The Chalk Blog

Molly Kiebel

Molly Kiebel is a Curriculum & Instruction Specialist with Learners Edge. Prior to joining the Edge, Molly was a high school English language arts teacher. Molly loves helping teachers and students find new ways to grow! Whenever time allows, you’ll find her enjoying the great Minnesota outdoors with her husband and two daughters.

Recent Posts

Trauma Informed Teaching for Early Childhood

Teachers and caregivers have long understood that children impacted by trauma, including abuse, illness, family conflict, or grief, need additional support, both emotionally and developmentally. Young children living with trauma can be easily overcome by fear, anxiety or aggression, and often have difficulty connecting with others. The hopeful news is that we can help students in early childhood overcome these adverse experiences and thrive in our care when we use trauma-sensitive strategies. 

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Topics: Early Childhood

Incorporating Mindfulness in the Classroom

By now there is a very good chance you’ve heard the term “mindfulness.” It seems to be everywhere—the answer to stress, the key to self-acceptance, a way to reconnect with ourselves and others. But beyond the buzz, mindfulness is quite simply the ability to pay attention in the present moment, and it is true that each of us can find peace in this process. Even if you are familiar with the benefits of mindfulness, you may still have questions about the best way to share these advantages with your students. If this is you, we invite you to join us in one of Learners Edge newest courses, 5018: Incorporating Mindfulness: Strategies to Encourage Student Focus and Awareness!

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Topics: Instructional Strategies

Helping LGBTQ Students Thrive in School

It’s time to be an advocate for safe schools for all students! Although there has been important cultural and social progress for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning community, the school environment is still one where not all students feel fully supported or included. We can work together to change this!  

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Topics: Teaching Advice

Practicing Gratitude in the Classroom

November kicks off the holiday season with high expectations for a cozy and festive time of year. It is a time to share traditions, connect with loved ones, and give thanks. Now is the perfect time to celebrate gratitude with your students and start some classroom traditions to last the whole year! 

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Topics: Teaching Advice

No More “Mean Girls”: Helping Students Overcome Relational Aggression

Every October National Bullying Awareness Month serves as a reminder that bullying prevention must be at the forefront of our work as teachers. For many people, the word “bullying” brings to mind physical aggression — stolen backpacks, fights on the playground, a shouting match in the lunchroom. Bullying can, however, take the form of relational aggression, especially for girls. Relational aggression is a form of bullying in which harm is caused by damaging someone's relationships or social status, and while it may not cause physical wounds, the effects are just as painful. I recently took the opportunity to learn more about this issue by reading Rachel Simmons’ groundbreaking book on girls and bullying, Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls. As an educator and the parent of two young girls, Simmons’ work had a profound impact on me, and I wanted to take this time to share with you some of her most enlightening revelations based on her years of research. I hope you can use this information as you reflect on bullying prevention in your own school. 

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Topics: Teaching Wellness & Inspiration

Building Relationships with Students: Learning and Celebrating Student Names

There are many strategies teachers can use to help in building relationships with students at the beginning of the school year. First and foremost, however, is one that we tend to take for granted: knowing students’ names. It’s not only important for teachers to learn student names, it’s important for kids to learn each other’s names as well. We want students to know each other and to feel comfortable working together. Community matters, and learning names is the first block in community building!

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Topics: Teaching Advice

Useful Email Tips for Effective Teacher-Parent Communication

Recently I had the opportunity to share some of my favorite highlights in our new communications course here at Learners Edge: Course 5037:Stronger School Communities Through Improved Communication. Today, I’d like to tackle a specific teacher-parent communication challengeparent emails. Up to 90% of communication is nonverbal, so just imagine how much we don’t ‘see’ when we open up our inbox! Often, anything other than the most basic message is lost in an email. These potential misunderstandings can have a big impact on teacher-parent relationships, so it’s important that we spend time developing our email skills to build and maintain positive connections with families. 

Here is a quick checklist of ideas for writing emails that will help you improve clarity and develop trust with parents. Keep these ideas in mind the next time you’re going through your inbox—and see what an impact a few small changes have! 

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Topics: Teaching Advice

How to Improve Communication Skills

“I believe we can change the world if we start listening to one another again. Simple, honest, human conversation. Not mediation, negotiation, problem-solving, debate, or public meetings. Simple, truthful conversations where each have a chance to speak, we each feel heard, and we each listen well.” --Margaret Wheatley 

We all know the joy of a good conversation. We walk away from these experiences thinking to ourselves, “she knew just what to say to make me feel better,” “I feel so inspired and energized,” “we could talk for hours!” Most of us also know the disappointment when conversations don’t go well. We wonder where it went wrong or how we could have shared our thoughts with each other more productively. There is no doubt that communication plays a vital role in life. It is not only essential to sharing information and knowledge, but it also helps people to develop trust, respect, and connections with others. I believe much of our happiness and sorrow comes from our ability, or inability, to communicate and connect with others in meaningful ways.  

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Topics: Teaching Excellence

4 Ways to Build a Student Choice-based Classroom

As a new teacher, I first started offering students more choices when I grew weary of reading 150 essays on the same writing prompt. I knew there had to be a better way!  It was clear my students needed scaffolding to find success, including opportunities to write topic sentences together, review textual evidence, and formulate complete paragraphs, but I quickly realized they didn’t need to be writing on the same topic to share in this learning process. When I opened up the next essay to three topic choices (and a “free choice” option for those students willing to write their own topic proposals), their engagement skyrocketed and the quality of their writing improved. I was thankfully more engaged with the process too, because there was less repetition and it was exciting to see their unique viewpoints emerge.  

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Topics: Teaching Advice

Teacher Appreciation Ideas for Your Colleagues

 

Here at Learners Edge, we appreciate the work teachers and education professionals do every day to support kids. We are amazed by the creative and innovative lessons they share. We admire their compassion as they work with students to overcome challenges, and we respect the countless hours they spend grading and planning once the school day has ended. While Teacher Appreciation Week comes only once a year, we want to share with you some simple teacher appreciation ideas to show your gratitude to fellow teachers throughout the year.  

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Topics: Teaching Advice

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