Topics in Education

15 Steps to Take to be a Great Principal


Great School Principal Greets Students at School EntranceA recent discussion with a friend shed light on the importance of a good school principal. Deciding where to live, she and her husband went to visit a potential school for their child. Her husband was interested in the curriculum. She, on the other hand, paid close attention to the principal’s relationship to the students.

Was there a healthy balance of warmth and respect? Did students feel that the principal was there to help or just discipline? Were students clear about how they should behave and what they should be doing at any given time? The mother rightfully felt that the best curriculum without the structure and warmth in place would not lead to student achievement. read more

Social Emotional Development and Parenting Skills that Build Great Kids


Teachers and Parents Working Together To Improve Our Students’ Social Emotional Development and Raise Successful Kids

Pushy Moms Help Social Emotional DeelopmentAs educators, we all know that the most successful students are those where parents and teachers work hand in hand for the betterment of the pupil. Teachers can only do so much without parents’ cooperation and participation.

Therefore, I read with interest some recent studies as to the best actions parents can take to help their children succeed in school. The findings were surprising.

A study from the University of Essex in England based on statistics from 15,500 pupils between the years 2004 through 2010 found that girls were most likely to remain in school, not become prematurely pregnant, earn better wages, and partner with successful men if they had mothers who nagged them. Yes, you read that right! Pushy mothers who expected their daughters to go to college succeeded in dropping the teenage pregnancy rate by four percent which led to other positive milestones. read more

Childhood Obesity: Weighing in on Schools Weighing Children


Childhood Obesity. Boy standing near scale.When I was in school, give or take some forty years ago, there were perhaps three “fat” kids out of a class of 250 people. I am friends with one of them on Facebook. Today, he is a handsome man who still refers to himself as “the fat kid”. His childhood stigma never left him even though his weight has.

He once posted on Facebook a group picture taken in elementary school. True, he was much heavier than the rest of the kids in the picture. However, it struck me that today he would be considered “average”. read more

Cool Kids? Not so Much. 6 Steps to De-Emphasize Popularity


Cool Kids - Are they the most successful in life?A recent study published in the journal Child Development has taken educators and psychologists by storm. Following a ten year study of the behavioral habits of 184 subjects, researchers found that those students considered “cool” in Jr. High School, ended up with statistically higher dysfunctions by the age of twenty-three.

At thirteen, these “popular” students and “cool kids” often had older friends, were the first invited to parties and lived “beyond their years”. This means that they partook in pseudo-mature behaviors such as abusing alcohol and drugs and risky sexual activities.  read more

6 Tips to Assure that No One Feels Invisible – The Invisible Student


There Should be no invisible student in our schoolsHave you ever been in the middle of an important conversation and someone checks their iPhone? Or, you are speaking with a friend and a third party walks up. You are not introduced to the newcomer and your friend goes off and has a conversation with her leaving you by yourself. Perhaps, you are sitting in a room of associates and one person specifically calls the name of some others to sit together for lunch overlooking your presence.

There are many examples of inconsiderate behavior. What they all have in common is that you are left feeling invisible, unimportant and hurt. Every class has invisible students. They tend, at least for a while, to cause no trouble, be quiet, introverted or have a difficult home life. The teacher may not even remember their name because they fly under the radar while others are grabbing attention. read more

When Young Meet Old – All Learn and Thrive


What Happens When Young Meet Old?

When young meet old good things happen - a teen knits while elderly lady uses iPadWhen young meet old good things happen - a teen knits while elderly lady uses iPadRecently, I watched on Facebook a video about teens teaching elderly people how to use a computer. It is both humorous and heartwarming. For me, it was also a tear jerker. 
This short documentary demonstrates that young and old not only can bond but also enjoy what each has to offer.

 All too often these days, the younger generation do not feel a purpose in their lives. Interestingly, this feeling is the same with the elderly. Matching the two groups together fills voids in both of their lives. read more

Can Money Make a Man?-The Effects of Well Funded Education


Well Funded Education by Harris RosenThe poor black neighborhood of Tangelo Park, Florida has been significantly turned around by one man’s vision and his millions.

Harris Rosen, the wealthy business owner of Rosen Hotels and Resorts, decided 21 years ago to invest both financially and with his time in a failing neighborhood to see if a significant investment in education would change the future of residents.

Decades later, Tangelo Park is a thriving community which has gone from being crime and drug ridden to over 450 students receiving full college scholarships from Mr. Rosen personally.

When Rosen began his education campaign in this neighborhood of 3000, almost half of the students were drop outs. Two decades and his $11 million dollar investment later, nearly all high school graduates continue on to higher education. read more

Time to Organize Your Office?! Part 2


Last week we suggested that now is a great time to get control over your work space. Now we are going to share some step-by-step suggestions on how to organize your office.

1. To get started, first clear away as much unwanted and unneeded stuff as possible. Choose an area where to begin. IsOffice Bookcases for organization your bookshelf overflowing with outdated resource books? Are magazines piling up in corners? Throw out whatever you can. If you think something might be useful, label a boxes “give away” or “store” and then DO IT. The faster you move things on and out, the faster your office will be a functioning space. read more

Time to Organize Your Office?! Part 1


Office FurnitureIf you missed your “spring cleaning” opportunity, as many of us did, summer is a great time to make a fresh start, especially when it comes to getting organized. Days are longer and vacation is calling. Facing that messy office head-on can bring greater creativity, calm and productivity. Knowing that the average executive wastes six weeks every year just searching for paper, should be enough to inspire anyone to tackle this task. It is time to organize your office! 

Working step-by-step, area-by area might be the best way to manage this challenge. Start by repeating in your head the following mantras: read more

What Does the End of the School Year Mean to Me?


End of the school year assignmentNow 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?  read more

What Principles (Principals?) are Involved when Teachers are Found with Students?


Principal and Teacher PrinciplesOnce 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? read more

The Teacher Powered School


Teacher with student in teacher powered schoolThere’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.  read more

Teaching Life Skills – Someone Has To Do it


Child buying groceries - life skillsWith all the pressure to meet Common Core Standards along with teaching the rest of the curriculum, can I actually be writing about the importance of teaching life skills in school? You betcha!

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. read more

Students are Opting Out of Common Core Testing-Why?

Opting out of common core testing

Standardized TestingWe’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. read more

What Makes a GREAT Principal?

What Makes a Great School Principal?

What Makes a Great School Principal?

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. read more