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New Teachers Don't Have to Know Everything

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       Starting a new job is exciting...and scary.  And when that new job involves a classroom full of students who are depending on you; and they all have parents who are depending on you; and you're expected to use technology that you've never used before; and some student don't try to do their best every day; and ... and ... and ....  Well, you get the idea.  New teachers and veteran teachers have pretty much the same job and the same responsibilities.  But I've got good news for new teachers:  You don't have to know everything.

       Today's teachers are better trained and better prepared for that first day on the job than ever before.  Policies and laws and general "good practice" have prepared our college graduates well.  Student teaching requirements and excellent mentors during teacher training programs help our future teachers to understand curriculum, experiment with teaching strategies, and learn to interact with students.  But teaching i…

If School was Equal for Everyone

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       If school was equal for everyone...


The most struggling students would have the best teachers.  We know that good teachers make a difference in student outcomes.  Our best teachers are also our best motivators; they help students to see the value of effort and their students try hard and do their best every day.  Students who struggle academically need good teachers who believe that all students can learn and show this by their actions as well as by their words.  I hate to say it, but students who have a lot of support at home--students with parents that value education--typically do fine in school regardless of the quality of their teacher.  If there are only a relatively small portion of the teaching force that is in the "best" category, they should be teaching the most struggling students.Students would be allowed to learn at their own pace.  They wouldn't have to "move on" because the rest of the class is learning faster than they are.  And they woul…

What is Blended Learning?

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Blended learning is an education program (formal or informal) that combines online digital media with traditional classroom methods. It requires the physical presence of both teacher and student, with some element of student control over time, place, path, or pace.

       My school district has begun the journey into Blended Learning over the past couple of years.  As an educator approaching his 30th year in the business, I view Blended Learning as an effort to bridge all of the positive and effective teaching and learning strategies that the educational and research communities have learned over the past few decades.

       Like any new initiative, Blended Learning will take some time for teachers and students and parents to learn and understand.  We will have to discover new and better ways to implement it in a way that is most beneficial to our students.  This effort will be well worth it.  Blended Learning--as I see it--addresses the following educational beliefs:


Learning at your ow…

How much Parental Involvement is 'Just Right'?

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       Parents are an important part of the educational process.  But some parental involvement is too little and some is too much.  What is the "sweet spot" of parental involvement; What would you consider to be (as Goldilocks would say) "just right" when it comes to parental involvement?

       No one would dispute the value of a strong connection between the home and the school when it comes to better outcomes for education.  We (educators) want parents to be involved.  We want parents to celebrate with us the academic successes of their children, and we want parents to support and to assist us when struggles and obstacles occur along the way.  As teachers, what do you consider to the right amount of parental support?  Is it possible to have too much involvement from the home? What do you consider to be too little support?  As a parent, how do you approach your involvement in your child's education?  Do you leave it all to the schools and the teachers?  Do …

Three Simple Steps to School Success

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       Every parent wants their child to do well in school.  When kids are in elementary school, parental influence and assistance is usually plentiful.  Parents generally understand the content well enough to help their children during homework time.  And elementary children are more likely to do as they're told to do, and to respect the authority of adults in the school.  They generally want to please their parents and their teachers.  When elementary students struggle academically, public schools provide lots of help and assistance in a caring and nurturing way.

       As children move on to middle school and then to high school some of those attributes that helped students to be successful in elementary school tend to lessen.  The school work is more rigorous, children are more concerned with pleasing their friends, and parents who may feel that their children should be more responsible for their school work may take a step back when it comes to reminding them of due dates.  A…

Great Teachers are Constantly Improving

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       The best teachers are constantly improving.  "Good enough" isn't good enough for them.  The world is changing and teachers need to change as well.  The traditional classroom that your parents had when they were in school should not be the classroom of today.

       Here is a short list of characteristics of teachers that work to be their best for their students:


The student is the center of the learning experience; not the teacher.We want students to demonstrate what they know and are able to do.  It's not enough for students to merely sit and listen and take notes.Learning new tech resources for use as instructional tools in the classroom and as learning tools for students.Less paper and more use of digital resourcesUsing Twitter to connect with other educators and to learn with other educators.Learning about and implementing student engagement strategies in the classroom.        The need to improve is necessary because students learn differently.  Teaching i…

When Students are Engaged, Grades Don't Matter

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       My daughter's girl scout group had their annual Thinking Day recently.  Thinking Day is a special annual day when Girl Scouts around the world think of each other and express their thanks and appreciation for the International Girl Scouts organization.  Since my daughter is in high school, her group was tasked with creating a game or activity for the younger girl scouts to do.  They decided to do a Lifesize Hungry Hungry Hippo game.

       The game has four competitors who begin the game in one corner of a square floor space with lots of small balloon in the middle of the square.  Each competitor is on a scooter facing the middle of the square and holds a laundry basket.  An older girl pushes the competitors towards the middle of the square and their job is to capture as many balloons as possible with their laundry baskets.  A jump rope is tied to each scooter and the older girls pull the competitors back to their original corner and collect the balloons they have captured…