administrative directives.
•balance personal life, family with school
life and responsibilities.
•balance academic needs of a student with
the academic needs of a whole class.
•find a working/productive balance between
lecturing and student-lead instruction.
•find a productive, consistent, and flexible
criteria for assigning passing and failing
Trust The act of believing or having faith in someone. Teacherstudent interaction foundation from which all learning is based. A
teacher word or promise has great impact in the classroom.
Respect The act of recognizing one’s authority and integrity.
Foundation from which both students and teacher will build
bridges into the future.
Principles of Learning Teaching model used by AISD to
evaluate/revise student responses and progress.
Accountable talk One of the elements in the Principles of Learning
that focuses on students interacting with each other and using
the vocabulary, key concepts and ideas of a given lesson.
IPG (Instructional Planning Guide) A detailed interwoven matrix
of teacher resources, lesson objectives, 6-weeks timetable, and
TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge Skills) Examination
The state of Texas required examination for students from Grade
3 through 12. Presently, there are 4 exit level exams (English,
Social Studies, Mathematics, Science),
NCLB (No Child Left Behind) President G.W. Bush’s education
initiative to improve education for everyone. The initiative has a
good number of provisions, goals, and mandates that affect every
classroom across the country.
Voice tones are intonations added to your voice to express
happiness, excitement, sadness, disappointment, etc.
Positive tones of voice are generally excitement over what
your teaching. Usually, a soft spoken voice is used to convey
calm, concern, respect, and objectivity. A calm and softspoken voice is effective in parent conferences,
student/teacher conferences, calling parents on the phone.
A stern voice demands attention, but use this voice ONLY as
needed. You can wear out its effectiveness over time and
An excited voice usually communicates attention and interest,
but like other voice types use it sparingly and in a good
Speak “matter of fact” when it comes to grades, student
progress, and goals. This type of voice communicates
objectivity and fairness. Use this voice often when referring
to a particular outcome of a lesson or activity.
Effective Body Language & Eye Contact
Body language - Use the 8 tips from “Tips for Positive Body
Language” from Performance Learning PLUS #25.
Do several simulated body language expressions and see if
others can guess what they are and whether they are positive
or negative; suggest/discuss more positive alternate body
Eye Contact - Mean what you say with proper voice, eye
contact and body language. Use highlights of “The
Importance of Eye Contact in the Classroom”
Complete several simulated eye contact examples and see if
others can guess whether the “eye contacts” are positive,
negative, or neither.
Why are Trust and Respect Important?
Without trust and respect, a teacher has
no credibility and no functional authority
to teach anything. Just because the
teacher has automatic administrative and
legal authority in a classroom does NOT
mean learning will automatically take
place. Trust and respect are the bedrock
upon which students and teachers build
academic connections and relationships.
How does a teacher earn trust and
respect from students?
• Be consistent in word, deed, and action.
• Be truthful and upfront
• Be respectful of student experiences and
background, whether you agree or not.
• Keep the promises you make, no matter
how trivial they may be.
• Remember student birthdays and family
connections as often as possible.
• Be available to help students in areas
outside your expertise or specialty.
Now that you know the myths, facts
and realities (at least superficially),
and basics on relating to students,
are you ready to walk into a
classroom and face students?
Will you be successful on the first
Remember that students
are more than numbers and statistics
So start with data, point A…
Standardized Testing Data
Opposing viewpoints and opinions about
standardized testing and scores have vigorously
wrestled with each other for decades. This
training is not to debate further, but rather to
learn HOW TO USE standardized test data to build
student academic profiles.
Academic profiles are used to pinpoint student
academic weaknesses and deficiencies and
formulate an efficient and positive action plan to
remedy those deficiencies. Texas school districts
are doing exactly this.
Texas Assessment of Knowledge and
Skills state-mandated exam that
covers the four core areas (science,
mathematics, English, social
studies). Each grade has a specific
set of objectives and skills to
Math objectives are similar from Kindergarten through 8th grade
Other Data: Benchmark testing
Beginning of Year, BoY,
Middle of Year, MoY,
End of Year, EoY exams have been in
effect for several years now. The tests
are district-written annual “practice” TAKS
examinations. The rationale for
benchmark testing is to simulate TAKS
test items at different grade levels and
use the data to get insight into specific
grade levels, areas or objectives where
students are weak.
Due to the inconsistency of the data
gathering process, benchmark data
may, in some cases, be incomplete
and out of date. Use standardized
testing data sparingly and in
conjunction with other forms of data.
Six or nine week report cards present a
more detailed and consistent record of
academic progress. It also contains
valuable information about attendance,
teacher comments, academic consistency,
and credits earned. Information found
here can help parents, teachers, and
counselors decide if the student is capable
or ready to tackle pre-AP (honors) level
Though class attendance is shown on
report cards, it may become
necessary to generate one or more
attendance reports from your class
rosters or attendance office BEFORE
the end of the grading period. Poor
attendance MAY (but not necessarily)
be a primary reason for the lack of
academic progress, low grades, or
Most school districts require teachers to
submit progress reports every 3 weeks.
Most teachers usually mark “borderline” or
“failing” and do not bother to mark other
relevant comments (respectful, excellent
achievement, lack of effort, etc.) However,
these other comments shed light on
student behavior and general well being.
Special Education/504 modifications
In the course of normal classroom operating
procedure and routine, you will have students
who are classified special education” (Special Ed)
or have specific medical, physical, or mental
circumstances (504) that warrant a revised
teaching mode, accommodation, or specific
alterations to the normal routine. The goal of
data is to formulate a feasible and productive
solution to unproductive student academic
performance. Do not formulate a strategy or plan
WITHOUT checking a student’s Special Ed or 504
Disciplinary Referral Data
If a student has several disciplinary
referrals for short attention span
and boredom, the last thing you
want to do is formulate a
remediation plan that requires the
student to stay focused and seated
for long periods of time.
Teacher and Student Interactions
determine what kind of interactions
worked best with students (as low key
tutor, as substitute teacher, as
build on successful interactions and
expand/enhance them toward more of a
teacher type interaction.
repeat, improve, and streamline the
lesson rewriting process. The goal is to
make the process into a normal teacher
Intrinsic rewards refer to praising the inner self
with positive complements and respect and
motivating it to do more good work.
Extrinsic rewards refer to concrete payoffs for a
job well done (pizza party, movie passes, etc.)
A balance must be struck between the two types
of rewards, and a teacher will “feel” his/her way
toward that happy balance. Be very careful when
using rewards, as they can get out of control and
make or break student success. [You can also
spend money needlessly.]
Praise and Reward Student Success
Ask classroom teacher to recognize
Give genuine praise and respect to
student for accomplishment.
Ask classroom teacher to call home
with a “good” report on success.
Recognize student accomplishment
in front of student’s peers.
What are your expectations?
To build a relationship with students;
To make math more concrete and less
To teach based on student data and
To reach students who can succeed,
with your help.
Jot down your questions to ask at
Do you still want to be a teacher?
If you have separated fact from reality,
understood data and student needs and still
hear a calling, then you are ready for
spending time with real students who need
You are ready to tutor…with vision.
Sign up for face-to-face training, date TBA.
Keeping track of field experiences
Refer to the ACC Observation/Field
Experience packet and complete 16 hours of
service in the fall.
Contact Sharon Duncan or Abel Villarreal
about tutoring, volunteering, and training.
When you visit schools, be a “fly on the
wall” and thank teachers and school
secretaries for the opportunity to visit their
school. Networking this way will help
increase your chances of employment and
help you focus on the campuses where you
feel most comfortable.