The Chalk Blog

Positive Parent Partnerships

The Importance of Building Parent-Teacher Relationships

My first year as a teacher, I was terrified of parents. Phone calls, emails- all communication with them terrified me. Looking back, my reasoning was limited: I was always afraid that if they were contacting me, it was because of something I did wrong. I taught at a well-known private school, and the stories about parents from veteran teachers in the building were elaborate and brutal.  

few years into my teaching tenure, I began to realize how incorrect my perception was. Sure, there were parents who wanted to challenge me, but in general, I found that parents were often my first line of action when I wanted to help, nudge, or connect on a different level with a student. 

I went through some trial and error before understanding how to work with parents, and the following is what I’ve learned along the way...I share it in the hope that it will help you too: 


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Topics: Teaching Excellence, Parents

Self-Care is Not Selfish

How Taking Care of Yourself Supports Advocacy

This blog comes from Colleen Schmit at Taylor and Francis.

It may not seem like the two should go together but self-care and being an advocate for education go hand-in-hand. Self-care includes prioritizing your health, happiness, and well-being. Self-care is liking yourself enough to place yourself on your to-do list. The old saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup” applies when we think about taking care of children. If you aren’t taking care of yourself (mentally, emotionally, and physically) you are not going to be a strong voice for children. Working in the field of education includes advocacy. You must be an advocate for children, for other teachers, and for yourself. Without self-care, this becomes an even bigger task than it already is. 

One of my favorite things to discuss with educators is self-care (or our lack thereof). I can articulately and passionately talk this talk. As of late, guess what I am not good at…walking the self-care walk. Summer is here. My kids are at home. Life has become both slower and busier all at once. I have let myself become overcommitted, stressed, and last (once again) on my to-do list. UGH! I am writing this blog right now on day 3 of dealing with strep throat. I had let myself get so run down that it eventually led to me getting sick. If anything, writing this blog is a great reminder for not only YOU reader but for ME as well. Below are the warning signs of when self-care is lacking and the steps take to get back on track with taking care of yourself.


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Topics: Teaching Advice, educator wellness

5 Ways Educators Can Support Each Other

I’m concerned about the wellbeing of teachers. The fact that we, Learners Edge, have a course category called Educator Wellness indicates that my worry is valid. The fact that we need to encourage teachers to learn about happinessresilience and recharging tells me many teachers are sad, burned out and tired. I’ve read articles lately questioning whether teacher burnout or demoralization is the reason for good teachers leaving the profession. Or maybe it’s secondary traumatic stress. There are numerous reasons teachers are struggling with wellbeing, but regardless of the reason, I’m concerned.


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Topics: Teaching Advice, educator wellness

New Courses for the New Year!

Summer Session Registration is Now Open!

Our Curriculum and Instruction Team has put together nine new and exciting courses just for you! Click on the courses below to learn what we have to offer, or to register now.


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Topics: Learners Edge News, Courses

Using Music to Teach

An Interview With Our Co-Founder

JOY is the emotion I feel when talking with Learners Edge co-founder, Kyle Pederson.

As a former middle school geography teacher, Kyle explains how he used music to engage his students, to help his students express themselves, and to ensure they remembered important facts. Now as a composer, Kyle shares his favorite musical artists and reminds us that music helps us to think better, remember better, and love better.

As you read Kyle’s perspective on using music to teach, we hope JOY is one of the emotions you feel, too!


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Topics: Teaching Advice, Instructional Strategies

Learning and Teaching About Disability

Funny. Smart. Strong.

This is Lydia Dawley.

Even though Lydia doesn't speak a word, she told her amazing story to a packed audience of students, faculty, and guests at Winona State University’sDisability is Natural Cultural Fair. Organized by students enrolled in an ever-popular course called Disability Communication and Culture, the Fair is designed to provide publicity about the culture of disability. Surrounded by easels showcasing colorful artwork created by those in the community with a spectrum of disabilities, we watched as Lydia navigated the wooden ramp in her hot pink wheelchair and took center stage. 

For those unfamiliar with disability, it can feel awkward and uncomfortable. The anxiety in the room was palpable until Dr. Kelly Herold, the teacher who welcomed us to the event, said something that made us laugh. We watched as Lydia threw her head back chuckling--clearly finding Herold’s comments funny, and just like that, the tension disappeared. The brief history the professor provided about the great distance the disability community has traveled; from institutionalization, to genocide, to the Gang of 19, to the Americans with Disabilities Act, to the mainstreaming of students engaged us, equipped us with context, and got us ready to listen and learn.


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Topics: Teaching Advice, Instructional Strategies

10 New Tech Tips for 2020

Tech Tip Countdown

Get your party favors ready, people! With 2020 fast approaching, it’s time to countdown our favorite tech tips of the year. We've combed the web, visited the best tech conferences, and sifted through edtech Twitter for the newest, most valuable tools to use in your classroom. We’ve gathered all of our findings together in one handy list to inspire your most innovative, tech-infused lessons in the new year.


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Topics: Teaching with Technology, Instructional Strategies, Technology

How to Approach Tough Conversations

Our Brains as Storytellers

Few situations give me the nervous sweats and worry than a difficult conversation. I don’t believe anyone seeks out conflict, but it can be nearly debilitating if there are too many unknowns and questions. Why did she react that way? What was the intent of that comment? Why does he keep acting like that around me? 

The Curriculum and Instruction team from Learners Edge attended a Dare to Lead training, which covered Dr. Brené Brown’s work on vulnerability, courage, and wholeheartedness. Dr. Brown holds a Ph.D. in Social Work, and is a licensed Social Worker. She’s a researcher and professor at the University of Texas-Houston, and the author of 5 New York Times bestsellers, including Daring GreatlyDare to Lead, and Rising Strong. Her TED Talk about vulnerability has been viewed by over 43 million people, and she recently released Daring Classrooms -a (free!) teacher hub that includes the applications for the principles in her books.


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Topics: Teaching Advice, Instructional Strategies

A Playlist to Get You Moving!

How I wrote the new course: Learning on the Move!

We miss Prince.

The musical genius and influence of Prince are part of Minneapolis, the city where I grew up, live, and where I found myself as I sat down to write a new course about kinesthetic learning called Learning on the Move! In need of inspiration, I turned to Prince, and other music, to get me moving, motivated and ready to write.

To honor both Prince and what the research says about the necessity of movement in learning, please listen, dance, and sing as you scroll through the playlist I listened to while writing Learning on the Move!, a course that assures us learning happens from the feet up!


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Topics: Courses, Student Engagement

Assessment Made Easy with Google Forms

Five Useful Resources on Google Forms

Here at Learners Edge we value your time as an educator. We've put together this quick and comprehensive slideshow on how to use Google Forms to simplify and speed up your classroom assessments.

Five Useful Resources on Google Forms:

1. Save time and go paperless

2. Add dynamic elements

3. Customize your quizzes

4. Don't reinvent the wheel

5. Use comments to support growth

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Topics: Teaching with Technology, Technology

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