Now that the end of the school year is already upon us, it’s time to evaluate what has been accomplished. Does your school have a formal evaluation system besides testing? Did you enjoy the year? Were your goals met? Can you recognize growth in your students? How about in your teaching abilities and lesson plans?
Taking time to really assess how your school year went can make all the difference for next year’s satisfaction and success. As we have tried to bring out in past blogs, test scores do not tell the whole story. Perhaps that shy student has finally gotten to the point of asking public questions or making friends. Maybe you were able to build up the self-esteem of a troubled child. Did you take a difficult subject and make it exciting to study? Did a self-absorbed student learn to work well in a group? Were you able to nip bullying in the bud?
Once again, an adult has been arrested for inappropriate behavior with a student. This time, it is a Florida principal who has been suspended from her job after being found in a car with an 18 year old senior. Marijuana was found and the principal was partly undressed.
A quick Google search will discover that this is far from the first time such a situation has happened, though much more common is finding teachers with students. What is going on? Whose responsibility is it? Can anything be done to protect our students?
There’s a new school on the block, so to speak. Referred to as “Teacher Powered Schools”, this innovative concept is catching on. The idea developed in 2007 when teacher Lori Nazareno and her colleagues thought to design and run a teacher powered school.
Presently, there are about 70 such schools in action in the US and they seem to be meeting their goals where other schools continue to struggle. Let’s explore this initiative.
The Teacher Powered School is built on the premise that teachers know best what students need and have enough professionalism to find ways to fulfill those needs. Teachers work collaboratively to design and implement school learning, manage the budget, maintain student discipline, select personnel, decide their salaries and benefits and more. They also agree on a system for evaluating the success of their programs.
Many might think that this is the job for the parents. However, 1. Many parents do not have basic life skills themselves as can readily be seen by the high debt and divorce rates and 2. Many parents spend incredibly limited amounts of time with their children, making “life skill” education practically impossible.
We’ve already explored the problems and frustrations with Common Core Standards in “Rotting to the Core”. Now, schools are experiencing an increase in parental backlash by having huge numbers of parents opting out of common core testing by not allowing their children being tested. In New York State last year, 49,000 students did not take the English test and 67,000 skipped the math portion. Numbers of refusals are expected to increase this year. What’s going on?
Teachers, parents and students are more often believing that state tests used to evaluate both student present and future successes as well as teacher quality are flawed. Even principals have stated that students are being over tested.
We might not be clear about what makes a great principal but we sure know when we don’t have one! Whether you are a principal, teacher or part of the school staff, here are some key points everyone wants to have in their principal.
A people person - A good principal takes the time to get to know all the staff under his care. Support staff, such as maintenance crew and cafeteria personnel, are as important as the teachers. Know that a successful school is made up of a lot of people all doing their job to the best of their capacity. A good principal shows appreciation for everyone who keeps things running smoothly. When the principal respects them, they respect the principal-a crucial aspect of a successful school.
Pine Bush High School in Pine Bush, New York made headlines recently for their celebration of National Foreign Language week. Inaugurated in 1957 by the Alpha Mu Gammar Honor Society to help make students aware of how vital foreign language study is, schools are free to choose various activities which expose students to foreign languages.
Though Spanish and French are usually the main languages explored, Italian and German are sometimes included as well. However, as the U. S. melting pot expands its horizons, exposure to more languages seems appropriate.
Anyone who has been around children (and even some adults) and certainly those of us who have been in a classroom, have experienced someone diagnosed with ADHD. In fact, in the US today, 1 in 10 male children are being medicated for the disorder and one in eight children in school are now said to suffer from some sort of mental disorder! The New York Times recently reported that from 2008 to 2012 the number of adults taking medications for ADHD increased by 53% and that among young American adults, it nearly doubled.
Incorporate living elements such as plants, water and animals in built environments. For example, in the classroom include potted plants, aquariums, water features, natural daylight and accessible views of nature from inside the classroom. These direct connections to nature, especially dynamic nature that incorporates movement, produce the strongest biophilic reactions.
Design features that are reminiscent of aspects of nature. This is achieved by incorporating elements that represent nature without bringing in live elements. Examples include fabrics with organic patterns such as leaves, flowers, animals and seashells, photographs of natural scenes such as meadows, beaches or forests, natural materials such as wood, cork and stone and earth-tone color palettes (blues, greens and warm neutrals). Incorporating such representational design elements within the built environment still allows students to connect with nature in an indirect way also evoking positive effects.
In our first blog about Bibles in public schools, we discussed the history of the concept of “separation of church and state” and the extreme differences in understanding where this idea comes from and how schools follow this edict. In our second blog on the subject, we asked: Can the Bible as literature be taught without affecting religious sensibilities? Can one truly present the Bible without imparting some of our own beliefs into the process?
Now, we will explore how those who want the Bible in our public schools feel this issue should be handled.
Last week, we discussed the history of the concept of “separation of church and state”. We noted extremely different degrees of religious tolerance in school systems. Some public schools consider the Bible as contraband while others are actually distributing them on school grounds.
Similar to last week’s story about the Bartow County, Georgia school district being sued for allowing Bibles to be distributed in their schools, Orange County, Florida is now up against a similar fight.
The average citizen, school superintendant or teacher knows that in the United States of America there is something referred to as the “separation of church and state”. Where did this come from? What does it mean? And, how is it affecting us today?
The First Amendment in the Bill of Rights states: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
In June 2014, I wrote Let’s Improve Reading…Again which touched upon the topic of the Common Core standards not achieving its goals of improving the math and reading scores of our students. Since that time, many parents have decided that home-schooling is a better choice than submitting their children to the Common Core standards.
Parents are stating many reasons for opting out of public school for their children. Some believe that the Common Core is pushing a left –wing political agenda since it is a Washington backed curriculum. Others feel that parental input has been denied in favor of the goals set by the creators of the Common Core. Additionally, it has become clear to many that the quality and content of the Common Core standards are aimed at theoretically preparing students for the workforce instead of giving them a well-rounded, superior education.
Introducing 21rst century classrooms into our already existing school infrastructure is a challenge that school leaders including principals, assistant principals, school business managers and edtech professionals are facing today.
Whether you expanding or renovating school, are in the midst of school construction or are planning a new school, you will face many challenges including space, logistics, planning and of course, budget constraints. How can you relieve the stress, design and succeed while keeping to your plans and budget? Watch this 1 minute video!