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Showing posts from December, 2015

Top Five Posts of 2015

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       As I finish my second full year of blogging, I'd like to take a look back at 2015 and the five posts that got the biggest response from my readers.  But first I'd like to thank some of the many fellow bloggers that I've read and (sometimes) responded to over this year.  These professionals have caused me to pause and think about the various issues in public education that (perhaps) need to be changed; or that need to at least be debated.  I've also read many, many inspiring stories about teachers who work very hard--with little recognition--to help their students to succeed.

       Thank you to Alice Keeler, Starr Sackstein, Justin Tarte, Annie Murphy Paul, and Daisy Dyer Duerr.  I used to think that these were Super-Hero People who had some special gift or ability in the area of education.  But I've come to understand that they are just regular people like you and me who are eager to share their thoughts and ideas with the rest of us.  I, for one, am extre…

Students Remember the Fun Stuff

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       I remember my Algebra 1 teacher taking off his shoes and socks in class one day.  He did it to demonstrate the need to do certain things in a proper order--otherwise, it just doesn't work.  The Algebra lesson probably had something to do with Order of Operations, but the real lesson was to complete each step in a process in the correct order.

       That lesson happened over 30 years ago and I still remember it because it was a little silly; a little goofy.  It wasn't a lecture; it wasn't a worksheet; it wasn't the normal classroom.  It was strange and odd and that it probably why I remember it.  As an educator (now), I think I also remember this event in class because it showed me that my teacher was willing to be a little silly to make a point.  He didn't have to be the Big Formal Authority in the classroom at every second of the class.  He was allowed to have some fun with his class--and still be a great teacher.

       I often tell teachers that it is no…

A Passion to Make Education Better

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       I often say to my children, "It takes less time to do the thing I'm asking you to do than it takes to argue about it."  Am I allowed to say this to adults who are critical of public education?

       Of course, I don't mind if people disagree with decisions made about their child's school or school district.  But mere negative comments don't usually help to make our schools better.  If everyone who disagreed with a school-level decision, instead, were to offer a possible solution, or make an effort to understand the reasons behind the decision, or step up to make things better we could accomplish a lot.  We can help to improve attitudes about public schools AND we can help to improve our schools.

       We want people to be passionate about their local schools and we want people to be partners with their schools.  Education is important.  It's more important than sports; it's more important than grades; it's more important than social status…

Teachers That Inspire Students

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       Who is your hero?

       Who do you look up to?

       This is a very common essay question for students at all levels.  The list of people who fill the pages of these essays is long: parents, athletes, friends, teachers, grandparents, historical figures, authors, poets, leaders,....  The world is full of inspiring people.  It is easy to think of such a person and maybe difficult to think of only one such person.

       These people make us believe that we can do anything.  They help us to overcome obstacles, to work harder, and to be better people.  They ask for very little in return--usually nothing.  They come to mind during the times in our lives when we think that we can't go on or we can't achieve.  They are our own, personnel superheroes.

       Most people can think of a teacher who has inspired them.  Usually a teacher who demanded high performance and worked hard to help you to achieve.  Our favorite teacher(s) were the people who believed we can do more than …

Soft Skills Education

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       Our public schools' biggest offering is opportunity.  Students learn from qualified professionals and from a long list of course offerings--probably the longest at the high school level.  But we are not just teaching our students the R's, we are preparing them for the adult world.  This means that we are also tasked with teaching our students the so-called "soft skills".  Here is a short list of some of these skills:

ListeningPresentation SkillsGiving FeedbackDecision MakingInspiringPersuasion Interpersonal RelationshipsDealing with Difficult PeopleConflict ResolutionSelf ConfidenceResilienceAssertivenessFriendlinessEmpathyProblem SolvingCritical ThinkingOrganizationPlanningSchedulingTime ManagementEmployers tell us that high school and college graduates who have these soft skills are much more likely to be successful employees than those who don't.  Students aren't "graded" on these skills in school, however many of these skills are incorpora…