EDWORDS: Latest Blog Posts

  • Hi, Mrs. Smith. This is Zack's teacher...

    Dear Annie, I just got a call from my son's math teacher. She says he's consistently goofing off in class and distracting other students. I've gotten similar calls from other teachers. How can I impress upon him that this isn't OK? – Embarrassed Mom When it comes to teaching kids to be good people (our #1 parenting job), we repeat ourselves... a lot. That's due, in part, to the fact that young skulls are thick and young minds are often distracted. We continue harping on the rules becau ...

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    by Annie Fox
    Friday, 24 April 2015
  • active learning - joy

    Learning: What’s Joy Got to Do with It?

     Music educator Emile Jaques-Dalcroze (1865-1950) claimed that joy is the most powerful of all mental stimuli. It’s an interesting contention, especially considering the many non-joyful stories I hear from educators and parents. Stories about children crying over tests. Children with so much homework that there’s little time for anything else, let alone joy, in their lives. Children discouraged by schooling as early as kindergarten. Children stressed out, burned out, acting out, and droppi ...

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    by Rae Pica
    Tuesday, 21 April 2015
  • I Am a Professional... Hear Me Roar!

    One of the biggest complaints most early care and education professionals have is the lack of respect for what they do. They are responsible for our youngest and most vulnerable children, whose bodies and brains are developing at an astounding rate… more so than at any time in their lives, except for, perhaps, prenatally. And yet, the important work of child care is passed off as insignificant– something anyone could do. Furthermore, it is often compensated at less than an oil change and child ...

    by Debra Pierce
    Tuesday, 21 April 2015
  • If Kids Planned the Lesson…

    If you were to plug “Great Lesson Plans,” into just about any search engine, all sorts of useful information for teachers immediately pops up. Instead of going online, though, how about thinking about a great lesson from a student’s viewpoint? One good way to find out what students really want is to simply ask them how they would like to learn the day’s material. Or, administer a quick survey (www.surveymonkey.com). Solicit student advice via exit tickets or suggestions dropped into a suggestion ...

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    by Julia G. Thompson
    Tuesday, 21 April 2015
  • Invitations to Learning

    My colleague told me I am a master at “Invitations to learning.” I was honored for her to give me such a compliment, and a little curious because I have never heard the term before.  She used the phrase to describe the way I encouraged a student (I will call him Ben) to join in our writing sharing activity (inside outside circle , I wonder painting).  I wonder… did Joan invent this phrase?  I thought, I’m not a master… you just happened to be here to see my Ben work throug ...

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    by Michelle Davies
    Sunday, 19 April 2015
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Posted by on in Teens and Tweens

Dear Annie, I just got a call from my son's math teacher. She says he's consistently goofing off in class and distracting other students. I've gotten similar calls from other teachers. How can I impress upon him that this isn't OK? – Embarrassed Mom

When it comes to teaching kids to be good people (our #1 parenting job), we repeat ourselves... a lot. That's due, in part, to the fact that young skulls are thick and young minds are often distracted. We continue harping on the rules because we want our kids to act responsibly, even when we're not around. That's why we're thrilled to hear a good report from our kids' teachers. At those times, all a proud mom or dad needs to do is smile graciously and reply, "That's so nice to hear." But what about the not-so-great reports? How do you talk to your child about those?

6 Tips for discussing out-of-line behavior so your child gets a clear message yet still feels loved and supported:

1. Get the facts. Before talking with your child, talk with the teacher, calmly and respectfully. Find out exactly what’s going on and how it has been handled so far. Find out if other students are involved. The more information you have for your upcoming discussion with your child, the better.

2. Talk with your co-parent. If there are two parents in your child’s life, teaching him or her to do the right thing should involve both of them. Getting both parents on the same page adds twice the reinforcement for the course correction your child needs. Being on different pages (or in different books!) sends mixed messages. Suppose one parent says, “Emma, when you’re in class your job is to be the good student I know you can be. That means showing your teacher and your classmates respect by paying attention.” And the other parent chuckles and says, “Fooling around in class? That’s my girl! I gave my teachers a hard time, too.” Obviously, no responsible parent would say that in front of a kid, but you get the idea why staying on message matters.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

One of the biggest complaints most early care and education professionals have is the lack of respect for what they do. They are responsible for our youngest and most vulnerable children, whose bodies and brains are developing at an astounding rate… more so than at any time in their lives, except for, perhaps, prenatally.

And yet, the important work of child care is passed off as insignificant– something anyone could do. Furthermore, it is often compensated at less than an oil change and child care workers aren’t expected to have as much in the way of training as the local oil change guy.

oil change

In spite of the continued dissemination of research indicating the critical importance of the first five years, there is still a huge information disconnect for the general public, parents, and legislators.

Traditionally, caring for children was considered “women’s work,” requiring no training, except perhaps being a parent, but that wasn’t necessarily a prerequisite either. “Babysitting,” as it was called, was done in the home for a number of children, while the caregiver went about her daily routines.

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Posted by on in General

My colleague told me I am a master at “Invitations to learning.” I was honored for her to give me such a compliment, and a little curious because I have never heard the term before.  She used the phrase to describe the way I encouraged a student (I will call him Ben) to join in our writing sharing activity (inside outside circle , I wonder painting). 

I wonder… did Joan invent this phrase? 

I thought, I’m not a master… you just happened to be here to see my Ben work through a difficult moment. 

Ben had been arguing with his table mate… "I didn’t push in the line, I was there first."

When I asked about it, the friend (call him Chris) defended himself and my Ben cried.

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Posted by on in General

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_Control-children.jpg

Children have the difficult task of remembering all the rules and limitations of their day. There are just so many dos and don’ts. My mother was the queen of those and it even came down to which doors to keep open and which ones must remain closed. Some things don’t change. As I walk into my mother’s house, I actually have to stop, re-acclimate myself to where I am so that I get it right with the garage door, then the den door into the main house. Last time she changed the rules. I could feel the anxiety build as if I was 5 years old once again. Oh my goodness, that was a long time ago and it is still there. I remember as a child thinking I had no freedom or choices. And not getting it right back then, caused many tears and bad feelings about who I was. Though this is a personal example, classrooms also have many dos and don'ts and teachers and aides have good days and bad days.  Some days those rules are flexible and some days, you know those days, they aren't.  A teacher I had in the 5th grade, I even remember her name, she would yell with such an attitude that I would hide under my desk.

Children believe that they have no freedom and very few real choices. As young children, there aren’t many. Yet, they do have one very important freedom, what they think and feel. Teaching children that they do have choices in small structured ways gives them the ability to become and feel an independence even at a very young age. They become aware of managing their emotional day in their thoughts and responses. They learn to choose to listen to negative messages or not too. They learn to feel hurt or think about whether that person may be having a bad day. Learning that it isn’t always about them is an important life skill. Our emotional well-being depends on this as it would have changed many of my belief systems along the way that certainly were embedded in that 5 year old emotional memory bank.

Choice is an important lesson to teach in the emotional intelligence spectrum. However, we tend to forget about those feelings and thoughts and make choices about peanut butter and jelly or cream cheese and jelly. Though also critical in feeling less controlled, we must not forgot to teach the emotional choices even at a very young age.

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Posted by on in Education And Training

I've been rethinking and reevaluating my role as a classroom teacher quite a bit lately, often by posing questions such as "Would I enjoy being a student in my own classroom?" or "Would I teach the same way if my own child was one of the students?" These questions, I must admit, allowed me to see my own classroom from a rather perspective unusual.

A couple of weeks ago, I got even a better question. It happened during a professional development meeting where  we were discussing a book on teaching grammar. In one of the chapters, the author posed this question: "What can I give my students that they cannot find on their own?" While the original question was asked in a different context, I immediately thought it would be a great question to ask about teaching in general. Certainly about my own!

"What can I give my students that they cannot find on their own?"

To a large extent, I feel that the answer is in what Will Richardson calls the "Age of Abundance". Honestly, with so much knowledge and information available to students 24/7/365 at their fingertips, what can I offer them that they would not be able to find online?

The answers I have come up with so far are - the guidance, vision, and practice that they won't easily find on the Internet, no matter what key words or phrases they use to search.

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